"Ah, yes, recent traumatic event, I'll keep that in mind. Thank you very much Captain I'll-"
Captain Ritter paused and looked down once Rutger did. Some color drained from her face.
"My word, is that a Pixie", he asked rhetorically loud enough for anyone nearby to hear, pointing directly at the little figure for everyone to see.
Two other crewmen dropped what they were doing - one of them literally, in shock - to come over to see. Jane just made a face and carefully scooped up the pixie in one hand, looking at her fearlessly.
"Well, so it is," she said casually, discreetly shooting Rosette herself a glance that very much said 'please don't do anything crazy,' before promptly cupping her hands together like she had just caught a delicate insect. "I'll just have to go consult our local monster hunter, I suppose! Wouldn't want to have an infestation of these little things. As you were," she said pointedly to the quiet but wide-eyed crewmen trying to steal a look at the pixie. Turning back to Rutger, she added, "I'll unlock my cabin on the way to see Caiden. Feel free to use it."
With that, and with the pixie still in hand, Jane strode off.
"I'm quite glad you didn't get stepped on," she muttered to the pixie under her breath.
"And now you have" she replied. "See? The world's getting better already" she said with a grin.
Kye somehow managed a slight grin in return, for once.
"You're quite welcome" she responded softly. "Wait here a moment. I'm just going to check up top and make sure we don't have a problem, 'kay?" she said after a brief pause. "I'll be right back, I promise" she said with an encouraging smile, giving Kye a comforting pat on the shoulder.
The disguised demon-kin just nodded quietly, staying right where he was.
Caiden listened, mostly in silence, to Marcus's suggestions. As usual, his face betrayed nothing of his opinions, but he threw in a comment now and again.
Tugging nervously on his own chin, the veteran Inquisitor reflected in a hushed tone, “I’m sure you noticed my disagreement with the younger Templar lady, she hasn’t given me her name yet. Captain Rolf seems trustworthy, but he seems to trust her a great deal more than anyone else. I gather she’s a driving force in this investigation judging by her whispered talks with you and her captain. It’s strange to me how interested she seems to be in thinning our ranks before we even begin our mission in earnest. Whether she’s one of the coven agents you mentioned or not, I can’t prove, but if the suspicion is there, any other accusations she makes could be “fruit of the poisoned tree,” as the tribunes call it.”
"I trust Stevan," Caiden said firmly. "I've known him for years. He's bled for me, and I for him. If he trusts her, I'm at least willing to give her a chance. From what I saw earlier, they went through something together in that swamp. Stevan isn't one to ever show worry or fear - he was in the Legion. Whatever happened to them, I doubt there were many survivors."
Breathing heavily, Marcus continued with trepidation, “Option two, and possibly the most liable to backfire: mob rule. The crew undoubtedly noticed the Templars wanting to take this route that got some of us killed, and now, instead of helping to get the ship back in order, they’re starting a proverbial witch hunt. I’m no expert on blessings, but it’s possible we can gain the support of any Nordling or Southron worshippers who may not appreciate being forced to take part in an Astran ritual. Even some of our fellow Imperials still haven’t accepted their religion. We could even tie it in to the first option, but if I’m wrong about the girl, and I somewhat hope that I am, then we’ll be spreading terrible lies for the sake of our friend. Worse, if Kye gets discovered anyway, either by the Templars or someone else later, we might end up joining him at the bottom of sea. In one piece, if we’re lucky.”
Caiden said nothing, though he did set his jaw briefly.
Sighing and slumping against the nearest wall, Capulet groaned, “Those are the best plans I can come up with to get them to stop their search completely. Distracting or sidetracking them might buy him time, but if the Templars are as judicious in their work as we Inquisitors, they won’t stop of their own accord.”
Looking back at Caiden with more than the usual worry in his eyes, he concluded, “Counterattack, cause a riot, or come clean. I never thought I would need to make battleplans against one ally for the sake of another, but whichever path we choose, if it fails, we’ll probably have the same result: defending Kye from the Templars. There’s just one variable I’m unsure of, one that could justify whatever action we decide on…”
Staring into Caiden’s eye intently, the Inquisitor asked, “What will they do to Kye if they catch him?”
"They'll kill him," Caiden answered almost flatly and without hesitation.
He didn't get to elaborate - though Marcus wasn't sure he was even going to - before Neitha came over.
"Caiden" she said, acknowledging the other man's presence. Caiden gave her a respectful nod in return.
Neitha then turned to Marcus. "So, dear, are things good, or..." she trailed off as she noticed the unusual amount of worry in his eyes. "... Not so good, then? What'd I miss?" she asked, her gaze flicking back and forth between the pair.
