Tiring of their revels, the heroes’ thoughts turned once again to business. An offer from Cecil Gaultarre to assist in his investigations of ancient Thirian ruins was accepted; Badden became a full partner in the Stripey Horse Inn when solicited by the hostler, Tyneham; and a rather strange audience with the Archon has left Belardan much to ponder. The crew also came face to face with the impressive Bison Bloodhorn, a unique bovine humanoid of some notoriety in Levenge. Gaultarre explained to the others that Bloodhorn was to be of some use in the New World as an interpreter and guide.
The party took ship aboard the naval frigate Abbatten’s Pride a few pulses later, armed with a box of fresh healing potions, and a couple of other concoctions Knarillas had sourced. The first three pulses went by with little to note, before Badden was rudely interrupted in his meditation by none other than an assassin imp. The creature sought the soft flesh of his neck, but succeeded only in waking the elf before it could do any real damage. A melee ensured, during which the creature contrived to disappear and reappear, attempting to strike with its poison-tipped tail. It failed and was eventually surrounded and disposed of. Badden seemed to have an uncanny knack of tracking the vile devil even when it was invisible.
Another few pulses saw the ship reach the outer banks of the Roil, and after securing all loose objects aboard and furling the sails, the captain ordered the ship put into the storm. An unpleasant three pulses in the maelstrom was punctuated with an attack by a pack of sea wraiths. The fight was vicious, and Cecil escaped harm by playing dead, while his bodyguard Bison fought the chieftain of the pack, twice almost succumbing to horrific wounds. The battle with the wraiths waged all over the ship, with some of the slain crew rising to join the ranks of the enemy. Among their number was the old salt Casey, veteran of two dozen crossings of the Roil, victim at last at the hands of the vengeful spirits of the storm. Nine others among the crew went to their deaths, before a grateful captain could navigate clear of the storm and set out for Teffenhove.
And so the ship came at last within sight of the Bone Coast, so named for the exposed banks of calcified cliffs that run intermittently for hundreds of miles along the eastern Thirian shoreline. Teffenhove itself appeared at first as a grey smear of haze marring the otherwise green and cream tones of the littoral, the mark of an industrious frontier town. Ships were sighted, carriers of lumber and stone heading east to the Sunlit Lands, and fishing boats servicing Teffenhove and the outlying satellite villages of the colony. Beyond, a jagged blue line on the horizon marked the mountains of the interior, lands the party would soon be called upon to explore.
The minotaur Bison regarded this all in silence from the prow of the ship as it raced to port. The sun hung heavy at a once-familiar angle behind him, warming his back and summoning memories of his youth in these, his ancestral lands. Belardan struggled with random memories of his own, coming upon him unbidden and at unexpected times. He constantly checked his navigational equipment, adjusting its settings and consulting the booklet of tables he stored within the same case. Only the elf Badden and eladrin Knarillas seemed unperturbed, although the latter had never seen the sun hanging this low in the sky. Cecil paced about the deck, noticeably excited and impatient, and muttering obscure incitements to the crew under his breath.
As they drew nearer to Teffenhove, all could see that this was a very different city to Levenge. Few buildings were made of stone – wooden constructions were the norm, some of very rough hew indeed. Columns of smoke rose from chimneys and stacks in profusion, generating the greasy haze that covered the town and oozed out into the harbour to greet them. The sounds of hammer and saw floated out across the calm grey waters, and the hum of commerce accompanied this staccato refrain. At the docks, a half dozen ships of varying size awaited loading or unloading, and south of these, three unfinished barques sat in their slipways, as shipwrights swarmed over the hulls.
At the docks, flags were waved to guide the Abbatten’s Pride to her place, while a gang of gollies waited their chance to board and unload the ship’s cargo. After 27 pulses at sea, the Heroes of the Lev had arrived in Thire.