To the great pleasure of its captain, the Jackdaw had been enjoying a period of harmony and hard work. For a start, there were no injuries or illnesses (no-one, in particular, fell off the rigging and sprained anything, which was usually something close to a bi-weekly occurence); the Jackdaw never lost speed or momentum - the engines kept roaring, the deckhands kept scrubbing, and so on.
But there were also unexpected advancements. For a start, Dina, whom the captain had - truth be told - allowed on board out of pity alone, was making good on her promise to begin combat training. Surprisingly, Drakmor, usually quite a solitary fellow (the captain thought) was the one to take up the challenge of mentoring her, and both were approaching it with a keen mindset; Dina with an eagerness to prove herself, and to help, no doubt, the people she knew were taking good care of her; Drakmor with the calm and understated professionalism he seemed to apply to most of his duties as a crewman (when he wasn't pranking about jumping over the side, the Captain remembered with disdain.) The food also, now that Bollis had run out of - i.e) finished off - the ship's supply of rum in what Leopold would wager - with some ashamedness at his inability to control the porky blighter - was some kind of record time, was terrific; Bollis and Rosewood finding, for the time being, an uneasy union between two vastly different personalities in the name of good eating. He noted that Dina, as a result of this good food and exercise, was looking less like fading away day by day, and even coming close to something like an image of good health.
The final surprise were Goldwynn and Baron's unexpected dedication. Well, by no means devotion on either part, but if Mandenport was the set marker for when Leopold would make the decision as to whether to keep them or not, they were certainly leaning into his good-books. Goldwynn had made it clear to Leopold he did not intend to stay longer, but walking by them both one day, singing an old shanty with most of the crew as they hauled a crate from the lower part of the deck to the higher, and slapping each others' backs with laughter after the job was finished, the Captain could not help but notice that Goldwynn and Baron were beginning to enjoy what an academic would call homo-sociality, and what anyone else would call 'fitting in with the blokes'.
If there was anything negative to be taken away, there was still a lurking ambiguity about his nephew that troubled the Captain. For a start, like Goldwynn, where had he come from? Leopold could, of course, ask him, but would he be able to take what he said for truth? He looked at Baron's furrowed brow sometimes and thought: Did the unmentioned past still haunt this man? Had he sought Leopold out, for example, knowing that any other Briar would turn him out on the spot? Perhaps most worryingly, why did he look at Rosewood so? If she was the 'siren' - which, Leopold realised, would make sense - he would certainly, as pertaining to his duty as captain and uncle, take any action necessary to avoid a repeat of the last time Baron boarded the Jackdaw.
He was still deciding his final thoughts on Goldwynn and, more specifically, his nephew, when one day, as he was gazing out into the clouds and infinite blue in deep thought, he heard the cry from Stalworth "Land ahoy! Land ahoy, I say!", and, not long after, "Captain! Captain Briar! Your navigators pulled it off! Mandenport in sight!"
Leopold, and half the crew, ran with enthusiasm towards the side of the ship. Within minutes, they could see that Stalworth's eyes were dead-on. First, the wire-thin ridge of land that came out of the hazy nothing, then, a strange-looking cloud of steam and smoke, before, finally, the jagged, bustling blocks, spires and ships of Mandenport; the little city of that led to a thousand roads and passages over land, sea and sky; the city of ceaseless momentum.
"Decrease the uplift!" Leopold roared to the balloon-men, "and ease the wings into a glide! We dock in half an hour!"