Auruk (Ah-ruck) was on sentry duty, roving the forest a few miles from his village, when a sudden storm appeared overhead. Knowing he would be unable to make it back to the village in the winds he cast about for somewhere to shelter himself. He spied a hollowed out tree truck on the forest floor, and dove, grabbing branches and trunks whenever possible to secure his gains. He didn’t even make it halfway down. Auruk was torn from the trees and thrown into the air. He somehow missed the trees as he was wrenched about, pelted with debris whipped up in the maelstrom. Once clear of the trees, he saw that this storm was different than others that had passed over the village. While there was a large thunder head brimming with lightning as others had before, this one had a funnel of dark cloud descending towards the forest, as though the sky itself was attempting to drive a spear into the earth. Auruk’s powerful wings helped him to stay somewhat stable in the rushing whirlpool of air that was circling the funnel cloud, though he could do nothing to escape it. He was drawn higher and higher up, and closer and closer to the funnel cloud until he was pulled into the thunder cloud above. He was surprised to find the air clear inside, though no less turbulent, encased by the dark roiling clouds. At the center was a small bright sphere, no wider than his own wingspan, throwing bolts of lightning out into the surrounding clouds, fueling the storm’s fury. The current of air and debris he was in spiraled into the sphere, Auruk along with it. As he neared it, he tucked his wings and braced for an impact that never came.

He opened his eyes to find himself free-falling through clear air over an enormous body of water, larger than he ever thought possible. Unfurling his wings, he stopped his descent and attempted to get his bearings. There was no forest below him. There were no high mountains to the North, no river to the West, and no ruins to the South. In fact, there was no land at all. Panic beginning to set in, Auruk flew higher, until it was difficult to breathe, in an attempt to see any land at all. There was nothing. Except… a smudge on the horizon. Even with his keen eyesight he couldn’t make out what it was, but it was something, and it was all he had at the moment. He set off at considerable speed towards the object. After a few minutes he could see that it was an enormous ship. At least, much bigger than the barges he’d seen floating down the river. About half a mile out from the ship, he could see a flurry of activity as sailors flooded the deck from below, all rushing to the side of the ship he was approaching. He’d been spotted. He circled the ship at a safe distance several times to try and discern any kind of information about the ship and its occupants. Two masts, 7 sails, a human face and torso carved out of wood on the front of the ship. One human at the top of the forward mast. Two dozen humans were littered about the deck, most following him as he circled the ship. He didn’t see any weapons. There were no cages on the deck like those of the barges on the river. They usually held humans, but occasionally he’d see an Araakocra or Dragonborn in them as they floated lazily down the river. They always returned empty. The thought of being put into a cage sent a shiver through his spine to his wingtips. He didn’t like it, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He’d been flying for hours. His watch was nearly over when he was taken by the storm, which meant that he hadn’t eaten in almost fifteen hours. With no other options, he landed lightly on the bowsprit of the ship and immediately drew his bow from the scabbard on his back, nocked the only arrow that hadn’t been stolen by the storm, and drew.

The crew of the ship, initially rushing towards the bow in curious excitement, recoiled, and withdrew behind the masts and tackle. The human on top of the mast ducked into his wooden bucket. One remained. He was holding a small ball of fire in his hand, casually rolling it around in his palm, looking into Auruk’s eyes. He was one of the ones that hadn’t been rushing around the deck following his flight. He was taller than most of the other humans, and wore a coat when no other crew member did. He lifted his eyebrows as if to say “Well…?”

