Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A far cry from Sasserine


A journey has to start somewhere, and the voyage of The Evening Promise began in the thriving harbors of the coastal city of Sasserine. Nine and fifty men departed her shores in the late spring toward a destination known only by legend. Eyvindr.

The savviest of seaman wouldn't claim to know the way to the place, but somehow, captain of The Evening Star, Vincent Von Stierghorn, has plotted a knowing course. Confiding only to his pilot the correct constellations to follow, the captain leads his greatship into uncharted waters.

Of our full complement, five men stand out like sharks in a well. They are the appointed noblemen tasked with guarding something mysterious in the forecastle. They utter nary a word to the rest of the crew or each other, even when provoked. They take their meals in private and never enter the room they are guarding. We have seen the captain communicate with the leader, like a shipyard dog begging for a bone. The only response we see him get is a smug look we can only take to mean 'no'.

And what are they guarding? Not even the captain seems to know. Whatever it is has brought our fates into the hands of this barren and unscouted part of the sea.

Every man, woman and dwarf on this vessel knows that if they had loved ones back on the mainland, they wouldn't likely be seeing them again. The talk of adventure and unknown riches motivated all of us to join the crew, but the first treacherous month at sea has seen that enthusiasm wane. Eight men have been taken by the sea thus far.

Eldon.
For the first week of the voyage, in between his duties manning the ropes on the foc's'le deck, Eldon had a wary eye on the five silent noblemen. Frequently he was noticed passing nonchalantly by the door they closely guarded, eyeballing it's every knot and splinter. We all laid wagers on when he would make his attempt to break through the guard's protection and rob the mysterious loot. Sure enough, on the eighth night, when the wind was steady and the night shift were busy nursing their sore bones and singing a shanty, Eldon made his attempt.
Jumping from the ledge at the back of the forecastle and landing on the threshold of the mysterious cabin door, he was all too quickly dispatched when one of the guards drew his rapier and skewered Eldon's right lung. Funny thing was, as the boys drug him to the edge of the boat to dispatch him in to the murky waters, his corpse was stiff as a plank, but breathing freely. With a silent splash, our crew was fifty-and-eight.

I slept fifty gold pieces richer that night.

Thairis.
Most men were easily won over by Thairis's lilting voice, and gregarious manner. Not Toffus. The boatswain seemed to have it in for our lovely vocalist from day one. To ease her own tension, she brought out her stringed instrument and graced us with melodies, many written at Toffus's expense. One morning, the shanty she sang went something like this:

Though the sea 'tis always mighty
'tis Tofus we all should fear
for while wind and wave get fighty
For Tofus we'd ne'er cheer

For when Tofus commands 'is men
with lash and whip used well
We'd all live though his sinin'
But we'd ne'er survive 'is smell!

Thairis took one fist across the jaw and never sang again. Out cold. Out dead.

Cirella and Flaggren.
The ship started with two whores. Now it has one.

Cirella was the captain's whore and spent the better part of the voyage in his cabin. On clear nights she would stagger drunkenly out on deck to look at the stars. With all the ale she drank, she probably saw twice as many stars as the rest of us, but for some reason, the night sky seemed to be all that interested her. She would gaze at the constellations until it was clear that either the sky itself or her swaggering stuppor prevented her from finding what she was searching for in the heavens, and she would drag herself back into the cabin. Three weeks into the voyage, the captain ordered two of the oarsmen to go into his cabin and remove her dead body. As the oarsmen carried her out, she appeared to have been poisoned in her sleep except for the blood seeping through the back of her tunic. Flaggren, one of the two oarsmen who carried her lifeless body, immediately reproached the captain for her unnecessary death. The captain made no excuses, except that her life had been endangering the mission, and that her death was just. When Flaggren retorted, the captain had him thrown overboard as well.

