Our beloved Julianne and Jacques-Louis were absent for this session. Perhaps that was for the better considering the dark deeds considered during this session’s telling of tales?
Isabella continued her search for Sophia’s Daughters and found a contact. This “sister” was a stooped older woman with white hair, a widower, living along in fine accommodations. Her late husband had been a merchant and let her quite a fortune when he passed away. Isabella was offered tea but when the young spy mentioned she was assigned to Captain Hawke, the older woman was startled. She quickly realized how important Isabella’s visit was and she opted to break out the good wine for their conversation, two bottles.
The old woman collected bits of information from Isabella, sure to record and send it on to the sisterhood at the first opportunity. Isabella revealed she had learned about the curse placed upon the Claurent and Dreuse families. If ever heirs of the two families would marry, that marriage would be barren. The curse had been placed upon them by a fate witch. The older woman confirmed she knew of the curse and added it had been placed upon them by one of Sophia’s Daughters. Unfortunately, she did not have any further information on why the curse had been placed or the price paid to do so. That would remain a mystery to be solved.
The old woman also revealed there had been a telling that was spread to every sister who might come into contact with Isabella. One of the nobles in Isabella’s group would rise to great power in Montaigne but if they failed to achieve that lofty goal, they would become a terrible burden upon Montaigne, Vodacce, and all the machinations of Sophia’s Daughters. So much so, the old woman gave her a green-bladed dirk and said if the worst should come to pass, Isabella will be required to kill the noble to save everything the Daughters had worked for. This did not sit well with Isabella who knew she could do the deed now but was sure the longer she spent time with the group, the closer she would grow to them. The old woman was sympathetic but could offer no condolences. To kill one of her friends would be hard but necessary.
But which one?
The old woman acknowledged Captain Hawke was unlikely to be the one. Yes, he was the half-brother to Empereur Leon Alexandre du Montaigne XIV but he was illegitimate and although he possessed the power of sorcery, few nobles would support any political claims made by a pirate captain.
Don Diego was of noble birth and did share Vodacce blood, but let’s be real. For a Castillian to rise to any power in Montaigne, Castille would have to conquer Montaigne first. No one saw that happening any time soon, not without dire consequences to Theah as a whole.
That left Jacques-Louis or Julianne. Both were from old noble houses and had the potential to be something greater than they were now. It could be either and that is where the Daughters thought Isabella should focus her efforts.
Isabella, always interested in politics, asked about Five Sails and the old woman told her there would be a ball in two days time at the estate of Don Constanzo Scarpa, the governor of the Vodacce district in Five Sails. If Isabella was looking to sharpen her knife in the political arena, that would be the place to do it. If she were to take the Claurent couple as well, that could help her their friendship as well.
Having learned when she could, Isabella thanks the old woman and went on her way.
Meanwhile, Captain Hawke and Don Diego decided to help with their recruiting drive for their voyage to Black Skull Isle. Hawke remembered three prominent establishments which were best for recruiting good mariners. The Sinful Seagull was a popular pub known for tough sailors, bloody blades, and a good bit of trouble/fun. The Red Dice was a gambling den catering to the mercantile class but also a good place to find the mariners who served on the best merchant ships. Unfortunately, the Red Dice was managed by the Red Hand Gang who could be tough to deal with and did not like others doing business in their establishments. The Feather was a brothel for the wealthy and any seaman hired there would be the best and they would cost a lot to hire as well.
Mary had skillfully handled the selling of their goods and returned most of the profits to the ship but brought 3 Wealth to Hawke for his personal use.
Don Diego recommended the Feather… I wonder why? He insisted he only wanted the best sailors for their journey but Hawke did not want to spend that much coin. He opted to go to the Red Dice to find the crew he needed.
