With his adopted father dead, Marn Spanner knew that his sponsorship at Deepsky Citadel was expired. He had been following a murder suspect, an easily enraged orc that went by the name Ortag who had been hanging around the docs since the arrival of a small cargo vessel called the Night Ranger had made port a couple days ago. As fate would have it, the Night Ranger was in need of a new engineer since the untimely loss of its previous mechanic. Marn was able to negotiate for the position and joined the crew which afforded him both a way out of Deepsky and a vantage point to keep a watchful eye on Ortag.
The other crew member was a cat wildling named Decker who had been serving on the Night Ranger for quite some time and had seen much coming and going amongst the crew in the ship’s recent history.
The old dwarven ale runner, the Night Ranger, left Deepsky Citadel with a return shipment of mining equipment for Mount Ore and more hands on deck than it had arrived with at the dwarven island’s port. Beneath the deck, in the cargo hold, was an unexpected traveler. The orcish dockworker called SkuttleButt had passed out in the cargo hold while loading the Night Ranger’s new shipment, a messy aftermath to an all-to-frequent lunchtime binger at the local pub. Some time later, as he stirred from his drunken haze, the motion of the floor beneath him suddenly manifested the notion that he was no longer docked at port.
SkuttleButt rushed above deck only to see the glow of the void expanding in all directions around him causing an irrational terror from his past life as a pirate to grip him. The only thing that kept him from fleeing back to the hold was the firm grip of Ortag who had quickly seized him at the notice of Captain Jack. There was a quick discussion by the crew as to whether SkuttleButt was a threat to the ship and Captain Jack was considering tossing him overboard when Marn stuck up for the terrified brute, making a convincing argument that he could be of use with menial strength tasks. Captain Jack agreed that SkuttleButt could remain on board, and would work for passage.
Not even a day out of port, and with the excitement of the discovery of SkuttleButt, Ortag was boasting about recent conquests. Captain Jack and Decker had been around Ortag long enough to know that if an ear was not at least half-way lent to Ortag’s boasting that he would only grow more obnoxious. Ortag recounted his recent victory over a number of elves and a dwarf at Deepsky’s port who were attempting to recapture Decker. He cast onto the deck a handful of golden teeth, taken from the dwarf to serve as a trophy of the encounter and warning to all who oppose the authority of the Battlelord. It fell hard on Marn, as he realized that his father did not have gold teeth. Is his father still alive? The story fell hard on Captain Jack as well as he realized that if other elves were at the port they might come after the Night Ranger in search of their missing comrades, or worse, for retribution. Knowing that if they remained on a direct course to Mount Ore they could easily be overtaken since the Night Ranger was operating well below maximum efficiency, Captain Jack decided to adjust the Night Ranger’s course upward, taking them into the violent, but less traveled skies beneath Starcrater.
A week passed before the Night Ranger entered stormy skies. After a couple days being tossed in the void storms, Captain Jack knew that his vessel could not take much more punishment. As they were running downwards, trying to escape the storms and free the Night Ranger from danger, they caught a swell and some debris which rent the main propeller and left the ship almost directionless. Irrationally, Captain Jack demanded that Marn be lowered under the ship to check the propeller and keel. Marn made a quick, level-headed rebuttal, and using his knowledge of dwarven steam drives he amazingly diagnosed the problem of the ailing ship by simply listening to the engine. The drivetrain was being strained by a warped propeller shaft and could not be fixed away from dock. After another day of being tossed about at the whim of the void storm, the Night Ranger was cast adrift on calmer skies. Soon, a small island came into view giving the crew hope.
They devised a plan to make for the island. Captain Jack would tether the island hopper to the Night Ranger and attempt to tow it to the island to attempt a repair. Due to his prior boating experience, SkuttleButt was chosen to help direct the Night Ranger behind the island hopper, but again, the emptiness of the void pressed in upon him and he fled below deck. In his stead, Marn took the helm, and aided by Decker, was able to reduce the strain on the island hopper and make it safely into the islands capture field.
As they surveyed the forested island from the relative safety of the capture field, they noticed a settlement with a dock. The settlement appeared to be about a dozen houses within a clearing from the forest. There was no observable activity from the settlement, and it was evident why. It appeared that the settlement had been the victim of hurricane forces and the buildings were in ruins.
Captain Jack decided to dock the Night Ranger at the settlement’s dock, a risky maneuver considering the navigational shape of the Night Ranger. The docking did not win any style points, but neither did it do any further damage to the ship aside from that which was purely cosmetic. Now, within closer proximity to the settlement, Marn’s keen eye for technology was able to discern that some of the buildings had been patched at some point in the past with pieces and parts from a ship.
As Decker was mooring the ship, Ortag, lept onto the dock, ran to the nearest ruined building and began demanding someone to come forth. As expected by the more commonsensical party members, no reply met the thunderous knocks from Ortag’s fist. However, the noise drew forth from the wilderness a number of ravenous dogs who attacked without warning and at great speed. As the dogs ran forth from the edge of the clearing, Decker quickly acted and felled one with a well placed stone fired from his sling. SkuttleButt rushed forward to aid Ortag who was being descended upon by the pack. Decker and Marn stood on the dock, accurately dispatching dogs as they closed, and Ortag and SkuttleButt met the dogs at close range. The battle was savage and short. In the aftermath, eight dogs lay dead around the dock and the party turned their eyes to the ruins to see what other threats might be lurking.