By Scott Kujawa
Date: 15th day of the 2nd tenday of Mirtul in the year 1375 - The Year of Risen Elfkin
Time: Morning to Evening
Location: On the Moonsea.
Weather: Temperate and overcast.
Aris woke, ate his dawnfry, and prayed to Azuth.
A cry of pirates came from the lookout around late highsun and as his cry faded away, the sailors and mercenaries grabbed weapons and shields, if they had some, and got ready for a battle. At the same time four of the sailors moved towards the ballista and readied them by sliding home long spears and winding the cranks.
Not long after, a three-masted caravel could be seen heading towards the left side of the ship from the rear. Slowly it caught up and drew alongside and the mercenaries’ ship rocked sideways as the ballista were fired. However, the two spears went wide and around the pirate ship, allowing it to draw close enough that boarding hooks brought the two ships together with a clash of wood against wood.
The defenders were soon in a pitched battle with the twenty pirates and small groups of mercenaries and pirates flowed across the deck.
Luie stood a little in front of his companions that use ranged weapons and spells, making it so that any of the pirates would have to get by him first to get to the members of his Company and with a snap kick and a “HAI!”, the halfling’s foot slammed into the pirate and it spun the human around because of the force and the slippery deck and the mercenaries that were near, laughed as the pirate’s body flipped over the edge of the ship and into the Moonsea. A moment later, that shark from earlier dragged the mostly unconscious human under the water.
The male human pirate captain, who wields a saber and wears leather armor, cut one of the members of the Red Shields in half with a strong blow, leaving both halves of the body to fall away from the saber. With a grin, the captain looked around and stood his ground for now.
Seeing that Luie was being a body shield, Caerlin quickly strung up her bow and as she moved back a few steps, since she was near the wagons and the back of the barge, she plunked an arrow into the throat of one of the pirates and he fell to the deck with a “urk” sound.
Addoc raised his hammer and said a quick to Gond to bless everyone that fights with the Gondsman and when they felt the divine energy, it filled them with the feeling of strength of gears and metal.
Aris was with the female caravan master and he was oiling his crossbow and as the two ships were bound together, he stood and fired a bolt at a pirate and it entered the male’s arm, causing his arm to lose feeling.
Ragnar flourished his cutlass while he kept his katar in plain sight. As he stepped forward, a little, his weapon cut through the leather armor, after he blocked the pirate’s short blade, and Ragnar’s cutlass dug deep into the pirate’s chest, leaving a gaping wound that would kill the invader.
The other members of the Red Shield’s continued their own battles across the decks of the barges and they removed four of the pirates while taking no casualties.
Auy stayed further behind Luie and Caerlin and she asked her cat deity to shield her and Sharess’s warm purring feline feeling energy flowed over her.
One of the pirates hit Luie with his short blade in the halfling’s arm for a minor wound. The other cut across Ragnar’s leg and his cut caused the bard to have a small scratch. Ragnar quickly looked down at the cut and he when he saw that it wasn’t serious he looked back up at the offending pirate and glared at him. “Do you have any idea how much these trousers cost? I’m going to have to cut off your ears for that you know.” The pirate just sneered back at Ragnar as he listened to the bard.
Making sure he was not being drawn off from his companions, Luie decided to return the favor to the pirate. “SHOYUKIN!” he yelled as he delivered a powerful upper cut to the pirates’ groin and his attacked caused the pirate to scream as the human grabbed his groin and fell to his knees.
This time, when the pirate captain hit one of the mercenaries, the blade cut into the merc but it didn’t kill him and the merc glared back in anger.
Caerlin quickly dropped her bow and took two steps forward before she slammed her long sword through the chest of one of the pirates, causing his wound to gush blood as she pulled her blade out of his chest cavity.
With a roar, the giant waded into the fray in the direction of the pirate captain. He swung his hammer at any freebooter unlucky enough to come between him and the grinning murderer but most of them moved out of his way, letting him get to the pirate leader. Before the leader could turn to block Addoc’s weapon, the Gondsmith had slammed the warhammer against the pirate’s arm and chest, making the human stumble as some of his bones snapped.
The wizard shot another bolt and he killed the pirate that Ragnar injured. With a ferocious snarl, Ragnar feinted with his katar, before he revealed his real attack by swiping his cutlass at the pirate’s neck and the bard’s weapon cut deeply into that body part.
The mercenaries of the Red Shields held their own against the pirates that are attacking the other barges and the well trained mercs cut down three more invaders without being killed.
Auy stayed a little behind Caerlin and the scout heard the priestess call on Sharess again. As the cleric’s spell finished, Auy smiled as one of the pirates stopped and stared at the cleric with desire and lust, causing the attacker to just stand there stunned as his body reacted to the spell.
