After Erid gives a few directions for those who need it, everyone gathers their gear and head for the docks.

Finding the Starflyer is not difficult, since it is one of only two squid ships currently docked at Hestia. The Starflyer is a squidship whose squid features are a bright red. The vessel proudly waves the flags of Hestia, a flaming stone on a bright blue background, and the Celestial Legion, seven silver stars forming a circle around a silver sword pointing down all on a black background. The rest of the crew of the Starflyer, mostly humans, is busy on deck preparing the ship for departure.

Moored next to the Starflyer is a red-colored tradesman called the Garen's Gem. Its crew is completing its final preparations also. A large, overweight human dressed in fancy clothes walks up to the rail of the tradesman and waves to you with a big smile on his face.

After finding their hammocks below decks and stowing their possessions, the group is called on deck by a deep, bellowing voice. Upon reaching the deck, the source of the voice is discovered to be a nine-foot-tall giff wearing a black and silver-trimmed uniform.

"Erid has informed me that you are our new crew members." states the giff. "Welcome aboard. I am Sergeant Trandar, first mate of the Starflyer.

"Erid has also given me recommendations for assignments for all of you. Daegail, Krillan and Tarith will be manning the helm. If you are not on the helm and we need you elsewhere, be ready. Krillan will need to be backup navigator as well."

Pointing to the avariel, Trandar continues.

"ShadowBane, you will be our navigator. We have charts already prepared in with the helm. Aysle, Jareth, Ret and Tomas will have weapon assignments. I need Jareth and Tomas on the ballistae on the sterncastle and Aysle and Ret on the catapult on the forecastle.

"Unless there are any questions, we need everyone to their posts to get underway. Since it is just after two bells after midday meal, Krillan will be at the helm. Daegail will take the next shift at 10 bells. Tarith will take over at six bells the next day.

"ShadowBane, get below decks and chart a course for the Heart of the Dragon. The rest of you get to your posts and inspect the weapons. Dismissed."

"Fine, but call me Apathy." says Daegail, the dark-clad moon elf. "Call me for my shift, I'm going to sleep."

Tarith nods in agreement and heads down to his bunk for some rest before his shift after he is dismissed.

Aysle heads immediately to the forecastle and begins to inspect the catapult with his carpentry-trained eye, looking for flaws or weaknesses that may be a liability in a battle. Ret arrives at the catapult shortly after Aysle begins his inspection.

When Ret arrives, Aysle turns to the dwarf with a confused look on his features and whispers to him, "Friend dwarf, I hope that you know how to operate one of these devices. With any luck, you can give me a few pointers before we actually need to use it. You see, I really am more of a lover than a fighter. However, I can play the lute and tell many a happy tale, if you care to listen, to while away the time on our shift together."

So saying, Aysle produces his lute and begins strumming the chords to an ancient wood-elvish ballad.

"Yeah," responds the dwarf. "I've helped with some of the metalwork in repairs for certain ones of these but never actually fired one. Hmm . . ." Ret begins to look over the catapult.

"The basic idea is that the arm is pulled back, the cup is loaded and a trigger mechanism releases it. There should be a hook-like mechanism to hold it in place while it's loaded and . . . "

Ret spots the hook and states, "Ah, here it is. Yeah, let's roll the winch, or I can . . ." The stout dwarf grasps the crank handle and begins to turn it, causing the arm to begin bending toward the locking hook. Ret grunts, "Ok, right. Put the hook there."

Aysle reaches out, grabs the hook and places it into the securing loop.

Ret slowly releases the crank and says between short, quick breaths, "Good. Okay, it's set." Pointing to the ammunition box about five feet behind them, the dwarf continues, "Yeah, that's the shot there. But, don't load it cause we're still docked." Ret, then, points to a lever on the side of the catapult near the rear of the weapon. "Right, that's the release trigger. Don't touch. Okay. I'll grab the winch and you pull the trigger so I can let it back.

Grabbing the crank lever, Ret braces himself with all his body weight, while Aysle pulls the trigger lever. Through his strength, Ret manages to hold the crank in place, and he slowly turns the crank until the catapult arm is back in its original position.

"Okay," Ret proceeds. "Got the idea? Aiming is done by rotating the whole thing on this gnome lookin' device under it."

Meanwhile back on the main deck, Krillan turns to Sergeant Trandar and boldly exclaims, "I would be honored to take the helm. Even though I have not personally manned a helm, I understand the mechanics involved. Is there something more that I should know? I would do justice to this fine vessel, and her crew. Especially since we are already blessed by the Great Wanderer himself!" The bald half-elf then looks at the flag of the Celestial Legion, a smile crossing his face as he realizes that he is truly blessed.

The giff, upon hearing Krillan's statement, rolls his eyes upward, mutters something to himself, looks back at Krillan and replies, "Follow me."

Sergeant Trandar leads Krillan below decks to the helm room in the aft section of the Starflyer. The first mate, after opening the door, points to a chair in the middle of the room.

"There's the helm. First thing you need to do is sit in it." Trandar stands in the doorway, crosses his arms and waits for Krillan to take his position.

Krillan takes his seat and listens intently to the giff's instructions.

After a brief explanation, the bald half-elf nods his understanding to Trandar and begins preparing himself for the job ahead.


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