Episode 7: The Read Mission Begins
It was obvious when I awoke that I had not built the boat for comfort. My neck hurt from resting against one of the four seats. Being in somewhat of a fetal position all night long required a good stretch to make me mobile again. "I've spent better nights in better boats," I thought. I looked around and there were no critters to be found that were alive. The guards were milling about the tower as if they were completely bored. It was simply a great morning to get things done. In fact, I awoke resolved to simply forget about the anchor. It was too good a day to spoil it with frustrations. Besides, I was getting anxious to get the real mission underway.
I tended the crops and was able to harvest some onions and garlic. I wanted to stock the boat with food and supplies, not knowing how ample or ill-prepared my friends would be. I had removed everything from the cave that needed to be taken on the trip and figured I would stop along the way and cook if needed. Everything felt right as I gathered my things and filled my small barrel with water. The great thing about row boats, and sailboats for that matter, is that you could access the cargo holds without having to get out of the boat. I intended to have the barrel as my water source during the trip.
I pushed the boat the few feet needed to get it into the water. I then attempted to board as the commander but was met with a message which stated that the boat was in too poor shape to ride in. Oh man! I needed to improve the boat to at least a quality of 10. I quickly made my way to the edge of the forest where I had been logging, and acquired a log that was at least 10 quality. I then returned to the boat and started improving it. The first improve worked great. It was the second improve action that made me throw down the log and kick the side of the boat. I had to polish with a pelt! "Gah," I shouted about the space of 10 seconds. If I had known how incredibly important that measly pelt was, I would have kept it in my inventory and never surrendered it to the chest! I knew I couldn't kill anything, so I just had to resolve myself to go treasure hunting to find another pelt, to improve the boat, to be able to command it, to start the mission, to bring my friends to safety before it was too late!
I turned in a random direction and just started walking. There were dead things all over the place. Maybe, just maybe, I would find a carcass with a pelt still attached. Keeping watch against hidden beasts, I walked, looked, scanned, and walked some more. There were oleander bushes everywhere and also thorn bushes so I had to contend with loss of view and dangerous plants all along the way. I stopped to wipe my brow when all of a sudden I spotted a dead dog up ahead of me in the grass. "Had he been butchered?" I wondered as I approached. Yes! He still had his pelt! I was so thankful I had made the butchering knife because I just knew an axe would not be yielding me something useful. I carefully cut the pelt from the cold carcass and also carved off three pieces of meat. A paw came off with the pelt, but I left it. Finally! I had another pelt - only this one was 27 quality!
I traced my steps back to the shore and worked on improving the boat. I jumped the moment the boat reached 10 because it popped to the surface like a submerged balloon. I decided to take it a little higher than just 10 quality and stopped when it had reached 15. Entering the boat yet again, I turned to watch it start to drift with the current. I started rowing and was somewhat pleased to see my speed steady around 9 kmh. However, I knew the dangers of the open sea at that speed. It would be a risky crossing at such a slow pace, especially if I ran into sharks. But it was a danger I would have to bear.
Eyesgood had warned me of a possible delay when I reached the other end of the lake. There was a stretch of land that enclosed the lake and separated it from the inlet to the sea by a span of about 20 tiles. I would have to drag the boat that distance in order to reach the inlet, and I was mentally prepared for the task. But to my wonder and surprise, when I approached the spot I noticed someone had dug a single tile lane in the ground sufficient to navigate a small boat through! I didn't even need to get my feet wet rowing through it. Oh, it was such a relief not to have to drag the boat! I rowed on and admired the mountains on either side of me, littered with a myriad of lesser and greater beasts. I expected another small waterway at the mouth of the inlet and after that would be open sea.
Before reaching it, I noticed on a certain part of the shoreline to my right that someone had left a small cart, a pile of things, and a large anvil on the beach. I hadn't eaten yet so I decided to stop and make a campfire. I also wanted to get the anvil as I had left the large one in the cave. It now belonged to Green Legs. As I stepped out of the boat, I noticed red slabs of meat about 25 feet away. I picked them up and was pleased to see they were recently dropped dear meat that were still fresh. I took my clay bowls out and placed the meat and onions inside them to create two 7kg casseroles. Cooking them and consuming the better part of one, I returned to the boat with a full belly and a merry heart. I rowed for the small waterway.
There was a huge settlement ahead and when I arrived I noticed there was no waterway! The villagers had closed it off! Again, I felt as if I had to deal with another needless setback. I rowed further down to see if I could find another exit from this lake that was supposed to lead to the sea. I found nothing but shoreline that circled back to my campfire still smoldering near the water's edge.
I sat for a moment drifting and wondered what I was going to do. I mean, there was simply no way I was going to attempt another boat on the sea shore, and I wasn't prepared to spend days dragging a boat through the woods. I decided to head back to where the settlement was and where the inlet used to be.
Arriving to the village void of everyone except a healthy complement of Spirit Templar guards, I walked around to see what I could see. The village was really huge and quite well built. It was set right on the water between the lake and the sea. It was an ideal location for defense, but it was in my way. It took me a few minutes to finally locate a spot where the distance between the two bodies of water was not obstructed by walls. It was only 4 tiles wide - not too bad.
I ran to board my boat and rammed it as close as I could to that spot. It took a while but I managed to cross the land bridge and slid my boat down into the water on the sea side of the bridge. Another hurdle had been crossed and so I stopped to catch my breath. "Hum," I thought as I stared at the sun setting midst two guard towers and a Templar guarded deed. "This would make an excellent place to stay for the night," I mused. The guards would attack anyone trying to pick the lock on my boat and I could yell for help if I was attacked. My tired body and drained mind decided to agree that this was my home for the night. I laid down in the boat and calmed myself for a good night's rest. Tomorrow would be new challenges on the open sea and hopefully a crossing to the island where my friends awaited their rescue. "Hold on, guys! I'm coming," I murmured. Those were the last words I remember from that night.