14 Olarune, 998YK
Two days after the rescue of Tamroth Scrimshaw and Sandara Quinn, the Majestic Gryphon limped up to Rickety’s Squibs. On the quarterdeck, Fishguts guided his new captain down the channel and gave her the rundown on how to approach the hidden docks. Pointing to a watchtower, he told Daina that if a blue flag went up, they could sail in, but a checkered flag meant that there was another ship docked and they would have to return at a later time. Rickety Hake took the privacy of his customers very seriously; the only people who would know what a ship had been before being squibbed were him and its crew.
“Trucco!” Daina yelled up into the crow’s nest as the shifter woke with a start. “Keep an eye out for a flag, and call out what you see! Shaking off sleep, Trucco’s keen eyes fixed on the watchtower with the promise of port so close he could taste it. Several minutes later, the call came down: a blue flag was being waved. As Daina began guiding the ship down an estuary whose water was brown and muddy from the jungle river that fed it, Torlan came sauntering up to the quarterdeck to ply Fishguts for more information on Rickety Hake, the secretive owner of this squibbing operation. There wasn’t much information to give, and Daina’s concern turned to the crew. They’d been living on little sleep and meager food for too long, and though this port was small, she wanted to make sure they all had some good meals in them. Taking a pouch of galifars from her belt, She asked Torlan to distribute it to the crew. “We could just take some money from the stores, you know” he said with a raised eyebrow. “Yeah, we could,” Daina agreed, “but we don’t really have a lot of that right now. And besides, I want them to know it’s something from the captain. I want to give it to them.” Torlan nodded. What plan did she have for dividing up the crew’s shares of their treasure? “What shares?” she chuckled. “We’ll need it all to repair the ship. For now, I just want to make sure everyone has a hot meal to eat.”
Quickly ducking into her cabin, Daina washed her face and found a clean shirt in the cupboard. It hung loose on her, but it was clean, and she wanted to meet Rickety Hake with some dignity. As the Gryphon made her way down the river, a small sloop came from the docks. “You guiding us in?” Daina yelled down. “Need to talk first!” a rough shouted back as the sloop pulled up beside them and the Gryphon lowered a ladder. Climbing up with a spryness that belied his obvious age, a wiry, weathered old man with a white beard and deep blue eyes that were milky with cataracts chewed on a pipe as he surveyed the deck. “Rickety Hake” he announced. “Who’s the captain here?”
Introducing herself, Daina shook hands with Rickety and explained that they’d come looking for repairs and squibbing. Waving to Rus, Trucco, Torlan, and the ship’s carpenter Moira to join them for the tour, Daina led Rickety down to the bilge and they worked their way back up while he assessed the damage.
There was plenty of damage indeed; the initial attack by the Storm Reaver and the ensuing storm and running aground had left the Gryphon in bad shape, but it was nothing Rickety Hake hadn’t seen before. Repairs and squibbing were par for the course; were there any changes or additions they wanted to make to the ship? As the workers who had accompanied Rickety moved around the cargo hold taking mental notes of the damage, Daina looked over her shoulder at Rus. What kind of options were they looking at in order to stable a larger animal? Rus reached into his pocket and produced a water-stained piece of paper featuring a rough, amateurish sketch of a stable that took up half the hold. Several scratched-out sketches covered the rest of the page. “Already a step ahead of you, Captain.” Daina smiled. “When were you going to show me this?” Rus shrugged awkwardly. “A good time never came up.” Well, Daina replied, this was a good time. What did Rickety think? The old man squinted. What was Rus looking to stable with that much room? An elephant? He turned back to Daina and inquired about what they’d be transporting. Cargo and possibly passengers — all perfectly legitimate salvage, Rus assured him. Rickety chewed on his pipe with a scowl. Taking up half the hold for a stable, he pointed out, would severely limit their cargo capacity. “Captain.” Rus interrupted, “I don’t want to take up the whole cargo hold, we still need to function as a ship and—” She held up a hand. “We need to get you back in the air. We only need half—” “You don’t need half the hold for just a hippogriff!” Rickety shouted, exasperation creeping into his voice. And if they wanted more cargo space, did they really need a brig? Daina pursed her lips. They’d need one for the foreseeable future, at least until their next port of call, as they had a guest on board. Rickety raised an eyebrow at that, and told her that their “guest” could not remain on board while work was being done, but that there was somewhere in port they could keep her in the meantime. As they continued making their way back topside, they passed by the galley, and Daina asked Rus to keep showing Rickety around while she made a quick stop.
