Peino and Jeneyeru found an out-of-the-way spot along the port rail from which to watch the launch of La Danse Calinda.
Both took the interested note of experienced mariners of the rigging and superstructure of the airship, which they saw was essentially a modified sailing vessel. Peino commented on the well-trained precision with which Lafitte’s crew handled the strange mechanics, which, in his opinion, spoke well of the captain. Jeneyeru pointed out where he detected the faint thrill of aura energy, on the parts that had been enhanced by enchanters.
“I shall have to measure the aura levels,” he said. “If this ship is too noticeable, why, we may as well have used the Cairn Hawk.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised if that fellow there can help you with that,” said Peino, indicating a robust dwarf who seemed to be managing the deck crew much as Vaet Longblade and Tahain o’th’Farwind did aboard the Marsh King’s Daughter. The proprietary manner in which he strode the main deck and laid his hands upon the various parts of the ship suggested to Peino one who must be at least as familiar with La Danse Calinda as her captain, who oversaw all like a hawk from the castle deck above them.
“Such a dashing figure,” said Jeneyeru. “And did he not look very fine in that navy blue?”
“I did not notice, Jeney,” Peino smiled, though he was certainly noticing things about Jean Lafitte III now, as was Jeneyeru, aside from his personal interests. Each a captain and master of a ship in his own right, the two of three Ereonis brothers, watched with great interest how the Flying Eorman handled his vessel, sharing occasional comments on his manner and methods, until the final cast-off was called and La Danse Calinda rose into the buffeting rain and wind.
“Oh!” cried Jeneyeru with pleasure as he secured his broad hat over his mass of braids. “It feels rather different without magic.”
The selkies leaned their elbows on the rail and watched the city of Sesus recede and spread out below them.
“A novel perspective,” said Peino of the bird’s eye view, adding, “and a fresh breeze as well.”
“Shall we sing it for them?”
Peino considered it. “Not yet. Let us see how they handle it first. After all, it’s not that strong a wind. The funnel storms of the Vortex Zone are worse. Come, let us join Captain Lafitte on the castle, now that the crew seem to be settling into their routine.”
“Yes, let’s,” Jeneyeru eagerly agreed. “Mistress O’Tulvar — where is that girl?” And, looking around for Lotye, the brothers ascended to the castle deck, assuming the privilege of captain-passengers all over Aeldreth, as the Calinda made her bearing north-northeast.
— — —
Meanwhile, Thimble was gaining a different perspective on the Calinda and her crew and appointments. Below in the lower decks, he had located the head, the galley, the general crew quarters, and the officers’ ward room, committing much of the interior layout to memory as he went. He was so small (at the moment), and the ship so busy, that he went mostly unnoticed. If challenged, he professed to be lost, displayed the tin of coffee under his arm, and asked the way to the galley (though he already knew where it was).
Of particular note so far to the Lord Magus’s valet was the chamber full of strange, unmoving, heavy clockworks where he’d glimpsed the ship’s wizard at work. Also the main cargo hold, almost completely vacant. Leaving port empty — hallmark of pirates. There was one more thing he wished to check before finally going to brew a pot of coffee for his employers. Asking another crewman the way to the galley, he set off for where he thought the magazine would be. He wanted to see just how well armed these “privateers” were.