After getting an update on what had happened with the assassin,
and getting the Mary Rose and her crew settled, Grace took care
of other naval business that had been accumulating. She knew that she needed
to get away as soon as possible to visit the castle and look for someone
with a trump of Dexter. It was important to find out what had happened
to the rest of the crew.
While Grace was finishing up and about to leave the building, her steward appeared with a letter that had just been brought over by royal messenger from the castle. Her steward had been with her for a number of years and was openly staring at the seal. Grace noted its pleasant, floral scent as she slit the royal seal. Queen Eleanor had written the letter herself inviting Grace to a family celebration of the Feast of the Unicorn. Grace had almost forgotten that the feast was coming up in a couple of days. Grace sent off a polite acceptance note before returning to the task of extracating herself from naval business for the afternoon to find out if anyone had heard from Dexter.
At the castle, Grace was able to find Dexter and got some surprisingly honest answers from him when she asked about the lifeboat that he had been in.
"Let's see. It was attacked by a prehistoric shark then I got swallowed by a historic shark and eventually wound up in Catan."
"But is there anyone left from the lifeboat left?" Grace asked determined to get an answer.
"Oh no. They were all eaten by one shark or the other." Dexter thought for a minute and added "or at least cut in two if not eaten."
"Sinking the ship was unneccessary and very costly." Grace was still angry about the loss of the ship and a third of the crew.
"It was necessary." Dexter insisted.
"Why was it necessary to sink the Rebecca?" Grace had not previously heard that it was necessary.
"Because I was travelling to Antioch in disguise and that disguise had been comprimised. I didn't intentionally hit the iceberg."
"The Rebecca was the Ambassador's ship. The crew knew how to keep silent."
"Did it have ensigns?" Grace couldn't argue with that logic.
"Just don't sink anymore ships."
"I won't sink any ship unnecessarily." Grace was not happy with that answer, but could not expect better from a prince of Amber. Dexter changed the subject. "Where have you been since the assassination attempt?"
"Lady Diedre was teaching me about manipulating shadow."
"Be careful. Shadow can get away from you when you are new at it."
"I didn't have any problems." Grace was getting pretty confident in her fledgling abilities.
"Who is in charge of investigating the dopplegangers and other dangers?" Dexter changed the subject again.
"I understood that was Caitlin." This answer seemed to startle Dexter.
They parted shortly after that. Grace again checked on Diedre's whereabouts, but she had not resurfaced. Grace decided to return to naval headquarters. There was always work to be done.
On her way out of the castle, Queen Eleanor called to her stopping her.
"Will you be attending the Feast of the Unicorn tomorrow night?"
"Yes, your majesty. Thank you very much for including me in your invitations." Grace was flattered that the Queen had included her. It did seem that she was beginning to be accepted as family.
"Have you seen Diedre?"
"We parted yesterday. Diedre and I found a couple of ships and she took one to investigate something. According to the castle staff, Diedre has not yet returned."
"Well, if you see her, will you let her know that she is invited?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"It's too bad that Diedre won't be here, but its not as if she was family."
On that note Grace and Queen Eleanor parted.
Grace returned to work, but was interrupted after
a few hours by the arrival of Prince Galen.
"Can I borrow that clipper over there?" Galen asked.
"Do you plan to sink it?"
"Plan - no"
"It's just that some princes seem to want ships for strange purposes. They don't do well when you sink them." Grace was still thinking about her conversation with Dexter.
"I just need to take it to Ganesh."
"No problem. The Swallow can be ready tomorrow."
"I need it sooner than that."
"It will be ready in an hour."
An hour later, the Swallow was ready with Grace on board as well. Grace did not want to lose another clipper so soon after the loss of the Rebecca. Grace was not impressed with Dexter's answers to the questions and hoped his attitudes were not typical of Princes of Amber. Certainly Gustav had gone to considerable effort to rescue the Rebecca's crew.
An hour later, Galen and Grace were on the
deck of the Swallow heading for Ganesh. Grace worked to shift shadow
and get the boat to Ganesh as quickly as possible.
Galen started a conversation with Grace. "Nice boat in the harbor. Big. Flying the Amber flag I see."
"The Mary Rose? Yes, it is."
"Is it new?"
"I aquired it only a couple of days ago in shadow."
"You did? Why did you need a ship that big? " Galen was definately curious about the new ship.
"Diedre found it actually. She wanted to check out a storm."
"It doesn't look like a good choice for going into a storm. Too top-heavy."
Grace nodded glad that she would not have to explain that. "It was. We found the storm when we were in a small sailboat. Diedre wanted to investigate the ship that was in the storm. I told her that we needed a bigger ship, and she found the Mary Rose. It was not a good choice, and Diedre had to find another ship. DeShe took this second ship to investigate further."
"I have heard of this storm, but I didn't know about the storm"
"It is invisible so it is hard to find." Grace was not sure if Galen believed her about the invisible ship.
"Have you heard of this storm before?"
"Just a couple of days ago."
The Swallow sailed through the night at top
speed. Grace continued shifting to make better time. They arrived in Ganesh
in the middle of the morning. As Galen was preparing to leave the ship,
he turned to Grace and asked if she was attending the dinner tonight. Grace
indicated that she was. Galen suggested that Grace stick with him, and
they would not need the ship. Grace had been active in the family long
enough that she had suspected their return would be by trump. Grace gave
the orders for the ship to return at top speed to Amber.
Galen and Grace wandered through the market. Grace learned that the purpose of this sudden trip was the purchase of yak's milk. She was quite stunned. Galen explaining that it was for a sauce for tonight's dinner did not help. Grace could only put it down to the odd whims of Amber royalty. Grace did get some amusement out of watching Galen test different vender's yak's milk to select the freshest. Once Galen had made his selection and completed the transaction, the vendor offered to have the barrell carried to the harbor. Galen had to physically waive off the bearers insisting that Galen and Grace would take it from there.