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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 7

by Jesper Andersen

The docks of Mirror Bay

Soladain 28th, Klarmont, the Year 1000 after Crowning

'I just don't see why that blasted ghost couldn't teleport us all the way to Ierendi!' Whitemane said and disgustedly turned his face away from a cart of fresh fish. 'You know how much I hate the ocean!'

They were walking along the docks of Mirror Bay trying to find a suitable ship for an overseas passage to Ierendi City. Everywhere people were shouting and pushing and more than once Whitemane had come close to pushing somebody into the harbour. Along the pier, Minrothad schooners were unloading cargoes of spices, silks and dye, next to Soderfjord longships carrying weapons and armour and little round sailing ships of the Shires bringing grain and livestock. The air was thick with exotic fragrances of faraway lands mingled with the smoky smell of taverns and the salty breeze from the sea.

'I'm sorry Whitemane but there really isn't anything I can do about it' Ikaros replied. 'Palando brought us here and I am not going to inquire why his powers didn't reach across the sea. Frankly, I am relieved if it means getting out of his reach for a while'.

By the end of the day they had found what they were looking for: the fair ship Goodhope under captain Yakov Zandravov would set sail for the southern islands the following morning with four other passengers and their retinue. Ikaros paid for their passage, six persons in all since the beautiful Eveil had agreed to join their party for a while and be their guide in her native land.

They returned to The Blind Sword Master, which had quickly become their favourite spot in the city during their last visit. It was a nice inn with big servings of food and soft, warm beds. Right next to it was the fighting hall of signor Giovanni de Viochenza, a retired adventurer turned fencing master. The inn was actually named after him by his gnome friend Fasil who owned the place. Signor Giovanni had lost his sight in a duel on the Savage Coast many years ago and now his speciality was training other warriors in the delicate art of blindfighting. Most people agreed there was not a soul better able in the entire realm.

Palando's ghost had received the news of his staff's disappearance with cold silence and the next night had ordered them through another portal, which took them to the woods outside Specularum. He had ordered Ikaros to pursue the Honor Island lead across the sea and then vanished. But Ikaros had a distinct feeling that not even across the sea would he be safe from the haunting of his former master.

That night two men met at a filthy tavern in the Nest quarter of town. One of them looked like a grizzled pirate, his face leathered by salty winds and many of his teeth lost to scurvy. The other wore a dark brown tunic over a heavy set of chainmail. His head was shaven bald and his long, dark moustache was the shape of a horseshoe and reached the edges of his chin. In the noisy tavern no one could eavesdrop on their conversation but at the end of it the bald man reached into a pocket in his tunic and drew forth an envelope, which he handed to the pirate who received it with a nod and a vicious smile.

The next morning the party rose at dawn for a quick breakfast at the inn and then walked down to the pier and embarked on the Goodhope. Captain Yakov stood on the raised castle in the aft in his black and blue captain's uniform and high leather boots. He wore a triangular black hat with a large coloured feather and a cutlass by his side. The crewmen wore white trousers cut off just below the knees and blue shirts. Most of them wore earrings or sashes around their head or waist and looked like experienced mariners.

Two of the other passengers were already aboard; a young Glantrian man who spoke with a heavy New Averoigne accent and presented himself as Thomas de Marquin - minstrel and poet - and Madame Sorelli, a young Thyatian noblewoman from Kelvin on her way to visit her sisters living in Ierendi City. A pair of masculine bodyguards escorted her wherever she went.

Wulfgar was excited to have a ship's deck below his feet again for the first time in just over four years and he stood at the railing, grasping the rigging with his eyes closed and enjoying the sun shining on his face. Suddenly, the loud sound of somebody farting right next to him and the distinct smell of rotting eggs brought his attention at once back to his surroundings. 'Excu-se mia! Ai ha-va di gas!' a fat man standing on the boarding plank exclaimed apologetically in a heavy Darokinian accent. He was dressed in silken trousers, shirt, vest and jacket and wore a wide brimmed hat and lots of heavy golden rings set with precious stones on all of his fingers. His trousers ended in long hoses and black gold-buckled shoes. He was sweating profoundly from the walk up the plank and was wiping his brow with a monogrammed handkerchief while he held a silver-topped walking cane in the other. 'Mama mia, it iss such a hot day!' he continued as one of his servants standing behind him held forward a ridicules-looking white little poodle. He turned to kiss it goodbye with the words 'Arrivederci my little treasure' and then stepped onto the ship's deck. 'Buon giorno every-bady!' he said. 'Ai am Signor Luigi de Renaldo'. Just then, he farted loudly again and several sailors behind him turned away with a sick look on their faces. 'Mi scusi, it is di gas. Mai sto-mach is no goo-de, eh?'

Signor Luigi took to the centre of the deck as if it was a stage and started to get acquainted with everyone just as the final passenger arrived up the boarding plank. He was a quiet-looking fellow in his thirties who wore an unassuming long brown coat, trousers and boots. His beard almost hid a nervous smile as he glanced around at the other passengers and tried not to get in the way of the sailors who on captain Yakov's orders were untying the shorelines and preparing to set sail.

Within two hours, they had made their way clear of the mouth of the Volaga River and a strong wind carried them southwards across the Sea of Dread towards Safari Island.

Next time: Scourge of the seas