(1874-09-02) a Shadow on the Salt
a shadow on the salt
Summary: Rowena spots something suspicious out on the waters. PRP by Dertan.
Date: 2018. Sept 2nd
Related: (1874-07-31) Alarum at Alnburgh
NPCs: None
Jarret  Rowena  

The River near Dalcen
Lots of Water.
1874 09 02

The sun went down an hour ago casting the waters of the great salt in the sort of sunset that you only ever get out of port. You dropped anchor an hour ago, seeing no reason to sail whilst darkness turns the rocks of the shore into nothing but vague shadows in the darkness. The moon is up but only a sliver. The crew is mostly abed leaving the ship in relative silence but for the sound of water. Then you hear a splash somewhere out to port. Thats nothing particularly strange out here on the water but something makes you go to the rail. And there, out on the water, you see something glimmer in the moonlight.

For Rowena, these were the times that she treasured the most. The peace of the sea, coupled with the relative absence of the crew were some of the most comfortable, the most peaceful times she ever had on ship. Time enough to sit at the rail and just watch the waters. Tonight, though, it seemed that something intended to disturb that brief respite, and Rowena stepped away from the railing, turning to one of the midshipman on duty, "Bring me a glass, if you would, rouse the rest of the crew who have duty."

For the last… well, ever since he found himself in his new position, that is, Jarret has had trouble sleeping. Some of the evenings, he's tried to get some rest early, but failed. This is one of those nights, and he's gone for a walk, his steps taking him to his sister's ship. Stepping aboard, he blinks a bit as he hears the splash, moving over in the direction of the railing as well, steps slow. "Trouble?" he asks, words barely above a whisper.

The glass is pressed into Rowena's hand almost at the same time as the crew start to clamber up from the space where they had been relaxing whilst effectively on-call. The environment sinks into that quiet that happens when the wildlife has heard something. Perhaps they are reacting to the footsteps of the crew as they climb onto deck. Perhaps there is something out there..

"Nothing for you to worry about, Jarret." Which might or might not be true, but Rowena had been particularly fierce since the events of court, and she had rarely allowed her brother out of her sight, or the sight of people who she could trust to report to her. Probably to his great annoyance, but Rowena had yet to offer any apology for her actions. She lifted the glass to her eyes, focusing it to try to determine the source of the glimmering.

"Feels like everything is for me to worry about these days," Jarret replies, with a bit of a shrug as he moves to stand next to his sister, looking out there. Waiting until she has determined the source of the glimmering, he just looks for that thing in quiet, and without the help of a glass.

You peer through the lens and for a good while dont see anything. Then you see a patch of water that looks darker than the rest. Much as the shadow of a small boat might linger in the darkness. The shape is low and without any manlike silhouettes or the impression of mast or sail. Perhaps it is adrift?

"Shape of a boat, but I can't see anyone aboard." Rowena passed the glass over to Jarret, turning to the crew who had begun to gather, "Archers to the rail. Fire arrows, to light the water. Prep the spotlight lanterns," Rowena glanced briefly at her brother, "Not while I am here, Jarret." She looked back to her crew, giving them the range and direction of the incoming target, "Sound the warning. If the ship comes within range and does not announce itself, they risk being fired upon."

Jarret frowns, taking the glass as it's passed to him, lifting it to his eyes to see if he can see anything more than the shape of the boat, expression a bit distant as he does. "I'm not sure if even you can protect me from my own mind, dear sister," he offers, a bit quietly.

The lanterns are moved to illuminate the area where you detected the shadow and the narrow beams of light paint over the shape of a rowboat. The hull is dark with pitch and other oils whilst the interior seems to be made up of bales covered over by some sort of dark fabric. The flattened ends of the oars rest a little above the surface of the water. The handles must be weighted by something under the fabric.

Marines move up to the rails besides you both. Their arrows and handcannons held in preparation to fire.

"Lift anchor and get us away from the dock immediately! All speed, we need away from the incoming boat quickly as possible! Jarret, to the other side of the ship. Thomas, Hanson, prepare to away one of the boats. Get the Duke to safety. Three Marines, with the Duke." Rowena did not bother to look to see if Jarret intended to follow her orders. He might be her eldest, now, brother, and her Duke, but this was her ship. She looked to the Marines as soon as she had given the first order, "As soon as we are at safe distance, marines, archers, fire on the vessel."

Jarret frowns as he hears that order, watching his sister for a few moments of pause. "Just keep the boat ready, but we won't leave until we have to," he says to the men who was ordered to get him to safety, as he looks around carefully. "Is there an axe here somewhere?" After all, he wants to be prepared, just in case. Stepping a bit away from the railing, he frowns at Rowena. "What's this vessel?" he asks, quietly.

