Readying for their leave, the company approached the Cenandiran docks toward the CS Blackwater. Upon a closer proximity, a bald, handsome man took notice of them, smiles warmly in their direction, and approaches with an extended hand.
He introduced himself as Captain Jean de Brasick. The Guard had appointed him as Captain and navigator for their trip to Argrim. He presented himself as a very rigid man that has taken orders for many years. He knew who was going to run the show…and that was Blackwater.
Brasick welcomed the adventurers onto a busy boat. Preparing for the voyage were several men and dwarves loading boxes, bedding, and supplies. Among the crew however seemed to be two characters out of the ordinary.
A cloaked man stood on the deck. His covering seemed to jut in all directions almost too sharply. A closer inspection revealed a man of pure crystal, silent yet speaking. He was Artanis…a travelling Shardmind from another plane. A peaceful Bard, he was hired for the boat’s entertainment and perhaps a bit of a distraction. Artanis effectively presented himself with friendship as his telepathic powers allow. He was acceptable.
The other was another cloaked figure, but not as covered. From afar, one could notice his chainmail, holy symbol…and height. A Dwarven Cleric sat in a corner, reading a book. Artanis approached him with almost childlike curiosity, but the Dwarf was not as swift to be friendly. Business came first.
He was Godric and he knew eyes that had seen war before. Godric quickly identified the majority of the group as veterans and deduced them as hired men. He had his own reasons to head to Argrim, but it sounded like there was coin to be had. Unknowing of what to expect in the seedy city, they allowed a bit of trust in Godric. At the very least, he helped the ship seem less conspicuous. Holy men traveled often.
It became time to depart and the company left Cenandira behind. The waters proved an agreeing lady as the sun began to set. Not many ships had the benefit of a Naval crew to run her so smoothly. They made great time and the crew exhibited alertness and a strong will. Though one in particular seemed more alert than the others.
A dwarf shuffled eagerly and stern-faced toward the company. His beard was as long, black, and ornately braided as his hair. In tattered grey and darker grey garb, he stood straight and saluted. He explains that the Captain had news for the company and must be reported to immediately. His voice was silky and accented with a southern man’s voice (comparable to our Eastern-European and Scottish accents). It was a kind of voice they hadn’t heard in over a year. The south was where they last fought the hordes of goblins against the conquest…
and suddenly they found themselves beside a gargantuan fallen tree. The only sounds heard were screams and flames. No longer on a ship’s deck, they sat upon grasslands once green, but now charred and burned, spotted with chunks of infertile soil. So much chaos seemed just behind them, just beyond the tree, but they felt so suddenly exhausted. They could barely convince themselves to stand.
But they did. All but Kraiven stood quickly, and the newcomers Artanis and Godric did so with perfect skill. Revealed now were a dozen hobgoblins setting a small village ablaze. A cousin of the goblins, the veterans recalled the coalition they once fought that even included the occasional mobs of orcs. It seemed any sentient creature with enough hatred would fight for vast extermination. A child screamed as he was surrounded by the hobgoblins. They readied themselves to execute him.
The native Blackwater members realized they stood within a memory of their own pasts’, now made real all over again…but these new men now stood beside them unlike before. Nevertheless, the danger was real and had to be dealt with. The fighting began with blood shed on each side, but hobgoblins steadily began to fall. Kraiven finally fought past his pains, slid over the tree, and found himself silently behind the largest hobgoblin there. His cutlass supreme made quick work of the creature’s back, carving valleys along his spine.
Flame, blade, and even song rained upon the hobgoblins. Godric’s hammer managed to rain upon the head of the young child laying on the ground to put him in a peaceful sleep. It was a slip of the hand, but the boy survived the attack and was thankfully safe. A village that once housed his family burned intensely as he lay in the glow. He was the last of his community. What was his name? The soldiers just couldn’t seem to remember. The flames grew higher, but began to sound of crashing waves. The ground began to sway…and they were again on the deck of the CS Blackwater.
The Dwarven Lieutenant still stood before them. Wary of their momentary unresponsiveness, he insisted they continue to the Captain after making sure they were well. The company remembered it all as very real. They were all there together and saw the same vision. There was just no time to discuss it. The Captain had important news.
The always friendly Brasick invited them into his quarters and placed a map upon his desk. He explained that the trip to Argrim was going to get a little interesting and they had a decision to make. A large rock formation stood within the path. The West of the small mountain would prove harder to navigate, but the East (a faster route) teemed with pirate activity. It was the company’s choice to make. It was their mission.
They discussed the possibilities and decided finally on the Eastern route. They had enough brawn to handle anything that came their way and wanted to get there as fast as possible. Brasick agreed and dismissed them. A keen eye would be kept on deck to watch out for any foreign vessels.
Night fell, passed, and then welcomed the day. The waters agreed and the mountain slowly passed by. It was afternoon by the time a ship came into view. With no flags it had no affiliation, but approached them directly. It was narrow and much longer than the Blackwater and they could also see why it was so fast…four large paddles on each side helped her along. A man stood with a foot upon the starboard (right) side of his vessel as they approached.
Overly friendly and a bit demanding, a man named Wyatt introduced himself to a ship he was already familiar with. He knew this was (or used to be) the Defiant and where the Defiant was so was The Father of the Ocean. .
He was quick to ask which of them just so happened to be the good Father. Wyatt had never met the man before, so his appearance was a mystery. The company stumbled over the question, but Artanis’ appearance and telepathic power convinced the man that the crystalline entity was the elusive Father.
Wyatt invited the crew to a bit of dinner and business between ships. While originally planned to have it on his ship (the Southtown Queen), the company convinced him to have it on the Blackwater with a few of his crewmen. It was a tough deal to make, but Wyatt finally agreed. For the next hour, the crew prepared to host while the Southtown Queen seemed quiet and almost empty.
“Dinner” approached and Wyatt stood twenty feet across water upon his deck. Four crewmen ready to cross with him, they extended a plank. It seemed the men had very little experience with walking a plank…as two of them fell to the waters even with Godric’s assistance.
Wyatt was not happy with his men’s buffoonery and rushed over the plank himself ordering the remaining crew to help them back on-board before they drowned. He was ready for a meal and business. The company led him and his remaining two guards below deck to the living area. The beds now pushed aside, a dinner table sat in the middle and the additional doors were incidentally blocked.
The snide man had a seat at an empty table and asked what was on the menu. It seemed dinner itself didn’t end up in the crew’s plans as they scrambled for whatever food they had stored. Dried meats, aged cheese, and wine finally plattered the table for them to begin eating. Some of the company had a seat and some stood guard outside the door. Godric walked in with the “Father” and flipped a coin upon the table.
“Let’s talk business, gentlemen.”