Season 2, Episode 4. Not a stab in sight!
Battered and broken, the discreet charmer limped along the coastline, flanked on either side by two other vessels. On deck, tied to the mast, and bound at both hands and feet, the lunatic ‘Kind-eyes Johnson’ cackled, and announced the ruination of anyone within ear range. Deutronomy stood trying to glean information from the madman, and next to him, Spug pondered whether there would be complaints if he threw the man overboard. Glancing down at the sea, he saw large fish worrying at shapes in the water. A second glance showed that the large fish were sharks, barracuda’s and long sword nosed fish. They swarmed almost frenzied in the water, darting from shape to shape. Biting, tearing, and rending at their prey. Sweeping his gaze over the surround seas, Spug made out more of these shapes. Blue in colour, and roughly humanoid in shape. Tens, no, Hundreds, possibly thousands of bodies floated lifeless in the water, being feasted on by the marine-life.
One extra body would hardly be noticed? He snapped his attention back to the madman, who was currently offering to carve protection runes into Deutronomy’s skin. The cleric of Korgath was close to breaking point. The young lad’s expression was one of fury, and he was frantically grabbing at his belt for a blade.
“I’ll carve protection of Korgath into you! you’ll be free of this monsterous possession” he screeched.
Around them, the crew and passengers recoiled. This was a side of the priest they’d not seen, and Bitey Raymond, Acting Captain, was looking somewhat worried. “Quartermaster!” he barked, “Get that man in order, calm him down!”
Reaching out, and taking the dagger from the Priest, Spug shouted his name. Getting his attention, he drew a piece of Charcoal from his pouch, and passed it to the manchild. “Here, use this, you’re scaring your congregation. A great leader should not lead through fear!”.
The priest considered this for a moment, and nodded as though this was wisdom he himself had imparted, then began to draw the symbols of Korgath upon the madman. Through-out the man thrashed, and hissed, but eventually settled upon a silent glare.
Spug called to Bitey Raymond. “Sir, you’re acting captain for the time being. I know that normal ship rules state that the captain pronounce sentence when a murder occurs on his vessel. I’m happy to throw this man overboard if you wish it?”
Garak spoke up gruffly. “You’ll do no such thing, this man must stand trial.”
Bitey Raymond looked unsure, and glanced between the two of them. “Normally the captain would make such a decision. The crime on his ship would be in his hands, only I’m just acting-captain. I don’t feel I can make this call.”
Garak smiled grimly, and Spug looked back to the madman again. “Very well then, I’ll arrange a constant watch on this lunatic.” And he called forth a number of the crew to arrange this.
The next morning, whilst checking the prisoner, Spug noticed a number of the ropes were braided, and vines and flowers weaved in amongst them. Farl had obviously moved his attention to the prisoner at some stage in the night, and the man still hung tied to the mast. Breathing regularly in sleep.
As they neared port, the skies filled with gulls. A giant Zoton warship marked the entrance to the port, and dotted around the bay sirens stood waist deep in the water. Beautiful, yet also distinctly sorrowful. A number of the crew made to move towards the water, but Spug called out ‘Hold’, and they shook their heads of the beguilement. From the bow, a single splash sounded out, as a passenger leapt into the water, swimming out towards the sirens. From his vantage point, Spug could see the giant manta rays beneath the surface, bearing the Sirens aloft.
Bitey guided the Charmer into port, aiming for a mooring away from the crowds. Each vessel previously in the armada had already docked, and several hundred refugees milled around on the jetties. The tiny city watch struggled with the influx of people, and helping them out were heavily armoured Zoton Warriors. Dark skinned sea-dwarves, cut out more for ship to ship combat than crowd control, but they bullied the people into order.
Eventually a berth became free, and the charmer tied up. Dropping the gang plank, Garak and Deutronomy frog-marched their prisoner onto the jetty. They spent a few minutes trying to catch the attention of a guard, but to no avail.
Seeing the lack of attentiveness from the guards, Spug, Ramos and Farl, bundled Khlyte from the ship, and headed swiftly away from the docklands. Heading instead to Ramos’s home. Once there, Khlyte collapsed into the bed, and Spug glanced around at the scribbled lables marking each alchemy ingredient, and marvelling
at how one person could so badly organise their components.
