The Champions Boot spun slowly in the meandering current on the Rhone. The tiller flapped back and forth in the current grabbing and spinning in the wide river and buffeting the ship off rocks and drifts. The once majestic beauty listed to port as a nasty gouge just above the water line seeped and threatened to take on water. Three long oars dragged and skipped across the surface, their shafts snapped creating odd unnatural angles. The red glow of the early morning sun caused the ancient river to radiate a pink hue giving a false perception of peace. In stark juxtaposition the deck of the ship was an explosion of activity.“By Hansels Spear what have you gone and done to yourself Loann?” Leslie asked as he tore up some cloth and began to press it on the bleeding mass that was his shipmates stomach. “WHOSE STILL HERE!” a powerful voice thundered as debris from the fallen mast was pushed aside. A short haired dwarf hauled himself out of the pile and looked around the deck “I have Loann… he’s hurt something fierce” Leslie called. “Where is the Captain?” the dwarf asked “No idea… that bastard with the scar knocked me overboard, I just got back on ship” Leslie replied “I need some help down here!” a small voice called from below decks. The dwarf looked at Leslie… “Stay with Loann, I’ll go” the bearded First Mate scrambled across the debris strew deck and down into the hold.
“Over Here!” the voice called, it was Hutrutt, the ships cook. Thitmed, the dwarven First Mate raced over to him “Belinda is stuck under the crates” the gnome told him. Thitmed didn’t need any more, he grabbed the crates and with the cooks aid started pulling them away until they could free poor little Belinda.
“aye…” she said still a little dazed “they cut the netting that held the crates, when the haul got punched they all came down” she explained. The ship screeched and came to a halt, all three staggered from the force as more crates shifted; quickly they rose back to deck to see what had happened.
“Gravel bar…" Leslie called, couldn’t be helped, the tiller arm is broke, I couldn’t steer us” Thitmed nodded knowing the big lad had tried, he took stock of who was left
Gungar, and Thebes were dead, and he’d seen Rankin go overboard in the fight… that meant Suko, Filistan, Ongul, and Nina had all been taken; Probably the Captain as well. The ship was in very bad shape, if he could get the pumps to work he may be able to patch the hole, fix the tiller, if Loann survived they might have the man power to get off the gravel bar, then they could float down river until they found a town where they could do serious repairs… but by then, their shipmates would be dead. Thitmed ran a hand through his dark hair and was unsurprised to see it come back with red goo on it. He didn’t have time to care if the blood was his or one of the blasted pirates… they had done their job well enough. He worked his way over to the bridge and was relieved to see the Captain. The ancient elf seemed to be staring out at the river, as if it were thousands of miles away.
“You alright Captain?” Thitmed asked? There was a very long pause with no response. He looked hard at his Captain… “They took at least four members sir… and the ship won’t be going anywhere anytime soon…” again he waited, again the Captain said nothing. “I suppose I’ll have the crews begin repairs Sir” he said and began to turn away when he was interrupted“They have our people, Mr. Ironbraid?” the dwarf stopped and looked back to the Captain “Aye Captain, at least four”
“Have the crew ready to be underway then, we must retrieve our Crew” the Captain said firmly.
“Captain… the ship is stuck well and good on the gravel bar and badly crippled to boot, she’ll not go anywhere fast, let alone back upriver. We need to conduct repairs and…”
“Mr. Ironbraid…” the Captain said turning to look his First Mate in the eye, the grey eyes of the Captain were bright and sharp, and just below them burnt a soft unspoken fury “I gave an order, I expect it followed” Thitmed looked hard at his Captain and then straightened up and saluted a grin coming to his lips. He had seen the Captain like this before, those pirates would regret crossing Captain Cailana
“Aye Captain” he said with energy, then turned to the rail of the bridge and called down to the deck.
“OFF yer asses ya lazy group o dandy’s! The Captain wants us to make ready to be underway, I want the deck secured within five minutes!” The remaining crew looked at him to see if this was a sick joke, but the thunder in the dwarves voice proved real as he continued to bark out orders “Hatrutt, see to Loann as best ya can and secure him below deck. Belinda, get some cordage and lash anything useful down. Leslie I need to know if Jonathan is still working and how many shots we have… NOW PEOPLE NOW!” he was met by a resounding set of AYE’s and quickly they scrambled to work. Thitmed turned back to the Captain and watched as he approached the old tiller waving his hand on the floor in front. Slowly the floor began to glow a golden brown and from it appeared a glowing wooden chair. The Captain took a seat and began to focus.
An hour later the ship was being magically propelled up river. It leaned heavily starboard to keep from taking on more water, but it made excellent time, and closed on its prey with little issue. The pirate longboat rowed steadily hopping from eddy to eddy. It wasn’t long before they spotted the ship, and instead of running turned and drifted towards the Champions Boot to fight.
“Leslie make ready with the Stinger!” Thitmed called
“Belay that order Mr. Cane” the Captains voice sang out, clear and concise, in a lower voice he said to Thitmed “I want their ship intact, we will need it to tow us down river to Locakland to make repairs”
“You want us to take their ship Captain?”
“Yes.. and Thitmed… Get me my bow please”
“Aye Captain” the Dwarf said, hopping down to the captain’s quarters and collecting his Silver Bow from where it hung on the wall as well as the quiver of arrows, he stopped and it took all his strength to string the bow for his Captain, a feat he knew the ancient elf was no longer capable of. Then as an afterthought he scooped up the Captain’s belt and rapier and brought them with him. When he arrived back on Deck he heard the Captain speak
“Leslie, when we pull up beside them don’t waste time on grapples, they will try to board us… let them… dash on board as quickly as you can… all of you in fact work your way to their bridge and we will go from there. Understood?” the crew saluted their understanding.
Two hours later Thitmed marvelled at how fortunes change. He oversaw 14 shackled pirates who were rowing their longboat and towing the Champions Boot. They had rescued the crew and retook their cargo, in addition to whatever bounties these pirates would provide once turned to the authorities at Lockland. The Champions Boot would need some repairs, likely temporary ones at Lockland, then they would travel up to Rehume for a proper dry dock, maybe pick up a few new crew members there as well. He turned back to the Captain to congratulate him, but saw the same distant stare are returned to his old friends eyes.
“Good waves, should be into High Port by dusk” The Captain said. Thitmed just nodded he didn’t have the heart to correct his friend that they were headed to Lockland or that the river showed now waves right now. It appeared the Captain had aged heavily for his time of clarity, and if he was happy right now, Thitmed could abide by that.