A chance introduction gives Lucreza the inspiration she needs to help heal her friend's eyesight. If she can persuade the orc, Bhaltair, to grant her passage on the Black Rose.
(a #swarmofscarabs tale)
My dear friend Kirya,
This morning I nearly lost my passage on the Black Rose. As I was coming down the stairs from my room, I encountered Gaius and asked him when we were setting sail.
“Excuse me?!” Bellowed a voice from behind the goliath. I sighed; Gaius’ size had obscured Bhaltair from my vision. I certainly would not have asked that question had I known the orc was present. “You are in no way travelling on my ship elf-thief. Go steal passage on some other ship but stay clear of the Black Rose!” He huffed and stomped off down the stairs back the way he had come.
Gaius shuffled his feet a bit and spoke in a low tone, “We need a guide and you need to get home. Give me a little bit to work on Bhaltair. I’m sure I can convince him to let you aboard. He’s just upset that you took his – I mean, your – weapon from him. In the meantime, I would like to introduce you to someone who shares your love of...” he paused searching for the right word. I could tell it was hard, after all goliaths are not known for their large vocabulary. Still, the orc had surprised me by being able to play a lute without breaking it, so extraordinary things are possible. “He shares your love of advanced things.” He motioned to the EBIII. I’m not sure who Gaius could mean or if they truly had any understanding of “advanced things”, but I had time to spare so I agreed to meet his friend.
It was quite the pleasant surprise to find that he is one of your kind, a gnome named Gimble. He describes himself as an arcanist and I am sure he must be an experimenter such as myself for stuffed into every pocket of his jacket were tools and instruments and devices that even I don’t pretend to know the purpose of. Perched upon his head was a set of many-colored glass lenses of various thicknesses.
“I almost snorted in derision– a testament to the fact that I haven’t been in civilized society for far too long.”
He was very excitable – as all gnomes are (no offense) – upon seeing the scarab Gaius had brought. With one swift motion he plopped his "glasses” (as he called them) on to his nose and began shifting the lenses back and forth very quickly. “Hmm. Uh-huh. Mhmm. Yes, I see.” Is it a gnome trait to mutter like that all the time? You do it when you’re working too. I thought it was just a peculiarity of yours but now I suspect it’s racial.
After a few minutes, Gimble handed the scarab back to Gaius and pronounced: “It’s a metal scarab.” Sometimes, my friend, I find your kind to be intentionally obscure. Gaius did as well and asked Gimble for clarification. The gnome fidgeted absentmindedly as he responded, “Well, it’s made of metal and crystal, eats metal at an alarming rate, it’s still growing, and it appears to have healing powers. I won’t know any more unless you let me dissect it.”
The scarab chittered loudly, drawing stares from the other patrons at the eatery, flitted away from Gimble, and landed on Gaius’ shoulder. I’m pretty sure it understood what Gimble had said and was not in favor of being disassembled. Gaius seemed to agree with the creature and shook his head at Gimble, “No my friend, more information is not worth the chance of killing the scarab.” With that, Gaius took his leave.
Gimble quickly rose from his seat but I caught him before he could get away. As soon as I brought out the EBIII his eyes lit up and he sat back down on his chair. “Oooh, that’s a curious little toy! May I have a closer look?”
“May I be allowed to look at your lens device in return?”
He both nodded and spoke vigorously, “Of course! Of course! They’re called glasses my lass. Now hand it over. What do you call it?”
I gave him the details of the EBIII as he proceeded to examine it. After quite a bit of time, he handed me back my weapon and let me see his “glasses”. I used them to inspect the EBIII myself and found some areas of maintenance that needed attending to.
The most important part.
His device gave me an idea for Sasanna!
Perhaps if I could not magically or materially fix Sasanna’s eyes, I could give her a set of “glasses” that would work to solve her vision problems. What do you think? Do you think she would acquiesce to having to wear them for the rest of her days? They would have to be imbued with some sort of spell I think. Do you know of any that grant vision to the blind?
