Chapter 1: Senehauh Docks

Chapter One

Jame

Captain's Personal Log:

"Today we sailed into Senehauh Docks. There my officer's and I will enjoy some time away from the mad rush of life on a ship, and have some time to relax. My Cargo Mistress, Sashaie was, as always, first off the ship. She enjoys recreation time, yet she is a hard working officer, and I prize her along with the rest of my wonderful crew. Pataar seemed reluctant to leave the ship, however, and when I asked him why, he just mumbled something vague about time at sea passing slowly, and returned to his quarters. Walfe offered to, in his own words "force the stuff outta him" but I kindly declined his offer. Walfe has always had it in for the poor navigator. Walfe (my Commandore Sailor) does seem to have a rather tough attitude, but that will be changed over time. I know this because I to possessed a certain roughness to my personality when I first arrived to work on board the REN Plato as her captain, but all these years at sea have softened me rather. At least I seem to think so."

I sighed and stopped the writing. So many lies in there, but so nessicary. The Di'pol would most definitely not be pleased with the truth. I slowly began to slide off my shoes as I got ready for bed.

A rap on my door stopped me, and I got up to answer it. I was greeted by my Cargo Mistress, who was looking rather breathless, but at seeing me, snapped up and resumed her usual military attitude. I winced inwardly at the coldness in her eyes.

"Sir, the Di'pol has asked me to escort you to the briefing room at the palace, sir!" She barked. I sighed,

"Of course, commander. Lead the way."

She did, and as we walked down the hallway, I found myself wondering what the Di'pol

could possibly want.

Perhaps she wishes to inform me of my next mission? Or perhaps maybe to congratulate me on my last? I quickly decided that it could not possibly be the latter; the Di'pol was not exactly the kind to heap out congratulations.

Well then, what DOES she want?

We walked down the gangplank, and onto the docks. As usual, there was much hustling and bustling as the inhabitants of the great city moved around town. The dockmaster gave me a brief smile, and I returned the courtesy before turning back to face my Cargo Mistress again.

"I believe we should move swiftly, Sashaie. We do not wish to displease the Di'pol with our lateness."

She nodded, "Yes sir."

We walked the rest of the way in silence. There was still much tension mounted between Sashaie and I after that night. My apology had been greeted with a lamp being hurled at my head, and a few names being yelled at me, names not usually repeated in good company. I snapped out of my reverie as we stopped before the palace. The Di'pol lived there; her ranking was just below that of the Empress's advisor, she was the commander of the navy, and not an easy woman to deal with at best. Sashaie stopped. "Here you are, sir." "Thank you Sashaie," I replied, and her eyes blazed. I assumed she was having difficulty keeping silent her opinion of me, probably for the benefit of the children passing by. I had a feeling it would be horrendously inappropriate. She gathered herself up, and her eyes resumed the emotionless gaze, which she had always seemed to carry.

"Good luck, sir." I smiled at her. I was probably going to need it.

Walking up the 29 flights of rickety stairs to get to the Di'pol's office didn't exactly soothe my nerves, and by the time I had arrived, I was sure that I had played through every possible "what will happen next" scenario in my head, and nothing could surprise me. How wrong I was. I rapped lightly on the door with my knuckles, nervously tapping my foot as I waited for a reply. "Enter." The Di'pol's loud, commanding voice came through the wooden door to me. I flinched. I had only had two previous encounters with her, but neither had been very enjoyable, and I had a feeling that this wasn't going to be pretty.

Sashaie

I was not in a good mood as I moved slowly away from the large building Captain Zeyne had disappeared into moments before. That was what I had to think of him as now. The Captain. Not the man I had spent those five glorious nights with just days before. My Captain. My superior. I bit back the lump rising in my throat. Good officers do not cry. I thought bitterly, recalling the harsh words spoken to me by my trainer at the Academy. Good officers are cool, calm and collected at all times. The three C's I had said, jokingly, and had gotten a few laughs. Cute, he said, but we have no place for cuteness at the Academy, Winters. I sighed. If I had a silver mark for every insult directed my way by the teachers at the Academy… I thought ruefully, shaking my head. Oh well, what's done is done. At least I had gotten Jame out of my head. NO! Not Jame, Captain Zeyne. Had to think of him as Captain. But it was so hard.

