Chapter 1: A Southern Wind
Captured suspect Tiefling after following leads in Chipford. Suspect was hiding in a grove of trees approximately twenty miles southwest of the city. I sighted the grove and circled west to approached from due north. Suspect took shelter in a tall elm tree. Sent Claire to drive her out; as she fled the tree I detained her with minimal applied force.
Suspect is slightly smaller than a typical tiefling, her skin a slightly darker shade of purple than is common to her race. By the ridges on her horns I judge her to be approximately twenty years of age. She demonstrates considerable acrobatic ability and physical grace.
She calls herself Constance.
Again, I wonder that so accomplished a thief could be caught with as little effort as I have heretofore extended. The skills she has demonstrated both in the theft and this chase are such that she could have easily escaped notice. In other gypsies I have observed the ability to hide from detection by means almost supernatural. They conceal themselves from the eyes, ears, and noses of those seeking to perceive them. Surely this gypsy should have been trained likely? And yet I find her here, a trail leading straight to the tree she has chosen as a refuge?
Suspect was vocally displeased to be restrained in the tiefling chains. Her verbal protestations are… incessant.
I will have to be extra careful with this charge. The walk back to Chipford will present many opportunities for escape. Doubtless she is capable of slipping these bindings like so many dry scales.
Expect to arrive back in Chipford by mid morning on the morrow. Must barter passage to Lefhame and deliver my charge to the magistrates there.
The sea… It calls to me. I will take the fastest path back to the capital. The Ocean will take me into her arms once again.
The injustice of this, I ask you. It wasn’t enough that I had to deliberately leave a trail, and get caught. No, no. This is plainly absu–
My indignant rage is interrupted when my head smacks against a steel armor plate. My forehead already smarts. I am sure there is a bruise forming. It is hard to tell, though, because my blood has all come to rest nicely in my head. Why is that? It might be because I am hanging upside-down. And that’s where the armor plate comes in.
Based on my admitedly impaired observational skills, we are at the Chipford harbor. I would recognize the briny air and the slovenly slap of the waves as they listlessly slosh against the pier. I would say it is good to be back, but y’know…
I smack my head again. That’s it.
“Look here, Mr. Lawman. I demand you put me down right now! This is intolerable.”
The dragonborn glances over his shoulder at me. At least I think it does. It’s hard to tell from down here.
“Intolerable it may be little thiefling, but there you will stay.”
This dragonborn has a gift for conversation. By gift, I of course mean a total disinterest in it.
Before leaving Chipford, I planted some absurdly obvious rumors of my presence in a few taverns before skipping town, holing up in a tree about a day’s march outside the city. It took him nearly 12 hours to find me, and he would have missed me entirely if it wasn’t for his little lizard minion that seems to follow him around. And he is supposed to be a professional. It is a wonder the Elvish Empire is able to run anything these days, if this is the sort of bounty hunter they employ. At least the lizard is kind of cute. The dragonborn calls it Claire.
I knew this would be unpleasant, but the sheer ignominy of my situation threatens to overwhelm me. A thief, a master thief, by all accounts, forced to deliberately get herself caught. I will have to wait until this walking scale mountain gets distracted to escape. My job is done here, now that he has taken the faked orders out of my pack. The plan is a pretty good one, I suppose, despite being extremely embarrassing for a certain tiefling gypsy. The dragonborn will deliver to the admiral what he thinks I stole, never knowing I made a switch. And then the good admiral will kindly walk into whatever trap the council on Enlightenment have thought up.
I almost wish I could be there to see it.
For now, though, I am stuck right where I am; trussed up with arms, legs and tail bound up tight. Upside down. With a bruise on my forehead. Humiliated.
These damn tides are deeply inconvenient. Not that I actually understand these things, but it seems they are determined to stop me from getting where I want to go, when I want to get there. Me! Lyria, of the House Menta, Paladin in the service of Kyrban, in the order of Kaelem! The very waves should bow before me.
But they don’t. Especially when the tide is coming in. I rest one foot on the railing of my new ship and stare moodily at the horizon. Well I suppose it isn’t technically my ship. But it is owned by my family. Which is really the same thing, I think. What is the point of belonging to an important family with a fleet a merchant vessels if I can’t commandeer one every once and awhile?
I must cut quite an impressive figure as lean on the railing. I find that wearing full battle dress is helpful while commandeering vessels. My full-plate armor, colored a cool minty green, stands out against the rough wooden deck, the stained gray of the canvas sails. I could tell they had the desired effect on the captain of this ship. He is a human; a smelly, stubby, swarthy one. Based on his appearance alone, I can’t imagine why my family employs such a man. Clearly, he does not want me aboard this ship. Not that he has much choice. Have I mentioned I own this ship?
I hear the crew chuckling behind me. They can’t be laughing at me; I am magnificent. I discretely check myself for embarrassing smudges. Nothing. But the laughing continues. Slowly, I turn around, as surreptitiously as possible. Mustn’t let anyone see me lose confidence now, eh?
