Hewer listens to Ferdinand, first to him inquiring about the maps. He says:
"Right, maps, I can give you a detailed rundown of the region in Needham harbor, sans any military secrets, of course. Our system of naval maps that I have on the ship here won't do you any good. However, if you follow me, I can show you the world map, at the very least".
With this, he motions for you to follow him. He enters his quarters, where, on one of the walls, you can see, what you recognize, to be a map of the world.
"Do you see that small blue island to the north-west end of the Empire? Above the Hellkin lands? That's Havergate, the northern shore of which we are at right now".
Then, once Ferdinand mentions the eye, he asks:
"Glass eye? Is that an euphemism for something? Like a spyglass? Or do you mean an actual fake eye? If the former, we have a bunch of those, but if the latter, I am afraid I have no glass eyes, You'll have to ask about them in Needham Harbor or Kirkleigh".
Meanwhile, Dihek'nir does not need much time to manage starting a conversation with the crew, as the remaining wizard of the ship approaches him and introduces himself as Wigweald. Hearing the question about the maid, he's surprised, but almost manages to hide it:
"The maid would be Edyth, the Empress. She ruled the Empire at the end of the Age of War, and she was the one who finished the Great War, a hundred and fourteen years ago. She's named so, because she never married, though the common folk have a different version. They say she's called a maid, as, "In a War Against the World, She Remained Unf**ked"".
He laughs after saying this. Then, upon the inquiry about the places not to go, says:
"Well, we are heading towards Needham harbor, which is the safest place in Havergate, so no need to worry. After that, once we know where exactly you are going, we will be able to provide you with places that are off-limits, and places that one should not visit unaccompanied. Havergate is very much the fringe area of the Empire, so it does tend to be slightly less secure than the mainland".
After answering this, he inquires:
"If you do not mind me asking, and please do not feel as if you have to answer, but, what are you? Your companions seem like people I could see on the street, but you are definitely different... Can you tell me about yourself?"
„Oh i was indeed talking about a fake eye. You know, magic soetimes requires something more than will power. But if you could help me out with a spyglass or a spare lense for it, i would very much appreciate that. My spyglass shattered when we landed in this place.“ ferdinand talks about his spyglass with a sad undertone.
Hewer rummages through some items, pulling out a spyglass. It is made of brass, being foldable and could likely even fit in Ferdinand's pocket.
"Here, consider this as a... welcome to our world gift. However, for fake eyes, I would perhaps approach a healer in Kirkleigh".
At the Same time, Wigweald listens to Gedyr and is taken aback:
"Ominous? Ah, no, you misunderstood, that's just a phrase. Like, for example, a town you don't like, you can refer to it as "that fu**ing town". That does not mean there is a lot of copulation going on there, does it... Though I understand the confusion. I do assume you do not adhere to the Church of Light, do you..."
He furrows his brow, struggling to explain what he means:
"So, according to the Imperial Church, the world is a battlefield between Light and Dark. Light is good, Dark is bad. They are not people or gods, just concepts who define everything and everyone. And those who consider themselves gods, they are just pawns in this battle, same as humans or other creatures. The church worships Light and condemns Dark. And, well, the common folk have phrases that stem from this. One of them being the word "Datktaken". It has the same meaning as, for example, when a dwarf would say "Damned". And, well, there is nothing in the north, except for the seas and the cold, so it's natural that someone would call it Darktaken".
Linguistics lesson over, he points in the direction of the bow of the ship:
"There, in front of us, you can see Kirkleigh and Needham harbor. We will be visiting the latter first, but you will soon be free to explore them both. Any questions before we begin docking?"
Dihek'nirhas been thinking on how to explain what he is. (and he's going to.. skirt around the truth as he understands it)
"I'm actually not exactly sure what I am. I spent my youth on a different world and then as part of a maturation ritual was dumped on yet another different world. Things didn't quite work out, but I found civilization and a home there. After some adventures I ended up here, but that doesn't explain what I am."
"What I can tell you is that I'm ..." and he takes out a faded piece of paper and reads from it ".. reproductively incompatible.." he puts the paper away, ".. with most everyone I've met. It means I can f**k, heh heh, but there won't be any babies."
Wigweald is listening very attentively, taking several notes. He clearly does not wish to pry, but is very interested at the same time.