Luie felt the bite of a steel weapon in the same arm again and he finally realized that Caerlin’s shirt was being cut up by the pirates and he was lightly bleeding on it. “Drop you weapons and surrender!” he barked, “The battle is lost,” and he watched as the leader smirked before he glared at the remaining pirates to show them that if they stopped, he would kill them himself.
The halfling used a lesser punch and he knocked out the injured pirate, causing the body to fall to the deck. Addoc blocked the pirate leader’s attack by bringing his hammer around and clanking it against the long sword.
Caer looked startled by the effect of Auy's prayer but she shrugged and glanced around to see that some of the mercs where injured and instead of continuing the fight she went to them and helped them get comfortable or she bandaged their wounds.
"I'll send ye back to Umberlee, butcher!" Addoc thundered and his hammer arced towards the pirate captain with deadly purpose. Once it slammed into the captain, Addoc, and many of the others nearby, heard the captain’s chest shatter before blood flowed out of his open mouth and then his body fell to the deck.
Seeing that their leader has been killed the one that is injured threw down his blade and the other mercs quickly dispatched the few others on the other barges. At the same time, the pirate that is under Auy’s spell started to make sounds of pleasure. The cat priestess smiled as she watched the pirate before she gazed across the deck.
"Well, that was quicker than I thought it would be, which is good because there was less killing on both sides since the fighting is over and it looks like we might have gotten another ship. I wonder what the caravan master or our leader will do with it?” Auy remarked and she noticed the few cats that are on the ship start to wind around and between her legs.
Aris, with a disgusted look on his face, said, "What in the bloody Nine Hells did you cast on him?"
"Hmm?” Auy hummed as she continued to feel the felines around her legs. ”Oh, for shame, you asking a woman all her secrets," the priestess replied in a chastising voice. "Anyway, didn't you say you were from Waterdeep? I thought all the nobles of that city were familiar with such things, but since you aren’t perhaps you are to young to know about such things. So, I leave it as a divine secret of Sharess, until you can remove yourself from your parent's apron strings. Then... Perhaps... I can teach you about such pleasures.”
Narrowing his eyes, Aris said, "You presume much. I don't exactly know where you are trying to get with these assumptions but such a show isn't exactly a sight for sore eyes for a man."
Her normal smile and friendly eyes vanished as she glared at the human. "You are truly wet behind the ears and it’s good that you left your city when you did otherwise you'd be dead or some ones pawn or lackey. I've said all I am going to sat to you on this and about anything else for a while. If I were you, I wouldn’t speak to me again until you have figured out the offense you have given my goddess and me."
“I apologize if I offended you and your goddess. Still, you must understand that I have no inclinations towards males and a man loving another man may be not that uncommon in Waterdeep, but I’m in not interested in such things. Hence my reaction.”
The priestess started to open her mouth but she stopped short of saying anything since she did say she was done talking to this man for the day.
Luie pointed at some of the merc's. "You three," the halfling said as he motioned his hand at the company's new pirate captives, "Bind them please."
When he saw that the mercs were already starting to do that before he remarked on it, he started to head towards the barges railing. "The first order of business Auy is to secure the ship and to make sure that they don’t have any nasty surprise in the holds and we can check for possible prisoners." With a hop, skip, and a jump he crossed over to the pirate’s small ship. "Come on Ragnar! Let’s find you and Caerlin some new clothes!"
For his part, the giant began looking after the body of the Red Shield that was slain by the pirate captain. Addoc removed the mercs personal effects and arranged a piece of sailcloth for his corpse to be wrapped in. "D'ye know if he was praying man?" Addoc asked the other mercenaries. "Was he a follower of the Knight?"
“Aye, he was,” the caravan master answered from where she stood nearby. “If you could, store the body in one of the back wagons and we’ll return them to the settlement to be buried.”
Addoc nodded. "As ye say, ma'am. Will ye be taking charge of his effects, or would ye want me t' see that they make it back to his folk once we cross paths with those of my brethren?"
“Please, store them with the bodies and when we return to the Red Shield’s settlement, we’ll let the Commander decide or she might know who they can be returned or given to.”
Caer continued to help those that were injured and once she finished, she helped Addoc with the sailcloth. She grimaced at the bite she could hear in Auy's voice and Caerlin turned to Addoc. "Aris is not making a good impression on Auy at the moment."
"Aye. A good man lies dead, and they squabble like children fighting over the last piece of morning frybread," the Gondsman harrumphed. "She because she fears none will take her giggle an' swish ways and festhall magic seriously, and he because he fears some blackguard might wink an eye his way. For all their talk of visiting other worlds, those two seem the least worldly among us."
