A New Crew
Standing in front of the gathered men and women, Xander took a moment to beat down the terror of public speaking that still haunted him before focusing. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the Sea Bear,” Xander said as he slipped into the persona his onetime Halloween possession had known during basic training.
“My name is Captain Alexander Harris. Behind me is my command crew. I am going to assume you all have met with my first officer Isaaq,” Xander said indicating the Paladin before turning back to the siblings, “To my left are acting Quartermaster and Second officer Wakueena Rattlefoot and her brother Mican Rattlefoot, who is acting Boatswain and third officer.” He then turned to the assembled crew before pointing out the remainder of the party and naming them. “Behind them are Wild Oats and Feast of the River”
Xander motioned to the two final members of the adventuring party, “The bears are members in good standing with this ship and will not be harassed for any reason. If you have an issue, I recommend you take it up with them directly. That being said, they are bears and will have no problem ripping your arms and/or face off if angered. As the only healers onboard consider them to be friends I would recommend you avoid that situation.”
Thankfully, Isaaq had gotten a sailing master, master gunner, and carpenter to sign on for a voyage of two seasons for very little money down. With them on hand, Xander would be required to do almost no actual sailing at all, reserving the time to acquaint himself with the world he found himself in.
As it turned out, the vast majority of the time the Captain had little to do with the running of the ship. The position being more of an administrator than a leader outside of combat, a situation that suited Xander just fine, truth be told.
Finishing up the introductions, Xander moved on to what they were expected to do. “Now, the Church of Torm has given us a letter of Marque and asked us to find a con-man moving between the islands and acting as a cleric of the church, taking money and tithe under false pretense,” Xander explained before shrugging. “While the Church is usually willing to wait for guys like that to get what they deserve in the afterlife, this particular individual has also stolen a Holy Relic of the Companions of the Noble Heart,” Xander explained.
He then continued, “This has the capacity to explode into a full religious Inquisition that could start a holy war in the islands. The Church of Torm wants to keep that from happening, unfortunately they don’t have the numbers in the islands to get this done on their own without starting a crusade. That said, they have decided to hire us,” Xander explained before locking eyes with the crowd
“If anyone has an issue with this they are welcome to retire from the crew now or at any point we make port. I do not want this to be an issue while we are at sail, so speak now or forever hold your peace.”
At the silence he got for that remark, Xander nodded and turned to the Boatswain, giving the order to make ready and take them out. He then motioned the party to join him in the officer’s cabin to help him figure out where they needed to start looking for the con man.
Sitting down in one of the many seats bolted to the cabin floor, Xander scrubbed his face with his hands for a moment to rid himself of the remaining fear from public speaking before looking at the three members of the party that had joined him. “Just so you know, I hate you like poison and I hope bad things happen to you,” Xander growled as the others simply chuckled.
“Yes, yes, Xander. We are horrible people and deserve everything we have coming to us,” Wakueena said with a smile as she dropped into one of the padded seats and set about pulling out the charts and maps they had purchased in town.
“Indeed, I shall begin my penitence at once,” Isaaq said formally before stepping across the cabin and straightening the picture on the wall and turning back, “All done.”
Snorting at the ongoing banter, Mican simply helped his sister and unrolled a map of several nearby islands, “While amusing, I must ask if anyone has a plan to avert the coming holy war before it spirals out of control?”
Letting his glare drop, Xander turned to the maps for a moment before fumbling around with a series of small colored stones. “Well, I suppose the first thing we should do is figure out where he has been,” Xander said as he held out the stones towards the others.
Taking up a stone, Isaaq began to cover what the church had explained to him. “Very well, the earliest reports have him Masquerading as a cleric on pilgrimage to the Lantan coast,” he said, placing the first stone down there. “That was around three years ago. After that, he next showed up in Calimshan declaring himself as a spiritual guide to the dark lands. That did little more than anger many and the local church paid for his passage on the first ship out.” Placing a second stone there, Isaaq paused for a moment to calm his anger. “In the ensuing chaos of his visit, the entire region nearly succumbed to a religious war. Fifteen of the local clergy were attacked and injured and nearly twenty people died in the riots.”
Nodding as he leaned over the map with the others, Xander watched as the history of their prey began to grow. “So this isn’t the first time he has destabilized an area. Either he is one of the most unlucky men alive, or…” Xander trailed off.
Wakueena picked up the thought, “Or he is intentionally trying to start a war.” She watched the paladin place a half dozen extra stones on the map. “But why? What could he possibly get out of it,” she asked in confusion as she tried to work out the answer to this riddle.
“The cause of war is as varied and numerous as the stars in the sky, Wakueena,” Mican said seriously as he stared across the table at his sister. “Do not trouble your mind with the Why, when the Where, How, and When are at hand,” the Halfling said before looking back at the table and receiving a nod from the Paladin.
“Well said Mican, indeed we do not know why, but we do know that nearly everywhere he goes the stirrings of strife and conflict follow.” Isaaq pointed to the next several stones, “In the following years he made his way up to Amn, where he passed himself off as the Chancellor of Rites to the local church. A position that does not exist, I might add. And after interfering in the country’s own holy days to Waukeen, quickly fled up to the sword coast with a rather large portion of the Halfling population chasing him, some as far as the Cloud peaks coast. That is where he boarded yet another ship and disappeared. The last three years he has been sighted throughout the Nelanther Islands and the Sword Coast.”
As the day moved on, the quartet would argue and debate with each other for hours on end until a consensus was finally reached. Snowdown would be the first port of call in their search for the con-man and thief, Tholannan Tarmikos.