Chapter 2 - Trouble on the Nixie

Saris was eager to show off what he knew and demonstrate what he brought to the table, figuratively speaking. “The Harbormaster’s name is Keltar Islaran, and he’s is in sorry shape. His lungs are shot and it’s killing him. His kids aren’t interested, or aren’t capable, of taking up the family traditions, so Lord Islaran is coming to terms with the fact that he may need to pass the duties of Harbormaster to another of Sasserine's families and the very idea sickens him. Ironically, it is his search and obsession with finding a replacement that lives up to his impossible-to-meet standards, he’s allowed what he feared to occur: Sasserine's harbor is falling under the control of smugglers, bandits, and thieves. Lord Islaran's few remaining loyal employees have their hands full keeping the city harbor under control without exposing how precarious things actually are to the Dawn Council and the public. As such, they've been forced to hire out for certain tasks, and don't have time to handle relatively minor complaints and issues, like this situation with the Blue Nixie.” He looked at Viselys, “If you attempt to do anything through official channels, all you’ll get is endless bureaucracy and red tape. If we’re to solve this problem, we need to take the law into our own hands.”

Viselys clearly didn’t like the sound of that.

“Which is how you can help, Viselys,” Lavinia added, “As a trusted guard, you can bring legitimacy to what could otherwise be viewed as vigilante justice.”

Viselys nodded in understanding and agreement, “And perhaps bring these matters out into the open where they can be dealt with.”

“You’ll find the ship docked at pier five in the Merchant District,” Lavinia informed them, “That’s the long pier between the Merchant's Guildhall and the Smith's Guildhall.”

But when the foursome arrived at pier five, they found the ship actually anchored about 100 feet of the end of the pier.

“Now, does that seem odd to any of you?” Viselys asked the others, “It's not as though they need the pier space for paying customers.” He indicated the open spaces.

“He want's to make sure nobody does what we are about to do,” Saris posited.

“Or there's some hinkey goings-on taking place on board,” Idae suggested.

“Or both,” Ornrik noted the obvious possibility.

Viselys nodded in agreement, “We should be cautious.”

They rented a rowboat from a place called “It Still Floats” because the price was reasonable enough and pulled alongside the Blue Nixie. Luckily, they were not spotted. They were very quite as they listed in hopes of deducing anything useful – how many might be aboard, what they were up to, etc. Amongst the various sounds of the harbor, a few voices could be made out on the deck. They weren't exactly whispering, but it was still hard to understand what they were saying. Idea could have sworn that h heard the words "exotic, dangerous, and not worth the risk."

By various means, all four climbed the side of the ship. Ornrik slipped into a dingy that was secured on deck, covered with a tap. The others hung from the rail, waiting for the right time to reveal themselves.

Unfortunately, one of the men on deck spotted them and called out, "VARK!!! WE'VE GOT COMPANY!"

With the element of surprise lost, Viselys, Saris and Idae emerged on deck and move to engage the several men on deck. Ornrik did not emerge from his hiding spot during the battle leading the others to think him somewhat cowardly. However, Idae was startled by a flash of light that streaked over his shoulder from behind, string the pirate he was engaged with and dropping him. Although he did not look back to confirm his suspicion, he guessed that his Dwarven companion was a magic user of some kind.

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Almost immediately after the battle is joined, two more pirates arrived from below deck brandishing crossbows. Then, from the Captain's Quarters, two more individuals emerged - a bald man with a jagged scar who was fastening his trousers and a female rogue pulling on her blouse. "Get off my ship!" the bald man bellowed, indicating that this was, most likely, Soller Vark. Then he and his female companion took arms against the invaders as well.

A loud shriek came up from below deck as Vark began to realize that the fight did not appear to be going in his favor. "Burn them! Burn it all!" he shouted. With all of his crew on deck either subdued or abandoned ship, Vark surrended.

Saris turned to Ornrik, “Hey, do something useful here, would you? Tie up Vark and … um, (and Varkette) here.