When Auy heard the Gondsman's comment, she turned and looked at him. "If you truly believe what you just said about me and why I am upset, you are not much of a priest as you claim to be, or you lack the understanding of what your god would find offensive and that worries me more than your clueless comments about my actions." Auy frowned and started to walk away before the normally happy priestess turned back and looked at the Gondsman a second time and then turned her gaze to Aris. “Thankfully I don’t worry about what you or that noble thinks and all that is important to me is that my goddess is pleased with me and how I follow her beliefs, and that I don’t have aid those who have insulted her or her cleric."
"An' she calls me thickskulled," Addoc snorted, not even looking up from his task. "I'll be a freckled firenewt if I mentioned my god or hers... It’s a good thing that your goddess is not so thin-skinned as ye, child," Addoc rumbled, still crouched over the body. "That said, if ye must take my words as insult, remember that they were never directed at the Dancing Lady. If y'cannot find the difference twixt ye and she, mayhap it's not I who lack the wit to tell what's offensive to the gods, aye?"
Aris took on a calm expression. "It's your choice but it saddens me that you think that and I never meant to offend you. Addoc, come, there still may be more threats on the enemy vessel and we may need you. I’ll help you tend to our fallen comrade when the ship is safe".
Addoc lifted the body of the fallen soldier in his arms and the giant shook his head. "Like me ol' dad says, a thing half-done is still undone. You go join the others, and I'll be along in a bit, once I've said a few words t'send this warrior's soul on to his rest."
The Gondsman carried the body to its place in the far wagon and after it was arranged, he quietly said a prayer to the Red Knight for a place at her tables for a fallen and faithful soldier, and another prayer to Gond for a sharp sword and good armor once he got there.
While Addoc placed the body in the wagon, Caerlin cleaned her sword and sheathed it. She crossed the deck and retrieved her bow and checked it to make sure that it wasn't damaged during the battle and it seemed fine.
Aris, a little shaken from what he saw, quickly followed Ragnar and Luie to the enemy vessel. "I guess it would be too much to ask to find some spell scrolls, or a spellbook, from which I could copy some new spells from."
"No problem,” Luie said.
Ragnar quickly followed Luie and the bard walked across the boarding plank and onto the pirate ship. “Oh this is just a small cut and I’m sure someone in the caravan will know how to fix it. Not that I’d mind a new pair of clothes, of course.” He winked for the first time since the beginning of the battle with the pirates. “Although I must say that if the blood gets washed out, I think Caerlin’s shirt would look rather fetching with a few tears in it."
“Then let’s find another pirate so he can rend the other sleeve,” Luie said with a quick grin, “Or were you thinking the chest?”
Luie moved to Ragnar and gave him a pat on the leg, leaving some blood on him. “Let’s head toward that staircase that leads down. Um... you got red on you.”
“As Princess Alusair once said, ‘Tis but a flesh-wound.’ And I think I’ll settle for the sleeve because Caerlin just might hear us talking after all. What do you think Auy will do to ‘her’ prisoner?” the bard wondered aloud as he scanned the deck for signs of non-surrendered pirates, which he didn’t see any and then his attention was drawn to a nice gewgaw that is a steel bracer chased with gold and set in the middle of it is a medium-sized onyx.
“I’m not sure but I think it will require a lot of rope,” Luie answered from where he stood near the top of the staircase and waited to see if anyone else was going to join them.
"Of course it will! He is a prisoner after all and we can't leave him free to run around the ship!" Auy replied with a grin as she joined the others on the pirate ship after she stalked off like a cat that has its back up. "Luie dear, do you know much about rope?" she added with a slight giggle.
He answered over his shoulder, "Just enough to walk across it like a spider. And I know how to escape a good tied rope. Also if you wet it down with oil not only is it flammable but it can deliver a wicked slap."
Caerlin walked over to the boarding plank and she waited for Addoc. As the two of them crossed over to the pirate ship, she looked at her fellow companions and she shook her head.
Luie began to descend and he paused to cup his hands over his mouth using the universal greeting for ship to ship communication. “Ahoy!” he yelled. “We have taken the ship, is there anyone down here who needs assistance?" He waited for any reaction from below and after listening to the silence for a few moments, he heard a faint female voice calling for help.
“Maiden in distress!” the hin said mostly to himself, “Or a big trap.”
”Well I sure hope for the first, it's my speciality,” the bard, who has been following right behind Luie after he pocketed the bracer that he noticed before, said. “I’m a lot better at dealing with those than I am with traps.”
Luie, Ragnar, and Aris saw that a hallway faced them and it had two doors off of it, one right and the other left, and another smaller staircase, at the end of the hallway, led down and that is where the voice is coming from. Auy followed behind them and Caerlin and Addoc brought up the rear.