As soon as I see the source of the cause of the commotion, I start to lose interest. One of those lizardy things just walked up the gangplank. Dragonborn, I guess. Silvery scales, wearing those strange, all-encompassing robes his kind all seem to favor. It has a tiny person slung over its shoulder. That must be what the sailors are laughing at.
I sidle closer. Not that I am particularly interested, of course. But apparently I will be sharing my boat with these people for the next few weeks. I may as well try and figure out who they are. They of course will want to know who I am. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they already knew.
As I observe with carefully schooled disinterest, the dragonborn reaches into his voluminous robes and pulls out a brass badge, holding it high for all to see. In a rumbling, gravelly voice, it tells the crew he is on empire business. The person slung over its shoulder is a gypsy, obviously, and a tiefling gypsy at that.
I like gypsies, in spite of my mother. Or maybe because of my mother.
She is berating the dragonborn with a stubbornness I can admire, especially as the lizard itself takes no notice of her ceaseless complaining. She is causing quite a scene, which is what has set the sailors to laughing. The dragonborn’s face is inscrutable. Not that I can really read its scaly features. It isn’t normal for members of polite society to associate with dragonborn. In fact, it is most common to simply ignore their presence. This one stands out though. It isn’t the silver scales, no, those are relatively common, I think. There are a couple different colors; red, blue, green, bronze. It isn’t even the dragonborn’s hulking, seven foot tall figure. That is pretty run-of-the-mill too, as far as I know.
Strange. I have never even thought twice about a dragonborn before.
“Aye, Mr. Swift?”
“These fellas come aboard lookin’ to barter passage to Lefhame. On their way to the ‘eritage festival.”
“Eh? Well aren’t you lot the big ‘uns? Guess there’d be no use askin’ yeh to find another ship to Lefhame? Mines already got passengers, see?”
“We arranged passage aboard a Menta family vessel captain. They are our sponsors in the games. This is the only ship in their fleet that makes berth in Chipford. I apologise for the inconvenience.”
“Well ain’t you the talkative one? I figgered you lot for the strong, silent type. Well if yeh must, well find room for you somewhere. Are there more of you, or are four hulking pairs of shoulders all we have to grace our prescence?”
“It is just we four. The strongest backs in our monastery.”
“Oh, aye. Well, I ‘spect there be room for yer luggage down in the main hold. Just down those stairs and to the left.”
“We have no luggage but the clothes on our backs. The value of an Orc is not what he carries without, but within.”
“No need for any philosophizing here boys, this be the high seas, not yer lofty monestary. Well if yeh got no luggage I’ll have Mr. Swift here show yeh to yer hammocks.”
“Follow me boys. Watch yer head belowdecks. Hell’s teeth if ye ain’t as tall as a dragonborn!”
“Krusk. Must we put up with these insults for the breadth of our journey?”
“I do not know Boran.”
“They dishonor us beneath veils of paper words. They spit on us and offer it as a cup of peace.”
“Do not judge them so, brother. They do not see our kind often. Remember the words of our father. Our scars will bring us wisdom. Perhaps he spoke not just of the scars of the flesh. We will take their blows to our dignity and grow stronger for it. When the time for rage comes, use that pain for works of glory.”
Boarded the ship Pyrite for bound for Lefhame. Deposited Constance in the brig, with assurances she will not be able to escape. Felt it would be rude to insinuate she could escape their meagre cell in less time than it takes a hatchling to break from its shell. Decided to keep her in the tiefling restraints until after we make the open sea.
Made contact with the navigator on this ship. Greenscale. Have had less contact with their clan than others. This one is here on assignment. To watch the movement of elvish trade. Like so many of my kind.
Took inventory of the ship’s contents and crew. Cargo is mainly luxury goods produced in the northern provinces on its way to Lefhame. The bandit activity between Chipford and the capital makes caravans less profitable for goods like Fire Whiskey and Mint Wine, to say nothing of the products from Blackwall; masterworks from dwarven craftspeople. Crew is of a higher quality than I those with whom I am accustomed to sailing. Seemingly above board and clean. There is an elf Paladin aboard. She wears the Menta family crest. based on her armor, she is of the fifth rank, worthy of traveling alone as a knight errant. Also aboard is a group of four Orcs. I observed them as they boarded; the crew is in awe of them, and the captain finds them intimidating. This makes him blustery and irritable. He is only human. The Orcs are as all of their kind I have met: tall, strong, wary, tense, guarded. They speak to no one that does not speak first to them. Much as my kind do.
Made a survey of the main deck, located blind spots and hiding places. Found a vantage point to keep these within view: atop a crate pushed up against the poop deck. I am sitting there now, the wind rustling my scales, filled with the salty kiss of the sea. The wind is in the south.
The captain has given orders to make sail.