RE: Swamped
They'll feel better if they have something productive to do, and if they know you have a plan for dealing with the problem. Kill two birds with one stone by enlisting a few of the big ones to help you with the gunpowder.
RE: Swamped
Morale isn't really a problem you're equipped for. Luckily, you have a direct line to someone who understands it better than you.

Mr. Resk, I'm afraid I let something slip about your ghost ship to some of the crew. I need to do a little damage control.

You can almost hear him sighing deeply, despite the fact the link doesn't really allow for that.

Well, you have a plan for it, don't you? You told me you did. So bring them in on it. Keep them busy and let them see it's under control, or as under control as it's going to be. Not much more you can do than that.

"And I was on my way to get ready for that, so I'd best get to the quartermaster." you continue, as quickly as you can. "I'll need someone to carry a barrel of fire powder for me. And I'll need the gunners to be informed that it's going to be more potent than usual, so they can take whatever precautions they need. As for you, Ms. Colleen, you really should get some rest."

She just stares at you for a bit. Finally, she settles on "Well, what do I do about this chicken?"

You hand it off to another sailor.

"I'll be examining that if we ever get another calm moment again. Take care of it for me until then."

Defeated, she walks back, just as two sailors approach you. One's big and burly, the other's thin and scrawny. You think you could probably beat him in an arm-wrestling contest, and you're hardly in the best of shape yourself.

"What're you plannin' on doing to the fire powder?" the thin sailor asks. "That stuff's pretty dangerous, you know."

"I'm going to make it burn faster with magic," you reply. "Easier than making a fireball myself that's big enough to burn up a whole ship."

"Hmm. So you're adding an accelerant, basically. Now, magic's not my specialty, but the principle's the same. Only question I have is, how strong is it going to be?"

"I can strengthen it once it's in motion, but I need to do some preparations first. So it will be slightly more reactive."

He nods.

"Yeah, okay. I'll round up the experienced artillery crew, then. Best not to take chances. Harold, you can handle the barrel, right?"

"Yup," says the larger sailor. "Let's go."

"Now, I'm going to stop by and make sure you know what you're doing, Wiz," the thin sailor says. "Just because you know magic doesn't mean you know powders."

You don't argue the point. The whole idea is to calm them down, after all. And time is short. You continue to the quartermaster's, with Harold following behind. He doesn't say a word the whole time.

Until, that is, you draw near the quartermaster's. Then he surprises you when he suddenly shouts something.
RE: Swamped
RE: Swamped

You're a bit confused for a moment, but then you see what he's talking about - a strand of kelp sitting in front of the door.

"How did that get there?" you ask, baffled.

"No clue," Harold says. He remains not much of a conversationalist.

"Well, there's not much we can do besides picking it up. Wouldn't want someone slipping on it."

You pick up the kelp and, not really having a place to put it, sling it around your shoulder. Then you go in. The quartermaster is flipping through a book and making notes. Probably keeping track of stock.

"Quartermaster, I need a barrel of fire powder. It's very important," you say.

"We don't keep the fire powder here," she says. "Too dangerous. If a barrel were to go off, it could destroy a month's supply of stores." She glances up from her book. "Why's there kelp on your shoulder?"

"I didn't have another place to put it. It was just outside the door."

"Give it here. I'll check if our friend the botanist wants it, and if she doesn't, I'll just toss it overboard. Anyhow, we keep the fire powder in its own storeroom, next to the armory."

"I don't know where the armory is. Never had occasion to go there."

"I do," says Harold. He really keeps surprising you.

"Who are you?" the quartermaster asks. Seems he was so quiet that, despite his size, she didn't notice him.

"His name is Harold. He volunteered to carry the barrel for me."

"Now hang on there," the quartermaster says. "I have to let Wiz to get a barrel because he's technically an officer. You, on the other hand, aren't, so you need my express permission to touch a barrel. Can you prove you're fit to handle fire powder?"

Technically. You can hear the resentment when she says it.

"Done it before," Harold says. You don't think he's going to be very persuasive at the rate he talks.

"On land or at sea? The motion of the ship makes a difference."

"Done both."

She seems even more frustrated.

"Could you give me some details on that?"

He looks thoughtful for a moment, then answers.
RE: Swamped
The Battle of Oarspur Gulf. Boarded a Kandrian fireboat. Kept it from blowing.
RE: Swamped
"Oarspur Gulf. Fireboat was gonna blow. Grabbed a couple barrels before it did."

She gives him an odd look.

"You were in the Battle of Oarspur Gulf? Which side?"

"Lansor. Merc. Quit after."