Faster than a speeding arrow, Luie rushed down the hall and he paused to examine the second set of stairs while he peered down them and he saw that there were some light sources deeper in, since the shadows flickered from the lantern lights. “Don’t worry miss we are almost to you. Do you need healing?”
Caerlin tried to say something to Luie, but she stopped as the hin disappeared down the stairs. Instead she sighed, nocked an arrow, and opened the door on the left. Not quite that fast, Ragnar hurried after the hin and Aris continued to follow but he stayed slightly behind Ragnar.
The scout looked around the room to make sure that no one can come down the second stairs behind them or surprise them by coming out of the rooms and after a few moments, she stepped out of the room. As she crossed the hall and entered the room on the right, those that are with her saw that she carried a new bow. After a few moments, Caer came back out of the door and she nodded to the others.
“No one in either room as far as I can tell, but there are some chests and wardrobes that can be looked through later, and distributed fairly." She smiled, headed for the stairs, and started down them.
“Some, aye,” the female voice said and now that he is closer, he can hear her better. “But I’d rather get out of these chains.”
“Lady Luck is smiling down on you today because we can help with your current situation.” Luie headed directly towards the female voice and as he walked through the shadow and dusky hallway, he moved his head back and forth looking for keys, a jailer with said keys, or anything that might be a trap.
When he was near the front part of the hold, he saw a female human that is clothed in rags that once looked well made. Her dark reddish-brown hair is cut short. They could see that she was of average height and weight and she has tawny skin. Hanging, just out of her reach, is what Luie assumes is the key. Luie took the key and inserts it into the locks of the manacle and as he did, he waited for a shock or explosion. Eventually he opened the manacles as the female started to frown as the halfling took his time.
Holding his cutlass out before him in a tight fist, Ragnar stopped before the raggedy-dressed woman. “Fear not fair maid, thine rescuer is here now. Um... so what may your name be goodmaid?" He stuck his dagger into its sheath and held out his free hand to her.
“Lady Knight Auren of Damara. My thanks for the rescue and those blasted pirates were going to try to ransom me,” she remarked as she grabbed Ragnar’s hand in a strong grip and pulled herself to her feet with a groan from the bruises and soreness of being chained for so long.
“Well met. I’m Aris Wands, a wizard of Waterdeep. May I ask how did you get captured by these fools?”
“Stupidity on my part and walking into a trap set for me in Vassa,” she answered before she sighed.
Caerlin stopped at the bottom of the stairs and listened to what the female tells Luie, Ragnar, and Aris as she watched the hall and looked into the berths that made up the rest of the cargo hold. She saw that most of them were filled with sacks and barrels. "Lady Knight, do you happen to have an idea of how many pirates were on this ship?"
“About twenty or so but they all left to attack your vessels, I’m assuming.”
"If that is all there were, then they have either been dispatched, or taken prisoner," Caerlin told the Knight.
“Very good then and hopefully Tyr will give them the justice they deserve.”
Auy silently slipped up to and next to the Lady Knight. "Might
I look over your bruises and where you have been chained? Unless the ruthless pirates were tending to them, which it doesn't look like. I won't be able to do much here, but once we get back to our ship I can tend to them in a better fashion. Oh, and you will actually have a decent place to sleep this eve too."
“Aye, if you have the divine power to do so, then please.”
Auy nodded and whispered a few words to her goddess, hoping that Sharess would answer them and heal the female knight. The priestess felt Sharess’s energy spread through her and into the knight, who gasped. As Auy cast a second healing spell to remove the rest of the wounds, she felt the feline from earlier curling in and out of her legs. "There you go, that should hold you over enough to move around and until you get back onto the ship for some proper rest."
“My thanks, and my thanks to your divine patron.”
Ragnar waited for Auy to tend the Lady Knight's bruises before he held his arm out for her once more. "A pleasure to meet you Lady Auren, I'm Ragnar Braelithar, a bard out of Waterdeep. What do you say we go to see if we can find you any somewhat less torn up clothing on this blasted, unholy, and generally disagreeable pirates' barrel of a ship? Of course," he said, as he gave her his best wink and she smiled, "personally I don't mind your current look too badly, but us mercenaries are a lewd and largely ribald, perhaps even lecherous, bunch or so I've been told by people more staid than myself."
“Yes, and I’d like to find my armor and weapons, if they are stored on this ship, so lead on sir bard,” she remarked as she took Ragnar’s arm.
"You mentioned that you were going to be ransomed? To whom? Perhaps we are heading in the right direction to return you to your homeland or at least send word to your leaders that you are freed.”
“The pirates thought they could sell me to the Zhentarim since the Zhents have been trying to make inroads into Damara but for now they have been rebuffed. But if I was a hostage, they might have been able to get Gareth to agree to some of their demands.”
Caer waited until Ragnar and the Knight reached her. "There are two rooms just up the stairs and they may hold some of your gear. At least they have some clothes that should fit you."
