- Picking up right where we left off, Moobaka escorted Marina onto the Silver Serpent for some … alone time. Mark didn’t approve — now there was one more person he had to essentially kidnap, because he didn’t want anyone who had seen the ship to be able to say anything about it — but didn’t stop Moobaka. However, Marina gave Moobaka the slip when he was distracted by one of the new Crimson Axe mercenaries leering at his girl.
- Following a frantic search through the ship, Moobaka finally located Marina in the last place he thought of to look — dueling with Ieyasu Ishirou in the armory. She had a short sword hidden in her dress, and ‘Baka hadn’t gotten around to unwrapping his present yet. He tried to intervene in the fight, but Ishirou told him to stay out of it, and ‘Baka decided that his warrior’s honor prevented him from interfering if interference wasn’t wanted.
- Unfortunately, Ishirou refused to use his sword in the fight, and the shorter reach of the skinning knife he was using to fight off Marina as well as his comparative skill level and evident desire to disarm rather than hurt her meant that Marina quickly dealt him a mortal wound. As he lay bleeding on the floor, his last words were to Marina — “I’m sorry”.
- Moobaka yelled for the ship’s ‘doctor’, Sasha Nevah, and for Mark, and kept Marina from leaving the room. The last wasn’t difficult, as once she struck down Ishirou, she placed her sword to the side and knelt down on the floor with her hands on her knees. Sasha attempted to close Ishirou’s gut wound, but her meager surgery skills simply weren’t up for such a bad wound. Mark, as angry as anyone had ever seen him, reprimanded Moobaka about as strongly as you can reprimand a minotaur when you’re not 9 feet tall and 800 pounds yourself, then escorted the disarmed Marina to the captain’s quarters to interrogate her.
- Marina offered no resistance to Mark’s questions and explained the entire story with little prompting. Her name, of course, wasn’t actually Marina, but Ieyasu Mara; she was Ishirou’s little sister. It turns out that Ishirou brought great dishonor on his family in the past by not only refusing to follow out an order from his father, but actively working against that order then fleeing the continent. Their father decided that the shame was so great that only a member of the family could cleanse it, and had his daughter trained as a warrior and assassin, then sent off across the sea on what was assumed to be a suicide mission.
- Proving what they say about assumptions, Mark decided to spare Mara’s life in exchange for her service for a year and a possible introduction to her father. Thus, Mara joined the crew to replace the vacant spot previously held by her brother.
- The next morning, Ishirou’s body was committed to the pyre, along with his sword. His other possessions were added to the ship’s armory; Mara made no claim on any of them for herself or her family.
- With that drama settled, it was finally time to set off to sea and gather some money to outfit the ship. The plan was to hunt for islands in the Sea of Manaan which matched Ishirou’s treasure maps and dig up the treasure. However, the first island they found didn’t match any of the maps, and had no supplies worth mentioning, to boot.
- Realizing that the islands might be too much of a gamble, it was decided to head towards the Pillars of Manaan, search for an island that could be used as a temporary base, then actually pirate a ship along the Castille/ Shou trade route.
- Their second island was significantly luckier than the first, being huge in size, with coral reefs blocking off one end of the island and high cliffs another section, as well as having herds of wild goats and hogs. After stocking up on provisions, the Serpent set sail again, this time to prowl the Pillars looking for prey.
- After a few days with no likely targets, Rovas spotted a fat merchantman with no escort, the Calypso’s Dream. The Serpent was considerably faster than the merchanter, and was able to quickly catch up in a stern chase with little danger from the Dream’s single chasing cannon. The boarding action was brutal and longer than it should have been, but eventually the crew of the Serpent (and her Crimson Axe mercs) prevailed with relatively minor casualties overall. It turned out that the Dream had two main cargos, a couple of tons of Shou cheese bound for the tables of the Castillian nobility, and more importantly, several tons of raw tin. Tin is one of the main components of bronze, which is used for high-quality naval cannon, and most of the tin on the Urskan continent is found in Urska. This was thus an extremely valuable cargo for any of the separatist states or for Urska itself, and if Mark played his cards right he might be able to get a bidding war going for it.
- Mark further managed to find a few volunteers among the Dream’s crew to man a skeleton crew so he could take the ship as a prize. Of course, he didn’t tell them he was going to take them into the Sea of Manaan, and he had to leave almost all of the mercenaries on the Dream to keep order as they sailed north past the Pillars. They arrived at their previously located base island with both ships entirely intact and began preparations to ship the cargo to the mainland. The Dream was renamed to the Scalped Morays.
Burning the Jolly Roger
In Which We Finally Get Around to Pirating on the High Seas