After we had finished telling the guard our story of the attack we had suffered, we were allowed to go on our way. The wounded were sent back to the ship with the cart and the two boxes. I did not want to make wounded men responsible for my gold so I put the last bag of gold and gems in a back pack I bought at the market. Dremnin and I then escorted the two questers of Flourannus to the temple.
As we reached the temple one of the questers ran in and gathered the other 3 questers at the temple and started telling them the story of the burning cart, the battle, and our generous donation to pay for the items needed for the festival. The five of them flew in to a flurry of questions what colors we wanted the temple decorated in, what foods we wanted to serve, what we wanted to drink, and how we wanted the entertainment to be arranged. I told the questers to handle the entertainment and the decorations and that Dremnnin and I would take care of the food and drink. I dug in to the back pack and gave them the coins that they needed to pay the bands and buy the flowers and cloth needed to decorate the temple. We shook hands and told them that we would see them at the festival the next day. As I shook the hand of the last quester he looked me in the face and asked very seriously, “Sir. Today you have lost more money that some small villages make in 10 years, yet you still you donate another small fortune to fund this festival. Where does this generosity come from?”
I smiled and said plainly, “I have been blessed with good friends that have helped me make good tales. We have flown the skies and dove in to the lairs of more than one horror and survived only because of each other and the blessings of Flourannus. So if Flourannus calls me to spend some of the money that I have received under his blessing to put on this festival , then so be it. I will still be a wealthy T’skrang and we will have another good story to tell. I clapped him on the shoulder and turned and left the temple with a bit of a strut in my step having taken that quick look over my life.
Dremnin told me that he need to head back to the ship as he was meeting veranda for dinner. I told him that it was no problem I could handle the arrangements. I head home and to the the fish pond. I arranged with the head of the restaurant to cater the festival. There would be the best fish, breads, and sweet treats to eat. The best wines, as well as ale and mead would fill the glasses of those at the party. It took the majority of the gold left in the back pack to pay for the fare, but it would be a party to remember.
I swung by the administrative part of the compound and talked to the T’skrang in charge. He told me that the T’skrang I had talked to about the inheritance was not there. I was a little angry feeling like I had been cheated, but as we I found out that there was not even an inheritance listed on the main ledger for me to receive. I then felt very strange about the whole situation. I decided that I would talk to Dremnin about it when I got back to the ship. But when I got back to the ship I would find that Dremnin had already left.
It had been a long day so I turned in. I was asleep in my hammock the dragon snoring on my chest. I was shaken violently, the dragon hissed upset at being woken so. I opened my eyes to see the first mate. His face was pale and he looked upset. When he knew I was awake he told me that something had happened in Stilicho’s quarters and the captain was missing. I leaped out of bed. The dragon hissed again about being dumped on the floor. The second mate told me that he was trying to keep this quiet and aske me to keep quiet. I grabbed my hammer and head up to the captain’s cabin.
The room was a mess and Quorra was laying on the floor a look of horror on her face. He body was slack and limp. Her eyes darted around the room and to each of us for help. She could not speak, but she could breath. I called for Hanna and Quinn.
We put Quorra in the bed and loosened her clothing to help make her more comfortable. I then took a minuet to look around the room. It looked like there was the smallest amount of struggle. Some of the Items were knocked off the table. There were what appeared to be drag marks in the in the carpet from the chair that was knocked over to the door.
Quinn showed up dressed as if he was ready for war, which made me feel a little foolish as I was in my loin cloth running around with my hammer. I asked Quinn to see if he could figure out what had happened in the cabin. He complained that we had all trampled around in the room. I told him what I had seen and he looked and stared at the room for a long time. Hanna showed up and asked her if she could help Quorra. She told me that she could make a tea to make her more comfortable but she could not cure the poison. She said no. I asked her if she could get a hold of Vridich. Again she said no. I asked her to make the tea. I sent the ship elementalist in to town to get a healer.
Quinn told me that he thought I was right. He believed that Stilicho was dragged out of this room right out the door but not on to the deck. That some kind of portal was used to take him somewhere off the ship. I had an Idea and brought the dragon up to the cabin and asked her if she could tell us any more about the portal. She said that she could not track Stilicho but that the portal was big magic.
I told the second mate that I did not care about keeping quiet. The captain and wheeler were missing and someone had snuck on to the ship to do it. I wanted the ship called to quarters. Within minutes crew man were running to their places, I think most thought it was a drill till they saw that I was running around undressed waving my hammer and giving orders. No one questioned the orders they just did what they were told. The dragon was taken back down stairs to my cabin. Lanterns were lit.
Dremnin and Veranda showed up. Quinn called Dremnin to his side and filled him in. Dremnin was assigned the duty of finding Wheeler. Quinn was going to look for Stilicho. Dremnin started to look around. When he got to the second deck he said that he had picked up Wheeler’s song, whatever that ment. He headed down in to the storage hold. I and two other crewmen followed. I saw it just as Dremnin pointed out. A barrel of low grade ale had been opened and reclosed. I tapped the ring off the barrel afraid of what I was going to find.
A foot was the first thing we could see. “He deserved a better death.” Was all the Dremnin could say. We reached in and pulled the semi pickled body out of the barrel. We were looking over the young warrior trying to figure out how he was killed when Dremin had an Idea and dashed off running up the stairs. He came back with the last chance salve we had bought. We started slathering it all over the body. We sat and watched nothing happened. I looked at Dremnin and said, “It was a good try.”
Wheeler drew in a loud sucking breath and sat bolt upright, scaring us almost to our deaths. He was confused and asked why he smelled like ale. We told him what we knew but he could not remember what happened to him. The last thing he could remember was coming down in the hold to get something. We helped him to his room and put him to bed with a guard watching over him.
