Ugh… my joints are aching after spending all morning trudging through that bilge water sludge… but at least I managed to find a rather nice axe buried in the goop before I stepped on it. Maybe I can trade it for more items from Grok? Worth a try… after a quick cantrip to get rid of the smell, anyway. Then again… Grok is a half orc… maybe she’s into that kind of thing.
“Come on… look at the quality of the stitching! It’s got to be worth my hat and whip back at least,” I hear Zack pleading to Grok as I walk past a frustrated Drogo muttering about a fiddle.
That’s right… Rosie Cuswell did go on about her prized fiddle, didn’t she? I guess Drogo didn’t have any luck… but we’ll see how well I can spin my yarn.
“Hey Zack, have you seen Rosie’s fiddle?” I ask innocently as I walk up to him and Grok staring at us through her counter window. “She was asking everyone around for it and sounding pretty worried… said something about spirits in the thing needing appeased before you play it? I don’t know about ghosts and all… but I guess she’s worried about people getting hurt.”
“Nope, haven’t seen it,” replies Zack with a scratch of his head.
“Here… here… take it already!” shouts Grok as she tosses the fiddle at me and snags the leather armor out of Zack’s hands before passing him his hat and whip.
“Much obliged, Mistresss Grok,” I say with a slight bow as I catch the fiddle and turn away before she can see my grin.
Rosie joins the rest of the entertainment that night with a large grin on her face… even when a string breaks in the first song. I’m glad I was able to help the girl out… we all need something to keep us smiling in this place. Poor Drogo though… from the pout on his face, I think he was hoping to give it to her himself. Maybe I could tell her how I “really” got it for her from him… then again, I’m no matchmaker.
“The music is good tonight, but I’ve got a burning to send a message to those scallywags who thought they could intimidate us on the stairs,” Jack mutters with only a slight slur from the rum ration as he heads above deck.
“If he’s got a burning, it’s probably from Slippery Sill,” I joke as I nudge Giffer with my elbow. I swear my eyes are watering from the smell of his breath after his loud guffaw… but beggars can’t be choosers when looking for allies.
The next morning I report to Croup for my usual cooking duties… but it seems he’s taking the morning off to drink with his best buddy Grok… which means that the quarter master’s room should be ripe for investigating. It doesn’t take much to slip past the crew slaving over swabbing the deck, and much to my joy, it doesn’t take much to get into Grok’s quarters, either. It seems when she’s in her cups, security is the last thing on her mind.
After a quick search, it seems that the only thing not nailed or locked down is the large barrell of rum in the corner. They force that swill on us daily… so I’ve no urge to steal more of it. I can’t wait till I can get my hands on some Varisian brandy again… until then, I will have to comfort myself with fond memories of passed flasks around the fire.
“By Besmara’s Bum… such an opportunity, I hate to waste it!” I mutter. Well… if Grok has a fear of haunted things… perhaps a well placed illusion might convince her to give back my cards, too. I whisper the words of the spell and with a few gestures I leave the image of words dripping in blood on the wall. “RETURN WHAT YOU HAVE TAKEN OR FACE OUR WRATH!” I chuckle as I leave the rest of the room as I left it. “I hope she can read…”
By the time I get back to the kitchen I find that Croup has returned from his drinking binge no worse for wear; at least as much as I can tell anyway as drunk is his usual state of mind. “The Captain wants fish tonight!” he declares as he tosses a pole in my direction. “See to it that he’s not disappointed!”
Fishing… a relatively peaceful task, at least… perhaps with Besmara’s blessing I can provide a decent dinner to the crew tonight after the work Plug has been putting them through. I learned early on from my adoptive mother that the quickest way to make friends is by bribing their stomachs first. As I’m walking to the aft end of the ship I can’t help but notice a mute half-orc running in fear from a smirking Jack, and barely manage to spin out of the way as Mr. Scourge gives Zack an earful for his lack of work this morning. It makes me even more grateful that I’m working with Croup. While he’s smelly and usually drunk, he is a relatively good man in this place and hasn’t treated me poorly.
I’m rather pleased that evening as some compliments regarding dinner actually make its way back to me. I have no time to bask in a job well done over an evening’s entertainment, however… as it seems that Mr. Scourge and Mr. Plug have a different plan in mind.
