My mother was from Gogpodda. My father was a sailor whose ship traded with the floating settlement. They fell in love and she followed him to the Shackles. Using her knowledge of aquaculture my parents set up a small farm. I was their only child.
We tried to live peacefully but the pirates wouldn’t allow it. The Pirate Council said we owed them a yearly protection tax. Once a year my father would take some of our crustaceans to Port Peril to the Hurricane King.
It did nothing to stop other pirate captains from demanding more. So when a caravel stopped by our repurposed druid lairship we were wary. Not to say we did not get legitimate trade too but the other was more common.
“Is everything all right here?” Called down a half-orc.
“Yes. This is our farm.” My father called back.
“How do you have a farm in the ocean?”
“Trade secrets.” My mother said firmly.
“How long do you think you can survive on the ocean without assistance?”
“We have survived here for a half century. We will be here for at least another. Hopefully our son will live here with his children too.” My father said confidently.
“We could use another crew member. How about letting your son see the world and possibly meet the mother of your future grandchildren?” The half-orc asked.
“When I am ready to get a wife I know where to go.” I answered.
“Wrong answer kid.” The half-orc said before arrows rained down on us.
I woke up in the bowels of the ship. A halfling was leaning over me. “My parents?” I asked in dread.
“Our half-orc captain likes small sized crewmembers. More crew for the same space, he says. He does not understand how we age though. Fifty years to him means old age.”
“So you just let them die?”
“They only brought you to me. I am not allowed up on deck.”
“Good work Oxyrinchus.” The half-orc said, leaning down to look at us from the bottom of the stairway. “You we will call Greenie, not only because you’re new but for your skin tone too. Now that you’re healed you can use your trade secrets of farming on the ocean for us.”
“I need a wet-to-moist area that doesn’t move. Crustaceans and seaweed, all live.” I said knowingly.
“The bilge then.” The half-orc said walking up the stairs.
“No sunlight to keep the seaweed alive.”
“We gather fresh seaweed and you can use it first for your farm then the weaver can dry it and make it into rope.” The captain said, closing the hatch at the top of the stairs.
“Now you will be in the same situation as me. Working below deck as their slave for the rest of your life.”
“What would happen if the ship caught fire?” I asked thinking of my pyromaniac racial ability.
“They would let me out to cast create water to put out the fire then stick me back in here with anyone injured in order to heal them.”
“How many others are imprisoned below deck?”
“Three more halflings, five gnomes, two wayangs, and a grippli. The crew consists of ratfolk, grippli, halflings, and a tengu as well as the half-orc captain.”
“No gnomes on the crew?”
“No, your kind are great craftsmen and thus put to work elsewhere onboard.”
The hatch opened again “Let’s go Greenie.” The half-orc bellowed down.
“You need to go.” The halfling insisted, pulling me to my feet.
“Stay alert.” I insisted before leaving. The sun was bright overhead as I ascended the steps. The deck was bustling with activity of a couple dozen small sailors.
“Down the ladder.” The half-orc growled, pointing to a hatch just at the top of the stairs and butting up against the central mast. Without a word I descended into the darkness, the ladder in front of me, the mast to my back, and solid walls to either side the entire way down. The sodden, stale air was hard to breathe. The hatch slammed, taking all the light with it. It wasn’t a problem, I simply cast dancing lights. Four fist-sized balls of light appeared, each five feet away from me at each major compass point.
The ceiling was only a few inches above my head in the center of the bilge, along the keel. The base of the ship curved upwards so that there was less than a half foot of space at the sides. The bilge water around my ankles consisted of salt water, oil, urine, pitch, particles, and other materials based upon the color and stench. I went half way back up the ladder and produced a tiny fireball in my palm. I let the flame lick at the mast, starting a blaze. Then I jumped back down into the sludge and ran the flames along the bilge ceiling to the bow, as it was further than the stern which was where the castle was situated.
I doused the fireball as I ran back to the mast. I quickly climbed up the ladder, through the smoke, and tried to lift the hatch. It wasn’t locked. I climbed out to chaos. The entire crew was running around with pails trying to put out the flames as the half-orc had his right hand on the back of the halflings neck as a spout of water came from his hands.
I didn’t know if they would be able to put out the fire. I didn’t care. I ran to the starboard side and looked down into the waves. There she was, swimming beside the caravel, my archelon animal companion. I leapt into the water and she swam beneath me. Upon her back we left the burning pirate ship in our wake. Plucky and I started searching to the north, looking for Gogpodda.