Navihm spent most of the night talking to the commander of the Guard. Finding the warehouse full of frightened girls had been relatively easy, it was dealing with the idiot who was supposed to be stopping these crimes from happening that was the difficult part.
“You should have taken this information to me and let my guard take care of it,” the commander was saying. He had said this many times during his questioning of Navihm.
“Commander, there is no doubt in my mind that if I had left this up to you, these girls would have been sold and shipped by now.” Navihm had grown impatient. “It took me less than an hour to achieve what your guard has failed to do for at least a year, perhaps even longer. Two people I love were almost killed because of your ineptitude and now you have the audacity to chastise me for handing you over the biggest criminal in the Tenth and enough evidence to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.”
Navihm took a calming breath.
“If there is nothing else?” He didn't wait for the commander to respond. “Good day to you, Commander. I think I am done here.”
Navihm muttered indignantly to himself the entire way back to the inn. He guessed that he would be able to get a few hours of sleep in before the sun rose and the others woke. In the morning, he would see about getting them transportation up the river.
“So, Mr. Black is in prison now?” said Rose. It was the next morning and Navihm was explaining what had happened the night before.
“Yes, along with anyone that was found at his office or at the warehouse where they kept the girls.” Navihm was feeling much better than he had in weeks due to the capturing of the Mr. Black, the warm tea he nursed and the long soak he’d had that morning in the natural hot springs Mistress Bo’s inn was built on top of.
“So we move on today?” asked Hart, spearing another spiced pork bun.
“Yes, as soon as we are done with breakfast, we should head over to the docks and find someone who is willing to take us upriver.”
“How do we know anyone is heading that way?” asked Rose. “Wouldn’t most ships be trading across the ocean, not upriver?”
“We will find something,” Navihm said confidently. “I have a good feeling.”
“Oh well, in that case, I’m sure everything will be fine,” Rose said sarcastically.
Navihm’s hunch paid off. Almost as soon as they arrived at the docks, a sailor called out a greeting to Navihm.
“Navihm, s’that you?” he said. The man was dressed in tar stained clothing and a small crate hoisted precariously on his shoulder.
“Hello, Jin,” said Navihm.
“It’s official, Navihm knows everyone on the continent,” said Hart dramatically, throwing his hands up. Navihm laughed good-naturedly and Rose rolled her eyes.
“Jin, this is my cousin, Hart,” he introduced. “Hart, this is Jin. He is a sailor on the ship Andromeda. We were stranded at the same inn during some summer storms a few seasons back.” Navihm made introductions for the rest of the group while Jin stacked the crate in the pile forming by a ship.
“What brings you back here, Navihm?” said Jin, collecting another crate from a cart by the road. Navihm and Hart dismounted, rolled up their sleeves and began helping him move the crates.
“We are looking for a ride up the river back home,” said Navihm over the clinking of bottles coming from the crate he was hauling.
“Well, your luck hasn't changed none since we last met then,” Jin said with a toothless grin. “You might wanna speak to the cap'n about that there ride. We’s heading up the river to sell this here Pershus wine to the Lowlanders and considerin how fond the cap'n is of you, boy, you might even be able to swing a free trip for you and yer mates.”
“Maybe I’ll do that, Jin,” said Navihm. “Where would I be able to find Captain Gideon at this time of day?”
“He’ll be up at the tiller, preparin fer sail.”
“Thank you, Jin.” Navihm placed one last crate in the pile. “I’m sure you will be able to find jobs to keep my friends busy while I go talk to him.”
“There are always jobs tha need a’doin, Navihm my boy.” He slapped him on the back and Navihm headed up the boardwalk to the back of the ship.
The trip upriver took a little less than a week and was an enjoyable time for the small group. Navihm was well liked amongst the crew, a fondness that was extended to the rest of them. They would dock on the river side to camp every night, sitting around the campfire, swapping stories.
“Navihm falls on his feet wherever he goes, doesn't he, professor,” Captained Gideon remarked watching the boy in question from his place by the fire. Ward had been thinking along similar lines in the last few days of his travels. Navihm was talking animatedly with some members of the crew on the other side of the camp fire. They both looked on as the sailors laughed heartily at something Navihm had said.
Gideon handed the professor a hot mug of spiced Quadan tea. The mismatched group of rough sailors and Ianterrans had bonded over their shared love of the exotic tea and had spent most nights sipping it around the fire.
“He has found a good friend in you, Captain.” Ward took a sip, the hot liquid burning his tongue slightly.
“He’s a good boy, that one. He doesn't do anything by half, including friendships.”
“I’ve noticed that myself.” They were silent for a few minutes, content to sip their tea and watch the fire.
“It’s an unusual group you make,” Captain Gideon commented lightly, referring to the group of foreigners Navihm had found himself travelling with. They were, indeed, a strange group; A tall, decorated warrior, Ianterran guards, a northern prince, a privileged young woman skilled in magic and a cultural studies professor that had more grey in his beard than not.
“A truer statement, I have not heard.” Ward smiled into his cup of tea. “Though I guess you could say that invasion sort of makes for an unusual situation.”
“An unusual group for an unusual event.” It occurred to the captain that he didn’t know the events that lead to this group being formed. He said as much to the professor. “I’m sure there is quite a story behind what brought your odd group together and how you ended up so far away from home.”
Ward needed no other prompting. He launched into the tale of how Navihm had ended up at the Ianterran School for the Gifted and all the events following it. He was a good storyteller; engaging and articulate.
“I’ve never been so far away from Ianterra,” he concluded. In fact, he’d never gone outside of Ianterra. “It’s been quite the adventure.” It only recently occurred to him how odd it was for a cultural studies professor to have no personal experience with other cultures. Before now, had hadn’t stop it consider it a contradiction.
Fun Fact! Jin's accent was the result of a typo that I sort of just went with =)