By Andrea Radius • All Rights Reserved ©
I took several deep breaths to calm down. I needed a cool, clear head to fix this. There was no question I couldn’t let him have Master’s journal, or even know that it exists. Master was very careful, but also very proud and his name is visibly engraved on the journal’s cover. Lilenn wouldn’t need to be a genius to realize what he had and who I was. For all I knew, he’d have the smugglers take him back to Andal’Rel so he could ransom me to the High Commander.
My stomach suddenly growled from hunger. I hadn’t eaten anything with Lilenn’s sudden appearance-
That’s it! Lilenn said that he would look in my knapsack after supper! It is customary for everyone to sit at the table together in a home and I could only imagine a ship wouldn’t be any different. With everyone in the same room, I could sneak into Lilenn’s quarters. I would have to leave everything else, but I could take the journal with him none the wiser.
I didn’t know how long supper would take, but I needed to make sure everyone was sitting at the table and not paying attention to the main deck. I only hoped that the guest room Lilenn was occupying was easily accessible.
I waited a few moments just in case supper was ready at the moment Lilenn came down here. It was a good thing I did, for the door at the stop of the stairs opened and two men came walking down. I was still hiding so I didn’t have to rush anywhere, but I was now completely unarmed and at a great disadvantage. Lilenn must have opened his mouth and told the crew I was here.
“Well, everything seems to be in order,” one of the men said. “Is this where you found him?”
“Yes, he said he fell or something,” another man said and I recognized his voice. He was the man that came down after I had tackled Lilenn. “I didn’t see that anything was touched I wanted to give him space since he does have things down here, but I wanted to let you know just in case. Besides, we can easily notice if he took any of them and where is going to hide out here anyway?”
“The trigger is still in place, so he didn’t even open the crates,” the first man said. “For his own safety, we’ll make sure his things are in the guest quarters. He shouldn’t have a need to come here again.”
“And if he does?”
“We’ll stay with him. That way he won’t accidently fall again.”
The two men then walked out, presumably taking Lilenn’s things with them.
I decided to wait a little more. I needed to give them time to leave the things in Lilenn’s room, make it to wherever supper was being served, sit and become comfortable.
Eventually, after moments became ages, I slowly walked up the steps leading to the main deck and opened the door just enough to peak outside. I could smell the fresh scent of the sea, brought to me by a nice cool breeze. No wonder Lilenn was wearing a cloak; it was rather chilly out here in the open sea.
I saw no one around me, but I did spot some barrels nearby, sitting up against the main mast. I quickly got out of the cargo deck and crouched by the barrels, trying to get my bearings. On one side were three doors, one of them heavily adorned, and stairs leading up to a higher deck where a mast was rising from, its sails stretched by the breeze. Presumably, that adorned door would lead to the captain’s quarters. I had a feeling that was not where supper was being held or where Lilenn was spending his evenings.
Looking to the other side of the ship I saw more stairs leading up to another upper deck, another mast with open sails, and the captain’s station. However, at my level I saw one door at the end of a hallway between two rooms. That one room had a large window and I could see Lilenn sitting amongst others at a table full of food. I could see other people there as well.
It was good that I had located where everyone was, but I still didn’t know where Lilenn’s quarters were. However, I had a feeling it was in that direction.
I decided to begin checking doors. The rightmost door in front of me seemed to lead to a large room, so I ignored it. The other two rooms had doors on their sides facing the hallway, which meant I could be seen through the window if someone happened to look outside. I had to time my movements with the chatter and the passing of food. I walked across the main deck, quickly and quietly. Even though I couldn’t see anyone around me, it didn’t mean there wasn’t someone sitting atop the main mast or on one of the upper decks.
I hid behind a wall and looked through the window. The man on my line of sight was busy with his food, so I rushed to the closest door. I ran through after opening it and found myself between ropes, chains, fishing canes, and other tools. Confident Lilenn wasn’t sleeping in a storage room, I looked out again.
