The Iron Lung pt 1
Two weeks from port and headed for home, a small craft flying Guild colors takes an easy course over the moon lit water. The Officer of the Watch and a lookout in the crow’s nest the only apparent concessions to security. Zoom in to the Captain’s Cabin and see a man hard at study, focusing his not inconsiderable intelligence on his journals and maps. Small clockwork “men” roam his cabin, straightening and cleaning, mending and polishing, keeping their master in a state of repair fitting his station, something he would neglect to do himself.
“If it needs polish, it better be brass and steel and throw fireballs 200 yards!!” he has been heard say.
Pan out of the cabin and widen over the ship, notice the lack of cables and rigging normally associated with a sailing vessel. The sails themselves seem stiffer than normal, held tighter than other sails on other ships. Pan further out and count the guns, 5 to a broadside situated on the main deck, an insane configuration for a hundred man vessel. Swing around and look from the front and notice the two pontoons affixed to the sides of the ship well out of the water, the streamlined shape and excessively pointed bow and flared sides…this is a ship designed for a specific purpose by craftsmen unknown to the majority of the world, this is the Guild Alchemica’s Research Warship The Spectacle, more than capable of taking on a Ship of the Line in open waters, fast, maneuverable and loaded with secrets…
“CAP’N!”comes a cry from the Officer of the Watch, “YOU’RE NEEDED ON DECK!”
Hearing the call, Milo Baines, Captain of The Spectacle and General of the Legio Prometheans, hurries out of his cabin, pulling on his vest and buckling on his sword belt as he goes. As unlikely as an attack is out this far from anyone, Milo has been to far too much in his short life to trust to favorable circumstances.
“What it is?” he asks the Watch. “An island sir, two points to the north and a league away. Not on any charts I ever saw” replies the sailor.
“Indeed. Wake the day crew and change course, we’ll have to investigate this little mystery while we can.” replies Milo with a grin.
As the “island” draws closer, the men stationed on deck begin to notice the sights and sounds of a city. Lights and campfires, the voices of a dozen races and a thousand accents carried over the waves. Several smaller ships circle the island, keeping watch. One such ship approaches The Spectacle…
“HAIL!” comes a shout, “WHAT BUSINESS DO YE HAVE AT THE WHARF?!”
“We come for trade.” Milo replies somewhat hesitantly.
“AYE! THAT BE A FAIR PROPOSAL…PERMISSION TO COME A’BOARD?” returns the voice.
“Permission granted, with thanks sir.” Milo responds.
A rope ladder is dropped over the side and a gangly old pirate clambers up with the grace of a dying monkey. “Whooo…’s not tas easy as it once were, climbin’ those ladders and such. I’m Julius and ye be?” the old sailor asks.
“Milo Baines, Captain of this vessel and her crew. What is this place?” responds Milo.
“…wait…ye never heard of The Wharf…a fine sailin’ vessel like this and her cap’ns never heard of The Wharf…hehe.” chuckles Julius. “Ye be a seein’ the greatest free city in the world m’boy. A traders haven, a mercs home away from home. The Floating Isle, The Living Shipwreck. A hundred hulks of failed pirates lashed together and left to wander. No one knows for sure where it came from or why, but it’s the best place to be…if you got gold or the means to earn it!”
“Interesting…well, we could certainly use some supplies and I’m sure our gold spends just as well as anyone’s. Lead the way Julius.” says Milo with a grin.
Under Julius’s keen eye, The Spectacle moves into one of the many ports scattered about the rim of The Wharf, pulling up next to Orcish raiders and Viking longboats and many other craft both exotic and plain. As the crew ties up, Milo prepares to explore the city on the water.
“Yuri, you have command of the ship. Prep the bags and set the gun crews to stations. If there are surprises to be had here, I want them to come from us.” says Milo as he clambers down the side and sets off with Julius at his side…