Tall tales high in the sky
Mission: Chapter 7: Going West
The deck, between the poopdeck and the forecastle, was never empty for long on a small ship like Steamhawke. The crew compliment wasn't up to full capacity, but the men and women didn't much like being cooped up together at all times. The crew rotated more or less, some sleeping during the day on the crew deck, some seeking solitude at night on the deck above. The mess hall was a small room next to the oven that the cook used for baking bread and roasting chuncks of meat. It wasn't big enoug to hold all the crew at once, and shifts were taken when breakfast or dinner were served. The mess hall had no door anymore. The cook had it removed after it was broken during a brawl. The cook refused to have it fixed, and insisted that it was better to have no door at all. He had argued that the oven was almost on permanently anyway, so the mess hall never got that cold. But he kept the food under lock and key in the hold, as well as in his own pantry next to is bedroom.
Today the cook was swearing more than usual when Daenelia walked in for her morning meal. Normally she'd send the cabin girl to fetch it, but the girl had been hiding from her for a while now. Daenelia wondered if Ethel was even still on board. "And I am going to keelhaul the next person who asks about yesterday's apple pie!" The cook's voice had the strength of a foghorn. He was rummaging around in a cupboard. "Where in the seven skies is my iron frying pan?" Daenelia coughed. The cook looked up.
"O! Captain! I was going to fry you some eggs, but...," and he gestured to the mix of pots and pans scattered on the floor.
"Your frying pan is missing," Daenelia said smiling. She knew her crew well. They were probably pulling a joke on the easily angered cook. "I'll have Carol investigate. She usually 'inspires' people to return things that don't belong to them." The cook shrugged and handed some dry bread rolls to the captain with a muttered apology and some more inappropriate swear words. She took the rolls and a mug of tea and returned to her quarters.
Walking from the forecastle to the poopdeck she saw three sailors hunched over something one of them was holding. "It's an albatross feather..." one of them whispered as the captain passed by. She slowed down and tried to get a look at what they were holding. "Nah, it's too big for an albatross!" another said. "It must be a monstrous bird, like those skyspawn I once saw a picture of."
"Skyspawn do not exist, sailor," Daenelia said sternly. The three sailors straightened up and one of them, Dottie, put her hands behind her back. "Of course, captain!" Dottie said. She pulled her hand from behind her back, and showed a 80cm long feather. "Must be an albatross."
Daenelia swallowed as she saw the length of that feather. Even if this was the largest feather the bird dropped, it had to be a incredibly large bird. She wondered how it would taste. It had been a long time since she had chicken, she thought as she chewed on the dry bread. "Cawwy-on," she mumbled as she dismissed the sailors.
She climbed the narrow stairs to her quarters under the poopdeck slowly, so as not to spill her tea. Nate was arguing with Faizel, she noted. "But I did not touch your shaving mirror!" Nate was red in the face as he pleaded. "Sir." He added that after a look from Faizel, which reminded him of his higher rank. "Then how come it is in pieces after you last used it, mister Winters?" Faizel sounded formal and almost like a naval officer, Daenelia though smiling. It impressed Nate in any case. "I... I-I, don't know, sir," he stammered.
"Just pay him back, Winters!" Daenelia shouted amused. "We'll soon have plenty of money!" She laughed as she rememberd the plan to steal a precious leg... Soon.