The brig towered over the Lady Jean
as the smaller vessel pulled close. The masts looked so tall, as though they might pierce the very sky itself, and the silhouette of a head leaned over the side.
"Who goes there?"
called a male voice from above, and the father and son in the small rowboat took a moment to look at each other.
the younger Baer yelled back, the slightest hint of a grin pulling at one side of his mouth as he watched for his father's reaction.
"Cap'n comin' aboard!"
came the reply, and the cry was echoed by other sailors on the brig's deck who could not be seen from the rowboat.
Darius' grin grew into a smile as Josef cocked a grey eyebrow at the sailor's cry.
the father mouthed, somewhat confused but clearly impressed.
Darius didn't have time to respond before a rope ladder descended, its wooden rungs clattering against the hull of the larger ship, until its length settled just above the water. The bearded blond pulled his oars into the Lady Jean
and carefully stood, before slowly reaching out for a rung. Grabbing hold of one of them, he gently pulled on it, which drew the rowboat closer to the larger vessel.
"I know you thought Ma might sink,"
Darius grinned, unable to hide how proud he was of himself, "but this beauty definitely won't!"
Josef chuckled at the jest, though he was not capable of swallowing his surprise.
"How in all of Idalos did you acquire this, lad?"
Darius guffawed. His father was rarely caught so off guard, and the sight of him sitting on one of the thwarts
of the rowboat as his son stood, still gripping the ladder.
"It's from the scavenger hunt, Da."
"I knew you'd won something, lad,"
Josef replied with a shake of his head, "but this...this is something special."
Darius grinned as he reached a hand out for his father, who took it, carefully pulling himself up to his feet. The elder Baer stepped towards his son, making his way over the central thwart and, as Darius steadied the Lady Jean
from losing its balance, he clapped the younger man on the shoulder before he grabbed hold of the ladder.
You've done me proud, lad,"
Josef grinned. "Ma, too."
With that, Darius' father began to climb the rope ladder. The brig's captain remained in the rowboat for a few moments, watching the other man's ascent. Josef Baer had not been at sea for a few arcs, but Darius realised that the old fellow had lost none of his skills. He might not have been as young and fit as he had once been, but his experience showed.
Reaching underneath the nearest thwart, Darius pulled out a coil of rope and he promptly tied one end to the rope ladder. The other end was already tied to a loophole at the rowboat's bow.
He looked up once more. He had followed his father in so many ways. They had similar personalities, and were both passionate about woodworking and the sea. And then, as he took hold of the ladder and stepped onto the bottom rung, he followed his father one more time.