Chapter 1 - One Ship, Two Ship, Red Ship, Blue Ship

The next morning, everyone awoke to the sound of workers cleaning and repairing the damage done by invaders and defenders alike. Idae requested Kora draw him a bath so he could wash and shave. While she made the arrangements, Idae sought out Viselys.

The door to Viselys’ quarters was slightly ajar, so when Idae arrived, he could see Viselys was up and dressed. Further, as he stood in the middle of the room, Viselys held his sword up as if in salute to some unseen duelist and whispered into the pommel. Idae nonchalantly rapped on the door and called out, “Viselys, are you awake?”

Viselys opened the door, “Idae, yes, I am. I trust you are feeling better after a night’s sleep.”

“Yes, I am. Look, I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things.” Viselys stepped back, invitingly. Idae entered and pressed the magical bag into Viselys’ hand, “I think this would be very helpful to the team, but it weighs me down too much. Would you be willing to carry it?”

Viselys took the wondrous item, “Certainly. Thank you Idae. I believe it will, indeed, be a benefit to the party.”

Idae did not yet let go of the bag, “I have some things in there of my own. My crossbow, bolts and my backpack.”

“That’s fair,” Viselys said, moving to put the bag down with his gear.

Idae still did not let go of the bag, “And I trust you with my personal effects because I believe you respect my privacy.”

Realizing there was more to this than just the hand-off equipment, Viselys made no further move to abscond with the bag, but continued to hold it, “I have respected your privacy, yes. I consider myself an honorable man and, thus far, you have not given evidence of being otherwise, either.”

Idae stepped closer while Viselys resisted the urge to step back. In a low tone, Idae said, “I do not give trust easily. That says a great deal about my opinion of you, but it also means that I trust that, while in your possession, I need not worry about anyone else pawing at my stuff.” His look expressed “you know what I mean” without it being said.

“I think I understand, Idae. Your trust in me is well founded.” With that, Idae released the bag and Viselys, though he was originally going to lay it on top of his other equipment, instead put it into his backpack under other items.

“There is something else, Viselys. We had once discussed the possibility of you helping me pick out some more socially acceptable attire. Perhaps we could address that today?”

“We could, certainly, Idae, but I think our first order of business should be to question our detainee.”

Idae agreed and went to get the items he had brought for Diamondback; the entire contents of her closet and a lady’s grooming kit.

In the cellar, which had oft of late been used as a holding cell for the soon to be incarcerated, Idae and Viselys confronted Diamondback.

Idae placed the garments and the case on a barrel. “I didn’t know what you might want to change into, so I brought just about everything.”

"Thank you," she replied, moving toward her things cautiously.

Viselys stepped forward. "Diamondback, I would like to make a deal with you."

Diamondback froze, to stare at Viselys nervously.

After a pause Viselys continued, "We will spare your life, and forgive your wrongful acts on two conditions. You will testify, first of all,to the Dawn Council about what you know concerning the Kellanis. Secondly, you will accompany me for awhile, and when the time is right, I wish you to do a job for me. One that is on the correct side of the law."

Speaking in the hobbit tongue, Idae quietly questioned Viselys, "You sure you know what you're doing?"

Replying in kind, "Yeah, I've got a good feeling about this one," Viselys stated.

"What are you guys saying," inquired Diamondback suspiciously.

"Erm…I was just asking what he'd like for breakfast. Kora is waiting," Idae not-so-slyly bluffed.

"Oh. Well, I'll have an omelet," Diamondback requested, willing to believe Idae's fib.

Viselys resumed questioning Diamondback, and sternly pressed her on his offer.

At this Idae looked over to Diamondback, and made several gestures reminding her of yesterday's conversation, of how messed up in the head Viselys was then stated," 'at there is a mi't fine offer, missy. I'd take 'it. Besides, I've be'n in 'is com'any for a shor' time now an' ma' a fair bi' o' coin."

It was not long for her to agree.

With all that settled, Idae and Viselys left Diamondback to clean up and change. Idae went to do likewise, placing a breakfast order with Kora for himself, Viselys, and Diamondback as he passed her in the hall.

“An omelet?” she asked, raising her brows, “For the prisoner?”

“Don’t ask” Idae replied.

After breakfast, Idae and Viselys with Diamondback in tow went off to take care of business, with the ultimate destination being Brissa’s flat in Shadowshore. First, they stopped in a shop to sell off the items they did not need. Then they found a tailor’s shop, and after several false starts, including an unfortunate incident with a woman’s robe, Idae finally was garbed in a fine Noble's Outfit that both Viselys and Diamondback approved of. By this point, Idae was looking like an entirely different person.

“From here on, friends, I’d appreciate it if you refer to me as Adameus,” Idae said. Then, with a deep bow he said, “Adameus Shadowboren, at your service.”

“Why the change of identity?” Viselys asked, skeptically.