“My thanks and I shall look.”
"Aye," the giant rumbled, pressing himself against the wall so the ranger could pass as she started up the stairs. "And once we've seen this place to be free of traps and such, we'd best be about moving what we can find to above decks. Better for our commander and the caravan captain to decide what's to be divided amongst whom..."
Caer paused for a moment. "Mayhap we should ask Jelitha first. From the little I've seen, it may take more than a few hours to move everything." She pondered for a bit. "I wonder what they will do with this ship, as I'm not sure that there are enough hands to sail it, along with the barges." Caerlin shrugs, "I'm sure that has already been decided, while we were down here."
“Do you think they will torch it? Or will they ask for volunteers for a skeleton crew? Either way, let’s explore the rooms and take things topside.” Luie pocketed the key and scratched his head. “Nice bow.”
"I doubt that they will torch it because a ship like this is valuable," Caerlin answered Luie before she smiled. "My thanks, I found it in one of the rooms above," she finished as she held out the oak longbow that is carved with images of unicorn horns, grain stalks, small rivers, and oak trees, so he could get a better look.
The hin peered at the bow but he didn’t touch it. “It’s... taller than me. No one was using this?”
"Nay, I had to do a bit of digging to get it out," Caer shrugged. "I have no idea why it wasn't being used."
Ragnar helped the former hostage up the stairs and toward the rooms above. “As long as I can escape hauling duty I’d say that’s a fine idea. Just remind me not to forget to add the bracer I found on the deck to the loot. And I suppose Lady Auren should get to pick out anything that is justly hers, along with some recompense for her poor treatment. Or what do the rest of you think?” He turned to the lady knight on his arm and she smiled at him. “Speaking of which, since I like the way it looks, I certainly hope this doesn’t belong to you?” He showed her the bracer he’d found previously.
“Nay, that isn’t any of my plate armor or one of my possessions. We need to look for steel armor that is silver-chased and etched with bloodstone gems. Oh, and my longsword that is etched with the same gems.” The female knight frowned. “Bard Ragnar, who are your companions? They have been rude by not introducing themselves.”
"Many pardons Lady Knight, I am Caerlin, this is Luie, Addoc, and Auy," Caerlin said as she pointed to each of her companions and the knight looked at each of them. "We are members of the Red Shields based near Phlan."
"My humble apologies, Lady Knight. I’m not being rude to you it is just that Ragnar is suppose to do my introductions." Luie flashed a grin at the bard, "he is so much better at it than I. Now if I wanted to be rude I would have mentioned the smell but you were a prisoner and I doubt if they let you bathe. Hold on a candlemark,” Luie took an exaggerated whiff of himself as the female human smiled and then laughed, "oh my, I am the one that smells. Oops." With embarrassment, the hin walked away.
“Like they said, Lady Auren, it is I that has been remiss in my duties. My heartfelt apologies for letting your delightful and pleasing guise distract me.” After seeing the knight smile again, Ragnar then called out after Luie, “Don’t worry, we’re all used to it by now.”
Caer chuckled a bit before she caught up with Luie. "Hey Luie, let's see if we can find you a new shirt." She looked at the one he has on, "and mayhap we can find me a spare one as well."
Luie stopped on one foot and then spun around on his heel. "I like that idea. Maybe they will have a kilt that is buried among all these items."
Once everyone was back on the first deck, they went through the rooms and as Caerlin saw, the rooms contained chests that were both opened and closed and wardrobes. The Red Shield’s could see, in the open chests, that they contained jewellery, gems, coins, armor, weapons, statues, clothing, spices, artwork, and a mess of other items that were stolen up and down the Moonsea. The wardrobes contained the same mess of items and everyone figured that the barrels and sacks in the hold, where the prisoner was shackled, contained more of the same.
"Do you think that these brutes had anything I could use?" Aris said, with a look that pointed out he wasn't expecting to find much.
Ragnar played absentmindedly with a silver necklace from one of the chests before he offered it to Caerlin. “I wonder if they worked for any of the city-states around the Moonsea? Perhaps we should go search the captain’s cabin? Come to that, we may find whether anyone else was involved in Lady Auren’s abduction.”
Caer took the offered necklace with a smile and she looked it over. "My thanks, Ragnar. A search for the captain's quarters sounds like a good idea." She turned to the knight since Caerlin doesn’t recall an entrance to such a room. "Lady, would you happen to know where the captain's quarters are?"
The knight frowned as she thought. “I never saw quarters for the captain but I did overhear some of the pirate’s mention a knot of wood that hides the door to the captain’s quarters. I believe it is on the main deck somewhere.”
"A knot of wood?" Caer thought about that for a bit before she smiled. "Well, I guess that means a search of the main deck." She started to search for the door and she called over her shoulder, “Is anyone else coming?"
