“I say we go out there, and if we manage to survive we re-negotiate our contract. At the very least, we should sell our information to the highest bidder and then give Harliss back the 1,000 gold,” I argue with Solon and Constance as we head back to the docks to see how it’s going with the ship.
“In a place like Refuge what with all the business dealings of the Arcane, all contracts are law,” Constance warns.
“The Arcane…” I scoff. “Let me tell you… there are things they’ve done that a lot of people just don’t know about. I’m pretty fluent in Legaleeze… and I’ve got to tell you: contracts are made to be broken.”
Constance looks like she’s about to continue her side of things when instead she points ahead to a curious man with a clipboard checking out our ship and talking to Waylond and Hodekin. “Oh no… the government is here already.”
I’m too amused with the captain’s hat that Hodekin is now wearing to even comment as Constance puts on her best grin and tries to convince the government official to let us have the ship. Instead, I sidle behind him and begin a little enchantment charm that I learned from mother… and wince when I realize that I’ve still got some practicing to do when it comes to charming humans.
“We’ve got to pay how much in fees?” Waylond bellows to the man with the clipboard.
“Over 600 gold in taxes and permits that you failed to pay when you landed on Refuge.”
“What about that bag of crystal fragments?” Solon asks as Waylond removes the bag from his belt and sets it down for examination. “Have you tried getting them appraised yet?”
“You know, I think this stuff is Glassteel,” Constance replies as she looks over the shards. “We shouldn’t be hasty in selling these.”
“Well… how about my father’s medals from the EIN, then? I would be willing to pawn them if it would help…” offers Solon.
“It wouldn’t,” replies the man dryly.
“Oh for the love of…” I roll my eyes and dig into one of the pouches at my belt. I didn’t want to have to do this, but this is getting us nowhere… “Look, here’s two hundred gold up front as a downpayment. You give us a receipt and let us take the ship, and then we can conduct our business in order to have more money to pay the rest of our fees. How does that sound?”
“Now that could be arranged.”
“Wait… if you’re willing to pay that, then…” Constance quickly goes to the others and whispers adamantly until they each hand over their share of the money. I’m starting to think that this woman could argue a Demon until he’s ready to surrender. “Here we go… here’s the rest of it! Now can we have our ship?”
“Thank you, just give me a moment and I will fill out the proper paperwork for you to sign.”
“Captain Hodekin and First Mate Katya!” cheers the Kobold.
“Now that we have a ship again, we need to make sure we’ve got supplies,” says Waylond. “We never really took a good look through this thing… how about we look around for loose change and things to sell, then go do some shopping?”
“Anything ever come from selling that armor?” Constance asks.
“Nah… turns out that Helm-Ho guy only turns up when weird business dealings are taking place, and as soon as he doesn’t inhabit the armor it just kind of goes poof after awhile.”
“Well come on, let’s see what we can find on ship before Hodey gets to it all,” I say as I head up the gangplank with a wave of my hand.
Between Hodekin and Solon the ship is searched from aft to fore, and we manage to come up with a few interesting things that we pile on deck to sift through other than the small chest of 50 platinum that we use to cover our losses for the ship fees.
Secret bookcases and hidden scroll tubes reveal some useful starcharts, reports from these Seekers that Constance likes to talk about, and some entertaining reading for those long trips between Spheres. The Selected Songs of the Misfits might be a pass for me since singing was never my forte… but The Legend of the Nomad makes me do a double-take. Wasn’t that the name of the ship we saw leaving dock? I wonder…
The truly interesting things come last as we unroll a colorful tapestry with a dagger and a ring with matching bloodstone jewels. A quick incantation reveals that there is conjuration and teleportation magics involved with these items that are somehow bonded together. Perhaps you have to use all three in a ritual? I will have to study these later. Let Hodey and Solon argue the worth of the tapestry… we’re not selling it until I figure out its powers.
“So what’s that big thing you’ve got over there?” asks Waylond in feined innocence as he spies a glint of light off of the strange metal device we found.
“Don’t show it to him!” whispers Constance fervently. Oh… now this I have to see.
“What… you mean this big shiny thing?” I ask with a smile as I turn around and hand it to Waylond, whose pupils expand at the sight of it. I nod to him and he reaches out with a shaking hand to take it in his arms and cradle it gently.