"If I may ask, what do you call yourself?? Or did you never find out what your race was? And what was the race that you grew up with, and if you can, please tell me a bit about them... I'm sorry, this is all terribly fascinating, but if it annoys you, tell me and I'll leave you alone". Wigweald, while being at least fifty, seems like a six-year-old with his eagerness to find out more.
Hearing Dihek'nir's latter remark, he says:
"Well, that is not unusual. Out of the major races of the Known World, the huge majority are entirely incompatible too. Only humans are able to interbreed, and, even then, solely with Elves and Orcs. I cannot tell you why that is, though, as it is a subject of much debate... And, well, the Dragonborn are the exception, of course, but, then again, they cannot f**k at all, so the matter of breeding is out of the question anyway... Is interspecies breeding common from where you come from?"
"That's an odd thing to have heard", Wigweald responds, but then explains:
"Yes, there is only one, The Dragon, She is the literal mother of all the Dragonborn, hence the name... They have no other way of reproducing, she lays thousands of eggs at a time, in a humongous mountain complex called The Den, basically their capital, and they are all her children. Think of it like a fish laying caviar, but on a grander scale. We don't really know how she can lay eggs as there is only one of her, but that's how it is... She's the one who caused the Great War to end, you know. When she tried to attack Dubwer in 539... That's the Imperial Capital... And she failed spectacularly, by the way, she took the entirety of her forces with her, abandoning the besieged Askenus, the Elven capital, which resulted in the siege being successful, Askenus falling and Veniseus, the God-King of the elves dying. The Elves are not even close to forgiving her for that... And what did she get in result? She never even reached Dubwer, the Imperial forces being victorious in probably the bloodiest clash in history, the Battle of the Burning Strait. She retreated and occupied some less important parts of the Empire, but seeing her, a Behemoth with a wingspan of a thousand feet eclipsing the sun and raining down death... That was too much, so, about nine months after the battle, the war that had lasted fifty years, ended, with a piece agreement being signed in Dubwer. So, the moral of the story is, thank Light there is only one".
With that, he motions forward.
"But, there is no more time for talk, as we are approaching Needham harbor. I must attend to my duties. It was really nice to talk to you, and I hope we will be able to converse more on land".
Wigweald moves away. In front of the ship, you can see a large lighthouse, standing on a small rocky island. Behind the Lighthouse, there is a river flowing into the Ocean, with farmland all around its mouth. To the right, there is a large town, with a huge and very busy port. The town has a sizable wall encasing it, but you can see that people have built houses outside of the walls too. The ships in the port seem to be of various size and style, some of them being reminiscent of the Maid's Fury, but most being wildly different in all directions. Huge merchant caravels, small fishing boats, strange-looking vessels with sideways sails, enormous watercraft with rows of oars and no sails at all. This is clearly a busy place.
However, when the Maid's Fury starts turning, it instead turns to the left instead of right. Instead of the city, in front of you, a different port is visible. It bears all markings of a military outpost. While it is encased in a wall quite similar in size and style to that of the town, the comparisons end there. The ships within the harbor are all of a uniform style, with one exception. One ship is made of red wood, is larger than others, and has the sideways sails you saw on some other ships in the town's port. However, all others look somewhat like the Maid's Fury, if somewhat larger in size. On the side, you can also see a wharf, where two such ships are either being repaired or built. As for the buildings within, they seem to be somewhat more austere than in the Town, making it evident, that someone of a military persuasion had a say in designing this place.
"Gentlemen, welcome to Needham Harbor", Says Hewer, walking up to you. "Any questions or requests before we disembark?"
Dihek'nir did answer to Wigweald before the conversations ended, "I'm not exactly sure, I was fairly young, but I think other races were very rare. At least I don't recall encountering anyone outside of prisoners who were not similar to myself."
"Thank you very much, if ever you remember anything about either race, or see one, which, I realize is unlikely, please tell me. This is all terribly fascinating".
The, hearing Gedyr's question, he responds:
"Rainbow Spell Crystals? I have heard of them, but never really seen one. They are tremendously rare, it will not be easy to find one of those. As for the more common ingredients, the Navy has a quartermaster in Needham, so you might be granted access to their stock. Alternatively, you can go to Kirkleigh, that town over there, where there's plenty of shops".
At the same time, Hewer responds to Ferdinand:
"Well, the answer would yes, and yes. We do not have guest often, as Needham Harbor is a purely military outpost. It is part of the Imperial Navy, which is subordinate only to the Emperor. Meaning, that Needham is the only place on this island that is does not care a single bit about the local Darktaken politics. Now, I really have to move to my duties".
