There were grumbles among the crew about the captain's choice to stop outside Immortal's Tongue and Ulric couldn't help but agree. There was no trade to be had with the shrines- no trade that he knew about. A lot of the sailors were superstitious and Ulric knew that they had good reason to be. He was marked by Sintra and would be forever bound in her service. She had brought him back to life and created the body he walked around in now. She'd also tried to destroy him but it was a complicated moment and they both were playing the roles that they needed to. He could not have continued to support her in Etzos and he hoped she knew it. He hoped that he was free to do as he wanted but so long as her mark lingered on his body he couldn't be sure. He had a bad feeling that one trial she would want something and when she did, there was too much between them to refuse. Despite the cruel way it came to pass, Sintra had restored his life. She gave him what he wanted. It wasn't her fault that he did bad things to make it happen.
When Vane and his bodyguard assembled a group to take a longboat to the island, Ulric did not volunteer to go. He had no desire to set foot on a land that many of the sailors believed the Immortals were watching closely. Doing something like that invited danger. Even if he worshipped other immortals, he wouldn't have gone onto Immortal's Tongue- there were shrines that drew less focus in other places.
Arryk and Fern were still around and Ulric occasionally spoke with them but meetings were becoming shorter and further apart. They ate together once a trial and caught up on what was happening on the ship. Certain topics were off limits, mostly things pertaining to what it was that they were actually trading. Everyone was happy to talk about people they met ashore, things they drank, brawls they got into, but nothing about the trade. Ulric never pushed very hard because he was content not knowing for a long time. Instead whenever conversation turned to him he would ask about running the ship since there was still a lot he didn't know. They would tell him very basic things in addition to what they had already told him.
Apart from those relatively new faces, he had also begun talking to an older member of the crew that everyone called One Eye despite the fact that he still had both of his eyes. One Eye wore an eyepatch but only so that one of his eyes was always adjusted to the dark. He could pass from above deck to below deck without needing them to adjust. Ulric had learned that his name was actually Pendros but One Eye did indeed sound better. Pendros One Eye joined Arryk, Fern and Ulric for a few meals but as a group their schedules didn't often line up enough for them all to talk together. It was thought of as a small ship but as soon as you tried to organize anything it began to feel like a very large ship. Strange. Ulric didn't linger on it. Pendros taught Ulric about the parts of a ship. Ulric knew basic things such as what a mast and a sail were but Pendros explained the more elaborate parts that might be shouted while trying to set up the ship.
He learned what a foremast, mizzenmast, and mainmast were but not the difference between them apart from positioning on the ship. It was a lot of terminology but not much about what each part of the ship did. It helped, though, because it gave Ulric a much better sense of what everyone was talking about around him while he was cleaning. Pendros also talked to Ulric about the roles on the ship and how each role came together under the lead of the captain to make the ship function. Again, it felt basic, but hearing it explained helped provide context and clarity about where he was.
While the captain and a few of his closer crew members went ashore, Ulric went through his cleaning routine again. It was about mid-trial so the suns were high in the sky and Ulric was cleaning the small cabins on the ship. He was expected to clean everywhere except the captain's quarters because the captain 'valued his privacy' while also wanting to 'know what the crew's working with.' It was always more relaxing than cleaning the deck because it was the one time of the trial that Ulric was alone with his thoughts. Time to reflect wasn't always a good thing but Ulric was content and that was enough for him. None of the crew knew where he'd come from and none of them knew what he was. They called him Zatara and he was getting used to the name. It wouldn't last but for the time being it worked. He didn't like the sound of Ulric.
In an effort to distract himself from his thoughts slowly spinning back to his time as a ghost, Ulric began to pay a little more attention to the room around him. The small cabins were a lot nicer than the crew quarters. The quartermaster and the surgeon aboard had their own cabins but the surgeons cabin was more of a small hospital than a room to sleep in. The surgeon slept there, just not comfortably. At the moment Ulric was cleaning the quartermaster's room and a quick look around revealed a lot. It was remarkable how much you could figure out from looking at peoples things.
