Welcome to Southport
Human warlock, formerly a sailor
Jane Evans was born on a summer evening. Much earlier and it might’ve been on a sea-going vessel; her merchant parents had been accompanying a shipment of silks back from the elven caliphate when her mother went into labor. It was a frighteningly early birth that continued to be story fodder even years later – how the rocking of the boat had been so constant in the womb that when her mother stepped foot on land Jane kept rocking until she popped out (and maybe even for a bit afterwards); how when she was born she had gills like a fish and webbed fingers and toes and had to be kept under water until her lungs grew; how her mother’s birthing fluid had been saltwater and the afterbirth a fish that flopped all the way from the midwives’ house into the ocean. Her mother would snort at these stories, and shake her head. Her father would harrumph about trivializing a near-tragic emergency and remind everyone how scared they’d been that their child wouldn’t survive. Jane, for her part, found them fascinating (as any child finds a story in which she stars), especially when they were told by her Granny, in her shed, while mending fishing nets.
It had been months since she’d been able to find work on a reputable vessel. Sure, there was always room on the docks for a laborer who could read, and she’d even ingratiated herself to the imperial merchant’s guild in town by virtue of her reliability – but her heart wasn’t in it. She wanted to sail.
Today, however, things were looking up for her chances to once again roam the rigging of a ship. Traffic was especially high that day, as it was the first clear day after a week of squalls and ships that had been waiting to land safely rushed into port. The receiving clerks for the guild asked if she’d help them guide vessels to appropriate piers, since busy days were when captains were most likely to ignore cargo designations and simply take the first open space. Nothing annoyed a fabric warehouse more than having to transport 500 crates full of bananas to the other side of town. She was happy for the assignment, of course – any chance to be on a ship was a good chance.
She glanced at her checklist on the way out. “Seabucket – cargo unknown” was the first entry. She sighed – it didn’t sound promising. Captains who didn’t specifically communicate their manifests with the merchants guilds had a reputation as either flakes or smugglers. Based on such an ill-chosen name, she guessed the former. She pulled out the spyglass the clerks had given her earlier that morning and tried to pick out the Seabucket from the mass of creaking boats floating in the harbor. There – it wasn’t far. She steeled herself and got into her rowboat to greet the Captain.