“Understood, Captain,” said Peino in answer to Lafitte’s caveat. He turned to his crew members with a mildly triumphant smile. “As predicted, though four is more generous than the two I expected. Arguments, proposals?”
“I must have Mistress O’Tulvar,” said Jeneyeru quickly.
“Indeed, brother?” Peino considered both his wizard triplet and the young lady. “Hm. Very well. That leaves us Mistress Watersinger and Mister Thimble.”
Tahain o’th’Farwind stepped forward, “Captain, I–”
“No, Tahain. You have a mission, to run down that Ashcat fellow and his associates. I cannot over-stress the importance of that.”
The First Mate made no attempt to hide his frustration. “Aye, Captain.”
“Lafitte has a weather wizard, hasn’t he?”
“Yes, she was with him in Kledy, but she’s just some forest elf, I believe,” said Nyora Watersinger, betraying a prejudice born of professional competitiveness.
Peino smiled indulgently. “Then it seems we should take Mr. Thimble,” he said to both Jeneyeru and the faerie in question, whose enthusiasm at having won a place on La Danse Calinda seemed somewhat subdued.
“I wish we had thought to disguise you before we set out,” said Jeneyeru looking his valet up and down. “We could likely have carried you on board and no one the wiser.”
“Perhaps not,” Peino interjected. “Discovery of a stowaway might only create trouble before we need it.” The group nodded agreement. “Anyway, it may be more to our advantage to keep Mr. Thimble’s skills under wraps for now.”
“True, true,” said Jeneyeru. Thimble said nothing at all, but merely nodded.
“Right then,” the Prince was saying, “‘tis decided. Tahain, I am counting on you.”
Farewells were made, and the party of four marched up the boarding ramp. As they stepped onto the Calinda’s deck, the captains, Peino Starhand and Jeneyeru Nightwise, paid their respects to their host captain, Jean Lafitte III, who handed them off to his lookout, Ionas Farseer, to conduct them to their assigned quarters.
The noble brothers greeted the noble lookout graciously, but with the restraint appropriate to his being on duty. They did not hesitate to follow him as bidden, but all the same, they each stole looks at their surroundings, taking note of what they could see of the Calinda’s appointments, of the unique superstructure that held the great air bag above, and of the grizzled and nefarious-looking crewmen who surrounded them.
“Thank you so very kindly for your hospitality, dear Captain Lafitte,” said Jeneyeru, acting as spokesman. “We shall be squared away in but a moment and then shall await your pleasure. Mr. Farseer, pray lead on.”