We searched the hold looking for clues to the killer. We could tell that he broke in to the hold buy use of the ballista port hole in the bottom of the ship. The real problem was that it could only be opened from the inside. There was nothing else we could find out. So we headed back up to the main deck.
Quinn came back a little time later and said that he had found where Stilicho had been taken. He feared the worst as there was a lot of blood at the site, but no body. I ordered the ship moved out of the city. Two men would stand watch at the sky port and wait for Stilicho to return. I hid the ship in a small clearing. The watch was doubled and the crew as not to leave except to relieve the two crewman at the sky port. When the boat was anchored I turned the watch over to the second mate and headed to my room I need to sleep tomorrow was going to be a long day.
I was woken at about 8 bells by a light knock on the door. I went to the door and answered it, it was Mika. “Sir, we are going to be late.” I told her to get me some rolls and cheese to eat on the walk in to town and to meet me on the main deck. I dressed in my armor. I was going for my last test today. I was sure it was going to be a grueling fight against my trainer. I prepared my mind, thinking over all of the moves I knew.
I walked out on to the deck my crystal armor reflecting the morning sunlight. My very serious eyes were staring out the dark eye holes of my helm. Bear arms of corded muscle were tense and tight ready to react. My mood stopped the crew in their tracks. I called for a rope it was tied up and the end thrown over the side to the ground. I tossed my pack over the side of the boat and looked to the deck watchman. I will be testing at the Nial today and I will be at the Temple of Fourannus tonight. If I am need, send a runner to get me. Pull up the rope after we are down.
I slid down the rope and waited for Mika. I handed her my pack. My clothing is in there when we get to the Nial lay them out so that they do not get wrinkled. I ate my cheese and bread and thought of how to beat my master.
When we got to the Nial Mika took off to fix my clothing. I went in to the training area and meditated and practiced waiting for my match. Mika returned first waiting quietly.
Ta Zomay Osheen, my master, came in a smile on his face. He asked to see my hammer, tail mace, and my daggers. I handed them over. He took a quick look at them and said that he was going to inspect them, and that I should work with Mika for a while. I saw his game at right off. He was going to get me to wear myself out first, and then fight me. Well I was going to show him that I was in better shape than that.
I had fought Mika once and I was pretty sure I knew where she was in her training. She had all the basics. So I decided to do something different that would help keep me limbered up. I reached over and took her sword out of the scabbard and tossed it on to a table. I moved out in to the middle of the room and took a fighting stance. She moved out and took a defensive stance. I took some circling steps left and then to the right. She countered my move. I positioned her so that he back was to the door. I shifted my eyes as if the master had come back in. She looked behind her. I reached out and grabber he hand and pulled her to me in a spin. She resisted at first but figured out what I was doing pretty quickly. I took the move in to a common ball room dance. She figured it out right away. After we finished I told her now we will do it again but this time as if we were fighting, not each other but a whole crowd of attackers. Counter my moves to cover my back and I yours. After a few tries we were moving almost as one. Blocks and attacks from turns and spins. The time slipped from me so quickly. Before I knew it evening was upon me.
Osheen came back in to the room. He handed me back my weapons. I put them on and got ready to fight. Osheen held up a half a dozen chain links with a symbol for Journeyman hanging from the last link also made of bronze. He reached out and attached them around the top of the hammer handle. You S’kram are a Journeyman Tail Dancer. You have shown the skill to teach others what you have learned. I might retire now he said with a smile. I was shocked. I was tested without even knowing.
I just stared at the new symbol on my hammer. My mouth hung open. Osheen reached out and lifted the bottom jaw closed. That broke my silence and I laughed. If you retire who is going to train me I said. Okay he said maybe I will just slow down a little. We both laughed. “Don’t you have a party to get ready for?” He asked me. “I do.” I said “Are you going to stop in.” He did not know but told me to go get ready.
I arrived at the party to find the Questers running around making the final preparations. The food had arrived and smelled wonderful. I filled a glass for myself of my favorite wine. I told Mika to have a good time and that she did not have to attend me this evening. As guests started to arrive I was asked to tell the story of the battle the day before which led in to other tales of the adventures of “The Unchained”. I kept looking for Dremnin but he never showed up. Once the music started so did the dancing. I danced with all of the women at the party. I was pulled over to the side by one of the Fish Pond workers who told me that we were going to run out of food and drink. I gave them the last of my inheritance money 300 silver and they went to fetch more. The party went well in to the night. It was about an hour before sunrise when I realized that I was the only one still awake. I had a song in my head. It had a good rhythm and a clear melody. I was dancing around the bond fire pit. There were just small flames over a bed of glowing coals. I moved, swayed and spun to the music in my head. I saw flames jump to life and the heat rose up. The more danced the higher the flames got. They moved with me.
Suddenly the flamed jumped up to a height of over twenty feet. I was not afraid. I could see a figure in the flames, a T’skrang. I danced with the figure. It moves complemented my moves and I it. I realized at this point that some of the musicians had woken up and were playing the song in my head. Others woke and started clapping to the beat. I danced with the figure in the flames till the flames till the sun came up. Then the figure turned to me and bowed and the flames fell back in to the coals. I was exhausted and drenched in sweat. The questers ran up to me. The senior quester took his cloak pin out of his cloak. It had a symbol of Flourannus on it. He stuck it on my jerkin and said I have never seen so clear a sign. You are now one of us. I was a Quester of Flourannus. I had just spent the last hour dancing with a passion.
Ardor Zomay S’kram
5th Circle Tail dancer