I remember my father talking of ships and oceans, of course, but to experience them first hand is another matter entirely. And being expected to pilot a ship moments after stepping aboard one for the first time! I was not the only one in our little crew that was new to ships—Musushi had not even heard of them before! Then again, he doesn’t always seem to hear what beats against his ears.
Fortunately, we were able to cast off without wrecking the ship, although it was a close call. Railey, first mate of the Arcturan, immediately solicited us with dice games and grog. I must say gambling was a bit thrilling, although I only lost gold pieces.
We hadn’t made it far off the coast when we spotted a Grewfert Merchant ship attacking another vessel. These “merchant” ships are apparently little more than pirates. Without means to match their mysterious weapons—which launched destructive spheres at the fleeing ship—we could only stay on course and hope they remained preoccupied with their victims and didn’t pursue us as well. Rooke seemed strangely moved by the site of the Grewfert Merchant ship, as if he admired the technology, even as it claimed innocent lives.
The rest of the group, save Rooke and myself, decided breaking into Captain Stenwall’s quarters was a wonderful idea. They searched the room for signs of possession by the Nine, although Thomas seemed mostly interested in finding the captain’s stash of stimulants. I refused to participate in the invasion of privacy and theft, although I didn’t go so far as to try to stop them or alert the captain. I am learning that in this quest to preserve life as we know it, sometimes I must set aside my own moral inclinations. Although they were able to put the room back in order, we bungled the lock quite badly on the way out. Not only was the lock broken, a pick had broken off inside. I attempted to mend the lock, but only managed to fuse the pick to the lock itself! The captain never seemed to notice. Perhaps he assumed he had done it himself in his sleep-deprived state.
I approached the captain and convinced him to take some poppy’s milk to help him sleep. While the captain had his first night in a while without terrible nightmares, Thomas, Rooke, and I were plagued by our worst fears.
The next day we were asked to clean the storage area. It was there that we were surprised by a dire rat. It reminded me of the were-rats we encountered outside of Desheb, and I was not keen on keeping company with it. Musushi, however, had somehow formed a communion with the rat that called itself Grogg. Grogg was a refugee from Odisvalk, where a premonition of evil sent him fleeing. I must admit, hearing about how the rodent had lost his entire family attempting to board the Arcturan did inspire empathy.
We had terrible nightmares again that night, and although I know them to be dreams, I have started to worry that they may be something more. Thomas remained awake with the assistance of stolen stimms, and overheard a conversation between the captain and his first mate. They had failed to mention to us the discovery of an outpost where everyone was found dead and literally boneless. We also learned that they are much more to each other than captain and first mate! They share a wife and family in Inyamand. Stenwall fears that their wife and daughters are dead and does not wish to return. Railey pressed him to have faith in the resilience of Orcish women.
The site of a giant sea beast, larger even than our ship, heralded our arrival off the coast of Odisvalk. It is apparently a place of monsters, another detail the captain conveniently left out.
A one-footed dwarf by the name of Crosby Cooke greeted us as we made it to shore. He is the chef for a roaming group of Halfling hunters. Musushi immediately bonded with Cooke and began preparing a meal for him.
Shortly after, a Halfling came bursting out of the forest, chased by a beast that looked to be a cross between a wild hog and a canine. We were able to put down the rabid beast, which I had assumed to be another sign of the Nine’s influence, but evidently these “yeth hounds” are naturally occurring in this land. Land of monsters, indeed!
The Halfling Fuskar told us that a star had fallen here too—just like the one that destroyed Memphun. Pelor, let us be prepared for the battle ahead.