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Dragon Hunt – Chapter 2, Part 8 – The Rogue
October 12, 2013Posted by on
Olorry Gleamheart referred to his adventuring group as “The Military Sodality of Crossbowmen, Archers, Swordsmen, Clerics and Wizards of the First Order Dedicated to Serving the Deity Heironeous with a Will of Iron” – or simply the “Iron Sodality.” At this time his group consisted of 4 people. There was Olorry himself, of course, who was known to all as Sir Gleamheart, first paladin of Heironeous. There was also the cleric of Heironeous whose name was Pitchlight, the mysterious female Half -elf Wizard, Maylock, and Sir Gleamheart’s oldest friend, a rogue named Shaster Carter that some still referred to by his old nickname “Pickman.” The Iron Sodality had spent the last several years adventuring on the high seas where they traveled from port to port fighting pirates, monsters, and combating enemies of the faith. Now that they had returned to their home port to lead a quest to defeat the dragon Abraxas they were experiencing a major setback. The dragon’s attack on the town left their expedition short on people, equipment and funds.
After rallying their remaining forces and evaluating their situation, each of the four members of their group went off in a different direction. Each had a separate task that needed to be done as quickly as possible.
Shaster, the green caped rogue, went down to the docks, to their ship, the Deadwater Bay. There were only a few ships still docked where there had been at least a dozen two days earlier. The wet wood of the docks was littered with ropes, boards and the scattered remains of broken crates and torn nets. The ship docked at the next pier had been burned by the dragon. It was still afloat but had burned nearly to the water line before the fire had been put out. An old man with gray hair and scraggly gray beard was standing on the pier and calling out instructions to the three bare-chested sailors that were in the process of dismantling and removing the charred main mast from the ships burned middeck.
“Mister Rashid!” Shaster called out to the old man as he approached. “Mister Rashid!” he called out again as he got a little closer.
The old man heard him this time, “Boss!” he answered as he waved to the rogue. Aram Rashid was the Deadwater Bay’s carpenter and he had always referred to all 4 of the adventures that owned the ship as Boss. It was commonly thought by the crew that he simply never bothered to learn their names. “Watch your step Boss. Don’t trip on that breast line.”
“What are you doing over here?” Shaster asked with a smile. “Have you run out of repairs to do on your own ship?”
“No sir Boss,” he said while guiding the sailors to position the removed mast on sawhorses that were positioned on the dock to receive it. “You know that I have been needing to replace my topmast ever since that Kraken gave it a twist. It hasn’t set true since then.” As he talked he walked to one end of the mast bending down, looking along its length and gently rolling it right and left. “This ship’s captain was killed in the attack and the harbor master says that we can help ourselves to any salvage we want off of her,” he said. “This should do just fine. It is of a fine, old growth oak and has a dense strong core. It is charred but it is straight and the core is unharmed. I can plane off the charred wood and trim it to length. What good luck.”
“I doubt that that ship’s captain would have seen it that way. How soon can you have all the repairs done sufficient to sail?”
“I can have this shaped and installed by day’s end. There are no other repairs needed that would keep us from sailing at first light tomorrow. I was hoping that we could stay long enough to remove most of the barnacles from the hull. Are we leaving port soon? I thought you had a dragon to catch.”
“I need to talk to Captain Casey first. Just don’t delay any repairs and stay close.”
The familiar voice of his ship’s first mate called from the other side of the pier, from the rigging of the Deadwater Bay, “Ahoy Mister Carter!”
As Shaster turned to look in that direction a shadow passed over him and a large harry ape-like creature landed on the pier beside him. They clasped each other’s forearms in friendly greeting. Shaster said “Hello, Garsh. How’s the ship?” His ship’s first mate was an Hadozee. He had glided down by means of his patagium, a furry parachute-like membrane that stretched from wrist to ankle.
Garsh said, “Captain had us stow all the sails and most of the rigging below decks. On account of possible fire breath attacks don’t you see? The men are just now stowing the last of the canvas. Will you be coming aboard now sir?”
As he turned to walk toward his ship, Shaster said “Yes, I need to talk to the captain as soon as possable.” Garsh grabbed him with one great harry arm around the waist and dived with him over the edge of the pier. He grabbed a line with his other hand and they both swung in a wide loop down and then up over the gunwale. Shaster’s big floppy hat flew off but Garsh Caught it with his hand-like foot and they landed safely on the quarterdeck. Shaster snatched his hat and started to yell at Garsh, “Don’t ever …” when his boots were splashed with a bucket of water.
A startled sailor with an empty water bucket in his hands said, “I am so sorry sir! I didn’t see you there until it was too late to stop. The captain is having us wet down the decks twice every hour. That is so the ship won’t catch fire if the dragon comes back.”
Garsh said, “You said you were in a hurry.” Then he jumped from board to boom to half-mast and away through the rigging he went.
Shaster just turned and stomped down to the captain’s cabin. When he entered, the captain looked up from his desk. “What happened to you?” he asked with a bit of a chuckle. “Fall overboard?”
“It was Garsh,” Shaster said as he flopped down into the large padded chair that sat across from the desk. Then he noticed that the big feather in his hat was totally soaked. “What are we going to do about that Hadozee? He has no respect for a man’s dignity.” He poured himself a drink from the cut glass bottle sitting on a small table next to his chair.
