The Journal of Kieron Zoa
Glaceus the 1st, 608 A.R.
The Sullen Wench was far from the worst and further from the best vessel I’ve traveled on, but many of my fellow passengers were unsuited for water-based travel. I stayed away from them and met only two others that seemed to be of the adventuring type. One, an elf named Agador, and another human named Dmitri Rostof. Being crammed below decks was unfair, but we were not the type to complain. They didn’t share where they came from before making their way west on the Dragon’s Tongue River on such a shoddy vessel, and I didn’t share my reason’s with them either. If I did divulge everything, then they’d unlikely wish to share my company further.
Not many gold crowns on my person, I took the cheap route and it was likely another mistake in the long line of mistakes I have made over the years. Orphaned again, and no knowledge of where the Zoa was or even if it still was afloat, becoming a mercenary was the only option I could see for myself. Why I’ve decided to keep a record of these events is beyond me, and the thought of leaving these for any future children is humorous at best. My recent fellow travelers, although little conversation has transpired between us, might be the only ones alive to avenge me if I have another day like today. Back to the day’s events, I suppose…
We came to a stop and the huddled rats were the first to scurry when released from their cage. Topside, we were asked if we wished to whip a prisoner chained at the aft. Intrigued, but not cruel, I paid the five crowns and took the whip from the sweaty deckhand. Pretending to whip the middle-aged prisoner, I eventually heard him say before his death rattles that, “You must find the scarab…bring it to the Thom & Tarry…you will be rewarded.” The reward was of little importance compared to the names I heard. Hearing them again after so many years was unsettling, but I kept my composure. Before coming aboard the Zoa for the first time, my only belonging was a torn piece of parchment with the names Thom and Tarry on it. I must have stolen it from the orphanage before leaving it forever. The parchment was lost while aboard the Zoa and I almost forgot the names altogether. I decided then to see this dying man’s last words come to fruition.
Time with the prisoner up, the deckhand that offered us the original whipping time tried to get the whip back and charge us a fee for leaving the ship. Dmitri, not taking the unfair nature of an already horrible traveling experience refused. Seeing the threat of three armed men—well two men and one elf—the deckhands opened fire and Agador was hit by a few rounds from their pistols. The closest excuse for a man was the deckhand who was sweaty from whipping the prisoner and I engaged him in melee combat. My skills with the cutlass were out of practice and I paid for it. With more luck than skill, my opponent landed some decent attacks with his sword. To my surprise, the wounded Agador leaped atop the pilot house and put an arrow through my opponent.
The deckhands defeated, one fled, we looted their corpses and Dmitri found the lapis lazuli scarab in the bloody pocket of the other torturer. The scarab looked as if it had been carved out of their prisoner. Why such an item was in the forehead of the man was puzzling, but we didn’t have time to talk about it. We fled the Sullen Wench when we saw ropes moving on their own volition and heard an inhuman rumble from below deck. I believed it to be the ship’s captain and I didn’t consider myself or the formidable elf to be in fighting shape anyway.
While walking along the wharf, we came upon a group of four young trollkin throwing stones at a screaming gobber girl who was buried neck-deep in sand. Dmitri and I scarred the lot off though. Bloodied and still willing to help a stranger, I wanted to save her and it was then Dmitri and I were set upon by three jet-crabs that burst forth near the girl. In their effort to torture the girl, the trollkin must have stirred the crabs and our footsteps finally brought them to the surface. Once again, resorting to my cutlass I failed to strike a crab after being disorientated by two separate spray attacks. Having an elf with us was fortunate again as he killed two crabs with as many arrows. The third survived long enough to spray my face with its corrosive and vile liquid. Agador felled the third crab, but I didn’t see that as I reached to cover my agonized flesh when I regained consciousness. I heard the gobber girl’s parents arrive and they must have finished the work of rescuing their daughter. Agador’s skill in medicine saved me from having my face permanently ravaged, but, for now, I have a red burn on my brow that will only encourage me to keep my hat low if it scars.
On Captain’s Island, we headed to the Rusty Rudder tavern via Market Street. Dmitri was handed a voucher from the gobber father for a free beer at the establishment. On the way there we saw a gobber, with a sandwich board matching the voucher, fleeing from a small mob who wanted free beer without reading the small print on the advertisements. The burn I received and scant spoils received thus far sullied my mood for assisting strangers. I was the first to walk past the mob and reach the Rusty Rudder where more annoyed and ornery patrons—more like freeloaders—complained about the watered-down swill they were drinking. A waitress approached us and asked if we could help bring up barrels of ale from the basement for the reward of ale, which was not a rousing factor for the three of us. We asked her about the Thom and Tarry and she said it was a new tavern near the Heatherlong Opera House on Bellicose Island.
As the tavern’s basement became engulfed in flames, we left to find rest in a common inn with less troublesome guests. Before long though, the city watch stopped us on the way to a different inn. They started to interrogate us about the Rusty Rudder’s fire, but we remained tight-lipped. They asked us to report any suspicious activity and told us we were being followed. These couple of watchmen managed to do their job and bought a hooded figure to us. When the hood was removed, we saw that it was the waitress, Saffera. It seemed that our disinterest in helping her at the tavern caused her to take after us. She agreed to help us find another inn and guide us to the Thom & Tarry as long as we helped her gain new employment. We reluctantly agreed.
We walked down one street in the early evening and were called by the deckhand that fled the Sullen Wench. He shouting at us from a second-story window and this lousy excuse for a pirate was not alone. This second figure looked like a scarecrow with a fiery light on his face. They offered us one-hundred and fifty gold crowns for the scarab and we refused. If the item was so precious, then maybe they shouldn’t have left it with an incompetent combatant. Our refusal brought the two above us into action. Dmitri, after being hit from the scarecrow’s fire, lobbed a grenade and concussed the deckhand. I missed my first shot at the scarecrow, but my second hit the vile creature. My runeshot was not enough, so Agador came through yet again with his bow. The battle won, Agador and I went to finish off our enemies and see what loot there was to find. Agador pried the oval gem that seemed to power the creature and its magic dissipated.
Once we reached the inn for the night, Agador shared some of his story and I shared that Thom and Tarry were the name of my parents. The others didn’t comment on this too much, but didn’t dissuade us from traveling to the tavern as soon as we were able. We all needed the rest though, and I hoped that the next day brought more luck than today. -Kieron Zoa