Ch. 233. First Preparations

Soon after Captain Lafitte left the Embassy of the Grand Navigators, Peino Starhand returned to it.

The two brothers mutually reported the news of the morning, and Jeneyeru laid the his plan before Peino.

“Very well,” the Prince said simply, “let’s get to it.”

A short while later, he was seated with his officers in the captain’s cabin of the Marsh King’s Daughter, issuing his instructions.  As they listened, Captain Starhand’s most trusted aides, advisors, and cohorts exchanged worried, uncertain, and darkly scowling looks.

Finally, Tahain o’th’Farwind spoke for all.

“I hate it,” he said.

“What do you hate about it, Tahain?” Peino said with a smile.  “That we are bound for isolated, bandit-infested mountains and a gaggle of high-level wizards who are up to who-knows-what?  That we are carrying a handful of alien demons with the power to corrupt all weaker spirits within their range?  That we shall be flying in a clap-trap dragon-lure with at least one probable assassin?  Or that you will not be coming along?”

The First Mate growled in frustration.

“He should come along,” said Bosun Vaet Longblade.  “We all should.  It’s not right that you take this quest with those likely villains but not your own people.”

“Even assuming the worst possible honor in our hosts, I do not think there will be room for all of you.”

“I do not assume honor, good or bad,” said Tahain.

“Nor do I,” answered Peino, “but the fact remains, you will not all get on board the Calinda.  Possibly none of you will, but on the chance, I must choose who will be the most likely use, and that is Nyora.  Only my dear cousin Watersinger can turn this literally accursed storm to our service.”

“What if the eorman won’t take her aboard?” said Nyora’s husband Lariud, and Peino had to allow that as a possibility.

“I may be able to devise some way around that,” the weather wizard said, tapping her chin in thought.

“And what shall the rest of us do in the meantime?” asked Tahain.

“Aye and what of our cargo?” Quartermaster Aelaiss Grayboar added.  “Ten million celestins in silks and spices meant to be sold in Plesz during the Triumvirate.”

Peino sighed.  There were times he wished he could be as high-handed with those close to him as he could with ministers and kings. These meetings would be shorter.

“Sell or trade the cargo here,” he said. “I daresay the gods won’t mind, nor will the shareholders.  Grayboar, I give you charge of that.  As Financial Secretary of Three Bears Trading, you can manage it, I’m sure.  Tahain, I give you charge of the Daughter in my absence, as usual.  Iviar has promised us white serpent scales to replace the plating we lost battling those spriggans and their filthy pet, as well as anything else we need from the royal shipyard.  See to the crew and the repairs.”

He laid a hand on his seething friend’s arm.  “You know she is the most precious thing in the world to me, and I would put her in no hands but yours.”

“As for the rest of you,” he paused, calculating, “find out what you can about a gang-leader called Ashcat.  If anything comes to light, figure out some way to get word to me.  Nyora, meet me at the dock of the Calinda about sunset.  Now, if there are no further items for discussion, I am off.  I need maps of Raurugia.”

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