As they started walking again, Idae explained, “After what my old friend in Shadowshore told me, I need to ‘disappear’ completely. Hanging out with you is really hurting my reputation. Frankly, I can’t be doing too much for yours, either.” Suddenly, Adameus stopped in front of a jewelry store. “Hey, could you two wait here for a moment?” he asked before dashing inside.

A good deal of time went by with Viselys and Diamondback exchanging the barest of conversation as Viselys expected Adameus back at any moment, and Diamondback was obviously still unsure of the new alliance. They were about to go in at Viselys' declaration to look for their companion when Adameus exited.

“Viselys, I really appreciate all of this,” he said, indicating his clothing, “and for not pre-judging me. So, I wanted you to have this.” Adameus held out a small box from the jewelry store.

“Idae, you didn’t have to do this,” he said.

Adameus held up his hand, “It’s done.”

Inside the box was a golden ring with a large blue sapphire which matched the color of Viselys' tabard. “This is very nice of you, Idae. Thank you.”

Adameus did not respond as he started walking in the direction of Shadowshore, “So, where did you say Brissa’s flat was again, Diamondback?”

* * * *

To say the building was in a bad area would be redundant. It was Shadowshore, after all. The building was a multi-flat in poor repair. Diamondback led the way directly to the door, and Idae provided ingress.

The apartment was really as bad as the exterior might have suggested. Clearly Brissa had led a rather simple life. There were several paintings about in various stages of completion, though most did appear finished. One in particular caught Viselys’ eye; a small portrait of Vanthus. He took it from its wooden frame, rolling it up.

“This might be useful later on,” he suggested, tucking it away.

Adameus shook his head, contemplatively. “Poor kid,” he whispered, sotto voce.

“Huh?” Diamondback asked.

“Nah, nothing,” Adameus dismissed.

And that’s pretty much what they found at Brissa’s flat – nothing. So they started to head back to Vanderboren Manor.

As they left the building, Adameus turned to Viselys, and though in a low voice, he spoke in the Hobbit language for privacy’s sake, “We aren’t far from the Azure district. We could let her go home to get some things.”

Viselys considered this suggestion, and responded in kind, “Well, it would be a good test of her trustworthiness. However, if she takes advantage of this opportunity to escape, we’ll lose her testimony, and she could compromise us in other ways. Perhaps you could follow her?”

“I could still lose her. I could just escort her there openly?” Adameus countered.

“No, I don’t think so. Not now. Maybe later,” Viselys decided.

* * * *

Meanwhile, back at Vanderboren Manor…

Saris was sweating. “Hoo, ha ha! Guard. Perry. Thrust. Turn…” and he found the point of a rapier poking him in the chest. “You learn quickly.”

Lavinia smiled, “Yes I do.” She re-sheathed her sword.

Saris did likewise. He grinned at her, “There is much I could show you.” He took a step towards her.

She smiled a bit nervously and sidestepped him, “Ha. I know you can. You are a good teacher.” Her tone became more serious, “Saris, I’ve been thinking about what my mother wrote about in her journal. That colony on the Isle of Dread. It could be a good investment, and a source of wealth to rebuild my family fortune.”

“Hmm, yes, Isle of Dread. Sounds like a wonderful place,” Saris said, somewhat out of hand.

“I’m glad you think so, because I was thinking…”

Just then, Viselys, Adameus and Diamondback returned, but both Saris and Lavinia did a double take when they saw Adameus. “Idae?! Is that you?” Lavinia asked in disbelief.

“Not me, miss. Allow me to introduce myself,” he said, stepping forward with a flourish, "Adameus Shadowboren, at your service.” He bowed deeply, taking her hand and kissing the knuckle.

“What’s this all about?” she asked.

He motioned her out of the foyer, “Walk with me, please, miss, and I’ll explain.” As they walked, he recounted his story, and why he’d changed his identity. By the time they were alone, he’d finished his story and stopped walking. “Lady Vanderboren, I cannot express my gratitude for all you have done for me. I don’t know how that … situation … will play out yet. I’m not even certain what I plan to gain from it. Anyway, you’ve put me where I wanted to be, and I thank you for that. I feel awful that I have not been as successful on your behalf. I wanted to get you something as a token of my thanks.” He then pulled out another box from the jewelry shop. He opened it to reveal a beautiful diamond necklace arranged elegantly on a velvet surface.

“Idea, I don’t know what to say,” Lavinia said honestly.

“Adameus, please,” he corrected and began to lead her back to the group.

“Well, Adameus, I was beginning to tell Saris when you came in that I have been reading my mother’s journal, and I have been thinking that the colony my parents started on the Isle of Dread might be a valuable financial asset. I must say, I am intrigued with the idea of going there, and would like to mount an expedition. However, I would need another ship besides the Blue Nixie,” Lavinia explained as they rejoined the others.

“If it’s a ship you need, we may have one for you,” Viselys suggested.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

Saris stepped in, “That’s right. One of the pirate ships survived being burned at Kraken’s Cove. It may still be there.”

