After they have finished their business in Iomedae, and Jeremy and his crew are also back on board, they depart again for Asteroath. The journey back is uneventful. Jonathan asks Jeremy what the airship they are flying now is worth if they were to sell it. Jeremy thinks about it, and taking into account that there is some damage and required maintenance, and many miles have been flown with the ship, he estimates the price between 15.000 and 20.000 goldpieces.
The first night they go to bed on the return trip, Preen finds a little package on his pillow. There is a note attached to it which reads: “Preferentially not to be used at night in the forest” The package contains the tin whistle Jonathan has bought for Preen.
It is again about 5 days flying back to Asteroath, during which time Preen tries to learn as much as possible from sky sailing from Jeremy, and Jonathan also listens in, focusing more on navigation than the actual sailing operations. Lini mainly occupies herself again by taking in all the sights around her. In the evenings Preen plays his whistle.
When they approach Asteroath, Preen is the one to dock the ship, and he is successful in his attempt. Jeremy puts the crew at work to secure the ship. After the work is finished, Jonathan pays Jeremy 25 gold, 5 gold more than the agreed price. Jeremy thanks him for this unexpected bonus.
The harbour master registers the ship in the dock, the docking fee is 5 silver pieces per day. Then Preen, Jonathan and Lini go to the drydocks, to see if they can sell and buy an airship. In the city it is very calm, less people are about than would be expected for a city this size. While they walk and overhear parts of conversations, they notice there is much talk about the food prices that have gone up significantly, and there has not been any fresh grain coming from Erastil in a long time. Also coffee is very expensive. Three old men, sitting in front of a tavern, talk about _ Dead man’s crossing_ which apparently has disappeared completely, burnt down. Lini decides to go over to them to ask more about this. She is initially mistaken for a young girl, who surely must be looking for her mother, but when Lini erects herself to her full height and shows her religious symbol with a somewhat sterner look on her face, the men become more talkative. Lini learns that about three weeks ago the resting place Dead man’s crossing, including the small village, was completely destroyed. They do not know who is responsible for this. The location of the village is to the north-east, past Iomedae even. Lini empathizes with them and promises to send some thoughts and prayers to the people of the destroyed village. She then returns to Preen and Jonathan and shares what she has learned.
In order to find the best ship dealer, they decide to split up and visit different bars and taverns to ask for a reliable ship dealer. Preen gets Petson & sons recommended, Jonathan hears that Anders is the man to go to. Lini asks a number of working men and understands that Petson is the go-to guy, and that she should avoid Anders, he is not to be trusted. When they regroup again and share their recommendations, they decide to pay this Petson a visit. His wharf looks well maintained. They see several ships in different states of completion. When they walk towards the office building, they pass a kennel with two clay dogs with burning green eyes, and in their backs a compartment holding a glowing brick that is also the fuel for the airships.
They enter the office and Preen rings the small bell that is on the counter. A man who was writing something in a ledger, gets up and introduces himself as Ricardo, son of Petson. “How can I be of service?” Preen asks for the smallest ship that is able to sail between the islands.
“Ah!” Ricardo says, smelling business, “Do sit down good people! Do you want something to drink?” When Preen asks for a beer, Ricardo apologizes and says they don’t serve beer while doing business, but there is coffee, or a herbal drink? They settle for the herbal drink.
Ricardo shows some drawings of different airships. They currently have two ships of about 15 meter length directly available. One sailing ship, which would require 5 or 6 sailors, and a ship without sails, which would require 2 or 3 sailors to crew. Both ships have very simple rooms below deck.
The sailing ship would cost them 12.000 goldpieces, plus another 500 to make the ship ready for sailing. The propeller ship is more expensive, 20.000 goldpieces and another 2000 gold to prepare everything. The fuel consumption is 1 brick per day for the sailing ship and 2 bricks per day for the propeller ship.
It is quickly decided that the sailing ship has their preference. Preen also mentions that they have a big airship (freight ship) for sale, or to exchange. They show Ricardo the papers of the Freebird. Ricardo excuses himself to arrange a ‘specialist’ to go to the skydock to appraise the ship. The man leaves on horseback to do as he is bidden. While they await the return of the appraiser, they are shown the extra’s that can be purchased to improve the basic quality of the sailing ship. He draws the layout of the lower deck with three small bedrooms, a communal room, and a room for the crew.
After some time the appraiser returns and confers briefly with Ricardo before he disappears again. Ricardo offers them to buy the airship from them for 15.000 goldpieces. But if they will buy the sailing ship as an exchange, he is willing to offer 17.000 goldpieces for the Freebird. The sailing ship with the agreed accessories would cost 13.5000 goldpieces. Preen asks Ricardo why the price he offers is so low. Ricardo says there is some overdue maintenance to be done to the ship. Preen thinks he is being cheated, but Lini reads the man well, and feels Ricardo means well. Also, the price which is offered coincides with what Jeremy thought the ship was worth. After some further negotiating, they strike a deal. They will exchange the Freebird for the smaller airship with also on-board sanitation, and get 4000 goldpieces.
As the extra’s still need to be installed on the new ship, they will have to wait three days before it will be ready. This night they will spend on the Freebird still and collect their private belongings. They put the still glowing bricks from the airship in their small lifeboat, which will be pulled by the new ship. The next morning they take their belongings to an inn where they will stay until the new ship is ready.
Their intention is to fly to Shelyn to Serenrae, to find a cure for Preen and to find the enchantress who is supposed to have the third part of the key to the treasure of Kassen. They know that Shelyn island is known for export of coffee, cotton, chocolate and tobacco. The weather is almost always nice and warm there, there are some swamps and sub-tropical forests. Shelyn has two skyports.
Serenrae is known for weapons and armour and rough clay as export products. The local Serenrae people are very formal and focused on etiquette. Serenrae is more or less divided into two parts, the northern part has a temperate climate, the southern part, across the mountain range, is a desert.