Arc 718, 12th of Saun
Upon hearing the distinct name 'Filliman', followed by the word 'journal', Rynata went through the curious experience of feeling both confusion and satisfaction at the same time. Confusion at running into the mystery she thought had been buried for good, and satisfaction at seeing the pieces start to fall into place once more. She froze in place as raised voices continued to fall on her ears. After all, she had discovered the journal in question within The Gilded Siren from this very shipyard. In fact, it was currently lying at the bottom of a chest on board that sloop. Not forgotten, but placed to the side. It had to be the same one the men were yelling about.
Someone grabbed her shoulder and dragged her back to the present. Rynata looked up to see Walter looking intense and impatient.
"Hey! What the hell are we doing. If you're just going to stand there..." he whispered urgently.
By now, the commotion outside was loud enough that they could be less worried about being heard.
"Oh. Yes. Of course not." Rynata said, pulling herself together. "Can we get off the ship without being seen?"
Walter gave a nod in the affirmative and quickly disappeared up the stairs. Rynata followed close behind and paused at the top when the shipwright came to a halt. He pointed to starboard side as opposed to the direction they had boarded the ship from and Rynata could see what he had in mind. Both sides of the ship had a platform leading up to it. Most likely used by the shipwrights when they worked on a craft. If they used the cabin as cover, they could slip off the right side and onto that walkway, unseen from where the men were throwing their weight around.
Rynata peeked out from between the railings of the ship, and counted five men. Two were cornering the old man while the rest were tearing the work place apart in a rather aggressive search. Walter also seemed to be calculating the odds as Rynata slipped out ahead of him and pressed along the side of the cabin to the other end of the ship. As no sudden shout went up, she assumed that she had indeed made it undiscovered.
Disembarking the ship was another matter, however, as there was no helpful gangplank down to the shipyard platform. Instead it was quite the drop. Swinging her legs over the railing, Rynata turned around to grip the side of the ship, lowering herself as much as she could before letting go. Dropping close to the ground, she managed to land on the walkway with a soft thump. Pain from the impact shot up her ankle but she was familiar with this sensation. It wouldn't impede her for long. Walter quickly followed her, but with a noisier landing.
Though the two of them braced for discovery, the old shipwright on the other side of the ship happened to raise his voice just at that moment. Or perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing.
"I'm telling you, I don't have it! I don't have the habit of keeping trashy journals lying around. It probably got thrown out arcs ago."
Crisis averted, Rynata turned to Walter questioningly. What should they do? Run for help? People had to be close by, though whether or not they would help was a different matter. This was Almund, after all. If they could just lure them out from between the walls, perhaps someone would notice the thugs and come to their aid or at least take enough interest to discourage any violence.
Dashing quietly along the walkway, Rynata emerged back to where the group had entered the workshop. From there, she could see that one of the strangers had grabbed the old man by the collar and had dragged him up to eye level. The poor shipwright's gaze shifted to where she was standing by the entrance, encouraging the thug holding him to do the same. The rest of the men around them followed suite.
"Ah, bad timing perhaps," Rynata said, sounding out of place under everyone's stares. "But I have some important business with the gentleman there, so if you could find some other time for all this." She gestured to the transformed workshop. When they had entered, it had been in ordered disarray. Now, however, tables were overturned and tool boxes had been kicked around. She doubted she could convince the threatening group to actually leave. Still, if talking would buy them time, she had plenty of words.
"Right back at you, girl. We're busy. Now scram, before we make you." Unfortunately, only one of the men moved closer to her out toward the open, and he seemed more annoyed than angry or threatened.
"Well, there's a chance I could help you. Are you looking for something?" Rynata asked, nodding at the trashed workshop. "It can't not help to ask around. That way, you get what you want and we can all go about our day."
"You know this geezer?" The man currently gripping the old man in question glared suspiciously at her.
"He happen to pass on a journal, by any chance?"
Rynata looked down for a trill, hoping it would look like she was giving the matter some thought.
"No, but speaking of journals. I recently ran across someone asking around about an old journal that came into their possession. First Mate, something. Filliman, I think it was."
That caught the rest of the men's attention and they dropped the old shipwright to start stalking toward her.
"What're you talking about? Who had it? Where's it now?" A Biqaj with tattoos running up both his arms and disappearing into his shirt stomped closer, a greedy gleam in his eye.
Rynata took a few steps back and the gang followed. "One of my acquaintances from out at sea," she shook her head, as if throwing her friend under the horse-drawn carriage was preferable to conflict. "You wouldn't know him. He said he found the journal in a sloop he got from this old man here. So I thought it must be what you wanted."
There of course, was no such friend. Rynata herself had made the discovery. Behind the thugs, the old man looked down. He would know that, of course. He had planted the journal there. From the corner of her eye, Rynata thought she spotted Inora's silhouette slip off the ship, but she kept her eyes trained forward.
"Why don't I contact him for you," Rynata continued. "He wanted to return the journal to its rightful owner anyway. Let's say we meet back in Port Diablo in three days time. He can hand off the journal to you, or I can do it in his stead."
The men looked at each other, and the other Biqaj nodded.
"Sounds like a good plan, but we're not waiting three days," he smirked. "And I'm not stupid. Can't have you running off and breaking promises. I think you'll be coming with us."
Rynata skipped backwards and laughed a little nervously. "I'd rather not, actually. You have my word, you'll get your journal. It's nothing to me."
"I'll vouch for that," Walter had reappeared now with a crossbow in hand, which he leveled at the men. "Take the deal or leave it. I'd be interested to see you try and renegotiate."
The five men balked at the weapon but they had dangerous tools of their own. From their belts flashed various kinds of steel, and they eyed the new threat cautiously. There was a chance the first bolt could take one of them down, but the rest depended on how fast they could close the distance.
Suddenly, a high-pitched female scream pierced all their ears. From somewhere out of sight, Rynata could hear Inora shouting.
"Officers! Over here! There's been an attack!"
The group of men looked at each other and bolted. Racing off before the Elements could further complicate matters. The Biqaj gave Rynata a glare and a nod, appearing to accept the terms before disappearing down the road.
As soon as they were gone, Inora came strolling into view with not an Element soldier in sight.
"What. Was that about?" she frowned at her employer.
"Well, thank you, first of all. But I'll tell you later," Rynata nodded to her. She approached the old shipwright, saying a little gently, "I believe I still owe you payment."
The man said nothing. Both of them knew where the journal actually was, and now it was up to Rynata to take care of it. Wordlessly, the man pressed back a few coins that the sailor had produced from her purse.
"For your troubles," he finally muttered.
"I had a name for the ship in mind. I was thinking, The Morgana. How does that sound?" Rynata smiled encouragingly at the understandably upset old man. It was just as they had done before with the sloop. She'd pose a suggestion and he would grumble but not disagree.
Heading back into the workshop to tidy up, and leaving an equally non-plussed Walter behind to stand with them, the old shipwright waved a hand to show that he had heard.