That day I am given the heads up by Croup that it’s a special occasion for the Captain, and he wants a pig slaughtered for the meal for him and his staff. “I hope it’s the right size,” I reply slyly to Croup. “Because you know.. we wouldn’t want any extra pork to go to waste.”
“Why don’t you take this extra sack with you just in case? It’ll make it easier to take care of the extras,” he replies with a wink.
The day passes relatively uneventfully, other than the ex-slaver Shivikah almost scaring me out of my wits when he comes up to me with a wide grin on his face. “I’d nearly forgotten what pork tasted like, Cassie. You’re allright.”
The night is spent with our usual musical entertainment, although Drogo seems a bit off. He must have a lot on his mind… can’t blame him, really. Jack, on the other hand… he better hope that Grok doesn’t hear about him chatting up Slippery Sil tonight. That poor lady looked a frightened mess when she came out of the bilges today, and I know that Jack is probably just making sure she’s ok. Grok, on the other hand… I don’t think compassion is one of her strong suits.
“Aw damn it… I was hoping to get that bonus today!” moans Zack as we all get up and move above deck for a new day’s work. “Hmmn… from what I can tell, looks like we’re near the Slithering Coast. Whole lot of lizard folk there… nasty business.”
“Front and center, you scurvy dogs!” shouts Plug as his cronies drop 4 large pots in front of us. “See that reef over there?” he points with the hilt of his whip. “Captain wants crabs, so crab he’s going to get!”
“If he wants crabs, he should just sleep with Slippery Sil,” I joke to the others as we each pick up a pot. Someone chuckles and I look up to see a grin quickly wiped from Plug’s face. Is it heat stroke, or did I just make Plug laugh?
The rest of us dive into the water with our pots in hand as Drogo waves to us from his summoned dolphin. “Show off…” After a few hours and a fight with a rathre nasty pair of Reef Claws (that just happen to be a delicacy in certain waters), we come back to the ship with our pots full of seafood for tonight’s meal. “I hope nobody has any issues with shellfish, because this is going to be great!”
After cleaning up after the meal I return to my bunk to find a sack full of all the gear that I had before I started this adventure. “What do you know… I guess they liked it!” I say to myself with a grin as I tie on my family scarf and place my compass and Harrowing cards back into my pouches.
“Yes…” Raheem says with a grin as he walks by to flop into his cot and rub his belly. “The meal was quite good!”
The next morning everyone is put hard to work on the decks while I’m fishing for our next meal. I can’t help but feel bad as the heat today is rather brutal… so when no one is looking I cast an Unseen Servant and assign it to delivering water to everyone during the day. I don’t tell anyone just to be safe… you never know what trouble a spellcaster can get into on a pirate ship… but from what I can tell from some of the nods I get as I walk back to the kitchen, it seems my secret is safe.
“You did good today, sweetie,” calls out Barefoot Same Toppin as I hand her my catch for the day.
“I’ve been fishing since I can remember,” I joke as I sit beside her and repair nets as she skins the fish. “I’m more used to throwing these out into the water than I am a fishhook, though.”
“You would’ve loved to have met my Charlie, then… he was an expert with the knots! In fact, I remember one day when…”
I lose track how long the stories last… but they make an entertaining diversion as I get my work done for the day. It’s certainly bettre than having to catch rats in the bilges like Zack and Jack, anyway.
Morning comes once again, but this time we’re excused from our regular work day and sent aft for training with Riaris Kein, the Master Gunner. I would’ve sworn that no one could cuss more than Rosie until I met her… but it seems I was very wrong.
“Well you sorry squibs, if we’re going to make some money you better learn to board ships!”
Ropes and grappling hooks are thrown into one of the life boats as a look of excitement crosses Zack and Jack’s faces. “Looks like we’re finally getting some pirate training!” one of them mutters.
“Don’t just look at it, get in, you scurvy dogs!” Kein barks. “Time to see how well you can board a ship… because if you can’t, you’re going to get a face full of rotten food, got it?” Jack groans as we all clamber into the boat. “Jack and Cassie, and Zack and Drogo. Have at it!”
The boat drops into the ocean with a thump, as we scramble for the ropes. Jack jumps back as a glowing eagle appears and grabs one of the ropes before flying towards the deck. “A little help, Drogo?” mutters Zack as his grappling hook bounces against the hull and falls back into the water.
A quick muttering of a True Strike spell under my breath is all it takes for me to get my grappling hook attached to the rail… and thankfully Jack isn’t far behind with his throw either. Unfortunately I had no spell to keep my getting pegged by a rotten porkchop, though. Damn… I’m going to need to wash my hair to get that smell out! After hearing the groans of Drogo and Zack behind me, though… I think I might have gotten off lightly.
“Not bad… not bad at all!” Kein declares as we all manage to make our way back to the deck without too many bruises. Well… except for Zack, anyway… he looks like he fell into a garbage heap by the time he makes it up. “Seeing as you all managed to do this on your first try, I think you deserve the afternoon off. I recommend you take the time cleaning up!” She waves at us with a wince as she covers her nose and walks off to report to the captain.
