A Crimson Shore, ACT 1, Six Gold Coins

 

A Crimson Shore, Background Information For ACT I

Welcome to the Crown’s Isles! A vast set of interconnected islands centered around one larger “jewel”, the Island of Xiladros.  Named for it’s resemblance to a Crown, these isles are an important part of the Known Realm and of the Celn Empire. The Crown gives shelter between the sister cities of Cellione and Cillandar, as well as a place for various markets to sell their sea wares.  Many of the inhabitants are native to the southern lands, and many native to Cellinor.  This makes the Crown a place of diversity but breeds superstition as many different races and cultures converge here.  Not much attention is paid to the Crown’s Isles as little seems to change from beyond the Great Western Sea. However, that is about to change. And with change comes a new destiny for those willing to go after it.

          This is the situation your party finds itself in. You are essentially, in a moment before the storm, both literally and figuratively.  This moment has been outlined for you in “Dispatch to the Crown’s Isles”.  Somehow, each of you has come to the Ring of Islands just off the Coast of Cellinor Major,  for various reasons. Most of them will have related to trade, to seamanship of one kind or another. But, more nefarious things happen in the Isles and maybe you’ve been a part of them.  These isles are after all, teeming with those who have secrets to hide.  Just be careful to keep them to yourself, you wouldn’t want a High Inquisitor to begin an Investigation! Perhaps, you are  a Celn yourself, or perhaps a member of the southern tribes.   Regardless of your background, one thing that each of you has in common is that you have all shown interest in one day attempting what is known as the Great Odyssey, the until now unsuccessful attempt to cross the Still Waters to the Unknown West, and return.  One such attempt is told in tales in local taverns. It is the Tale of the Sea Drake.

          Adventurers in the thread of A Crimson Shore, must be willing to explore a brave new world.  They may decide to work with the King perhaps as sworn SHIELD members, or decide to work without him.  They may find alliances abroad they wish to align themselves with, fight against, or battle for.  Many potential choices await them, with both adversaries and allies waiting to see where their ultimate motivations will lie.

          Please read the following brief narratives and determine how you came to the Crown, and came to be on the island of Xiladros.  If you are not a member of the Celn Nation, or a member of the Southern tribes, then you must have a really good reason why you are there. The more exotic your character, the rockier path you may have or simpler depending on how those in the Isles perceive you.  I advise you to read the Celn Gazetteer  prior to character creation.

          Good luck, and welcome to what hopefully will not be a too Crimson Shore!

 

The Six Gold Coins, A personalized introduction for Ben, Jesse, Tavish, David and Brittany

ACT 1 Intro, A Crimson Shore

“It was the best of times, but it was the poorest of times”. Pirate life seemed that way, especially out here in the Lightforsaken Crown Isles.  The old pirate’s saying couldn’t help but remind you of the Isles themselves.  To the North, the Isles harbored warm waters and humid climes, but the serpentine cluster of islands resembling a crown’s many gems, weaved south in the Great Sea down to Orstland, a frigid and white knuckled place to be in Winter. Then there was the company here, if you could call keeping one eye open while you slept and two eyes watching for drawn cutlasses while you were awake company. If you weren’t spilling your ale down the front side of your favorite tavern wench, someone else was probably trying to spill your blood.

You can almost remember that night, the night the weather took a turn for the worse, but your station took a turn upwards. Well, that’s what you thought at first!

The drunken iron-runners and Orst shippers with their filthy guttural speech (so less civilized than the Celn tongue!) made the roars of the rising sea and whipping winds sound leagues away as evening turned to eve’ in the Mostly Orst Cantina; your home away from home out here in Xendros, a way point for nearly every conceivable walk of life imagined. First, there were the Celns of course, traders and adventurers, pirates and even an occasional lawman happened in some nights. Although this would give who was on the take away, that apparently didn’t matter out here to the Governor. After all, he was most likely on the take too!  You had your occasional half, minotaurs, and those bastard “dragonmen”.  Always itching for a fight so you had to think before reminding one they weren’t going to share a spot with you at the communal tables. Of course, as the name suggested, here too was the Orstmen from the South, pale and large, they just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, even with their own kind.  Many said that they’re ancestors came from a grotesque breeding between orc, and man, or perhaps even giant as well.  Flame knew that there was enough of their kin further South.  Of course, other rumors abounded that they were in league with the Ketians, maybe even Ketians themselves! Whatever their history was, they were goliath men, with arms more robust than their brains.  They made great sailors and ships though.  And nary a Celn lad had learned to sail without their navigation methods and equipment.  Thankfully, the Two Kings Truce was still honored at this time with Orstland and their King.  Business was booming, especially for your kind, and you supposed you could look over their hideous smell for a few extra coins in your pockets.

Of course, you had all kinds of other drinkers here on a night like tonight, a night where the cold and the wind directed you to the light nearest the King’s Wharf.  Through the salty fog. To the sign that read “Mos TlyOrst Cantina”. Rumor had it that the first customer to try his ale became so enraged at it’s bad taste that he hacked the sign into pieces.  Hitchens, being the self-respecting, Cillandrial custom hating, pirate hoarding, ale selling innkeeper that he then was, killed the man on the spot and used his own limp hands to put it back together complete with hammer and nails.  It must have been harder’n it looks to use a dead man’s hands to nail a sign back together, because that’s the way it got redone, and to this day, that’s the way it’s been.

But no other customer was as interesting in the Mostly Orst, than the Halfling.  Between the Halfling guild and the Orst trade, any man or woman with a desire for profit could earn plenty, as long as they could stay alive to collect payment for services rendered. The Halfling was a big part of that trade, but that was another story.