"Since when does Lansor have fireboats?" she asks.

"Kandria's. Stopped big explosion." He's got a strained expression; you think it's hurting him to talk even this much.

She sighs.

"It sounds like relevant experience, but you're being very light on details. Do you know how to write?"

Harold shakes his head.

"Well, I'm sorry, but I can't approve things unless you can give me a more thorough explanation..."

"Link," you say, tapping both of them lightly on the shoulders. "There. I've created a link between our minds. All Harold has to do is think a message at us, rather than talking. He can even choose to only send it to one of us if he wishes. I'll close it when we're done here."

Thanks, Harold sends to you. Seems he's still not very wordy. But it's an improvement, judging by his expression.

Worked in merc unit, hired by Lansor. Sent to stop slave convoy passing through. Military couldn't, we could. We had three ships waiting for them. Thought it would be easy, didn't know about fireboat. Started sinking escorts, then we noticed. My ship got hit, we fired back, realized it'd blow. Might sink the transports. So, we boarded. Got fifteen barrels off before it blew. I was still on board. Transports were safe.

The quartermaster doesn't say a word, at least not audibly. She grabs a slip of paper and scribbles her signature on it. She hands it to Harold.

"You're approved," she says. Then you hear her in your head. Now close this thing already! And don't cast a spell on me without my permission again!

I apologize, but time is uncomfortably short. If you'd like, I can give you a fuller apology if we reach a point when it isn't. Closing the link.

You didn't want to leave it open too long, anyhow. You've already got Resk's link to maintain. You thank the quartermaster for her time, and walk out, asking Harold to lead the way to the armory.

He nods, and starts walking.

"Thanks," he says as he does.

"You're welcome," you say. You're not sure what else you even can say. But you soon reach the armory, and the fire powder storage. Someone's standing out in front of it. Presumably to guard it.

"You need fire powder, Wiz?" they ask. "What for? Gonna put on a victory celebration?"

"We haven't won yet. That's why I need some. And Harold here is going to help me carry it. One barrel should be enough."

Harold holds up his slip of paper.

"Well, everything seems to be in order. Go right on in."

They open the door, and you head inside. There's plenty of barrels, but you also notice something else.
RE: Swamped
Water, water, everywhere.
RE: Swamped
There's a thin layer of water all over the floor, and judging by the particularly salty scent, it's not because this place was mopped.

"Leak?" Harold suggests.

You suspect there's more to it than that. But you can't really investigate right now. You'll leave that to Mr. Resk; you send him a quick message.

I'll look into that when I get a chance, is all he sends back. Must be busy himself. Well, in the meantime you'll just have to focus.

"I don't know, but we can't really look into it right now. Do you think you can carry a barrel without slipping?"

Harold frowns.


"Rather not risk it, then." You turn back to the door. "Could you come in for a moment? There's water all over the floor. I think it's going to work best if we pass the barrel along without actually walking."

The guard comes in.

"Water? How'd that get there?"

"I'm afraid I don't have time to investigate that. Just stand a little in front of Harold. I should be able to get a bit further, since I've got my staff for support."

You advance carefully, and wait for the guard to get in position between you and Harold. Then you put your staff down for a moment and grab a barrel - one from the top of a stack, so it won't be wet. You turn to the guard and pass the barrel on, and the guard passes it to Harold.

"Not sure it's safe to walk out," the guard mutters. "Not with a powder barrel, anyhow. We can continue the chain until we reach the hall, right?"

"Makes sense," you agree. "Again, I've got the staff, so I'll go first."

You grab your staff again and walk past Harold, carefully. The guard is next. Harold passes the barrel to them, they pass it to you, and you put it down. Then the guard leaves, and then Harold slips.

He doesn't fall hard, but you're relieved that he wasn't carrying the barrel.

"Does anyone have a rag so we can wipe our shoes?" you ask.

"Well, I'll be fine," said the guard. "Unless you need another barrel, I guess. But hang on, I think I've got something." They pull a small cloth from their pocket. "There you go. I don't need it back, it's just something I picked up off the floor."

You take it and hand it to Harold first. He takes off his shoes, wipes them dry, and hands it over to you. You've already slipped out of your sandals, so you can wipe them fairly quickly. Harold's already grabbed the barrel by the time you're done.

"Where?" he asks.

"To the deck, I suppose. So we don't have to carry it as far after I enchant it."

"Okay," Harold says. He starts walking off. You put down your sandals and slip them back on.

As you do, though, you notice something about the cloth.
RE: Swamped
Is that the monogram of the Flame family?