I doubt Plug would appreciate me using viable drinking water to take a bath… so I guess I’ll just have to settle for a Prestidigitation incantation to take care of the mess. Drogo seems to have found a comrade in Cog Cogward… but I find it odd that I haven’t seen his Eidelon Jabber all day.
“DROGO! FRONT AND CENTER!”
Ah… it seems somebody found his Eidelon, anyway.
“Your creature was caught snooping around where it shouldn’t, Drogo!” Plug announces. “You are responsible for your animal while you are a part of this crew…. understand? 3 Lashings!”
“That’s not right… he’s just a little guy! Leave him alone! We’ve got to do something, Jack!” yells Zack angrily. Before he can get a reply, however, there is a booming noise and a “ZING!” as Zack’s hat is blown off his head and a thin red line appears on his cheek that starts to bleed.
The Captain blows on the end of his smoking barrell and the rest of the crew soon quiets down. As I look around I can’t help but notice that Phipps and his usual cronies are nowhere to be seen. You think they’d want to see this… so the fact that they aren’t here means they must be getting themselves into trouble. I wait until the lashings begin and all attention is focused on Drogo before slipping back through the crowd and making our way back to our bunks. I just manage to duck under one of the cots just in time to see Phipps sprinkling something into our bunks… so when he leaves, I make sure to switch our mattresses with his and his friends. I’m not going to take my chances with whatever it might be… after that day where they pulled weapons on us, it’s bound to be bad.
The rum and music are flowing that night as we celebrate our victory over boarding lessons and rotten food. I spy the young Cocky the Cabin Girl staring longingly at Jack, and feeling magnanimous after my own culinary successes with the crew, decide to help the girl out.
“If you’re going to tell him you like him, you should look your best!” I whisper to her with a grin as I hand her another mug of rum.
“I don’t… what if he…” she stammers as she blushes.
“Trust me, you’ll do fine… you just need a woman’s touch!” I mutter a cantrip under my breath that whisks away the dirt and grime, patches her clothes, and leaves her smelling fresh and clean. I’ve used it so much on this ship that I could recite it backwards if need be. “See what I mean?” I take out a small mirror from my pouch and polish it before handing it to her.
“I can’t thank you enough!” she gushes before turning towards the door where Jack was last seen, turning quickly back to me to hand me the mirror, and then running down the hall.
“Wait… he’s with Grok tonight, isn’t he?” I realize suddenly with a wince. “Damn it… well… either she really likes him and Jack will take notice of her bravery, or she’ll decide it’s just a passing fancy after all.”
I am saved by my encroaching feelings of guilt by the sudden cry of Mr. Scourge and the ringing of the deck bell. “All hands on deck, we’ve got a castaway you scurvy dogs!” By the time we all make it above decks they’re lowering ropes over the side to a man floating on a chunk of wood.
“Not bad looking for an unlucky bastard,” Rosie Cuswell comments as she climbs up on a barrel to take a look.
I refrain from judgment but nod appreciatively as I take in his appearance. The man is dark skinned with dark hair and faded, yet once colorful clothes. Could he be Varisian, like my adoptive family?
“Hey, did you check out the piece he’s got?” Zack exclaims before climbing over the rail and attempting to slide down the rope to the unconscious man. “I’m adequate!” he yells before losing his grip and falling into the water.
“That’s what we’re trying to do!” Rosie yells down to Zack. “Flip him over for us so we can see for ourselves!”
“Oh brother…” Jack mutters before repelling down the rope to help his brother, who is now flailing as he drops the unconscious man into the water.
“Hey, I got his gun!” Zack exclaims cheerfully.
“That’s great… now how about getting him, too?” Jack sighs.
There’s a blur of light as Drogo’s summoned dolphin streaks past us into the water to rescue the now drowning castaway.
“Oh thank goodness…” I mutter as they finally bring him up and lay him on deck. Pug’s lackeys make short work of anything of value before he’s taken below decks to be checked out for illnesses and such.
“Let me see it!” I hear Jack arguing with Zack as I walk past to head below decks to check how our new member is doing.
“No… I’m going to go give it back to him.”
“What? You know I was proud of you at first for taking the thing… but now you’re just crazy!”
“Let me tell you about making friends, Jack…”
The doc gives me a nod as he wipes his hands down and walks past me down the hall. “How’s our new crewmember?” I ask cheerfully as he sits up when I enter the room.
“Your… doctor… didn’t seem to want to be bothered. I am a surgeon… I could…” he begins in a dark monotone voice.
“Wait up… can I get your name there…or shall we just call you Doc?”
“My name is Priest… it is what I am… all that I am,” he answers before staring out the window morosely.
“Doc…Priest… next thing you know they’ll be calling me Elf,” I joke. “Anyway… if you haven’t noticed already, your things are now the prime property of one Cut-Throat Grok the Quarter Master. You’ll have to earn your things back… either by deeds, good luck or just plain trickery.” I wink before turning to leave. “Oh and by the way… whatever you do, don’t talk to the Captain. Welcome to the Wormwood!”