After leaving the arcanist Gimble I decided to test my luck in going to the Black Rose. I really wanted a closer look at the wood that makes up that ship and I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t left behind.
The orc spotted me as I was walking up. He spat off the side of the ship and approached me in a huff. “Gaius has a sweet spot for you elf. He convinced me that you have tactical information that we need regarding your homeland.”
There was a moment of awkward silence. I’m fairly certain the orc was trying to be imposing here, but considering my travels, that was a laughable attempt. Even with his incessantly flapping cape.
“If you give us the information we need and agree to guide us to where we need to go in your country I’ll give you passage on the Black Rose.”
I almost snorted in derision – a testament to the fact that I haven’t been in civilized society for far too long. “Thalasia is a country as large as this one. I have things to attend to as well. I can’t just abandon them to take you on a tour.”
“Look elf,” Bhaltair growled “we just need to get to Matera”
My breath caught in my throat. They wanted to go to the place of my birth. Why? It didn’t really matter, the gods blessed me that day as that was a simple request to fulfill. Of course I couldn’t let the orc think it would be that easy.
I shrugged my shoulders, “I suppose I could take time out of my way to lead you there. It’s simple enough.”
The orc eyed me up and down, trying to be intimidating again I suppose, then grunted, “We leave tomorrow morning with the tide.”
The orc strode off with a scowl and I followed him up the gangplank to the ship.
They actually gave me a cabin apart from the sailors! That must have been Gaius’ doing. I wouldn’t have minded bunking in the galley honestly. I’ve slept in the galley of ships many times before, but it’s always nice to have a room with a door between myself and the other travelers. They often gawk too much when I’m changing clothes.
After my usual allotment of time to trance, I decided to go for a moonlight stroll. It was still dark outside save for moon and stars. I like viewing the world through the light of night. It is easy to both be noticed and unnoticed depending on your wishes in such light. I walked about the town meditating on finding a solution to Sasanna’s problem. When the rosy pink fingers of dawn began to spread across the sky, I headed back to the ship only to find Bhaltair and Gaius arguing again.
Seeing and hearing them from afar I turned right around and headed for the apothecary and bought a large bottle of powder and a small dropper bottle of liquid, both of which are excellent cures for headaches brought on by loud orcs (is there any other kind?).
The two creatures were still engaged in heated conversation when I returned. I overheard the gist of the conversation though. Apparently the human, Michael, was late and the two were debating whether or not to go after him or wait for him. Essentially the orc was impatient, as they all are, and the goliath was counseling patience. I headed immediately to my room where upon I took a pinch of the small powder I had just purchased and mixed it with the water in my skin and took a deep draught to soothe my already throbbing temples.
Michael arrived the next morning muttering apologies and we set sail. We were barely out of the harbor when the orc, Bhaltair, bellowed loudly for us all to assemble on the deck. He truly is tiring already.
When all on board had assembled Bhaltair stepped up onto the railing and made a grand speech about restarting the Black Company. Have you heard of them? They have some little renown of being helpful folk, but for this orc to claim that he had started it years before is beyond belief. And that is saying something as I currently believe that a mass of scarabs are going to plague the world. For all his orcishness, I will say one thing, he had quite a few vocabulary words I never would have expected an orc to understand, let alone use properly in a sentence.
This journey will prove amusing at least just to observe the orc.
I feel this letter is long enough now to send. As I’m on a ship heading your way I will most likely be able to drop this and a few future letters off in person.
I hope your family is well. See you soon my friend. Give Sasanna my regards.
Lucreza Amakiir is the creation of yours truly: Rachael Murphy
The world and main plot points of Swarm of Scarabs, and Zappy Zappy are creations of the Swarm of Scarabs GM: Jonathan Edwards
Gaius Freezeheart is the creation of the player Joshua Panzer
Michael is the creation of the player Horace Robison
Selise is the creation of the player Eric Chae