The man who entered the Golden Jug calling out Sargis’ real name is older, with matted grey hair halfway hidden by a thick headband. He has brown eyes and a broken nose, and is holding a pipe in his crooked mouth.
The old man appears to be someone Sargis knew from a ship back in the day. His name is Castrion, the first mate of Captain Alejandro Musk. He seemed to have been left out at sea after an attack. He was a pirate.
Sargis seems to become more vigilant, and tries to change the conversation quickly when the word “pirate” is mentioned. Then, Sargis invites Castrion up to his room, and the two of them have a conversation upstairs. When Sargis returns, he is alone, and he rents out the room for two additional nights.
Meanwhile, Rhea goes to pack.
Arna gently pokes Revas’ shoulder to get his attention, and tells him that he got a visitor while he was in jail: Aeson, the elder of the Alienage.
Revas and Valeria go to the Alienage to speak with Aeson, seeing the elves tying ribbons to their sacred tree before dispersing. Aeson admits to being the leader of the Midnight Scars, and then mentions that one of his men is missing. Lerith, a young man, had gone to sabotage the wagons of the Steel Picks in front of a tavern called the Broken Arrow. Martin, the semi-leader of the Steel Picks, is a big strong guy that sometimes doesn’t have armour on.
After hearing Aeson’s story, Valeria agrees to try to help and try to talk with this Martin to get the elf back.
In the Golden Jug, Rhea talks with Arna about kids, responsibilities, and their respective loved ones. A snarky comment makes Arna blush and have to repack as she gets flustered.
Revas and Valeria return to the Golden Jug, and find that the group has mainly finished packing. They decide to ask Salem to get everyone onto the Lonely Siren, while they go to talk to the Steel Picks to see whether they can get the elf back.
And so the group makes their way to the docks, and has an eye out for anyone who looks like a mercenary. In front of the Broken Arrow, they find a group of Steel Picks, who are deep in conversation. One of them, a massive man, isn’t wearing any armour.
Valeria steps up to talk with them, and after some conversation manages to get into a sparring match with Martin who seems to go into a rage during the fight. However, that comes much too late, as a well-landed strike of Valeria’s takes the man to his knees. And so Valeria manages to come out victorious, and both Rhea and Sargis win one gold piece for having bet on Valeria’s win.
After some more talking, Valeria manages to get the Steel Picks to agree to joining the Heartbreaker Gang’s venture to attack Jainen. They will serve as specialized troops in the battle.
With the Steel Picks leaving Highever, the elves in the city will be free to accept more mercenary jobs, and take up the jobs the Steel Picks had before. On top of that, the friction between the two groups will be gone, as the elves are free to expand with the Steel Picks gone.
During Valeria’s conversation with the Steel Picks, Revas sneaks off and climbs on top of a roof. He takes advantage of the distraction and goes to sneak into the building as a raven. He manages to do so, and ends up in the kitchen of the Broken Arrow. Deciding to try a different way to handle people in the building, Revas decides to use the potion Sudden Slumber to knock out the cook. He drops the contents of the liquid into the cook’s drink, and waits for him to pass out.
Once the cook is unconscious, Revas dresses again and climbs into the window as an elf, so he can actually open the trap door located in the kitchen. When he does, he can hear some noises coming from inside the dark cellar, and soon finds rats scattering across the place. Then he spots a foot behind a barrel, and when he inspects this further, finds what he assumes is the missing elf Lerith.
Lerith is unconscious, and it takes Revas a bit to wake him up and convince him that Revas is there to help. Once that is achieved, Revas leads the way out of the cellar and kitchen, but Lerith is still wounded and clumsy, and makes quite a bit of noise.
They climb out of the window and manage to escape while Valeria, Sargis, and Rhea manage to seal the deal in taking the Steel Picks with them to fight in Jainen.
Revas manages to get the elvhen lad home, despite the burn to his hand and cut on his leg. When he tells Aeson, he is given a gift of an ironbark charm that helps prevent poison. Revas thanks him and says his goodbye.
The group eventually makes it to the ship and Captain Etienne prepares for setting sail and putting everyone she can to work.
