Dawn over the Free Sea

The first encounter
How it all started

The beginning

All has began in the oldest human settlement – the city of Marakin. Hiding from the heat of the day we find thirteen people under the roof of old warehouse that served now as a “church” under the Temple of the Free Sea.

Olaf, the monster hunter, whose adventures turned his hair grey long before its time, Zosya, young sorceress bound with a spirit of earth, charming, but deadly, her search has brought many adventures on her head, Cade Pipe, a human midget, his deeds in the past may not be noble or even legal, but notable in any case and Silvur, a lone wolf of Shalas island, hunter without anyone to hunt for except himself. These four will be the heroes of our story, and for now we wouldn’t say anything of other nine.

So, as I began my tale, fate has gathered our friends in the old warehouse. Boring preaching of the priest, calm blue walls of the “church”, all of it came out to be a perfect place to have a midday sleep. Or it would have, if not for some stranger, who stormed inside, slamming the door open. His appearance was full with marks of recent fight, blood stains on his face covered his left eye. Immediately he began accusing the Temple of lies, telling that this world is not the only one, that the Free Sea is far from edgeless, that he came here from beyond on the ship. He was trying to say more, but preacher took out some magic stick, and in a flash of light, head of the newcomer exploded into blood mist.

After this priest quietly told visitors to keep calm, expressed his regret and ordered to kill them all. In a second high-ranked goblin guard showed up from secret door on the back wall and attacked everyone. Priest, at that time, retreated though the open passage. Chaos, which erupted after this is hard to describe, but when all became silent again guards, as well as four other visitor were killed. Our heroes decided to flee from fresh reinforcements, that were coming to finish the job.

Later that evening they gathered in the dirtiest of the inns in Marakin – Rotten Maggot, which so happen to be a temporary home for Olaf. After some questioning around they found out that all of them are wanted criminals with a nice reward on their heads. Accused of all killings that happened in the warehouse, searched by both city guards and temple servants they agreed, that there is not much holding them in Marakin.

The escape

After night in smelly, dark and cold rooms the group had found an old fisherman who was just going to leave to the village, a little north of the city. Taking help with loading and unloading goods he carried in his small sailboat old man, whose name heroes never asked, agreed to take them out of the city. No-one ever gave them second look, as piece of wood with sail took them away from temple, priest, other hunted fools, Rotten Maggot and who knows what else, peacefully riding waves of the Free Sea to the north.

Neither village

After less than a day of travel our heroes arrive to the Neither village. Not the smallest ever, but far from big settlement, Neither is one of those places you never hear about until some horrible thing destroys it. And even then you only remember it for an hour or so. Not a second passed after boat hit the shore, four travelers started searching for some way to get even further from cursed temple reach. At first it looked like there was no chance to find a boat in this forsaken place and they are stuck here for at least few days, but fortunately, Antony Grum, a local pharmacist had planned to sail to the Lone Harbor. Noticing that adventurers are heavily armed, pharmacist agreed to take them with him, if they will collect imp stool mushrooms from a cave half-day walk from the village. Having not many alternatives, next morning Silvur, Olaf, Zosya and Cade went to the cave.

Mushroom cave

Several hours of travel along with a wagon and they stumbled upon said cave. But again, it looked like nothing goes exactly as planned, and this time a gang of thugs, called Rat Queen’s gang, picked this cave as their base. Introducing themselves as Antony’s hirelings proved to be a bad move, leading to short but violent battle. Adventurers killed four out of five gang members and two dogs, spearing life of the fifth one – dwarf Bob. Looting all valuables from corpses and hidden strongbox and offering Bob to choose between death and lifelong servitude. Accompanied by their new henchmen, heroes returned back to Neither with freshly acquired treasure. Antony was really happy, although a little aggressive, when he met them, but imp stool was brought and one part of the deal was over.

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A long week at the sea
Short adventure on the way to Lone Harbor

Departure

It took less than a day for our heroes to gather everything they needed, put it on the ship and get going. I would say, it is not surprising, considering all circumstances. For the next week lives of the four, Bob and the captain were bound to the Scrag- small, slow but sturdy ship.

