Leopold sat inside the Stafyr manor in Reza with a frown as he finished his meal together with some of his kinsmen. He looked up at the others who seemed to be equally displeased with their meal. As per usual they had bland porridge and mutton and it was downed with some Jagdberg stout or Carrion Black. In the northern reaches of Arcas what more could be expected? The fields could only grow so much that it would either be pork loin and potatoes, mutton with porridge but on some occasion they’d have salted deer if a hunt was successful. Salt, the only spice they truly knew. Bland and dull food.
Thondor the old looked on his great nephews and chuckled some as he shook his head “I’ve had the greatest meals when I lived by the lighthouse in Atlas, he’d look over the three “Nutmeg.. Ginger.. Cinnamon.. Lemongrass..” he’d ramble as the youngsters stared at him confused “What are those?” Leopold would simply ask “Things that can not grow here, only where the sun shines at days on end and where it can rain for months but you’d still sweat.. That’s where these plants grow” was the old man’s reply as he’d finish his tankard of carrion black “Perhaps they grow somewhere here in Arcas to, what do I know.. It’s quite a lot of minas in it though” he’d just shrug before moving to take his plates and walk out of the dining hall leaving his nephews curious.
Days passed before Gerard came running into the manor with a rolled up parchment in his hands, he’d rush up the stairs and to Leopold’s quarters barging in on his cousin “I’ve found it!” he’d shout out and unfold the parchment showing a crudely made map of southern Arcas “The islands where the sun will shine for days and where the spices Thondor mentioned can grow” he’d point out two islands in the southeast “There. We can sail there from Sutica.. Bring the spices north and trade them with all of the known world!”
Leopold stared at the crudely drawn map “We..” he’d look around his room in contemplation before nodding “We must find these islands. Get Thondor and Moris. Take some minas from the bank and hire some men to come with us.” he’d move to stand and stare at the painting depicting the siege of Shadowcastle whilst Gerard left the room in a hurry. The next morning the Stafyr expedition of the southwestern islands was to begin and with pack mules, mercenaries and some servants the three young men, Leopold, Gerard and Moris together with the elder Thondor all rode south. Towards Sutica to get passage on a ship and sail further.
The expedition travelled for a day before entering through the gates of Sutica. Outside the city gates they laid out a small camp whilst the Stafyrs went inside the city to find a ship captain. In the coastal city that is Sutica it wasn’t long until they had found a farfolk ship captain willing to take them to the islands for a decent enough price and they booked passage for dawn to the islands.
At first light they all boarded the ship and paid the captain, they set out at headed from Sutica’s docks to travel further south and with God’s grace the wind made their journey swift and just one and a half day later they arrived to the islands. The three young Stafyrs stared at the coastline with awe. Pristine white beaches along the coast with crystal clear water and beyond that trees and mountains covering as far as a man could see.
They laid anchor on the coast and boarded the rowing boats and rowed ashore as they set up a base camp. They marked down their landing on the map. As the midday sun laid heavy on the coastline and the Stafyrs with their mercenaries quickly realized that chainmail and leather could be their downfall in these unknown lands so they removed their armour and left it in camp. Deciding to progress further without it. Their Haensetic complexion perhaps not the best suited for lands such as these but they were determined. They decided that in dawn the morning after their expedition should begin and the ship captain perhaps even as excited as the Stafyrs at this point agreed to stay in the camp with his men and ship as long as needs be, of course for some mina promised on the return to Sutica.
The morning after the expedition marched directly east. The massive trees around them covering the beams of light that would attempt to shine through. They quickly began to find plants and herbs that they’d never seen before and only a few hours into the expedition Thondor would cut of some cherries of a plant and nod “Coffea.. You take the beans from these, roast them, grind them and boil them with water and then drink.” the servants began picking away and filling sacks on the mules filled with these cherries before moving on deeper into the jungle. Once in a while Thondor would halt the expedition to find herb or spice and the servants would begin to pick away around the area. Jasmins, nutmeg, coriander, different peppers, cloves, basil and much more was found just in their first day of travelling before they eventually in the late afternoon decided to set up camp by a lake.
Around the camp the trees would move as strange animals would run around and weird birds made their sounds. In the lake exotic fishes with bright colours would swim around before being scared of as the men would dive into the water to cool off from a day’s trekking in excruciating heat. Leopold would look around himself uneasy “I feel watched..” he’d state to his cousin Gerard and he nodded in agreement and said “We’ve been all day..”
As nightfall approached they set up a campfire and some of the mercenaries had hunted down some weird animals that they with their newfound spices roasted over the fire. The most delicious meal the men had ever had. The men were celebrating, all the hard work they had done over the last days were a success and their expedition truly was a dream come true. But as the fires dimmed and nightfall overtook the camp they would all sleep with an eye open. As the silence of a northern night was not to be found. All around them noises could be heard, perhaps it was just animals or perhaps there was more.
A few hours into the night one of the tents suddenly went ablaze and the men rushed to their feet as darts and crudely made arrows rained down around them. The men inside the burning tent managed to get out before the flames engulfed them and the men all drew their arms and tried to find out who and what was attacking them. Just moments later the camp was swarmed with a pack Khara’jyr who seemingly had lost their minds in the jungle. The men fought valiantly but in the darkness their foe would come and go. Arrows would rain once more and followed up with some Kha rushing the camp before disappearing into the trees once more.