On that night, it was more about WHO was in the bar, rather than what.  And who became mighty important to other stories as well its been said.  There was Boldore, a giant hulk of a brute. A fighter by trade, you reckoned he was still buying his armor one piece at a time. Must have cost a fortune too. Halflings, those little troublemakers, loved each other’s company though and on that night there were a few of them with their “full pints” as Hitchens liked to call ‘em. Two however, stood out.  One, a certain Roscoe Leegallows seemed more interested in something in his pack than his meal you recall, and another was a girl.  Portia Treeleaf, her name was.  She was showing off something to her Halfling pals, and you were just glad that whatever it was, it hadn’t been yours.  Had it?

Talk that night was typical. Tales of the Still Waters to the East where ships went but none returned.  Tales of the Southern Frozen Sea where ships’ Captains simply knew not to go and never dared unless the currents caught them, and stories about that weren’t told anywhere, because well, no one wanted to hear em.. Tales of fortunes made, and fortunes lost, all while the wind pounded the clapboard siding and the bells Dinged and Donged from the masts, while the ships in the wharf creaked back and forth in their moorings.

A man in Cillandrial garb sat nearest to the bard that night.  You hadn’t recognized him before, but when he walked in tonight you noticed he had a certain way about him.  He shook hands and greeted Hitchins in the Cillandrial fashion and took a seat by the fire, as if letting the bard know that he might begin. You caught the name, barely.  Canton it was.  Soft hands clasped his mug.  This was no commoner.

And the bard himself.  Well, well. Here was an interesting fellow.  You hadn’t heard this tale in a few years.  It was the Battle of Carr Alpha! The story of how Lord Commander Flemin saved the Cairn region from an invasion of Trebians, led by the actual princess of the cowardly northerners, along with the blighted creatures they had used to assault the castle. A decade of King’s time hadn’t diluted the memory of this incredible victory for the Realm.  After all, once Alpha had become established, it opened up the North didn’t it? Aye, it did! Alpha was said now to rival Cellione in it’s populace, spreading the Realm’s order and Flame’s law to the uncivilized in a huge region.  It was a terrific telling too. An easy one to tell on a night like this, as the Lords who once founded that valley had never been found in the dead or living what that survived the seige. Nevertheless, this bard was talented.  You wondered if the rumors were true, that he was INDEED related to the one and only Tuatha Ulreicht.  Now that must be a story!

Finally, of course, there had been Swanson. That rat scum.  If only Lady Fortune, (May the Flame protect you from the Fate of Greed)  had sent him to the loo in that instant!

That was the way things were that night, and then they changed, quickly! A march of steps up the planks, clinking of armor.  A hand grabbed you, and the voice, so steady, but insistent.

“Ever heard of the King’s Lady?” it said. But looking around, you couldn’t see anyone. You were about to answer the Greenie who would ask such a thing, when it spoke again. This time, you looked right in the direction of the voice, but couldn’t see a thing!

“Take a coin, lads, and know that the story is true!” said the voice  again.  Turning around, you looked again where someone should be but saw no one!  Then, on the table next to you appeared 6 gold coins.  Things happened so fast, but you remember that each coin had different numbers, and neither were identical except for a similar marking, the mark of Celline, the mark of the Queen!  But this mark had only ever been made once on a coin. And those coins were now lying at the bottom of the Orst Sea! How in the…?

Portia and Roscoe who had walked by just then grabbed one.  Boldore setting down another gallon of ale, saw one and scooped it up.  The bard thinking it was a tip snatched up two, but ol’ Swanson not seeing it in his tip jar, snatched one out of his hand. The pirate!  Finally, Canton, who had been about to leave, walked by at that instant and seeing one of the coins roll off the table, grabbed the last with interest.  Each of you holding a coin, turned to look at the others, and knowing that a Celn Fool and his Coin are soon parted, you immediately stuffed them in your pockets.

The rest was a blur to some extent. You remember the door being flung open, the words of magic read from a scroll by a man bearing the Tree of Awakening on mage’s robes, sounds of “Get down!” as crossbows pointed into the sitting area right in your direction.  The rage of the wind and pounding rain as lightning flashed in the doorway of the Morstly Orst.  You remember  a figure appearing behind you, a grissled old man, who shouldn’t have been there, the SHIELDs led by a member of the Order of Crimson walking briskly towards him, and you. The man’s final words to you spoken in haste but in a whisper, “The King’s Lady was not lost entirely. Her mighty treasure was salvaged. By me! Each coin gives a part of what you’ll need to find her.  Rescue me this night, and I’ll give you the last of what you’ll need! If I’m hung, the treasure will be lost forever!”

“Stand aside, scum! Lest you find yourself in league with a traitor to the Crown of Cellinor!” yelled the Flamist. “Carter Burke! You are hereby Inquisitioned and found guilty of crimes against the King and Realm!!! Step forward and speak no ill words of magic, placing hands behind your back, and imbibing no potion or curative!”

“Of course, my lads! Of course….” Said the man they called Burke as calmly as if he had been asked to step out of the loo.

Quickly, one of the Shields locked iron clasps around his wrists and jostling him this way and that they led him from the warmth of the bar into the dreary night. As they exited the Inquisitioner looked around the bar, to the crowd and finally towards you.  While watching you intently, he spoke to the innkeeper who was behind him.  “Hitchens, clean up this Ket Hole, before all these leeches of the Flames’ good order suffer a similar fate. Those who do not live in the Light, are not meant for it’s protection when the Darkness comes for them!” With that they went back into the night from which they came, the gilded Tree of Awakening of their shields placed over their backs the last image you saw  as they stepped out into the rain.

