"I guess I just expected more romance... more adventure." Durago complained, his hands steadying the wheel.
"You mean instead of hauling boxes from place to place?" N'Turex chuckled. "The recruiter did quite a number on you. Welcome to the glorious life of the Far Seas Trading Company!"
"Yeah, great," Durago frowned. "So how did someone like you end up as a navigator aboard a ship like this?"
"You think we Teir'Dal are only about conquest and nefarious schemes?" he smirked. "Sorry to shatter your Qeynosian delusions, but I'm just here to make money. Being aboard a ship like this can be quite profitable if you manage to establish a new source of trade."
The half elf shrugged. "You really think we're going to find something this far south of the Shattered Lands? All we've come across so far are scattered small islands that couldn't even sustain a population. I'm telling you, this trip is a bust."
"You're forgetting two things, Durago. First, we encountered an island that was obviously inhabited at one point, but it looked to have been devastated in the Shattering and abandoned. Second, there was that pirate ship we saw a few days back."
"I see your point about the abandoned island, but what does that pirate ship have to do with anything?"
The dark elf stroked his chin. "The Pirates of Gunthak are not known for taking pleasure cruises. If they are in this area, in means there is something of value here. We just have to hope we find it before they do."
"Land ho!" cried a squeaky voice from the crow's nest above. "Island off the port bow!"
N'Turex shuddered. "I hate the sound of that little gnome's voice! So shrill and grating!"
"At least he spotted another island that's not on any of your maps." Durago shrugged.
"Another lifeless rock, most likely," the dark elf answered.
"Perhaps so, but we'll investigate in anyway," said a voice from behind them.
N'Turex turned and faced her. "Yes, Captain Ingrid, of course."
"Make for that island, helmsman," the captain ordered. "Bring us in close for a nice view."
The far Dawn made its way towed the remote island that seemed encircled by mountain peaks. From the ship's current angle they could see no shoreline.
"Bring us around," Ingrid ordered. She looked up at the crow's next. "Geredo," she shouted, "keep your eye open for a safe landing."
"Aye, captain," he yelped back. "Though it looks like the sea is already starting to get to shallow to take the ship much nearer."
"Drop anchor." she ordered. "We'll take the skiff in for a closer look."
As the smaller boat made its way around the island's edge, a beach came in to view. Then, something more.
"A village!" Geredo exclaimed.
"The Gunthak, perhaps," N'Turex offered. "We should proceed with caution."
"See that tower? The Gunthak would not have built anything like that," the captain replied. "Still, we will approach carefully."
As they drew closer, the crew could see villagers on the shore. The island's inhabitants watched them for a while, but as the skiff approached they moved away.
"Not exactly a friendly sort," Geredo noted.
"Swords at the ready, gentlemen," Ingrid ordered. "Let's go ashore."
They landed the boat and secured it, then walked toward the stone buildings before them. Some of the structures seemed fairly new, while other had obviously been there a long time.
The mariners approached a walkway that appeared to lead into the heart of the village. Suddenly, seemingly from every corner, the crew was surrounded by figures wearing robes of dark crimson.
"I am Captain Ingrid of the Far Seas Trading Company," she offered. "We are here to establish trade with the people of your village.
The roved figures did not answer, but watched them in silence.
"Something about these men seems familiar, as if from tales I heard long ago," N'Turex whispered to Ingrid. "I wonder if they could be--"
"Greetings," said a tall robed figure walking down the path toward them. "I am Sensei Kozon of the Whistling Fists Clan. Welcome to the island of Mara."