Fishguts was entertaining a mug of grog just like he had all day every day on the Storm Reaver, but he was remarkably sober at the moment. “What can I do for you, Captain?” he asked. Taking a practiced look around the galley, Daina asked Fishguts if it would be suitable for a chef of his caliber. “It will do nicely,” he replied. She gave him a long look. Would he be the one using it? Daina reminded Fishguts that, back on the Storm Reaver, she’d promised to take him with her when she escaped. He’d laughed in her face. And now here he was, a free man. He didn’t belong to Mika Rockface anymore, and he definitely didn’t belong to Daina. She’d be glad to have him on her crew, but if there was somewhere else he’d rather go, she’d get him there. All he had to do was ask.
Fishguts set his mug down on the counter but didn’t let go. He was quiet for a few moments. “I laughed at you,” he replied, “because I never in my wildest dreams imagined that anyone could get out from under Rockface’s thumb.” Daina let slip a small smile. “Well,” she said with a shrug, “I’m different.” He nodded. “I can see that.” He took another pull from his mug. “So I have my freedom, eh?” Daina assured him that he did, and he looked off to the side and considered his options. He had no other place to be, and Daina had done right by him. He’d stay for the time being. She nodded. There was one last thing, however: if he was going to be a part of Daina’s crew, she needed him to cut back on the drinking. She wasn’t asking him to cut it out entirely, but she needed to be able to rely on him on a regular basis. Fishguts looked down at his tankard, nodded, and looked back up at her with a sheepish expression. “Aye aye, Captain.” Daina smiled and left to catch up with Rickety and the others.
On the main deck, Rickety cast an eye over the map room at the base of the wheelhouse. If they didn’t need it, it would make an excellent hippogriff stable. Daina agreed. As long as the charts could still be kept nearby, it would do, and a table in her cabin could easily meet that need. After dancing around deciding where and how much space to use for a smuggling compartment, Rickety gave Daina the tally: repairs, squibbing, a stable, and a smuggling would set them back 9,250 galifars. Rus had added up the value of all the coin and treasure they’d taken from the island, and if they traded it all to Rickety, they would be able to pay him in full and not owe any debts. Daina ordered him to sell it all. They needed a clean slate now, and there would always be more treasure to be had later. The captain and the shipwright shook hands again, and Daina hopped up onto the quarterdeck, calling the crew to attention.
“Alright people, listen up. We’re getting repaired, we’re getting squibbed, and it’s going to take about a week. So you’ve all got that time on shore. Torlan will hand out some coin to take care of your room and board. When you’re in port, treat the locals with respect. These folks are here to help us, we’re doing business with them, so have fun, blow off steam, but don’t get yourselves into trouble that you disrespected the locals getting into. We set sail at noon on the 21st, and if you’re not back by then I’ll take that as your sign that you don’t want to keep sailing with us. There aren’t any penalties for leaving; everything you came on board with, you take with you, and what you do next is your business. And if you come back, I’m happy to have you. That’s that. Have fun, be good to everyone, and I’ll see you in a week.”
Trucco looked over at Rus, a bit wild-eyed. “That’s a bit of a change of pace, isn’t it?” he breathed. “What Daina is saying — that’s quite nice.” Rus gave a wry half-smile. “It’s definitely different from getting clubbed on the head and dragged down to the bilges. Go enjoy yourself and don’t get into any trouble you don’t need me to bail you out from.”
As they pulled into the docks, Rickety pointed out the lay of the town. There was a tavern and inn in the Commons — a large villa that had been repurposed — as well as some shops in the boathouse. The large building on the hill was his mansion, and it was off-limits.
Before they docked, Daina had one more thing to take care of. Waving Sandara onto the quarterdeck, she asked if the healer could do her a small favour while they were in port. Daina was concerned that Owlbear might not fare well in port, and he knew and trusted Sandara. Would she look out for him while they were ashore? Sandara agreed to do her best, and then left to find Rus.