“Ketranna, thank you very much,” she corrected him.”

“No, my name's Saris,” he told her, as if speaking to an idiot, “Now be a good girl – seen and not hurt. Well, at least not any MORE.” Then, thinking better of it, he waved Ornrik off, “No, that's okay. I'm really good with rope.

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So Ornrik decided to head down into the hold of the ship to investigate. As he went, he was horrified to see a big spidery looking monster burst out of its cage and promptly devour a female thug who was busy trying to start the ship on fire.

Instead of engaging the creature directly, they decided to pepper it with arrows and crossbow bolts from above deck, firing through the grates in the floor.

Vark was helpless, and he was clearly afraid. He was prepared to spill his guts … if it meant he didn’t have to do it literally.

“Ooh, nice blade,” Idae noted as he picked up Vark’s (masterwork rapier), favoring it over his own (um … not). He also took the masterwork buckler.

“Confess now,” Viselys demanded, “and I will be sure the authorities know you cooperated when I turn you over to them.”

After a fear gulp, Vark explains, “We have arranged a deal with the Scarlet Brotherhood, a powerful band of pirates. They’re dealing in exotic and dangerous beasts and we meet up with one of their ships at a particular place and time. We hold the animals and transfer them to another ship the following night.”

“’N who’s yer flock?” Idae demanded in a vernacular that his three companions could not decipher.

It wasn’t clear if it was fear or pride that Vark was displaying, “The Lotus Dragons.”

“Where’s th’ nest?” Idae pressed.

“I .. I don’t know, exactly. I’m a second-hand man,” Vark explained.

Idae saw the loss of composure and decided to take advantage of it. He moved in close and took a low, growling tone, “Then who’s yer point man?” He grabbed the bound prisoner by the shirt and shook him.

“Nemien the taxidermist!” Vark shouted, and Idae pushed him to the deck.

“Maybe we should search the ship and see what there is to see,” Saris offered.

“Good idea,” Viselys agreed.

Idae walked intentionally slowly so as to leave the deck last. He took a moment to pocket the earring (worth 50 g.p.) and silver ring (worth 25 g.p.) that he’d pilfered from Vark as he’d interrogated him. He smiled to himself as he followed the others.

In the hold, besides the giant insectoid creature that they’d turned into a pin-cushion of arrows and bolts, they found two dozen cages of sickly exotic animals – parrots, monkeys, and other things none of them had ever seen before. Of course, they also found the dead body of the female thug who had been torn apart while trying to set the ship on fire.

“Poor thing,” Ornrik commented.”

“Serves her right,” Saris replied.

Ever practical, Viselys said, “We’ll turn all these creatures over to the authorities along with the prisoners.”

A search of the captain's quarters uncovered a large trunk, within which was a leather pouch of 100 pp-Lavinia's missing payment to the harbormaster.

Idae was meticulous in his search of the room, even after the chest had been found, “Oy, will yah look’t this, now!” In the headboard of the captain’s bunk was a secret panel. Inside was Lavinia's father's signet ring. Threaded through the ring was a rolled up parchment upon which was a strange list of monsters:

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Saris instructed the others in how to assist him in sailing the ship to the pier and securing it.

“Okay, let’s take Vark and Varkette here to Vanderboren Prison…er, I mean Manor.

Viselys looked at him oddly, “Why not just turn them over to the guard?”

“We should see if his story checks out, first,” Ornrik noted.

“Yeah, we can always turn them over later,” Saris added.

Back at the manor, they locked the two, still bound, in a storage room. That night, after the others had gone to bed, Idae came down and absconded with Vark’s masterwork studded leather armor, leaving him in his undergarments and the ropes he was secured with. Vark’s angry screams were muffled by his gag.

“What’s that?” Idae asked, mockingly, “I can’t hear you over the sound of this clamoring change.” He held up and shook a small sack containing the 35 g.p. he had taken from the pockets of Vark’s crew.

Continue to Chapter 3

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