Deciding to keep the Fragment (but adorn it in a less conspicuous way than a crown), the trio decided that the best course of action would be to continue their search with the most concrete lead they had: They would head into the wilds of Esovaria in search of the Temple that both Mara and Stevil had stumbled upon.
The first obstacle that needed to be overcome was the search for a vessel to take them around the southern tip of Vramora, east across its entire southern expanse and then out across the Sea of Storms to the western coast of Esovaria. The only truly established settlement on this wild and untamed continent is the capitol of Eh ’Toa, which is nestled deep inland, on the shores of the Emerald Lake, which is so named for the greenish phosphorescent glow it casts, giving the surround wilds an eerie green glow at night. The best way to access Eh ’Toa is by boat, sailing (but most often rowing) upstream on the mighty river Kalakona. Called Lotus Run by visitors, the Kalakona river surges mightily through a dense overgrown jungle filled with many untold dangers, and it is not unheard to have entire convoys of boats heading up river never reach their destination. Having little care for their diplomatic responsibilities to people of other continents, the council at Eh ’Toa designates minimal resources to the securing of the Kalakona voyage.
Set on their path, the trio headed down to the docks, where they found themselves in The Wicked Squid, a tavern notoriously crawling with sailors and those of ill repute. Quite quickly, they found themselves in the presence of a few of the captains in High Pengard at that moment: the Elven mistress Mira Seaspray and her raven, the boistrous dwarf Dubdha, and the willowy human Sesca Veetay. After some relatively good-natured haggling, the trio decided that Dubdha, Captain of The Maiden’s Vengeance would be the best choice, as he would be leaving the soonest and proclaimed the fastes travel time, even though his ship was the smallest of the 3 and the least stocked. Arrangements were made for the 3 companions to work their fair share and pay some gold for Peter Pantser, and the deal was struck! Bright and early, at 5 bells the next morn, they found themselves aboard The Maiden’s Vengeance heading out of the bay.
It is often said that when you find yourself surrounded by people of an unsavory nature, it is best to establish yourself as a person of power and might; one not to be meddled with. Lanth’s father had imparted this lesson on him as a young lad, so he took it upon himself to attempt to do so as soon as he could. Lashing out at the first sailor who bumped into him, he swung wildly with his fists hoping to catch the man unawares and lay him out, there by solidifying his place as an intimidating figure. But alas, not having his sea legs yet meant that his swing was off its mark, and the hardy sailor who Lanth had attacked responded by cracking Lanth under the jaw and dropping him to the deck. Ignacio, not one to let his friends be pushed around stepped in and managed to draw the ire away from Lanth, but the damage to poor Lanth’s reputation had been done. Sequestered to the Crow’s nest, Lanth took his sore jaw and aching ego up the mast to his post where he would remain for the next several days for long watches of a seemingly endless blue horizon.
Stevil found himself sequestered in the galley with the cook, relegated to menial tasks of peeling, slicing, dicing and general kitchen bitch work.
Ignacio, noticed by the large and imposing human First Mate Montebank, was given some hard manual labor. Deck swabbing, cargo sorting, anchor weighing and the like, not to Ignacio’s distaste.
One thing that all 3 of our adventurers noticed was that there seemed to be a surprisingly small amount of provisions onboard for such a journey, and frequent references to “resupplying” began to draw suspicion as to the intended nature of these events. But despite these supicions, the first couple of days aboard The Maiden’s Vengeance proved decent for our new sailors. Ignacio performed his tasks well, Stevil proved a decent (and entertaining) kitchen hand, and even Lanth managed to stay alert on his long watches, all the while magically messing with the lad who had punched him and damaged his reputation. Lanth was the first to spot the first interesting thing in those 2 days in the nest: sails on the horizon.
Blowing his trumpet and proclaiming, “SAILTH ON THE HORIZON!”, Dubdha and Montebank appeared from below deck, their crew of miscreants looking to them expectantly.
“What say you, lads?” Dubdha barked with a wicked grin, “ready to resupply?”