The deck whistle blows that summons the crew to the deck, and we all arrive to find Plug walking out with a heavy iron chain in hand… connected to a rather large hulking brute in filty shorts covered in tar and feathers. I hear the muttered gasps of “Owlbear!” behind me as I observe the poor fellow. It’s when Plug starts scanning the crowd as he swings the chain in his hand that I realize what’s about to happen… and quickly step back through the group of sailors to stand in the shadows and hopefully out of Pug’s gaze. That man is looking for a victim… and I don’t exactly feel like playing today.
Pug’s stare eventually falls on Jack… and like a brave fool he stares right back at him. “Looks like we’ve got us a volunteer!” Pug snickers as he spits at Jack’s feet.
“Time for a new fish to get pasted,” Scourge agrees with an evil grin.
“If you’re going to fight my brother, you have to fight me too!” Zack shouts as he steps forward defiantly.
“Oh don’t worry,” replies Pug with a snort as he heaves a mug at Zack’s head. “You’ll get your turn after he’s done with your brother.”
Everyone’s attention is drawn to the unbalanced brawl taking place on deck, so I take a chance and cast a detection cantrip and scan the ship. There are a few odd weapons here and there that glow brightly amongst the pirates. Conqobar has a wand at his belt, Cog has something in his pouch, the cleric’s hat glows warmly and of course Pug is covered in magicaly items from his bracers to his cutlass. Thankfully for Jack, Owlbear has no magic about him that I can tell… just quite a lot of muscle and not a lot of agility.
There’s shouting from the pirates as it seems Pug has tossed Owlbear a club, and Zack has tossed Jack his rapier. Now this I have to see… so I let the cantrip fade and focus on the fight.
“You said no weapons, you scumbag!” Jack shouts as he dodges around a club swing and stabs Owlbear in the side, causing the poor creature to back away with a whimper.
“And it looks like your 6 lashes for your piss-poor work just went up to 12 for talking back!” growls Scourge. “Rest up, Zack, you’ll be fighting him tomorrow!” he then grabs the chain with an angry grunt and drags the whimpering Owlbear below decks to the disappointed calls of Phipps and his cronies.
The night passes rather uneventfully, even with some forboding clouds in the distance. I manage some chatting with Conqobar and a few fake smiles when he tells me how big his wand is that night during Rosie and Drogo’s performance. The man makes me skin crawl at best… but in a place such as this, you need as many friends as you can get.
The next morning I am awoken to the sound of thunder and the smell of wet animal fur in my face. “By the Goddess, Drogo… dry your Eidelon before letting him below decks!” I cry before zapping the ball of wet fur with a Prestidigitation cantrip that dries him off and gets rid of the overpowering odor clinging to my skin. “Sounds like it’s going to be a fun day ahead,” I warn the others as I climb the stairs and smell the storm on the wind. “Be careful out there… and stay safe.”
The sky grows dark that morning with heavy winds tossing the lanterns about and the rain making visibility nearly impossible. I find some relief to be stuck in the kitchen as Croup is sober for once… and entertain myself by spreading stories about my haunted Harrow cards with the crew who come and go in an escape from the rain. Apparently Jack and Zack have figured out Grok’s little quirks too… as they’re both on a campaign to get their armor back. That Jack, though… he’s a crazy one. Must be… because no sane man should look that enraptured when talking about Grok.
Unfortunately the weather doesn’t want to let up, and worsens into the night. Hopefully Besmara will take pity on us tomorrow after tossing us about so. Everyone is rather subdued that night because of the weather… so I entertain myself by sneaking back to the quartermaster’s chambers to find Fishguts, Croup and Grok nearly passed out in the hold with bottles of rum strewn about the table. I make myself comfortable behind some barrells and listen as they trade ghost stories of peg-legged ghost captains and sea serpents. In fact, I’m about to nod off when I suddenly hear Croup say my name.
“She’s a good egg that elf… she always works hard, and boy can she cook!”
I can’t help but smile to myself. He may smell and drink and spend most of his time passed out from rum… but Croup really is a good man. As good as a man can be stuck on a pirate vessel, mind you… but a good man.
