posted Jan 17, 2021, 8:36 AM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak

Propyltina 6th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The trio has been preparing for the trip to the southern plains over the course of the last week with some coordination between themselves and Dae'Kliesys.
They are to embark on a ship at Long Barge Shipping.
Fennimore shivers at the thought of boarding a ship.
Perri Elastime: Don't worry. You will float.
Rael Octavius: Sailing is easy, and the fastest way to get there.
Fennimore: Maybe it's faster, but nothing like having solid ground under your furry feet.
Perri Elastime: I'm fine with it.
Rael Octavius: This ship is bigger than a house. It will be like standing on the ground, Fenn.
Fennimore is still uncertain of the concept.
Fennimore: If you say so.
Perri Elastime: You can swim, right?
Fennimore: But the first time we lose a man overboard, don't forget, I told you so.
Fennimore: I don't go much deeper than dipping my toes in a pond.
Fennimore: Swimming is for fishes, not halflings.
Dae'Kliesys: We have been sailing these waterways for hundreds of years. You are worrying needlessly, Fennimore.
Fennimore: Yes, your Ladyship, but that's what halflings do.
Perri Elastime: I thought they made food and ate it.
Perri Elastime: The fish around here don't eat people do they?
Fennimore: Garden, cook, eat, and worry. These are the things we tend to do best. Those of us who chose to a more adventurous lot are rare and often outcasts from the rest of the community.
Rael Octavius: Halfling outcasts? Now you are exaggerating.
Perri Elastime: I think being a swashbuckler would be fun.
The group takes a carriage from the castle to the shipping company, chatting as they go.
Fennimore: Mum accepts my way of life. Not all halflings are so accomodating. Most of them think we should all be homebodies, tending to our gardens, and having a proper home-cooked meal every night.
Perri Elastime: I imagine you cause your mum all kinds of worry then.
Fennimore: Dontcha know it. She worries every day.
Perri Elastime: She does have pretty flowers.
Fennimore: Thanks. She enjoys the flower cart.
As the carriage approaches the shipping company, the group can see the ship's masts rising from the river below. The crow's nest is right at street level.
Perri Elastime (pointing): Woah! Check that out.
The carriage halts at the stairs that lead down to the docks as several sailors haul the luggage from the carriage onto the ship.
Fennimore eyes the ship uncomfortably.
A uniformed man in a bi-corn captain's hat awaits the group at the top of these stairs. The captain is an older, grizzled man that has experienced a lot of weather in his time.
Captain Elador: Greetings, Ambassador, and friends.
Perri Elastime smiles at the man.
Dae'Kliesys: Salutations, Captain.
Captain Elador: Ah, Rael. How are you? Making another trip down the river, I see.
Rael Octavius: I am fine, Captain Elador. It will be further than South Town this time.
Fennimore (whispering to Rael): You're right. That thing is bigger than a house. Are you sure it floats?
Captain Elador: As I have heard. All the way down to the Barbarian Plains, eh?
Perri Elastime puts a hand on Fennimore's shoulder.
Captain Elador turns and winks at the halfling.
Captain Elador: Of course it floats, my son. You have nothing to worry about.
Fennimore: Hmmph.
Perri Elastime: I have never been on a ship before.
Perri Elastime: Hey, can I go in that little basket?
Rael Octavius (pointing): See the rails on it, Fenn. You would be hard-pressed to climb over them, much less fall over them.
Fennimore: Good.
Captain Elador: The crow's nest? Certainly. Once we are underway.
Perri Elastime (to herself): The crow's nest.
Fennimore (to Perri): Leave the nesting to the crows.
Captain Elador: Follow me. We will push off as soon as you are settled. Morre, my first mate, will get you all situated while I get the crew going.
Perri Elastime (shocked): And let them have all the fun?
Captain Elador leads the group down the stairs to the docks and across the gangplank onto "The Empreczar."
Another uniformed gentleman, considerably younger, is waiting on the deck.
Fennimore hesitates before following the others. He holds the rails of the gangplank cautiously as he tiptoes to the ship.
Captain Elador: Welcome aboard The Empreczar. This is the flagship of Long Barge Shipping.
Perri Elastime: Thank you, Captain.
Captain Elador: This is my first mate. Call him Morre. He will see that you get to your births.
Fennimore looks around.
First Mate Morre salutes and steps forward.
Perri Elastime looks around like a tourist.
The ship is swarming with sailors preparing for the ship's departure.
First Mate Morre: Follow me, my friends. I will show you to your quarters.