Finding him gathering up a few things as he prepared to go ashore, Sandara got straight down to business. She told the mage that she had a sneaking suspicion he’d had a lot to do with her being rescued. There was a long silence. “You’re part of the crew” he replied. “That’s all.” Sandara observed that Arawai had guided her well to approach him when he first arrived on the ship. Removing her tricorn hat, she held it out in front of her. She wanted him to have it. “I can’t” Rus insisted, clearly uncomfortable. He had to, Sandara replied. Was he really going to refuse a gift freely given? He could find no argument for that, and as he relented, she revealed that the hat had a rather unusual property. If Rus needed, he could call on Arawai and the hat would turn into a small boat. “You got a powerful connection to that goddess of yours” Rus mused. Sandara replied that she’d come to that connection through experience. She and her father had always prayed to the seas and the bounty Arawai provided. “When you were gone” Rus said “I found your holy symbol, said some words, and…look, I don’t know a whole lot about the gods in Lhazaar or anywhere else, but it sounds like she likes you — Arawai, I mean. I get that sense. She wanted you to be saved. I’m just an instrument, that’s all.” Sandara smirked. “Maybe it’s you that Arawai likes. It was your prayer she answered.” With a wink, she turned and left Rus with more than a few things to think about.
Meanwhile, Torlan approached Tamroth Scrimshaw with some of the animal bones he’d kept from the grindylow cave. Would she do a small thing for him? He had, after all, rescued her, and he didn’t like people owing him. He wanted her to carve a whale’s jawbone into five pieces and fashion them into a star configuration that he could wear as a necklace. She agreed, but was suspicious: if she did this, they were square? He assured her they would be. “You’d make a terrible Cloud Reaver” she observed, as she and Torlan spat into their hands and shook on the deal.
With the ship docked in safe harbour at last, Trucco waited for everyone else to leave and then laid a hand on the Gryphon’s mast. “I know we met such a short time ago, and we are already parting ways,” he told her, “but you are getting changed. We’re gonna put you in a better place, hopefully better than before. And I know change is hard, but change is…good. It sometimes brings hope. As beautiful as you are, this change will be magnificent. We will leave you here for a couple of days; hopefully you won’t have any trouble with it.” Patting the mast gently, he promised he’d be back soon, and followed the others ashore.
It was evening in the commons, and the tavern was lively. A minstrel was playing in one corner, and the air was filled with people taking turns singing shanties. Making her way to the bar with a grin, Daina asked what was on tap. “Got some grog,” the bartender replied. Daina winced. Did he have anything else? She’d had enough of grog. He poured four glasses of Brelish brandy which she brought to the table her friends were waiting at. Placing a drink in front of everyone, she dropped into the empty chair and raised her glass. “Here we are” she sighed, knocking back the brandy. “Good health” Torlan rumbled. “To fortune!” Trucco piped up. “By the gods and the Crown” Rus added. “For the Queen” Daina said quietly, and emptied her glass as Rus followed suit. “For the Queen.”
“So,” Daina cradled her empty glass, “here we are.” Torlan grinned. “I never imagined I’d see land of my own choosing again, and it feels pretty damn good.” It had been a long six weeks, Daina agreed, but she was glad they’d all made it. “I have to admit it feels really, really fucking good to aste freedom after all this time” Trucco sighed as he sipped his drink cautiously. Daina smiled at that. Had he not been well-acquainted with jail cells in his lifetime? Well, Trucco replied, he had been very good at escaping from them. It was nice to enjoy a drink as a free man again. “To the Queen!” he toasted, though he admitted that he had never much cared for her. At that, Torlan launched into a story about how he had once seen Queen Dannel from the deck of the ship that was escorting hers, and tossed the queen a wink. It was too far away to see if she’d winked back, though. He had seen Prince Oargev as well; he’d been a young boy back then, but still one who would obviously grow up to be quite handsome. “Shame that’s all he’s got going for him,” Daina sneered.
“Look,” she began, her voice changing, “that’s something I want to talk with the three of you about. We didn’t mean to come together like this, but we did. We didn’t mean to have a ship, and now we do.” She leaned across the table with a glass in one hand as the other one dropped to the hilt of her tago knife. “I came to the Principalities for a reason. That reason is because ‘Prince’ Oargev isn’t doing right by the people of Cyre. The land’s gone, no one’s changing that, no one’s disputing that, but we are still here. And we need a place to be.” Anger seeped into her voice as she leaned in closer. “Living off of Boranel’s scraps while Oargev does nothing but see to his own comfort isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t cut it for me and it’s not going to cut it for our future. I came here trying to find people and make money so that I could find us Cyrans a place to live, and to call home, and to be, and to take our place in Khorvaire again. And I intend to still do that. And now, with a ship, well…a lot of doors just opened. But there’s you, Rus, and there’s you, Trucco. Torlan came here with me knowing full well what the score was, but it’s not our ship. It’s yours too. So what do you say? Shall we make some money for the Queen?”
