Having purchased a new, smaller airship, Preen, Jonathan and Lini also realize they need a crew to fly the ship. They search for Jeremy, to ask him whether he knows of a smaller crew available for flying them to Shelyn and Serenrae. They find him in a tavern which is frequented by sailors. When they get their beers from the bar, and another one for Jeremy, they sit with him at a table. As they tell them about their new ship that needs a crew of 5 or 6 men, Jeremy asks them what price they had in mind for payment of the crew. Not having really thought about this up till now, Preen ventures forth with 1 to 1.5 gold pieces per person for 5 days. Jeremy starts to laugh at that: “You’ll never get a crew paying those low wages!” When asked what a more reasonable price would be, Jeremy says that 1,5 gold piece per day for the whole crew is a good price. As the crew that joined Jeremy on the earlier trip is not a fixed crew, but just a bunch of hirelings without too much loyalty, Jeremy says that he is happy to join them again, the cook will come again, and three other trustworthy sailors. Before agreeing to this, and the price, Preen wants to check whether the price Jeremy asks is reasonable.
They take their leave to ask around for prices and find that the price is indeed following the market trend. Reasoning that Jeremy is a good fellow to have around, and that the food the cook made was acceptable, they decide they will accept his offer. But first they do some shopping. Some healing potions are bought, new clothes and arrows. Jonathan also buys two fireball arrows. Preen buys some ingredients for his special potion and “just in case” also buys silver plated shackles. Then they return to the tavern to tell Jeremy that he can gather his men.
They hire Jeremy, the cook and three sailors for the trip to Serenrae, possibly also for an extended period. The cook says he needs 3 gold to buy food for their trip up to Shelyn, 4 gold would be better to have some margin. It should be 17 days of flying to get to Shelyn. As the ship will consume 1 brick per day, 20 bricks should suffice to get to Shelyn. Jeremy advises however to get a full load of bricks as the air can be treacherous and they also need to go through ‘the draft’ which is a very fast air current inhabited by all kinds of creatures. They accept his advice and will tell the shipyard to fill up the ship with fuel bricks upon delivery. They tell Jeremy when they expect to depart – in two or three days – and after shaking hands to seal their new deal, leave for the inn.
When the ship is finished, Preen, Jonathan and Lini meet Jeremy and the crew at the wharf. Preen is wearing his newly bought ostentatious captains clothing. The crew somehow manages not to laugh when they see him. The ship is dubbed Kingfisher and after a brief ceremony, all board the ship and they depart to set sail to Shelyn. Once again, when they go over the edge of the island, they go down in a deep dive before the ship stabilizes again. The first few hours the crew is busy with optimizing the rigging and all other things that are required to fly the ship properly.
On their way there are many things to be seen: birds, clouds, flying ‘fish’ in the mist bank below them. Preen plays in the evenings on his tin whistle. Jonathan plays regularly with the small dragon Nala.
The three sailors remain very distant to Preen, as they see him as ‘the Captain’. After observation of the crew Lini realizes that Jeremy and Cook are loyal to the ship and to them, as long as they are being paid. The others are more in the category bought labour, in case of problems they will not risk themselves, being paid or no.
On the second morning after their departure, they notice that Jeremy is standing very still and looking concerned, his eyes focused to the right side of the ship. There is a strangely shaped dark cloud that crackles with lightning energy. The cloud moves in the direction of the Kingfisher…
Looking at the expression on Jeremy’s face, this phenomenon is also new to him. They try to evade the cloud by changing their sailing direction. After some time they notice that also the cloud has changed direction, and again is coming straight toward them. Lini recognizes a lightning storm and Preen realizes that this is made by a spell to protect or hide something within the storm. It probably is a ship with a powerful mage on board. The lightning storm moves faster than they do, and Preen estimates that they will be overtaken in about 6 hours flying. He also calculates that they will end up at a higher flying position than they are now.
When Preen uses the spyglass to get a better view of what may be hidden in the dark cloud, he notices that there are several things flying in and out of the cloud. He does not recognize what it is. When Jeremy takes a look with the spyglass, he tells the other that the flying things are wyverans: flying kobolds.
This news does not bode well, so they prepare for a fight. Lini prays for guidance and prepares some spells that may help them in their upcoming struggle. When the cloud comes closer, they can see that inside the cloud there is a ‘ship’ in the shape of a big flying island, but with a ship hull at the bottom. The size is estimated at about 50 meter long. There are no sails visible. Lini spots at the bow of the ship a creature with two wings and two legs and a big tail, a draconic head and about half the size of their own ship. This is a wyvern. These creatures are not very bright, at least not intelligent enough to do any magic, so this wyvern is not responsible for the magical cloud. Wyverns are poisonous though…
The flying kobolds or wyverans always are present in large groups and they follow a larger draconic leader (tribal). They appear to be resistant to lightning energy, as they fly through the lightning storm cloud unharmed.
Slowly the other ship closes in. Trying to avoid the other ship gaining the upper hand, Preen tells Jeremy to fly higher and higher to end up at the same level as the other ship. Where the other ship initially compensates by flying even higher, at some point a maximum height is reached and the two ships are level with each other. The air here is relatively thin, which may explain why they don’t go higher. They notice that at the front and the back of the ‘island ship’ big balls of lighting are attached. This appears to have a propelling effect. The wyverans are calling to each other, and Jonathan, being able to understand the draconic tongue a little bit, catches some phrases and he notices that the name Zusira is repeated often.
Jonathan then calls out loudly in the draconic tongue: “Let us speak to Zusira!” The screeches of the wyverans halt, and it becomes relatively silent. At the back of the ship a large rock starts to move, and a neck with a large dragon head rotates in Jonathans direction and says “Yes?”
They recognize the large rock to be a gargantuan blue dragon! What in the world is a blue dragon on an airship? And more importantly, what does it want from them?