And that was the beginning of this life you had come to know.  The greatest treasure ever assembled in Celn modern times was to be your supposed reward for risking your life to save Burke, just hours before his public execution.  You still aren’t sure why the others did it.  But the coins were unmistakable. They had certainly come from the King’s Lady, the flag ship named after Borindin’s bride, killed by the Dragon Gulgol herself.  Years ago, when the nation was still new and fragile, Cellinor had loaded a treasure in her cargo to rival the greatest of Kasille, in order to secure a treaty with the Orst King.  However, when she went down in stormy seas, the Orsts accused the king and Nobility of Cillandar with treachery and deceit. How could the King prove the treasure was sent, if it was at the bottom of the Great Sea?? Although the war with Orst was brief, it cost many lives and the truce agreed to thereafter always felt like more of a stalemate than anything else.

There in the dying light of the fire of the Mostly Orst, you assembled and agreed to the deed.

Burke may have been rescued later that morn, while the darkness still held the Sun at bay, but he didn’t make it long.  In route from the prison, he gave his last dying breaths and there must have been honor among pirates, at least for Burke, because, as promised, in his hand you found his coin.  On it’s Queen Side, was written the starting coordinates for Xendros, the initial clue. 

This would be it! You would all be rich.  That night, you took shelter in a sleazy town off the craggy shores of a fishing village on the Northern Side of the Isle.  There, you toasted your good fortune, and in the morning promised that the coins would be laid down by each member of this new fellowship, so that the treasure hunt could begin.  You were fairly certain that not a member fully trusted the other, but Burke had been clever.  He knew that one among six could never risk attacking the others, nor could any one of you find the treasure without the rest.

That night, you slept with a stomach full of stew and a head full of treasure, but alas! In the morning, Swanson was gone! He had taken his coin and his clue with him.  Although you searched and searched, you’ve never found anything that led you to him in person or where he had gone, except the occasional rumor here or there. But always, you are too late.  You still remain together, needing each other yet each keeping your coin out of view of the other, lest they’ll know your clue and won’t be in need of you anymore.  Thankfully, the storm covered much of your handiwork that night, and although you are wanted men and women, the Realm seems to have a hard time knowing who it wants for the successful prison break of Carter Burke, Traitor to the Realm.

 

You never thought you’d find Swanson again, until one day you heard of a job that sounded perfect.  Put food in your belly, ale in your parched throats, and maybe, just maybe help you put a dagger in Swanson’s gut.

The gold wasn’t going anywhere.

You just had to find it.

And to do that you needed to find Swanson and the last of the six gold coins….

 

A CRIMSON SHORE

Session 1, A Climax and the Falling Action

 

Six Months with MacGruber

The plan was simple.  Find work, stay low, look for Swanson and that rascal Roscoe. Should have been easy, right?  But that was before anyone had spent six months in a bumpy wagon listening to and smelling MacGruber, and each other.

Macgruber was a trader.  An Orstman with all the habits and foul practices that come with it. How he got his Celn name was anyone’s guess. He was never a first choice for pirate work, but he did deliver pay when he said he would, and that was good enough for four people on the run, and chasing down two on the run as well. Specializing in Halfling wares, he might not have paid well, but his ties ensured the party would be in touch with someone who could direct them to Swanson, a trader himself.  Everyone in the party knew that Swanson would try to stay low, but that he’d emerge eventually out of necessity and when he did, he’d be up to his old pirate ways.  They’d find him, take the coin, and finish their treasure hunt.

But things hadn’t gone so smoothly.  Although Canton’s ability to collect a few coins at Spottle had put some food in their bellies, each time the party seemed to be getting nearer to self-sufficiency something happened.  There was that rust monster incident in the swamps south of New Cellione.  Damn the Darkness if the little bugger hadn’t destroyed nearly all their iron and armor!  Then, there was the minor problem in Xendros, although all of Macgruber’s trades had gone well, nice and quiet just the way you liked it, for some reason the locals there thought they’d earn a few coins and had them pegged for outlaws. Schultar always seemed to attract attention in that way.    Of course, they were only accused of being the very outlaws that they actually were.  However, when questioned, it was obvious the Order of Red did not know enough about the night they freed the pirate, and had decided to let them go afterall.  But, not without a hefty bribe.  And now here they were, back with MacGruber, on a dusty trail, “guarding” his shipment to New Alpha, with little coin, and a lot of temper.

No one in the party had made it that North before, but if the rumors were true it was a real Ket Hole.  Would Swanson be there?  Roscoe? Or would it be another dead end, filled with questioning members of the Order, filthy sewerless towns, and half drinkable ale.  Regardless, when they got there, it was payday, and that meant only one thing right now: Not having to spend the night listening to each other.

“Shut your loquatious trap, Canton, this isn’t Cillandar, and the only noble thing you’ve done tonight is piss off the top of the caravan in the direction of the wind finally.”

“Another epic poem of complaints Jethro.  Sir, as I’ve told you many times.  I knew your uncle Tuatha.  I’ve heard him sing in the King’s Royal Playhouse, and you sir, are no Tuatha! I dare say you wouldn’t know a Cillandrial noble if one charmed you and made you.…. ”

“Oh, stop acting like either of you is any nobler than any of the rest of us.  We’ve all got one coin apiece, and when the treasure is found, the coin will make us nobler than any in Cillandar.  Now where did I put that whittling stick.  Has anyone seen my….Portia!!!!!”

“Sorry Schultar, I just wanted to borrow it for a minute.  It’s pretty is all.  I haven’t had a chance to borrow things in town for nearly a week and it’s all starting to….

 

The Careening Caravan

 

And so the journey continued into the night.  After scouting a few miles, it was there turn for bunking down, the other guards had duty. By the time you awoke, the caravan would be through the Hydra’s Spine, and into the swamps of the northern island.  They’d need their wits about them in those swamps.  But sleep was coming hard. The road, if you could call it that, was bumpy and uneven.  BANG!!!  That wasn’t part of the road. What was that?

Looking forward, the party sees their caravan bouncing along the ledge as rocks and debris plunge hundreds of feet to the sea below.  Atop the caravan are pirates with red sashes battling with the other guards of MacGruber’s caravan.  They seem to be gaining the upper hand.  Turning around, the party has just enough time to see the last wagon being detached by two pirates, MacGruber, their employer holds onto the edge as his wagon plunges to it’s doom!

