A slight Halfling girl with long dark hair and bright brown eyes was sitting atop the shoulders of a large Half-Orc’s shoulders. He was muscular in frame with a large beard and long dark hair. They were talking together as he walked his way up towards the ship docked at the pier. When they walked up the ramp, many men aboard the ship of different races and backgrounds all yelled, “Happy Birthday, Poppy!”
The girl atop the Half-Orc beamed with a bright smile, and her cheeks became rosy. She kissed him on the side of his face, “Thanks, Kalardash!” Then she jumped off his shoulders and hugged everyone she came up to thank them. Many of them handed her gifts, and she smiled and thanked them all. Today was Poppy’s 20th birthday. She was particularly excited because this meant she had become an adult, and Kalardash would start training seriously to be one of the crew on The Salty Wench. Excitement to become a Salty Dog was an understatement.
Since she was a little girl of 3, Kalardash had raised her as his own daughter. Most people found them to be a particularly odd pair, but she loved him as her father even though she called him by name. This was just the way it was done on the ship.
When she was old enough and got picked on by other children for her father being different from her, he finally told her where she came from. It did not change how she saw him and, in fact, made her love him more for the way he took her in, even when he did not have to.
Kalardash was best friends with her father, Zalton, and he was actually Quartermaster on The Salty Wench. They were inseparable, and Kalardash was even the best man at the wedding between Zalton and Paetina. It was not always something done when one was a pirate, but they had a love that knew no bounds. She would stay landside while he was off, and he would come back every few months for them to spend time together.
On one such trip back, Zalton found Paetina with child and talked Kalardash into allowing the ship to remain docked until after the baby was born. Kalardash did not hesitate, and every one of the Salty Dogs waiting in anticipation for this baby to be born. There was a week of celebrations after Poppy was born. The Salty Wench was full of much drinking and merrymaking of every sort for a pirate.
Continuing to make dock every few months, the crew got to watch her grow. She became important to each of them somehow, as many of them did not have families. She would come on board the ship and see everyone, always with a smile, which melted even the hardest pirate’s heart.
One night after docking, each Salty Dog either went off to take care of some business or stayed on the ship. Zalton went home to Paetina and Poppy, and they had a nice dinner together before going to bed. In the early morning hours, someone broke into their home and murdered her parents, but for some reason, they did not kill Poppy too.
There was not a single member of the crew that was not hit, but most made it out alive. While Kalardash was checking on the crew, he went to Zalton’s home and found Poppy alone with her dead parents. He scooped her up in his arms and took him with her. He spent the next few months hunting down those who had attacked his crew and took his revenge.
3-year-old Poppy was raised on The Salty Wench. She was a very happy child and never felt she lacked anything. Each member of the crew took care of her, and no one mistreated her. She loved to make everyone gifts or give gifts. Usually, she would spend hours combing the beach looking for shiny stones or bits of glass to give as gifts, but some she would keep for herself and put in a pouch on her waist. They all cherished her gifts.
As this was her birthday, they started passing around the drinks as she sat down to open her gifts. A few of the crew got out their instruments and began playing, and the music went along with the breeze. One of the crew handed her a drink, and she downed it in a few gulps. Poppy had a few more, and she went around again hugging everyone that had given her gifts and thanked them.
Kalardash asked for the crew to stop playing music, and everyone with drinks in hand heard as he talked about Poppy and how proud he was of her and how he could not wait for her proper initiation into The Salty Dogs. There had never been a female crew member before, which was a big moment for Poppy and all of them.
This was when he announced he had a special gift for Poppy, and he stomped on the planks of the ship, and a door behind him opened from his cabin, and her eyes laid on a beautiful dog. “This is your riding dog and companion, Poppy!” She looked over his large muscular frame, and she loved the dark black color of his fur and his bright orange eyes. “He is perfect!” She ran up to Kalardash and gave him a giant hug, and then headed towards the dog.
She stuck her hand out to allow him to smell her, and he took a few sniffs; and she thought he would be aggressive due to his looks, but he just licked her and then nuzzled her hand, excepting pets. “You are a silly dog indeed.” She heard Kalardash’s voice behind her, “What are you going to name him?” She thought for a few moments, “How about Amaranth?”
Raising an eyebrow, Kalardash said, “Isn’t that a little feminine for such a brute of a dog? Why not something like Brutus?” Poppy laughed and waved her hand at him, “No, Amaranth is perfect!” He shook his head and laughed.
The rest of the evening went on with lots of drinking and dancing. Many of the townsfolk joined in on The Salty Wench, wanting to enjoy the wonderful festivities. Poppy went around with Amaranth close at her heels. She introduced him to many people as she got drunker and drunker.
Venturing off the ship where the party had stretched to, she hugged strangers while introducing her dog to them. One fellow asked his name, and she said, “Well, it is Amaranth.”
“That is a nice name. She is a pretty dog.” The man nodded with admiration at such a beautiful dog. Poppy furrowed her eyes, “You silly man, don’t you see these daddy bags?” She points towards the rear of Amaranth, and he clears his throat, “Oh, yes. I see.”
She gives him a big grin and begins laughing, “No harm done, not like Amaranth could eat you or anything,” The man gulps and backs away. Poppy continues laughing and walks away, and continues enjoying the party while drinking as much as her little body could hold.
In the morning, she wakes up on the ship’s deck with Amaranth lying next to her, panting as the sun peeks over the horizon and begins to really heat up the day. His breath is on her skin, and she instinctively pushes him away, “You are getting me all hot!”
He doesn’t budge and just stares at her with a silly look on his face as he is panting. She laughs, and her head begins to hurt. “Oh, that was a bad idea.” As she goes to get up, Kalardash walks up, beaming at her, “Today is the day you start working as a Salty Dog. So let’s get to it.”
Furrowing her brow, she looks up at him, “You drank barrels compared to me. How can you be so chipper?” He shrugs, “I have been doing it for much longer than you have. Now let’s get to work.”
She jumps up on Amaranth, “How about tomorrow?” This question brings Kalardash to a roaring laugh which causes Poppy to flinch; this hangover will not be kind to Poppy. “No, my dear, this is all part of your initiation! Now let’s get to it!”