Grace - Session 4

    Diedre remained lost in thought so Grace began by sailing back to where the Mary Rose had been left. Captain Darius, the commander of the Mary Rose seemed quite pleased at the return of the Dove. The Captain and Grace held a conversation shouted across a few feet of water.
    "Congratulations on surviving that storm, Admiral."
    "Thank you."
     "Our navigator has been having a difficult time figuring out where we are. Can you help us?"
    "I can get you to port from here, but you must follow very close."
    Grace started to go through some standard Amber signals to pass steering information back and forth, but it quickly became clear that the crew of the Mary Rose were already familiar with them. Grace was relieved. Diedre was still lost in thought, and Grace was hoping Diedre would stay that way until they got well on their way to Amber. Grace was having visions of adding both ships to Amber's navy. Each had its potential uses.
    The shifting went well at first, but after awhile Grace started finding it more difficult. The envionrment was also different though Grace couldn't figure out quite why. It was both familiar and strange. Diedre rejoined the here and now announcing that "We're on the path, Grace. You can just take it straight into Amber unless you want to try to shortcut." Grace declined the offer to learn about shortcuts and felt very embarressed that she had missed the fact that they were on the path. The rest of the trip into Amber should be relatively easy even if the ships strayed a bit further apart from each other.
    Diedre began to explain the theory of how shadowpaths worked connecting the shadows. Grace tried to follow, but it was hard. She was also distracted by the need to keep the unfamiliar ships heading in the right direction.
    Diedre's explanation was interrupted by her sudden distraction and apparent conversation to the open air. The nearby crew looked at her even more strangely, but Grace new that this behavior meant Diedre had a trump call. Grace's ears burned when she heard her own name mentioned as well as the fact she'd walked the pattern. Diedre seemed to be arguing that she had an investigation to deal with.  Diedre did not  have to argue with many people. When the conversation ended, Grace asked "Who was that?"
    "King Martin, he is very concerned about this attempted assassination, and I promised I would help him on the investigation."
    "I can understand that." Grace assumed that Diedre was about to trump out, but her next words surprise Grace.
    "Which ship do you want to keep?"
    "What are you planning to do?" Grace thought frantically. Both had radically different uses. If they had to go back into a storm like the previous one, then the Dove would do better than any other ship in Amber's fleet. On the other hand, Amber's Navy could use the Mary Roseas an effective platform for catching and boarding the much smaller ships of Amber's neighbors.
    "Either will do" Diedre's answer was not appropriately inscrutable.
    "I'll take the Mary Rose."
    Grace took the Mary Rose's rowboat back over. As the rowboat pulled away from the Dove, Grace saw Diedre standing opposite the Dove's captain and looking at him intently. After a brief interval, his shoulder's straightened, he saluted and said "Yes, Admiral." Diedre just smiled in reply.
    Grace put all thoughts of the Doveout of her mind as she reboarded the Mary Rosefor the final leg of this strange journey back to Amber. Grace knew what a stunning appearence it would make and planted herself right at the prow so that she could signal to shore that she was in control. Nevertheless, the Harbor Master, her second in command, Admiral Sharpe, and a large contingent of marines were on hand to watch the ship come into port. Grace ordered the ship moored at the only open dock large enough to take it. The Mary Rose definately needed a few repairs after its brief adventure in the storm.
    Grace gave a brief order to Captain Darius to keep everyone on board until further notice than strode off the ship to meet Admiral Sharpe and the Harbormaster.
    "A new ship for Amber's Navy?"
    "That's the plan."
    "It look likes it takes a big crew and they will take time to train." Sharpe was skeptical, but Sharpe was always skeptical.
    "They already know quite a bit more than you might expect. They are Essenes from a place called Essa. No, I haven't heard of it before either."
    "Still. The Sea Wolf is in port so Captain Barnard is available."
    "Perfect. Just make sure this contingent of marines stays by the dock in case some of them get upset at not being able to go home."
