The Dracholt party finds the person that brought the mysterious floating wood to the city.
Cast of Characters
Goliath Paladin – Red’s Husband
Lawful Neutral Paladin of Devotion tied strongly to Goliath’s tendencies for meritocracy. Thinks magic is cheating, and has a personality loosely based on Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.
Human (Silver Draconic) Sorcerer –Anndelle
Human Druid – Anndelle’s sister
Nick “Pyro” / “Gandra Nox”
Human (Gold Draconic) Sorcerer – Tyrone (older teen girl)
Vigilante-type that masquerades as a Dragonborn-esque creature “Gandra Nox” in order to keep himself safe.
Kobold Warlock – Mort/Blackwold (new DM candidate)
Peddler of fallacies and miracle cures that found a dragon’s scale while helping dig out sewers under Dracholt. Now proclaims the wisdom of the Blood Dragons in loud, Born-again Evangelical style.
Half-Elf Rogue – new player Red’s friends knew
Kildrak Dankil of the Silver Flame
Dwarven Cleric – new but experienced player McFadin knew
Elven Ranger – new player Red and husband knew from Warhammer 40k
As one of the raft sailors jumped out of the vessel and onto the ramshackle wooden walkway that counted for a peir in Eastborne, the party stared in dumbstruck horror at the horrid condition of the so-called port. Where it should have been developed and thriving, Eastborne was a wreck. Marsh stretched as far as the eye could see, the dark mud sucking at anything that touched it, and to avoid the stench and refuse that the slosh brought with as best they could, the townsfolk had built Eastborne on crooked stilts, haphazard walkways of wood and rope criss-crossing this way and that along the river delta. The town might as well have been a festering maze, and as the sailors began to offload their raft, it became obvious that the real vessels never ventured this far in.
A rowboat, filled to the brim with crates and barrels, slid past along the water and headed out towards the ocean, where a few large galleys were anchored. These were real craft, unlike the cobbled-together and patched boats crossing under Eastborne’s woodworks; one of the ships was more than one hundred feet high, glorious sails furled tightly and hull crafted expertly.
As the group clambered up onto the wooden walkways, some of the boards creaking in protest, Nick and Crux, accompanied by a dark-skinned elf in rough but practical clothing, appeared from around the corner of a hovel. Nick exclaimed happy greetings but his tone quickly quieted as he forwarded an apology for his earlier, paranoid behavior. Producing various gifts – a strange purple hat for Aldin and a bottle of bizarrely strong alcohol for Kildrak among them – Nick promised to keep himself more in check in the future before gambling off to lead the party to one of the few well-built buildings in town.
Through the thin pane of glass set into the door, they could see a thin and wirey man, his face pinched and mean, busily noting cargos in a large ledger. Aldin pounded on the door, but the man did not even look up before exclaiming that he was much to busy to deal with anyone or anything at the moment.
“We just need you to answer a few questions,” Aldin insisted, his voice booming throughout the town to ensure the merchant inside could hear.
“I’m sure one of the dockhands or harbormasters could answer your questions just fine,” Ernest retorted angrily. “My time is valuable and better spent doing actual work.”
Aldin smirked, before continuing to knock on the door. “I’m not leaving until you answer my questions, and I’ll make all the noise I want in the meantime.”
Ernest flinched at every knock, angrily setting his quill aside before pinching the bridge of his large hooked nose and leaving his desk. “And why should I even answer any of your questions?” he demanded, throwing the door open.
“If time is money, it pays to talk to us,” Nick smiled, offering 20 gold coins to the scowling merchant.
A greedy snarl curled across Ernest’s face as his thin fingers snatched up the offering. “Then what do you want to know?” he sneered.
“We are looking for the source of a shipment that was delivered to Dracholt – wood that floated in air. We were told you hand-delivered it.”
“Ah, that. Captain Aber brought it in on the Trumpeter’s last return voyage from Everwinter. Never told me where it came from, just what it was worth and where it was going.”
“And where would we find this Captain Aber?”
“Trumpeter is out in the bay,” Ernest said, pointing to the most well-crafted ship among the lot. “Loading up for another voyage to Everwinter. Captain’s either off in the merchant district shopping or gambling away money in Uneven Elderberry or maybe overseeing the loading. Now, go ask the sailors! I have work to get back to!”
As the door slammed again, the party headed towards the nearest peir from which a number of peasants were loading some rowboats with cargo. One of them agreed to rent the group a rowboat, and soon they were all standing aboard Trumpeter, face to face with a lady halfling, who eyed them all curiously.
“Captain Aber?” McFadin ventured.
“The one and only!” the halfling smiled wryly, a twinkle in her eyes.
“Captain, we need to search your vessel for illicit cargo!” Crux crowed, stepping forward quickly. “We hear you transport things… of a dubious nature.”
“Do you now?” Aber chuckled, one eyebrow arched in amusement and question. “You don’t look much like the dockmaster.”
“What we’re trying to say,” McFadin cut in before the kobold could go off on a tirade, “is that we need some information about a shipment you made recently – of some wood that floated in air. We need to know where it came from.”
“And why is that?” Aber asked, now less amused.
“We simply want to acquire some ourselves and believe it might lend to some interesting locations.”
“And exactly which of the other captains put you up to conning me?” Aber chuckled again. “Plenty of people want to know where that comes from, so they can undermine me and take the profits for themselves. My suppliers are my business and mine alone. Now, if that’s all you came here for…”
“There’s no need for deception, McFadin,” Krisa explained, stepping forward and offering a copy of Alpharius’ flyer. “We are being paid by the Dracholt Court Mage Alpharius Marcon to retrieve some integral magic items – the Lost Seals of Dracholt – and have reason to believe that one of them lies at the source of the floating wood you delivered.”
Aber squinted for a moment at the sorcerer before smiling. “I like you,” the halfing chortled, taking the flyer. “Straight to the point. Ah, now I remember these going out. You really think these things exist?”
“We do,” Krisa answered. “We’ve already collected two of them.”
“Alright, I’ll take you there on the condition that I accompany you the entire way and you all submit to a contract to never speak a word of this to anyone.”
“Can do,” the response came, echoed each in turn by all members of the group, so after Aber sent one of her sailors to have Ernest draft the document, it was signed. Then the Trumpeter set sail, its hold loaded in a few days, and although the ship’s travel was beset by strange creatures of the sea, it was not long before Trumpeter rounded into a bay and dropped anchor again.