“Arrr,” Luie replied, “Lets go see if we can find this wee bit of wood.”
Caerlin waited for a bit to see if anyone else was going to search with her and Luie. The two of them headed up the stairs to the main deck and they began to search for the knot of wood. Caerlin was the first to find the way to open the hidden door and she found it in the back wall of the middle portion of the ship.
Once she pressed it, after it was checked for traps, part of the wall slid open. Looking inside, they saw a wooden desk took up most of the right wall and on the desk are a tome, a bottle of black ink, and some pens. A medium-sized wooden bed faced them, since the door is on the left side of the wall, and along the wall where the door is, but to their right, is a cabinet filled with skulls and amongst the skulls are two semi-thick tomes like the one on the desk. A fairly tall stone statue of Loviatar could be seen in the corner between the bed and desk and scattered amongst the other furniture was more stolen booty but these items looked to be the choice pickings the captain claimed for himself.
"Maybe they should torch the ship," Luie said.
Caer looked in disgust at the cabinet, and she pulled the two tomes from it. She opened the first one and read a bit of the text before she looked startled. The scout opened the second tome and read a bit of that one before she crossed the room and stopped before the desk. Caerlin opened the third tome and she flipped through the pages and her look of surprise became a small smile of satisfaction.
"Nah, we could just get rid of the disgusting things, and have Addoc and Auy clear it out.” She looked at Luie. "Come look at this," she said as she turned the third tome towards Luie so he could read it.
“What do you have here?” Luie tried to read the tome but he struggled with it even more then she did and he looked at her when he realized it was written in a language that he can’t understand.
"I have no idea what those say, I can’t read that language. Does it say, 'One hundred and one ways to scrub your deck or how to keep the crows nest free of birds?'" Luie rubbed his eyes.
Caer smiled at Luie as she crossed the room and headed for the door. "Well, it's actually..." and she shut the door to the captain's quarters, cutting off her words.
While the others searched for the knight's gear and for the door to the captain’s chamber, Addoc took a moment to clamber back up the stairs so his head and shoulders poked above deck. "Ho, Captain!" he roared, his voice echoing across the water. "Found a prisoner, but no stragglers! Shall we start bringin' what spoils the bastards had up top to be gone through?"
“Oh, aye? Aye, bring what you can and I’ll send a few crew over to help or to see if they can sail the ship to Phlan, where we can port her until the Commander can look her over.”
Caerlin and Luie stepped out of the captain’s quarters a bit later. The scout crossed the plank and headed down the barge until she found Jelitha. Once she spotted her, Caerlin gave the satchel to Jelitha, reported what is in it, and then headed back across the plank to the pirate ship.
Luie took some gems from a small pile of treasure from one of the rooms. “I will be right back.” He stepped out of a room on the main deck and tossed the gems into the deep blue sea and he watched them sink before they disappeared with a flash of blue-green light. “Thanks for the help.”
Luie rejoined the others and after everyone dug through the items they managed to find almost all of the knight’s armor and weapon after she dressed in some leather clothing. Aris managed to procure a scroll that has a spell on it that seems to cause someone to become fearful. Luie and Caerlin found new clothing, which are a cotton shirt for her and another for Luie as well as a kilt. While Caerlin was elsewhere, Ragnar pulled out a brown silk dress that matched her hair and at the same time he found an extra cotton explorer’s outfit that is crimson and the edges are threaded with white, which is usually the clothing of Milil’s faithful. Following the feline, as it stalked across the deck, Auy found a small cat statue in one of the piles of treasure.
Addoc spent some time going through the weapons and armor and he noted about three exceptional weapons which are a dagger, a hammer, and a trident and two exceptional arms which is a partial set of chain and a breastplate. He noticed about three or four books. One of them is on the religious rites of Umberlee, another is a treaty on poison, and the other two are in languages that he can’t read. The Gondsmith took a large sample of different spices that he planned to give to the caravan's cooks and use for his own culinary experiments and when he saw that pepper was one of the spices, he took an overly large amount of it and a handful of wax candles. The Gondsman marked down some quick descriptions of the weapons and armor in his notebook, along with notes regarding the last few days' travel. He stashed away the books to show to the rest of the Company later for possible identification, and for decisions of dispersal or disposal.
“My thanks again,” she remarked as she sheathed her blade. “I’ll have to discuss what is going to happen to me with your caravan master since I don’t think she’ll put into a port anytime soon.”
True to her word, the caravan master sent a few Red Shields to get the ship ready to sail to Phlan. This would also allow the items to stay on the ship and they could be inventoried and divided amongst those who could use them, or they could be put into the treasury of the merc company for later use.