    With Captain Barnard and Admiral Sharp in tow, Grace returned to the Mary Rose. Grace decided on the direct approach. It was the way she wanted to hear bad news, "Alright, there is no way to get you home now. You are in Amber now and have a choice. You can join Amber's navy or you can take payment now and seek employment elsewhere. As you can see, there are plenty of ships and opportunities for experienced sailors."
    There were murmours and Grace braced for the expected onslaught, but what she had not expected was joy that her news was greeted with. Grace heard over and over comments about the "fulfiling the prophecy." Captain Darius broke into a big smile and said "We would all be happy to serve you. It is our greatest ambition to serve the one that all navies bow to." Grace wasn't too sure about this characterization, but was willing to take this crew any way she could get them.
    "You can start serving me by listening to Captain Barnard. He will train you in the ways of Amber's Navy."
    Captain Darius escorted a slightly bemused Captain Barnard and staff with effusive thanks.rmed of Dloss of ship
    As Grace left the Mary Rose , she asked Sharpe "What has been happening while I was out of town?"
    Admiral Sharpe looked somber, squared his shoulders and announced "The Rebecca was lost with 30 hands."
    Grace whirled around at that. It was the last thing she had expected to hear. "What happened?"
    "It would appear that the Rebecca hit an iceberg while Prince Dexter was on board. Princes Carton and Gustav had been on board but left before the ship hit the iceberg."
    "There are no icebergs on shadowpaths."
    "Precisely." Unconciously, Sharpe had echoed Diedre from the previous day.  He went on. "Prince Gustav did use his abilities to bring the crew from lifeboats back to Amber."
    "And Prince Dexter?"
    "One lifeboat was missing. It had held Prince Dexter." Grace had brief unchartiable thoughts about Dexter and sharks, but instantly regretted it. There were 30 missing crew who might have been in the lifeboat also. Hopefully, Prince Dexter was just directing it to shore.
    "I need to speak to Captain Grogan."
    "Of course." The two admirals went to the house Grogan was staying in. As they passed some recent devastation, Sharpe explained the appearence of a strange, voracious creature in Amber that Marshall Caitlin and Captain Root had killed.
    When they arrived and met with Captain Grogan, Grace asked for his version of events. Captain Grogan could be extremely diplomatic and worked hard at it now. He wanted to make clear that he suspected Prince Dexter of putting a hole in the bottom of the ship then directing it into an iceberg. Prince Gustav had not been on board the ship when it sailed and had come to the aid of the crew after the disaster. His actions were clearly to be commended. Prince Carton had disappeared not too long before the string of events leading to the sinking began; however, it appeared that Prince Dexter had been far more in the vicinity.
    Grogan was effusive in his praise of Prince Gustav. Complementing Gustav on the "magical means" used to bring most of his crew home safely when they had seemed lost. "But of course you know all about that." Grace was brought up short. She was part of this House of Amber for good or ill. It still startled her to realize it and the easy way outsiders expected her to know all about the powers some commanded.
    Grace turned to Admiral Sharpe and instructed that in future, Princes Dexter and Carton always be given separate ships. Grace had been in the "family" long enough to have learned of the odd reputations of both. Both on one ship sounded like a recipe for disaster. Of course, splitting them up had the added advantage of making it easier to figure out who was actually responsible.
    Grace informed Captain Grogan that he would be recieving another command but it would not be a clipper. There were no clippers under construction. The crew would be mostly scattered as neither of the new ships would be ready soon. Captain Grogan understood and accepted that but did ask that he did not want an assignment that would involve princes of Amber. Grace nodded and said it wouldn't.
    Grace asked after word on Prince Gustav, but there had been none. Oddly, his mistress had been asking after him at the navy yard. That was also curious.
    With the crew of the Rebecca taken care of, the crew of the Mary Rose being trained, and the HarborMaster constructing new longer docks, Grace figured that her orders were being carried out by competent staff and decided that she should find out what had been going on at the castle with respect to the assaniation attempt.