Thrice The Brinded Cat
CT Session 1
Godsday, the 25th of Sunsebb in the Common Year 593. The Strumpet’s Excuse, Merchant’s District of Sasserine, on the edge of the Amedio Jungle
Kate, Delgan and Gorbi were star-struck when they spy Shag Solomon in the common room of the Strumpet’s Excuse after watching Solomon’s Circus Review. The show was great, but the tickets had cost them their last silver. Gorbi, in particular, wanted to get Shag’s autograph so the trio waited patiently for Shag to finish speaking with a gentleman in fine clothes before approaching. But to their surprise, Shag saw them standing nearby and called them over for a “polite conversation.”
Shag and the gentleman, introduced as Derg Moenthal, had been in a heated discussion. Apparently, Derg had agreed to help Shag with a delivery in a far-off town, but refused to leave the relative safety of Sasserine without a proper escort and had been unable to find suitable guards. Even though they were complete strangers, Shag asked if Kate, Delgan and Gorbi would take the job and indicated Derg would pay them well for their time. When Derg reluctantly nodded his acceptance of the arrangement, Shag offered to double the pay on their successful return to Sasserine. The trio happily agreed!
Waterday, the 26th of Sunsebb in the Common Year 593. Azure District of Sasserine, on the edge of the Amedio Jungle
The three friends said a hasty farewell to their respective families in the Azure District before finding their way down to the docks the next morning at the Sunrise District. There they found an impatient Derg waiting for them and within minutes were aboard the Dragonsprit and a sail upon Jeklea Bay. They discovered the short and squat mahogany cargo caravel was owned and operated by the gruff Captain Arganat and his first mate, Roy Tully. Tonsil, Dogboy, Rhemmi, Zokar, Lady Min and Bilge made up the rest of the crew.
The double-masted, lateen-rigged vessel ran nearly 20 paces from bowsprit to stern and seven full paces at its widest breadth. A high captains forecastle dominated the ship’s design and three short wooden doors gave main-deck access to it’s interior. The captain’s quarters sat just under the forecastle and was accessed by the center door while the two outer doors led down to the ship’s galley, the first-mate’s cabin, guest cabin and two large cargo holds. The fore of the ship’s interior held eight small open holds that contained spare sheets, tackle, sails and other necessities.
Shortly after leaving Sasserine harbor, Derg was called to the captain’s quarters to discuss the details of the trip. The trio accompanied Derg as his guardians. They were distracted by a set of large nautical maps laid out upon a table. When Gorbi began asking questions about the map and why Sasserine did not appear on it, the captain got cross with him and told the trio to leave if they couldn’t shut up. Gorbi didn’t listen and persisted in being a nuisance and was escorted out of the cabin upon threat of keelhauling.
The three got used to life on deck, as they were quartered there along with the rest of the crew while the captain, first mate and Derg all had rooms below decks. During the warm evenings, the ship anchored just offshore and away from the pounding surf. Kate took first watch outside Derg’s door, making sure he was safe while he slept inside. Gorbi took second watch, taking over for Kate somewhere around midnight and Delgan took third watch just as the eastern horizons began to lighten. During the day, they all three followed Derg around deck like dirt on a dwarf. If he minded, he certainly didn’t show it.
Earthday, the 27th of Sunsebb in the Common Year 593. Jeklea Bay off the coast of the Amedio Jungle sixty miles from Sasserine
Delgan noticed that Dragonsprit’s mast bore the crest of the Taskerhills as they left Sasserine the day before. Now a strange new flag flapped madly in the whipping wind. He asked Tully about it and he replied that it was the crest of The Shar. None of the friends knew of the Shar so Tully told them they were a people not to be trifled with. They had saved Sasserine from the strangling grip of the Sea Princes nine years ago. He also told them that their ambassador can be seen daily strolling through the streets of the city.
