The Captain’s Secrets

Captain Zucco was well pleased to once more be at port in the drowsy city of Manfredonia. This place wasn’t where Zucco had been born and raised, and he hadn’t spent all that much time here or even in this part of the Forkanzan peninsula prior to ten years ago or so. His hometown was the wealthy city of San Marco further north. While there were ample opportunities for a capable ship captain in San Marco, and for that matter in all of the major seaports the Imperium now laid claim to, Captain Zucco was not what many would define as being merely capable. He was prone to making odd choices in what he would transport and where he would haul it. He was also particular about who he dealt with. This meant that Captain Zucco would naturally feel more comfortable in a place where he could rely on trustworthy business contacts and an agreeable port authority.

Manfredonia wasn’t like any other city in Forkanza. For one thing it fell outside the authority of the Imperium as the small province had long ago been ceded to a foreign nation as a thank-you gift for military support when southern Forkanza had been invaded by a Torkan Sultan and his corsair allies. While there were certainly going to be Imperium agents that might be spying on activities taking place in Manfredonia there were always going to be spies anywhere you went in Forkanza. Captain Zucco was well aware that powerful merchant families spent an inordinate amount of money making sure their rivals were kept off-balance and this wasn’t likely to change now that the Imperium had united almost all of the Forkanzan city-states. But even the spies couldn’t arrest anyone, even a ship captain that might be suspected of piracy. This made Manfredonia extremely attractive to men like Captain Zucco.

While Captain Zucco did an unusually good job at hiding his professional activities, there were many within his peculiar brotherhood that knew the truth. Divo Zucco was one of the most successful pirates to have sailed the Forzarrean Sea. This was due to a number of reasons. First, Zucco was a remarkably wise and intelligent man that rarely made a mistake he wasn’t able to quickly recover from. Second, Zucco never advertised his success any more than any other captain would brag about their failures. His silence was legendary among those that flaunted nautical law in pursuit of easy profits. There was an adage among the pirates of the Forzarrean Sea that there was only two ways to keep a secret safe: say nothing or tell Zucco. The third reason for Zucco’s success was his ability to keep his own advantages close to his chest. How it was that Captain Zucco could sail his ship, The Sea Hag, as quickly as he did and in all manner of foul weather and adverse conditions remained a tightly guarded mystery.

Manfredonia had grown quickly from a sleepy little fishing village to a thriving major seaport thanks to the investments of foreign investors. This wasn’t just a boon for tradesmen and merchants, it was also a windfall for anyone looking to have a ship built or repaired. This was the specific reason Captain Zucco had put in here. Having found a few crew members in the town of Barria south along the coast Zucco now needed to have some work done in repairing The Sea Hag. He had a contact with one of the shipwrights that had been willing to drydock the sohar before, and Zucco hoped they would be able to take care of his present predicament. He turned the vessel over to his first mate, a lizardman named Kellkwog, and stepped into the little dinghy with a handful of his newer crew members. It was time to introduce these newcomers to the delights of Manfredonia, and to see if they could keep the captain’s secrets.