Dawn. I awoke with a snap, though I was a lot more groggy than usual. The last few days had been hard ones. Two days ago we had left the Temple of Rashomon having endured a sleepless night consoling and calming most of our crewmen (and the slaver oarsmen that were surrounding me.) They had been infected with nasty little horrors called Dread Iota that had tormented them relentlessly. We then brought in questors of Garman who healed them, killing the horrors. We then left for K’Nteshin, most of us without sleep. We stayed there, but my night was mostly sleepless anyway. I had divided up our crew among two ships, our ship The Dashing Stag, and the ship we captured at the Temple of Rashomon, The Blue Albatross. We were simply stretched too thin. We had Trejack, plus two of his men, the former captain of the Blue Albatross, Jeoffery, and his bodyguard, a curious swordmaster named Arrick, all locked up in our brig. Vridich was administering a sleeping potion to Trejack and his men, to keep them from causing trouble. But Trejack was a slippery bastard and so were his men, so we had to guard them carefully, further taxing our manpower. We also had fifty rescued slaves on board the stag to worry about, feed and keep contained below decks. Some of them we put to use as oarsmen, which helped, but they would be useless in a fight.
Then there was the Blue Albatross, where I was now trying to sleep. The captain’s cabin is where my men and I had shacked up. It was a fine place to sleep, but Quorra was absent and due to rotating guard shifts and lack of man power, we only had a few hours to sleep at night. I had taken with me only 8 men from the Stag, all men with Wind Catcher abilities, so that if we ran into trouble in route to Throal we could abandon the vessel by jumping off. We had fifty oarsmen on the Blue Albatross as prisoners. I had them chained to their benches, which helped, but we couldn’t just leave them there unattended all the time for the voyage. So they had to be guarded, and my other men had to manage the rigging while I captained and Dremnin operated the helm. There were no breaks for any of our crew on either vessel, and it was wearing us all down.
Yesterday I had taken the time to hop over to the Stag and interrogate the captain and his bodyguard. The captain had little to say, but we did get him to break his bond to the vessel, and give us the pattern item to the boat, which we would need to sell it. His bodyguard was known as Arrick of Travar, who neither I nor Quorra had heard of, and both Skram and I agreed that he was a sad, weak-willed drunk. We offered to not turn him over to the Throalic Justicars if he could take us to Trejack’s hoard of wealth, but he claimed he knew not where it was. After talking to him it was clear that probably the best thing that could happen to him was for an extended imprisonment, because the man simply had to sober up or it would be the death of him.
We were once again at Diamede, and soon we would leave for Throal and turn these bastards in for justice. We would complete my letter of marquee for Trejack. I should have been excited about it. We would be heroes, taking in a known criminal who had evaded Throalic justice for years. We would be rich, selling an outstanding airship for big money. But I could have cared less at that moment, I mostly just wanted to sleep.
I thought for a moment that I would go back to sleep for a bit, but a voice in my head said “No, you must show your men strength. You must set an example. Their strength starts with you.”
The voice was Rashomon, and I knew he was right. He had been with me since his power first washed over me in the temple, and he was guiding me. His presence I can only describe as calming.
Once my armor was on, I made my way onto deck. I looked across the ship into the red sky of the rising sun. Kerick was down by the chained rowers, who were sleeping under the stars, each wrapped in a blanket to try to avoid the cold. He looked up at me, then smiled and shook his head in disbelief that I was up, and began to make his way over. Wheeler, Tekil and Hakka had also been on guard duty and they too made their way over. They all looked tired, haggard, but they were smiling as they approached.
Rashomon’s deep voice was in my head again. “You see, even the men on both ships approve. Always show strength.”
I looked over to the Dashing Stag, and I saw Urgral and Harrod on deck. Urgral waved and I returned it. Harrod then waved back at me. Rashomon was right, I could not let the men see me down. My presence and show of strength, when it would have been so easy to take it easy, assured them and gave them strength. The knowledge of that was more than enough to motivate me to act like I was strong, even though all I really wanted to was crawl into a warm bed for a week.