SoS: THE BLACK ROSE
Updated: May 10, 2019
Fresh from her journeys to the north, Lucreza arrives in port looking for a ship to carry her and the results of her dangerous experiments home.
(a #swarmofscarabs tale)
You will NEVER believe what I found today: The Electricity Blaster III!
Let me start from the beginning.
I took the ship from the northern continent to the main port of Nala. The trip was rather uneventful. Although I suspect if it had taken much longer, I might have had a problem with some of the sailors becoming a bit too friendly. They were all very charming, but as you know, I’m usually oblivious to advances, so the fact that I noticed them means they were laying it on a bit thick.
Nala is a wonderful city, full of life and bustling activity. It was warm for a spring day, but the flowers in the storefronts seem to love it as they are in full bloom. There was a bit of a brisk breeze, but that's to be expected in a city by the sea.
Anyway, as I was strolling along the docks thinking about those lights in the sky – I do hope that they won’t diminish once I’ve figured out how to harvest their energy – I spied a beautiful black-wood ship moored there. On the side, in elegant golden script read the name, Black Rose. I asked around about its unique appearance and one of the dock workers was able to tell me that it was made entirely of Ebium wood. Imagine my wonderment upon discovering such a vast quantity of the fabled wood I want to research.
Immediately I sat down on the jetty, pulled out a piece of parchment, my good sketching charcoal, and began to sketch the ship. There’s a lot you can learn about things just by looking at them. Even though I am interested in the properties of the wood for electricity containment, I think I can learn a lot about it by studying how it’s currently used.
It was while I was sketching the ship that an orc walked up. He was tall, as orcs usually are, but lean rather than having a bulky muscle mass like many of his kind. What really caught my eye was his cape. It flapped as if in a decent wind. While there was a breeze, his cape was flapping the wrong way. It perfectly framed him no matter which way he turned.
That was when I saw it. My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. There it was strapped to the orc’s thigh: The Electricity Blaster III. Can you believe it? I certainly couldn’t fathom how an orc could have stolen it from our lab without anyone noticing. An orc in Rimini would stand out like... like an orc in Rimini. Still in shock at the sight, I got up and addressed him. It was then I took in how truly odd this orc was. He didn’t have the usual orcish underbite, but he did have a beard and hair past his shoulders. He was arrayed in armor and carried several fierce looking weapons including a glaive and several javelins. On his other side he had a horn attached to his belt and – of all things – he carried a lute.
Getting over his appearance quickly, I demanded my property back, but the brute did not seem inclined to give it to me. I did manage to get him to share with me how he acquired it. Apparently, he was on the continent of Zhakara and was captured by a slave trader who was wielding the EBIII. During his escape he managed to get the EBIII away from the slaver and has been using it ever since. Can you imagine?! It’s never been tested, and these people are using it like it’s some simple weapon! Also, how in the gods’ names did it get to Zhakara?
If that wasn’t enough, he demanded to know why I was making sketches of his ship. His ship!? An orc owning a ship like that? I wonder what he did to get it, I highly doubt it was an honest acquisition. I deflected his question and countered with one of my own. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, I need to study Ebium wood for Sasanna’s sake. I was willing to let him keep the EBIII if he would let me purchase passage on his ship or even if he would let me purchase a few boards that he must have in the hold for repairs. He stubbornly refused me even that. Who ever heard of an orc turning down good money? Who ever heard of an orc turning down any money?
After arguing with that stubborn orc and getting nowhere I hollered for the guards. They were only too happy to oblige me and retrieved my property from that orc with minimal fuss. I mean, I had to prove I was the one that invented it, but once I began explaining the concepts of its mechanics, they believed me and wrested the EBIII from the orc’s clutching grasp.
It is so dirty, I’m going to have to spend some time cleaning it. From what the orc told me before he clammed up, it did seem to work the way we wanted it to. Which means it’s a success I can report to the officials about. That should secure us funding for quite some time. Still, the foolishness that the slaver and the orc and who knows who else had to use an untested weapon is enormous.
After gaining back my rightful property I went in search of the harbor master to procure passage back home. He was a very busy man but took a brief moment to speak with me. To my continued amazement he mentioned that the Black Rose was headed for our home continent of Thalasia. Onatar must be smiling upon me. Now I only needed to procure passage on that wonderful ship so I could spend the journey studying the fantastic wood that it’s made of.
The real trick was going to be gaining passage on a ship under the command of an orc, that same orc that I had taken my EBIII from.
I ran in to the creature outside the harbor master’s office and he quickly again rebuffed my entreaty for passage, even when I offered to pay more than a fair amount. Clearly, I had to think of something clever, which shouldn’t be too hard. He is an orc after all.
After a bit more time on the dock pondering this problem as well as sketching the ship more, I saw a most amazing thing walk up to the orc: A goliath.
Sure, there were plenty of them in the northern lands where I found the lights in the sky. But here, in this place? Such a rare sight. And this one, he was bald as an egg, grey-skinned as an eel, tall as a tree, and had the largest sword I have ever seen strapped to his back. How does one even wield such a sword? The humans have a saying: Clearly, he’s overcompensating for something. I don’t know how true that is, nor do I really want to find out.
I apologize for the crudeness; I am a little tipsy at the moment. They actually serve good beer here so I had a beer... or three.
Anyway, I noted that the goliath and the orc were pretty close – I suppose that makes sense – and I decided to try my luck with the goliath... later.
It was getting late and I was getting hungry. I found a cozy tavern full of seamen and dock workers. I know many of our kind would turn their noses at such a crowd, but they can be quite friendly and accepting. Especially if you are arrayed as a traveler and willing to engage in conversation when approached.
I found a small table in a corner that was vacant and ordered my meal. After my second beer, the gods, or fate, smiled upon me once more for who should walk in but the goliath. The orc came in too along with a human. I wasn’t planning to approach them tonight, but then the orc, after speaking with the tavern keeper, took his lute and began to play in the center of the room.
The music he played was beautiful. The gods clearly blessed him with a talent that can rival even elven players.
With the gap at his comrades’ table I made a bold move and approached. The goliath, Gaius, had a deep rumbly voice, but was very kind. When he saw that I was an elf he mentioned that they were heading to elven lands. Trusting to luck, I offered my services as a guide for passage on his ship. He agreed. Then he noticed “Zappy Zappy” - they called the EBIII “Zappy Zappy”, leave it to an orc to come up with such an unoriginal name.
Gaius didn’t ask much about how I came to have my property back, by that point most of our attention was on the amazing music. My food arrived, along with my third beer and the evening proved to be quite enjoyable. I am not looking forward to travelling with Bhaltair though (Gaius told me that’s the orc’s name). Still, it will be worth any inconvenience to learn more about the Ebium wood and work on finding a cure for Sasanna’s vision while travelling home.
I suspect I might make it to you before this letter does, but I have been wrong before. Take care my friend.
Lucreza Amakiir, all her family and friends, and her story are my (Rachael Murphy's) creations.
Thalasia, Ebium, all the rest of the lands named, and Zappy Zappy are creations of the Swarm of Scarabs GM: Jonathan Edwards
Gaius and his story are creations of the player Joshua Panzer
Onatar, Dol Arrah, and any other gods were used as written in the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Player's Handbook