In which Captain Geheulitzer and Herr Kowalski accept a grim cargo, make a big profit, and return with a long list of questions.
The following takes place between the 5th and 9th days of Septium of the Year of Enlightenment 1053.
Finally the plan has come together. Engelbert Profitt Nieuwhuis has managed to get a loan big enough to purchase a skytrader. The Goudende Ezel is a good ship. Granted, he's up to his ears in debt, but that's a minor concern. He has a ship, a crew, and he's managed to land a contract. Engelbert would have been there for this first job but, as the saying goes, no man becomes Onkel without giving up his dreams. He has to trust his associate and his captain to bring home the mutton.
The Ezel is buzzing with activity. Under the watchful eyes of her new captain, Yahn Geheulitzer, the crew is preparing her for launch. It is a well choreographed routine, where every man knows his steps.
Antonin Kowalski has so far preferred to conduct his business in his bookstore, surrounded by folios, quartos, and scrolls. After he entered into the partnership with Herr Niewhuis that looks to become a less likely scenario. This morning he'd packed his trunk and left his apartment, ready to represent the venture aboard the skytrader. He'd done his best to appear like he knew what he was doing, but as he's waiting for the client to arrive he finds himself searching his mind for a spell that'll make him unnoticeable.
It is three hours after noon when the small entourage rounds the corner and make their way towards the ship. At their head is a short, heavyset man in the black robes of a goði of Arkon, flanked by two housecarls. The rotund little man sits astride a shaggy pony and behind him a teamster is leading an ox-cart. Once the priest has climbed the landing - and caught his breath - he gives his name as Filibert Albersnagel of Arkonshov. Though not directly rude, he wastes no time getting the cargo, two iron oak sarcophagi, aboard and the papers signed.
When questioned, he confirms that, "yes, these are coffins," and that, "why yes, they do indeed contain corpses." As for why he's shipping two dead men across the continent he explains that prior to their demise the pair had made arrangements with the temple to have their remains sealed and sent home to their family tombs.
"Dying in this cesspool is not only expensive, but dangerous as well," he says.
After the paperwork has been dealt with and the pleasantries concluded, the goði takes his leave.
Two days later, just as the morning sun licks the walls of the Kengelian town of Ravienburg, the Ezel moves to drop anchor on a small pasture turned skyfield. By the looks of it, skyships are far from a common sight and there's but one other ship on the field, a light, ugly looking vessel with its prow adorned with animal skulls. As the Ezel settles into her moorings, a group of officials emerge from the town gates, accompanied by a small army of children.
Shortly after, two riders come thundering out of the town, bearing down on the skyfield, scattering children and causing the adults to withdraw. The first of the men leaps off his horse as his companion calls out an introduction. The man is Dariusz Rewian, styled Heir to Ravienburg, Szlachta of the Fiery Lance, and a list of other minor titles. The man named to receive the sarcophagi.
Herr Kowalski steps forward with a bow, introducing himself and presenting the cargo manifest. After the young noble has given orders for the cargo to be transferred to the other ship, Kowalski attempts to engage him in conversation with only marginal success. Questions about the count is met with a curt statement about his failing health and inquiries about getting an audience is flat out refused on the same grounds. The book seller also makes an attempt at lining up some business for himself with even less success. Only when the possibility of rarer books on the esoteric and the occult does the Heir show a modicum of interest. Still, the advances fail to result in any deal being made and the Kengelian noble takes his leave as soon as the cargo is aboard the smaller vessel.
As the ugly little ship takes to the sky it becomes clear that though it may appear as a rather primitive skiff there's more to it than meets the eye. It must have a buoyancy-hull, seeing as it takes off without the deployment of balloons, and its curiously small and inefficient sail is explained as a pair of combustion engines starts spitting flames, causing it to lurch forward.
Left with a bit of a bad taste in their mouths, Kowalski and Geheulitzer decide to look deeper into the situation. As the strange ship fades into the the north-eastern sky, leaving a greasy black smoke-trail in its wake, Kowalski gathers his tools and performs a divination on the destination of the strange ship. Sometimes these things can provide answers, and sometimes it only leaves more questions. This time it proved to be the latter. All he can glean is a vision of a cold, treeless bay somewhere far away in the North, where grey waves break on a rocky beach.
The two decide to stay in Ravienburg overnight, and to spend that time trying to line up a cargo for the return leg, as well as to do some snooping around. Leaving the first mate, Herr Houdemakers, in command and with armed guards posted on deck, they head in to town.
The small town has three inns, and while Kowalski settles in for a dinner with the patrons of the Dowager Winogrodski's Lodging House, the captain accompanies his companion's valet on a more surreptitious search for information.
As the evening unfolds, the book seller learns that the Count has been ill since last winter and that his son is in charge of the affairs. Apart from him, a team of physicians are the only ones allowed an audience with the patient. One of the new policies put into place by the Heir is a significant tax increase, though no one seems to know where the money is going. It is also confirmed that yes, the fur-clad barbarians from the skull-adorned skyship are regular visitors to the town. He also negotiates a deal on 300 lbs. of otter pelts.
The two combing the shadier alleys have less luck insofar as revelations are concerned, but they do manage to hook up with a merchant in need of a no questions asked transport. They do of course ask a couple of questions, just to ensure that they are not loading fermented cod or a dozen crates of cinder ravens aboard the Ezel. The cargo in question is a spirit mill, a device neither the captain, or upon conferral Herr Kowalski, know anything about. Still, the price is right, and the destination is on their way.
Herr Kowlaski and the captain however, does not foresee that they'll be this profitable in the future. They may even secretly pray they wont.
Storyteller's note: The Adventure Capitalism chronicle has now officially kicked off, and though we only had two players join up, Google Hangouts performed above expectation. My initial thoughts are that the gameplay is more focussed, no doubt due to the impracticality of off topic yammering between players while someone is in-game.
We had three hours of actual play, and very little of that time "went to waste" waiting for hilarities to wind down. While I am no vocal opponent of shooting the breeze, I do see this as a strength given the steady influx of children in our lives. The hangout offers a way to get a few hours of game in while still being on hand if one is needed for more pressing matters.
Lastly but most certainly far from least, Hangouts makes it possible to play despite of there being an ocean between me and the players.
Hopefully next time we'll see if the hangout can handle more people.