With that, the Maid's Fury enters the port and begins to dock. The harbor workers are fairly efficient and, as soon as the ship gets near the pier, they soon have it tied down. The anchor is dropped as well, and the crew is free to disembark.
Hewer approaches you:
"Now, you are guests here, but I really need to bring you to the Rear Admiral. Your case may be important enough, that I must brief him as soon as possible, and he may wish to talk to you, so, please, follow me. After we are done, you will be free to do whatever you desire".
With this, he and five of his men, including Wigweald, surround you and take you inland. Needham Harbor seems to be immaculate. Everything is perfectly clean and orderly, there are not many loud noises, people in the street are polite, it is clear, that discipline is of great importance here. However, Dihek'nir does get some looks from passers-by.
Soon, you approach a large building. It is fairly wide, several hundred feet at least, and tall as well, maybe over fifty feet. The entrance is in the middle, with a huge stained glass window above the door that is large enough for three dozen men to walk in simultaneously. The inside is quite austere, with white stone walls not adorned with much in the way of decoration. There are some portraits of humans, though none seem recognizable.
You approach a very large stone table, behind which a man sits. Hewer talks to him, after which you all move into a corridor. Upon entrance, you hear indistinguishable shouts. Two people seem to be fighting. The noises seem to be coming from a room, the door of which is ajar. Right before you approach it, a very calm voice of an older man can be heard, which, despite its quiet tone, somehow overpowers the shouting.
"Gentlemen, please. This is clearly not going anywhere. Hence, you can both take your leave. However, remember, if you break the truce, I will be forced to break your houses. And your necks. So, Duke Joharr, return to your army and either take it back to Witham, or, at least, make sure it does not make a single step towards Kirkleigh. Count Gerrold, as for you, the journey will clearly be shorter, but, please, try not to provoke anyone else on the way. I may not be there to save you from the clutches of elderly shopkeepers or angry streetsweepers."
Your group enters the room just as the old man has finished talking. The room you enter displays all the hallmarks of an office of someone who is of a great importance, but does not care whatsoever about luxury. For isntance, to the left side of the door, you can see two exquisite sabers with golden handles and diamond-encrusted pommels, that have clearly been used for some very aggressive sparring and then simply discarded near the wall, while on your right there are two muddy boots laying about on a very expensive-looking fur carpet.
In front of you, you can see three men standing. The one in the middle clearly being the one who just forced the other two to stay quiet. Both men on the sides are wearing military garb with armor and swords on their belts, while the one in the middle is clad in civilian-wear and is holding a book. He seems to be at least sixty years old, while the others seem considerably younger. The Black-haired man with a slim mustache on your left seems to be around thirty years of age, while the blonde with unkempt hair and even less well-maintained mustache is likely under forty. Here's how they look:
The three look at the lot of you curiously, with the old man being first to respond:
"Ah, I see I have company. So, farewell, my lords".
With this, both mustached men are escorted outside by the guards, leaving you alone in the room with Hewer and Wigweald, as well as the old man.
Hewer salutes and says: "Rear Admiral Barnaby, the Twenty-fourth Detachment of the Seventy-seventh Naval legion has returned from its reconnaissance mission. Allow me to brief you".
The old man nods, and Hewer approaches him. Hewer tells him about pretty much everything that has transpired. Rear Admiral Barnaby seems interested, though his face betrays no emotion. He steps forward a bit, and says:
"Welcome, visitors. How may the Empire be of service to you?"
Realizing that the others are hesitant to talk, ferdinand says: „first of all, its a great honor.“ he makes a quick salute. He continues: We are members of the crew of the void skipper. We are from far away and our ship is stranded. We were scouting when your men found us and brought us here. As for what the empire can do for us, we have one only request. To repair our ship we need a rainbow magic crystal.“
"I am a simple man, I have no idea what that crystal even is. However, I will immediately send men to aid your ship, and exchange information with its crew. As for yourselves, well, I would be happy if you remained in Needham Harbor, or at least its vicinity, for the next couple of days. In return, I can offer you access to our quartermaster's wares, which may or may not include such crystals. His wares will not be free, and I assume you have no Imperial currency, but Edgor, our quartermaster, has quite a few errands he needs to run, usually having to turn to the enlisted personnel. I would be happy, if someone else helped him out instead. So, if you agree, I can have Hewer accompany you to him. How does that sound?"