The same man was still busy with his food while a new crew member appearing now on my line of sight was talking. I slowly and quietly closed the door to the storage room, crouched and ran across the hallway into another room. This time I found bedroom furnishings in a rather small room. No wonder Lilenn had kept his traveling baggage in the cargo deck, this place was tight. I assumed the sack that had been tossed on his bed like dirty laundry was what the captain and the other man had brought up here moment ago.
I looked around the room, and resting by a night table I found my knapsack. I opened it right away and without much trouble I located Master’s journal.
I pressed the object against my chest and gave a sigh of relief. Now all I had to do was walk back to the cargo hold. I opened the door and saw the door to my left open. Before I was seen, I left the door open and hid under the bed. I heard footsteps come closer and into the room.
Was I seen? Was I heard?
Whoever that was that had noticed something, seemed to stand at the doorway for a bit before he closed the door. His footsteps were loud and receding, as if he was walking away.
I took a chance and got to my feet. I approached the door and slowly opened it again. No one was on sight, so I quickly moved back to the cargo hold door and descended the steps to the lower area of the ship. I ran to my corner as if it was the only safe place in the world, curled up into a ball with Master’s journal held tight in my hands and up against my chest. I felt my heart race and my body demanding more air with each breath.
“Shh… calm down…” I whispered to myself. “Everything is fine… shh…”
My body began to relax, but it took a long time to get there. Eventually I came to my senses and I hid the journal between a crate and the wall. In the event Lilenn came back, I didn’t want him to notice it.
The night went by rather uneventfully. I had a hard time sleeping and when I did fall asleep, I woke up to nothing. I was in constant fear of waking up to Lilenn staring at me, him finding Master’s journal, or being ambushed by the entire crew. My nerves were shot and I was ready to get out of this ship.
The rest of the day was pretty much the same and I was starving. I hadn’t thought of taking some of the food or water with me when I recovered Master’s journal. I also had no cards to distract me this time and counting the wooden boards irritated me. So I just sat in my corner, waiting to feel the ship dock before madness paid me a visit.
However toward the evening, if the lack of sunlight was any indication, I heard footsteps walking down the stairs. As much as I hoped it was one of the crewmen gathering something or another, it was Lilenn coming to pay me a visit. He removed the same crate from the night before and leaned on the one left on the floor.
“Hello, my friend,” he said and tossed an apple and a water pouch at me. I looked at him questioningly, but he just looked at me blankly. “Your little stunt last night has caused me to be banned from this part of the ship. Of course, that is not how the captain put it at all. He said he heard I had fallen and was concerned for my safety. He brought my traveling sack to my quarters so I wouldn’t have to come down here.”
“That didn’t stop you, so what’s your problem?” I snapped after I devoured half of the apple. The thought that it might have been poisoned crossed my mind, but my stomach couldn’t care less.
“My problem is that I am trying to get my coin’s worth in this voyage I purchased, and the transportation alone is not going to cut it,” he snapped back. “That bottle of wine promises to be enjoyable, but it is nothing compared to what I paid and I don’t have enough time to go through everything in here and find something worthwhile. The crew is having some sort of private meeting and I better get back up there before they notice I’m in here. That said, you need to find that pricey item for me to take with me.”
“I take it you didn’t like what I had in my knapsack?” I asked, fighting the desire to glance at the area where Master’s journal was hiding. I knew it was there. It had to be. No need to verify that.
“The lockpicks and blowgun will come in handy and the deck of cards is a nice touch,” Lilenn said, casually as if having a chat with an acquaintance. “However, they weren’t enough and we are not far from the shore. The captain said we’ll be docking tonight. Therefore, find me a nice souvenir, will you? I’ll be back when supper is being prepared, so make sure you have something by then. I wouldn’t want the smugglers to have to come here and find you.”
And just like that, he left. By that time, I had drunk all the water and ate the entire apple except for its core, which I was still nibbling on for edible pieces.