Arc 718, 12th of Saun
Port Diablo was perhaps not as lively and prosperous as the port of Scalvoris Town. However, its docks held a rich history and the waterfront was lined with the lairs of some of the greatest shipwrights this side of the world. Rynata would know this well, as it was from one of these builders that she had received her first ship. It was where her journey alone had begun.
Except now, as she walked the sun baked streets of Almund, she was no longer alone. Inora had declared that she would join her employer for the trip from Gunvorton and was striding ahead at a pace that had Rynata hurrying to keep up. Sticking to what little shade the buildings threw on the ground, the two of them breezed past old docks in disarray and silent ships waiting for their master's return.
"You know, I really thought you weren't coming back." Inora looked over her shoulder at Rynata, complaining. "All of a sudden you run off to play hero with the Elements. Not a word afterwards. You should have left others to deal with the black ship creeps."
"I'm sorry if I worried you," Rynata chuckled.
She had indeed been caught up in the initial fight and had been delayed for a few more trials in handling the aftermath. No doubt Inora had assumed her boss had gone and gotten herself killed at some point during that time. Still, the woman who appeared almost out of place in old Almund, was wrong about one thing. Rynata hadn't been playing hero. She had just been trying to keep herself as and others alive. This was something she hadn't entirely succeeded at, unfortunately. There was also the fact that she knew Inora hadn't exactly been patiently waiting for her return in Gunvorton. Someone had mentioned to her in passing that Wisteria Hall had been lifeless for a short time during the attacks.
"But I wasn't the only one who ran off, if you recall," Rynata added, brushing off the helpless feeling that rose up with the memories of the fighting.
"I was doing research," the taller woman retorted.
Rynata looked up at her haughty companion and grinned. She said all this, but it wasn't much of a stretch to guess exactly what she had been investigating. Ever since Inora had shown up at her door, she had been unusually interested in the strange happenings around Scalvoris as of late. In fact, it had been a while before she had gotten tired of interrogating Rynata for every last detail from her Sweetwine expedition.
"Then you'll have realized that it was a good thing to have focused all efforts on taking out the threat. Portals, fractures, weakening reality. Who knows, Scalvoris really could have been wiped off the map," Rynata said as they rounded a corner.
She saw Inora's eyes flash with interest but said no more. Her companion eventually shrugged, agreeing to let the argument die. It seemed that this time, both of them had various faults. Rynata wouldn't question Inora's behavior and in return, Inora would agree to at least stand by her employer's methods.
The two of them reached the particular set of docks Rynata had been looking for and was greeted by the sight of a few shipwrights cooling off in the shade. One of them, a particularly old and discontented looking man, rose from his chair to greet them.
"Look who's back," he grumbled in his gruff voice.
Rynata smiled and walked up to him while Inora chose to hang back a step.
"Look who's "alive and kickin'", as you happened to put it last time," Rynata chirped with a sense of nostalgia settling over her. It seemed so recent and yet so long ago that the two of them had stood next to The Gilded Siren in the dark of Cylus. "Besides, who did you think the order was for? You knew it was me, didn't you?"
"Well, you never know in these parts," the old shipwright muttered, eyeing Inora with suspicion. "If you want to take a look, the ship's this way."
With that, the old man started leading the way to the shipyard. Trailing behind him, Rynata noticed that the rest of the workers were abandoning their break, dispersing to take care of other work and commissions. One of them, a slightly hunched over figure with his hands in his pockets, matched their pace to accompany them to the yard. He picked up on her gaze and glanced over, catching her eye. Rynata smiled but quickly shook her head as if to say it was nothing, turning her attention instead to the road ahead. It was probably not her imagination that the look had been a glare, and she didn't want any conflict between her and anyone working for a valued business partner.
The small group halted in a half sheltered boathouse of sorts. There was a roof and walls surrounding the area where the shipwrights worked. This opened up into the water where a new ship was floating on quietly, still being worked on.
"She's nearly ready," the old man said, a little pride creeping into his voice as he regarded his creation. "I expect you'll be wanting to look around below deck as well. Go on ahead. Mind the tools." He said, taking a seat on a nearby stool. "Walter!" he turned to the man who had followed them and jerked his head toward the pristine cog. "Make sure they don't bring the ship apart."
The untrusting shipwright left behind, Rynata skipped up the gangplank and onto the deck of the cog that she had asked her old acquaintance to craft. As with the smaller sloop, everything was well fitted and smoothly put together. Small details that had been painstakingly planned and brought to life jumped out at her from all over the vessel. Though there were indeed tools scattered here and there, clear that away after adding the finishing touches and the ship would be properly seaworthy.
As Rynata flitted excitedly from one corner of the ship to another, the man, Walter, simply trailed a distance behind her, ensuring that she indeed did not manage the spectacular feat of ruining the fresh creation. Inora leaned her weight on the mast looking almost bored. The one time Rynata passed her by, she caught her arm to whisper to her that she had better have negotiated an advantageous price for the craft.
"Well, I have. You saw the records." When her self appointed treasurer still looked unhappy, she shook her head. "Let's not get carried away with how much we can skim, yes?" Rynata said, looking at Inora. "I'd rather keep reliable friends happy with the prices we offer. And it's not a bad investment we're throwing money at. Otherwise, I wouldn't."
"I don't know about that," Inora huffed doubtfully, but fell silent, following Rynata below deck.
The hold of the ship was dim and smelled of freshly cut wood and varnish. The space was partly divided into what would be storage and sleeping quarters. Empty hooks dotted the walls and a few thoughtful shelves protruded here and there. For now, the area was spacious and empty.
As Rynata made to examine the sleeping quarters, however, there was a loud crash and the mixture of the sounds from several feet and stranger's voices echoed into the space below deck from outside. The heads of all three people in the cog snapped toward the sound. Whatever it was, wasn't normal, as now, angry voices came filtering in through the wood. Rynata thought she heard the old shipwright's voice fading in and out among them, but couldn't be quite sure. Both she and Walter made a move for the stairs and the hatch.
"Don't be stupid!" Inora hissed angrily, stepping between the two of them and the exit. "What's your brilliant plan?!"
Walter looked just about ready force his way past, but Rynata pressed a finger to her lips and looked imploringly at the other two. As was pointed out, they didn't know exactly what was going on, and it would be three able bodied people against what sounded like multiple angry men. Rynata wasn't sure about Walter, but that didn't sound like favorable odds for her and Inora.
Alright! she mouthed to Inora, nodding to show that she understood her point. Rynata assumed she realized this, but the other woman's voice carried a fair bit, even in a whisper. If they really did want to keep their presence a secret, then silence was key.
From outside came another loud crash and voices clearer than before.
"We know that Filliman bastard hid it with you! Where's the journal?!"