Captain Etienne is busy commanding her people around when the group approaches the ship. Everyone on board seems to know what to do and is busy doing it. Men and women are hanging from the rigging, people climbing up and down, seamen yelling commands at each other, and at the center of it all, Etienne, a huge grin on her face.
“There you are! Bonjour! Took you a while, didn’t it. Well, you’re here now, and I hope you’re prepared to help out.”
She looks the group up and down and then poses a question none of them expected. “Any of you used to a life at sea?”
Etienne stares at the group with an intense look in her eyes. “Also I need to pick something up in West Hill, but that won’t take any time at all. I’ll make sure to make up for that time with my wind weaving.”
When Sargis and Rhea mention that they have been at sea before, Etienne looks surprised.
“You certainly don’t look the part. What with your heavy armour and all,” she says. “But all right fine by me.”
And with that, Etienne questions both Sargis and Rhea, testing their sailing knowledge. She first asks them simple things, testing their knowledge on sailing terms, and then moves on to more advanced questions and situational decisions.
Sargis wins the testing process, and as a reward, Captain Etienne makes him her First Mate. She then turns to the rest of them.
“The rest of you can either help my boatswain or my cook. We don’t do any dead weight around here.”
With that, everyone busies themselves helping out, and Revas climbs up into the crow’s nest to keep lookout. For a long time he sees nothing interesting, until suddenly, he spots a whirlpool in the distance.
Down on deck, Sargis tries to do his best to sail the ship away from the sudden threat of death down in the deep, and commands people around to the best of his ability. Despite not having been on a ship in such a long time, he manages to steer the ship away from danger, and so the ship only takes minor damage from the debris swirling around in the whirlpool, hitting the hull. All his efforts, however, mean little when three sailors go overboard and are gone forever.
Sinice the ship requires repairs, Orrun the boatswain asks for help from the group. Valeria does her best to help him make repairs while the two of them swap stories. He tells her that the ship may have once belonged to Martha the Great, an infamous pirate and force at sea, and that in its maiden years it used to be a merchant ship.
Mariana the cook requires help cooking the evening meal. What with most people helping repair the ship, she could use an extra few hands. When prodded to do so, Arna offers her help, but doesn’t do so well, likely because she’s been seasick for a while now. And so Drynne does his very best, but only manages to put in the wrong seasoning, almost ruining the entire batch of food. Revas comes to the rescue, and helps Mariana finish the meal.
During the cramped and uncomfortable dinner, Valeria talks to the others about hers and Borin’s conversation the day before, where Borin contacted her via the Amulet of the Planes:
Borin appears sitting down on a rock and holding the amulet around his neck, in front of Valeria. The Dwarf has seen better days, his armour is bent and bandages cover most of this visible body. His breathing is laboured and his movements are sluggish as he shifts his weight to one side. But the look on his face tells a completely different story, like he has accomplished something he is proud of. If Valeria didn’t know any better, it could almost be mistaken for joy.
“It’s good to see you again Ser Valeria. You look…well.”
Valeria blinks in surprise at seeing Borin before her, even if his image reveals him to be more magic than actually there.
She’s quick to check the door to her room before looking back at Borin with a tired grin as she moves her hair aside and shows him her new wolf tattoo on the shaved side of her head.
“Got into trouble, am starting trouble, and even ended up in jail the other night. Just another day with the gang. But to be honest, I feel lighter than before after my trip…it’s hard to describe.
How are you though? Looking like you’ve been picking a few too many fights as well."
Borin chuckles at the news of them in jail for a night, “Some things never change I see.” As he inspects the tattoo from a distance.
“I was in the Brecilian Forest for some time, I finally got to see a Great Bear.” He pats something invisible by his side, “Mine and Misha’s training is complete. Though it nearly killed me, I too haven’t felt this good in a while.”
The Dwarf seems unsure how to phrase his next words, choosing them carefully before he speaks, “I thought about contacting Velenna but I can’t do that to her. How is she? How is the group doing? I guess you could say I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.”
