12th day of the 10th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning, late evening
Bortheus arrives at the Grand Arms Inn. He is wearing a lapel pin with the Bandar coat of arms signifying his employment in the Bandar Civil Service. It’s late, but Sasurai, Kalahn, Jongo, Sorkin, and Corvis are all still awake in the common room chatting. Even Relana has returned. Bortheus notices that Sorkin’s face is all puffy and there appears to be dried blood all over the front of his shirt. Since his news concerns most of those present, Bortheus makes his announcement about the Bandaran Government taking yesterday’s events seriously and inviting those who witnessed it to come to Bandar on board the Sea Falcon which should be ready tomorrow afternoon.
Jongo says, “I’m sorry Bortheus, but my adventuring days are over. These affairs should be handled by you young people. Anyway, I didn’t see anything Sorkin, Relana, Corvis, and you didn’t see, so I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go to Bandar and share what they already know. I think I can confidently say Enril has no desire to go to Bandar either. I suggest you consider giving our seats on the ship to Sasurai and Kalahn here, if they are interested in going to Bandar. Sasurai and Kalahn helped Sorkin with a little trouble he ran into. They also spent time in Taft. First hand reports of conditions in southern Yazd might be important to the Bandar government.” Bortheus remembers Sasurai from this morning, but Kalahn is a new face.
Sasurai turns to Jongo, and the rest of the group. ‘The only thing of note that I recall from Taft, and southern Yazd would be of the [[:Chain Gangs]], [[:Claacos Hunters]], and of [[:Rupert Morlock]].’ Lowers his head, “While the Chain Gangs are not an Honorable way of work, my time with the Claacos Hunters was just work. When one needs work, shelter, and food, they will do some of the most un-honorable work for an honorable cause. I do what I can to walk an honorable path. However,… it is not always possible.” turning, and bowing to Jongo, “I am most grateful of your place upon the ship, I will not dishonor your place.”
Sorkin asks, “So, Bortheus, is this Sea Falcon sailing out tomorrow?”
Bortheus “Yeah, Sorkin, we set sail tomorrow. It’s the fastest sailing ship ever made. You’re all welcome aboard as our guests, anyone who wants to come – Evor says there’s no fare – you just need to check your weapons when you come aboard. If anyone in this group is planning to investigate the situation with the Apostles and the Circle, it looks like I may be assigned to assist with that once we arrive in Bandar.”
Sorkin thinks to himself, “Hmm, this may be good. I can split from this town and not have to show up to the RRI tomorrow.” To Bortheus, “Well, I’m not one to miss out on a free boat ride. Count me in!” Sorkin arranges to send a written note to Ruffar which says, “Got into trouble. Must leave town. – Sorkin.”
Relana makes useless pleasantries with Bortheus. She doesn’t have the scoop on what he was doing with that… interesting guy at the club, and he doesn’t know that she was there… Relana resolves to keep a low profile until they get out of this town. “I’m in. I’d like to go somewhere new anyway…”
Leaning on his walking stick out of habit, Bortheus wags his finger at Sorkin, “By the way, what is up with you? You can’t be getting into fights like that on the ship, OK? I guess I should mention, this is a military ship and everyone who comes aboard needs to follow Bandaran Navy rules on board just to ensure all of our safety. I can’t imagine there will be any issues. Just so you know, Lord Drafus commands the ship and we’ll all need to follow his orders, but he doesn’t concern himself much with day-to-day business. I’d be surprised if you ever see much of him. Evor, my boss, is Lord Drafus’s assistant and generally keeps things running, and I’m Evor’s assistant. But like I said, it looks like I may be assigned to help with this investigation of the Apostles, with whomever in this group is in.”
Sorkin handles Bortheus’s questions by not going into specifics. “I was tricked into a poor business transaction with one of the local businessmen. I didn’t completely realize the terms of our arrangement. I’m really new to all this business stuff. I probably should’ve received MBA* training from MIT. But, I’ve learned my lesson: know who you’re dealing with before doing the dealing!”