He was so strong, yet so gentle. I shuddered at the thought of his touch on my skin. Stop! I commanded myself. Good officers do not moon over their captains. Good officers put the past behind them, and get on with their work. It was the past. He had made that very clear the other night. I wanted to apologize, Sashaie He had said. You were upset, you had just received word of your Aunt's passing, and I took advantage of you. I recalled his words bitterly. Taken advantage indeed. He should know by now. If anyone so much as thought about taking advantage of me, I would personally run them through with their own sword. I was tough, military. But he had let me put that aside. He had made me feel loved for the first time in my life. I shook my head vigorously, earning myself some odd looks from passers by. I did not care. I had to forget him.

Jame

I exited the Di'pol's office glumly. All possibilities indeed! That had not gone as planned. As I had expected, she had not called me in to congratulate me on my last successful –and, I might add, extremely dangerous- mission. No. Instead, I had been summoned because she felt that my crew's previous missions had been rather too safe for her liking, and she wouldn't want the other captains to think she was showing favoritism. Favoritism! Of all things, she thought she was showing favoritism! We had wrestled with Shirien merchants for her, traveled to the far corners of the globe because she snapped her bloody fingers, and she thought she was showing favoritismI told myself to breathe in deeply, and moved my thoughts to a more pleasant topic. Dinner. Yes, what would I have for dinner? Fish, I decided. Fish was good. Fish was what I had eaten with Sashaie the night that we…. NO! Back to the Di'pol, back to traveling, anything but Sashaie! But try as I might, I could not move my thoughts from her. What was she thinking? Was she thinking about him? No, of course not. She had made sure he knew that she intended never to think of him again, the other night. He winced, remembering her reaction to his apology, and as much as he wanted to think that it had been because she felt something for him, the fact remained that he had taken advantage of her, and she had every right to be angry at him over that. But was it possible that she felt something? There. No matter how hard her tried, he could not divert his mind from her. So beautiful, so amazing… He had to stop, he had to! He tried thinking about the mission the Di'pol had set him. He frowned at that.

Her instructions had been very vague. There had been a robbery, that much was certain. And the item stolen had been of great importance to the Rolhe'an. That creased his forehead even more. He tried to avoid the Rolhe'an as much as possible, on principle, but when there was a direct order from the Di'pol, well. That was different. He couldn't very well refuse the Di'pol. The Rolhe'an were the cult of the Sorcerers. And the Sorceresses, he supposed, although they tended to keep a lower profile then their male counterparts. The Rolhe'an were powerful. More powerful than they –or anyone else, for that matter- liked to admit. They had advisors to every powerful political figure, and not just in this nation, oh no! Borders were no limit to the Sorcerers, and intelligence seemed to think that at least one Rolhe'an was behind the strategic desk of every leader in the land. That was a worrying thought. The only reason he had this information was because of Laz, his friend in intelligence, and the fact that Laz sometimes got talkative after one or two mugs of ale. But the Rolhe'an, despite being powerful, were also deadly, and anyone caught openly opposing them, usually met with a convenient accident a few days later. Obviously, nothing to tie the Sorcerers to it, and definitely no magic involved. Just a walk that had ventured to close to a lake, or tripping over a cliff top, courtesy of an out-of-place stone. No, the Rolhe'an were devious, which was why I was very careful to keep my thoughts of them to myself. The object was to be recovered, and brought to the Di'pol immediately, without delay.

That meant a minimum of 6 months aboard the ship. 6 months with me not being able to touch Sashaie. 6 months of her hurling lamps at me. Yes. That would be a challenge, and the Di'pol had better be pretty bloody pleased with her trinket, whatever it was, after what I was going to have to go through. How was I going to manage?