A mighty cheer rose up from the crew as all manner of nasty looking weapons were distributed, the sails were unfurled to their fullest and a black Jolly Roger was hoisted high, fluttering next to Lanth under the brilliant, cloudless sky.
The reputation the Dubdha had insisted on of The Maiden’s Vengeance being one of the fastest ships on the sea proved true and in just about an hour, they had gained enough ground on the cargo ship Lanth had spotted to put them within striking distance. Realizing too late who was pursuing them, the larger (but less ferocious) merchant ship furled its sails and prepared the fight they could no longer avoid.
Grappling hooks and planks appeared on the larboard side of The Maiden’s Vengeance and the hapless trio, found themselves thrust into the middle of a fight they wanted no part of. Seeking to end things with as little blood shed as possible, both Ignacio and Stevil leapt with amazing distance to the other ship and attacked the captain of the merchant ship directly, trying to intimidate the man into surrendering before everyone was slaughtered. It didn’t take too long for that exact outcome to come to fruition, and while a few crewmen were killed (and even 1 pirate ending up in the ocean), the battle came to a halt almost as quickly as it had begun!
Several minutes later as almost the entire crew of The Maiden’s Vengeance was aboard their captured quarry, Lanth (still up the rigging in the crows nest) got it in his head that he had had enough of these slimy pirates and began to unfurl the sails with the intention of stealing the boat and leaving the bulk of the pirate crew aboard the slower ship! Lanth and Stevil quickly realized this intention and leapt back onto the boat. Despite the surprise move, a large percentage of the pirate crew, Dubdha included made it back onto The Maiden’s Vengeance for a battle that would prove more dangerous than the boarding of the merchant ship. Despite the fierce warriors, Dubdha was eventually cast overboard, his mohawk finally disappearing under the waves.
The trio now faced a leaderless crew of pirates and scoundrels, and pondered how to handle them. Montebank stepped forward, and through some negotiation and conversation, convinced the trio that many of the men aboard were merely mercenaries, loyal only to whomever provided them with coin and would hold no ill will against them for the killing of Dubdha. Ron (Lanth’s new found nemesis) and his closest mates, however, proved less convincing and were bound…but told that they would be let off at Crescent Harbor if they swore to never return to the ship and pursue new opportunities for themselves. The deal was struck.
As they neared the port city of Crescent Harbor, they took it upon themselves to return the ship to an outward appearance of non-piracy. Stowing the jolly roger and covering the name of the ship with a less threatening one, they were pulled in to the vast network of docks that made up the bay of Crescent Harbor.
After a quick conference with Montebank, they decided to meet back at the ship on the eve of the 2nd day (it currently being the late afternoon/evening of the 1st day). This would give Montebank enough time to wrangle a few new crewman to help bring them to Esovaria. A little haggling over money, and the trio set out into the city of Crescent Harbor. After asking a few different people for a place to perhaps get some work as a performer, Stevil was directed to The Nifty Pudding Tavern, which as they began to head in the direction given, discovered that it was in a less-than-desireable part of town. As they approached the tavern, they saw a very large half orc bouncer at the front. Startled by the presence of Peter Pantser, he informed the crew that he would not allow the panther inside, and there was a 2gp cover for the evening. Lanth, in a rare moment of defiance, decided to “pay” his cover with the currency of rude hand gestures. The large bouncer, not terribly excited about this, declared that Lanth’s cover was now 5gp, and that the panther would STILL not be allowed into the bar.
Once inside, it wasn’t long until the group was approached by a shady, hooded figure who asked them if he could employ their help in a sensitive delivery. After the group declined, the mysterious figure addressed them each by name, and implied he knew them as the fugitives of High Pengard, and twisted the knife by informing the crew that if they did not help him for the fee he initially offered he could make them do it for free. When the gang responded with bluster and intimidation, the man assured him they were outnumbered in this tavern by a great number and that the organization with which he was associated made it their business to know these sorts of things about outlaws.
Feeling cornered, Ignacio activated the Fragment of Duli in order to charm the man and one of the nearby lads at a table…but failed the attempt.