Chapter 1: A leave in Booty Bay Edit
Lok’gra was among the last to disembark the K.M.S. Neptulon. He, like most of the crew aboard the flagship, felt more at home between ports. There was a surge of bright eyed sailors on the dock earlier, when the other ships in his fleet docked. They were ready to hit the nearest tavern and raise hell with a wench under each arm. The Neptulon, however, commissioned the finest and most professional sailors to serve under the most demanding green-skinned captain in the Southern Seas. He stepped carefully onto the wharf with his right foot and proceeded to march toward Lozgil, a goblin with whom he was closely acquainted.“This could be one of our largest shipments yet. I hope we haven’t cancelled your boys’ weekend plans,” The orc mused as he dusted his tabard. “If you have I’m sure they won’t protest. I’ve been running the numbers on this cargo. You’re putting food on their tables for the next few months,” Lozgil replied. He was scribbling furiously on a notepad and aside from an occasional glance up; he usually spoke looking down at it. “Well I’ll be stopping by the office later to see how my men will fare. Until then could you give me an estimate--” Lok’gra was interrupted.
“What are you doing?! Put that barrel and go help them!” Lozgil quickly snapped his notepad down and stormed over to a particularly measly looking goblin. “Right away Wharfmaster!” The goblin peeped as he set down the barrel and darted over to help a few goblins moor another ship. Lozgil glanced down at the barrel, then up to a parade of his larger ogres carrying cargo in his direction. “You idiot! You’ve blocked the path! Get back here and move this thing!” Lozgil fumed while slapping the top of the barrel. The ogres lumbered closer, vision blocked by the large crates they were carrying. Lok’gra decided it best to not watch the outcome and quickly called out to his friend, “I see you’re a little busy! I’ll let you do your job and meet you in the office later.” He turned with a smirk and headed toward the tavern to quiet down any scene his men were surely causing.
Dull whoops and hollers could be heard as he approached, but he was still caught off guard by the cacophony as he stepped inside and the white haze of tobacco entered his lungs. The faces of the crowd were all familiar… his own men. There were a few goblins darting around to keep them adequately grogged—they knew all too well the chaos that unfolded when the tap ran dry—but the dominating sight in the room was a particularly meddlesome orc he recognized as Ragreth, a passenger aboard the Osprey. He stood atop of a table with a full tankard at highest arm’s reach, demanding the crowd join him in a song. Three men to the side were a ways ahead of him drunkenly humming an old melody, their heads bobbing as they threatened to topple over. Nixxrax, the bartender, recognized Lok’gra from previous landings of his fleet. He looked through the crowd at him desperately for some order. Lok’gra nodded to the goblin and tensed his muscles preparing to shout over the combined efforts of half a fleet’s worth of men.
“Enough!” he bellowed with clenched fists. The sailors lazily turned in their own time, but quickly sobered up when they recognized the source. Slowly the bar fell to silence and the men stood at attention while the goblins caught their breath. Aside from one lone tauren casually smoking a pipe by the stairs, the bar froze. “I ought a Keelhaul the lot of you!” he continued. “This cartel stands for order and prosperity and I will not have a mockery made of it! You are all ordered to evacuate this tavern and are not to return for the remainder of this leave. Perhaps next time you descend into a town like a swarm of ravenous murlocs you’ll remember this incident and think twice. Dismissed!”
Slowly and dejectedly the tavern emptied. Soon all that remained was Lok’gra, Nixxrax, three runners, and the smoking tauren. Lok’gra made his way to the bar quietly. “I’ll have a pint of Cherry Grog if you would,” he nodded as he folded his tabard and carefully set it on the stool in front of him. He glanced to the side just as the tauren peacefully blew a series of smoke rings. “I apologize for the scene they caused,” he offered. The tauren nodded in acceptance, but before he could speak the grog was issued. Lok’gra turned and raised the glass, dropping a rather large sack of coins in front of him. “The drink is only three silver, Admiral,” Nixxrax leaned forward and nudged the coins back with a jingle. “Aye. Three silver for the grog and twenty five gold that you would have made if my men knew how to behave. Have a pleasant weekend.” He raised the glass, threw back the rest, then took up his tabard and left—saluting the tauren on the way.