“No, but he is the best damned sailor I have ever seen. I wouldn’t trade one of him for four more ‘civilized’ first mates. You know for yourself that he spends ninety percent of his time climbing around in the rigging, and the sailors all have his respect.” The captain walked over and poured himself a drink. “You didn’t leave the drinking parlors and gambling halls of town to talk about Garsh. What business brings you to my ship this time of day?” Although, technically, the Deadwater Bay was owned jointly by the four members of the Iron Sodality, as its captain, Casey Shearwater always referred to it as his ship. He never cared for his last name and when introduced to strangers he always said, “You can call me Captain or you can call me Casey or you can call me Captain Casey, but don’t call me Shearwater.”
Shaster took a sip of his drink. I was a dark brown liquor they had picked up at their last port, and he had become quite fond of it. “Olorry said I was to have you take the ship out, away from Rockport until the dragon is dealt with. He gives orders like the rest of us were his crew rather than his partners. But he is right about this. We won’t be needing it for at least a month, maybe more.” He took another sip and continued, “He is afraid that if the dragon finds out that we own this ship he will come after it.”
The songbird in the corner was anxiously walking back and forth on his perch, trying to get the captain’s attention. Captain Casey pulled some seeds from his vest pocket and walked over to the bird, “Settle down Yasha. You would think that I never fed you.” As the songbird ate the seeds from his hand he said, “With the Iron Sodality’s permission, I should like to take the ship on the magic ice run.”
“You have been trying to get us to make that run for as long as I have known you. Do you think the crew is up to it without our protection?”
“With all due respect, you helped select these sailors as much for their fighting ability as for their seamanship. Some didn’t know a bowline from a half hitch when they signed on. As to their fighting ability, they have proven that several times over. I expect we can take on whatever we come across without the four of you keeping us safe.”
“I guess that is true enough,” said Shaster. “Tell me again about the magic ice run. How does that go exactly?”
“As I’ve said before, first we load up with all of the metal items we can get. The cinnamon islands don’t have any metal, and they don’t get many trade ships because they are surrounded by dangerous waters and monsters. I will have to buy all of the pots and pans, axes, knives, nails, and everything else made of metal that I can find.”
“What kind of monsters?”
“There are tells of dragon turtles, but there are definitely sirens. But the monsters are only half the problem. There are no natural harbors, and the entire coastline is rocky cliffs. We will have to anchor a way off shore and take the small boat in. We can trade the metal items for a big load of spices. They have cinnamon of course, but also pepper, dragon tongue and many other rare and exotic spices. Once we leave there, if we avoid the pirates, we will sail straight to North Icely. The timing is good because their ice pack should just now be clearing.”
He fed Yasha some more seeds and continued, “North Icely trades mostly in timber and precious stones, but for pepper and spices, they will trade for magic ice.”
Shaster set down his glass and tried to knock the water off his hat and feather. “Didn’t you say that the ice isn’t truly magical?”
“That’s right. The story is that they discovered it a few years ago in one of their ruby mines. At first they thought it was just a frozen underground river.”
“What makes it so special?”
“They say that it is so cold that if you touch it with your ungloved hand it burns like fire. Also it doesn’t melt into water but slowly gets smaller as it melts leaving only cold air. A small piece of it in water doesn’t float. It pops and crackles and the water boils creating steam as if it were over a fire, but instead of being hot, the water is made cold. Small amounts of water poured over a large amount of the magic ice freezes into normal ice. But mages have examined it and say that it has no detectable magical properties.”
Shaster said, “That sounds amazing, and dangerous. How will you haul it?”
Captain Casey walked back over to his desk, “They dig it out of the ground like they would stone. We will line our hull with hay and cover that with sand. The magic ice will go over that and then we will cover it with another layer of sand and hay. There should be no danger as long as we wear gloves when we handle it. The next part of our voyage will be to make our way to the Port of Sultans by the great desert. It is early enough in the year that if we get there fast enough we will have not lost more than half of the magic ice from melting. Of course we risk losing it all if we are delayed. Here, I’ll show you course I plan to take.”
The captain cleared off his desk and unrolled a map of the North Sea. As the captain traced his intended course with his finger he said, “The Sultans will pay a great sum for the magic ice. We have been told that they store it in abandoned water wells. We should return here in about two months with our coffers full of gold. We will, of course, split the profit with the ship’s owners.”
Shaster thought for a minute, then looked up at the captain and smiled. “How soon can you leave?”
“It will take a day to acquire the metal trade goods and provision for the trip. The ship repairs and re-rigging should be completed at the same time. We can leave port the day after tomorrow.”
“And how long will you be away?”
“The entire round trip should not take over eight weeks.”
“Good,” said Shaster. “Do it. The other 3 will come aboard this evening to fetch their gear, or send someone for it. Don’t mention the magic ice run to them. Just say that you have agreed to stay away for a few weeks, to keep the ship out of danger. We will surprise them when you return with your coffers full.” He shook the captain’s hand, donned his soggy hat, and left the captain’s cabin with a spring in his step and smile on his face. Having done his assigned chore for the day, he intended to spend the rest of his day drinking, gambling and flirting with the bar maids. Perhaps someone would be foolish enough to pick a fight with him. He hadn’t fought a proper duel in over a year now and thought it about time for another.