The slaver ship Gannet sails due south from the Tarsusian port of Cansante. The ship carries a cargo of 45 slaves bound for Klerus, to be purchased by the Tiefling Viscount Malchar. The vessel captained by Tarsusian slaver Antos Topa, makes this identical trip at least twice per year. They reach the Isle of Nichon, one day behind schedule due to adverse weather.
A small enough vessel to dock in Nichon’s deep harbour, the Gannet does so, allowing easy loading and unloading of additional cargo. They are watched from a distance by the crew of the Star of Celestia, a galleon of the Baltan Imperial Navy. The vessel is captained by Oppius Juniusaeius, however commanding the voyage is Captain Aquila Valerius, the renowned hero of the Baltan Imperial Legion. Valerius, along with a small cadre of around 30 of his legionaries as well as the Celestia’s crew.
Following a much heralded crackdown of slavers in Balta’s waters, Valerius, arguably the most celebrated soldier in the Legion, had been charged with the pursuit and apprehension of the Gannet, and specifically the capture of Antos Topa and as much of his crew as possible. A propaganda exercise as much as anything else, Valerius supposed, but his was not to question orders, his was to execute them.
The Celestia sat at anchor in the Sen lei strait, far away enough that it would not be in view of the island. Having witnessed the late arrival of the Gannet, Valerius set out in a rowboat towards the island. Wearing civilian clothes so as to go unnoticed, Valerius would assess the situation as was his method, before signalling his men to move in when the time was right.
As the captain and some of his crew disembarked the Gannet to stretch their legs, inboard the cargo of slaves remained chained up. Also chained were those slaves who weren’t for sale in this particular transaction, instead charged with manning the ships oars. Garmog was one such unfortunate. A hulking half-orc of some seven feet tall, as ferocious and proud a creature as one could find anywhere in Calmandis. Circumstance and fate have him here, imprisoned and forced to row, chained like a beast. Not one to accept his lot, Garmog sensed this as an opportunity for escape, and intended to take it.
Garmog sat to starboard, manning the foremost oar, meaning he was close to the stairs leading to the deck. He could see that many of the crew had gone ashore. Now was the time. His chains connected him to an iron peg on the ship’s floor, but they also connected him to two other slaves, such was the configuration of the chains. He could allow these two wretches a chance at escape too, and presented his plan in a manner that would ensure the two would follow his lead. Taking his chance, he grabbed the passing slaver sentry and pulled him to the ground, beating him bloody. Taking the keys from the slaver he quickly found the right one and unlocked the padlock from the hook on the ground, before locating a smaller key which freed himself from his two associates.
He ushered them up the stairs and followed. Two sentries were deeper within the bowels of the ship, guarding the slaves in the hold. Garmog wasted no time in engaging his captors. Antos Topa as well as his first mate, the ship’s boson and a small number of his crew were about business on the dock. A fight ensued, one that had been building within Garmog for some time. Engaging the first mate with a shortsword he had picked up from the sentry, he didn’t find the weapon to his liking, wishing instead he had his great maul to hand. Garmog came to realised that his fellow escapees were less helpful than he’d hoped, one of them going so far as to knock Garmog from the gangway into the harbour in a misguided attempt at tackling the first mate.
By now this scene was causing quite a commotion, attracting onlookers around the docks. One such onlooker was the Angherse Tomas Mortain, far from home. The circumstances surrounding Mortain’s fall from grace from celebrated knight into the service of travelling merchants aren’t fully known, but suffice to say the life of a travelling bodyguard cum dogsbody was a far cry from the life of comfort he had led in the court of the Lord Alcarin. His rise to prominence in Angherst had been impressive, certainly for a rumoured bastard.
Regardless of how he got there and however unlikely the circumstance, Mortain found himself present at this particular incident, and was not one to shy away from involvement. He came onto the scene as Garmog the half-orc pulled himself from the water to be confronted by a rapier wielded by Topa’s first mate, a willowy but vicious man whose name is unknown. Any confusion Mortain and the other onlookers may have had as to what was unfolding was put to rest as Garmog bellowed the nature of his escape to those around him, perhaps in the hope of assistance from those around him. Unfortunately, this was Nichon, a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and those who gathered to watch the episode were presumably more interested in blood sport.
As first thought, the other two slaves Garmog had freed proved to be little to no use at all in the fray, the panicked one was able to escape towards the island after himself taking a dip in the bay courtesy of the captain, and the other was apprehended and beaten within mere moments. It was good fortune for Garmog, then, that fate had given him not one, but two unlikely slivers of hope. Mortain would not stand idly by as this unfolded, it wouldn’t be right. Nor would Aquila Valerius, a man who lived and died by an impervious code of honour. That these men would happen upon this scene in the most unlikely of places, far from their homes truly is an unbelievable happening. It seemed that fate was offering Garmog a light after years of darkness.
Valerius arrived on the scene mere moments after Mortain, and didn’t take long to set about in assisting Garmog in his attempt to dispatch the crew of the Gannet. As Garmog grappled with the first mate at the far end of the promenade, the two fighters began cutting their way towards Topa himself. The two were strangers, unaware of one another’s intentions, but fought with a common purpose and surprising synchronicity. Having already slew the ship’s imposing boson, Mortain reached Topa and struck a heavy blow, wounding the captain severely. Valerius needed him alive, and instructed the Angherse to leave the captain to him. Mortain was of course unsure of this mysterious Baltan’s purpose, but he sensed the compelling tone with which the instruction was given and obliged. As Mortain continued fighting his way down the quay, largely unharmed from the Tarsusian style of swordplay thanks to his half plate armour, the Baltan captain successfully managed to incapacitate Topa, alive albeit mortally wounded.
Before long it seemed the three unlikely allies had managed to overcome the odds and the crew of the Gannet lay dead or dying along the quay. However, they would not have time for celebration. Just as Valerius made to move to signal his men, down the beach stormed some twenty-five or so slaver reinforcements; those crew members from the Gannet who had went ashore for refreshment as well as a number of others they had roused. Sensing defeat when victory and freedom had been so close was too much for Garmog, who had mortally wounded the first mate. In full view of the oncoming slavers he let out a mighty bellow and executed the man. Only Antos Topa himself lived of those that had faced the three, but these new odds were too much to overcome and Mortain and Valerius found themselves joining Garmog back in the hold of the Gannet.