It doesn’t take long before they’re all snoring peacefully slouched over the table. I stretch the kinks out of my legs and whisper gently in their ears. “Give the cards back… save yourselves before it’s too late!” I’m about to leave when suddenly I hear the sound of footsteps out in the hall. Ducking back behind my barrell I watch curiously as Jack creeps in with a parchment in hand. He looks around at the passed out crew, blows a kiss to Grok, and lays the parchment by her hand before leaving again. Oh this I’ve got to see…
By the Goddess, the man must have been hit in the head by Plug one too many times… for he’s actually written her a love poem! I clap a hand over my mouth to stifle the giggling as I read his lovestruck words:
Her hair is as dark as the deepest of seas, her tits are the sweetest of creams. When she looks at me I go weak in the knees, the treasure guarding she-orc of my dreams.
Still… who am I to deny the goddess of love her fun? When I’m sure I can control my laughing I slip the note back under Grok’s hand and slip back through the door and into the crew quarters.
The next morning breakfast is served with our usual rum ration, and it looks like the weather still isn’t letting up. The bad weather bodes ill for the rest of the day as Jack is made an example of yet again with more lashings. While his exterior is rough and violent, from what I can tell he is so for a purpose. I don’t know how long that front can hold up, though, when he’s constantly lashed and struggling so hard to protect his brother Zack. I hope for his sake Zack can heal him.
I am interrupted from my reverie by Croup as he shouts and tosses me a net. “The captain’s got a hankering for turtle tonight, so you’d best get on it!”
“Aye-aye, sir,” I sigh as I throw the net over my shoulder and do my best to ignore the growing chill in my bones. Maybe I can manage to catch a few extra for the crew… with weather like this, a nice hot meal may be just what we need to get through it.
That night most of us are too weary and waterlogged to do much more than listen as Zack and Drogo perform a new song he wrote dedicated to his brother, called “Scourge of the Seas.” Between Jack’s intimidation and my cooking, I’m pretty sure the rest of the crew either loves us or wants to kill us.
The morning work bell rings and awakens us to the ship rocking and the walls shaking from the thunder of the worst day yet of the recent storms. “Everyone in the rigging!” shouts Plug as we stumble up the stairs.
By the end of our double-shift repairing rigging we’re all battered and bruised. Poor Zack is exhausted after his previous day of lashings, and my shoulder aches from falling earlier that day. Jack… well… he was sent upto the crow’s nest for lookout duties, but he didn’t make it before he had his own tumble.
“Crewman overboard!” someone suddenly shouts and I run to the side to see that Tilly Brackett has been blown overboard. I quickly grab a rope and with an incantation of a True Strike spell and a prayer to Besmara for good measure, I throw it down to her to grab before she gets pulled under.
I dive overboard to swim to her as Drogo’s Eidelon Jabber dives past me in a blur of fur. It’s a shame the creature isn’t a good swimmer, though. Thankfully the water has been like a second home to me growing up, and I’m able to reach Tilly in time. A well-placed Hydro Push spell gives us a push back towards the ship, and I can just hear Jack cursing over the sound of the waves at the others to help him lower a life boat down to us.
Before he can organize the rest of the crew, though, I am surprised by a glowing dolphin who appears out of the water with an excited chitter. I’ll have to remember to thank Drogo for his useful summonings once we get back on board. “Hold on, Tilly… we’ll get you out of this,” I assure her as I grab on to the dolphin.
“Break’s over, back into the rigging!” growls Plug as Tily and I we flop exhaustedly over the rail onto the deck. Third shift… gods… I was too tired to do anything other than try and sleep once we were done, and Jack and Zack… I don’t think they even made it through the last shift.
The next morning I’m pulled aside by Tilly before we make our way above decks. “I can’t thank you all enough… you really saved my hide back there. Whatever happens, you all have a friend in me.”
“We’ve all got to stick together around here… it was my pleasure.”
Even Croup’s version of coffee can’t keep me from nodding off in the kitchen this morning. After I almost do a header into the soup I decide to cast an Unseen Servant spell to take care of my morning duties and slip under the counter to take a quick nap on a cot.
I’m woken up later in the afternoon my a chuckling Croup. “I can’t believe the old girl finally got laid again after all these years… that Jack is one crazy son of a bitch!”
“By Besmara’s perfect bum… I hope for his sake Sendara knows how to cure disesases!” I chuckle.