A story broken into multiple parts, covering one of Cloudcaller Citrine's misadventures into Three-Barrel Cove.
Part 1 - Departure
The elf looked up at the rough, accented voice that called over the wind. Draerent was approaching her with his normal swagger, resting his ax on his shoulder. She hadn't seen him brandishing the ax before, but it looked like it had seen some use. Cloudcaller Citrine stood up from where she was perched on the edge of the airship, giving a friendly smile. “Hi Draerent! How are you doing today?”
“Oh, alright lass, alright. Jus' got back wipin' out a few nasty undead things from the gloomier parts o' Stormreach. Night, Kat, an' I are gonna head back out to the Necropolis after sellin' some loot we found,” Draerent informed her. He then snapped the fingers of his left hand and pointed at the sorceress. “But 'fore I go an' do tha', got a task fer ya.”
“Oh? Sure, how can I help?” Citrine asked. The dwarf gave a shrug, though he wore a partial grin.
“Out in Three Barrel, there's a pirate tha' goes by th' name o' Rackam. Normal kind o' hooligan, causes trouble, raids ships, so on an' so forth. He's got a knack for puttin' together a rowdy crew though. He's got this trial, puts people through their paces. Me an' the crew went through it an' put a halt to it a long while ago, but someone or another revived the old sea dog, an' word's gotten back to us that he's up to his old shenanigans again.” Draerent paused with an indifferent shrug. “Need someone to go out there an' get eyes on the situation. See what he's done with th' trial, an' send him back to his spirit binder if he's up to no good again.”
“Alright Draerent! So, you'd like me to pass along the message to Velvy and Toxic to head out there?” Citrine asked. The dwarf chuckled, shaking his head.
“Nae lass; yer goin' out there?”
Citrine blinked, jerking her head back a little and her smile dimming. “I am?”
Draerent nodded. “Aye.”
The elf regarded the dwarf for a moment, a small smile still on her lips. “But there are pirates out there.”
Draerent perked an eyebrow, and he looked to one side and then the other before leaning a little closer, nodding slightly. “Aye, I know lass. I've been there.”
Citrine lost her small smile, a slightly alarmed expression on her face. “But why can't Velvy and Toxic do it? They love it out there!”
The dwarf sighed, his face tilting down to look at the deck of the ship. “They'd be my go-to choice for tha', y'know. But the damn fools got into a fight down at th' harbor, so now they're layin' low. Even if they weren't dodgin' guards, the only capt'n willin' ta take 'em to Three Barrel's refusin' to carry them 'til they pay for damages to her ship. And we need th' airship here for some other ventures for th' moment.”
Citrine slowly slumped her shoulders, and she gave a little sigh. “Oh, okay. But I don't like pirates, Draerent. They get drunk, they smell, and then they get all handsy.”
“Well, get handsy back wit' 'em. Acid handsy, if y'know what I mean,” Draerent said with a shrug.
“I do,” Citrine replied nonchalantly, which made the dwarf pause. The elf shook her head as she picked up her staff. “I just hate having to waste the magic. And they never learn, either. Well, except for this one pirate, who thought he was clever because he bought a potion of acid resistance. An acid ball showed him wrong.”
A slow grin returned to Draerent, and a low chuckle began to stir in his throat. “Y'know lass, there's a reason I like you. Right; take whomever ya want to go with ya, dun' do anythin' reckless, other words of wisdom, so on an' so forth.” He patted a heavy hand against her shoulder, each pat jerking the slender elf a bit. The dwarf then turned and headed off, and Citrine turned to head below deck.
Before she could reach it, the door burst open, causing Citrine to yelp and hop back. A drow swaddled in brightly-colored clothes and a large, feathered hat came racing onto the deck, carrying something in his arms. He was fleeing in a panic, shouting, “No! Don't shoot Skitters!”
Citrine watched as the drow ran past, recognizing him as Jetty; what he cradled in his arms was a large, wicked-looking spider. A loud thump caused her to jerk her attention back at the entrance, where the diminutive form of Berkly had hopped into view, brandishing the massive crossbow that was nearly as large as he was. “Get back here,” the halfling barked angrily. “I'm going to make skitter-kabobs!”
Jetty wailed at the threat, and Berkly took off hot after the drow. Following the halfling was one of the young wolf pups that the crew had obtained, adding to the frantic vibe in the air. Citrine stared after them for a moment and then shook her head, turning to head inside. As she was closing the door, she heard Draerent shouting something at Berkly, but it was mostly drowned out by the wind and then silenced as the door thumped shut.
She was left listening to the dull thrum of the airship’s inner workings, mingling with the clanks and thunks of kitchenware nearby. Citrine casually glanced in the direction of the stoves where Orshkibruun was hard at work. The elven woman had to smile; the strange dwarf always seemed to be cooking when he was on the ship; she wondered if he even slept. She passed by, offering a friendly wave to the dwarf and planning to head down to the lower holds of the airship. Before she could though, the mustached dwarf babbled something in his foreign dialect, his thick accent blurring most of it together. He was holding up a wooden spoon toward her, his other hand cupped beneath it to make sure nothing dripped. Rather then be impolite, Citrine tentatively bent to taste the stew he had been preparing. It was a tasty blend, and she offered a hum of appreciation, nodding. “Oh, that’s good! Thank you, Orshk!”