But our pirates know how to brawl, and with MacGruber out of the way, they know a chest with his most prized and valuable possessions lies at the front of the caravan.  It’s theirs now by pirate right, if they can stop the mauraders and take it for themselves.  It’s their ticket to a better living and access to find Swanson and then their treasure.

Quickly they set to work, firing and swinging their weapons they drop several of the pirates and make their way to the front.  Nearly, several of them lose their balance, but luckily they are a stealthy group. At the front, they find a band of the heartiest pirates they have ever encountered. The battle is tough but soon it turns.  While the leader attempts to disconnect their wagon, he is taken out just in time, and suddenly the party finds themselves with only seconds and a decision to make.  Portia is able to keep him from his escape by lassoing him to the back of the wagon as he tries to jump off. This proves to be a great choice as his knapsack contains incredible information. On the wagon is a chest, and two prisoners, a man and an Orst woman.  Shultar decides the woman will be saved, and the party grabs the chest, they all jump just as the wagon and their enemies sail off the cliff to their peril below.

A Note, A Map and Two Prisoners

Included in the loot that the party finds is a map and a note.  Both are of major significance.  The map shows the island of Xendros but includes different pirate points.  Of particular interest is an area known as Bear’s Claw in which a name appears. That name is of a ship.  Additionally, it looks like the party has finally found their luck as this group they just killed has a meeting scheduled with Swanson in New Cellione in two weeks.  The sixth coin is about to be found, and the search for the treasure can begin! With time on their hands, and coins in their purses, it’s an easy decision to head to New Alpha in order to find passage and perhaps team up with a larger group.

A Dueling In the Elvish Style

Upon coming to New Alpha, the party has to bribe the local Flamist Officials and discovers the port town to be exactly as slated, a real Ket Hole.  Factions have taken over the city, especially those of the “Crimson Fleet”.  Those few ‘officials’ still around are simple puppets for the forces at work here.  They find a tavern and begin to collect rumors to help them continue on their journey for Swanson but also to stay out of the sight of the law looking for them.  Unfortunately, part way through their first evening, Canton discovers  that someone here is not a fan of his!

Testimony pro sibi of the Accused CANTON DEVAND written by Dave

Part IV: concerning his actions in & circa NEW ALPHA

Allow me first to assure his grace that I shan’t dissuade him of the notion that New Alpha is a mean and vitiable hamlet, and a wholly unsuited namesake to that steadfast northern settlement.

After a few days travel by foot, my comp- I should say, I – came upon the outer walls of New Alpha. I entered alone and without company, but no sooner found myself lumped in with several other wayfarers, on the receiving end of a spectacle most disgraceful. Entirely without cause I, along with several others, was waylaid by no fewer than three adherents of the order of the Silver Flame! At first it seemed that they had mistaken us for a group of notorious seditionists, but they soon manifested their true intentions with palm outstretched.

As there are ladies and gentlefolk present I shall not describe the precise nature of what happened next, but suffice it to say we each had a slacker purse thereafter.  Some time lateer in that evening, I visited a coaching house with a mind to ‘wash down the trail dust’,as they say in those rugged territories.  I must pause here to admit a personal defect. Though one might never guess it from my calm demeanor here, I can on occasion allow my love of Cellinor to advance ahead of my wits. His grace will understand that the various and benighted peoples of thrown Isles do not command the common tongue with the same artistry possessed by Celns. It came to pass that some of the local patrons of the inn misunderstood some comments I made, and proceeded to aggress against the honor of Cellinor.

Had I a cooler mind I might have recognized that their inferior intellectual capacity would prevent them from understanding the subtle points I had posited about Celn civilization, but alas I did not. The ugly specter of violence loomed over the room, but I was able to diffuse it by challenging the local poodoo (the islander word for ‘chief’ or ‘medicine-man’) to a game of Spottle.

I calculated that a narrow loss on my part would ameliorate the foreigners’ pride without giving rise to suspicion, and executed my strategem to perfection. What followed was a blur of barely constrained aggression, as some crass but well-meaning troubador took my side against the brutes. We two, and a few other sympathetic onlookers, were ejected onto the muddy street. The poodoo followed promptly with his guard of fiercely tatooed warriors. Fortunately for myself, and all of Cellinor truely, the Southern goliath’s concept of honor is a crude precursor to that of Cellinor’s, like as raw iron to a honed blade.

I convinced the ruffian that the honorable way to settle our differences was an honor-duel between myself and his best warrior. After a brief interjection by the aforementioned bard, The goliath lunged forth with his rough-hewn maul, striking my chest. As I am a duelist in the elvish style, I was able to avoid the worst of the blow and riposte. With a single blow I felled the islander, and the affair was settled. The piratical denizens of that town immediately set upon the body, and I repaired to a more decent (in relative terms) for a rest.

With the body in the street, and the locals paid off, the party returns to the inn to stay low for the night.  Of course, not included in Canton’s well versed admittance to the local magistrate is how Shultar made his abilities known by giving healing to Canton in the street. Luckily, it was not observed by the observers! During the brawl, Shultar sees a familiar face in the crowd. It’s none other than Roscoe, one of the pirates that took a coin and departed! They grab him and he explains that he left but didn’t know anything about Swanson. He’s in it to win it once more, and although the party is skeptical of his intentions, he joins the group again. Portia does a search and scout but comes across something in the street that stops her cold.  A figure.  She decides to leave well enough alone and bunks down.

Session 2, Pirate Plots

When in Alpha…

beware of what walks the streets at night.

…never attract attention to yourself.

….Trust no one.

