I met with The Unchained, Kerick and Eldwulf while we sat in harbor in Haven, to discuss the dragon and the crew. It was a long discussion and in the end, it was decided that we would tell them. As captain, and the leader of these men, it would fall to me to tell them. I was fine with that. My father was good at giving speeches and leading men, I hoped I could do it as well as he. I remember that he used to tell me that most men want to be lead, but only by a good leader who they believe in. Our men were mostly members of the Stoneclaw moot and men of Konigsberg. Their honor was without reproach, and their morals and sense of duty were similar to my own. If I could not lead good men such as these, I did not not deserve to lead.
The morning of our departure, we lifted off and after departing Haven we set down again only a few miles away so I could address the crew away from prying ears. The crew was assembled on the main deck, Draiden and Skram put them in a combat formation. Each was at the front of a contingent of men standing in three deep ranks. All were standing tall, many with looks of curiosity on their faces. With good reason. Other than for morning drills, I did not give speeches or address the crew as a whole very often. The last time I had done so was when we departed from the Reach on our quest.
Up on the aft castle to my right was our first officer, and my close friend, Kerick. Suulin was to my left, and as we had discussed previously, she would prepare the crew for my speech by giving me an introduction.
I felt that this was hardly necessary at the time, but I agreed to it when she suggested it, trusting in her understanding of dealing with a crowd. I did not regret that decision. Her introduction was more than I could have hoped for.
As we had discussed, Kerick was the first to step forward. He had his hands clasped behind his back, and stood tall. His voice boomed as he began to speak.
“Men, as you know we are soon off to Bartertown. Before we go, our commander, Lord Stilicho, will address all of us. First, however, the Troubadour Suulin, would have a word.”
Kerick steped aside and Suulin stepped forward, a winning smile flashed across her face as she began. The whole crew liked Suulin, and they seemed to warm to her calm, thoughtful presence. She started by telling the crew of the journey of the Unchained and the
Her words were many, so I will sum them up here. She started with the fight at the Reach, when the two Theran vessels, “Thera’s Pride” and “Conquerer” attacked. I and the rest of the Unchained stood together and defended the Reach. She told them how the Therans left a platoon of their marines behind to die as they fled with the people of the village they had manage to capture, so many of them children and the old. She mentioned each of us by name, and through she spoke truthfully, her flowery words made us seem like unkillable heroes instead of the wounded and beaten men we felt like after that fight. She described in detail how I killed the captain of their marines in single combat, and how Korack and our group saved the children in Widow Runa’s home.
There were a murmurs of approval from the crowd. Tekil clapped Korack on the back when she told of his part in saving Hannah. Several men nodded to Skram as well as his part in saving Koracks son was told.
Suulin then told how the cowardly Therans tried to ambush us a Lake Ban and how we had outsmarted them and laid a trap of our own. She went into details about the battle, mentioning many of the crew by name, describing with remarkable clarity the details of their actions. So many of our men were from mountain troll culture, and so all whose names were mentioned stepped forward to cheers from their mates, as Suulin described their actions. She then spoke of how I personably slew the commander of the troops aboard Thera’s Pride, taking the ring off of his severed arm and wearing it today, just as I did with the Theran marine commander at The Reach.
The men cheered at this. Suulin paused as they did so. It was then that I noticed that she wisely made no mention of the Theran’s desire of Vridich.
She started back in at just the right moment. She told of how we aided the Unchained in bringing the Book of Tomorrow to Throal. She told the tale of how the Unchained saved Haven and how we slew the Horror known as The Abomination. Lastly, she told how I fought and resisted the beast while the rest of the Unchained attacked the creature in a fury, with Skram ending the beast with a final crushing blow from his great hammer. She finished that part off with the reception and party thrown for the Unchained and the crew of The Dashing Stag by the town, the people we saved referring to the men of the Dashing Stag as the Heroes of Haven.
At this point I was a little bit embarrassed at how much she was talking things up, afterall, we had not done these things alone. Without the help of powerful people like Grimlock, Tago, Torgak and the like, none of things we had accomplished would have been possible. Yet, I could see what an impact she was having on the crew. Each face showed a look of pride upon it. Pride in themselves, pride in their mates, and pride in their leadership.
I stole a glance at Quorra, and she grinned at me, thinking the same thing I was thinking. Suulin was good. Really good. Her words and storytelling had just the right impact on the crew.
As she stepped aside, I moved to the front greeted by cheers.