Once the ships were removed from each other, one headed north and the other continued south and the rest of the night was quiet and uneventful.
Not long after the ships parted, Caer searched Luie out, and she looked at him sheepishly. "Luie, I found this when I was putting my new shirt away." She held out his handaxe and gave him a small smile. "I guess I must have put it in my backpack at the cabin on accident. I apologize for keeping it."
Luie was moving his finger on the rail, making small imaginary circle. “Hmmm,” he arched a dark eyebrow. “Oh! The Moonbeam! I wondered where it wondered off to, no worries Caerlin.” He took the small hand ax and then placed in his belt. “If you ever need her, let me know.”
Caer smiled at Luie before she looked over the railing. "How many days will we be on the water? Hopefully we won't run into any more pirates, even though it can be well worth it."
“I’m not sure that the battle puts us behind. Hopefully soon we should make the southern shore, before the food supply runs out.” He tugged her down to his level and he whispered, “Between you and me I really dislike large bodies of water.”
Caer raised an eyebrow and she looked surprised. "You don't like the water? Well, this is only the second time I've been on a sea, and it wasn't bad at all." She stood back up and put her hand on his shoulder. "Just wait, this will be entertaining. Let's go find some eveningfest!"
"A full stomach drowns all irrational fears!"
She smiled at Luie and the two of them started to head off towards where eveningfest is being served and he skipped behind her, patting his tummy.
"For a monk, you sure do eat a lot," Aris said as he followed behind them.
“The other monks always described me as having an appetite of an owlbear.”
Caerlin stopped, raised an eyebrow, and then narrowed her eyes and looked at the wizard. "Eavesdropping on private conversations is not the way to make friends. Actually, if you are what you say you are, 'a noble of Waterdeep', then you should know that is a good way to get killed." She looked at Luie and smiled. "I've heard that owlbears do eat a lot, but I've never observed one to know for sure.” She gave Aris one more glare before she continued on to where the cooks are on the middle barge.
Auy smiled at her mage friend and the two of them found a secluded area where they could pleasure each other, since the priestess has some frustrations to release.
After eveningfest, Caer approached Addoc and the two sat near each other, quietly discussing something in whispers and at one point Addoc got extremely loud and excited and he moved Caerlin’s arm up and down while she looked at him in surprise and shock, before he lowered his voice back to a whisper. A bit later, they stood and crossed the barges by crossing the wooden planks that are set between then and the two of them stopped at the last barge and stood near the supply wagon.
The Lady Knight finished a discussion with the caravan master and she used a barrel to clean and wash her body and hair. Once she was dressed in the clothing she found in the pirate’s ship she crossed the deck of the barge and stopped near Ragnar.
“So, Sir Bard, tell me about Waterdeep. I’ve only heard tales of it and I’ve never been there since it’s far from my home.”
Ragnar looked at the Lady Knight. ”What is Waterdeep like? Well I guess that sets my schedule for the rest of the journey ’cross the Moonsea. For starters, it’s big. There’s a reason we call it the City of Splendors. Now, truth be told, the only parts of the city I know really well is Dock Ward, where I grew up. It’s smelly, violent, and ever-bustling with sailors from all over the Sword Coast and further afar, stroppy lordlings who think it’s entertaining to come down to where the poor folk live and see if they might find a gullible wench to tryst with, and let’s not forget the dockside gangs. But it’s not all bad, luckily. We’ve got some of the finest festhalls, inns, and taverns in the Splendored City, and they’re not all expensive either. When my mum and da’ wanted some time for themselves, they’d give me and my older sister some coin and we’d take the rest of the children to get something to eat at Cookhouse Hall near by the South Gate. Best darn stew in the North if you ask me, m’lady.”
Ragnar drew in a breath as she listened while she continued to smile. The bard then looked over at the others. “Please stop me if I go on too long now, mind. But as I said earlier, ‘tis a big city.” He turned back to Auren and she set her hand on his, while her smile widened. “Now a fine lady such as yourself would obviously not stay any longer than she had to, so I guess I had better move on to Trade Ward where I was ‘prenticed to an instrument maker who taught me how to carve flutes and other wind instruments before I found me a master bard to teach me something more to my liking. Now Trade Ward...
“The most obvious thing to tell you about it would be that if there’s anything you want, and I do mean anything short of mayhap slaves and one or two poisons. When I had time off from the instrument-making, I’d go walking down spendthrift alley, just taking in all the sights, and keeping a tight hold on my purse, for the pick-pockets are thicker than lice on a Luskan reaver. I could probably go on all night, but perhaps we can do a trade of information. I’ll stop for now, and instead you’ll tell me somewhat about Damara, which is a place I’ve only heard the vaguest tales of so far in my travels. And when you need to rest your voice, I’ll start up the old windbag again, aye? Or perhaps we can ask Mage Aris to fill in about the finer parts of Waterdeep?"
