Island of the Kahts~Part Five
King Greythan and six of his most trusted knights accompanied us to the docks the very next morning. It seemed the king planned to waste little time on reclaiming his island and re-cultivating his precious fruits. What I knew and he didn’t seem to realize yet was that such a voyage could not be made underway in such a short time with hardly any planning. The king had obviously not made a habit of sailing. We would need to run checks over the Waveblade to be sure she was sound and whole. We would need to outfit her with fresh, relatively imperishable food and a great many casks of water. Craigin would need maps and the advice of other sailors familiar with the area to tell him what maps could not.
A great adventure doesn’t, under normal circumstances, begin instantaneously. This leaves more time for people like me to worry. Adventures rarely end all at once either, which is an even greater cause for me and my peers to be worrisome. It is toward the end of an adventure, I have discovered, which is quite the most unpleasant time of the whole duration. For instance, you might spend an entire night in a flooded lagoon, chained to a post, while nasty unknown things slapped and slipped about your ankles, just waiting for your irrefutable demise—as I had done on our last sojourn. Or, it could be entirely pleasant. Such as sitting in the captain’s cabin of an infamous pirate, sipping lemonade, eating cakes, and dressed in riches, and peering surreptiously at aforementioned-pirate’s hands and coat in case a dagger should inopportunely decide to come into play—this was how Fern had spent the end of our last mission; though I can’t attest to whether or not she would have been just as happy with me and the slimy things. The pirate likely bored her near to death.
“There is a river that leads into our harbor.” the king explained to Craigin as we watched the shipyard activity all around us. “It looks like it doesn’t lead anywhere and that it’s too narrow for a ship to get through very far but it widens about a mile into the channel and comes to our little bay here.” he added, waving his hand at the large, round, lake-like body of water.
I groaned inwardly. “Sure would have been nice to know that a few days ago.” I muttered to Gern.
He nodded. “That’s an understatement.”
“Some of my own men will be accompanying you, naturally.” Greythan added and walked over towards the ships.
Craigin nodded but didn’t seem terribly happy by this statement and I understood why perfectly. Craigin, as captain, chose each member of our extended party as personally and methodically as he sharpened his dirks—which was great, I assure you—and had chosen only those whom he felt he could not only entrust with his ship but with his life. But he didn’t protest. “Can we have a small vessel send a message to my ship? Then we can bring her in and make sure she is well fitted for the journey, get fresh supplies and the like.” he proposed in as polite a tone as he could manage.
“Certainly,” the king said and nodded to a servant who immediately pulled out a piece of parchment and quill pen. “What shall the massage say?”
“'Come inland through slipstream—’” and here he paused in order to inquire the location of the river “—to docks and begin fully equipping ship for sea voyage.’” Craigin finished, looking out towards the sea as he spoke and then bringing his gaze back to the king and his entourage. “That should do well enough I think.”
“How long shall this all take?” the king then asked.
“For her to get here or for us to be ready to set sail?” Craigin inquired.
“Tomorrow, perhaps, if nothing at all is wrong and nothing impedes us.”
King Greythan nodded to his servant and the man hurried off with his message. “We should have your ship here within a few hours.” the king announced.
Craigin looked out to sea again. “I know.” he said quietly, reminding the king that he was a captain and knew more about ships and tides and almost everything else than Greythan would ever know.
The king shuffled one foot and then looked over at Gern and I, as Fern and Savadra had remained back at the castle. “Well, what do you men say about a nice lunch in my chambers?” he asked.
Craigin and King Greythan hadn’t exactly hit it off and Craigin looked decidedly uncomfortable at this suggestion. “I’m sorry, sir.” I said quickly. “But we already have plans for a meal.” Craigin shot me a discreetly grateful look.
“Ah, I see.” the king said though it was clear he didn’t. What could possibly be better than lunch with the king? Actually, the answer is often ‘quite a few things’. In fact, the answer in this case was more like ‘most everything except for being strung up by your toenails, or maybe being eaten by a giant who hasn’t brushed his teeth in eight years, or else accidentally stepping on Fern’s toe’. (I swear, these girls have it out for me and attack at the slightest provocation.)
“We should probably be heading back, lads.” Craigin said, bowing slightly to Greythan.
He always calls us lads—for that matter, he always calls Savadra and Fern lasses—and it sounds very cool and brusque and sea captainy. I have attempted to pull it off once or twice and have miserably failed in the attempt; having said it after striking what I fancied to be much the dramatic pose and before I promptly tripped and fell. Needless to say, I’ve stopped trying.
“Your majesty!” called a voice and we all turned to look.
