“Why don’t you both climb aboard?” invited Rucksack. He ascended the rope ladder hanging from his wooden craft. The sand ship had intermittent portholes capped at the sides. Barney wondered what these openings were for as he climbed aboard.
Rucksack gave them a thorough tour of his ship. “Here is the forward compartment where the gunpowder and shot are housed. As you can see, the main mast is well secured. It was fashioned from the largest tree I could find on the outskirts of the Zarkin Desert. I’m not sure, but I think a colony of termites planned to use it as a support beam for their great hall.”
They passed several ropes and tackles. Ladders led from the three deck levels all the way to the crow’s nest where a spy glass was fashioned to the main mast. “You boys must follow me now. I’ll direct you to the captain’s quarters in the stern.”
They walked into Rucksack’s messy room, littered with land and water charts. Stained glass revealed the name of his ship in bright colors; it was called The Majestic.
Sarah marveled at the craftsmanship, saying over and over “A smart craft this is and probably quite fast.”
Rucksack led them into the galley and began to ask informal questions about where they came from. They felt they could trust him; it was difficult to explain how they arrived in the desert from a different dimension using a traveling magic hat, but Rucksack was unfazed by their story.
Walking down to the third tier, Rucksack showed them his prison.
They passed lines of cannons with nicknames like Bouncing Betty and Your Worst Nightmare. “It’s nice to see you have so many cannons ready for bombardment,” admired Sarah.
“That I do, that I do,” smiled Rucksack. Soon their tour led them onto the main deck once again.
“But you haven’t shown us how you plan to transfer the map onto a more legible surface,” reminded Barney.
“Oh, I almost forgot. Back in the chart room, I have a way to keep the map hidden. Like this sword, the contents written by fire are also revealed by heat.”
They sat down at a strange table. “This desk is shaped like Rockinspike, a dragon who lives in the lava tubes on Volcano Island. “Its lair is not easy to find and amassed with treasure. There is a labyrinth of passageways leading to the heart of the island, but we will keep as much distance between us and the dragon as possible. The beast has burned countless ships and stolen for centuries.”
“Let’s have a look at the sword.” Retrieving the blade, Rucksack lit a candle on his table with the tip of his wand. He held it over a green flame and faint lines became visible.
“I can see where we are,” whispered Barney.