Later that day, Kate talked to Lady Min and their conversation drifted onto the topic of dragons. People learned fast that when you were around Kate, the conversation usually drifted to the topic of dragons. She was obsessed. Kate thought about them all of the time. Min laughed at her single-minded pursuit and then let it drop that she had seen a dragon once. Kate lit up like the tropical sun at that. Then Min pointed south, to a large bay and then up to the top of the jungle trees and beyond to a massive, smoking volcanic cone. Min told her that was Mt. Hurlon and it was the current home of a terribly mighty red, the scourge known as Hookface.
That night, after her shift, Kate climbed above decks and found her hammock. As she lay there, half awake, she looked up at the nearly full moon, Celene, and was amazed at her splendor, with a blanket of stars strewn out across the night sky. But then she spied another glow. This one about a mile wide that graced the top of the high basalt cliffs to the south. Lady Min was awake and in the hammock nearby and she told Kate it was the glow from the moon palms. A patch of trees that grew upon the cliffs whose long fronds captured the moon’s radiance.
Freeday, the 28th of Sunsebb in the Common Year 593. Jeklea Bay off the coast of the Amedio Jungle one hundred twenty miles from Sasserine
The next day dawned bright and hot. Porpoises leaped and frolicked before the ship’s wake while dozens of gulls and seabirds wheeled and cried in the air about the sails. They still passed a few whalers and trading boats traveling to and from the port of Sasserine, but their numbers grew fewer as the days passed.
Just before noon, Tully arranged for the Dragonsprit to set anchor just a hundred yards from shore. The heavy surf boomed loudly upon a stretch of black sand beach that climbed a short distance to the thick, green jungle’s edge. Derg was mightily displeased at the unexpected stop and protested loudly about being behind schedule, but his complaints fell on deaf ears.
It seemed apparent that the crew knew what was happening, but they didn’t seem to want to share an explanation with their passengers. Within a few minutes of setting anchor the crew had lowered a longboat to the choppy sea. Tully turned to Kate and politely asked if she would like to join them on a short excursion. She enthusiastically agreed.
Gorbi grabbed Kate by the elbow before she could climb over the side of the ship and asked her in hushed tones what she thought she was doing! He reminded her that they had a job to do, which was to protect their client. She shrugged and said she was going anyway. Gorbi cried out in exasperation before climbing over the side, too, and then Delgan followed suit. Derg was dismayed that he was being left behind by his own guards, but then climbed down the rigging to the waiting longboat, complaining the whole way. Soon all were in the boat save Tully and Min, who stayed behind to guard the Dragonsprit.
Before long, the group found themselves ashore and at the edge of the jungle. It turned out that Rhemmi, one of the crew, was an Olman native and had convinced Captain Arganat that each time they passed this way it would be wise to stop at this very spot to give a small offering to the jungle as a blessing for safe passage. Clearly, the captain and crew had done this several times in the past. A small, burnt circle had been etched into the jungle floor and Rhemmi crouched at its edge, pouring a mysterious purple sand from a pouch into the ashes and then lighting the substance on fire, which flared with a flash of sparks and smoke before quickly going out.
Rhemmi began a rhythmic chanting, apparently asking the jungle spirits for a safe passage along the shores of the Amedio when all of a sudden a loud barking or howling sound was heard not too far off into the jungle depths. Rhemmi stopped chanting long enough to let everyone know it was just a panther, and then continued his chanting. A moment later, the sound was heard again, but it was answered by another bark somewhere further back in the jungle. Kate could sense a tension rise among the little group as they waited for Rhemmi to finish whatever prayers he was offering up.
Then the barking and woofing sounds began to be heard from all over the jungle, some were much closer than others. Captain Arganat looked worried and told the group that panthers definitely do not travel in packs. Rhemmi stood up and said they should probably go….and quickly.
As the group made a hasty retreat across the beach and back to the longboat, Kate and Gorbi each took one last look back into the greenery of the jungle and could see several cat-like forms leaping amongst the vines and foliage. Kate was sure she saw that some of those black cats had arms with hands instead of four legs with paws . . .