Lady Amalia, the ship you boarded for this voyage, is a large Imperial vessel with enough room for everyone - plus a decently-sized crew. Those traveling with Caiden are clearly not expected to help on the ship, though it's doubtful that any of them would mind if someone pitched in occasionally.
The ship itself is far from some scummy pirate vessel: it's clean, unexpectedly so, and even in the lower decks, the stench of the bilge doesn't escape into any of the rooms. All things considered, it is almost a luxurious vessel, and when a spot of dirt appears, someone quickly cleans it up.
A large ballista rests on the forecastle deck, kept loaded and ready to fire, with many more bolts laying about nearby in case of an attack. The rigging runs high to the crow's nest, available for any acrobat to climb if he or she cares for a better view of things. On the quarterdeck, Captain Ritter can usually be found manning the ship's wheel, if she isn't in her cabin.
List of Rooms/Areas:
- Main Deck - The main deck of the ship. Large and open, with nice railings to keep people from just falling into the ocean.
- Quarterdeck - The back deck of the ship, above the Captain's Cabin. Home to the ship's wheel.
- Forecastle Deck - The front deck of the ship, just behind the prow. Home to a large ballista.
- Crow's Nest - A perch at the top of the largest mast. Best place to keep an eye on the seas, but potentially very dangerous for those without good Acrobatics skill and high Agility.
- Captain's Cabin - Accessible from the main deck. Generally kept locked when Captain Ritter is not inside. A smallish room, but comfortable and lined with many shelves of books and maps, along with a large desk in the center of the room and a medium-sized bed off to one corner. There is also a small wine casket, and several bottles of rum.
- Forecastle - Accessible from the main deck. Storage. Contains many crates and barrels full of food and various supplies.
- Hold - Accessible from the main deck. The hold primarily contains rows and rows of bunks for the crew and travelers to bed down for the night. It also has one or two small closets for storage, but most storage is kept in the Forecastle. Several mounts can be kept here as well, though the horses surely are not going to enjoy the ride.
- Bilge - Accessible from a trapdoor in the Hold. This is the ship waste. It smells awful and you generally don't want to go in here.
List of the Crew:
- Captain Jane Ritter - The proud captain of the ship. A middle-aged but nonetheless beautiful Achaean woman with pale blonde hair and blue eyes.
- Big Rob - The largest deckhand, an Achaean. Messy black hair and matching beard, dark eyes.
- Fat Slaadislov - A jovial, portly man from the Black Lands in the Achaean Empire. Short, round, brown hair, blue eyes, usually smiling. Cook.
- Joe Barnacle - Typical Achaean sailor. Young, eager, cheerful. Brown hair, blue eyes, naive face.
- Liam "Eagle-Eyes" - Wiry young man with short, light brown hair and brownish eyes. Usually in the crow's nest. Lookout.
- Assorted other sailors and deckhands.
- Chapter I -
Our Lady Amalia
After many days of travel, Caiden at last led the way into the Imperial city of Templaria. One of the jewels of the Empire, Templaria was breathtaking, especially for those who had never seen it before: a city of endless temples, almost every one of them made of white stone smoothed to perfection. Nearly every temple was constructed to have an enormous, columned entrance, and every one had painted frescos above the temple doors, depicting the prime Achaean god of that temple.
There were temples to every single Achaean deity one could name, even the most obscure. They passed by a temple of Zeus that was perhaps the grandest any of them had ever seen: columns that seemed to reach to the sky, painted frescos, murals, and in the center of an enormous courtyard, a statue of Zeus so enormous and detailed to perfection that many of them could have believed they passed by Jupiter himself.
Countless other temples lined the cobblestone streets. Temples to Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Hades, Ares, Demeter, Vulcan, Mercury, Poseidon...
And, amidst all these temples, stood still more grand structures: cathedrals to Astra Aeterna, their architecture a bit more modernized. Some were simpler, while others looked more in line with the style of the Black Lands: tall steeples, flying buttresses decorated with grotesques and gargoyles... But nearly all of them had great, stained glass windows, depicting the shining star of Astra.
As the large, motley party guided their assorted mounts down the streets, they admired the many different types of architecture. Knights, both locals and Templars, walked the streets everywhere they turned, as did city guards, travelers from lands both near and far, countless priests and priestesses, commoners, nobles...
Templaria was a sight to see, but not everyone agreed on its majesty. Kye shrank down in his saddle, gripping his reins in white-knuckled fear. His stallion sped up as he tightened his legs, and he tried to relax and loosen his grip that had started to agitate his horse. Silently, Caiden reached back and patted the animal's neck, trying to calm it.
The ride was uneventful. Several Templars they passed offered nods and greetings to certain members of the group, particularly Caiden, Stevan, and Sef. Everyone made their way through the city, though certainly some of them were none too happy to pass by some of the exquisitely nice inns they passed. All of them had stayed in some nice locations on the way to Templaria, but by now, there could be little doubt some of them were thirsty for a good drink.
But Caiden stopped for nothing, leading his force all the way down to the city docks. Templaria's docks were just as breathtaking as the rest of the city: ships of every size and shape could be found there, although nearly all of them were Achaean, unlike the occasional Nordling vessel some of them recalled seeing back in Illikon. That felt like so long ago now...
