Tears of Celeris

4.2 The meeting

Two pirates walk into a bar...

The next afternoon, Thorim headed over to ‘The Lazy Falcon’ for the captains meeting he had called when they’d first landed at Archon’s Rest. When he arrived at the bar there was a sign on the door saying it was closed, but Grim, the owner, saw Thorim and let him in. The tables were arranged in a sort of semicircle around the bar. Thorim took a seat at the table at one end of the semicircle and called for a drink. Over the next half hour just over 20 captains of various races and demeanors wander in.

The first pirate to show up is a tall male verrik dressed in desert garb who introduced himself as ‘captain Montaigne’ and called for wine from the bar. Following him, a male quickling faen and a female giant enter the bar together laughing heartily. The faen introduced himself as “captain Rex” and the giant as ” captain Vi-Quaron”. They offered their condolences and told Thorim not to hesitate to ask if there was anything they could do. Wendyl and Franz wander in after that and sit down at Thorim’s table.

Three male littorians ambled in a minute or two later. They nodded toward Thorim and took a table on the other side of the room. Franz pointed them out as captains Axle, Slash and Flea and that, their insufferable arrogance aside, they’re all pretty good guys. Gomez and Issachar were next to enter and took the remaining seats at Thorim’s table. They extended their sympathies and also offered to assist Thorim in any way they could. A male human entered right behind them and looked questioningly at the barkeep. When the barkeep shook his head, the man let out a sigh of relief before introducing himself as “captain Demic”. He bowed slightly to Issachar and then seated himself at Rex and Vi-Quaron’s table.

A number of extras wander in over the next ten minutes or so, more or less filling the tables. The only other person of note is a female sibbecai who introduced herself as “captain Isyyl” and then went to sit with Montaigne.

Once assembled, they were a fairly rowdy bunch- mostly friendly though one or two arguments sprang up regarding what amounted to spheres of influence disputes which pretty much ran up until Thorim called the meeting to order.

“Fellow captains! I hope you have all enjoyed the drinks that Grim is putting on my tab, but the reason for my presence here is dire enough that I must interrupt the emptying of my money pouch.” Thorim began. “My thanks to you for answering my call. I pray that your families are well and your trip here has not unduly hurt your ventures. My name is Thorim Rebant and have long dreamed of sitting by my father’s side at such a gathering. To my utter regret, such a thing will now never come to pass. I am deeply saddened to stand before you and confirm that my father, Tobias Rebant, along with all of his crew have been taken from our lives by a cruel strike from Valua.”

Over two weeks ago, ten warships of Valua passed Archon’s Rest and entered what many among us believed was a safe haven from their advances. Four of those warships sailed directly to my family’s home and began bombarding our people. My father and his brave crew took the battle to the Valuans, but despite his great skill, four warships were too much for even him and his ship was lost toe the Maelstrom along with all hands on board. However, their actions allowed many of our people to escape and hide until the Valuans departed and I had returned from the mission my father had sent me on.

I ask for no pity for our family, though we have suffered great loss. We are strong and will thrive long beyond this tragedy. I ask instead for your aid in addressing the grave threat to us all that ten Valuan warships south of Archon’s Rest pose.”

Axle responded by asking, “If 10 warships passed Archon’s Rest and you were attacked by only 4, what was the point of the other 6? Do you know who led the attack?”

He was followed closely by Montaigne who asked, “Do you have any idea why the Empire felt you needed to be exterminated?”

Kain paused only a moment longer before saying, “If it would be helpful, I could accommodate you and your family at our home- at least while you rebuild or look for a new place.”

Looking at each of them in turn, Thorim responded, “Thank you for your gracious offer, Kain. Perhaps after this meeting is concluded we might discuss what aid would be best for both of our families. That is a matter which does not need to consume the time of the others gathered here.”

“That is a fine question, Axle, but one that I do not have an answer for. I only learned of the fact that there were ten warships when I arrived here in Archon’s Rest and began sending out the calls for this meeting. My time since has been focused on acquiring the supplies that my family needs for their survival, so I have only spared a few crew members to search for more details on their whereabouts.I had hoped that perhaps among all of us here that we could puzzle together enough tidbits of information to determine why the Empire has come and where their ships have done.

