It only took one day for the kenku to be driven from the city. It took five days for the fires to be contained. And it took seven days for the leaders of the city to host a celebration in honor of the defenders, with special regards to the efforts of our small team.
Rescue missions would continue for the remainder of the month, but a celebration was always good for repairing morale.
Our anticipations were high. Fiddenmar had told us that her and the fellow Merchant Lords had a surprise for us that night, as a token of their gratitude for organizing the attack against the dragon. Kolag had been close at her side, practically attached to her waist after the recent events. If any pain lingered under his stained bandages, he showed no signs of it upon his face.
We awaited the celebration at an unfamiliar bar in Downtown. The Slaughtered Lamb had banned us after Axehammerin had gotten drunk and paralyzed an unsuspecting women in a knife throwing accident.
Finally the hour of celebrations commenced. Muzgash, Axehammerin, and I headed across the plaza to an elaborate hotel where our more exclusive party was being held. Applauses echoed through the hall as we entered and drinks and horderves were thrust into our eagerly awaiting hands.
I made the rounds with many of the officials attending the party, casually flaunting my newly attained status of the upper echelons of Mission society. Axehammerin and Muzgash crowded the bar and the platters of food, satisfying themselves on complimentary beverages and cuisine, both of exquisite quality.
Ralgar had appeared with some of the other officers representing the Fighters Guild and he eventually made his way to the bar and reconvened with my two companions.
As Axehammerin was laying siege upon a platter of roasted beef cutlets he bumped into an attractive dwarven women. She took an immediate liking to Axehammerin. Eventually they slipped away from the festivities to find more private accommodations.
Towards the end of the night the Merchants Lords approached Muzgash, Ralgar, and Myself to announce that they had decided to give us a ship from the Port that had been spared the torment of the dragon’s fires. The owner had been killed during the attack and they felt it a reasonable exchange for our valiant efforts. Fiddenmar remained with us and told us that she had personally requisitioned to have custom equipment crafted for us by one of her personal friends, a master smith that lived within town. We commissioned her to include Ralgar a set piece as well, considering that he had agreed to cut ties with the Fighters to join our crew aboard our new ship, and that his involvement in the retaking of Mission was as considerable as ours. After some fandangling, Fiddenmar agreed and then took her leave.
I would like to say that we kept our heads that night, but that would be a lie. We got shitfaced, without any doubts.
The next day we united within the plaza and stumbled across town amongst the throngs of hungover citizens. Even the rickshaw driver’s donkeys were straining to keep their eyes from closing shut.
After some searching among the burnt carcasses of ships lining the demolished harbor, we located our newly gifted vessel. It was a two-masted beauty of polished wood, ropes, and folded canvas. We rummaged around upon the decks, laying claim to varying inches of the ship. It soon became apparent, however, that none of us knew how to properly sail a boat. I had some knowledge but not enough for a vessel that size. We were in need of a competent crew.
We solicited our buddies: Krum, Tristam, and Gualichu.
Tristam was happy to join us, but he admitted that he knew nothing about the life of a sailor, or the workings of a ship. To his credit, he at least knew where we could find such people.
He recommended a local portside tavern, one of the very few that survived, called the Lusty Seahag. Which presently was swarming with sailors looking for employment now that half of the crews that frequented the Freshwater Coast were out of work.
There we went.
Not only did we find a prospective crew, but we also found our new favorite establishment of alcoholism. The Lusty Seahag had an instant connection, like the unknown magnetism of new lovers. It was uncanny how well we fit in.
It was quite easy to track down a crew. The one in particular that we found adequate called themselves the River Rats. There were about twenty of them in total but their four officers handled the negotiations. Kelson was their de facto leader. His sister Ofeen was a cleric, thus the ship’s medical officer. Their master at arms was a dwarf named Shield. And the fourth officer was a man named Sabre, whether those were the two’s actual names or just aliases they did not say. The four of them expressed that they had recently lost their last ship due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, which was about as much of information they were willing to give. They only had one condition, or two more like. One; fifteen percent of all earnings on our adventures. Two; that the four of us had to best them in a brawl, to prove that we could handle a fight. I shook hands with Kelson on a deal well struck and they told us four to meet them out back.
