4. The Unnatural Storm
Wednesday 22nd of Death, Y119 - Record of Besiar Mission to Recruit Shipwright
To keep in practice, I'll encrypt these records as I write.
The day after leaving Sardonée we rode up to the edge of Besiar, past a lumber-mill encampment to find the town hidden in the roiling cloud of a rumbling storm. We followed Bernard into boiling rain and with fiery lightening catching buildings alight with smoke filling the air. The horses were scared and skittish so we left them with locals sheltering in the main room of a stone built inn that still held up against the unnatural weather.
Of course it would have been more sensible to just leave the storm, but the shipwright was the reason we travelled, so down we went to the docks, arms across our mouths and mostly avoiding the heavy smoke. The docks and half built ships were all aflame and it was there we saw the spitting image of the choirmaster directing workers and soldiers alike, strangely calm in the burning chaos. The choirmaster and the shipwright were more than simply brothers,
Jean-Paul and Arnaud Chasseur were identical twins.
It was then I noticed that one of the hulks at the pier was merchant vessel, badly listing, with the wreck of another ship beneath it. People were still clambering off, but with the roaring flames around it wouldn't be long before it was cut off from the town and those left aboard would be trapped and burned.
Another chance to observe my companions and their skills. Megane's magic continues to amaze; she was able to teleport four men down from the burning hulk, while Bernard transformed into his inertia form and barrelled into the burning ship looking for trapped survivors, he returned minutes later with an injured man draped across his shoulders. In that time I was able to persuade and help down two more passengers that were afraid to jump on to the pier.
It seemed that a young noble, her pet and entourage had been on the ship but they were safely off and everyone just needed to leave the pier before it too burnt down.
The smoke started to get to me, my eyes were streaming and coughs peppered my conversation. I just about noticed Bernard as he homed in on the shipwright and started to give him his recruitment offer. The wounded man lay semi-conscious over the Baron's shoulder as he gave his spiel; burning buildings collapsing around him while scalding water fell out of the sky.
I started to play my 'indispensable aide' role mentioning the letter of introduction, when the ridiculousness of the situation became too much. I just butted in and suggested we recover the horses and talk about business outside the town, where it wasn't raining boiling water or choking with smoke.
Retrieving the horses turned into an evacuation of the whole town, and the Baron's rescuee was safely handed to a pair of men that were concerned with his welfare. Bernard's booming voice cut through the noise of the storm, and people picked up what they could carry and a crowd of survivors snaked up the narrow street out into the clear air above the town, and on towards the lumber-mill.
Out of the storm Bernard was able to persuade the prickly shipwright to work for him but only under certain conditions.
Arnaud would be the one to design and equip the new shipyard as he saw fit. Bernard would not stop spending money on the project, there would be no complaining of the costs, and it would cost lots and lots of money as the best ships contain celestium. Bernard would need people who could work with celestium. Finally Bernard would have to keep all of the Emperors inspectors away from the shipyard, no matter what.
Bernard cheerfully agreed.
There was a discussion with the locals about who wanted an escort to Sardonée, but most of them had families and businesses to save, so in the end only the young noble and her entourage wanted to join us. She was introduced as Duchess Acasia of Floricche, with her seneschal Vincint and her pet panther Celest. The horses were nervous but the panther seemed tame and under control. The Duchess had mis-coloured eyes, was blind, but was adapted to travelling in that state with the aide of her seneschal.
On the return trip to Sardonée, I suggested to Bernard that if he wanted to further interest his shipwright, then he should perhaps ask to play cards. Bernard found the idea agreeable.
We finally found our way back to the Hotel du Pont, in the very same suite. The Duchess and her entourage were given the larger Imperial Suite at the top of the Hotel. I sent a short message via the paging relic, mentioning the young Duchess and asking if she was of interest to our cause. It should arrive in time for Emile to get a heads up.
I found out, that as promised, a game of cards would be played the next evening. The shipwright was not a stranger to these 'regular' games and so the scene is set to meet the mysterious Hendryk Fosse.
I do appreciate being the companion of a man who can afford such a luxurious hotel suite. With the Baron in his chamber I am free to soak in my own bath of hot water before enjoying the welcome embrace of a clean and soft bed.