“Ah, so Aris is from there as well? Most interesting. Damara, well what to say?” She rubbed the gems on her armor. “As you can see, we mine bloodstone gems and it is a colder more rugged land. Awhile back, we beat back the invaders from Vassa because that land invaded us with a horde of undead, goblinoids, and other humanoids. Now Gareth has been rebuilding and Ilmater’s clergy is strong there. However, I do not venerate the one-handed deity and I prefer Tymora and the deity of travel.
“I’m not sure what more to say,” she remarked while her hand continued to rest on Ragnar’s hand. “Except to say that, from what I’ve been told, that the whole population that resides in Damara is almost the same as the population that can be found in Waterdeep. But most of the people in Damara are humans but we have some dwarven, gnomes, and half-orcs, and other races. There are a few cities and towns, but nothing like what Waterdeep sounds like.”
Hearing his name, Aris crossed the deck and joined the bard and knight. “Why of course but I would be honored if the lady knight would share some knowledge of Damara's settlements in exchange.
“As Ragnar asked, I will go over the wards where the nobility resides. Firstly there is the North Ward and it is Waterdeep's quietest ward and it’s also one of its wealthiest. It has a few notable landmarks like the Cliffwatch and of course, all the manors. The Cliffwatch is a sheer one-hundred foot cliff that gives a beautiful view of the countryside southeast of Waterdeep. But as you may well know, nothing is what it seems. The ward's activities shut down at dusk, but not really. It’s said that at that time the real activities start like scheming, plotting, and smuggling.
“My family's mansion is in the North Ward." He smiled before he continued, “I hope you don't mind if I brag a bit about them. House Wands is one of Waterdeep's most powerful magecraft families with strong connections with the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors and that is where I studied magic for many years. The members of my family are scattered all across Faerun and its patriarch is Maskar Wands, an archmage of great power. He is my father’s uncle and I greatly admire Masker for his disapproval of the abuse of magic and for the advice he gave me through my early years as an apprentice. Well that’s enough about house Wands. Let’s move on to the Castle Ward.
“Castle Ward lies at Waterdeep’s heart and its set around the eastern slopes of Mount Waterdeep. This ward is home to the city's administrative buildings and buildings of state. Its more notable landmarks are Piergeiron's Palace and Castle Waterdeep. Piergeiron is the Lord of Waterdeep and he has reigned wisely and honestly since 1314DR. Another important landmark of the Castle Ward is its market and that is the largest open space in the city. As Ragnar said, I could go on all night but feel free to ask me about anything that you are interested in.”
“I think I got enough and that was quite detailed, my thanks,” she answered in an interested tone as the mage wound down. She offered another small smile and she nodded her thanks to Aris. At the same time, Ragnar felt her lightly stroke the hand that she rested her hand on. “As for the cities of Damara, I’m not sure what to say. They are small and they don’t compare to Waterdeep, or so it seems. Trailsend is a large city built around a castle and Gareth resides in Heliogabalus, which is Damara’s largest city because it is our major trading center. There’s, of course, many smaller settlements and they are mostly villages.”
Feeling the knight stroke his hand, Ragnar smiled at her and he twisted his own hand around to lace their fingers together. He gave a slight squeeze to the lady’s hand before he ran his hand over the back of hers with a gentle stroke.
“Hmm... Gareth... would that be Gareth Dragonsbane, the illustrious king of Damara? And a bit more interesting; from which of these pearls of civilisation does such a lovely creature such as yourself hail from, Lady Auren?”
“Aye, that would be Gareth and as for where I hail from it is a village in northern Damara called Helmsdale. I managed to escape from it before it was overrun by an army that invaded from Vassa.” She frowned and that is the first time any of them have seen her do that. “And most of my family were killed defending the village or fleeing the invaders and I was too young to save them...” Her smile returned as she sighed a sad sigh. “Enough of that though, they are long buried and I miss them, aye, but they are with the deities now.”
Ragnar let go of her hand and he put his arm around her shoulders, giving her get another gentle squeeze, which made her smile again. "So they are m'lady. But 'tis still a sad thing to have happened to them and to you. Is that why you were in Vaasa? To avenge yourself on those who invaded?"
“Aye, I was in Vassa for a time investigating something that I was asked to investigate and that was where I was captured, by my own stupidity. I got surrounded by a group of cultists and they sold me into slavery to the pirates, who realized that they could ransom me for even more.”
Hoping they were done with discussion for now, the Lady Knight put her arm around Ragnar’s waist, gave another nod in thanks to Aris, and then led the bard and herself off to a secluded area of the barges. Once there they started to do what Auy was doing, but they weren’t doing it to relieve frustration.
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