It was near to midnight in the city of Dublin and Arrok could not sleep. He had never made a journey quite like this one before. In the morning he and the sisters he traveled with would board a ship to travel across the Second Great Sea. They would be leaving behind the continent they knew to travel to a distant and strange one. As he walked a light caught his eye. Farther down the street and just off the cobblestones was a well. Sitting on the rim of the well was a Spanish woman of striking beauty. The hour was late, he could not sleep, and he was about to leave everything he knew behind, but here was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was sitting on the well and washing her feet by candlelight. Perhaps things weren’t as terrible as they seemed.
The Bearded Beauty was captained by a Dwarf by the name of named Argam Irontoes. The captain and his ship had an impressive reputation. He would take nearly anyone across the Second Great Sea, and do so safely. It didn’t matter if you were traveling from the Land of Ancient Kings, where he currently was docked, or from the Land of the Once Great, where he was preparing to go to. Among the only requirements to gain passage on the Bearded Beauty was the coin to pay the surprisingly reasonable fee, and the ability to walk across his gangplank.
Rumor said that the gangplank had been enchanted by one, or maybe more, of the spellcasters Captain Irontoes kept aboard. The rumor said that it did not matter if the creature was a man or a monster, evil could not walk across the gangplank. The rumors also said that if a person got clever and tried to get aboard without walking on the gangplank, they would meet one of the spellcasters. The thing they said would happen after that were not things you said in front of children and the elderly.
Seeking passage that day were the standard lot of merchants, mercenaries, adventurers, scholars, and more. It wasn’t always the ones who can be called the “and more” that stand out, but they were worth mentioning this day.
The Half-Orc sisters Susan and Rosemary Strongarm crossed the gangplank with their Human traveling companion Arrok. Susan was wearing a cloak the color of the night sky and the priest who stood at the top of gangplank had the a slight look of concerned as she approach him. The priest’s eye did not leave Susan until she reached the top of the gangplank and she handed him a scroll. The priest read the scroll quickly, examined the seal at the bottom closely and then read it once more. He leaned slightly to one side to stare past Susan at Rosemary. He looked Rosemary up and down, taking note of the subtle clues that told him she was both a warrior and a fellow servant God. A smile spread across his face. The priest took one last quick glance at the scroll. Then he rolled it back up and gripped Susan’s shoulder like an old friend as he welcomed the sisters and Arrok aboard.
Also boarding that day was the gunman Loosey. Loosey’s pistol was on his hip, his rifle was wrapped and over his shoulder, and his past was held close to his heart. He was boarding the Bearded Beauty on a quest born out of his past. The Land of the Once Great was his homeland. He had left it years before and had hoped to never return. There was Garren the Catfolk. Garren’s mission was not his own. He was being sent by his masters to complete a task no one would ever know about.
These few and others boarded the Bearded Beauty and set sail on their long journey. They spent the days talking, laughing, working and sharing tales. Garren and Loosey reintroduced themselves to each other over a game of chess. They had met briefly once before over the body of a man they had both been sent to kill. Neither was certain who had struck the death blow, but it did not matter. Susan spent much of the voyage seasick and in the cabin she shared with her sister and one of the other passengers. On some calm nights she would go up on deck and watch the stars. Arrok watched the ship’s Arcanist closely. The man was covered in tattoos. His nose and ears were pierced with bones and his teeth were filed into points. The man’s appearance was demonic in Arrok’s eyes, but he seemed to take pleasure in sunrises, simple joys. At one point Arrok saw him have what appeared to be a conversation with a dolphin. The ship’s priest held Sunday Mass every week and would sometime tell stories in the evenings. One one special evening Captain Irontoes came down to the galley and told a tail of the ancient times when the Dwarves crafted armor, weapons, and fantastic things for Odin and his court. The strangest part was that his stories carried such emotion and detail that it was as if he had been there himself. After the Captain had left the passengers questioned the crew about the captain and if he could truly have witness the things he described. The crew were forced to shrug and say that they simply did not know.
The four month journey took passed without incident and soon the Land of the Once Great was in sight. The Bearded beauty sailed into a great estuary and dropped anchor. Some of the passengers and their supplies were taken below deck to a door that had remained sealed and guarded through the long voyage. Standing in front of the door Captain Irontoes explained that the Bearded Beauty would be heading farther north and would drop off the rest of the cargo and crew, but those gather before him would be traveling a different route. They would be passing through the City of the Emerald Lady. There was quiet looks and some whispers at that information. The city was said to have once been home to a legendary woman made of emerald. Some stories said she was a great leader and warrior. Other said she was a goddess. All the stories said she was a giantess and protector of the weak. The legend all also said that some great tragedy had befallen the city and that now it was a ruin.
“It is an unusual route, but the safest,” Captain Irontoes said. “It will take us very close to what was once the home of the Emerald Lady herself. Now her island is home to a Dragon.”
At that most of the passengers looked concerned, but Arrok and an old man both looked at Captain Irontoes excitedly.
The old man asked quickly, “How big, and what color?”
Arrok nodded, “Yes, please tell us!”
Captain Irontoes narrowed his eyes and said with a tone of warning, “Red, and as big as the boat.”