The Venator halted before one of the largest ships there: a beautifully decorated vessel, its prow gilded in gold, depicting a great, roaring, winged lion. The words Lady Amalia were painted down both sides in fine print, and many other interesting bits of heraldry lined its railings, decorated its masts, and appeared all over the back of the captain's cabin: animals, gods, holy symbols... Whoever commissioned this ship had to be incredibly wealthy.
When Caiden dismounted, it was taken as a cue to do the same. The various deckhands loading supplies onto the Lady Amalia paused to watch the group of strangers - some from orders, some not - prepare to board their ship. Various suspicious glances were exchanged, and one incredibly tall, burly man stomped down to the captain's cabin, knocking hard on the door.
Out stepped a lovely middle-aged woman, pale blonde hair shining in the sunlight. She was clad in a red and gold coat of Templaria, bearing various owl emblems. She exchanged a few words with the hairy deckhand who had summoned her, and then smiled and waved him away as she strode down the gangplank, walking showily.
"Good morning, good day!" she called, sounding vivacious. "If it isn't Caiden Voros and his merry band of misfits! I haven't seen you in so long, Blue-Eye."
Caiden managed what he could of a smile, though it seemed to come to him at least slightly easier than usual. "It's been a long time, Jane."
"Too long, friend. And Plexaura! I didn't expect to see you as well - how do you fare this lovely summer day?"
"Very well, thank you, Jane," replied Plexaura, offering a smile of her own.
Captain Jane Ritter looked around at the others present, taking in their faces: some sullen, some cheerful, some blank, a few unreadable, and still others probably lusting after her already, which was something she had come to fully expect. She smiled at all of them, either way.
"Welcome on board the Lady Amalia! Any friend of Caiden's is a friend of mine. We have just a few rules on this ship: first of all, I am a happily married woman who knows how to handle a sword and with a husband who could eat you for breakfast, so please keep your hands to yourself if you're that type," she said with a smile. "Second of all, we have three meals a day, and everyone is welcome to join in. Third of all, I'm not this ship's queen, and I'm open to suggestions as to how to handle our various situations. Basically, be nice, and you'll be treated the same. We hope you enjoy your stay!"
With that, she motioned for the deckhands to aid in carrying everyone's supplies on board. Since some of them had horses, those were brought on board as well, as the ship was large enough to accommodate and clearly was even carrying enough supplies. Not all of the ship's crew seemed quite as welcoming as Captain Ritter, but none of them were rude, either.
Getting everyone and everything on board the ship was a quick affair. That afternoon, Captain Jane Ritter announced they were ready to set sail and ordered for the ship to be cast off. After their brief ride through Templaria and unloading onto the Lady Amalia, Caiden's companions abruptly found themselves setting sail on the high seas.
With the ship set off, everyone now had ample opportunity to make themselves comfortable and get acquainted with the layout of the vessel - and, with any luck, make themselves used to the sea breeze in their face, the gentle rocking of their home on the sea, and the smell of brine. That, and they now realized who in the group was apparently at least half mindless and was unlikely to respond when addressed. Plexaura looked annoyed to be stuck on a ship again, pacing restlessly on the main deck, while Stevan stood on the forecastle deck, beside the ballista, like a watchful statue. Kye, on the other hand, slipped below deck and found a bunk in the farthest corner to take a seat on in silence and solitude.
Caiden headed up to the quarterdeck to speak with Captain Ritter, who gave him yet another smile.
"I really have missed you, Caiden," said Jane. "You've never been talkative, but after Redfield..." Her tone became a bit more concerned. "Something about you has changed."
"Too much," Caiden replied in agreement. "Thank you for lending us the ship, Jane. I wasn't sure I could've gotten transport if you hadn't."
"Don't mention it. So who're all these people with you?" She arched a brow. "Some of them look, hm... Odd. That Inquisitor man and the Templar woman seem nice, though."
"You might have to ask Stevan about a few of them," the Venator almost muttered, glancing at some of the stranger ones. But he nodded to Jane again before he descended, returning to the main deck and leaning forward against a railing, gazing out at the sea.
Jane watched him go, making sure the ship's wheel was adjusted before she posed to make an announcement to everyone present: "Just so we're all aware," she said, "it will be a few days before we reach our destination of Artorius. Everyone please make yourselves at home. I apologize for the lack of privacy in the bunks - you'll just have to not mind... well, being sociable with one another! But please, nothing untoward in the hold. We really don't want to clean up that sort of thing. Save it for when you're in some shabby inn."
"Sails, Captain!" the lookout, Liam 'Eagle-Eyes' suddenly shouted. "They're far off, but they look Viking."
Captain Ritter frowned. "If they're far off, let them be for now. Let me know when you can make out any kind of flag."
Most of those on the ship would know quite well just what a Viking ship could mean: they could simply be traders, explorers, or else they were a Nordling tribe openly hostile with the Empire and prepared to raid any Imperial ships they came across. That could mean bad news for the Lady Amalia, especially if she was taken unprepared, and her mighty ballista went unused... On the other hand, it could be a friendly or neutral tribe, and attacking the ship preemptively could result in a catastrophe, diplomatically and otherwise.
((As we enter into Chapter I, I want to let everyone know: this is the shortest chapter in the campaign and the one most oriented around encounters. While the prologue was extended due to delays involving a vacation, Chapter I will - I hope - move along at a better pace. This chapter is the shortest because, frankly, I tend to have bad luck with sea adventures. But I do plan to keep it brief, so hopefully it'll remain exciting!
Feel free to mingle as you please, look around the ship, and/or react to the distant Viking sails. Another update will be coming soon.))