Polimus and Artageo.
The night the second attempt at breaking into the forcastle occurred, none of us were expecting it. Polimus was clearly a more devious thief than Eldon, but no more successful. Polimus had raided the carpenters tackle, and found a saw. With intentions of making his way into the room through the floor, he snuck the tool to the lower deck and went at the structural beams. A great cracking of wood woke all of us as Polimus had worked his way through a support beam that fell to the floor of the lower deck, landing across the chest of Artageo our artillerist and killing him instantly. Polimus for his part was successful at reaching the floorboard of the deck above, but appeared to have frozen simply from touching it. We could see his hand there seared to those floorboards and his lifeless body stopped in its tracks, hanging from the appendage.

Our master-at-arms, Pontus quickly ordered all men to stand back. He drew his scimitar and severed Polimus's body from it's mangled hand at the wrist. All of Artageo and most of Polimus were thrown overboard, but Polimus's hand remained visible, stuck grotesquely to the ceiling until the carpenter, who had retrieved his saw, repaired the damage.

Old Flagerty and Jones.
The carpenter, Old Flagerty was the next to go. During the high pitch of a nasty swell, Old Flagerty was ordered up the main mast to fix a broken timber that was dragging us to port. The captain seemed hell bent on suffering through the ripping tide and soaring winds with sails at full. The Evening Promise rocked heavily in the wake of thundering waves that threatened to upend the ship at every crash. Dangling from the top yard, Old Flagerty was hanging on for life as the he hammered at the mast, attempting to loosen the jam. When loosen it did, Old Flagerty was flung aft and broke his neck on the hard deck below before being washed overboard.

As the storm continued to pound us, the captain pressed us to push forward. Only he seemed to know what direction forward really was. For hours we braced ourselves while we worked to keep the ship upright in the piercing winds. Orders from Pontus were relayed to each man because the howling wind and crashing surf prevented us from hearing his cries across the deck.

The following morning we were all summoned on deck to count heads.

One short. Crewman Jones was missing. Probably washed overboard when no one was looking.

______________________________________

A tired and wretched crew we have become. From my view at the top of the crows nest, I can see each and every shipmate dragging themselves to the next task. This week, the skies have cleared and a summer sun beats down on us for the length of each day. Each man is paying his toll. Every man except for the captain that is. The captain and that boatswain of his, Toffus.

This morning, the captain went to the lead guard and asked him the daily query and finally walked away with the an affirmative nod he had been looking for. An hour later he confided in me that we would be rendezvousing with another vessel in the coming days, and to keep an eye out.

What I know though is that he will be lucky to see the next few days out alive. Frustration in close quarters can breed unfriendly plans, and what began as a guarded murmur is slowly becoming a loud cry. You can see it in the men's hearts.

Mutiny is a'foot.

9 comments:

Nathan McKinney said...

Consider this an answer to your question Eric. Since I don't have the capacity to create an entire world that we simply won't be using, click on the Sasserine link in the story above. It will take you to the "Savage Tide" Players Guide, which was a sea based adventure in Dungeon Magazine before 4.0 came out. You can read up on where you are all potentially from, and choose a district from which your character hails.

Hadrian said...

Methinks your word of warning was not needed. Awesome job of setting the scene. (And thanks for the place name, proper nouns make the story construction much smoother).

Aerin said...

tl;dr.

But will tomorrow. Was writing and got infuratingly knocked out of that part of my brain space, trying to get back into it before sleep so I can get my backtory up eventually...preferably before Saturday...

Aerin said...

We are deep watering it right, not coast hugging? The setting would suggest it, but I was just curious :P

Also, are we earning a wage appropriate to our duty stations? :P

Degolar said...

And I was sure it would be called Nathania.

Degolar said...

Are you saying you didn't care for the careful accuracy of my Pavo Baradin introducation?

. . . In [insert Pathfinder location] I tutored a rich man’s children in history and theology for a year. In [insert Pathfinder location] I was a scribe at the library for a time. And in [insert Pathfinder location] I was secretary to a high-ranking government official. . . .

Nathan McKinney said...

Deep watering it... sounds kinda sexual.

and, yes, we are.

The job pays in pesos.

Aerin said...

In that case, mutiny is most certainly a'foot, perhaps even a'leg if that's all we're being paid!

Lummox said...

So let me get this straight... like a penis.
We are deep watering and all we get is Latin for fish?
Come on, dude. Downtown I could charge at least a 50 just to shallow water it.