Suzail Ahoy

A Dark and Uncomfortable Night

The tiny dinghy wasn’t made for open ocean travel. Both Fynwyk and Grimston knew that. Grimston sat in the middle of the small vessel, his arms straining to keep the boat pointed in the right direction, while Fynwyk sat at the back, scowling at Zeddicus, who was huddled in the bow, trying his best not to throw up. The three had little time or energy for conversation, which probably was for the best given the current situation. The wind howled from what seemed like every direction, buffeting the small craft. Only Grimston’s muscles and Fynwyk’s expert sailing kept them on track.
The ocean was black, split with white caps that were visible even in the darkness. The three were lucky that the temperature was warm, otherwise they would have died hours ago given the fact that they were all drenched. Still, they were cold and weary and every minute felt like an hour. The fell into a routine so dull that they forgot what they were doing. Only when Fynwyk’s head began to nod did he realize that his burning anger at his long time friend, Zeddicus, had faded. He was certainly still angry at the lost loot but it didn’t seem to matter so much with death only one wave away. And for his part, Zeddicus was growing accustom to the nausea. He had long ago prayed to every god in the pantheon, asking for an extension to his life. Instead he had grabbed a small bucket that was tied to the boat and was methodically throwing sea water back where it belonged. Grimston’s eyes were half closed, and he sang a low song that the wind snatched away, making the words impossible for the other two occupants to make out. His back ached and his arms burned but the barbarian never considered quitting. It just wasn’t in his character.
Hours passed.

The light of dawn did not burst across the sky in a blaze of glory. It seeped in. The seas slowly calmed until where there had once been imminent death, there was now silence, split only with the occasional swell. The sky lightened until it was the color of lead and the clouds still hung low. The wind faded to a light feathery breeze that did not bite so deeply. And the three members of the dinghy allowed themselves to sleep, overcome with exhaustion.
Hours passed.

The methodical thumping sound woke Fynwyk first. His bleary eyes cracked open to reveal a line of rocks. He gave a yelp and grabbed the stout tiller but then realized that the boat had grounded itself on a thin beach of white sand. He could see a treeline not far away from the rocky point that had trapped the boat. Both Zeddicus and Grimston were still asleep. He couldn’t resist the grin that spread across his face. He grabbed the small bucket, now floating in the bottom of the boat and half filled it with sea water. He laughed and tossed the water at Zeddicus, enjoying the indignant yells that his friend unleashed, which woke the weary Grimston. Fynwyk might not have been angry but he didn’t mind a little harmless payback when he could find it.

The Rough Night Ahead

Grimston and Fynwyk hoisted the john boat over the starboard bow railing and beckoned Zed to clamber aboard. Once Zed had situated himself, Grimston and Fynwyk settled in as well and began to lower the boat into the pitching sea. The fury of the storm had subsided little since Fynwyk and Zed were last in the water. Fynwyk knew they were in for a rough night.

Grimston grabbed the oars and rowed the boat out of the shadow of the Storm Current. Fynwyk turned to look on the ship. It was a fine ship. Now, as the flames licked the hull and the rain spattered and hissed as it careened into the fire, it was soon to be nothing. “We could have taken the ship for Theo’s fleet,” Fynwyk thought. There would have been more of a fight, sure, but they could have finished off the wererat crew. Especially with Brimstone’s help. Grimston had proven to be a valuable ally; he was strong, fearless, and capable. The gods had smiled on Fynwyk in his chance encounter with the brute. But Zed. Well, that was another matter. For all his smooth talking and supposed prowess as a “deal-maker,” or “facilitator,” or whatever-the-heck-else he liked to fashion himself, he did not belong on a boat. It was going to be a rough night indeed.

Fynwyk seethed with anger at his friend. Not only had the fool set a ship on fire in the middle of the ocean, he had used his magic against Fynwyk. The itchy pull in his cortex suggesting he and Grimston abandon their pursuit of treasure in the captain’s office told him so. He had seen Zed’s power of suggestion at work before and knew what had happened. A few more minutes would not have mattered. The fire was slow to consume the ship and they would have had ample time to make an escape, though an escape into the roaring ocean in the middle of a storm did not feel like much of an escape, out of the fire but into a frying pan more like. The Storm Current would most certainly have made a fine addition to Theo’s fleet. Its addition would have given Fynwyk some much needed respect as well. His grandfather had been less than pleased with him after the debacle at Starmantle. There was much to atone for in that.

As the flames rose higher and disappeared into the dark skyline, occasionally blurring with the flashes of lightning, Fynwyk let his mind wander away from his anger for a moment. “Where did those wererats come from?” Fynwyk wondered. They claimed that he and Grimston had been infected and would soon turn. Maybe it was only a mind game, the uncertainty playing a trick on him, but Fynwyk felt odd. It was like his blood had become more viscous, like there was something thick and lethargic slugging through his veins. He hoped Dr. Haldoun was still assigned to the Fair Wind. Haldoun was more than capable and would be able to set Fynwyk and Grimston straight. If not, well…at least it would be Fynwyk who ate Zed instead of Captain Bedwin and his crew.

Something else was troubling as well. Was the Maiden’s Hand actually a victim of the Driftwood or was Captain Bedwin lying about that too? Did the Maiden’s Hand and her crew succumb to the terrible fate of becoming wererat food? Since Zed had set fire to their only lead Fynwyk could only hope that they found answers soon, Theo would not be pleased if they returned empty handed, assuming they returned at all.