“Where am I?” Auruk said, hoping that these humans spoke common.
“You’re on my ship, friend” the human replied, but there was no emotion Auruk could read on his face.
“I am not your friend.” Auruk said sharply. “What is this place? Where is the wood? And the mountains? Or the river?” Because the Araakocra never travelled far, they didn’t have names for things that they only knew one of.
“Don’t know about those, friend.” He said with a wry smile, ignoring Auruk’s comment. It was clear he was used to controlling conversations. “All I know, is that you’re standing on my ship, ten days sail from the nearest rock. Care to explain how that came to be?”
“No.” Auruk’s eyes narrowed, not that he knew himself.
“Can’t? Or Won’t?” His tone hardened. He wasn’t sure that he liked this human, not that he’d ever met one that he did. Now it was Auruk’s turn to ignore him.
“I’ll pay for food, water, and directions to the nearest land.” Auruk said, trying to keep an even tone. He didn’t want to betray his desperation.
“I can provide you with food, or at least that’s what Cooky calls it, and water, but as I said, we’re ten day’s sail from anything worth mentioning.” The human closed his fist, and the flames disappeared. He turned around. “Cooky! Get him some food.” A short round human with a red face and white beard peered around the mast.
“Captain?” Cooky said uncertainly, looking apprehensively from the Captain to Auruk, and back.
“Now Cooky.” The Captain said in a stern voice, making clear that it wasn’t a discussion. “Spilten. Get him some water from below.” A dark skinned barrel chested man ran to the hatch with a quick “Aye Captain.” Cooky, still looking unsure, backed his way slowly to the hatch, not wanting to take his eyes off Auruk, who still had the bow drawn.

Auruk, for his part, was taken aback. This human, apparently in command of the vessel and its crew, was either very sure of his reflexes, or was very sure that Auruk wouldn’t loose his arrow. He slowly let the bow relax and lowered it, but kept the arrow nocked. The Captain turned around to face Auruk.

“You can call me Captain. Just, Captain. This is the Amelia Rose, and these cowards are my crew,” motioning over his shoulder towards the mast behind him. “You are?”
“Auruk.” He said simply.
“Well, Or-rick…” Captin said, mispronouncing the name.
“Auruk” he corrected.
“Ok then Oh-ruck” Close enough Auruk figured, and decided to let it be. “Welcome to the naval service. You’ll pay for your meals with work until we reach port. Are your eyes as good as I think they are?”
“Better than his,” Auruk said pointing at the man in the bucket above him.
“Good,” Captain smiled. “You’re night watch. Ring the bell if you see a ship, a storm, or a green glow in the water below us. Don’t worry about the details on that last one. Hopefully you won’t find out.” Captain turned his back and strode up the ship and into a door in the aft-castle. Auruk walked down the bowsprit, carefully avoiding the ropes leading off of it, and stepped lightly onto the deck. Cooky reappeared with a plate of bread, cheese, and an apple. Famished, Auruk began to eat without even waiting for the water, oblivious to the wide eyed stares of the crew.

Over the next eight days, the Amelia Rose had strong favorable winds day and night. So much so, that she arrived in port two days early. The crew murmured in the shadows and in their bunks. Some believed Auruk to be a devil, summoning the winds hasten his own arrival in port, whereupon he would go about his fiendish business. Probably kidnapping children or luring beautiful young women to a grisly death in some dark alley. Some thought him a demi-god, or at least heavily favored by one. Mostly though, the crew thought of him as a good luck charm, and expressed a desire for him to stay on board for their next journey. The talk clearly was said loud enough for him to hear, in hopes that he would join the conversation and confirm or deny their theories, but Auruk kept to himself. He spoke only to thank Cooky for the meals, acknowledge an order to trim or drop sails by the captain (it was much easier for Auruk to reach the high yards than the human crew members) and to relieve the day watch.

“I could use a good hand on the Amelia Rose like you, Auruk,” Captain said, pronouncing the name correctly for the first time, as the day watch called out the sighting of the headland that sheltered the port from the cold northern winds. He knew what his name was after all.
“If there are any other Araakocra in this world, this will mark you as a friend.” Auruk replied, sidestepping Captain’s offer. He handed him a white feather speckled with brown from his chest. Barbs had been removed from either side, creating a distinctive negative two-stripe pattern in the vane. “I hope everyone I meet is as honorable as you.”
“I dare say that they will not. Keep you coin close and your blade closer,” Captain warned.
“Fair wind to your sails Captain,” Auruk said, extending his hand. He had picked up a few social cues from the crew over the last eight days.
“Fair winds under your wings,” Captain replied with a smile, taking Auruk’s outstretched hand.

Auruk walked to the side of the ship and stepped off, unfurling his wings and beating down in a great gust of air. He rose into the clear blue sky until he could see over the bluffs, and headed towards the port city laid out below him.


al-Azraq ctgesick GhostCoyote