Arc 718, 13th of Saun
As Rynata stepped forward still nursing her elbow, she heard a scurrying over the sound of her own crunching footfalls. No doubt the crabs she saw earlier had found their way into this hidden cave as well. Dropping down beside one of the closest crates, she dug her fingers under its top cover and tugged. The old wood gave way easily enough, the nails in the top splintering the wood and slowly dragging out. With a last great tug, the lid which had curved under the strain, gave a resounding snap, and fell away.
Walter came closer with the lantern which was now proving its usefulness within the dark space. Together, the two of them peered into the contents of the crate and frowned. The box was filled from top to bottom with similar sized brown packages. Rynata gingerly picked one up, and was shocked to find how light the thing was. It barely weighed anything, though from the feel of it, there was definitely something wrapped up in the thick paper. Carefully unwrapping the package, she let the brown paper fall away from the top of the bundle.
What came into view was a number of brownish, oblong shaped things. They were very thin, and in the firelight, Rynata realized that they were leaves. Dried leaves. The seemed very brittle at this point, and they clattered against each other when she moved her hand, slightly.
"Well, Inora will be disappointed," Rynata smiled with good humor. "She was so looking forward to gold and rare gems."
She could imagine the other woman's face fall when the two of them returned the ship with crates of dead leaves. It was an almost endearing quality now that Rynata was more familiar with her ways.
"Oh, but she might still find these interesting," Rynata said, reaching out to try and pluck a single leaf from the packet. "Inora always tells me she-"
Walter grabbed her wrist and shook his head, looking graver than he usually did. When Rynata turned to him with a quizzical look, curious of what was wrong, he let go and leaned back, satisfied that she wouldn't try to touch the mysterious leaves.
Letting out a dark chuckle, the man grinned. "Not a good idea. Trust me, you're better off not getting too friendly with these things. Could end up killing you or worse. You saw those men. Don't you think what they're looking for could be just as dangerous?"
"Of course." Rynata gingerly placed the package back into the crate and unconsciously wiped her hands off on her pants. They leaves looked just like what they were. Leaves. However, Walter seemed to have a knowing glint in his eye and so she took the safer option of believing him. "Are all of the rest of the crates the same?" she asked, looking at the other 2 boxes. They were of the same size and make, so she assumed so.
Walter gave the both of them a small nudge with his foot. The crates moved easily as though they weighed nothing, and there was a slight rustling of paper from within.
"Looks like it."
"Well then, give me one moment," Rynata said, pulling out Filliman's journal and an ink pen from her bag. Using one of the crate's surfaces as a work space, she carefully tore out one of the end page from the journal. She didn't bother making it subtle, though. She wanted anyone who found this page and had the journal to know where it had come from. She then inked in a phrase, trying to follow Filliman's rough handwriting.
Atop the 4th peak from the setting sun.
Walter who was looking over her shoulder and assisting her with lantern light let out a noise of confusion.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he asked.
Rynata chirped back a cheerful reply. "I have no idea. And hopefully, anyone who finds this will have the same trouble."
Getting up, she brushed off the sand clinging to her knees and tucked away both the journal and her pen. Rynata then rolled up the meaningless message and placed it carefully in a suitable crack above where the crates currently were. Hopefully there, it would remain dry and legible. If it didn't, then that still wasn't such a great problem to her. The letter being ruined might even work to her advantage.
Easily picking up the first crate, Rynata carried it back over to the crack they had dropped down from before. Walter followed her with the other two. Craning her head up to look at the sunlight pour in, Rynata realized it was going to take a fair bit of work to climb back out. She had brought her ropes of course, but had fallen in before they could think to attach it to anything, and of course Walter had followed her in without making any preparations for an exit plan. However, there were a few friendly notches on the irregular rock wall, and the climb itself looked like it could be managed. The difficult part was lugging their new baggage up with them Outside, Rynata could hear the crashing waves of the tide coming in, and realized they needed to hurry.
"Do you need another boost?" Walter said, hiding a snicker.
"No, but if you're going to be like that about it, I might not help you up and just leave you here," Rynata grinned, setting down her crate in front of the wall.
"Sure. That'll happen."
Using the crate as an initial stepping stone, Rynata grabbed onto the rocky protrusions and clambered her way up to the opening. This time she knew to include the slippery stones into her calculations and avoided another tumble back down into the cave.
Once properly free from between the rock walls, Rynata turned toward where the Gilded Siren was still anchored. She couldn't see any sign of Inora, but that was probably to be expected due to the distance. Other than that, the tide had rolled in quite far and there was barely any beach left for them to walk back on. The footprints of the both her and Walter had been washed away, and now the water was starting to splash up to where they had made their first step up the cliff's side.
Looking back into the cave, the darkness made it hard for her to see the man still inside, but she reached in to have the first of the crate's passed up to her. Thankfully this entrance appeared to be the same way they had gotten in in the first place, because their size was small enough to squeeze through the narrow opening. Taking extra care not to tip the crate whose lid they had already opening, soon there were three crates lined up on the small ledge, half way up the cliff.
Finally, it was time to go. Time to leave. In a short while, the three of them, her, Inora, and Walter would have nothing to do with this hidden cave or the crates with the strange leaves.
Catching Walter's hand as he neared the top, Rynata braced her feet against the edge of the rocks and pulled him upwards. With the three small crates as their trophies, the two of them hurried down the side of the cliff. It was easier than the work they had to put in on the way up since all they had to do was drop down. However, Rynata could tell that perhaps it was slightly more dangerous. If they dropped wrong, both they and the crates would go flying off the ledges and onto the hard ground below.
By the time their feet hit the shore, water was already swirling on the sand and the area was getting quite dark as well. Hoisting the crate above her head, Rynata waded back toward the Gilded Siren where she saw Inora looking curiously back at them. The water came up to her chest as she fought against the current to get back to her ship, doing awkward hops and jumps against the wave to try and keep the crate dry for the time being. She didn't want water infected with the leaves to start dripping over her head and arms.
"Well? What did you find?" Inora said impatiently, with a glint in her eyes.
Rynata tried to ease the blow of the news that there wasn't any treasure, but she still got to see the disappointed look from Inora that she expected.
"Walter thinks it isn't safe, so I'm going to get rid of it," Rynata said, wringing out her wet shirt and already preparing to set sail. They had limited time to get back, and so she was calculating the quickest route that they could take to cut through to Almund.
She heard indignant sounds of protest from Inora but pressed on, needing to get her plan across.
"Once we're back in town, we're not going to do a direct hand off of the journal. I'd rather not meet those men again. We shouldn't risk another confrontation. Instead, we'll leave the journal by the docks where they can find it. Inora, they haven't seen you yet. Could you stay and make sure it gets into their hands?"
Since Rynata's back was turned and she was busy with the ship, she failed to see Inora slip a single package from the opened crate as the woman voiced her agreement to the plan. There hadn't been any treasure, but Inora wasn't about to let all her effort go to waste when her employer destroyed both the crate and its contents before tossing them overboard.
As for Rynata herself, it was a relieve to have this whole Filliman business behind her. She didn't think Filliman had been among those in the mad search for the journal and couldn't determine what had happened to the man himself, but if the situation was anything to go by, it wasn't anything good. Perhaps the old shipwright back in Almund had tales to tell, but it was doubtful he would be very forthcoming. Either way, the old man would also be pleased to know the business was taken care of and done with.