23 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The pirate ship, Red Dwarf, dropped anchor within sight of the port town of Skaug.
Four days had passed since the Red Dwarf’s previous captain was slain by Abyss. Under new command, the ship and her crew set sailed for the pirate town of Skaug in the Nelanther Isles. A storm struck along the way. Despite the crew’s skillful attempt, the Red Dwarf had sustained some damage to her hull and rigging.
When they reached Skaug, Abyss and his fellow travelers learned that Skaug was a rough-and-tumble port that welcomed pirates of every stripe, and actively discouraged bounty hunters and others who threaten the flow of grog and coin. Above all, lawless Skaug was a good place to fill a ship with scurvy seadogs who value plunder over all else.
“There is much we can learn here,” Salil said. He stood on the ship’s deck and looked out on the pirate town. Ships of varying sizes were anchored in the wide bay. The cacophony of seagulls mixed in with the sounds of ships’ crews and dockworkers reminded Salil of his days back in Baldur’s Gate.
“What do you mean?” Lyrica asked. The bard—a changeling like Salil—stood next to the rogue. She inhaled deeply the salty late-afternoon sea air.
“A place like this holds many secrets; secrets we can use to our advantage”
“If only one knows where to look for it.”
“Lyrica, Salil,” a gruff voice announced from behind them. Both turned to see Brogan approach followed by Ronak the paladin, and Damascus, cleric of Oghma. Brogan was dressed like a wealthy shield dwarf merchant. “We need to consider our next course of action.”
“Lyrica and I were just discussing that,” Salil said.
“I have an idea,” Lyrica offered. “I’m going to Skaug to see what I can find out about the Damagers Guild and their dealings here.”
“I should go with you,” Salil said. “We can find out more if there were two of us asking questions.”
“That’s a reason why I should go alone,” Lyrica countered. “Pirates tend to be suspicious of strangers and too many people asking questions or skulking about. It would be best if I were on my own.”
“That’s fine lass,” Brogan said. “We’ll tell Abyss of your plan and see you upon your return.”
“Where is Abyss anyway?” Salil asked looking around the deck. Abyss was nowhere to be found.
“He’s been busy talking to his officers ever since we arrived.” Ronak said. “We’ll tell him of our plan as soon as we can gain an audience with the captain.”
Nearly two hours later, a small skiff carrying Lyrica pulled up alongside the Red Dwarf. The sun was just setting, which set the sky ablaze with fiery colors.
As soon as she was onboard, the changeling bard quickly made her way to the captain’s quarters where she was told the others were waiting.
“Well met,” Abyss greeted Lyrica. “It’s good to see you back safely onboard.”
“Thank you Captain,” she replied with emphasis on the last word.
“What did you learn?” Damascus asked. He quickly took out a small book and writing implement.
“Plenty,” Lyrica said. “For one, the Damagers Guild is here in Skaug.”
Everyone looked at one another.
Lyrica went on. “A human named Lanador owns a smuggler’s warehouse at the edge of town. From what I’ve gathered, Lanador employs minotaurs as guards and is currently entertaining several members of the Damagers Guild.”
“Is he with the Guild?” Damascus asked.
“Not according to what I’ve heard,” Lyrica added. “They’re led by someone named Torch. I couldn’t find out who or what Torch is. No one seems to know much about him.”
“So we take out Lanador, Torch and any other members of the Damagers Guild we run into,” Ronak said. “Sounds easy enough.”
“Not so fast,” Lyrica warned.
“Sounds like there’s more to tell,” Brogan said casting an amusing smile at Lyrica.
The bard gave him a wink. “Indeed there is. Apparently Lanador is also awaiting the arrival of a drow wizard for whom he has gathered elf slaves to sell.”
“Drows?” Salil asked? “What are drows doing here in Skaug?”
“Maybe they’re just buying slaves,” Damascus said.
“Or there could be more involved than just purchasing slaves,” Brogan added. “This is worth looking into.”
“I agree,” Lyrica said. “We need to find out more about the drows’ involvement with Lanador and the Damagers Guild.”
“But we need to do so without scaring off the drow wizard and whomever he’s traveling with,” Damascus warned.
After they had carefully made their plans, everyone boarded a skiff and made their way to Skaug.
At the docks, they met a harbormaster and negotiated payments for the Cottonmouth and Red Dwarf’s dock fees. Soon after, they went to the local tavern, The Murky Grog.
The tavern’s interior resembled the inside of a ship. Patrons sat on kegs converted into make-shift chairs. Barrels tied together and topped with a large piece of round wood served as tables. Windows were cut to look like portholes while dozens of candles placed on top of old helms wheels hung from the ceiling offered dim lighting; enough to see by but also gave the tavern a shadowy demeanor.
The tavern’s master, Florus, an old half-elf with gray thinning hair worked behind the bar. He and another half-elf, a middle-aged female, were the only two people busy serving everyone.
Two locals were quietly enjoying bowls of chowder and drinking locally brewed beer. At the edge of the bar, a man sat lost in thought, his food barely touched. His clothing suggested he may have been a merchant.
Salil got up and walked over to the merchant.
“What troubles you goodman?” Salil asked as he took a seat next to the merchant. Salil noticed his eyes were red and his face wet with tears.
“My business is of no concern to you.”
“Perhaps I can be of help. My friends and I recently arrived. Like you, we are also merchants looking to sell goods here in Skaug.”
The merchant looked at Salil and back at the others who were busy talking and eating at their table. “What I am in need of are swords for hire or adventurers.” He took a long drink from his mug of beer.
“Why would you need the likes of them?” Salil asked.
“My warehouse was taken from me by thugs employed by the Damagers Guild.”
“They were extorting money from me and I fell behind on my payments.”
“How much did you owe?”
“Five hundred gold; a sum I recently paid off. But they claimed the payment came too late, so they seized my warehouse.”
“Well friend, let me see what I can do. Perhaps my friends know people who can be of service to you.” Salil said. He left the depressed merchant to rejoin the others.
After telling the others of the merchant’s plight, Brogan slapped the table and yelled loud enough to be heard by all, “We don’t do business with people who can’t handle their own affairs. We’re slavers, not mercenaries!”
At that, the merchant rose from his place at the bar and left the room. “You’re all a cowardly lot, you are. To the Hells with you!”
To be continued…