Chapter 15 - What? Not Even a Wine Cellar???

As the party debarked the S.S. Fire Troll, it quickly became apparent that, even from a distance, Fort Greenrock had been sacked some time ago. There was no smoke and no fires glowing. Upon closer inspection, the signs of battle were taking on a more sinister and disturbing image. Skald found several arrows and, upon inspection, determined that they were of Lizard Man construction. However, there were no humanoid reptilian bodies in the carnage. In fact, there was a lot of disgusting, unnatural looking gore.

Saris looked more closely, “You know, this looks a lot like those exploding acid-filled zombie pirates we fought back at Kraken’s Cove. Well, what happened to them after we dropped them, anyway – turning to goo and all.”

“But are these ‘acid-filled zombies’ the residents of the fort or the Lizard Men – or both?” Ornrik wondered aloud.

Skald took a closer look at the tracks and foot prints, “Well, I can’t tell you much about the battle – it’s pretty jumbled. I can tell you, though, that at least some of the Lizard Men survived as their tracks go off in that direction,” he indicated towards the tree line.

“Zombie-fied or not, it looks like the lizards won,” Adameus commented.

“Should we go after them?” Ornrik asked, perhaps a little hopeful.

“No, Lavinia doesn’t want to take up too much time here,” Viselys replied.

“But we should check over these ruins,” Adameus suggested. “We came here looking for supplies, after all. Perhaps we could uncover a wine cellar or some other underground storage that is still intact under these ruins.”

But after three hours of searching, they’d found nothing, and Saris was getting impatient, “That’s it! I’m heading back to the ship and casting off. I hope you’re on board, but I’m not waiting if you’re not.”

Back on the Sea Wyvern, Avner was looking very pleased with himself. Saris avoided his gaze and said nothing, immediately heading below deck.

“That was some fine shooting,” Ornrik acknowledged.

“Naturally,” Avner smiled.

Adameus leaned in close and, slightly louder than a whisper, said, “Hey, thanks. The ‘brave hero,’ Saris, was trying to find an escape route and Viselys was starting to slow down.”

“Anytime,” Avner ginned smugly.

“Well, since you’re offering,” Viselys inserted himself, “and since you seem to be such a good shot, perhaps you would consider officially becoming the ship’s gunner for the remainder of the voyage?”

Avner seemed to give the idea some real consideration, “Sure. Why not? Somebody has to keep the ship afloat.”

It was another day before the ships reached a point at which they would be pulling away from the main land with their next destination being a small island and then open water. So the decision was made to stop and fill the water reserves at a fresh water fall on the coast. While the crew filled barrels, many of the others took the opportunity to get off the ship and go for a swim.

Adameus, for his part, found swimming about as a manta quite enjoyable and he skimmed the sea floor at the coast just to see what he could see. He found, surprisingly, four horseshoes, half buried in the sand. They seemed very out of place here in the surf, and so pristine that they would have had to have been dropped here yesterday to not be tarnished and rusted. Maybe they’re magic, Adameus thought.

With a bit of awkward effort, Adameus managed to get hold of the u-shaped objects with his “tail.’ Back on the ship, he sought Ornrik to find out if they were indeed magical.

Ornrik pulled out his magical monocle and examined the horseshoes. “Hmm, interesting. Yes, they are indeed magical! They would appear comparable to Boots of Speed, but made for a horse. How fascinating!”

Saris, who had been nearby took note of “magic” and decided to see what was up. “What do you have there?”

“I found some magic horseshoes in the surf. I was thinking, since there are no other horses around, that I might give them to Merivanchi.” Adameus replied.

Before Saris could reply, Ornrik said, “I’ll give them to him,” and he was off.

There was a pregnant pause before Adameus compiled his wits. He turned to Saris and asked, “Uh, what just happened here?”

Saris shrugged and started away, “It looks like the dwarf just ran off with your horse shoes.”

“That’s what I thought,” Adameus replied.