Arrok and the old man both took in a breath and lost some of the color from their faces.
“The Dragon’s presence has kept most creatures away from the area,” Captain Irontoes said. “On top of that the land, air, water, buildings and everything else in the city are poisonous. Nothing lives there and nothing that goes there and comes back lives very long.”
He turned, walked through the door and then beckoned the passengers the follow him. There in the bottom of the Bearded Beauty was a Dwarven-made submarine. Some of the crew were present and in the final stages of readying the submarine for departure.
Captain Irontoes turned back to the passengers and continued, “We will pass by the dragon and through the city underwater. We will head up river to a town far enough from the city to be safe. There you will disembark. There is a decent inn and a few shops for any last supplies you may need. The trip will take around eight hours. I will be staying the night in the town and heading back the the Beauty in the morning. You have until I leave to change your mind and find the coin to come back with me across the Second Great Sea again. The crew will help you load your things and come aboard.” With that he turned and began checking over the final detail of the submarine himself.
Were it not for Susan becoming ill almost immediately the trip in the submarine would have been quite pleasant if cramped and boring. Rosemary offered her sister a belt pouch and Susan spent most of the time vomiting or heaving into it. The keenly aware of the passengers took note that the belt pouch help much more of the sister’s stomach content than a pouch of that size should have. None of the passengers who had noticed bother to ask either of the heavily armed sisters about this unusual fact.
Nearly four hours had passed when Captain Irontoes spoke up, “You’ll want to look out the starboard side. We’re passing the Emerald Lady now.”
The passengers crowded to look out their small view ports and beheld something they had never imagined. Resting on the bottom was a massive statue. Pieces of it were missing, but it was obviously a statue of a woman well over one hundred feet tall. The woman wore robes and a crown. She held one arm outstretched above her head. The entire statue was made of a green material that could not quite be identified from the distance they were keeping from her. The submarine slowly passed by and the passengers returned to their seats to think on the legend they had seen first hand.
Another four hours passed and finally the submarine rose above the surface of the water. The craft came to a stop at a dock on the banks of the river. They had arrived at the town of Fleming. Captain Irontoes rose from his seat at the helm and called for the passengers to disembark. Two of the crew that had come along help the passengers with their luggage and soon everyone was standing on dry land.
Captain Irontoes spoke up, “We arrived as far as I’m taking you. If you are continuing on and don’t know the land then I suggest hooking up with a caravan or merchant or someone who knows the area. I know a few that pass through here and can ask around if you like. Otherwise I’ll be in the local inn. See me if you need me.”
The old man bowed his head the captain Irontoes, “Thank you Captain. The journey was most pleasant.” He pulled a slender and ornate rod with several ring on it from his robes. He rotated some of the rings, spoke a few words in a strange language, and vanished into thin air.
Captain Irontoes nodded, “Right, if anyone else needs me, you know where to find me. Remember, I leave in the morning.”
With that said he turned back the submarine to make sure it was secure.
Most of the passenger went their own ways, but Garren, Loosey, Arrok, Rosemary and Susan gathered together. They had spent a lot of time together on the Bearded Beauty and discussed their future traveling plans. Arrok and the sisters were going to be travel together in search of information pertaining to their quests, but had no leads at the moment. Loosey and Garren were both in similar situations. It was decided that if they could, they would travel together. The group spent the rest of the day gathering information from the townspeople and checking the local shop for supplies they may need. Arrok took went off by himself for a time to find the local black market. Upon finding it he was dismayed to learn that the “black market” was actually one old woman in a back alley with some unusual merchandise. He purchased some extremely potent curry powder from her and rejoined the others.
The group had heard many strange stories about the lands to the south. Supposedly worshiping in strange way with reptiles and strange parties. The north was said to be filled with monsters and a place no one came back from. To the east was the coast they had come from. At first they thought to travel north to investigate the strange things there. Captain Irontoes warned the group that was scarcely anything alive to the north besides monsters and undead.
Upon asking his recommendation, Captain Irontoes directed them to a merchant he knew who was in town. The group met with Jedidiah Spokeman and learned that he would be leaving in two days with his family and three wagons to begin he regularly travels from this side of the continent to the other. He offered pay of one gold a day, food on the road, and room and board when they stayed in a city. In return the group would be expected to guard his caravan from danger. Any loot gather from attackers would belong to the caravan but there would be a possibility of buying it from the caravan at a discounted price and over time. The guards could leave the caravan whenever they wanted as long as they waited until it reached a city so a replacement could be found.
Arrok bristled at the idea of his enemy’s loot belonging to the caravan, “So you get to keep the loot from people we kill and will sell it back to us?”
Jedidiah smiled and replied, “You wouldn’t have killed them in the first place if you weren’t guarding the caravan.”
Arrok begin to argue before reconsidering and finally relenting with an irritated, “True.”
The group learned the the ugly passenger from the Bearded Beauty had already agreed to guard the caravan. He introduced himself as Hobnail Maclarn.
The group consulted amongst themselves before finally agreeing to Jedidiah’s terms. There was a round of introduction to Jedidiah’s family followed by the signing of contract. With that finished the part was formed and the adventure set to begin in two days.