Our story begins with four adventurers – Jonas Kalan, a human wizard seeking to join the Harpers; Throm Stormhammer, a mercenary from the cold north; Sill Wayanor, a half-elven cleric, banished from his village for his beliefs and Caelan, a secretive halfling rogue working as a sailor in the Silver Bay region of the Sword Coast.
The four find themselves on an escort mission on a merchant ship from Silverport to Holar. Immediately upon sailing into port, they, along with the other crewmembers, are greeted by an angry mob shouting “PIRATES, PIRATES!” “GIVE US BACK OUR SILVER!”, arrested, their equipment strapped away, and sentenced to death by hanging, on grounds of commiting piracy and smuggling silver.
They spend the night in disgusting, foul-smelling cells of the town jail. In the morning they are awakened by loud footsteps of a guard who opens Caelan’s cell and takes his situational roommate out for hanging. The obviously paranoid man stealthily slips Caelan a scroll stuck in a silver ring with a Jolly Roger motif while screaming about “The Priest” and how “He mustn’t get the map”.
After some futile attempts to pick the cell door locks, one by one they are taken out to be hanged. Just as charges against them are being read, a loud bang and a crash gets everyone’s attention as a cannonball bursts from the direction of the port, blasting away the executioner and a large part of the gallows. Specifically, the part on which Caelan and Throm were standing, with nooses around their necks, waiting for the pull of the lever. Luckily for them, since the execution wasn’t done properly, their necks don’t snap immediately, but the nooses tighten and they start suffocating. The crowd starts screaming “PIRATES, PIRAAAATES!”, and everyone soon notices that REAL pirates are raiding the town.
Most of the town guard quickly starts clearing the way through the crowd to the port to fight off the pirates, ignoring the convicts. After some acrobatics, a few magic tricks and the help of three pirates who made their way to the gallows, the four adventurers manage to free themselves from the nooses, but the paranoid man and one another fall victim to the remaining guards’ halberds. Soon the guards realise they are outnumbered and outskilled by the pirates and decide to flee the scene. The most prominent and eccentric-looking of the pirates tells the adventurers to make their way to the ship, and quickly, because they are setting sail as soon as humanly possible. The three pirates then disappear back into the crowd.
The four adventurers, with no better plan at the time, decide to do just that and start making their way through the streets which became a crowded battlefield. Just as they make their way to the ship, they notice that Sill was left behind. Caelan decides to go back to look for him, and Jonas and Throm board the ship. Thanks to his natural perception and being familiar with all the town’s alleys and shortcuts, Caelan finds Sill and the two of them quickly return to the ship, but it already seems to be setting sail. Throm, seeing this, throws them a knotted rope which they manage to catch just at the last second. The town guards decide to fire at the poor sods hanging from the ship’s side and manage to lodge a couple of arrows right between their ribs. The two unlucky adventurers, despite the sharp pain, manage to hold on, and eventually, with the help of Throm and Jonas, manage to pull themselves onto the deck.
On board, they have an interesting encounter by the eccentric-looking pirate from before, who turns out to be Nate Horner, captain of the ship (“The Smiling Hangman”). He turns out to be even more eccentric with his borderline bipolar and split personality-like behaviour. Even so, the crew seems to put their fate in his hands and trust him completely, and the ship seems to lack ordinary hierarchy, with everyone being treated as equals, and the first mate being chosen at random every week. Caelan, in the meantime, hides the scroll (which actually turned out to be a weather-beaten, somewhat oldish map of the Silver Bay) in his shoe.
After a couple of days of sailing, they finally drop anchor in a pirate hideout – a cave in an unmarked remote island. After escorting the four adventurers off the ship, the pirates, again led by Nate, draw their weapons, and, after Nate’s insisting that he simply KNOWS one of them has “the map”, under threats of violence (and breaking a few fingers; specifically, Sill’s), he takes the map and the ring from Caelan. Being a gentleman and a reasonable man (in his own words), Nate also promises to the adventurers that they will find all the equipment they need, some beds to rest, and rations to survive for at least ten days in the hideout, and seems to genuinely have no idea what Caelan is talking about when he inquires about the mysterious “Priest”. He courteously apologizes for all the inconvenience, retreats to his ship, and finally, sets sail for the horizon.
Thus ends the first chapter in our adventurers’ story.