"The Templars are working on a plan to try and find what they believe to be either a demon or a vampire on this ship," Caiden answered. "If I know Stevan, he'll work things out with Jane, and make sure..."
Right on cue, Captain Jane Ritter appeared, flashing them all a friendly smile before holding her hands out to Caiden - and moving one away to reveal Rosette.
"Your pixie friend nearly got stepped on," she said. "At least, I assume she's the pixie you told me about. Unless you have two? Maybe they're multiplying in there."
Caiden's face went blank before he simply furrowed his brow in annoyance. Jane's face lit up that she had managed to embarrass him even in the tiniest capacity.
"Here," she said, gently setting Rosette one of Caiden's enormous shoulders. "That talkative Templar scribe saw her, and two of my crewmen did as well, but maybe they won't make too much of a fuss. I said I was going to let the professional handle it. Besides, we have other worries."
"Thanks," Caiden replied, glancing at Rosette, as Jane had placed her on his right shoulder so he could actually see her. "Jane..." he started, but the Captain held up a hand.
"Sorry, Caid, but I really have to run," she said apologetically. "The ship's a mess. I'll be in my cabin if you need to speak with me."
With that, she turned and hurried off. Caiden growled low in his throat like a bothered animal.
"Jane will submit to whatever the Templars want," the Venator said, looking at Marcus and Neitha again. "She and Stevan have a long relationship... even longer than mine with her. They're almost family, and the Templars saved Jane's own family once. She trusts them, and not without reason."
He crossed his arms. "Kye's in serious trouble. But as much as I know Kye's our friend, Stevan's my friend as well. I don't want to wrong the Templars. With anyone other than Kye, they'd be right to do what they're doing. If we come clean, I might be able to convince Stevan, at least enough to keep him from killing Kye... but I don't know about the others."
Stevan, meanwhile, reappeared on the main deck at the same moment Captain Ritter emerged from the holds. The Knight-Captain gave her a nod, and the two headed for the quarterdeck, moving past Plexaura as they did. The channeler paused long enough to shoot them a suspicious glance.
"You've got your serious face on, Steve," she remarked. "Why's that?"
The Templar turned to face her, and Jane waved him off, whispering something about taking care of it herself and shooting him an encouraging smile that made Stevan clear his throat in mild embarrassment. As Jane headed up to man the ship's wheel again, Stevan turned to Plexaura.
"There's trouble on board," he said. "It's my job to handle it."
"You sound awfully sure of that, for so many monster and mage hunters to be in one place," Plexaura said teasingly, arching a thin eyebrow.
"Let's just say it's a Templar specialty," Stevan replied darkly.
Plexaura moved a bit closer to him, and the two began to whisper, though Stevan did not seem to entirely approve of the lowered tones. But the channeler discreetly took his hand, leading him off toward the forecastle deck, where they could speak with at least a bit more privacy.
Captain Jane Ritter, however, had no time to pay attention to this or any of the other interactions going on on the main deck, as she stepped up just behind the railing on the quarterdeck and started speaking loudly enough that everyone would both hear and pay attention.
"It has come to my attention," she said with uncharacteristic seriousness and worry, "that something more than a giant man-eating sea monster was seen around our ship last night. We now have reason to believe there may be a monster of another nature on board: a demon or a vampire. If they're hearing this and want to run," she shrugged, "that's fine with me, to put it bluntly, especially since there's too much sea between us and land for anything to survive. But you're welcome to try."
She stood up straight and put her hands on her hips. "You all know the nature of our mission: to find and defeat the Umbra Coven. They are not without spies, and this creature in our midst may very well be one of those. That is why we must find them, and we must work together to do so. For all we know, the monster in the waters between us and Artorius could have been something the Umbra Coven themselves summoned here to prevent us from interfering." She shrugged. "I've heard less far-fetched things.
"But, ridiculous or no, the very real threat of a spy - and, worse, a spy that is an evil creature that corrupts minds, feeds off human blood, or both - on board my ship is something I will not tolerate. This is why everyone on board will submit to a private inquisition. When your name is called, you will enter my quarters to answer some questions from our Templar allies. Once we are sure you are who you say you are, you may leave and return to your duties or hobbies, as you see fit."
She sighed. "I do hate inquisitions and other such annoyances on my vessel, but I will do what has to be done. Since everyone on board already agreed to this mission knowing full well who their allies are and who they are taking down, I trust everyone will agree that this is a necessary precaution, and I thank you for your cooperation. We will be in Artorius in just a few more days - and hopefully this will be the very last of troubles we see before we dock. When you hear your name, simply step into my cabin. As for all you Templars, you should proceed to my cabin now, as we will begin momentarily."
With that, she motioned Big Rob to the ship's wheel before descending from the quarterdeck again and stepping into her cabin, herself. For now, she left the door open for all other Templars to join her there.