The pair avoided trouble in the streets and found themselves sitting in the Red Dice listening to three Vodacce musicians playing a lively tune. The lower floor of the three-story gambling den was quite busy. Hawke used this to his advantage. He began to discuss with Don Diego how it was hard to find a crew willing to do good work for a captain who was willing to pay them top guilder. They bantered, talking just loudly enough for everyone around them to overhear, they wanted to hire good sailors. Eventually, the right people’s interests were drawn and a barrel-chested man named Zib sat at the table with several capable men and women behind him. He had taken offense to the captain’s comments about there not being any good sailors to hire and set about trying to prove himself and his mates. Hawke and Diego’s subterfuge was superb.
The group began sharing stories, every man and woman trying to one-up those who spoke before them. It was a common game among sailors. Tell your tales and those with keen eyes and ears could discern the truth about your value as a mariner. Those who bluffed about their skills often revealed their weaknesses and/or ignorance. In time, Hawke realized Zib and the rest of his mates were exactly the kinds of sailors he was looking for. He offered them work and they accepted.
By then, the Red Hand Gang noticed what Captain Hawke had been up to but Don Diego spotted them before they moved in to cause trouble. Hawke, Zib, and his new recruits opted to leave before the trouble began.
On the way out, Hawke and Diego were bumped by a drunk physica who stumbled into the gambling hall. He looked to be Avalonian and carried an expensive-looking tome on his belt titled “Marengo’s Anatomy.” They speculated it was a tome of medical knowledge, something Julianne would be very interested in. Hawke instructed Zib to meet them at the Ruby Star the next morning. Then he and Diego circled back into the Red Dice and found the physica sitting at the bar. Diego also picked up a flagstone he thought would be just about the same weight as that book.
He was a chatty man and full of many fanciful tales that seemed to grow in the telling. Eventually, he claimed he was the personal physica for Queen Morgaine of Avalon herself and had actually been her physica since she was a child (although he was far too young for any such thing to be true). Diego and Hawke tricked him into paying for drinks with a far too large pile of coins and while distracted, Diego swiped the book and replaced it with the flagstone. With the book in hand, the pair made their excuses and retreated from the Red Dice. Diego also picked the physica’s pockets, taking the rest of his coin (2 Wealth).
Diego insisted they return to the Ruby Star to secure their ill-gained treasures and Hawke agreed but instead led them to the Sinful Seagull for a good time. There was much drinking, singing, and fighting to be had. Hawke left with a smile on his face and Diego left with a broken nose.
The next morning, Hawke met with Zib and his mates. He did not feel he could lie to the crew about their destination. Many sailors had died following captains to the fabled Black Skull Isle. He offered to play them all in advance (2 Wealth worth) with the promise of much more when they reached their destination. None of them had ever heard of such a thing, a captain paying his crew BEFORE the journey, and combined with Hawke’s impassioned speech about his plans, Zib agreed to the captain’s terms. The Ruby Star would set sail with a full complement of good, capable mariners.
Isabella, wanted to invite Julianne and Jacques-Louis to the ball but realized she did not know where they were staying. She returned to the Ruby Star and found Hawke and Diego reading through Marengo’s Anatomy, trying to decipher it. Unfortunately, they had no frame of reference to even begin to understand the knowledge the tome offered. They gave it over to Isabella to use as a gift for Julianne.
Duval burst into the quarters and told Captain Hawke there was trouble on deck. On deck, they were introduced to Vittoria Anselmo and members of the Red Hand Gang who had been stopped at the gang plank by Hawke’s crew. Vittoria, a beautiful Vodacce woman who carried a deadly looking blade and moved with cat-like grace, explained she had been notified Captain Hawke had not paid his fees to Patricia Moustakas when the Ruby Star came into port. She skillfully outlined the need for the fees and how Don Constanzo Scarpa planned to use the funds to make Five Sails a better city to live in. The Don even planned to open a school for the little ones! Captain Hawke, who was not a fool, knew everything she said to be a lie but he did not want trouble with the Red Hand Gang. So he decided to pay the fees and Diego quickly added additional funds to assuage any insult caused the day before (the 2 Wealth he had stolen from the Avalonian physica). Appeased, Vittoria thanked them and left with her gang in tow.
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