In the aftermath of the battle with the Espagra, the Unchained and the rest of their party searched the wreckage of the slave barge for any userful items. This was a good idea, it turned out, for besides some good quality crew rations and several healing kit refills, Dremnin found evidence in the captain’s cabin of someone having looted the captain’s sea chest before escaping the ship in the jaws of an Espagra. No doubt it was not the end the captain had intended, but Dremnin and Quinn led a small group into the woods to track the heavily laden Espagra in hopes of finding the inedible loot.
It was not long before Dremnin found the gnawed remains of a detached arm lying on the forest floor, doubtless dropped by the feeding Espagra above. The captain’s dead hand was still clutching a heavy leather bag filled with coins and gems. A banner day for us, and a fitting end for the Theran slaver pig who served as Espagra fodder. The small party returned to the shipwreck, where the wounded were being healed. In no time, the crew of the Dashing Stag returned to the vessel waiting above them, along with their new troll companion named Dagmar.
Dremnin took the wheel again and steered the ship back over to the wreck of the Theran Vedette, where another search party went below to find anything useful or valuable in the wreckage. It took time to make way through the collapsed stone of the ship, but in the end a fine sea chest filled with booty was retrieved from the captain’s cabin, along with a pattern amulet, a fine rug, several ballistae and crates of ballista bolts from the forward section of the wreck. It was a good haul, and the Unchained were pleased with the booty recovered. The Dashing Stag quickly set sail for a camp site outside the forest, and the night passed uneventfully.
It was three more pleasant and uneventful days to Bartertown, and the time passed quickly. On the third day the ship was due to reach Bartertown by about midday, and Dremnin was in fine spirits as he steered for their home port. However, the scout began to hear a tune in his mind which grew more pronounced the closer they came to port. It was catchy tune, that sang well and pleased the young scout. He began to sing it audibly and thought of other times in his life when such things had taken place. Each time, a tune like this in his mind was a harbinger of good things to come. In Dremnin, music was the way in which he tracked and searched, with the target of his actions giving off a distinctive tune. It was a unique use of these talents, but one he enjoyed none the less.
By the time the Dashing Stag reached a berth in the Bartertown harbor tower, the tune was loud and clear in his mind, and he was humming it as he navigated the ship. Then the most amazing thing happened. Almost as soon as the gangplank had been placed to allow the warrior from thr Order of the Hand to go ashore, a new person came jauntilly up the gang way onto the deck of the ship. Stilicho was perhaps the only one on deck who failed to recognize the woman who stood before him, and the rest of the crew stood stack-jawed and amazed at what they saw.
It was a beautiful young woman, dressed in hardened leather armor and clothing of blue and green, with streaming red hair and a charisma that left the men on deck speechless. There was no doubt of her apparent identity to anyone but Stilicho; it appeared to be the late, lamented Veranda come back to life. And yet, she was more than that, for the Veranda they had all known as a crewman had borne the scars and lines of a former slave who had suffered much through her young years. Here instead was a voluptuous, carefree and vibrantly alive Veranda who moved with cat-like grace and beamed life, strength and vitality. It was Veranda, and yet it was not Veranda. Only Dremnin heard the music in his mind, and here before him was the source of that tune!
Urgral had spied the girl first and was dumb-struck by what he saw before him. It was no Horror in human form, nor could he and Vridich determine anything unusual in her astrally. For all intents and purposes, here before them stood Vernada, the girl they has buried in the mountains on the way to Haven. And yet, it was a Veranda who appeared as though she had never lived the life of a Theran slave, with the brutalities of that existence carved into her countenance.
There were many questions that quickly surfaced… how did you survive? How did you get here? What happened to you? And many more as well. Her story was that she remembered nothing after the time before the storm in the valley which has caused her to slip and fall to her death. She remembered waking up and not finding us, she then walked back to Bartertown. To the crew, this explanation seemed insufficient, and there was fear among them that here stood a Horror in some tremendous disguise. But Dremnin quickly put this thought path to rest by asking her to please have a seat and demonstrate her skill. She flashed the scout a dazzling smile and took a seat while he fetched her a mug of spiced rum. She smiled and pulled out a lute, then began to skillfully play the very song that Dremnin had been hearing in his mind all morning long! It was astounding to the young scout and he was swayed in her favor, vowing to get his mandolin and play along with her. He even invited her to attend the temple of Floranuus with himself and Skram to celebrate their return in triumph.
Skram was still very skeptical, and when she asked if her old berth was still hers below, he led her below deck to rest in a hammock for a couple of hours, and sat watching her the entire time. Meanwhile the routine of shipboard life came back again and the crew secured the vessel and began to get her cargo ready for off-loading. A bonus was paid to all hands and shore leave was granted in shifts. Dagmar went ashore to handle his own unfinished business.
By the time Veranda awakened to Dremnin’s call, Stilicho had decided to take her to the temple of Lochost to see if they could tell the group anything about Veranda. Besides a stunned senior Questor, there was nothing to be learned about her, even though she tolerated the pokings and proddings. To Dremnin this was all a waste of time, as they has a party at the tenmple of Floranuus to attend, and he ws looking forward to playing his mandolin with Veranda. She had winked at him a couple of times earlier in the day, and he looked forward to a day of revelry with great anticipation.