Torlan spoke into the silence. He and Daina had spent some time in New Cyre, and he echoed her sentiments about Oargev. “He is quite wasteful,” the old man rumbled, “spending all that money and resources on expeditions to the Mournland trying to recover what’s lost. Ruskel, that story you told — you know more than anyone that there’s no going back. There’s only finding something that’s new.” Daina’s grip on her tago knife tightened. “Torlan’s right. The land is gone. Cyre is her people, and we need to take our place back. It was stolen from us a hundred years ago, and we need to take it back.” She met Rus’ eyes. Was he ready to get back in the air for Cyre? “I was sent up in the sky the night the Karrn siege started the night before the Day of Mourning,” he replied as his eyes took on a faraway look. “One of the last people I saw was Princess Marhya, Queen Dannel’s youngest daughter. She was fierce and steely, not exactly the most charming individual, but Marhya there…” his voice caught a little. “if I could give Cyrans a place to live, I feel like I’d be doing her a bit of justice, and all the people that were left behind in the mists, and all the people displaced by them now. I’m in.”
Trucco leaned back and emptied his drink. “Well, that’s quite a proposal, isn’t it?” he mused. “If I’m honest, if you had asked me that seven weeks prior, I’d have said ‘fuck no’ and left. But knowing a bit more about you people — and I love what you said, Daina, that Cyre is just the people now — I’ve always believed that Cyre is just the people. And I like this type of people, not the nobility or royalty that’s left. If people are out there needing a place to be and a place to feel free like we are right now, then I will really fight for it. I will say, though” he added, “I wouldn’t do it for the Queen. I would do it for the people of Cyre, and give the power to them wherever possible.”
Daina assured him that she understood they all honoured Cyre differently, but her voice broke as she reminded him that not all Cyran nobles were so bad. After all, she hadn’t been born to her name. “You are the exception to the rule” Trucco insisted. “Like I said,” she repeated, “I wasn’t born to this name . But that’s a story for another night.”
Having a ship, however, wouldn’t do them much good if they didn’t have enough people to crew her, and Daina wasn’t sure how many of the existing crew would stick with them. As they recruited more people, they would hopefully find other Cyrans who were sympathetic to their cause. “Yeah!” Trucco piped up, “a new Cyre! Well, a new New Cyre.” Daina chuckled. Trucco was a good man, even if he didn’t know it. Encouraged by this new endeavour and Daina’s kind words, Trucco’s eyes lit up as he revealed that he had an idea for raising money to help get them underway — and his idea involved Owlbear. Daina’s expression grew dark. What did he mean, involving Owlbear in his money-making scheme? The rogue continued to dodge the question while assuring her that Owlbear would love it, and Daina bluntly reminded him that Owlbear had been used and abused for too long. She’d had her own run-in with the fighting ring the big man had been forced into on the Storm Reaver. “Oh no, I’ll ask him!” the rogue insisted. Just looking for some ways to have fun, and maybe make a bit of coin in the process!” Daina’s expression remained dark. They would talk about that more in the morning. For now, who wanted another round? Rus pushed his chair back and stood up. “I’ll get this one.”
