Grotto Woodcutter, Sailor: One of the dangers of the open sea is pirates. Grotto the halfling sailor knew the risks when he signed on as a cabin boy with the merchant vessel Bright Shoals. What he didn't know was that his life would change forever with his maiden voyage. Grotto had never quite fit in to the peaceful but boring halfling village where he grew up. His love for water and his inclination to take things that he shouldn't touch set him apart from the rest of the rest of the community. His thefts became more and more frequent and the council of "Meal Planning and Food Distribution" finally ousted him from the village. Grotto left for the big city with a short sword, 7 gold pieces, a bottle of claret, and an old pair of boots -- all stolen from the council's "Community Chest." However, the city was not the haven Grotto expected it to be. He spent many months pilfering for a small thieving syndicate. One day his "job" took him to the merchant vessel Bright Shoals. He was caught stealing provisions from the galley. (Grotto could never pass up good food.) The captain of the Bright Shoals took pity on "Lazlo" (that is the name he gave) and hired him on as a cabin boy with an option to rise in rank once he proved his usefulness as a sailor. The ship left port two days later.
Lazlo "Largefeet": The pirate schooner Sea Devil, captained by "Hammerhead" Gilbert Filch the Black-Hearted, attacked the Bright Shoals as it rounded the southeast coast of the continent. The ensuing battle depleted much of Captain Filch's crew, but the day was his. Lazlo hid in the galley of Bright Shoals during the entire engagement. Once it was clear that Captain Filch had no intention of leaving any survivors, Lazlo began to panic. Seeing no other recourse, Lazlo decided to squeeze out the galley porthole with the intention of swimming to the pirate ship and hiding there. He hit the water feet first and, to his surprise, that was the only thing that got wet. Lazlo was walking on water.
"Hammerhead" spotted him from the deck of Bright Shoals where he had just finished offering up the survivors of Bright Shoals to his deity. As everyone knows, pirates are notoriously superstitious, and "Hammerhead" Filch was no exception. In fact, he also was not exactly a towering intellect. He took the water-walking halfling as a sign from his deityof her favor. He rowed out to the petrified Lazlo, took one look at his large, booted feet, and declared him his personal cabin boy "Largefeet." Lazlo became the Sea Devil's mascot and a pirate in the same day. He spent the next three years honing his skills as a thief and sailing the sea under the protection and tutelage of Captain "Hammerhead" Filch the Black-Hearted.
Captain Lazlo "Largefeet": In the years that followed, Lazlo proved invaluable as a thief and negotiator for the captain of the Sea Devil. He would often act as an intermediary between Filch and any merchants with which Filch dealt. Lazlo developed his bargaining abilities and used his skills in disguise and bluff to remain both anonymous and trustworthy. On one such occasion, Lazlo bargained for a very large turtle egg from a band of merfolk. He was, of course, just thinking about his stomach and how much of a delicacy it would prove to be when, surprisingly, it hatched shortly after. The turtle was unlike any Lazlo had ever seen. The shell was wide but streamlined. Its long neck ended in a crested draconic head, and it had a long snaking tail and sharp, taloned flippers. Well, turtle soup was always good, thought Lazlo, but when the time came to make the meal, Lazlo decided he could not kill the beautiful creature. He named the dragon turtle (he figured it out eventually) Maelstrom and began to feed it by hand and swim with it while the Sea Devil was dry docked for repairs. The two quickly became fast friends (the first that Lazlo had ever had), and Maelstrom grew at an alarming rate. When it came time for the Sea Devil to set sail again, the dragon turtle followed the ship out of the harbor.
Captain Filch was beside himself at the favor his deity had shown him in this dragon turtle, but First Mate Warant Dragbottom was not. The first night out he tried to poison Maelstrom with fish he had tainted. The next morning, Warant was found on the deck seemingly "steamed" to death. Filch, still wondering at his deity's support, promoted Lazlo to first mate. The Sea Devil became the terror of seas. Merchant vessels that encountered her never returned to port. Sailors began tales of the ship's ability to crush vessels like an eggshell and sink them to the bottom instantly.
During this period, Lazlo trained himself to ride Maelstrom. Soon they were single-handedly taking over merchant vessels by capsizing them and plundering the sea bottom of their cargo. In an unfortunate accident, Lazlo's mentor and teacher Filch died in his sleep one night; his supper, which faithful "Largefeet" had provided, was only half eaten. Lazlo promoted himself to captain and christened the ship with a new name: Sea Dragon. He continues to this day to stalk the seas with Maelstrom as escort.
About the Author
Mike Boozer is a writer for the Wizards of the Coast web team.