The morning found Lok’gra—the same as it always had—meticulously preparing his uniform. His steely gray eyes looked back at him in the mirror as he turned the spicket and the dainty dripping of smelly water ceased. Stepping back, he scrutinized the cleanliness of his appearance as if it were a ritual. It was a ritual. It was his ritual, and he found comfort spending his mornings like this for as long as he could remember. With one last tug on his tabard and roll of the shoulders he finally felt he’d reached a point where it would suffice. He stepped out of the dank and dusty inn and shielded his eyes as he was immersed in sunny light.
The stale smell of rotting wood that he'd grown accustomed to was suddenly replaced with that of salty air and rotting fish. How delightful he felt as he inhaled deeply; and he began his journey to Lozgil the Wharfmaster’s office.
He knew Lozgil would be in and ready to see him. Whenever a fleet docked it was as if they rented the whole town. The wharf was full with his ships and the work of unloading should have been completed in the night. As he traversed the town he watched a flock of sea birds that was gliding against the breeze. They floated stationary in the cool, misty wind as they squawked at the fishermen imploringly. Behind them, in the distance, he noticed his ships slowly being loaded by a handful of enterprising dockworkers that rose early to complete the job. “I should hire them,” he thought to himself with a smirk as he stepped out of the line of sight to enter Lozgil’s office.
The room was dark and lingered with the scent of burning oil. As Lok’gra stepped inside he paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust while staring in the direction he knew a flight of stairs would soon appear. He dismissed a small noise to his right but finally glanced down when it persisted. “Appointment, sir?” a small goblin inquired adjusting the reading glasses on his nose. “What—appointment? How long has Lozgil had a secretary?” Lok’gra hunched over as he spoke with the goblin. The goblin displayed an annoyed expression and continued, “I prefer day-planner. Do you have an appointment?” “Of course I don’t. I’ve been doing business with Lozgil for years and I’ve never had to--” Lok’gra sighed with annoyance and walked towards the staircase dismissively. The secretary drew in his breath to object but Lok’gra had already ascended. With a sigh and a mutter he returned to flipping through his calendar.
Lozgil’s desk was blanketed by ledgers and contracts, and his office smelt of old leather. Behind an inbox that could only be described as mountainous, Lozgil sat under an oil chandelier. He was still scribbling in his notebook. This time he was accompanied by a tiny metal box with buttons that he was tapping away at with his offhand. “I’ve never seen one of those before,” Lok’gra smiled with a salute, “May I take a seat?” Lozgil glanced up for a moment and paused—the closest indication he had to being startled—then nodded. “Lok’gra, my old friend! I was wondering when you’d show up!” He gave a few more taps on the box, a scribble or two, then folded his hands in his lap and smiled. “A few moments earlier if I wasn’t hassled by,” Lok’gra paused, reaching for a name as he sat. “Iggywiz? Ah yes he’s a handful, that one. I just hired him a few weeks ago to keep my office quiet. –must not have gotten the memo about Admirals. I’ll see to it he does.” Lozgil carefully scooted some ledgers out of the way and slid a folder across the desk into the orc’s hands. Lok’gra carefully placed some readers onto his nose and opened the folder lightly, scanning the papers within.
“Well you can’t be serious,” Lok’gra traced his finger across the bottom of the first page, and then flipped through a few more, “The cargo aboard Kraken alone should fetch two or three thousand gold… and that’s just one of my gunships. All in all we have about twenty thousand in cargo plus shipment. I’ll settle for no less than forty.” Lozgil leaned back, “Old buddy! We’re not going to go through this again, are we? Thirty-two is perfectly fair! These are rough times you know. Not a lot of business down here for us, but I’ll tell you what. In the interest of continued business and our friendship—I’ll bump it up to Thirty-five.”
