Cafer Mohammed-ibn-Assud seats Enrico, Ibrahim and Kismet on deep plush cushioned chairs, the sort with long and comfortable arms, in a wide foyer with open walls on two sides. This, too, gives a beautiful view of the sea, without the clutter of the town below to mar the vista. The parquet floor is made of black and white stones in a geometric pattern; it feels cool on the feet, after the hot stones of the street. You're each served a chilled coffee with cream and vanilla ~ a favorite of the harbourmaster ~ while on the table in front of you is a large bowl of pomegranates, oranges, nectarines and grapes. There are small bowls of olives floating in oil around the bowl.
The harbourmaster is serviced by two scribes, who stand on either side of him. There are a dozen guards in the foyer, but all are well away from your group, and are facing outwards at the crowd outside.
"This may seem strange to you," Cafer starts, after initially offering his hospitality. "But you have the answers to my questions, though you do not know it. But allow me to explain.
"Some eight days ago, a devastating storm struck the city from the south. This is not unusual for this time of the year . . . but on this occasion the storm dredged up a wreck, which was discovered just four feet deep in the water just off Dimitrios point. A rather fabulous wreck, as it turned out, for it contained something like twenty thousand gold pieces."
At this point, Cafer will hold up his hand. "Now, the wreck has been declared for scavenging purposes . . . but it was clear that the wreck was not long sunk. It appears to have been in the water some two or three months. By our law, if there is a recent wreck, it is our responsibility to determine the ownership of the wreck. But after examination, it appeared to be a pirate ship, and apparently of construction somewhere in the west. Knowing no one in the west, we asked the Old One, Philoctetes, to perform a divination. He is a known local oracle: and his answer was ~"
Cafer turns to one of the scribes and begs the scribe to read the words. The scribe reads, "If you would know the life and purposes of this ship, ask the stranger from Koufonisia that comes to Syros, for he will know the ship well."
Hearing this, Cafer spreads his arms. "Well? Do you know a ship called the Petrel?"