This went one for what seemed like eternity before the elder Thondor had enough. The rage and strength of a true Galtorian Stafyr overtaking his senses as he grabbed a hold of a torch and his bastard sword and rushed after a Kha into the jungle. The other Stafyrs had no time to react before hearing the noises of the jungle being traded for screeches, cries and then.. Silence. Complete silence all around them.
Thondor stumbled back into the camp and his gaze looked over his nephews as the first rays of sun began to shine down on the camp. The three walked up towards their great uncle but saw in his chest five arrows lunged. He fell to his knees in front of the trio and looked up on them “They.. They’re either dead or fleeing, fuckers..” he’d cough up some blood before collapsing to the ground as Leopold rushed forward and held his head up “We’ll.. We’ll get you back to Sutica.. You’ll be fine” he said before Thondor grabbed a hold of Leo’s collar with a firm grip “No. Bury me where the sun always shines.. Make sure my lil’ boy gets.. My sword, take my.. note..book... And.. Ca.. carry.. On. I’m.. I’m p..r..” he’d try to speak but no more could be said as he passed on to God’s warm embrace and the seven skies. The death of a true Galtor warrior.
The expedition packed up their camp and marched with the corpse of Thondor north up towards the coast where they laid him to his final rest in a clearing close to the beach. So the sun would shine on his grave and with some wood carved from the trees they laid a cross over his grave so that everyone could see. That there lay Thondor The Old.
The expedition continued east before travelling around the coastline south to the jagged edges of the southeastern coast. They set camp at the southern peak of the island and an eerie silence had overtaken the camp and jungle after the day before. No longer were they watched but no one dared to speak and if it was not for Thondor they would all be dead or worse. The motivation of the expedition had come to an halt and no spices or herbs had been collected at all that day.
As dusk came Leopold stared out over the jagged cliffs surrounding the southern peak. Contemplating the expedition that he had decided to lead “Maybe we shouldn’t... If we had not gone Thondor had been alive and his son would have a father.. This was my decision not his..” he’d say to himself before Gerard spoke up behind him “Thondor died a valiant Galtorian death, just as he wanted. He’s watching over us and would be disappointed if we did not finish this.” he’d be followed up by Moris “Aye, that is true. I didn’t sail this far south and march all this long for us to give up now, cousin. Lead us.”
They all looked at one another for a few moments before Leopold broke the silence “We do this for Thondor.” they nodded and at first dawn the camp was on the move once more. The men fueled by the young Stafyrs newfound commitment continued to gather herbs, spices and plants along the way. They used Thondor’s notebook to decide what they could pick, what they could eat and what they should avoid.
The expedition travelled for another three days along the southern parts of the island going inland at first before once more travelling down towards the southern beaches, eventually they’d see another island not far south of them. After some deliberation Leopold ordered the expedition to build rafts and cross over to the new island. So they did and after an afternoon’s work they crossed over the straits to the smaller island.
They immediately set up a small camp by the coast and in the morning they began to travel around the island discovering more herbs, plants and weird looking fruits hanging from the trees. There they also found a plant with beautiful purple flowers but the once that had no flowered where round and green. If cut into they’d being to bleed a white liquid and according to Thondor’s notes.. It was very special. The servants filled up plenty of vials of this as well as they moved along. They picked what they could before once more travelling back over the straits on their small rafts. Just a day on the smaller island was needed to fill up their vials with this strange liquid extract.
Once they’d landed back on the larger island they immediately set of inland and after a day’s of travelling through the jungle they set up camp at the foot of the mountains. The mood was high and the expedition celebrated by roasting some more of these strange animals and eating them with the new found spices. Once more delicious. When first light shone through the expedition packed up their final camp and travelled across the mountains, back to the base camp where the ship was docked.
Leopold strode up to the captain. His appearance had changed over the week. Leo’s beard was untamed and rugged, his skin was darker and tanned, he had mosquito bites and cuts from walking through the jungle and he simply hugged the captain. Who stared at him confused “Ya are missin’ one?” the captain asked as he noticed Thondor was nowhere to be seen. Leopold looked at the captain “Start loading the ship. We’ve got more spices, herbs and plants then we could’ve dreamt of” and with that the captain nodded and rushed towards his men barking orders.
As dusk came the expedition had loaded into the ship and the three Stafyrs stood staring at the coastline together with the captain as Leopold spoke up “Captain, let it be known that his place right here shall forever be known as Thondor’s Landing and these islands… The Spice Islands” the captain simply nodded before ordering his men to raise the anchor and just a few days later the expedition was complete and with them they brought carts filled with spices through the gates of Reza. For the whole world to trade. The map of the expedition drawn out and published for everyone to see.
Once the storages of Stafyr had been filled and the excess goods was to be peddled the final idea was brought forth by Leopold and Gerard. A trade company was to be formed led by House Stafyr to peddle spices, tobacco, coffee, cocoa and all other forms of wares from the Spice Islands and around Arcas. Adequately named the Honourable North Haense Company.