Krumer navigated through the maze of brightly-colored, squat buildings in the direction indicated by the boy from the Black Morgan. Initially, the first mate had no trouble finding his way along the ancient, damp cobblestones while he threaded his way through the town. It was not until he reached a fishmonger’s shop painted a cheery blue and aptly named ‘The Blue Fishery’ that Krumer realized he might actually be lost.
With a brief look overhead at the clear mountain sky, he set his jaw and quickly pressed onward. Krumer stepped around the corner of the fishmonger and set his course for the east side of the fishing town. His determination was rewarded a few minutes later when he saw a weathered sign for BeeBottles’ Apothecary. The first mate stepped through the door and inside.
Somewhere above the door, the jingle of bells stopped Krumer up short just inside the doorway. The apothecary was a modest, square building. Wooden shelves easily taller than Krumer’s height subdivided the room into narrow sections. On these, all manner of items from rope to pickled herring, and even a few cans of bicarbonate soda were neatly arranged.
An older woman, black hair shot through with streaks of gray all gathered into a proper bun atop her head, shuffled out in a blue gingham dress from behind the farthest shelf. She tilted her nose down to peer at the orc over her square framed glasses.
“And what can I do for you, young man?” she asked, her voice colored with a very faint French accent. “Be a dear and shut the door? We rather not let the stiff breeze in too often.”
The first mate shut the door behind him and fidgeted. “I was told you have an infirmary, madam? Also that you may have a patient? A rather determined man?”
A bemused smile spread across her face that seemed to warm the room. “Certainly! And if you are the ‘Mr. Whitehorse’ he keeps speaking of, your friend will be very pleasantly surprised. Step behind the counter, and take the hall to the back rooms. He will be eager to see you.”
Krumer nodded his thanks with a sideways grin, then vanished behind the counter.
A short walk later, the first mate knocked on the door frame of a long room that held a pair of beds. Each bed had its own nightstand and was separated by a cream curtain on a simple frame that ran the same length as the beds. Captain Hunter looked over from the first bed and smiled at his first mate in the doorway. The captain tried to rise, but winced instead and settled back onto the pillow. With a small shake of his head, Krumer walked into the room.
“Well, spirits do favor the foolish and Anthony Hunter. How are you?” Mr. Whitehorse asked with a smile that did not quite conceal his concern,
Hunter chuckled then winced in pain again. “Damnable cracked rib, hurts bloody awful. Aside from that, I’m alive. I don’t see me wrestling any more drakes soon, though.”
“That would relieve the crew. Mr. O’Fallon, in particular.”
When the pain subsided, Hunter sighed. “Krumer, I know what stirred that drake to action. Sad to say, we helped irritate the whole thing.”
The first mate pulled up a chair and took a seat next to the bed. “What do you mean?”
“When Broggins was aboard, he mentioned something about a prize. He boasted that it would set him up for quite awhile. I’ve a firm thought that he meant a drake egg. Skies above, it’ll be a hatchling if we’re unlucky.”
Krumer frowned. “Briggs’ Reach isn’t as wide as it is tall, but it’s still a rat’s nest enough when it wants to be. The egg of a lightning drake is valuable to the right buyer, despite how illegal it is to sell or transport an ‘animal dangerous to the general populace’ like a drake. Why Broggins, though? Not that I’d mind turning him in for it.”
“After the explosion, both the drake and I flew clear. As luck had it, I woke first, falling next to her. I quickly wrapped what was left of my rope around the drake’s snout before she came to,” Hunter explained.
Krumer raised an eyebrow, “well, at least you weren’t about to say you rode on the back of flying turtles, I might not believe you. So the drake was a she?”
“Hold to, we’re sailing towards that port,” Hunter continued, “We struggled against each other a good bit, but that explosion took a lot of fight from her. She flew us back towards her roost and tossed me off on a ledge nearby. While I pondered where I’d landed, I noticed an old campsite. It had been used for observing the drake nests – I’ve seen those before. I was searching the campsite when the Black Morgan found me.”
“I see, but how do you know it had anything to do with Broggins?”
“Hand me my coat, would you?” the captain asked.
Krumer handed Hunter his coat and the captain dug a weathered, but intact, brass pocket watch from a breast pocket. On the watch, an inscription of ‘A. Hunter’ was still clearly visible despite some tarnish and weathering.
“Even though it’s a bit battered, I’d know my pocket watch anywhere. There were bits and pieces of Wayfinder Guild gear about, as well. The kind used to capture a drake to tag them for study. Once I convinced the Morgan I wasn’t there to loot the camp – and that’s a bloody lively story for another time – they explained that they run supplies for the scientists when they’re out and about. Seems they remembered carrying a crate out from the camp many days back. They took it towards the Brittany coast.”
Krumer nodded in understanding, “which is where we picked it up with Broggins almost glued to it. It was carried in the wrong direction and he was trying to get it out here. But why?”
The captain shook his head. “Bloody hell if I know. Once we find Broggins, I plan on asking him straight away. The way I see it, we just need to get that egg out of town, and out to that clutch. Once she sees it, this all should solve itself.”
Krumer nodded and rose. “I’ve an idea where Broggin’s would go, Anthony. There aren’t many who’ll traffic in drake eggs here.”
“Get Townsend to put his pipe down and help you beat the bushes. There’s no telling where he might’ve stashed it. Broggins isn’t the smartest man, but he’s not entirely a fool. He’ll keep it carefully hidden.”
“Understood. Stay and rest. I’ll send O’Fallon and Moira along to collect you. I will handle Broggins.” With a feral gleam in his eye, Krumer left on his way. Captain Hunter settled into his own thoughts and gazed towards the partially open window through which the dim sounds of a dock, busy with the coming and goings of merchant ships, drifted into the room.