Dae'Kliesys: Thank you, Morre.
Fennimore: Hmmph.
Perri Elastime: Mr. Morre, sir, where is the mess hall?
First Mate Morre points to the starboard side of the aftcastle.
First Mate Morre: Through that door, ma'am. We will be opening it once we set sail.
Perri Elastime: Thank you. I'm Perri.
First Mate Morre: Follow me down a deck. Your quarters are in the aft.
First Mate Morre: Please to meet you, Lady Elastime.
First Mate Morre: And Master Fennimore.
Fennimore bows.
Rael Octavius: This way?
Fennimore (to Perri): Your reputation precedes you.
First Mate Morre: Correct, Master Octavius.
Perri Elastime follows Rael.
Perri Elastime: Hmmph.
First Mate Morre has the group make their way down the steep, narrow steps into the ship and leads them to the ship's aft.
Fennimore: They don't design these ships for halflings.
Fennimore grips the stair rails at head height as he hops down the steep stairs one by one.
Rael Octavius: You won't have to duck through doorways.
Fennimore: There's that.
Perri Elastime: I like the fresh air better.
First Mate Morre: These three cabins are yours.
First Mate Morre points at two port side doors and one starboard door.
Perri Elastime: And the necessary, where is that?
First Mate Morre: The other one is the privy.
Fennimore looks to see if Dae'Kliesys followed them below decks.
Fennimore sees that Dae'Kliesys is still standing at the stairs.
First Mate Morre: The Ambassador has the forward cabin.
First Mate Morre: Once you have unpacked and settled, feel free the go back up on deck.
Fennimore: Ah, then no bunking up. Good. I've heard sailors are sometimes stacked three high or more. I didn't want to have to wrestle Rael for the bottom bunk.
Perri Elastime: I'd have given you a boost if you needed one.
Fennimore smiles at Perri.
First Mate Morre: The sailors' bunks are in the forecastle.
Perri Elastime: Umm, I don't know ship terminology yet.
First Mate Morre: That is the front of the shop that rises above the main deck.
Fennimore: Can't say I know much about ships either.
Perri Elastime: Got it!
Fennimore: Will you have time for a look around after getting settled?
Perri Elastime peers into a cabin.
First Mate Morre: Ask any of the crew when you have questions as long as they aren't holding a rope at the time. I wouldn't want them to be distracted when they're working.
Perri Elastime: A look about sounds good to me.
A high-pitched whistle sounds, and orders begin to be shouted about the deck above, repeated among the sailors as they acknowledge them.
First Mate Morre: I will leave you to it. I need to get up on deck.
Fennimore: Thank you.
Perri Elastime: Thank you.
First Mate Morre nods and turns to head back to the stairs.
Fennimore peeks into another cabin.
First Mate Morre: You are most welcome.
Fennimore: Rael, you seem to know the ship best. Any preference for a cabin?
First Mate Morre briefly stops to open the cabin door for Dae'Kliesys before climbing the stairs back up to the main deck.
Fennimore: Are any of them made up for halflings?
Perri Elastime: Do any have a window?
Rael Octavius: I have no preference. You will probably be most comfortable in the starboard aft cabin. The bed is more amidships.
Rael Octavius: They all have portholes if you can call them windows.
Fennimore looks in the cabin that Rael points out.
Fennimore: Well, at least it's round
Perri Elastime: Just like home?
Fennimore: And high enough up that I'm not likely to fall out.
Perri Elastime: I'm not sure you will fit through the porthole.
Fennimore looks again.
Fennimore: You're probably right about that.
Perri Elastime: I'm sure we would have to grease you to get through.
The ship begins to move slowly, easing into the current of the river.
Fennimore grabs hold of whatever he can as the ship begins to move.
Fennimore: Whoa!
Perri Elastime: I think we are underway.
Fennimore (sarcastically): Great.
Rael Octavius: Once you get your legs, you won't notice the motion.
Fennimore: I have legs.
Fennimore: It's my stomach. I think I left back at the docks.
Perri Elastime looks into a cabin across the way.
Fennimore looks into the privy.
Fennimore: Perri, if your stomach feels like mine, this might be the necessity you were looking for.
Perri Elastime: It's a little jittery. I felt better up top.
Rael Octavius enters the portside cabin.
Fennimore: We were still tied to the docks up top.
Perri Elastime: Do you have any stuff to unpack?
Fennimore: A little, I try to travel light.
Rael Octavius: Not much. My luggage is here, but I hardly access it.