My speech to the crew began. I did not have Suulin’s flowery words, but I had the respect of every man. I had fought beside these men, and I lead them in battle, not from the rear like many lords of our time, but from the front as my ancestors had done before me with the guidance of Rashomon and Thystonius. Men respected that, and though flowery words have their place, it’s as my father once said; the meat of any speech is in the truth of the words.
I stepped forward, nodding to Suulin as she stepped back. I then nodded to Kerick. I stood tall, dressed in my fine war glory, one hand on my hip, the other on the hilt of my sword.
“Men. As you know, when we left The Reach we were on a mission of great importance. We delivered The Book of Tomorrow to Throal. Yet, as historical as that accomplishment may have been, that was just the beginning. Delivering the book was only one of many of the goals which make up our quest. Some of you know the main goal of our efforts. For those who do not, I cannot tell you the complete details of our mission just yet, but I can tell you our goals are critical for The Reach, The Stoneclaws, and all of Barsaive. Over the last couple of months, we have accomplished much. We delivered the Book of Tomorrow to Throal. We have seen battle, fighting together to send two Theran Vedettes crashing in flames into the waters of Lake Ban! We travelled to Haven and slew a horror, saving the city from certain doom. Our glory and honor have been great. Along the way we’ve gained wealth. Yet, we must remember that wealth is of little importance. Reputation. Honor. Glory. These are the things that matter. These are the thing are remembered long after one’s death. These are the things that make men heroes. On this ship, reputation, honor and glory is what we shall continue to achieve!
I paused, seeing the crew nodding, pride on their faces. For the men of the Twilight Peaks and Konigsberg, my words especially hit home.
“Now we continue our quest. When we left the Reach, there were many things I could not tell you about it. There were things that had to remain secret. There are many powerful enemies who would do anything to stop us if they knew our goals. They are enemies of the Stoneclaws. Enemies of Barsaive. Enemies of our the culture of honor and freedom that we of Konigsberg and the Twilight Peaks have come to cherish!”
I paused, men were nodding with stern, determined looks on their faces. Some, like Korack and Arrius, I noticed had shifted their hands to the hilts of their weapons.
“Now I will tell you something that up until now was kept secret. I’m sure most of you have heard the recent noises coming from the quarters of the Unchained. The cause of that noise is because when we left the Reach, there was a dragon egg on board, and that egg has hatched.”
Looks of surprise and amazement, came across the faces of many. I continued without hesitation, determine not to let any discord set in among the men.
“This dragon is but a baby, small and helpless. There are many of our enemies who would seek to destroy and corrupt her, to use her for their own dark ends. She needs our protection, until we are able to do what is right for her.”
I looked down, and then back to the crowd of my brethren.
“However, I know this may be more than many of you volunteered for. Any man who would like to part ways with this ship and our mission, feel free to say so now. Doing so would be of no dishonor, The Passions know we’ve already faced foes stronger than even I would have imagined. If anyone chooses to, they will be dropped off at The Reach. There they will be asked to stay until our mission is complete, or until we are dead. Step forward now, if that is your desire.”
I looked around at the crew, not a gaze flinched from mine. Nobody moved. I felt an immense pride in them then, it was an honor to lead such men. A great honor.
“Very well. For those who stay, I ask that every man here who wishes to continue our quest, to give their oath of silence about the dragon and our goals, an oath of loyalty to our mission, to the ship, to the crew, and to me, your captain. When we have completed the goals set upon us by the moot elders, I would relieve you of that oath.”
Kerick stepped forward then, as we had discussed, raising his sword in the air as he spoke, his voice booming. "I so give my oath."
Hakka immediately followed, raising his blade high. "I give my oath, to our mission, to the ship, to the Stoneclaws, and to Stilicho!"
One by one, the rest of the entire crew followed suit, each proclaiming their oath of loyalty, to the our mission, to the ship and to maintain their silence. Some emphasized their oaths to me specifically, and for that, I was honored. I especially took note of Womax and the three T’Skrang, all of whom gave their oath along with the rest of the crew. Only the young elementalist T’Skrang, hesitated for a moment, I believed she was simply unsure of what she was getting into.
Later I would ask my friend Skram about her, for he was her cousin, and he confirmed my suspicion. He too had noticed her hesitation, and had spoken to her privately. He assured me that she was as loyal as any other crewmen. I knew his words to be true.
As the crew finished shouting their oaths, I was overwhelmed with pride. I had fully expected at least a few defections, instead all had enthusiastically decided to stay.