The first few days after the “Porpoise” left Marvey were marked by relatively calm seas, and the sun shone down through clear skies. Anubis took the time to press Freddy Ogutu for more information about Vickers and his life since Anubis last saw him on Holbekker’s “Kraken”. Ogutu said that five years ago, Vickers left the Rhainnish Navy in peacetime to pursue a shipping business in the Sudenwield. A year later he was arrested for piracy by the Baazdeeners and sent to Barkhot Prison. Within a year, he had somehow managed to escape prison and went back into business, this time with two partners. A year and a half later, he had a falling out with at least one of the men, and he left to join the Navy once again. After only three or four months, Vickers’ ship, the “Brackish”, was attacked and burned by the Baazdeener Navy, and he managed to float on a piece of the ship towards a small, uncharted island. This is where Ogutu found the man some two months after he had landed. For more information, Ogutu recommended that Lieutenant Ochs talk to a gunner named Dinsey Huggins, who had been close to Vickers.
Huggins had more detailed information about Vickers. He told Anubis that Vickers was a man who seemed to be carrying a lot of secrets, a man who seemed a cut above the average naval gunner. Vickers was the kind of man who inspired repsect and loyalty among all he met. Huggins guessed that Vickers’ seriousness and world-weariness came from the time he spent in Barkhot prison, a place whose name meant “stomach” in Baazdeener – an apt name for a place that “digested men slowly” through physical and psychological torture. Vickers’ escape was quite amazing – he had developed a way of communicating with two other prisoners using only hand gestures and drawings in the dirt. Together the three planned a prison uprising, spending almost a year collecting the bones of their fellow prisoners as they were dismembered or killed, and then fashioning them into crude weapons. After many months of this, Vickers and his two companions led 61 starving inmates against more than 60 armed guards and some 80 sailors. Having secured the prison after losing only a third of their number, the men sailed a transport ship out of Barkhot and back to the Sudenwield. Anubis further inquired with Huggins about the fact that the “Porpoise” seemed to be travelling low in the water, as if it had a light cargo, but Huggins said he did not know what the lieutenant was talking about.
While Anubis continued to investigate Vickers’ background, Ogutu approached Daniella and asked her of her connection with an arcane advisor named Wilhemina Arva. Surprised, Daniella said that this was her mother. Ogutu produced an encoded letter and an odd object, and said that Vickers had asked him to deliver these things to a Hierossene named Arva. Retaining possession of these objects made Ogutu nervous, and he asked Daniella to take them to her mother. The object was a strange metal rod, about 8 inches long, with a ring on one end and a smaller spinning rod on the other. Daniella accepted the object and letter and said she would certainly deliver them.
Lucia had spent the morning fishing with one of the “Porpoise’s” waisters, but soon Daniella and Anubis had gathered the group in the ladies’ cabin to talk about all that had happened in the morning. Lucia examined the object Daniella had been given and concluded that the ring on the end of the strange rod, which looked like a key, would fit perfectly into an indentation in the cone they found in Bandon’s chest. Meanwhile Crinn sat down and began decoding the letter Ogutu had given Daniella. He immediately concluded that this was a high level code based on similar algorithms to some that he was familiar with. It was a code used by only the highest Rhainnish officials and agents, and he only recognized it because he had seen Sir Edwin Aeridah use it in certain important letters. Anubis also took this opportunity to note that it seeemed to him that the “Porpoise” could not be carrying lumber. (After telling Luce this same thing, the druidess had looked under the tarps in the hold and concluded that there was no lumber there, but only crates.)
Daniella interjected that she could explain all of this, since Ogutu had told her that they did not bring lumber out of Miglesea on their last stop because Vickers had said his life was in danger, and that Ogutu could lose his ship. When the “Porpoise” stopped in port to wait for the latest lumber shipment, Vickers had asked for two week’s leave, and Ogutu had granted it. Vickers returned in an anxious state, and sure enough, bad things began to happen to the merchantman’s crew. Four men were murdered on the way home from a night of drinking, and that was enough for Ogutu. After that Vickers’ warnings were more than adequate to get him to leave Miglesea, even without a shipment. Vickers said he had to get to Bae Cul as soon as possible, and Ogutu believed him. Not long before they docked in Marvey, Vickers had given Ogutu the strange object and the letter and asked Ogutu to deliver them if something happend to him.
After three days of sailing north, when the “Porpoise” was beyond the Isle of Atisse and its port of Whitelaw, the strong tradewinds which had been propelling them northward suddenly died down. Ogutu immediately ordered flyingsails put up, and Anubis was able to suggest an additional sail be mounted just beneath the mainsail. Still the ship managed only 3 and a half knots or so. Ogutu immediately recognized the pattern of the dying wind just before the approach of that large and terrible storm they had run from south of Marvey. Sure enough, before long a vast expanse of the southeastern horizon began to darken, and Anubis made out two ships hull-up on the horizon.
With Daniella’s gunnery skills at their disposal, Ogutu felt they had a good chance against pirates or anyone else those ships might belong to, especially if there were only two of them. However, he expressed serious concern about trying to weather this particular storm. He explained that usually a ship is safer at sea than in port in a strong gale or even a hurricane, but the experienced captain felt sure that no ship could withstand this unnatural monster of a storm. He began to confer with Anubis about possible safe harbors. Of course there was Alneshaug, the “Pirate City”, nestled in the crater of a long extinct volcanic island. But everyone was reluctant to try to pull off the kind of deception required to land there. Chances were that they would be found out, and then there was no telling what fate would befall them. Ogutu knew of another possibility, however, and that was a large cave in the cliffs of southeastern Goin, a place that Ogutu had not seen for over 10 years. It was a kind of smuggler’s rest, protected from the sea by a vast rock outcropping, and it was hard to find for anyone who had not been there themselves. It might not exist at all anymore, but Ogutu believed that, if it had not caved in or been otherwise destroyed, it definitely offered their best option for shelter. The group decided that they would head for Goin.
That night the party prepared for a fight. They all knew that in the morning they would likely be facing off with two ships being driven north by the strong winds of the storm’s front edge. Sure enough, on approach Ogutu recognized the ships as those same two which had disabled them off the coast of Courtenay – ships belonging to Peter Krees. The group took up positions and dug in, and soon the battle was enjoined. Daniella laid into the ships from a great distance with the largest of Ogutu’s magical cannon, delivering a number of flaming spheres and energy missiles that tore into the enemy rigging and sailcloth. However, the assailants were persistent, and despite losing speed, the vessels continued their approach. Before it could open fire on the “Porpoise”, Daniella delivered a darkening enchantment to the closest ship, which seemed to send it on a course away from them in confusion and disarray. However, the second ship pushed ever closer as Daniella began to find herself with few weapons left in her arsenal…