* MBA = Magical Bartering Arts. That and MIT are not well-known acronyms outside of the gnomish community, vaguely familiar only to some in the magical community at large.
Kalahn asks about what went on the day before. He recognizes the ceremony, but not the message from the elf ghost. To Corvis, “I am sorry for your loss. I have studied Elven Totems and I know how much this means. If you would allow me, I would like to be a part of deciphering the Elf Ghost’s message.” To Bortheus said so all can hear. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Bortheus. I must say, I am very much enamored with your pin. I have never seen its like.”
“I have indeed spent some time in Taft. During my journey through the area, I witnessed something strange that might be of import to Bandar. I was traveling the road alone, having not yet joined with any traveling companions. Late in the day, I came upon a large, black mound on the side of the trail. When I drew closer the mound appeared to be moving pulsating.”
“I reached it and realized, much to my surprise, that it was not just a mound, but a swarm of tiny Claacos! They were all about as big as an acorn. The nasty creatures were swarming over the bodies of some unfortunate travelers. Upon my approach, the swarm turned and pursued me. I withdrew but was overtaken. Rashka smiled up on me as I drew one of only two vials of Holy Oil in my posession, broke it over them and ignited the swarm with a prayer to my goddess. They burst into flames and those not consumed quickly retreated.”
“I have never heard of such a breed of Claacos. I understand the larvae of the beast are quite large in comparison to those I encountered so they would not be young. None of the refugees I later encountered had ever seen them.”
“There are are also many disturbing tales of those in control in Taft. I traveled to Kahnul with a group of Yazd refugees. I’ve listened to many wives whose husbands and sons have been conscripted into those abhorrent chain gangs. Old men and young boys, barely able to lift a club are chained together with other supposed criminals to form a pitiful line of attack against the Claacos. Any success they garner is due to fear and survival instinct. It is despicable. These atrocities must be ended and I consider it my duty to assist in doing so. Please count me among your passengers.”
Bortheus, “Thank you, Kalahn! Oh, this pin? This is just the Bandaran Civil Service logo. We try to keep things running smoothly. We’ve worked hard in Bandar to rebuild our kingdom, so we’re pretty serious about defending it against Claacos and any other unruliness that might threaten our security. I’ve never heard of a tiny Claaco swarm like that, that’s troubling. I’ve definitely heard about the chain gangs in Yazd, and I can definitely say we in Bandar disapprove of the way they… ahem, run things… in Yazd. I’m with you on that, for sure. In addition to the atrociousness of the chain gangs, Taft is one big threat to security for the whole Shomaal, as far as I’m concerned, so we need to put a stop to the… nonsense… there. That’s one of the purposes of the Sea Falcon. So, which goddess do you worship, anyway?”
Kalahn beams briefly with pride, but quickly stifles it. ‘I am a member of the Sons of Ember and a humble servant of the fire goddess, Rashka. The Ember of Life burns through us all. Her flames not only destroy, but also offer rebirth. Tell me about your ship. Is she fast?’
Bortheus, “I see… yes, fire is a powerful force and I’m pleased to have you with us! I heard there was quite a fire in town last night, by the way. The Sea Falcon is the fastest ship in the world! Evor and I were sent down here to accompany Lord Drafus picking it up from the Aval Carpenters’ Guild, where the Bandaran Navy had it built on commission. The Sea Falcon is built for speed, specifically to be faster than the overland route, which should help us fight piracy and crime. I should also nod to Enril; the Sea Falcon is some of the Guild’s finest handiwork.”
Kalahn remarks, “I had not heard of any such fire. It is a shame when city structures burn unnecessarily. Though I worship the goddess of Fire, she does not condone rampant destruction. Such a blaze would be beyond my scope to control. I have been praying for the ability to control small fires, but I fear it is a long time coming. I will have plenty of time on the ship, however. Perhaps Rashka will be generous. Thank you again for having me as a passenger.