* * * *

Ornrik found Avner riding Thunderstrike on the beach. His two servants were winded trying to keep up with them. Luckily, the nobleman was just dismounting, as it was unlikely he would have stopped to talk to the dwarf.

“Lord Merivanchi, I have something for you,” Ornrik called.

“What is it?” Avner puffed, impatiently.

“Well, we’ve come into possession of these,” he revealed the magic horseshoes. “They are magical Horseshoes of Speed and will allow any horse wearing them to run at twice its normal speed. Thunderstrike is the only horse around who could benefit from them, and in appreciation for your help the other day…”

Avner snatched the horseshoes, “Yes, fine. I get it.” He tossed the four metal objects to one servant, slapped the rains into the hands of the other and strode off towards the Sea Wyvern.

* * * *

Although the layover was only intended to last until the ships' water supplies had been replenished, which was done by mid-day, the party volunteered, if the ships would remain for the night, to spend the rest of the day hunting for fresh game. The hunting trip was quite a success and they brought back several days worth of wild foul (which, when prepared, tasted just like chicken!) So, that night, a beachside cookout was planned.

Ornrik approached Adameus, who had clearly been avoiding him, “Adameus, is something the matter? Are you upset with me for some reason?”

Adameus blustered, “You even have to ask? Where do you get off giving away the horseshoes I found?”

Ornrik sputtered, “Well, I …”

But Adameus didn’t give him an opportunity to speak, “Why do you think that just because we bring you the magic stuff to identify, you get to control it? I found them, they were mine to do with as I saw fit. And even if we did consider them party treasure, then it falls to Viselys to speak for us. You know what? Never mind. From now on, I’ll just keep what I find to myself and have the pretty sorceress on the Nixie identify it for me. Good evening, Ornrik.” With that, Adameus walked away.

Ornrik called after him, “Adameus…”

Adameus did not miss a step, but did raise his voice, “I said, ‘Good evening!’”

Although he was in a foul mood (and he hadn’t even had any chicken yet), Adameus couldn’t help but let his continence lighten when Gidrick crossed his path. He smiled and called out to the boy, “Gidrick, hold up there.” When he caught up to him, Adameus said, “You did so well with that slight of hand you did, I thought it might be good for you to do a little performance.”

“You mean in front of a bunch of people?” he asked nervously.

“Well, a select few,” Adameus said, thoughtfully. He then called together the Talbots, Lavinia, and Viselys. Close to one of the fire pits, Adameus helped Gidrick to put on a slight of hand show. The boy was quite good and the small audience clapped politely at the simple tricks. He’d make the coin disappear from his right hand and re-appear in his left – make it disappear again and seem to pluck it from behind Adameus’ ear. Then, Gidrick did a trick that even Adameus didn’t see coming. The coin had disappeared and Gidrick instructed Adameus to open his hand. He did and there was the coin. Everyone clapped and Gidrick smiled wide and took a bow. With the show over, everyone went their separate ways.

“That was quite a show,” Gidrick’s mother said to Adameus as her husband let their son show him the last trick again. “Did you teach him all of that?”

Adameus scratched his head, “I showed him the basics, but he has surpassed even my skill. That last trick, I wasn’t just playing along. I have no idea how he did it.” He could see that Mrs. Talbot was concerned. “Don’t worry. He’s a good kid.”

“Thank you for saying so,” the worried mother responded, “I just see a great potential for him getting into trouble with that … talent.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Adameus reassured her.

But first, he caught Miranda tuning her guitar and motioning him over.

“Every party needs music,” she said as he approached.

“Alright, then, how about something a bit more traditional?” he suggested.

Miranda strummed out a happy tune and Adameus sang:

If she were mine, and lov'd me well.
Life would be naught but pleasure,
I would not care for sacks of gold,
Nor other earthly treasure.
Her winning ways, her laughing eyes,
Throw such a charm about her,
She must be mine, yes, mine alone,
I cannot live without her.