The quartermaster had a locked chest on the far side of the cabin right beside the bed that they slept on. It was the only thing that was locked and so whatever was inside must have been valuable. Ulric could press his face through and take a peek but he didn't. He wasn't that curious but he also knew he wasn't likely to be alone for much longer. What was remarkable about the room was what was missing from it. There had been so many boxes piling up around the ship over the last few trials that Ulric was considering opening one to find out what they were moving, but he never had and now he noticed that the boxes were missing. With his cleaning done, he began to wander around the ship in search of any of the cargo that they'd had a few trials ago.
It was all gone.
The down side of keeping your nose out of the captains business was that he knew very little about anything that was happening. It would have been fine before the meeting in Almund that he overheard but now he was curious. Ulric looked around to make sure no one was watching him and found one of the other crew members, who's name he didn't know, walking the room. Damn. He'd been spotted in the room so he needed to be seen walking out of the room too. Better not to risk it now. Ulric went back to work and kept the curiosity in the back of his mind.
When the suns went down, he'd press his luck to see what he could find out.
It was easier to move around the ship at night since most of the crew was asleep. There were always a few sailors around but Ulric had slipped through worse situations. He waited until deep into the night when the sound of snoring filled the crew area and he slowly shifted his body from flesh to ectoplasm and from visible ectoplasm to invisible ectoplasm. He wasn't the most sneaky person in the world but he had a pretty massive advantage when it came to moving around unnoticed. He could not be seen. Not unless there was a Zuuda aboard. Ulric rolled out of his hammock and tried to set his feet on the floor as gently as possible to avoid making noise.
He slowly inched across the floor towards the door out of the crew quarters and as he did he made sure to check each sailor he passed. If any of them were awake, he wanted to see if they'd notice him. Invisible or not, he was still tangible. A few more steps without any issue. Two steps. He made it through the doorway and out into the hall. At the far end of the hall there were stairs leading up onto the deck and on either side of the hall there were doors leading into small cabins and storage compartments. Ulric was never allowed in the storage compartments either now that he thought about it. He pushed forward into the hallway with a little more confidence until the floor beneath him creaked loudly. He froze where he was standing and looked around to see if anyone had heard him.
A door swung open behind him and a sailor came out of the storage area with an old, jingling burlap bag that had been bound at the top by twine. He didn't seem to notice the creaking noise since they were on a ship at sea and there were normally a lot of noises at night. Ulric let out a deep breath and the sailor didn't notice that either but he did turn and start walking towards the invisible man. Ulric's unseen eyes widened and he moved to put his back to the wall. The floor creaked again but now it was hidden by the other sailor's approaching steps and the jingling in the burlap sack. The invisible man held his breath again as the sailor moved past him and slowly down the hall.
It seemed as if he had gone unnoticed but before he could celebrate and familiar voice rang out from the deck above. "I'll take it from here, the captain thanks you." Mallory said to the sailor with the burlap sack. Lucas Mallory, the assassin and thief working to protect the captain, came down the steps and little and took the sack into his hands. He cut the twine and opened it before producing a handful of nels from inside the bag and handing them over to the sailor. "For your discretion." Mallory said to the sailor before they both moved back up to the deck.
Nels in a bag from the storage space? What in the Beneath was happening on this ship?
Ulric took a step to follow them but this time when the floor creaked, Mallory seemed to notice it. The assassin stopped half way up the stairs and turned, but saw nothing. Ulric froze again while Mallory lingered staring right at him. Mallory shrugged and moved back upstairs.
Too close. Ulric decided as he backed towards the doorway into the crew quarters. He inched through the room back to his cot and laid down as he had been before the little gander around. He pulled his blanket over him and allowed his body to reappear beneath it as he drifted off to sleep.