Moving with practiced certainty through the dark cabin, Rynata's hand bumped against the lantern. These darkened trials of Cylus had proven it an indispensable tool for simply getting around. It remained trustworthy as after some fiddling, light burst into the room. Dropping down to closely examine the floor, Rynata gently placed the lantern where it would not throw her own shadow in her way.
The section of the floor in question did not at first appear to be very different from the others. They were all strong planks, still relatively new and devoid of scratches, as the proud owner would point out to anyone who asked. However, one board was indeed inadequately fitted. More acurately, it looked to be cut to about the right size, but the problem was that it had come a bit loose. Intending to see if it could be refitted, Rynata carefully dug her fingers into the edges of the board to pry it up. The thing came up easily enough, but what was really interesting was what she found beneath. Between this layer of floor and the true base of the ship, there was a small space. What was more, a dark rectangular object was resting in the previously undisturbed place below. Drawing her lantern closer so that light would shine down into the mystery storage area, Rynata drew out a dusty old journal. Eyes round and blinking at the strange stowaway on her ship no less, her gaze were immediately drawn to the name lettered on the front of the journal's leather binding.
First Mate Sherkel P. Filliman
Setting aside the find for a moment, Rynata took the time to peek back into the storage area. Nothing else. The rest of the space held nothing remarkable save for some fine motes of dust filtering across the ray of lantern light. With a mounting sense of childish excitement, she fitted the board back over the hidden storage, not bothering to hide the smile playing across her lips. Everyone could appreciate this sort of discovery, couldn't they? It was just the sort of thing that would crop up in Father's stories. Even the most practical person who claimed to have no interest in so called foolishness would have to admit that secret compartment was an excitingly useful thing to have. She was already counting on it for future use.
However, as she gazed at the place where she now knew there was an intentionally loose board, she couldn't help but notice how well hidden it was. In fact, if the board hadn't come loose, she the captain, would probably never have known about it. Shouldn't the old man back at the port, who had been responsible for her ship, have brought this sort of thing to her attention? Unless he himself didn't know about it. There were plenty of old or unfinished ships that must have been fixed up in the yard, so it was possible that this section simply had never been discovered. Well, regardless of how the compartment came to be, the journal was almost calling her to read it. If things went her way, the contents might even help her solve this little mystery aboard her ship.
Rynata swung back onto her heels and rose up with the momentum, wandering backwards until the back of her legs hit the chair. Folding into it, she set the lantern on the table and turned the journal about in her hands once more, but only the same name jumped out at her. There was nothing else to indicate its origin. Prepared to spend the rest of the late afternoon reading, she settled into her chair with the discovery.
If she could assume that this First Mate was the author, then they had intended this journal to be a record of their service on board various vessels. Flipping through the very first pages revealed that Sherkel had been under the employ of one of the pirate lords. He noted all their strange disappearances as he had been ashore at the time. When it became clear that work with the pirate lords was no longer available, he then signed on with the Scalvoris navy. Most of the journal was taken up by this leg of their service. Pages detailed duties as first mate and held excerpts from the logs of a few missions. After some time, the pages became the records of his experiences after he left the navy. Most prominent were the days of when he worked as a fisherman in Havardr. These last few pages were memos on catch locations and calculations for how much they had managed to earn in terms of market prices. However, on very last page in the book, the man noted of a job offer he had received to join a smuggle crew based out of Egilrun.
Turning back a few pages, Rynata attempted to glean more information, as the last few words left an uneasy feeling in her chest. Even so, there was nothing more to indicate how the man had fared afterwards. It was strange enough to find this on her ship and now that there was such an ending to the first mate’s journal, she couldn’t help but feel concerned. For a moment, it didn’t cross her mind that having been a pirate, or at least close enough to them in proximity, the man probably knew what he was doing. Still, criminal activities were best avoided. Anyone in her family had a word or two to say about brigands and pirates that harmed a healthy economy. As it was, she couldn’t imagine this particular smuggling operation to be a good thing.
Letting the journal fall shut, Rynata pushed back the chair and stretched. Of course, she could try and find the journal’s previous owner. She could try to track him down, but then what? What if he was perfectly happy in his new occupation? Then, she would have involved herself in something she shouldn’t. Could she perhaps try and interfere?
For a few moments, Rynata sat with her head bowed, strumming out a haphazard rhythm on the edge of the table. She would keep an eye and an ear out for this Sherkel. Especially if she ever ran errands to Egilrun. For now, it was still early evening and the taverns seemed like a good place that might be able to sate her curiosity.