The good news: Those speedy guard boats are allowed to cut in line as they please, so, in a way, we managed to skip ahead of the queue, just like we wanted to.
The bad news: We skipped straight to jail.
The way to prison lead through the shipping quarters and we got our first look at Dryfoot. The streets were abuzz with the bustle of labor, but there were little humans or elves – most workers were dwarves, dragonkin, half-orcs etc. There was even an enormous dragon-person strutting around the water carrying huge loads of timber – the water didn’t even reach up to her hips! I wonder what they’re paying her? I bet it’s not nearly enough.
Even though we are in the middle of a swamp, dozens of miles away from the nearest quarry, most of the buildings here seem to be made out of stone. I’m betting our two burly dragonborn friends make a small fortune peddling their pebbles to these parts. The garrison certainly looked like it must have taken dozens of barge-loads to build.
We were lead to a dreary ante-chamber to await our fate. I sensed an oppressive atmosphere – the guards were chiefly humans and half-elves with the occasional half-ling, whereas the ‘criminals’ were of other races. I decided to channel their morose energy by playing us a rueful tune on the harmonica. Deesan sang the blues, downtrodden souls were tapping along, rapping their sorrows; I could feel a real connection to these folks. Maybe I really do belong in jail.
An elderly elf with a snaky ‘S’ embroidered on his chest snuck up on us to spoil our fun. He lead us through a maze of low-ceilinged hallways to a little room with a desk and a hoard of chests behind bars. We were stripped & searched, and I decided to have a little fun by coughing up a swallowed dagger.
“That’s what I get for trying to be polite, eating with knife & fork!”
T’was good for a few giggles with the guards.The old elf didn’t laugh, though. Pop-quiz: Why is it that the people in power often lack a sense of humor? Because mockery is the first step towards profaning the sacred – once they acknowledge your laughs, you’ll know the playing-field is being leveled.
They took all of our stuff, which caused Lynnea in particular an unhealthy amount of distress. She seems to really love that big tome of hers, the one she cuddles like a teddy. I can relate, Thaliar, since I have you to care of. I’d hate for us to be separated again. I’m so glad to have you back.
Further down we went, deeper and damper, until we reached our cell: Two beds and a shallow swimming pool. The rods were made out of iron, which can’t be easy to come by in these parts. The cell opposite of ours housed a chipper little boggart by the name of Slippy.
According to Slippy, Father Lethander has some competition in these parts – we arrived during the festival of a local god known as Tor, which is exciting because I have never heard of this deity before. Where there are gods, there are hymns, dances, myths – a whole treasure trove of stories to plunder! What fun!
The local humans don’t seem to agree, though, framing the festival as ‘protests’. Boo! How can you possibly oppose more holidays? I doubt kindly Lethander, Lord of Light, minds his followers celebrating a local deity. Fleet-footed Terpsichore would certainly not approve of any revelry being suppressed, since parties are the stewards of dance. These boggarts can count on my sympathy.
Just when I started wondering what our pirate heroine could be up to, Calliope – that’s the Muse of Epics, pay attention; there’ll be a quiz later – delivered her to us, in chains no less. It took at least a dozen of guards to restrain her. What a woman! Deesan seemed to agree, since, come bedtime, the little imp tried to nestle in her bosom. Keyword being tried. He had better luck sharing a bed with Lynnea, who had plenty of space to spare. I envy Deesan’s compactness. I could not possibly impose upon a lady with my ungainly limbs, so I slumped against the wall, sogging my bottoms in the dank prison puddle. Didn’t get a wink of sleep.
When I woke up from my not-sleep I felt even worse than before. I felt feverish – I still do – and there are warts on my face. Apparently, smearing unknown boggart juju-juice on my face wasn’t the best idea. Who could have guessed?
