Beau Bergeron felt the shudder of the rope as it began jerking him upwards. Despite the numbness of his limbs from the cold and the rain, he could feel that it was the rope pulling him and not people. The jerks were too regular, too rhythmic. Beau smiled. He’d seen this trick before.
As he slowly climbed to the point where he could grab the railing, he saw the girl he handed the rope off to offering him her hand. He gave her his left hand but did most of the pulling with his right, and when he managed to get onto the rail Mr. Ogges pulled him up by his shoulders.
“You know, if you plan to do this trick regularly, you should probably think about placing a few strong men up here to get you back up again afterwards, not just some little girl like me,” the girl had said.
Beau smirked. “Hopefully your boy down there don’t make me have to do it too often, ma fille” he said, never one to miss out on a barb of his own.
“Commander!” Beau heard one of his crossbowmen shout. The man was panting like he’d run from across the ship “The Captain needs to see you!”
“Thanks, I’ll see him immediately, the castle de–” He was cut off as he saw Tayliana out of breath. “You alright?” he asked, and Tayli looked up.
“I’ll be fine, just a little drained,” she said and then stood up straight. “Just a little aura burn, I’ll need a rest I think. Glad you’re alright though.”
She smiled, and Beau smiled back. “Thanks for making sure I was, chère” he said. As he turned to leave he nodded at Larman, “You too Mr. Ogges”, and he began making his way to the castle deck. Even if he couldn’t help Peino, he could at least make headway with the Wizard and the Dwarf. When the time came, he’d need allies to throw off suspicion.
“Easier said than done, Captain,” he said as he heard his captain assuring the Lord Magus they would retrieve his brother.
Lafitte looked to see his First Mate coming at him a little the worse for wear. “Beau, you look dreadful, d’ami.”
“Yeah, I’d imagine I do, went after the Prince,” Beau said. He winced a bit as he realized he’d slipped up and called Peino by his and the Captain’s traditional nickname, but he figured the Prince’s brother wouldn’t be able to get the reference. “He’s went and gotten himself lost in the trees,” he finished.
“Yes, we’re aware,” Lafitte said, and he started rolling himself another cigarette. “In fact, we were just discussing our intention to land and get him, for which I require your assistance. As you were the last person to see him, I’d like an approximation of where he’s at.” Lafitte lit his smoke.
“Well, judging by our drift,” Beau said, and he bit his lip as he thought, “I’d say around a kilometer back that way.”
Beau pointed behind the ship and Lafitte, not for the first time, wondered at the boy’s insistence upon using foreign European measurements. They always sounded odd to his ears though he could approximate the meaning.
Lafitte nodded. “Then we need to find a clearing around here. Lord Magus, you may wish to make preparations. I’m fixin’ to take the helm.” Lafitte ascended the stairs to the top of the castle deck. From its vantage point, he had a window of vision above the bow and below the balloon. Raising his hand he signaled the crew to redirect their sails to point the Calinda down, no small task with the ship’s maneuverability damaged by the loss of the forward rigging.
Lafitte grimaced as he observed the damage fully – it was like a scar – but as he looked it over, he noticed a small outcropping of rock on the forested slope, and gave the signal for full descent. The balloon’s air was cooled down, and the Calinda began to lose altitude. As the ship neared the clearing, her well-trained crew immediately tended to their duties, and Lafitte’s swell of pride cheered him up. The ship would be up and running before their time was up, he knew it.
A series of grapples and weights were dropped and attached to various points among the rocks and the ship was now close enough to the ground that Lafitte could easily jump himself down to the floor without need of a basket.
“Get ready gentlemen, our hunt begins,” he said with a smile, taking a final drag on his cigarette and crushing it beneath his boot upon the rain soaked deck.