13th day of the 10th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning, morning
Rising early for his morning prayers, Kalahn decides he doesn’t have enough time to make a decent carving for Jongo. However, he does buy a chunk of mahogany from Sorkin for 3sp figuring it will come in handy and he will want something to do to pass the time on this ~2 week voyage to New Mazra. The wood is amazingly dense and beautiful compared to the scraggly trees around the oases of the Saahel. He hasn’t seen this kind of wood anywhere in the Shomaal so far either. Sorkin takes it easy and sleeps while Kalahn goes through his morning routine.
After praying, Kalahn and Sorkin go to Enril’s house. Enril’s house is a small slag-brick structure. The inside, however, is completely covered in wood. The floor is raised hardwood, instead of the typical packed earth, and all the walls are paneled over with finely carved planks. Finished and partially finished wooden musical instruments hang from the walls. Small, exquisite carvings clutter most of the available surfaces. Enril is an accomplished carpenter and instrument-maker. Enril is at the dry dock, so Jongo greets them. Kalahn casts his Detect Evil prayer and senses nothing from the object. Sorkin inspects the box closely. He fails to find any explicit signs of a trap. However, he thinks it will be worth spending more time looking on the ship. Kalahn thanks Jongo again for the vial, Jongo brushes aside the thanks saying it was the least he could do for Kalahn’s assistance to Sorkin. Kalahn says he wishes he could give Jongo a gift, Jongo thanks Kalahn and tells him the best gift would be to make sure to help some other half-elf. “We need to look out for each other because nobody else will.”
The silversmith offers to sell Kalahn special pads for polishing silver for 1 sp each. The coins will need to be flattened if they are to become mirror-like after polishing. The smith is willing to whack one coin to flatten it for free for each pad Kalahn buys. He warns the polished coins will tarnish quickly. Each pad is good for finishing one coin. The smith sells them in a small jar with a cork stopper. They stink of chemicals. After buying some pads from the smith, Kalahn and Sorkin hurry off to the ship to make sure it doesn’t leave without them.
Relana tries to get Jongo to have a meal with her – to thank him for everything he’s done. She attempts to find a good moment to slip him a small song she wrote in way that he won’t immediately notice, but should eventually find. The song recounts the story of a cheerful and brave bard who’s travelled round the places that Jongo has. The song ends in the bard retiring peacefully in a quiet Claacos free corner of the world – with good nature, etc…
Sasurai goes out in town, and searches for some soft cloth to wrap his blade in. Using some kind of twine to secure the cloth, he uses some wax from a candle within the inn to seal the knot. Before the wax hardens he marks it with the inn’s stamp. On the ship, he regretfully turns his blade over to whomever is collecting them for the boat ride.
Bortheus is, all in all, just as glad to be rid of Enril in his life, but just the same he finds Enril in the morning (either at the ship or at his house) to say goodbye and thank you, and to wish Enril the best. He does again listen for anything concerning in the conversation – Evor spooked him out by suggesting a Guild plot, and while it seems far-fetched, Bortheus had to admit he hadn’t thought of that – but he is less suspicious because of his and Evor’s working conclusion that Enril has never been their enemy, but that perhaps something got in the way of his receiving the intended incentive payment from the Government of Bandar. Bortheus does listen for any hint of annoyance or anything that might shed light on this question, which he considers still under investigation.
Bortheus is a little concerned about the fire issue, on board a brand new wooden ship. He does think this party are OK people, but his comment to Kalahn about the fire in town was intended to provoke a response from Kalahn about the warehouse fire. Kalahn seems religiously genuine, so Bortheus puts on his best charismatic act to say how much he appreciates fire, and that maybe Kalahn can help channel the power of fire to protect the ship and prevent it from burning down while we’re on it.
Bortheus also had asked Sorkin what the heck happened to him to get those obvious bruises and blood – the night of the 12th. While Bortheus is inclined to think Sorkin is harmless, he does seem to be a little mischievous (what was he hiding about that businessman, anyway? couldn’t have been legit) and he needs to make sure we won’t have any trouble aboard ship. The current mission seems to dictate we bring all these guys back to Bandar to be debriefed and perhaps charged with a new investigative mission, so there isn’t much choice in the matter, but Bortheus will feel better when he’s had a discussion with Sorkin about safety aboard ship.