Perri Elastime: I try to keep it light too. I want to be able to run at a moment's notice.
Fennimore (to Rael): You planning to bring luggage into the barbarian plains?
Perri Elastime: I just brought my pack.
Perri Elastime: I didn't think I'd need anything fancy on the plains.
Fennimore: Snorri didn't seem to be the kind of guy who puts on airs.
Rael Octavius: Just some extra clothing and food, just in case. I am going to head up on deck.
Perri Elastime: I think I'll just carry my stuff.
Perri Elastime: I'll come with you, Rael.
Rael Octavius closes his cabin door and heads for the stairs.
Fennimore leaves his pack in his cabin and follows Rael and Perri.
As the trio climbs back up to the main deck, they can see that the ship is sailing through a gorge and is just about to pass under a bridge.
Perri Elastime looks to see if the sailors have weapons.
Fennimore studies the steep stairs for a moment before heaving his bulk up, one stair at a time, using the handrails for leverage and balance.
Fennimore watches the bridge go by, looking to see if anyone is crossing over the bridge above them.
Over the next couple of hours, the ship navigates the gorge and a couple of turns in the river before it feels like the river rises to the land's level and open plains to the west and east. Lightday also transitions to darkday.
Perri Elastime looks to see if she can see anyone in the crow's nest.
Perri sees that there is someone up in the crow's nest.
Perri Elastime (whispers): Did you notice it is hard to breathe under the deck?
Rael Octavius: It is a bit stuffy below decks.
Fennimore: The gorge wasn't much better. I didn't like the way the walls were sliding past.
First Mate Morre approaches the trio.
First Mate Morre: How is everything?
Perri Elastime looks to see how to get up to the crow's nest.
Perri Elastime: Better up here.
First Mate Morre: You wish to go up into the crow's nest?
Fennimore: I might never eat again.
First Mate Morre smiles.
Perri Elastime: Oh, yes!
First Mate Morre: You will get used to it.
Fennimore: That's what Rael keeps telling me.
Perri Elastime: I'll never get used to not eating.
First Mate Morre: Just climb the rigging of the mainmast until you get up there.
Perri Elastime: I can climb the ropes?
First Mate Morre: That is what they are there for.
Fennimore: Great, first, she wants to be a raven. Now, she wants to play like a squirrel.
Rael Octavius: I'm going up on the forecastle so I can see where we are going.
Perri Elastime: Don't you want to see from way up there?
Fennimore: No.
Perri Elastime: Rael?
Rael Octavius: The forecastle is high enough for me.
Perri Elastime: I'm going up!
Perri climbs up the rigging until she is up near the top of the mainmast. The sailor in the crow's nest helps her in.
Perri Elastime: Thanks.
The sailor smiles.
Fennimore: Why do they call it a forecastle? It doesn't look anything like "The Castle."
Perri Elastime: What do you do up here?
The sailor: We just keep watch.
The sailor: You never know what might be on the banks or if another ship might be in the way.
Perri Elastime: Do pirates attack?
The sailor: Pirates? I've heard of pirates on the great river, but not this one. However, there have been attacks from the banks by bandits and monsters from time to time.
Perri Elastime: Oh. This is like an itty, bitty treehouse. I like it up here.
The sailor smiles again.
Perri Elastime looks over the ship, trying to discern its defenses.
The sailor: If you look way out to the west, you can see the horde.
Perri Elastime looks west.
Perri can see fires way out in the distance.
Perri Elastime: What do you do if you see something dangerous?
The sailor: Make a racket and let the captain know that there is something to be concerned about.
Perri Elastime: You just yell, and they hear you?
The sailor: I'm pretty loud when I need to be.
Perri Elastime: I'm pretty sure my halfling friend is worrying, so I should go back down, but I'll be back.
The sailor: Sure. You are welcome at any time.
Perri Elastime: Thanks. So far, this is the best place on the ship.
The sailor: I agree.
Perri Elastime scampers down the rigging.
No sooner than Perri finds Rael at the front of the ship, the lookout in the crow's nest lets out a shout.
Perri Elastime looks for monsters.
Fennimore: Which way is starboard?
First Mate Morre: Right.
Perri Elastime: Umm.
Fennimore: Right, right.
Fennimore trots to the righthand rail and tries to see over it.
An arrow flies over Fennimore's head.
A hobgoblin appears on the deck.
Another arrow sails over Fennimore's head.
Fennimore: Where'd he come from?
Rael Octavius runs down to be next to Fennimore.
Rael Octavius launches a fiery ray at each of three different goblins, but they all miss.