For a while the two stared at each other. Another ritual of Lok’gra’s; especially one of Lozgil’s. They were sizing up their side of the bargain as they’d done many times before, determining if they were being reasonable. If they were being cheated. Finally with a sigh Lok’gra spoke. “I’ll do it for thirty-five if you throw in that metal box,” he pointed. “My mechano-abacus?! No deal,” Lozgil snatched the box up and cradled it by his neck, “Thirty-seven and no more!” “Sounds fair to me,” Lok’gra quickly smiled and began adjusting numbers on the papers. He only expected to walk out with thirty-four, but was pleasantly surprised to have found a soft spot in Lozgil. He’d not cheated the goblin by a long shot, but he made out well this time. He signed the documents and passed them back to Lozgil, “And with that I’m going to go oversee loading. Pleasure doing business with you.” Lozgil nodded and returned to his ledger as Lok’gra folded his glasses and descended the staircase carefully.
Shielding his eyes, Lok’gra stepped out of the office and was instantly amidst a bustling crowd. He turbulently made his way to his prior vantage point and gazed across the town. From this distance he could see that there was some disturbance beside the Tojanida, and he quickly began making his way over to determine the source. As he got closer he noticed the long grandiose hair of what could only be an elf floating in the wind from behind a crate that a pile of ogre’s were pushing against. He strained his ears to hear over the merchants as he hastened his approach. Finally—as a battalion of goblins brushed past him to remove the elf—Lok’gra heard a shrill voice cry out. “No no NO! This cargo is official property of Silvermoon! We will not STAND for it being transported on a gunship! Take it back! Take it-” the elf strained. The goblins had run under the crate and proceeded to tug on the elf’s shirt, pants and anything otherwise short of gnawing at his kneecaps to get him to move. Meanwhile the ogres grunted and pushed… but each time they heaved the elf would slide on his feet and use gravity to bring the crate back down.
Lok’gra glanced at the elf with a stern look, and then to the backs of the ogres’ heads, “Come on! If the damned elf is giving you problems with that crate, set it aside and get back to work! By this time you could have had the ship loaded!” The ogres ceased their assault and turned to the orc with confusion. “I’m the Admiral of this fleet. Load the other cargo and I’ll deal with this elf.” The ogres looked to each other then back to the orc and with a shrug they dispersed. The elf slid the crate a few feet from the ramp and sat atop it with a sigh. Lok’gra made his way over and stood next to it, wiping his brow with his fingers. “So what’s in that crate that’s too important to be loaded on my gunship?” he asked with mild annoyance. The elf cocked his head and looked up at him as he shifted and crossed his legs atop the crate, “What’s inside isn’t as important as to whom it belongs! But if you must know it’s a shipment of assorted crop.” “Crop you say? You’ve read our cargo restrictions I hope, Mister…” Lok’gra paused for a name.
“Allerios...” he blurted out, “Pyrekeeper. And yes I have. No Bananas, no flowers, no black bags.” Lok’gra smiled, “Good. It’s bad luck, you know. No need to upset the sea.” Allerios nodded, somewhat dismissively, and patted the top of the crate, “So then, Admiral. Where do you intend to place Silvermoon’s cargo?” “Well! The plan was aboard the Tojanida,” Lok’gra said as he watched Allerios’ face tighten. “But… something tells me you’ll be slightly less annoying if we give you your way.” At that comment, Allerios closed his eyes and nodded quickly with a smile. “Then we’ll put you on the Neptulon, our flagship, and I’ll personally make sure that you stay out of trouble.” Lok’gra gave a short bow, and turned to inform the proper dockworkers. “I knew you’d see things my way, Admiral! I’ll see you during boarding!” Allerios called out, waving his arm over his head in an eccentric arc. Lok’gra grumbled but continued on his path, walking past the ogres on their way back with more cargo. “There’s always one of them,” he thought to himself with a scowl, and he checked the position of the sun to regard the time. It had nearly reached mid-day and Lok’gra knew he had to hurry to prepare for his staff meeting.