As the harsh Northern Winter abates, Eirik finds that Kiro, the hobgoblin sergeant he's spoken to the most and accompanied him on his recent outing to take down the bandits, has expressed desire to accompany him on his adventures and be his right hand man. Deirik has learned some new skills as a brand new Nephilim (reminder: 3.5 Assassin & Avenging Knife hybrid). Ygvard is a brand new Legate, though his path is not one of true faith and piety in the Shadow but that of a path to power. Boldulf feels more in touch with the wolf inside of him, but feels like he may have lost some humanity in the process.
Deirik and Eirik's first thoughts are to return to Halderton to retrieve their purchases. Being associated with the Legate now in charge of the territory, they have no issues retrieving their items. Deirik makes his way home with his brand new set of Masterwork Studded Leather Armor, and Eirik with his well-made Dire Wolverine cloak.
With that errand complete, Eirik expresses a desire to Deirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf that they get back to their roots and take a ship to go trading, raiding, and reaving. While they're making enough income to live, they're not making enough to feel like they're thriving and can purchase all they need to support their desires. While Ygvard and Boldulf's sea legs aren't nearly as sturdy as Deirik and Eirik, they all agree they could use some "fast cash" and approach Krogan about taking one of the longboats retrieved from the bandits out.
Krogan sees no issue with this but provides some guidelines by which the Men of Mjarn must abide. They cannot raid his territory or that of his immediate neighbors, including Torvald the Betrayer. Deirik sneers at the last part of that statement, still looking for his first chance to kill Torvald. Also, as the owner of the boats and Lord of the lands the Men now call home, he expects a leige lord's share of the take. The men consider taking issue with that, but think better of it and agree to the terms.
The Men then go about seeking a crew for the ship. They reach out to the people of Alucard and recruit 12 men who are willing to try to better their lot in life with what they hope will be an easy cash grab. With the crew in place, none of whom are real seafarers, Eirik, the true seaman of the group, and Deirik take up leadership of the boat and set off for distant shores.
On their way down the Be'neeya, a river quite familiar to both Deirik and Eirik, they pass through the territory of Torvald the Betrayer. Deirik and Eirik try to keep their heads down, Boldulf tries to keep Sergei, his wolf, calm, and Ygvard takes the bow as the "Legate leading this outing." Before they reach the Sea of Pelluria, they are stopped at a rivertown checkpoint. The orcs and inspectors board the boat and start asking a number of questions. The orcs are, not surprisingly, unkind to the crew. Eirik was sitting amongst them as a rower when an orc thought he was eyeing him too much, and decided to make an example of him. So the orc punched Eirik in the back of the head. Eirik didn't move an inch! The orc had already started casually stepping away, but then doubled back when he realized that the hit had no effect. Eirik was doing his best not to let his hatred of orcs cause him to do something rash, but was seething on the inside. The orc then took another swing at Eirik, and Eirik, with his iron-like skin, was again unhurt... but decided to act as if he was, and put on a show of pain for the orc. The orc then chuckled to himself and continued his "inspection"
Meanwhile, the inspector himself was speaking to Ygvard about where he was going, why he was going there. He was doing so respectfully of course, since he was addressing a Legate, but still had some probing questions over which Ygvard stammered a bit. The final question was when they might be passing back through this area, as the inspector believes the Legate Lord of this territory, Torvald, would like to meet Ygvard personally. Ygvard began to say that he could not anticipate a specific time of arrival, however, Deirik, who'd also taken a seat amongst the rowers to avoid attention heard that question. He realized this was an opportunity to arrange a meeting with Torvald, a chance to strike at The Betrayer and take his revenge, and he immediately piped up, "I expect us to return through this area in 4 weeks, my Lord." With this intrusion by a common rower to their conversation, both Ygvard and the Inspector spun in his direction with eyes glaring. Deirik dropped his eyes again in a show of humility, and the inspector then turned towards Ygvard. Ygvard understood that he must put "this man" back in his place, walked over, and hit Deirik in the back of the head with an armored hand and shouted, "KNOW YOUR PLACE!". Deirik jolted forward and also played the part of the injured commoner, which was easy enough because that actually hurt.
The inspector walked up behind Ygvard and took notice of Deirik. Seeing the red hair and green eyes, which are relatively uncommon, in addition to some similarities in bone structure and facial features to his own leige lord, the inspector was intrigued. However, Ygvard was able to call his attention away and explain that while 4 weeks is a fair estimate, he cannot be held to that as it depends on how well their business goes. The inspector nods and says he will try to arrange something anyway, orders the orcs off the boat, and takes his leave.
The Men of Mjarn enter the Sea of Pelluria and go around the Corbron Islands, hoping they don't attract the attention of the Pirate Princes that inhabit those islands. Unfortunately, they skirted a little too close after they'd rounded the Southern point, made their way Northeast, and were preparing to break off to the East away from the Islands. As they began their Eastern route, they looked back and saw two ships that were some distance away but were obviously chasing them.
Deirik and Eirik race to the sails, angling them to make the most of the wind! The rest of the crew doubles down on their oars, pulling as if their lives depend on it - because they do. After the sails are affixed, the entire crew hears a distant roar and notices on the horizon to the East a large circular storm of massive proportions... The Maw. A great maelstrom, created by magic, that travels throughout this inner sea and swallows ships whole. Seeing that the larger pirate ships are making headway, and knowing that they will have no mercy on a Legate and his crew, the Men of Mjarn decide to make for the Maw.
As time goes by and The Maw draws closer, one of the pirate crews is making up ground while the second is not. That second boat hangs back, trailing the pursuit but no longer a part of it. The first ship though comes close enough for bows and fires a couple volleys at the Men of Mjarn and their crew, doing some damage, causing some injuries, but nothing serious. What *is* serious though is the men's boat is closer to The Maw than is safe. The pirate ship peels off and returns to safety. It is in this moment that Eirik realizes that to turn back is to face them again, and to go forward is to face the roaring, swirling waters of the maelstrom before him. The choice, however, is taken away from him as the force of the maelstrom sucks the boat inward!
Eirik starts evaluating every moment and every ripping current, looking for a way to use the momentum they're gaining to escape their spiraling fate. He tries staying in the outer churn of the maelstrom, but The Maw has other plans and the boat is drawn further in. Next he tries to use the greater speed of these inner waters to break the hold this great storm has, but again is drawn towards doom. Their boat begins to tilt, the mast no longer pointing straight up, and the men's oars on the port side are hanging out into space! Eirik sets the sails and races for the rudder! Using all his might, he sets the rudder at an angle from the spiral. The rest of the crew sees the sea floor for a moment before Eirik's efforts finally break the boat free! With so much speed, the boat jumps forward in bursts like a skipping stone as it races to escape the deadly Maw. After what feels like hours of nerve-wracking, back-breaking effort, the Men of Mjarn and their crew leave The Maw in their wake and head straight to the closest shore off to the North.
As they beach their boat about half a day's walk West of the city of White Cliff, each man aboard jumps off and gratefully embraces the solid ground. Several lose their lunch, others are so pumped with adrenaline they start running around and dancing, but all are thankful to be alive and praise Eirik's efforts in keeping them that way.
Players Commentary: Finally, all those ranks "wasted" on non-adventuring skills start paying off! Though I have no recollection of owning a Dire Wolverine cloak. To be fair, since "loot" is so sparse in Midnight, I haven't updated the equipment portion of my character sheet since the game began...
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