Uncharted Island

After first day on the sea Antony realized, that none of his passengers had any considerable experience in sailing a ship, which would cause, in case of extreme weather, serious problems. But at that time everything looked peaceful. Later that day it changed. Silvur, who was assigned to he position of lookout, had noticed a column of smoke near horizon. It was a common signal for help, someone crashed and now need rescue. After short discussion the group decided to check what happened there. It took less than a day to get to that island. Nonexistent on any of the maps they had, it stood there, covered in jungles, washed by the Free Sea, another proof of freedom for everyone strong enough to grab it.

They landed right near the place, where the shipwreck was. Medium sized ship, fully dragged on shore, with giant hole in the hull. After quick exploring of surroundings they found the only survivor of the wreck sleeping inside the hull and body of another one laying beside. Both of them look highly dehydrated, exhausted. With quick thinking Cade slit the throat of the survivor, ending his misery. For a moment all of Cade’s companions could not understand, what’s happened, but immediately after Olaf drew his weapon, screaming at Cade: “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!! I WILL KILL YOU RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW IF YOU DON’T EXPLAIN!!”. But Cade just shrug his shoulders and said: “He would become a burden.” Nobody knows, what would happen next if not for Olaf’s self-control and a little effort of Silvur. Was that a common difference in views on the life or will it become a seed of future conflicts is unknown, for now with noone to tell the tale of what happened there, our heroes had to find other clues.

In the same ship, on the captains table, they found it in the form of captains log. In it was written how this ship, Nimrod, traveled from Papua to Lone harbor when lookout saw distress signals from uncharted island. They have traveled here and sent a search party to find anyone living there and may be the source for fresh water. Over the night though, while everyone was asleep, something moved Nimrod to the shore and holed the hull. Search party never returned. That was all Olaf and others learned from the log and, after short discussion, they decided to get away from this island as fast as they could.

Any secrets, any dangers, alongside with treasures, hidden on that island were left there, awaiting for someone to uncover them.

The storm

As Scrag traveled forward to its destination it became more and more obvious, that storm was coming. Hour after hour Antony look worse and when the storm hit Zosya found pharmacist laying unconscious near the helm. They quickly brought Antony below the deck, tied him up and rushed to fight crazy weather. During those few hours Cade had proved to everyone that even though he is small in size, but not in spirit. Wildly spinning with, but not letting of the helm, Cade managed to steer them out of the storm. May be that crazed midget was the one who saved all of them from immanent death, or may be Free Sea still have plans for these mortals, in any case the Scrag continued its way forward.

Angry spirits

Mocking brave seamen, after storm came calm. All wind died out, as it has used all its force on the storm. During these days, having nothing to do, Antony and others spent their time fishing, playing dice and repairing the ship. Olaf was teaching Bob to read and write, but it turned out, that Olaf was.. not the best teacher. Cade was fishing, hoping to catch something to eat for dinner, when his fishing rod was pulled out of his hands and from mirror-like water strange creatures appeared. Lower body of the large octopus and torso of humanoid with gray skin, a dozen of them started climbing on the ship. Coral blades in every hand, red mist in their eyes, they were here to kill. Fight broke out. Cade screamed and started to fight off the attackers and in few seconds was joined by his friends. Monsters, which were recognized by Zosya as spirits of water, were quick, but weak. Slashing them left and right our heroes almost missed the moment, when giant spirit got on the boat. It garbed Cade, Olaf and Zosya and almost bit their heads off. Only combined effort of all five heroes led to victory and luckily nobody got any serious wound.

Later some time, after long care, Antony woke up and finally confessed, that he is drug addict. At the times, when Neither village was plagued with Merman’s Curse he had to test drugs on himself, but it turned out, that early versions of the cure had addictive side effect. He was deeply sorry for putting everyone in danger and promised to fight this addiction.

Lone Harbor

One more day of travels and Scrag finally reached its destination – Lone Harbor – port city on the edge of Butterfly Island, home for many brave explorers and one of the most free cities on the archipelago.

There, in search of money to pay for food and living, and also to get more information about actions of the Temple of the Free Sea, Olaf, Zosya, Cade and Silvur took a job from the Temple. They were supposed to protect a search party, sent to investigate what happened at old western guard tower – an outpost for Temple.

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