Adameus again took the opportunity to see if he could catch Lavinia’s eye, but she was again engaged with Viselys.

If she were mine, my aim would be,
To make her love me dearly,
That all her heart, and all her thoughts,
Belonged to me sincerely;
But should I find, to my dismay,
I had good cause to doubt her,
Then were she mine, yet loved me not,
I'd rather be without her.

It was clear to all that heard that Adameus had a natural talent. His applause were strong and heartfelt. He even caught Avner clapping.

And Viselys and Lavinia paused in their conversation to clap politely.

Adameus turned to Miranda who returned his gaze with a look of sympathy. “Would you mind if I took the night off?”

“Nah, I understand,” she replied. As he started away, she stopped him, “Hey. It’ll work out. Just give it time. She’s just a bit preoccupied.”

“I know. I am keenly aware of that.” and he wondered off.

Miranda realized that something very rare had just occurred: She had chosen her words poorly.

Adameus found Gidrick and called him over to talk. (Adameus and Gidrick's talk)

Meanwhile, the beach party continued and everyone took their fill of the game birds and rum.

Viselys enjoyed Lavnia’s attention and was also glad to see that Adameus was nowhere in sight. Just as he was feeling that he could embark on deeper waters without fear of interruption, Avner seemed to appear from nowhere.

“So, did you hear that the ‘heroic’ Visie .. Visor .. uh, what’s your name again?” he turned to Viselys, who began to respond, but never had a chance, “Yeah, whatever. This guy. He asked me to be the protector of the Sea Wyvern. What do you think of that?” He raised his eyebrow at Lavinia.

“I’m not exactly sure I follow,” Lavinia said, pleasantly, but bewildered.

“He was so impressed with the way I handled that multi-headed sea serpent, he wants me to be the ship’s gunner. Like I said, ‘defender of the ship!”

“Oh, I see,” Lavinia smiled sweetly. “That’s very nice. I’m sure the crew and passengers of the Sea Wyvern can depend on you.”

“Of course! Who better?”

Viselys tried to catch Lavinia’s gaze to ascertain, silently, if she wanted him to ‘rescue’ her, but it soon became clear that Lavinia was engaged in ‘mixing.’ This time he wasn’t backing down, though. He had not been dismissed, so he would ‘mix’ right along with her.

After Gidrick had reunited with his mother, Adameus looked to see if Lavinia was still talking to Viselys. Seeing her with both Viselys and Avner, he knew that he could not get her alone to tell her what he need to without looking like he was posturing which, this time, was not his intent.

He saw Diamondback off by herself, who was also watching the trio from a distance. This gave Adameus an idea. He called her over to himself.

“Tara, I have to tell you something very important. In four days, it will be Visely’s birthday. Don’t ask how I know this. The journey to Renkrue should take three days, and Lavinia wants to continue on immediately after we restock. I want to convince her to stay an extra day to have a celebration for Viselys.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea!” she said, almost giddy with excitement.

“Thank you. I have a few problems with initiating that, though. First, for my own personal reasons, I don’t want to be seen as the one championing this cause. Secondly, well, how would I speak to her privately?” he indicated the current threesome.

Diamondback nodded, knowingly. Suddenly she brightened with an idea, “Say, I could go to Lavinia and make the suggestion. I wouldn’t mind taking responsibility for the planning, either.”

“Really? What a great idea!” Adameus knew what his tone would have sounded like to anyone overhearing, but Diamond naively took it completely at face value. “Well, sure! You could go over there and ask to speak to Lavinia in private and it wouldn’t wrangle the boys as I would.

As she dashed off, Adameus thought himself so clever.

Soon the party began to break up. Saris and the captain had been the first to call it a night, but everyone was now beginning to turn in. Both ships were fully stocked with water and provisions and ready for the several days’ journey to their next port: The Village of Renkrue in the Auxuxal Islands and they were scheduled to sail at dawn.

Continue to Chapter 16

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