We were taken for questioning, one-by-one. Lynnea was first. When she returned, she seemed quite shook – and it didn’t take me long to learn why. Your dear old Jangles was taken for questioning too, you see. The stern-looking elf with the ‘S’ on his chest had me place my hands on a crystal ball – I am fairly certain he was scrying for something in particular – some magic thing – some thing he didn’t find in me. Slippy later mentioned blessings of Tor – gifts that manifests in various ways – and she suspects that they – the guards – might have been looking for traces of wild magic on us. Maybe they found something on Lynnea they didn’t like? Well, anything these stuck-up party-poopers disapprove of gets an automatic pass from me. Wilders, they call those blessed by Tor Doesn’t that sound like fun? Wilders? I’d like to meet a Wilder. I bed they’d be lots of fun at parties.
…That’s what I truly thought, then. Turns out the truth was a a lot less humorous. But we’ll get to that.
Deesan was tested too, of course. He had a few choice words for the encounter. Cantankerous, he called our hosts – which he kindly translated for us lesser verbose folk as ‘racist bastards,’ and ‘fucking dicks’.
While we were discussing these encounters and other matters of interest, Slippy literally slipped inside of our cell to join the conversation. What a talented little boggart! She’s got skin like oil, that one.
We didn’t get to enjoy her company for very long, though. Before I realized what was going on, Baggin had seized me by the chest and was wringing me like a lemon, for juice. I am not ashamed to admit that what I first felt was fear at this humongous green woman choking the life out of me, but as soon as I saw the Humorless One and a battalion of guards coming around the corner I could tell what her game was, so I played along.
I had ‘Toad Pox’, you see, (I wasn’t too far off: The medical term is ‘Toad Skin Fever’) and was just choking on some splinters I was chewing on in my madness; I was in immediate need of medical attention and since our pirate heroine could not execute a successful Heimlich- maneuver with only one hand, the guards would have to step in to assist. Deesan tried to lend his magical aid, but was immediately silenced (with an ‘S’) by the Humorless One, who was not buying our little ruse for one single second. Apparently he was sent to escort us to the captain of the guards, who wanted to speak to our group. So we waved goodbye to Slippy – I do hope we’ll meet again – and followed our benefactor upwards, hoping to be lead a little closer to freedom.
Now, I was hoping for the captain to be a little looser and laxer than her Humorless Adjutant, but she turned out to be even worse! She’s a stickler, that one – a human switch, stiffer than a broomstick. She said she didn’t know what to make of our little group. What were we? Pirates? Adventurers? Thieves? Truth is, I was with her on this one – I’m wasn’t sure what to make of us either, but it would come to me. Baggin, meanwhile, had her answer ready: She flipped over the desk and roared: “WHERE’S MY MONEY?!” What a woman.
She was overpowered, of course – there was at least a dozen of guards there, including the Humorless One with a Hold Person spell. Although I am the first to express my appreciation for Baggin’s fiery temperament, I do have to admit that she didn’t exactly do our bartering position any favors. They were threatening to send sell us to dragon slavers. Yup, you read that right, Thaliar: Slavers! I didn’t know slavery was legal around these parts. Joinks!
We had to think of something, fast. Lynnea tried to come up with some ruse to explain her companion’s erratic behavior, but she doesn’t seem to be too good at improv – unlike Baggin the Wrestler – but she was able to speak to my mind, directly, without moving her mouth – what a convenient power! She asked me to lend her assistance in weaving a believable lie. I thought she’d never ask!
Baggin obviously had a serious case of brawlpox (not to confused with smallpox, which is an actual, serious disease, existing in reality and not a laughing matter). O gosh, had we forgotten to administer her medicine? Goodness! That would explain her erratic behavior. Thankfully, Lynnea had the medicine in her bag: A tasty jar of strawberry jam. Lucky Baggin! Our swashbuckler played the part of patient expertly, contracting her face as if the sweet jam tasted like bitter medicine. And would you look at that? The rampaging Pirate Queen instantly settled down! Such wondrous medicine! And, more importantly: What a skilled actor! Forget about pirates, adventurers, thieves: What we are, is an improv group; a theatre troupe, in which I am as a fish in water.
The captain bought our ruse, but did not pardon our crimes. She did offer us a deal, however: If we were willing to do a few chores around the city, we’d be able to earn our freedom back. What fun! We’d be allowed to play guards! Cops & Robbers – robbers in one scene, cops in the next and who knew what else? I certainly didn’t. Well, I do now, but I’ll be careful not to spoil anything.