There were few things more satisfying than scratching an itch and right now, by inference, she was scratching with great vigour. As she sat at the table, the gloriously detailed map spread out in front of her, she felt that old, familiar thrill rush through her system. She had been plotting their course now for well over an hour and a dull throb was beginning to settle between her shoulder blades.

She stretched out her neck first, wincing at the pop of cartilage as she did so, before rolling her shoulders. Last came the stretch of the spine and she took in a long, deep breath before letting it flow from her lungs.

Captain Rani Nimue closed her eyes and let that last calming breath take away all the bitterness and anger that had fuelled her for the past days. This was the first time since they had commenced this adventurous undertaking that she had actually had time to herself and even then she’d immediately engaged in poring over the maps with a hunger that could only be sated by the blood-rich wine of sweet, sweet revenge.

Revenge was, so the sayings went, a dish best served cold, but she was quite prepared to take it as it came. Just so long as she got it.

She got to her feet and moved around the opulent stateroom, her bare feet making no sound on the deep pile of the carpet. The soft mattress looked inviting, but she knew there was much she still had to do before she indulged in the luxury of slumber. She paused in front of the full-length mirror and examined her reflection critically. She looked tired: dark rings beneath her eyes belied the anger-driven energy that had kept her awake for too many hours. But as ever, she took a moment of simple pleasure from the beauty looking back at her.

Vanity was not one of Nimue’s most prevalent character traits, but she took pride in her appearance. She was, after all, someone to be looked up to. To be respected.

To be feared, when the situation demanded it.

A slow smile spread across her face and the reflection smiled back at her, displaying strong, even white teeth that contrasted sharply against her skin. She was an exotic bloom, a prize for any man who sought to win her favour, but if they pursued such a course, they would be sorely disappointed. Her favour, such as it was, had already been given.

Given, used, screwed up and thrown away without so much as an apology.

The smile faded and her reflection became angry. The dark eyes flashed with fury and with a snarl, she turned away. She acknowledged the weariness that settled over her and prepared herself for bed.

Sweet, sweet revenge, she reminded herself as she drew the brush through her thick, dark hair. The best way to get that now would be to win what had become a race to the prize. Her crew would not let her down. The Nautilus would reach the shores of the New World and then they would take what was rightfully theirs. If her party encountered his, well then, time and circumstance would determine the outcome.

Right at this moment, she sincerely hoped that the outcome would involve disembowelment of some variety.

With that thought in her mind, her dreams that night were satisfying indeed.