Sunday, August 13, 2006

Encounter: Old Captain Thorenson

"Kommen Sie in, and welcome, my friends... I am Kjarl Bard Thorenson, son of Thoren Bard Kjarlson... and on and on... You seem a nice lot... make yourselves comfortable... the signs of the zodiac... ah yes... Ven I was your age, I lived out at sea. I sailed a great vessel... the Fjord Escort 'twas, ja... The only mistress far me, if ya catch me drift."
At this point the characters notice a stench emanating from the bearded man; they do catch his drift. Luckily, he lights a pipe and the room is filled with the tangy odor of sweetleaf. An owl paces back and forth along a perch on the far end of the room. The old man continues without pause as the characters examine the room.
The walls of this living room are covered with nautical regalia -- silver sextans, sea-soaked and sun-stained maps of faraway lands; even a proverbial ship-in-a-bottle adorns the oaken table before the window. The light from the lone window barely illuminates the room, assisted by a fading fire under the mantle and the dim cherry of Thorenson's pipe.
"So, how do you expect to fight it... I mean... 24, 40, 60 sailing men... driven back in fear... Have you seen it yet?"
He waits only briefly for an answer, continuing,
"And the gilled children... swimming out to sea along a warm current... right out to Harpy Point... no doubt to feed the harpies on the rocks... foul bitches... feeding on your young... My friend's child! O, Anrik, now there was a lad... a wee tot, but full of piss and vinegar... I've seen so many terrible things... at sea... and at that window..."
The owl lets out a squak, eyeing the characters and making them feel uneasy. The characters will later see the same owl hunting rats elsewhere in the wharf district if they wander the streets at night. Grack is the old man's closest companion now that he's lost the sea to his memories, and keeps a close watch on the house. His eyes glow an intense golden glow, and he always appears to be on the verge of speaking, leaning forward and peering deep into any character's eyes that come near.

If pressed with great skill, the old man will tell of his past life as a shipwright and then sailor, culminating with his encounters with sea serpents, after which he retired from the sea some sixty moons ago. He will speak of his friend's loss of his child to "the mutation." This friend, Falkonne, has been studying the mutation on the east side of town, where the disease seems to have appeared with the most prevalence. He urges the party to talk to him, and to relay a message, which he removes from his pocket and hands the most trustworthy of the party (determined with a sense motive check +12) a letter, sealed with an emblem of the Wyndm marsh tongue for sea ("go"), which appears as two wavy lines with two dots in between, roughly like so:
The note is in the Wyndm marsh tongue and reads:
Falkonne, I fear the worst for you. I have heard nothing from you in weeks, and cannot help thinking that you too have become one of the sea-spawn and become harpy bait. I watch the eastern sky with my spyglass looking for signs of your demise. Alas, I am too pessimistic. But an old man am I! On a positive note, the harpies seem awfully quiet lately. I send Grack to deliver this note to you, and hope you will return word of your whereabouts. As one of my few friends, you must understand my request that you halt your work and return to more a civilized neighborhood. With care, -KBT

1 comment:

Joe Calkins said...

Possible alternative illustration for the Captain?