“That’s right,” Adameus added, “We would have investigated it while we were there, but we had more pressing matters to attend to.”

“And I truly appreciate that,” Lavinia smirked.

“We need a crew. We can’t handle the ship alone,” Saris pointed out.

“I’ll work on a crew for you. So you want to travel to the colony with me?” Lavinia asked encouraged by the prospect of another ship.

Everyone looked at each other then back at her. “Yes!” They all said in unison.

Lavinia gave the slightest of nods to Kora, and the elder hobbit was off in a hurry. "Kora knows some people who will be able to help you bring your ship back. Sounds good, doesn't it? Your ship. You'll need an experienced captain for our trip. While you guys are gone, I'll do what I can to find a suitable crew for the journey. In the meantime, Kora's gnomish friend, Urol, will be of great use in recovering your ship. He's a bit excitable when it comes to the sea and things of nature. Now, if you don't mind, I have a lot of logistics to work out." With that Lavinia graciously took leave of the party.

Not much later, Kora returned with Urol and a sailor named Jacob.

The squeaky little gnome piped up, "Hello! Lavinia had been talking to me about a trip to Farshore…and the ISLE OF DREAD! It sounds so deliciously exciting, no? I've been giddy ever since hearing of this possibility. It's been a long while since I was last there, when my expedition was cut unfortunately short due to circumstances beyond my control…I'm sure that there's nothing to fear this time around, though!" He continued on and on about nature lore that, presumably, only he found fascinating. After minutes of this, he said, "Oh, and this is Jacob. He doesn't say much, but he can work rigging like no other."

"Hi," Jacob said sheepishly, giving a halfhearted wave with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Well, let's be on our way…time's a wastin'," Urol insisted.

When boarding the boat to head back to Kracken's Cove, a crow cawed and flew down to land on Urol's shoulder. "Oh, don't mind her. This is my friend, Miss Crazzle. She's with me. You know, the fascinating thing about her feathers is that…" and as he tittered on excitedly the party set about the long row.

Spending two days rowing with Urol indeed proved to be an exhausting mission. Every piece of seaweed seemed to have a story, and Urol didn't hesitate to share it enthusiastically. "You know, it was on that spot of shore over there where I once saved a rare fish that had washed upon the dry land."

Jacob sighed heavily as if to say, "Oi…again with the rare fish story…"

Kracken’s Cove looked exactly as it had when they’d last seen it. Most of the party’s attention was not on the cove, however, but on the large pirate ship moored off the coast. Adameus, however, was looking towards the caves across the beach, “You know, guys, we left here pretty quick. We didn’t really search this place thoroughly.”

There was some protest, but they did take a walk through the caves.

As Adameus passed the place where they had seen Brissa eating the body of Shefton, he stopped to look at all that was left – a stained spot in the rocks.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I am so sorry.”

Around the next corner was the bedroom that he had retreated to briefly before the last battle. There had been a battle in this room before, and it continued to bother Adameus that the body of the pirate that had died here appeared unarmed. He got on his knees to look under the bed, and there it was – a rapier. “Of course,” he said to himself. “First place you look – under the bed!”

There really was nothing else to be seen here. So they all headed for the ship. Emblazoned on the side was the name Sea Wyvern. Its hull was scratched and marred. Clearly, it has seen plenty of action.

"I wonder what horrible crimes were committed on board this heap," Viselys wondered out loud. "It's tempting to burn the thing to the ground, but I suppose even a hunk of wood might be deserving of a second chance."

Diamondback smiled to herself.

"Oooh, this is so exciting!" the squeaky gnome chimed in.

"Finally, a ship to call my own," Saris said admiringly. "Our own, I suppose," he corrected himself.

"So, how do we get this thing out of here? It seems rather stuck," Ornrik observed.

"Oh, I came prepared for just such an occasion," Urol beamed. He reached into his backpack to retrieve a rolled up parchment. "Everybody on board!"

He muttered some words in what seemed to be a bizarre language. The words on his parchment disappeared as clouds rolled in and the winds picked up. "There…give it a minute. That should do it."

The waters in the cove began to rise, freeing the Sea Wyvern from it's reefy captor.

"Ahoy!" called out Jacob as the Sea Wyvern began to take on a more familiar gentle stirring in the waters. "Nothing quite like that feeling, eh?"

Working together, the crew of seven pulled the rowboat up onto the deck of the Sea Wyvern, and began the return trip to Sasserine.

"Best not to take too long. We've got an important witness with a vital testimony to be be shared at the Dawn Council meeting," Viselys reminded everyone with a pointed look at Diamondback, causing her to blush and nod her head quickly as if to assure him of her intent to follow through.

A day and a half later (and 2,000 "fascinating" nature stories later), the Sea Wyvern glided into Sasserine harbor.

Continue to Chapter 2...

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