A tall man with a long stride, straight brown hair that was cropped short around his ears, and dark brown eyes jogged towards. He nodded with a quick, formal air to Craigin, Gern, and I, but fixed his attention on the king.
“A message came from the ambassador for you, sir, he said it was urgent.” the man began. “Normally I wouldn’t think it worth your immediate attention but he made me promise to tell you at once and threatened to make war if you didn’t.” He smiled at us, flashing a set of perfect white teeth and I found myself smiling back.
Greythan was nodding. “Ah yes. He threw eggs last time, as I recall.”
“Your memory serves you well, my liege.”
“And before that he hung lace over the battle tapestries and cut the faces off the portraits in the Queens’ Hall.”
“Just so. Though, it might be said, a few of them could stand the improvement.”
“Improvement?!” Greythan fairly bellowed. “My man, that was a disgrace!”
The tall man offered a slight bow. “Absolutely disgraceful, yes sire. That’s what I meant.” His mouth was twitching and I had a sudden desire to see this gallery of portraits, defaced or no.
Greythan blinked. “Ahermm…yes.” he humphed. “Of course, I’ll see to it in a moment.
“Bart, this is ship Captain Craigin Slane and two members of his company, Torinnir Vongelli and Gern Thistlewhight-Fisk. Gentleman this is—”
The man didn’t allow the king to finish. “—Captain Bartholomew Remus of the king’s archers, a pleasure to meet you.” he said warmly, sticking out his arm for a handshake, we all shook his hand in turn and I found that his hand was strong and calloused. Not the type of man who let others do his work, I saw.
“Captain Bartholomew has been on Daarimere before and knows the island as well as anyone. I have placed him in charge of my soldiers going with you.” the king explained.
“But, of course, I myself will be under you, Craigin.” Bartholomew put in.
The king smiled awkwardly at us as a servant appeared at his shoulder and whispered in his ear. “Perhaps I will leave you two captains to get to know one another. It seems some eggs have gone missing in the kitchens.” he said and hurried back towards the castle.
Bartholomew watched him go and then turned to us. “I hope that you will refer to me as Bart as my friends do.” he said. “It’s a bit unrefined but I dare say Bartholomew is even more unwieldy.”
“Bart then,” Craigin said with a nod. “How many of your men will be accompanying us?”
“About fifty and a small crew to sail a second vessel. There’s safety in numbers, Greythan says. Tory, Gern, it is a pleasure to meet you all.” he added with an easy smile. “Would you and the other members of your crew care to join me tonight for a meal and to discuss some plans together before we depart?”
Since he had not heard our excuse to the king’s invitation and thus could not hold our words against us for the sake of his sovereign, we agreed and he gave us directions to his home, which was separate from the castle. I didn’t see why Sir Penerton seemed to dislike the captain; I sure liked him well enough. I began to wonder if the two had gotten into a dispute over something which had ruined their opinions of one another, though Bart hadn’t yet mentioned the gatekeeper and the only cause for argument I could think of might be over Vivian and that scenario I simply couldn’t imagine happening. The cook was sweet enough, but definitely not Bart’s type.
Savadra and Fern both joined us back at the castle and Craigin told her of our plans for dinner with Bartholomew. Not surprisingly, Savadra led us all down for a small lunch and then she and Fern disappeared.
Gern snorted as the two hurried away, whispering to each other and making odd gestures with their hands. “Girls; always have to fix themselves up and get all pretty.” he muttered. I didn’t mention the fact that I didn’t mind. I didn’t think he really did either.
Gern and I played all matter of games in his suite—I couldn’t stand to look at mine for more than three minutes and his was slightly more bearable if you positioned gaudy Gern at just the right place and made sure the closet doors stayed closed—until it was finally time to visit Captain Bartholomew. We packed away our things and walked out, ready for something else to do other than sitting in the same position until our legs fell asleep and playing go-fish with a deck of cards which had evidently become sentimental and let several of the fish go free.
We were escorted by three palace guards to the Bartholomew residence as evening painted the city as a red-gold jewel, its streets glistening and its rooftops reflecting so brightly that they looked like a long flat river shining in those last rays of day. Savadra pointed out different things to us on the way, smiling and explaining the customs of Montal. “Since when did you become such an expert?” I asked.
She shot me a look. “I read.”
“Yes, well so do I. Just not about anything as boring as all this nonsense you’ve been spouting.”
She nearly kicked me but hesitated and then just smiled. “Whatever you say.” And with that she turned to Fern and started talking to her instead.
Gern and Craigin did a double take.
Craigin rested his arm over my shoulder and sighed. “Better watch those two, lad. They’re bound to make trouble for you now.”