Valeria nods at the news of the great bear, listening intently to his tone and way of speaking to see how he’s really doing but trying not to be too obvious about it.
When asked about Velenna and the gang, Valeria nods and looks thoughtful.
“Velenna and the others at home seem to be doing alright. Had some trouble with some old enemies of ours, but we caught it early so no harm done. As for the gang…where to even start… Revas is hanging out with a nice baker named Wulf who is around my height and from my home. Rhea is working with more and more magic recently, and the spirits seem to be noticing this. That or demons….not sure half the time. Had a few run in but we dealt with them on their home turf and made out just fine. Sargis on the other hand…while he was his usual self before, as soon as we stepped foot in this city he started acting even more odd than usual. As if he was rushing us out of here and doesn’t want to be seen. Then there’s me. A few fights, a few losses, acceptance from my mother, and another son to look after. It’s been a busy time for me but comforting despite the challenges. Was there anything you wanted me to tell the others?”
Borin nods as Valeria tells him the news of everyone, listening to her words carefully.
He chuckles again at the news of Revas, “Forever on the quest of making his harem bigger.” He begins to speak again, “Rhea…..” but then catches himself and simply drops his head with a smile.
He ponders the news about Sargis, “Mmm perhaps he has had dealings in that city in the past.” And then shrugs his shoulders.
He smiles warmly at Valeria, “I’m glad you got acceptance from your mother, I know it was weighing on you for a long time.”
Thinking on if there are any words for the group or the people back at Raven’s Roost, he opens his mouth to speak but then catches himself. Shaking his head he says, “No words for anyone. Velenna needs to forget about me so she can find her prince that will make her a queen. And I’m sure the group well do fine with any words from me.”
Shifting his weight to one side again he grimaces a bit before continuing, “I’m on my way to Jader, I need to do some research at the library there before I make my next move.”
Valeria raises an eyebrow at Borin’s response but says nothing of it. Instead she stretches and looks off at the door idly.
“We might be getting access to the largest library known to these lands…if we do well with our plans. Can’t let us be pushed around forever, and I’m done running. Also you know as well as I that Velenna won’t take no for an answer and would fight me herself if I so much as tried to suggest that.”
The Dwarf thinks again if he should say something to Velenna, he takes his time before responding, “No, she needs to forget about me.”
Borin gets up and moves to stand in front of Valeria, seemingly forgetting the state his body is in, “And when will you aquire this library? Where is it?” His words are rushed and Valeria can tell that she has gotten his full attention.
Taking note of Borin’s sudden change at the news, Valeria nods to herself and switches to sign just in case someone is listening in.
“We’ll be attacking Jainen in a few days. We expect opposition and captives, but we have to deal with this nonetheless. We also have some help navigating as well as an ally to help us deal with Jainen’s forces. We plan to take it and take out their leader, leaving the library in our hands for a little while. Potential plans are to have those on hand to secure the library and keep it safe from fire or damage if Jainen finds themselves in a losing battle.”
Borin smiles his smile of insanity. The one Valeria has seen too many times before. The wide grim always seen before the Dwarf does something foolish, something he knows he shouldn’t but simply can’t help himself.
He stares at Valeria for a while with the glint of madness in his eyes before letting go of the amulet and disappearing before her eyes.
When Sargis is asked whether he killed Castrion, Sargis simply denies it, and explains that once upon a time he did something bad, and so he simply wants to stay undetected in Highever and at sea.
Finally, as the moon rises high, everyone tries to sleep, but with seasickness and cramped spaces, it is hard to actually recover during the night. Rhea does her best to set up proper watches for the night, and thankfully nothing happens while she is on watch, but once morning comes, the heroes find the ship stuck in slithering sargasso.
They have a look around, and see Captain Etienne and others fighting the green, slimy tendrils reaching out to them, and so they decide to help. During combat, Rhea is grabbed by one of these tendrils, and almost pulled into the raging sea, but thanks to Sargis’ quick reflexes, she is freed and finds purchase on the wooden deck.
With the knowledge that the night before they couldn’t get in contact with Raven’s Roost by any normal means…the gang readies themselves for trouble as they sail home…