A thought flickered at the back of his mind. He turned to the others, and muttered, “Fat Gog. We need to know if he’s still running the guild. I’ve not seen any sign of them on our way here. Ramos, you watch over sleeping beauty, We’ll be back in the morning.”
Wandering the streets, looking for cant and signs, Spug and Farl ran into a few old friends. They confirmed the rumours. Fat Gog no longer ran the guild, he’d be run out of town, and now the guild answered directly to the Custodian. Everyone in the town now answered directly to him.
While pondering this, they found themselves subconciously walking towards the Custodian’s villa. Farl shifted to the shape of a house cat, and leapt the wall. Spug glanced around. Heading towards him was the familar form of the captain of the Spirit of the Storm, flanked on either side by armed Zotons. Spug called out a hello, and the Captain beamed. “Spug ma friend. What are ya doing here?”
“Oh, you know, a little of this and that. Looks like you’ve quite an escort?”
“How rude I am. This is Lazurus. The warship is his vessel. Lazurus, this is Spug, he’s from the discreet charmer. Spug, we can’t linger. We has a very important discussion to have!”
“Id hate to keep you, do you want me to tag along and help?”
“No little one, this is Zoton business. I’ll see you around.”
The Zoton’s trooped past the guards on the gate, and into the villa. Spug followed the wall around the house, checked for watchers, then leapt over the wall.
Scooting close to the house, he could hear raised voices.
“No, you just need to give me one more week. We had a deal!”
“Our deal was that we protect you, and your troops protect our ships. Our ships were attacked, and your men did nothing.”
“I will pay you our of my personal coffers. I just need one more week.”
“No, you are not a man of your word. Our deal is done!”
“Perhaps we are being hasty. Sleep on it. Please, We can meet tomorrow, back here at 11. Please reconsider?”
“Very well. Tomorrow we will reconvene, and then a decision will be made.”
The voices quietened, and the sound of heavily armoured dwarves leaving was apparent. Spug was about to leave, when voices spoke up again. This time though, it was voices he knew.
The Custodian spoke first. “Report Gideon, what information do you have for me?”
“Santa Guistina has fallen. During the sacking of the city, a pursuit of one half orc was carried out around the keep. He was not apprehended, but identified as one Garak. Coincidently one of the party responsible for helping organise the armada of refugees fleeing the city.”
“And what of his motivation? Is he here to help? to hinder?”
“Oh, his motivation is uncertain, but with them, they brought a freed prisoner. Khlyte was on their ship”.
Spug gasped. In the panic of fleeing the city, they’d completely forgotten the Battle Brother’s loyalties, instead helping everyone they could. Yet here he stood, passing on his secrets, and ruining any chance of surprise they’d had. He took a few moments to consider finding where the soldier slept, and ending his interference, but the damage was done now. Perhaps that was a target for another day.
“I can remove him as a threat for you”.
“No thank you Gideon, your Battle sister will take this one.”
a Female voice spoke up, one Spug hadn’t heard before, but peeking in the window he recognised an archer who had been shooting from the roof of the keep. “He’s as good as dead. Leave this with me.”
Spug hurried away from the villa. This was news that needed to get back to the others.
The next morning, they reconvened at Ramos’ house. Garak seemed listless, and when Spug entered, he caught him shooting unhappy glances at Klyht.
Spug and Farl filled them in on the discussions of the night before. Klyht jumped to his feet. “Now is the time to attack, they are weak, and we can retake this town!” Garak scoffed at this.
“You are weak old man, you have no forces, and no backing. He beat you before, and imprisoned you, how do you hope to win it now?”
Klyht looked taken aback, “But… I have you and your friends? together we will win through? Surely?”
Garak laughed disdainfully. “You have nothing old man, nothing but your confuddled wits. An all out attack is doomed to fail”.
Spug pondered this for a moment. “Perhaps what we need here is someone to raise morale, someone who can talk up a storm, pulling in support from the common people?” Deutronomy perked up, “Someone who relishes public speaking, a leader of a man. Someone to sing Klyhts praises to the masses? Does anyone know such a man?” Spug asked pointedly, looking directly at the glowing priest. Behind him, Garak quietly muttered “But Honor isn’t here.” Spug covered this with a cough.
“Deutronomy. This is a big task, I’m sure you’re up to the challenge?”