The strange dwarf grinned, chuckling and sputtering off something that Citrine really didn’t understand, and he retreated back to his pots and pans. He seemed quite satisfied, and Citrine heard him humming to himself as she headed down into the hold, off to where her belongings were stored. The woman crouched down, giving a sigh; she couldn’t wait until they got another airship. The Sunfire was a good ship, trusty and faithful, but it was a bit too open for her tastes There were only a few rooms, and those were given to the higher members of the guild, like Katriona, Nightsnow, and Draerent. Well, Draerent’s room was really more like Shigi’s room. Thinking of the drow mastermind caused Citrine to smile a little in amusement. Although Shigi wasn’t a senior member of the guild, she did have Draerent wrapped around her little finger - and without the use of charm spells.
Thoughts of other guild mates fell aside as Citrine caught sight of what she was looking for. The elven woman smiled as she spied a scroll peeking out from one of her bags, and she pulled it free. She unraveled it just enough to confirm it was a hireling contract and began to roll it up again; Citrine stopped herself, looking at the contents of the scroll again with mild surprise. The magical hourglass enchanted on the parchment was almost out of sand. “Oh, lucky; I’m going to have to grab another one after this,” she mused softly.
“Grab another what?” came a voice right beside her. Citrine gave a yelp of surprise and alarm, jumping at the sudden voice. Her body screamed out to do five different things at once, and she didn’t know which one to do first; it resulted in the elf half-contorting and falling onto her bags of stuff, floundering around and flailing the contract around in a harmless manner. When she finally composed herself to stop flailing, Citrine saw Nikufimu grinning at her.
“Don’t do that,” Cintrie protested, making a more aimed blow with the scroll. Nikufimu laughed and jerked back, then skittered a safe distance from the disgruntled sorcererss. Citrine scowled at her smaller friend and compatriot, but it lasted only a few seconds before she brightened. “Oh! Niku, I’m heading out to Three Barrel Cove; want to come with me?”
“Three Barrel?” the halfling parroted, then wrinkled her nose. “Eh, I think I’ll pass. Jetty and I were going to go annoy the Sharn Syndicate some more. You haven’t seen him around, have you?”
Citrine pointed upwards. “Being chased by Berkly,” she noted. Nikufimu laughed again, folding her arms in front of her chest. “Jetty will never learn.”
“Learn what?” Jetty’s disembodied voice floated from the nearby ramp; a second later, the drow walked into sight and looked at the two. He wore a simple, friendly smile and offered a wave of greeting, which Citrine returned. Nikufimu turned toward him, making a little sound.
“Not to hang around Berkly. You’ve really got to stop doing that, Jetty,” the halfling scolded him. The drow looked like he was a kicked puppy dog.
“But Niku! Berkly’s my friend!”
Nikufimu’s face went deadpan. “He’s shot you through the knee more times then I can count.”
“But he does that to almost everyone,” Jetty protested.
“For looking at them?” Nikufimu pressed, leaning forward. Jetty leaned back at the same time, and he brought his hands up so his fingers could fidget with one another.
“Sometimes,” the male drow replied tentatively. Nikufimu regarded him for a moment before rolling her eyes and sighing. The halfling turned to regard Citrine, but the sorceress quickly averted her eyes and held up her hands, indicating she did not want any part on trying to convince Jetty that Berkly seemed a little deranged at times.
“Hi guys,” came another voice, and Citrine looked up to watch Lyonessa approaching. The elf brightened, and she waved at the human woman.
“Hi Lyonessa,” Citrine greeted, and Jetty said the same thing at almost the same time. Nikufimu glanced back at them before turning to the cleric and nodding in greeting. Citrine brightened again. “Hey, you wouldn’t be doing anything right now, would you?”
Lyonessa’s smile was contorted briefly in a grimace. “About to head out,” she informed Citrine. The elf sighed and slumped her shoulders a little, but quickly rebounded. The cleric offered an apologetic smile, shrugging her shoulders. “I’m helping the city guard take care of some of the kobolds in the sewers; there’s been a recent new cult worshiping some sort of new death god.” The woman shook her head. “What kind of god goes by the name of “Herbet?”
“A very nice god, thank-you-very-much,” Jetty uncharacteristically snapped. The unusual way the drow spoke caused all three women to look at him. Jetty seemed to realize he was the center of attention, and he shrank back a little, his eyes dancing between the three. “I mean, it just seems like it’d be a nice name. I gotta go!”
Jetty turned and hurried back up the ramp leading to the upper sections of the ship. Citrine looked back to Lyonessa and Nikufimu, finding them doing the same. The human woman shifted her weight, then sighed. “He knows something about this.”
“Y’think?” Nikufimu asked. Lyonessa scowled at her before heading after Jetty. The halfling sighed and then looked over at Citrine again. “Alright, I’ve got to go save Jetty. I hope everything goes well in Three Barrel. Stay safe, and I hope you find good loot.”
“Thanks; you too, Niku,” Citrine replied. “Stay out of too much trouble!”
Nikufimu laughed and headed after Lyonessa, leaving the sorceress to return to rummaging through her things. Citrine gathered up everything she thought she might need for her trek into Three Barrel. She gave a little sigh, disappointed that most of the other members of the guild were off adventuring. It didn’t keep her down for long though; although she preferred to travel with friends and guild mates, Citrine was accustomed to the occasional venture on her own. With hireling contract in hand and a bag full of necessities, Citrine headed for the deck again. She saw a few other members of the guild heading down the gangplank, heading to Stormreach before the ship departed for more exotic venues. Citrine looked back one last time at the ship before heading to the docks.