The party soon learns in the morning hours, that the storm the locals talk about some 10 years ago, still known as “The Ravager” completely annihilated any semblance of government. The storm left a vacuum, in an area that still is a powerful port for trade with the Orstmen and the Halfling trade.  There is also quite a bit of fishing commerce that the realm depends on and commerce brings profits and profits breed sinister intents.  The most powerful of several pirate businesses are the Crimson Fleet, which seem to have members throughout the various powers in the town.  While the party navigates the streets carefully searching for a way to leave before any more unpleasantries occur, they come across the docks.  One of the men they talked to in the Captain’s Anger, a Pirate Roberts is loading cargo and preparing to leave soon.  The party decides to discuss a partnership with him.

Locks and Docks

While in their discussion something incredible happens. Nearly, every dock hand stops and stares at the harbor mouth, as three enormous ships glide into the morning golden rays shining off an emerald sea.  Trunilan himself, Commander of his Majesty’s Southern Fleet has sailed into New Alphan Harbor!


T
he groups size up this new event and the party seals the deal with Roberts and, as they talk, around them work continues.  One of the most interesting views is a ship newly docked unloading cages of fantastic beasts. One of them, a lion’s body with a maniacal human head lunges at the party in his cage, and the weights pulls the ropes through the pullies.  It escapes! And attacks the party!

As Canton swings on ropes in the “elvish fashion”, Schultar handles the healing, and her secret is revealed!  She is not a fighter, but rather a Cleric of the Order of Silver!  The manticore is dispatched, but the party has garnered attention from various sectors, some of which may or may not be beneficial.  The angry woman in charge of the animals offers employment to them in the gladiatorial pits.  Roberts says his offer is still on, but if they bring any more attention to themselves, it’s off.  And finally, a noble bearing a cat and complete with a feather in his cap introduces himself later in the Captain’s Anger as “Edward Rooney”.  He has need of a group to find the culprits stealing from his warehouse.  He is willing to pay handsomely.

An Offer of Employment

Needing gold to pay for their voyage and other gear, the party has no choice but to help this foul character.  They station themselves in the warehouse at night, and wait for the thieves to arrive.

Soon, they investigate and find that much of what seems to have been taken is pirate powder and other metallic gear.  The plot thickens.

When the thieves do arrive, the party gives themselves away, but with excellent luck, they manage to find the sewer grate in which the thieves have fled. They follow them and soon come to a portcullis guarded by a carrion crawler.

The crawler nearly paralyzes them all, but Canton dispatches it with a mighty blow.  With the crawler down, the party moves ahead and hears a conversation which makes their blood run cold.

Pirate Plots Most Foul

It appears as though the group hiding in the shadows in the harbor’s natural caves is plotting to start a war!  Using the pirate powder they’ve stolen from Rooney, they are about to blow up Trunilan’s Flag Ship, the Captain’s Vengeance.  Even worse, they have dressed up like Orstmen in an effort to make it look as though the Southern Country has made the attack deliberately.

The true soul of the party is revealed as these dastardly pirates reveal themselves as true Celns and rush into a bloody battle in order to stop this sabotage!

It’s a close battle, and nearly ends with the party’s defeat and capture, but once again they have prevailed. Not only do they kill the brother of Mr. Joshua, their nemesis on the caravan, but they also thwart all three bombs from reaching their targets. They have become victorious. Surely, the crown will reward them for this incredible deed.

A Warning from an Alley


After destroying the well laid plans of the Crimson Fleet to start a war between the Orsts and Celns (were they acting alone???) the party searches the bodies, finds some various clues and other items and is leaving the area about to discuss what happened with Edward Rooney and perhaps claim a prize or otherwise be famous for what they have done. 

However, they are stopped by none other than the “Dread Pirate” who it seems has been looking for them since the afternoon, carefully.  He lets them know that his colleagues overheard something about them between Rooney and Trunilan and  realized that this group has the coins, which has been rumored to be an obsession with Trunilan.  He knows that a double cross is imminent and that Trunilan or Rooney will make their move soon, perhaps after a night like this when they have obviously been injured, etc.  Roberts offers to involve himself and sneak them out of New Alpha that night if they bring him into the deal, he wants an equal share of the treasure and wants to hold at least one of the coins.

“The Pirate Life’s For Me” Session 3

Setting Sail with the DPR

As it turned out, it was actually a fine night for sailing. Putting all their spells in one book (an old Celn expression), they decided to escape New Alpha with DPR and his band of a dozen halflings and men.  They seemed like a loyal enough crew, especially Inigo and Montoya. There was some bond between most of the men and the DPR that the party couldn’t quite put their finger on, but Shultar in particular felt it boded well for their trip. One thing was for certain, with coin running low, and little in the way of supplies, the party was better off dealing with the DPR then looking for a land route in the hostile Isle of Xiladros.  There was no point in trying to stay in New Alpha either.  Clearly, Rooney and Trunilan in whatever agreement they had, knew that they had the coins, and Trunilan could use any excuse he liked to arrest them as enemies to the Crown and Flame. Furthermore, the Crimson Fleet seemed much larger a group then they first imagined the night Mr. Joshua attacked their caravan, and the party was probably now on their hit list.  It was ironic thought Canton, as he watched the green and gold flags off Trunilan’s ship, the King’s Vengeance, disappear from view, the salty wind filling the sails above him, how they had just saved Cellinor from a certain and bloody war with the Orst, and yet, they would forever be known as outlaws.

His mind turned to the Kings Lady Treasure.  It must be some treasure he thought.  He had spoken to Shultar about it many nights on the caravan. In between Jethro’s endless sighing about how often Canton spoke, he realized the treasure was a fascinating legend.  During the early years of Borindin’s reign, the Orst King, Magnus I, had agreed not to invade the Southern Valley provided the King gift him with a kingly treasure, full of the Kasillian relics to the North These were harder to come by in the Southern lands. It was said that the requirements of this treasure were lengthy and specific.  Borindin, knowing that the Trebians to the north would take full advantage of a large scale war between Cellinor and Orst to the south, couldn’t risk such a conflict, nor the lands which fed nearly all of his people.  He had no choice, and prepared a treasure of unfathomable size.  It was said that adventurers were sent through the lands in search of various objects to fulfill the Orst King’s request. The treasure was put aboard the King’s most impressive man-o-war, named for his one true love, and sent into the Southern Seas.