“I’ve got you now, sweet thing… let’s see what you can do!” he whispers to it fondly before turning around and promptly squeezing the trigger to shoot in down into the water. I run to the rail with a gasp of excitement, but it soon toons into a sigh of disappointment as nothing comes out but a fizzling purple light.
“Damn… is that it?” I mutter.
“Hey, what are these letters that fell out of the tapestry?” Solon asks curiously as he picks up three wax-sealed letters.
“Hmmn… let me see,” I ask as he hands them over. “These look very old… how about I stay here on the ship and check them out while you all do the necessary shopping we need for our mission?”
“I’ll stay too, since I need to go over those charts,” offers Constance. “Just don’t sell anything we found on the ship, ok? We don’t need to leave a trail of blood money.”
Hodekin sighs at Constance’s suggestion. “Fine… is there anything you want, Katya?”
“I could use some alchemical supplies for my potion making, but other than that I’m good. Thanks, Hodey!” And with that, Waylond, Hodekin and Solon go roam the shopping district while I look for a teapot so I can steam these letters open.
Hmmn… what’s this? While I can’t read all of it due to the ancient and odd languages Its in, I’m able to make out some bits and pieces of information. There are four letters total:
*The first letter talks of a Baron Geordi in the Hold of the Sea Princes of Greyhawk, from someone named Drax to his father. This one is in an Elvish/Common tongue and not too difficult to read.
*This one is a letter to Drax regarding “moving elements into position,” spheres and planes, and someone named Mordenchinan. This letter is in Draconic.
*This letter regards moving groups in a grand chess game and a Reigar named Tain. This is also in Draconic
*The last letter is similar in nature, but concerns “an old friend weakened,” “darker path of heritage,” and “agree with wife we have to put Belaron down.” This one seems to be in Suel… so it’s a bit difficult for me to read.
After going through them all, I quickly take pen to parchment and make copies of all of the information before carefully resealing them the best I can. No need on getting these things damaged or taken, in case they turn out to be important. What am I saying… information is always important… I just need to figure out to whom.
I head back to the docks to find Constance greeting the others upon their return. “Any luck?” she asks hopefully.
“We should have enough supplies for this one,” Waylond answers cheerfully as he lugs sacks of rations up the gangplank.
“Hey Katya, I forgot about these two other things I found…” Hodekin says as he hands over two parchments to me.
“Hey Constance… isn’t this like the map that Harliss showed us?” I ask as I hand over one of the parchments to her.
“Looks like it to me! I don’t know about some of these markings around the edges, though. I’ll add these with the other charts.” she then carefully rolls up the map and follows Waylond up the gangplank.
“What about the other one?” asks Hodey.
“Kind of hard to make out, unfortunately… other than it mentioning a place called ‘Earth’ like five different times,” I reply with a scratch of my head. “Strange thing… they keep talking about the same place, but it’s spelled differently each time.”
I look up to ask Hodekin if he’s ever heard of the place when a Halfling comes running up behind him out of the crowd and ‘bumps’ into him.
“Hey! Stop that berk!” Hodey yells as he pats down his pouches. Unfortunately, as I turn to scan the crowd it looks like he’s already disappeared.
“Damn… what did he take?”
“Um…well… it looks like the fraking berk left something,” Hodey mutters.
“What kind of rogue does a run-by giving?” Solon asks incredulously.
“The kind who want to give you something bad, I imagine.” I reply as I hold out my hand to Hodey. “Can I see what he gave you?”
He drops a small stone into my hand, and after a quick incantation of detection I am able to see the inscribed sigil of someone named Stregaaz. I don’t recognize the name… but it’s definitely old magic.
“It’s just a stone with an arcane mark enscribed on it. While generally harmless, they can be used as a foci by wizards and the like. I would probably get rid of it.”
“What’s the best way to get rid of it, you think?” asks Solon.
I give a whistle to Omen, who swoops down out of the sky to land on my outstretched arm. “Why don’t you go give this pretty stone to the pretty Elves over there, Omen?” I ask it as I point to an Elven Man O’ War from the Syndiath line nearby.
“Pretty for pretties!” Omen squawks as he grabs the stone and takes off to drop it onto their deck before coming to a landing nearby.
“You are such a good bird!” I coo as I stroke his feathers. “Let’s get back onboard and see what I can find you for lunch.”
“Mmmm…lunch!” replies Hodekin with a lick of his fangs. “I wonder if Constant has captured any birds lately?”