Hints and Hunches
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Captains Quarters
Timeline: Before landfall
There was only an hour or so left before the Steamhawke was planned to make landfall and the crew were buzzing with excitement, preparing for docking. It was the beginning of their first adventure and as Master Gunner Salazar hobbled across the main deck he could see it in their eyes. These men and women, young and old, were all feeling the rush of adventure, of following their Captain on some exciting venture. It made Salazar feel good inside, relaxed and reassured. He was starting to feel like he was part of a family again. The camaraderie was thick in the air.
Not only that, but he'd just finished a firing demonstration on deck with a one of the newer editions to the crew; a young man who'd managed to put together a weapon so foreign to him that Julian couldn't even begin to theorise how it worked. It was impressive, though, firing what seemed to be lightning, and was one of a few things he figured the Captain would like to discuss prior to landing.
Ducking his head as he descended the stairs down to the Captains quarters, Julian stopped for a moment, shaking a bit of pain out of his bad leg, before leaning back onto his cane and hobbled down the hall to the large, closed doorway that was his Captains quarters. The old man gave a few stern taps at the door with his cane and then, hearing no objection, slowly pushed it open.
The captain lay with her head on a stack of maps, her hand on the pages of an open book, her eyes closed. She'd been too excited to sleep, she had thought 6 hours earlier. She wanted to make sure she knew who to bribe, what to wear, how to act and who to get information from. Her maps were up to date enough, but the latest travel description she had was 60 years old. She had to rely a lot on her memories of her last visit. While she was thinking she had drifted off, until her head hit the desk in front of her and she started dreaming. Until in her dream a horse who walked on his hind legs started calling her 'Cap'n.. Cap'n...' She looked up and saw Julian looking at her with his one eye wide open, then quickly squinting.
'Master Salazar," she said as she straightened her back and moved her shoulder to get a kink out. She looked at the mess on the table. As she tried to tidy up, she asked: "What can I do for you? Oh! Did Sailor Marketh show you that new weapon?"
Julian made a type of 'hmph' sound as he took the Captains greeting, albeit a surprised one, as an invite to take a seat. He moved across the room, stealthily taking in the messy pile of papers and maps, and took a seat before the Captains desk, resting his cane against the wall.
"Yes, the new 'engineer' showed me the tricks up his sleeve. Not my cup of whiskey, ma'am, but no doubt impressive. And useful." He stopped at that, looking somewhat contemplative before making his next move. The old man slid off his disgruntled gentleman's hat and slithered his way into his negotiation guise.
"Captain, have you ever been to Elladia? I mean, recently." For the first time since Daenelia had met the Master Gunner, he seemed slightly nervous.
"Recently, no. It's been a few years." Daenelia frowned as she tried to remember how long ago it was. How old was she when...? 22? That long ago already? "Twelve years ago I last visited Elladia. It's ... It's not a very friendly place for a woman like me." She cleared her throat, trying to get rid of a choking feeling.
She looked at Salazar, wondering where the question came from. Maybe there were some recent events in Elladia that she was unaware of. She immediately began to doubt herself for leading the crew into an unknown situation, especially if the Master Gunner almost seemed nervous. She had heard or read no rumours of wars or clashes in Elladia. And there were no tales of Great Pirate Hunts, as there had been 5 years ago, when Elladia was trying to please Brittania by hanging or otherwise killing as many pirates as they could.
"We will be landing at a more .. pirate friendly island. I may know some people there who will let us dock, in relative peace. For the right price. If I am wrong, we will have a fight on our hands before we hit water. But I think we should be fine, if my sources are correct." She looked at a crumpled letter on the table, which was not too recent, but based on its content she was fairly sure she'd be warmly welcomed with her crew.
She could not help but ask, though. "Why? Something I should know about?"
Julian sat intently, listening, and gave a slight stroke of his beard as she asked the question, shifting in his seat. He'd been quite straight with the Captain when they first met, about his past and about where he'd come from, where he'd been.
"Nothing, Captain. Just a hunch is all. Curious, I s'pose. Never been into Erradia before myself, so wondered what we're in for." He offered an unconvincing smile and leant forward, reaching for his cane, convinced that his secrets could wait for another time.
"Just wondering on a few details too, is all. Y'know, is the whole crew expected to make landfall? How long's the stay to be? That kind of thing. I like to have a plan, Captain." The old man grunted, wondering right then and there if joining the Steamhawke had been a safe move.
The Captain was about to answer when the door burst open and Sailor Finn ran in. The Elphin was excited, that was clear. "Captain! You're needed on deck! Robinson just decided to give old McGinty a bath, with him being stuck on the deck still! It's funny, I'll admit, but McGinty is yelling he is drowning!"
Daenelia and Julian exchanged a look. "Can you handle him, Cap'n?" asked the Master Gunner. "Yes. Yes, I can," answered the Captain as she adjusted the scarf around her head and stomped out of her quarters.