And then disaster struck.  A rare and devastating storm caught the Kings Lady by surprise, sinking the ship with all hands aboard.  When the Kings southern fleet was dispatched to investigate all that was found was one piece of wreckage, floating on the surface of the sea.  The last survivor of a magnificent treasure.

But a treasure such as this doesn’t go down without proper rumor and mystery. And soon, other stories began to be told.  Old pirates told of a ship that survived the assault, with ragged sails and broken masts barely making it into much shallower water. Perhaps, even into the shoals around some of the more rugged Orst islands. Shoals that one could dive to the bottom of with the proper equipment.  Others told of a beast, wanting the treasure for itself, still guarding it on the sea floor.  But the most interesting tale of all was of the ‘survivor’.  One of the Shield members serving aboard the King Lady, just a simple soldier, as the story goes survived the entire ordeal.  As the treasure was either too well guarded, or in too inhospitable lands, he barely made it back to the Crown Isles alive, but kept the record of where the ship lay on six gold coins which he placed in various places.  This was his insurance, in case someone discovered he was a survivor, he knew his life would be in danger, and he would be hunted by every pirate and good Celn in the Realm.  Long years he attempted to put together a crew, but either every attempt failed, or the fever of the gold itself drove the crew to greed, destroying the voyage to find it.  Without the ability to trust a crew, the man eventually grew too old to search himself, and fell into oblivion.

That is until the party came across him…..

Canton’s thoughts returned to the ship, slowly sailing out of the harbor now.  Above, the three moons, The Sisters, shone their silver rays upon the seas. He remembered as a younger man, how dark the nights were.  Canton watched the DPR discuss charts and currents with his men, and headed down into the galley to prepare his spells and place Cillandrial healing ointments on his wounds.  For only Cillandrial healing ointments would do….

Later that night, the party watched as the crew worked impressively against the mighty currents trying to pull and push them into the rocks, and vine encrusted cliffs of the many shores around them.  When Roscoe made a comment about how close some of the reef was, Roberts exclaimed, “These currents are like a river pulling us into the rocks like so many leaves floating down a stream. But we can’t sail East with Trunilan’s Fleet at New Alpha.  It’ll be trecherous for a while, but we know what to do.” The Dread Pirate Roberts broke open a case of The Dying God Ale, and toasted his new shipmates.  “I’ve been saving this my friends.  This is a case brought down the Mighty Aluene, in the first year of Carr Alpha’s founding.  It is their first brew.”

The crowd cheered mightily.

“To shipmates,” he said, a wry smile on his face.  “And to coin in our purses.” He gave a slight chuckle at his double meaning, for only the party and Roberts himself knew of their deal.  “Best to keep it between us,” Roberts had said, and the party had figured that was about true. With ale in their guts, the men were eager to please the captain and got to work diligently that night. While listening to the men, the party overheard the rumors that all sailors discuss as they set sail together.  A few of the more poignant ones, spread among the superstitions they learned were:

*Crimson Fleet-Groups motivation is unknown, but it’s hard to do business without their intervention.

*Orstlanders becoming less active.  Trades are becoming more rare, and many have pulled back.  There’s talk of trouble within the Orst Ruling Family.

*Inner Island Cults.  Stopping on the beach of any island is treacherous.  You never know what could be lurking in the jungles.

“Congratulations you pirate scum, you’ve made it out of New Alpha in one piece.  Looks like you might have actually been heroes too.  I hope you won’t be teaching my crew manners on our voyage.  Time to sit back and enjoy the trip.  You’ve paid hard coin, or one at least.  I’ll get you to New Cellione in time, but we’ve got a few stops along the way.

First, the journey ain’t going to be easy. Normally, I’d sail closer to Xiladros, but since I can’t tell how much the Crimson Fleet, or Trunilan’s taken an interest in you, we’re going to have to go the longer way.  I have cargo that can head that way anyway, so we might as well.  Trouble is, this time of year the currents shift, and shifting currents are not good in less charted waters.  I’ll need extra hands around here. Be ready when I call on ya.

Now, I’m sure you understand that these isles are no Celn Beach.  Past the few sandy shores we’ll see, the trees hide all manner of monsters.  Best advice I can give you, stay on the boat.  I won’t be going looking for you if you wander off into the trees, coin or no. And if that happens, deals off.

As for the stories  you’ve heard about these parts, just know they are all either true, or much worse! Lizards of the sea, of land, of the air. The salamanders of the icy depths?  The Frozen Ones some call them.  Beware darker waters. The Leviathan, no doubt? Ah, yes that’s one of my favorites. But have you heard of Captain Hariklon?  Or the Black Scream?

You don’t know of the Black Scream? Well, you really are green, aren’t you!  It’s one of my personal favorites. For the last few years, sailors in these Western Seas have sited a ship as black as night, carried on the seas by vast dark sails, those few that have seen it and lived to tell the tale are few.  It’s said the Black Scream collects victims for a murderous cult.  It boards vessels leaving the ship and supplies behind but taking the bodies away. No one has ever seen the captain nor any of the crew.”

An eerie silence leaves you wondering if he’s trying to scare you, or if he really means it.