Perri Elastime moves towards the invading hobgoblin, beginning a bladesong. She points at the hobgoblin to have her next rapier thrust strike true upon it.
An arrow sails past Perri.
Dae'Kliesys flies up over the banks into the darkness.
First Mate Morre moves aft, shouting orders to prepare the mangonel to fire.
An arrow hits Fennimore.
Fennimore: Tis but a scratch.
Sailors jump into action, manning the mangonel amidships and the ballista on the forecastle. Others climb into the rigging.
Another arrow flies past Perri.
Captain Elador shouts orders and begins to bring the ship to a stop.
The hobgoblin dodges Fennimore's attack.
Hail drops down on the deck, pummeling everyone in its reach.
Several sailors, the first mate, and the bosun fall to the deck.
An arrow flies past Rael.
Another arrow sails into the rigging above Fennimore.
Hobgoblin Iron Shadow hits Fennimore with a flurry of blows, nearly knocking the halfling out.
Fennimore: Aaaagh!
Fennimore: Rael, we need help down here!
Another arrow sails over Fennimore.
Rael Octavius runs up to Fennimore and heals him.
Fennimore: Oh, thanks, Rael.
Rael Octavius: Keep going.
Fennimore: Get Perri next.
Perri hits the hobgoblin solidly, also transferring some of the cold absorbed from the hail storm.
An arrow misses Rael.
Dae'Kliesys forms an incendiary cloud around the forces on the banks of the river.
Sailors scramble about the deck.
Captain Elador roars more orders as the ship slows.
Fennimore skewers the hobgoblin.
The hobgoblin falls to the deck.
Perri Elastime: Yes! That's the way!
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: Thanks.
Hobgoblin Devastator retreats from the cloud of burning embers and looses a lightning bolt at the half-dragon.
Rael Octavius steps over and heals Perri.
Perri Elastime: Thanks.
Perri Elastime: Much better.
The final hobgoblin falls after Perri's missiles of arcane force strike it.
Fennimore stands up.
Fennimore: Nicely done.
Perri Elastime: Well, that wasn't fun.
Fennimore: Rather painful.
Dae'Kliesys flies back to the aftcastle of the ship.
Perri Elastime: You still look a bit roughed up.
Fennimore: Probably wouldn't have made it through without the Octavius'.
Rael Octavius rushes over to the fallen crew and starts stabilizing them.
Fennimore: Let Rael help the crew first. These scratches will heal.
Fennimore: Some of them may not.
Perri Elastime: Good idea.
Dae'Kliesys: Is everyone alright?
Perri Elastime: Some of the crew are in a bad way.
Dae'Kliesys pulls out a healer's kit and begins tending to the fallen sailors.
Fennimore: I'm surprised a ship this large, traveling into dangerous territory, doesn't carry a medic.
Other sailors begin to emerge from below decks to assist the wounded, as well.
Captain Elador: Usually, only the warships have surgeons.
Perri Elastime: I guess the horde has made it more dangerous to travel.
Rael Octavius: Definitely.
Fennimore: Next time we get ambushed, may I suggest you keep the ship underway so that we can get some distance between our attackers and us?
Captain Elador: We will adjust our course down the river to stay closer to the eastern bank from now on.
Fennimore: Are you sure the horde doesn't have patrols on that side as well?
Fennimore: Or other nasties driven across the river by the goblins?
Rael Octavius: That side of the river has draconic protection and friendly barbarians.
Dae'Kliesys: That's correct, Rael.
Fennimore: Swell.
Captain Elador: We will just need to be careful of approaching ships because we will be in their way.
Perri Elastime: You'll have to keep a sharp eye watching in the crow's nest.
Captain Elador: Double the beacons on the forecastle!
The sailor: Aye, aye, Captain!
Fennimore (grumbles): Great, light us up like a holy cathedral. No way the horde will see us coming.
Perri Elastime: Do you feel like a target?
Captain Elador: We are approaching South Town. Reports are that the horde is not south of there.
Perri Elastime: Just think we could be trying to sneak past them overland.
Fennimore: Rather, and I don't like feeling trapped on this floating bullseye.
Fennimore: At least then I could sneak decently.
The ship sails on, passing South Town on its way south.
Dae'Kliesys: However sneaky you might be, Fennimore, you would not last a day on foot on those plains right now, not to mention having to cross the great river when you got to it.
Perri Elastime: You did say swimming was not your thing.
Fennimore: Certainly isn't. I hope it doesn't come to that.