Turning away from the flames consuming the Storm Current, Fynwyk looked on Zed. The pitching of the small dingy in the rough sea was clearly taking its toll. At least he had not gotten sick immediately, which was more than could be said for the last time Fynwyk took him out on the sea. But placed in this position, Fynwyk knew it would only be a matter of time before Zed got sick. Hopefully the Fair Wind was able to see that the Storm Current was in distress and was working its way toward the flame. But they would need to know where the three of them were. “Zed, use your fairy lights to try and signal the Fair Wind to let them know we are here,” Fynwyk barked. He knew Zed hated to use his magic.

Dark Thoughts

“So what exactly are you selling then?”

“I’ve told you this, I’m not selling anything. I’m providing a service. Ships and caravans come into the city and the traders don’t know anything about the city. I provide them with connections for a small fee.” Zeddicus said. Though he was annoyed by the lack of understanding, his voice and posture did not convey it. He knew what he was doing.

“Well in that case, I will not grant you a writ to operate a business in this city.” responded Clifton Wilmot, bureaucrat windbag extraordinaire. “You’re free to leave now.”

Zedd left the small house/office on the outskirts of the administrative center of Suzail smoothly, not indicating how angry he was. He was half expecting that response. These people absolutely lack vision. No matter, because Plan B, which Zedd did not like very much, was more of a sure thing.

See, Zedd knew that Wilmot was a fan of his pipe and that Wilmot’s wife was not. Wilmot would have to come outside to smoke and when he did, Zedd would make the man more receptive to this proposal.

About twenty minutes later Wilmot stepped outside to light his pipe. Zedd began to focus on the mindset that he wanted Wilmot to have. He wanted the idea that the two were old friends and have helped each other out many times before with different odds and ends. With that though on his mind, Zedd whispered a word and released the thought at Wilmot.

There was no indication that anything happened, Wilmot seemed to just stare off into the distance for a moment and then was back in the moment as if nothing had happened.
Zedd felt the oiliness of his magic. It was like a heavy weight in the back of his mind, oozing and sticky. He wasn’t sure why it felt that way, it didn’t seem natural. He knew that wizards would not give him the time of day, but that is how wizards were. They were afraid of those that naturally had what wizards worked for: power. They were small-minded, weak. Priests would never talk to Zedd about his innate power either, which made him uneasy. As soon as they looked at Zedd they scorned him. But again, they did not understand what sort of burden Zedd had. He was stronger than them all and one day they would have to acknowledge it. He’d make them.

That thought isn’t right. Zedd was suddenly aware of the darker thoughts in his mind. There were certain…impulses that seemed to crop up whenever Zedd used his magic. He wanted to make people do things. He wanted to hurt people, dominate them. He wanted, frankly, to do whatever he wanted. Every dark desire a man could have popped into his head when he used magic. Whenever he used a lot of magic, Zedd had nightmares. They were always the same. Faceless people waiting on him hand and foot while two men fought to the death for his amusement. Maybe that is why clerics and priests tended to stay away from him.

To cope with this Zedd, first, avoided using magic unless he had to. Second, he visited a Temple of Mystra and an acolyte there, Selena, taught him to meditate and focus his mind. So that’s what Zedd did. He found the place in his mind that was pleasant and free of dark desire and took it in. After a few minutes he was fine. No violence creeping to the front of his mind.

Time to talk to Clifton

Zeddicus strolled confidently to the office and knocked loudly. It helps to act as if you are in charge with a type like Mr. Wilmot. He answered the door fairly quickly and was surprised to see Zedd standing there before him.

“Zedd, my boy! What can I do for you?” he said, a lot more pleasantly than just a handful of minutes before.

“Well, Cliff, can I call you Cliff? You see I think I was a little unclear earlier when I petitioned for a writ and I just wanted to clear some things up.” See? Confidence.

“Oh that,” Wilmot said as if maybe a little ashamed.” I wanted to apologize. See, my daughter, you know Anna. She’s gotten herself into a bit of a situation and I’ve just been preoccupied with that.” Zedd did know Anna and her “problem”. She was a fan of the local guard and the local guard was certainly a fan of her. The problem he spoke of was that she was pregnant with an illegitimate child and had no right idea with who. Oh, and her father was attempting to advance his station by marrying her off. Whoops. “I think I may have taken it out on you, truth be told. You just needed a writ to operate as a…”

“Deal Broker,” Zeddicus said, helpfully.

“That’s right a deal broker. An odd thing to do, but I see no problem in letting you do the job legally. Let me get the paperwork all set for you.” At that Clifton went to work at his desk. Say what you will about the man, he knew his job.

Within a few minutes all of the “I’s” and “T’s” were dotted and crossed and Zedd was out the door.

“Now Zedd, ole boy, don’t be a stranger and visit anytime,” Wilmot said pleasantly as Zedd walked away.

Zedd waved, “Oh, you know I will.” I’ll see you mindlessly drooling at my feet doing my every bidding, you worthless pig.

That thought took Zedd by surprise. It had been almost an hour since Zedd had cast that spell and he had done that meditative exercise. Those thoughts do not crop up after he does that. Something seems to have changed and that is a problem.

I shouldn’t have to convince people to do things for you, they should do things because you tell them to. I waste too much time talking. Zedd hated these thoughts, but he was used to them. I’ll meditate some more that should help.

Deep down, all Zedd really knew was that he was going to have nightmares tonight. What worried him the most, though, is that a part of him was excited about that fact.

Zeddicus Azrael

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