A Random Debt

Several days pass, and Roberts was right, the party was often called to duty whether it be ropes, or sails, or swabbing. Canton refused duty often, and complained of the cramped quarters, even though the crew had rearranged the entire galley just so he did not have a hammock above or below him.  The first night, Shultar’s hammock had been below his and after spending the night listening to Canton’s supposed “sleep talking in the elvish style” about her feet, someone among the crew gave up their hammock spot and chose to sleep on the deck.  Portia and Roscoe got put on fishing duty, which would have been fine until one of the crew noticed that Roscoe was releasing the fish he caught, down at the aft of the ship. 

“What in the blasted Darkness are you doing, Halfling?”

“ Nothing!” Roscoe shouted back, pulling his fingers out of the water.

“Well, you Blighted Biter, it looks like you were just throwing our dinner back into the water!” This was Calhoun, one of the older of the crew. He had a habit of getting into peoples’ business, which is why everyone just called him Mother.

But Roscoe wasn’t having any. Although the halflings of Cellinor are a merry sort, the Crown Isles are a rough place to be and one has to be able to hold one’s own to survive. Roscoe gently reached out for the halyard and bringing it to his lips, he whispered enchanting words. Immediately, the rope slithered around Calhoun’s legs. Up, up, he went, stopping just short of the crow’s nest.  “Help!” he yelled.

“Looks like we’ve just designed our new pirate flag,” Roscoe whispered to Portia. But she wasn’t listening. She was too busy eyeing the items falling from Calhoun’s pockets.

“Those are mine!” he shouted from above.  “Ok, OK! I’m sorry. I’ll mind my own business from now own. My Blood to the Flame, I will!”

The voyage seemed to be going well.  Roberts was a good captain, and it was obvious his men listened to and trusted him.  Nights in the chart room were full of merrymaking, and talks about what everyone would do with their share of the Kings Lady. 

“I’m going to re-open my uncles’ theatre in Alpha. You know, the one that was destroyed in the siege by those bastard Trebians?  The local theatre’s guild should have done that, before building the new one.” Jethro had often spoke of how his uncle would have wanted him to follow in his footsteps. “Jethro, make a name for yourself, by being in the fight, not just singing about it.” That was what Tuatha had often told him at least. Roscoe had other plans, with his share he wanted to design the largest pirate ship the Crown Isle’s had seen, and with it he’d dare to sail through the still waters.

Roberts was a great entertainer on these nights, and he and his crew often sang merry songs for which the party was grateful. They also learned much about the way a ship was run.  Shultar had learned much in her youth, and it was all coming back.

Yes, all was going smoothly, until one morning, several days after their departure from New Alpha, along the northern shores of Xiladros, one of the crew spotted an Orst ship, an Orst ship like no other.

A vast arkhelder, one of the rowing vessels of the Orst, had come into view, just skirting an isle leagues off.   Around a small inlet it’s dragon shaped prow lurched forward while it’s many oars rowed on.  If you had been there, you might have almost heard the chant of the Orstmen make when they row, but perhaps it would just be your imagination. It was a great ship, and by the looks of it, could have easily boarded or present Robert’s vessel, The Revenge, with a serious threat.  But, Orst ships were common here, and the party had no reason to believe this one would offer a challenge. Robert’s ship wasn’t vast or large, and it didn’t look heavy in the water with cargo.  But then Roberts saw the ship, and taking his spyglass down from where it was kept above the wheel, he quickly ran to the rails to bring it into view.

“Blast that Frozen Giant Chanku.  It wasn’t our fault that haul wasn’t tied properly! He’ll be pissed if he sees us in these waters again.  Full sails, and hard to starboard you Celn bastards!”

“What does that mean, Captain Roberts?” It was Canton, using his best Cillandrial lisp, his sarcasm dripping.

“It means,” said Roberts, turning to look at Canton, and taking the glass from his eye, “that unless you’d like to explain to Captain Chanku why his shipment of ice beast furs is at the bottom of the Orst sea instead of in the shops in Cillandar, I’d suggest you help us man the sails.  Chanku doesn’t take IOUs.”  Turning to his crew, the Captain bellowed

“FULL SAILS FOR THE HAG’S TEETH, YOU SCUM! It’s our only shot!!!!”

“The Hag’s Teeth! But Captain, the Hag’s Teeth will destroy our keel…,” it was Inigo.

“Quiet Inigo!  There are several things we do not do.  One of them is to get into a sea battle with an Orstlander when death is on the line! We sail for the Teeth.  Man your stations, you lot!”

“But Captain,” this time it was Montoya.  “But Captain, you know the Hag’s Teeth killed my father! His name was…”

“Then,” roared the DPR, fingers outstretched at the Orst ship to stern, “prepare to die.  Calhoun! Get the lanterns out from the galley, I’ll need that elf there to mark the rocks.  Let’s go everyone, NOW!!!!!

The Shoals of Hag’s Teeth

And so began a race.  As night came on, the winds whipped up. Faster and faster the Revenge sped through the white capped sea.  Behind her, oars digging into the water, Chanku’s vessel drove on.  For a time, it looked as though the Orst ship might actually overtake them.  But, then the winds picked up even harder. Unfortunately, for Chanku, he was too close to the shoreline trying to gain from the undercurrents there.  But this backfired for him, and once the winds had slowed him down, he wouldn’t catch up.

The captain directed the ship into and through the rocky outcroppings of what looked like a great river draining the sea through twists and turns of green shores. It was obvious where “The Hag’s Teeth” got it’s name for it did indeed look like terrible teeth jutting across the waterway.

One of the crew brought a new chart up to the Captain who by the dying light of day and a few lanterns, plotted it with concern, hand on the wheel.  Directions from Calhoun in front gave the DPR what he needed to know as Canton led them through the shoals with his lowlight vision.  All was well, until a shallower bar of reef filled nearly the entire waterway. There was no way to go around, and the current was too strong to back out.  Crash!!!!!! The ship hit the reef like a thunderbolt, and below the planks buckled sending water into the upper hold.  Luckily though, the men were able to seal the leak. But the damage was done.

“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” said the DPR.

