Our story begins with a small merchant ship, The Ravaged Pride. The captain of this ship is a grizzled old dwarven sea salt known as Captain Argus. He's owned this ship for over 20 years, a creaky old pinnace that is probably not really capable of open sea voyages anymore. That's ok though – he only makes his run from the port cities of Sasserine and Sammarash in the Shining Sea, never losing sight of the coastline. (Note: "Sasserine" replaces "Tashalar" in standard Forgotten Realms canon for the purposes of our story).
Captain Argus has solid merchant contacts in both towns and has made pretty decent coin on the route, with the added perk that he's avoided the attention of the Rundeen, a merchant guild that generally has a stranglehold on all merchant activity in the region. Captain Argus has managed to avoid this snag over the years by making a deal with the Rundeen. They agreed to "overlook" his activity so long as it remained small, only his one ship, and additionally that he would not buy or sell any arms or armor.
He's been true to the bargain, until this trip. A friend of his in Sammarash needed a favor, and was in dire need of a dozen longspears from Sasserine, and had convinced Argus to transport them for him just this one time. The only people that needed to know were the salesman in Sasserine, the merchant in question, Captain Argus, and his Quartermaster/Pursar, a trustworthy man from the faraway Chou empire known as Kasuga Toyomi. Toyomi had time and again displayed his value as a member aboard The Ravaged Pride by finding a way to get top coin for his sales, and by making equally impressive deals when making purchases.
At any rate, Argus and Toyomi knew of a hidden compartment in the ship that could be used to hide the longspears without anyone else aboard the ship knowing any better, and so they agreed to do this. As far as anyone as knew, the cargo both ways was completely normal – Musical instruments, rope, and rum from Sassarine to Sammarash, and spices, wood, and hemp for the return journey. Argus was noticably more nervous and testy with his crew on that trip, but after conducting his business in Sammarash without the slightest irregularity, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief and was actually pretty jovial on the return voyage.
Perhaps he let his guard down a bit too soon. Perhaps they were just too quiet. Whatever the case, when The Ravaged Pride was only about a day and a half from Sasserine, the ship was struck. At first the crew was certain that the ship had run aground on a shallow shoal or some other obstacle in the water, until they came to the realization that the ship was hit amidships from the port side, <u>from the side.</u> It was apparent that whatever caused the contact was moving.
The ships two aquatic crewmembers, the Aventi Barbarian Nimor Adrashol and Monk Burrell Ulrik leapt overboard to investigate, and were able to catch a glimpe of the tail end of the largest shark either of them had ever seen – certainly a larger shark than should have been in waters this shallow. Fortunately, he was swimming away, but, he had already apparently done his damage – there was a sizable hole in the bottom of the boat, and the shark had lost a tooth in the wood – a nice souvenir. Unfortunately, he had also created a nice little entry point for some sahuagin who were now coming aboard the ship.
The ship's crew now had two major problems – they were under attack from about 10 sahuagin, one of which was their leader, and their ship was taking on water rapidly and would sink if something wasn't immediately done. Fortunately, this was no ordinary ships' crew – as they would ably demonstrate over the next months and years – and they proved equal to the challenge. The sahuagin were defeated (many killed, the rest jumping ship when the odds were clearly against them), and basic repairs were made so the ship could limp back to Sasserine.
Apparently, this was the final straw for Captain Argus – upon reaching port, he sold his ship, gave his crew a very nice severence package and thanked them for their time aboard the Pride, and went to one of Sasserine's many watering holes to forget the events of the evening.
So now, our intrepid crew find themselves unemployed, sitting at the docks, wondering what they're going to do next…