As the crew start to call out instructions to life anchor and ready the sails and the warship slowly begins to start to move away there is a sudden change in the rowboat. Almost immediately three black draped figures sit up and start pulling urgently at the oars. The vessel is more nimble than yours and there is a moment where they might have stood a chance but then one of the marines calls "FIRE!" and a volley sails out from the warship to thud into the deck of the rowboat. Arrows sprout from the rowers and the rowboat loses all its propulsion as the figures topple. Two of them go into the water with a distinct splash whilst the other collapses inside the boat. His dark robes a pincushion for arrows.

The two marines moved to join Jarret, one of the younger crewman running to get the Duke the weapon he requested. "My first thoughts? A ship filled with explosives. Low in the water, covered and coated with pitch? They probably hoped it would hit the side of the ship and either combust, or, if they were close enough, to ignite the ship by whomever is on board. A dead man run." Rowena lifted her voice, calling back to the crew, "Midshipman, man the watch, this might not be the only ship out here, send alerts to the other ships in port!" And then the firing begins and three bodies go down. "Move back, safe distance, prepare a boarding party."

The warship is able to clear a space between it and the rowboat without any trouble and a boat of your own is prepared for the boarding. The man responsible for preparing boat and crew turns to Rowena and Jarret to ask. "Will you be accompanying us Captain?"

Jarret frowns, nodding a bit as he hears that. He hands the glass back, as he watches the arrows hit the rowers, frowning as two of them fall into the water, before he lets out a breath as he sees the third one collapsing inside the boat. "Find out who's behind this. I mean, we all have a strong suspicion, but it would be nice to have some solid proof…" Looking to Rowena as he hears the question now.

Rowena turned her attention to the man, hearing the question. She has never been the sort to order her crew to do a duty she would not do herself. It was one of the reasons she had as much respect as she did among the Red Sails. A nod, "I am." Hearing her words, one of the archers hands over his bow and quiver, another his blade, Rowena taking them with the ease of long practice. "Jarret. Your safety is paramount, before everything else." She offers a final glance to the men before she moved to board the boat, "The Duke's life and safety is your charge now." And then she boards, waiting to be let down, "I will." That, to Jarret, in answer to his order.

It doesn't take long to get out to the rowboat. There you discover one man, swathed in a voluminous hooded cloak that both masks his shape and merges into the night, dead at the oars and another dead man with his foot tangled in the rope holding the boats cargo together but his head and torso underwater. Its an easy thing to haul him back on board or cut him loose. The third man is gone but his torn cloak is still hooked over the prow of the boat. The cargo looks to consist of several bales of fabric and three locked chests.

The marines stand by Jarret. Ready to defend against anything. Whilst the crew scans the water for more boats.

Rowena crouched in silence as the ship was lowered to the water and she waited for them to approach close enough to inspect the ship. Thankfully, the spotlights were still trained on the boat. "Marines, keep a weather eye on the water. We have one body unaccounted for. Bring the second body in and come up along side, so that we can inspect the bodies and their cargo. Be prepared, these might not be the only crew aboard.' Not that the ship was that large, but Rowena was not about to take any chances. "Search the bodies, see if they have anything on them or on the ship that can identify their origin. Do not attempt to open the chests, but bring me any keys you might find." A glance to one of the men on the ship, "Send the report back to the Grace." Jarret would not appreciate being kept out of the loop.

Jarret frowns at the mention of his safety, but doesn't make a comment, his gaze going to the boat going to board the other vessel, watching it in quiet. Probably looking a bit like a wild beast inspecting something. There's a brief glance and a nod to the marines, before he focuses back on the boat.

One of the men in the boat with Rowena turns and starts flashing signals back at the main vessel with the aid of his lantern and the signalman aboard the warship relays the words back to Jarret in turn.

The chests are plain things of pale timber bound with leather straps. They aren't locked but the straps have buckles which hold them shut. When stripped the men are dressed like fishermen and the callouses on their hands and look of their faces would support that assumption. If not fishermen then they are men who live at sea and work with rope every day.

Rowena took her time, inspecting the cloth, and then the men as they were uncovered. She took a moment, as she looked over the chests, as if she were weighing her options, deciding whether or not it was more dangerous to open them here, or to take them back to the docks. Finally she nodded, looking around at her crew. "If any of you wish to return to the ship before I open these, I will have another boat brought for you."

Nobody takes Rowena up on her offer to go back to the ship.

Jarret nods a bit at the words relayed to him, letting out a bit of a breath as he watches the boats, keeping silent as he frowns. Watching, waiting.

Inside the first chest there are trade goods. Three caddies of tea. A jar of Kaffe beans. A few bottles of wine. Luxury items that are out of the price range of most but not so expensive they are out of the reach of the middle class. The others hold much the same. There is a cutlass tucked under one of the seats. You don't find any other weapons or any powder. Everything points to smugglers.

Rowena, despite the fact that the contents of the boat did not seem dangerous, did not seem relieved at the revelation. Instead, her frown only deepened. She stepped back into the boarding boat and looked to her men, "Signal the Grace to return to port, tie us up to this boat and we will meet them on the docks. The Duke will want to inspect the cargo."

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