The deck swayed beneath his feet as they rounded the bluff into the bay of Trios on light sails and sweeps, the shouts of the men on the oars below filtering up through the deck. A call from a man in the rigging confirmed what he already knew; the Argus had returned home. As they had raided the northern reaches of the Spice Isles, Christoph had heard tales of the cargo that ship was rumoured to be carrying. Some men swore it to be a beast, others a mythical creature thought long dead, one old man claimed it to be magical. Whatever it was, the consensus seemed to be that the cargo was alive, dangerous, but (more importantly to the Cruel Maiden and her crew) valuable. A merchant princess he and the captain had dined with (and Christoph had later spent the night with) on Skiafos hinted that she might be interested in such a prize and would be willing to reimburse any honest trader that could bring it to her. Christoph believed that where there was one buyer, there would be many and his captain agreed.
Captain Morgan had set their sights for Trios immediately. They had made good time, considering they had been sidetracked twice when crossing paths with trading vessels. Opportunities too good to pass up. Now their holds were close to overflowing with silks, spices, soft wools, and other items to trade. Morgan was a forward thinking man and, where possible, stole paperwork along with any goods they found in a ship’s hold. Where that was not possible, the Maiden was riddled with secret compartments and hideaways.
Christoph had ordered the black flag they flew to be replaced with one from the Salt Isle a day before they were in sight of land. Now, as they entered the bay, he could see there was no dock space available for them. It did not matter, in fact it worked to their advantage. While the Captain kept the port officials busy, Christoph could slip ashore and start investigating the validity of the rumours concerning the Argus and her cargo. As soon as the Maiden was anchored, Christoph gathered a small crew, donned his waistcoat and coat, and they made their way to shore.
He was questioning a seasoned sailor when he heard the first scream. His hand went instantly to his sword hilt before he thought better of it and took his dagger in hand instead. Christoph ordered his crew to search the crowd while he went to seek out a higher vantage point.