The protagonists find themselves in the hold of a Pirate Ship (which turns out to be called the ‘Wormwood’).
They introduce themselves:
Minty Hobbs: a hardy tortle chef
Arithor Vektar: a shadowy fetchling ninja
Zeto: a flame-haired ifrit artificer
Caxton: a changeling priest of many gods
Their pirate captors demand that they perform a challenge of scaling the rigging, in order that their skills can be judges for crew roles.
With the exception of the surprisingly agile Minty Hobbs (who climbs unusually fast for a one-legged tortle) the harsh pirate taskmaster Mister Scourge finds their performance unimpressive and takes an instant dislike to them. Some of the pirate crew are more welcoming (particularly to Caxton the cleric who conjured a rain of wine, and the lovely impressed sailor Zeto).
Minty is assigned to be the cook’s mate (working under the drunkard Ambrose Kroop), and the rest are tasked with repairing the desks and rigging from recent action.
After being put of hard work for the day, the new sailors sea the brutal nature of Captain Harrigton’s justice with the keelhauling of an unfortunate pirate.
They are also given the rum ration, which they look at dubiously.
Thus the unlikely group begin their new lives as unwilling pirates…