Araen Horizon Captain’s Log
15 Midyar, 30 A.F.
The day of our journey is upon us. I must admit, even if just to myself, that my heart sings with equal parts excitement and trepidation. That is true of any ship’s maiden voyage, but especially true of this one. While she may not look like much, and she does not have most of the magical accoutrements available to North Island, the Araen Horizon is as fine a ship as I have ever sailed on. She has been purpose built from the keel up for this voyage in particular, and while she may not be the fastest nor the prettiest boat in the fleet, she is by far the sturdiest. If I am mad enough to sail off the map into uncharted seas, I can think of no other vessel that I would rather do so aboard. The Horizon will keep sailing strong long after most vessels would have sunk beneath the waves, and that is a trait I would not trade for any other. Her crew is just as sturdy as she is. Given free reign in choosing my crew, I took full advantage. Not a soul aboard is unknown to me, and all have spent countless days sailing the northern seas. I know not what sort of waters await us, but Nordland’s north coast is a brutal and unforgiving place, and a better school to prepare for the unknown I cannot imagine.
The passengers concern me a bit more, I admit. If I am to take this journey, I would rather have done so without landlubbers and would-be adventurers aboard. Alas, the choice was not mine and so I will make the best of it. There are those amongst the passengers who have skills I can use, and I will shamelessly utilize every iota of what is available. The rest of them will hopefully have enough sense to stay out of the way.
The early tide has risen, and my Mate tells me all is ready. A few words to all aboard, and then we are ready to cast off. In two days time, we arrive at the Dragontomb Isles. Past that, we leave the known lands behind and put ourselves in the hands of the gods.
16 Midyar, 30 A.F.
All is well. The first day of the journey has passed without incident, save a few of the passengers chumming the wake with the contents of their stomachs. Always good for a chuckle, that. But even the worst of them is determined to get their sea legs under them, and that is all to the good.
I have spoken with several of the passengers, regarding service while aboard the Horizon of one sort or another. Most seemed amenable to the idea, though the motivations were as varied as the people I spoke with. The gnome with the head full of ideas unnerves me a bit, but Haroun assures me those ideas are sound. The weapons are his to care for, anyway, so I will hold my judgement (and my tongue) unless a problem arises. The Firaliesti also raise some concerns, but their kind can usually be bribed or bargained with. So long as they remember who commands here, I see no problem.
The Volkman was a nice surprise. If there is a group of humans that come close to matching us Wavebreakers on the water, it is the Drachenvolk. So long as we can keep him from becoming too bored, and so long as we can channel his wilder inclinations constructively, he will be a valuable asset aboard ship. The rest of those I spoke to, as well as several I did not, do not seem to present any problems. It is early yet, I realize, but so far things seem well.
17 Midyar, 30 A.F.
Gods-damned pirates. We approached the Dragontombs with the morning sun, which served us well, for sharp eyes on my ship spotted them scant moments before they spotted us. They came at us around the southern shore of Finnegan’s Island, flying Melchior’s flag, with sails painted like the flames of hell. The Isles provide little room for maneuver, which is why pirates like to prey amongst them, so it was not long before broadsides of ballista bolts were flying. Ours bit deeper, but their were more numerous, so it was difficult to say who held the advantage in that respect. Hits were scored on both sides. Nothing dire, but enough to delay us a few days whilst repairs were made.
With no warning, the enemy vessel ceased maneuvers and began sailing in a straight line. I was too busy shouting commands to notice, but one of the crew tells me a passenger cast some sort of spell that brought low the enemy helmsmen. Neither the crewmember nor I are spellcasters by any means, so the specifics escape me, but it was a boon in our favor as it gave us some momentum in the engagement. The crewmember was unable to tell me who exactly cast the spell, so I will have to keep an eye out. Another spellcaster aboard is always a useful thing.
With their ship out of the fight, the pirates waited until we got close and let loose with boarding hooks, dragging the two vessels together. From there, chaos erupted, with members of both crews boarding each other’s ship in a free-for-all melee. It was here that at least some of my passengers proved their worth. Six of them, especially, supported one another with an eye for tactics and teamwork. While it was clear that they were fighting separately, by and large, it was also clear that they all had an understanding of the battlefield and a willingness to back up their co-combatants. Other groups and individuals also proved themselves handy. The old man and his dog kept any pirates from even getting close to the command deck, while the four I had dismissed as aristocratic poseurs proved to have a modicum of ability at least. But it was those six who truly turned the tide, concentrating their efforts on the pirate captain and neutralizing him quite effectively. Two gnomes, a half-elf, a Volksman barbarian, a Firaliesti noble and his bodyguard. Who would have thought?
After the fight, the half-elf (Zane, by name) brought me the enemy vessel’s logbooks. They confirmed what I had suspected upon seeing the flag and the sails. Th ship was the Flames of Judgement, captained by Broderick Fieri. Late of the Taren’Vel navy, Fieri turned to piracy after the successful revolution in that country five years ago. Since then, he had preyed upon ships along the Araen coast of Navanaith and Elvedon. He was wanted by all three governments, and it would be a happy day for all to learn he was no longer a threat. My only concern now was who to collect the reward from. I have plenty of time to think on that, however, as it will be some time before we return to friendly shores. Zane also turned over some charts marking sites that were safe for Fieri to dock. Also valuable information, when the time comes.
The Horizon having taken some damage during the battle, we put in at Finnegan’s Island to assess the damage and make repairs. We salvaged what was needed, as well as extra food and fresh water, from the Judgement before setting her afire and scuttling her. I paid Zane and his five associates what I considered a just reward for their admittedly valuable assistance. None of them argued, so I can only assume they were happy with what was paid. The Firaliesti noble, going by the name Mournwyn, wished to explore the island a bit while repairs were being made, and the others seemed willing to accompany him. While I do not know if they will find anything of note, I was happy to let them use the ship’s boat to make landfall.