Over a fresh bottle of brandy, Torlan wondered how Daina planned to go about recruiting. Daina mused that in ports like this, putting out word in the docks and taverns was usually sufficient to get job seekers. But that raised another problem: they would need officers, and she had some thoughts on that as well. As someone whose word was her bond, not being able to help Trucco get the revenge on Scourge that he’d asked in exchange for retrieving her tago knife had been eating at her ever since they’d discovered the former boatswain’s body in a hut in the jungle. However, she’d often heard it said that the best revenge was a life well-lived, so how would Trucco like to take Scourge’s job as the ship’s boatswain? He’d get to stay up in the rigging as much as he wanted, oversee the swabs, and help encourage the ship on their journey. Looking off in the distance, Trucco stroked his beard. He would like that. Unsure what to offer Rus, Daina asked him instead, and he felt he’d serve the ship best as her master-at-arms. He’d run the crew through drills, keep them fit, and manage the weapons locker. Daina turned to Torlan next. She knew that he wouldn’t be keen on it, but she needed an acting first mate she could count on until finding someone else. Would he do it for now? The old dwarf shook his head. As far as he was concerned, they needed to present these decisions to the crew, and not run the ship like a military vessel. If they wanted to inspire loyalty, the crew needed voting powers. That was what happened on pirate ships. Daina bristled at that a little, reminding Torlan that this was not a pirate ship, and that at the moment, the crew they hadn’t wasn’t exactly full of people whose loyalty and good judgment they could count on. On top of that, any new crew they found in port wouldn’t know him or her or anyone else from the ass-end of Khyber. They needed structure to come to. “So we take a vote with those that remain from the journey here” Torlan insisted. As far as a more permanent first mate, he did have someone in mind: Alexei Aarland, captain of the Fluttuante, rumoured to have been at sea just off of Kraken Bay on the Day or Mourning. Rumours of Captain Aarland were what had brought Torlan and Daina to Regalport in the first place, looking for some of the officers. Daina nodded. She badly wanted their next stop to be Regalport anyways, so they might as well kill two birds with one stone.
She took another drink and smiled at her old godfather. Though it was becoming more and more apparent that they didn’t always see eye to eye, her love for him remained strong, and it was late in the evening and time to speak of more pleasant things. As she had been wont to do so many times as a child, she asked Torlan for a story. Hopping up on a table, his new harp in hand, Torlan began to regale the tavern with a song telling of the mutiny against Scourge and Lagraa. As Daina interjected here and there with cheers, Rus joined in on the second chorus while Trucco drunkenly drummed off-beat on the table. They were all surprised to hear Crimson Cog join in with gusto, loudly pointing out ways in which the story was even better than how Torlan was telling it. Their singing and cheers filled the room, and as the performance came to an end, Daina got herself another drink and cast a careful eye over the crowd. She and the others were drawing attention to themselves, and the locals were taking notice.
What that meant for the crew’s future, however, was a question that would have to wait until morning.
Behind the Scenes
- “Squibbing” is a term for retrofitting a ship in order to change its appearance. Since the Majestic Gryphon originally belonged to the Diresharks and was then taken by the Cloud Reavers, getting squibbed so that we aren’t attacked by either group on sight sounded like a pretty good idea.
- Sandara’s tricorn is an incredibly impressive item. As long as he calls out to Arawai, Rus can transform the hat into a 20-foot boat once per day. The boat has two pairs of oars, one sail, and can carry up to twelve passengers. Upon command, or after eight hours, it returns to hat form whether or not anyone is inside.
- Daina paying for the crew’s room and board wasn’t her trying to ingratiate herself or bribe them. It was a way to invoke both her Code of Honour (which I have specifically called out includes doing right by others, and she hasn’t been able to give them proper pay yet), and her Minor Vow, which is that she puts the needs of her friends and crew first even it requires a sacrifice on her part. Host knows she needs that 106 galifars for herself…but she has a crew now, and they come first.
- I wanted to make a point of buying fresh clothes in port so that the Captain could present herself to the locals with dignity. At this table, shopping is handwaved as “if it’s mundane gear on the list, just put it in your inventory and deduct the gold.” If we want magical items, or something unusual or high-ticket, that requires more of a conversation. But if it’s basic things like clothing, healer’s kits, and so on, we don’t interrupt the story for it.
- The song Torlan and the others sang of their exploits wasn’t just for fun: for this campaign, we are using the Glory mechanic from Hellfrost. Glory is gained by telling tales of our heroic deeds, and mechanically involves a roll for the telling to the tale followed by a roll of 1d6 (or 2d6 on a raise) to determine how much Glory is earned. There are also additional modifiers based on variables such as the Toughness of the defeated foes, if they were named or unnamed Wild Cards, and so on. The Glory earned applies to all PCs involved in the action, and for every 20 Glory accumulated, we can take special Edges that require anywhere from 20 to 80 Glory in order to claim — and to maintain.
- Glory can also be lost. If I have 23 Glory and take an edge that requires 20+ Glory, and later drop below 20 Glory due to mediocre, infamous, or shameful actions, I lose the benefits of that edge until I regain enough Glory to claim it again.
- For that Glory performance, Rus played the “Contact” Adventure Card, which Phillip narrated as Crimson Cog adding himself to the Support rolls we were making for Torlan.