We paired off in the dark alley, with some of the other River Rats acting as witnesses. Muzgash paired off against Kelson, Axehammerin against Shield, Ralgar against Saber, and I against Ofeen, who seemed as eager to fight as her three companions. More or less she and I were paired because even in a fist-fight, those of arcane backgrounds tend to implement spells by instinctual habit.
The brawl was easily won. Our recent battles with dragons and other dangerous threats had hardened us to the pains and demands of battle. They put up a good fight, but they had admittedly been wasting their time and funds at local taverns. The attack on the city was the most action they had seen in months.
They were hired.
I informed Kelson and his band that we still had a few errands to handle before we departed, but in the meantime they should familiarize themselves with the ship and gather their belongings and whatever supplies they deemed necessary for a voyage on the open seas. They asked the four of us where we were heading, but none of us had an answer. The River Rats seemed to like this and told us they would handle it. I told them we would be departing the next day. Then we left.
I made a special request from the tender at the bar to supply our ship with two months of ale and spirits, placing my deposit before his eyes. He agreed and said that it would take a few days. I told him he had until tomorrow morning, placing a small stack of gold coins on the smooth wooden counter. He nodded and said “Consider it done.” We thanked the man and departed.
According to Fiddnemar’s instructions, her friend who would be crafting us our equipment had an emporium in the Bazaar. We located her establishment and were directed to her office by a young apprentice. As it turns out the woman was the very same who had a romantic encounter with our good friend Axehammerin the night before. After a brief exchange of unsubtle flirtations she diverted her attention to taking our measurements, in very thorough detail. Whatever Fiddenmar and her had schemed they planned for the least amount of clues to be surmised.
Once that business was settled, we headed towards the Noble District, where the Mission Mages Guild resided. I had met my personal hero, the Archmage himself, in passing at the party the night prior. We talked briefly about the statuettes we had come upon during our travels and he said that he was greatly intrigued by the curious finds, even more so after I presented the Obsidian Eagle Statue I had carried on me for just that situation.
His initiates were expecting our arrival and led us to Archibald’s personal study. It was a magnificent spectacle of tomes, exotic furnishings, and wonderful paintings by artists long dead. He welcomed us warmly and dismissed his initiate. We presented the three small sculptures and he studied them quietly for some time. After he looked over every detail of them, and a couple resource books, he admitted that he had never seen anything quite like them, noting on the latent energy that was stored within the relics. He insisted that we leave the set with him so he could study them more closely. We told him that it was a perfect idea seeing how we were leaving town for some time. Archibald thanked us and formally invited us back to his Hall upon our return, as friends of his institution. We returned his thanks with our own and departed.
Our errands were done. It was time to reacquaint ourselves with the welcoming confines of the Lusty Seahag. Needless to say we woke up the next day with throbbing heads and churning stomachs. The mysterious thing was that all four of us woke up on the ship, being readied to leave the harbor. Kelson appeared below deck in the commons and informed us that the Grizzly Snatch was ready.
I asked Kelson if that was some nautical term but he instead told me that was the name of the ship, apparently me and Muzgash had rechristened the ship with that name when we returned with the crew from the Lusty Seahag.
We figured it was an appropriate name and asked him if he and the crew needed anything else. He told us that they usually waited for the captain’s orders before setting out to sea. The four of us looked at each other, dumbfounded. We never talked about any of us being a captain but it seemed appropriate that one of us assume the title. We took a moment to discuss the matter. After about ten minutes, we came to unanimous decision to elect me, The Great Wizard Da’loach, as Captain of The Grizzly Snatch (an honor which I would proudly keep for years to come). Tears welled in my eyes at the opportunity that was bestowed to me by my companions. Kelson seconded the motion as a witness and asked what my orders were.
“Set sail, towards the horizon.” I demanded.
Kelson scurried to the main deck and many footsteps pounded upon the wood above our heads as he shouted commands to his fellow sailors.
I promised my three companions that I would be a just and fair captain. They shrugged and headed above deck. I looked about the interior, a new sense of accomplishment rushing through me, a new sense of my childhood dream coming to fruition. Nothing would hold me or my crew back now. We were destined for great things, the Grizzly Snatch proved that much. Our job now was simply to fulfill it.
The world was now our playground, and we were ready to get our hands dirty…