As for who led the attack… my family knows the banner of Alfonzo and it was clearly displayed during the attack, although such a move seems overly competent and aggressive for Alfonzo to have succeeded without support.

My first fear was that the attack was the result of the recent… disenfranchisement… that Alfonzo felt watching my family and I sail away on his ship. Given that Alfonzo’s forced disembarkment happened only days before this attack, I doubt that even his ties of kinship to the Empress would allow him to convince the other Admirals to send ten warships so far afield.so quickly. I believe that these ships were already on their way here on a mission, though perhaps our actions served to help the Valuans chose which family to destroy first.

While it might be convenient to believe that this is a strike solely against my family, I am convinced that some greater scheme is in plan and the attack on my family is just the first move in a series that could see us driven into the Maelstrom. We have long been a thorn in the side of the Empire and while we see our families as autonomous units functioning separately from each other, do not doubt that the Empire sees us as one monolithic plague and they will wipe us all from the sky for the actions of any family.”

The room buzzed with discussion for some time before Rex mentioned, “Alfonso, eh? I got a report this morning that a group of 4 ships bearing his Insignia Passed the Valuan Gate late last night.”

Isyyl looked about the room and then said, “My spies within the empire have not mentioned anything about a concerted effort to wipe out the Diamond Rogues- though there has been talk about them preparing for a war with Nasr.”

To which Wendyl responded, “If they were preparing for a war with Nasr, they should be building up their forces along the northern corridor but last we heard the Eastern fleet is actually running smaller than usual.”

Thorim considered for a moment, then replied, “That is most disturbing news, Rex. I am quite certain that Alfonso was involved in the attack on my family and I am equally certain that no one saw him pass back north through Archon’s Rest. That raises the grave concern that they have discovered some method to pass what was previously thought of as impassable… If they have truly discovered a way to pass through the barriers, wouldn’t the best location to strike Nasr through the barriers between us and Nasr?”

Flea looked first at Wendyl, then at Thorim and asked, “So what do you propose we do, Captain Thorim? Has not the empire always rooted us out when they discover our hiding places? What options do we have other than living in and attacking from the shadows?”

Thorim immediately answered, “We have always run and hid because the Valuans do not fear us. They sail ten warships past our city and we do nothing except scurry further into the shadows and hope they are looking for some other family. I say we gather our ships and hunt down the six Valuan ships remaining in our territory and teach them that a strike at the Diamond Rogues will be a bloody affair for them.”

The room erupted into arguing with the captains pretty much evenly split between wanting to teach the Valuans a lesson and fearing such action would doom them all. This went on for a couple minutes before Issachar stood and moved up to the bar next to Thorim. As he turned to face the room, everyone quieted down. “Something must be done about the Valuans, yes, but we must be sure of our stroke before we move against them. There are too many questions facing us: where are the six ships? what are they doing? Have the Valuans found a way to bypass the riftwalls? Why did they attack Captain Thorim’s family in the first place? Beyond that, at the moment they believe your family to be disorganized and leaderless if not completely destroyed – a belief which will be very useful for you while you build yourself a new home. Once you have answers to these questions and your family is safe, then you will be ready to lead an attack on the Valuans which will remind them that the world is not theirs to do with as they please. When that time comes, you will have at your disposal every Diamond Rogue interested in keeping that name.” With that, he moved back to his seat and sat down.

After pausing to gauge the reactions of the captains to Issachar’s statement, Thorim spoke, “Thank you, Captain Issachar. Your wisdom is most appreciated in harnessing my enthusiasm. I will heed your council and suggest we focus our efforts on finding these ships and determining their goals and abilities before we make our strike. While I focus my efforts on rebuilding my family’s home, I hope others can carry a larger portion of the burden of collecting this information. I propose we plan to meet again in three weeks time unless dire or favorable news dictates we meet sooner.”

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drakemaw

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