Chantal the harbormaster of Freeport sat down behind her desk. She looked at the door briefly and got out her set of keys. Her small dark hands deftly found and fitted one of the smaller keys to a lock in the top left side of her desk. The harbormaster quickly turned the lock with a practiced motion. She pulled the desk open, reached in, and lifted up a pewter flask. She looked at the door again, unscrewed its top, and took a large swallow.
There was a knock at the door. She quickly put the flask away.
“Enter!” she said in Terravingian. She grimaced when she realized her mistake.
“What?” asked the voice on the other side of the door.
Chantal knew that the man on the other side of the door asked this in Merchant Speak, the common language of Midsea. Both Bex and Freeport used it as their official speech.
“Come in,” Chantal said in Merchant Speak.
A man with olive toned skin entered the room. He sniffed the air, looked down at Chantal’s desk, and then averted his eyes and turned his back to her.
“I’ve been following the Off-Worlders who surfaced in the harbor on the giant Turtle,” the man said over his shoulder, somehow shutting the door without a sound. “I hear your willing to pay for news of their movements.”
Chantal studied him for a minute, saying nothing. He went by the name Lo-Ak but she was pretty sure it wasn’t his real name. He usually dressed like a Freeport sailor but he hadn’t been to sea in four years.
“Sit Lo-Pak,” she said gesturing to an ornate couch that looked out of place in the Spartan room. “You know, I always wonder why you never say “Sea Greetings and Good Fortune” like most sailors.”
Lo-Ak sat down. Her ran both hands through his long black hair and synched his ivory ponytail holder closer to his head.
“I do more than just sail,” said Lo-Ak. “But you, unlike most of the fools in Freeport, know this. Do you want the information or should I go to the Sea Lord? My price to you is only a hundred gold pieces. I would charge her triple.”
“Or she would demand you tell her on threat of death for the good of Freeport," Chantal smiled coldly. Her dark face then took on a more pleasant and confident expression. "With the volcano eruption, the lava damage and the strange attacks it’s hard to say what she’ll do in this desperate time. Make it eighty since we understand each other so well.”
Lo-Ak nodded without expression and began to speak. “The druid, who is called Valanthe, seems to be able to communicate with the Giant Turtle. I saw it myself. The Turtle is bigger than any ship I’ve ever seen and could easily stretch across our Central Market.”
“I saw it, Lo-Ak,” Chantal snapped back and pointed at him. “Like most of us who actually work for a living. But the information about the Druid is good, go on.”
Lo-Ak coughed. “The archer GFoot was with them. We don’t think he has a contract with anyone but Alexandra of Bex and sources say he will not break it. Once he takes a contract he completes it, no matter what.”
Chantal nodded and she reached up to her medallion that proclaimed her the Harbormaster. “Good to know.”
Lo-Ak went on, “The mad mage Felix saved much of the city with Valanthe. They froze or diverted the lava with spells. I also saw Felix enter the Library. The gnome left carrying an old tome that some say was the Book of Libraries.”
“My mother used to tell me stories about that book,” Chantal said. “Whoever carries it gains both wisdom but attracts the attention of the Golden Myrmidons.”
It was Lo-Ak’s turn to nod. “It is so. The followers of the cleric Faeron are celebrating his arrival here and there are more converts lining up outside old man Ferrell’s mill. They are using it for a temple. Faeron left the city with Felix, GFoot, Valanthe and an old pirate who tried to keep his face hidden under a large hat. But I managed to bump into him during the evacuation and got a good look at his face.”
“Yes?” Chantal said. “Don’t keep me waiting! We have an active volcano, titanic Turtles the size of a city block in my harbor and Off-Worlders walking through Freeport, who is it.”
“I am almost sure it is Simion, brother to our Sea Lord. The man whom all thought dead these past decades.”
Chantal raised her bloodshot eyes and leaned forward. “I changed my mind Lo-Ak. You will have your hundred and at least thirty more. Where are they now?”
“They have been climbing up the mountain and were met by the Ash River Sage. Beyond that I do not know.”
Chantal stood up, swaying slightly. Her years of sailing and fencing made it seem an almost graceful affectation. She wrote a note, held a red candle over the note and dripping wax next her looping signature. She pressed her ring into the wax, leaving a seal of crossed cutlasses.
“Take this note to the Treasurer,” she said. “And tell no one we have spoken.”
Lo-Ak stood, smiled and left with the money note.
Chantal took out the flask and upended it out her window. The brown expensive liqueur poured into the bay. She now had an idea of how to protect her harbor but needed her wits about her. The Off-Worlders brought with them the city’s salvation, but they were also known to bring destruction to any who crossed them.