Posted by: Epicurme | October 5, 2011

The Suspicious Ship

There is an old saying with which all of us are familiar. “Out of the mouths of babes.” PT, had already shown us he was a smart lad, always willing to help with a wise side, but he also showed us he observed something the grown ups either missed, or did not take seriously.

For a few weeks, a boat had been anchored, just beyond the bay where the water is too deep and currents are too strong for land dwellers to swim. The boat had been there for a few weeks before anyone went missing, and it was a natural assumption that the boat belonged to our overseas trader Haruk, as it looked very similar to one of her sloops that brings trade to the Isles.

But PT expressed to Korinna that the boat seemed suspicious to him, he talked about pirates.  Making a distinction between those we keep as friends, and the very bad kind with little regard for innocent, vulnerable life.  When the grownups had discussed the boat,  it was always a fleeting idea never fully thought through. Korinna agreed that it was certainly possible and word soon spread that it should be investigated.

Rak tells the group about what he knows... (picture credit: PT)

In the meantime, the scout Rakkarak, had a conversation that tied a lot of our clues together. Rak, who is part bird himself has the ability to communicate with birds of prey, and asked Zephyr what happened to his keeper, Thyul.  Zephyr’s conversation was quite abstract and symbolic, but it all seemed to point in the same direction; the suspicious boat just beyond our reach.

Citizens met in the tea house to discuss strategy, and it was during this meeting that Hakon’s silence broke.  He explained that he came to the isles  as a stowaway on a boat that was very similar to the one we now targeted.  He explained that the crew and captain of this boat were in the business of collecting “freaks.” As members of our community rarely look upon themselves as freaks, it was a baffling revelation.

Cern at the Meeting, listeing to Hakon (r) tell his story. Picture credit goes to PT

It had also been discussed that all of the ships, even those belonging to our friends should be searched, and it made sense to begin with the suspicious one.

Boarding row boats and traveling out into the depths, amid the sharp under water rocks and currents that can easily topple row boats, our friends pressed on towards the Suspicious ship. Once the arrived they struggled to board the ship unsure of what they would find.  Even some of our children came along to help where they could.  The group of citizens only had a little time to investigate before they were encountered, but they found a very telling sign.

This is what Hakon wanted to tell us all along.

The owners of the ship soon emerged. Harsh words, verbal abuse, and emotional attacks were thrown at one another from both sides.  The owners of the ship were asked to let their friends go, but it was no good.  Residents were taunted more, and insulted in such a way that revealed the ship’s crew had no regard for the lives they had taken, and used the “freaks” of the Seven Isles as little more than amusements that would yield them profit.

Our foes emerged on each side, trapping us on the main deck!

Arrows flew, swords clashed, some fell overboard and some stayed safely out of the way.  But it was our Dark wolf Hakon, who we had all been suspicious of at one time who stepped up and defended the others.

Lofta's last moments.

The masterminds of the capture, Lofta the Drow fighter and “Black Barris” himself, fell within moments.

Black Barris, about to meet his buisness partner again in the next world.

All there was left to do was release our grateful friends, and collect as much information as possible.  The atmosphere was still quite confused and hectic, as all three of our missing were freed from their filthy cages.  They were stripped of all of their dignity, thin, and dirty; but they were alive!  They were not, however, alone.  In the dank, smelly cell was a Mermaid, bound like the one that had washed up on our shores.  A fairy, somehow trapped in a bottle, and a hatchling dragon.

Just a few of the captives waiting for release.

In the confusion, the other prisoners were initially overlooked…

A Mermaid and Dragonlette also captured for the "freak show"

… weeping could be heard from the hull below, but it had been very difficult for our rescuers to get down into the tight spaces.  It was weakened Cherno who finally descended the steps and creeped through the narrow spaces between barrels to discover a young Centaur boy, living in the filthy hull of the ship.  He was unable to escape and was very traumatized by the fighting and yelling that had come from above.

While weak Cherno found the strength to approach the frightened boy.

Just as Cherno was coaxing him out, however, an explosion occurred on deck.  It was not from some unseen foe ready to engage us in battle,  but from one of our own.  Kal, who has always been known to be unpredictable and distressed at the mere mention of cages had let loose some of his Acorn bombs. Frightening the young centaur and and adults alike.

But efforts to draw the frightened boy to where he could be hoisted up on to deck continued, while Cherno, still weak from her ordeal redirected Kal to help her destroy the cages, rather than destroy the boat on which everyone still stood.  It was a great challenge for all of them.  Some members were returning to shore in order to prepare for our rescued, and Thyul worked to release the other three friends they had made when they shared captivity with them.

Chaos ensued as cages were discarded, and Ithil carried off Thyul's captured horse. Eaken helped coax the wee centaur our ot the ship.

But by the end of the day, everyone was home and few were worse for wear. Kal had received burns from the iron cages he helped push into the sea, and needs time and care to heel.  Our missing have a long road of spiritual recovery, but after weeks of uncertainty everyone was returned home safe and sound.

While being fed cold porridge and moldy bread, our friend's captors were not left wanting for anything.

But is it the end?  What questions remain unanswered, and are the residents of the Isles truly out of danger?  Could this just be a reminder that while the Isles is a peaceful land, it is not located in a peaceful world.  What must be done to protect and prevent such a thing happening again? Who was the dead Mermaid? What are the stories of the others found on the ship?

How much is there that we have yet to learn?

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