“Can you tell me the good news, and everyone else the bad,” laughed Portia.

“No, but I can tell you to give me my spyglass back, right there above the wheel. Thanks…Ok you lot, good news we’ve made it through the teeth.  Bad news is this is not very hospitable country here by land or sea. I had hoped to navigate around these waters.  We also need docking to fix that breach in the hull.” Pointing to a small dot on one of his maps, he said with a  small chuckle, “Looks like it’s Mofang Zhe.  I wonder if ol’ Parton still keeps that doll on the bar she teases the sailors with.  Boys, tonight we’re having drinks at the Vulgar Unicorn!”

Copy Cat

The Revenge sailed on into calmer waters, and soon, just in the distance they could make out the triangular shapes of roofs and symmetrical lines of docks and streets.  Lights were on in several of the buildings and a few smoky plumes left various chimneys.  No one seemed to be out and about though.  The few small ships docked were moored, masts swaying gently side to side.  Things were eerily quiet, even for a small port town at night, with one exception.  The raucous noise of merrymaking was coming from a building in the middle of what looked like the main street.  It’s lights were ablaze within.

Roberts-

“That’s the Vulgar Unicorn.  Looks like they’ve got a decent bard in there tonight, and their last shipment of Dying God hasn’t run out yet! We should be able to find the help we need to fix the keel and siding there. Let me work the crowd first so that we can get the best price, and since you lot seem to make strange first impressions, better stay low.  By the way, you won’t find any of the Order here.  Here it’s just cut throat piracy.  Look like you know what you’re doing and stick together….And one last thing, we shouldn’t need more than a day of sunlight but don’t venture out into the jungle here.  Mofang Zhe was a natural harbor and too good to pass up for a port, but this whole island is a mess of unnatural critters.  They had to build a wall to keep the beasts out.  I’d stay within it if I were you…”

The Revenge pulled up alongside it’s mooring and the crew roped it down well.  Being at sea for days, it was a strange feeling stepping on land that didn’t sway.  Jethro and Roscoe decided to stay nonetheless, while the majority of the Revenge’s crew and Shultar and Canton left for the bar.  Portia waited a bit and then decided to do some “investigating” in the other boats.

Jethro turned to Roscoe, “How about giving that flute you always carry around a go, Roscoe?”

“What shall we sing to, my friend?” Replied Roscoe.

“Oh, let’s sing a song of a fateful trip aboard a pirate ship!”

And while their colleague’s were running for their lives, this is what they sang….

“Theme Song of The Revenge”

As sung by Jethro Q L’amour, Bard of the Realm, special flute harmony in the Halfling style by Roscoe LeeGallows.

Just sit right back and we’ll sing a tale,

A tale of a fateful trip

5 adventurers set sail that day,

Aboard this pirate ship!

 

The mates were mighty drinking men,

The DPR seemed sure,

So they stopped into a harbor town

In which they had been lured.

(in which they had been lured….)

 

The laughter started sounding fake,

But Dying God Ale’s the best,

So they walked on down to the bar that night,

Ignoring all the rest!

(Ignoring all the rest!)

 

Opening the door they saw a sight.

No one was even there,

But we don’t even know that now,

Because we’re singing here.

(Because we’re singing here!)

 

No thief! No bard! No sorcerer!

Just an ogre and an elf!

While we two play a jig or two,

And a Halfling by herself.

(A Halfling by herself!)

 

The weather in New Alpha was getting rough

Roberts ship seemed the best way out.

They sailed into the Southern Seas,

Even though they had their doubts.

(They always have their doubts…

While Portia checked on the neighboring boat, looking for what she called “left behinds” and Jethro and Roscoe played their tunes, Canton, Shultar, the DPR and most of his men walked down the docks into the town.

“Mofang Zhe is deserted,” he muttered.  “Must have a good bard in the tavern tonight.”

“Yeah, right,” replied Canton, “Haven’t seen one of those since I left Cillandar.” He jerked a thumb back in the direction of Jethro, barely audible strumming his lyre

“Well, we aren’t here for the company men, remember, we’re here to get a proper price on fixing our vessel. Better let me do the talking.” Roberts gave an awkward smirk as he looked at Shultar.  Shultar though wasn’t watching. He was eyeing the town as they passed a fountain and several statues. Strange to see the images of the Four Heroes out here, she thought.  Her allegiance to the Flame’s will was much stronger than her allegiance to the order, but the images still created a stirring in her.  The Hero myth was just a story the Order decreed, and yet the imagery was everywhere, even on the isles of this sinister southern sea.  Studying them, though, Canton noticed something was off about the statues but he couldn’t quite place it.

Nearing the bar, the sounds became louder, a glow came from the inside, most likely from the hearth.  The sign above the door showed a unicorn attempting to ram it’s horn into the backside of another unicorn.

“Perfect,” whispered Canton.

The DPR opened the door, and stopped still in his tracks. The bar was deserted!

“What in the Ketian Hells!” He stumbled.  “Where is….”. As Roberts was about to speak, he turned around, instinct kicking in.  He couldn’t be sure, but it looked as though one or more of the statues had moved positions! He could have sworn when they passed they were to their left.  Now, they were directly behind them.  Turning back around, he placed his hand on his scimitar, his men following their captain’s lead.  A single lantern was placed in the windowsill, not a fire in the chimney at all.  Then what is making the smoke, he wondered?  And then, a chair moved.

By itself.

Next to it, a table bent it’s legs, and turned in an arc.  The wood of the thing, split down the middle ripping into a mouth, with splinters for teeth.  It crouched down as if it were a living beast and then it barreled at them and the door.

Roberts slammed the door, falling backward with the momentum of the big oaken slab.

“Run!!!!! Back to the Revenge!!!!” He ordered.  Shultar and Canton needed no encouraging.  As the tables and chairs came alive, they turned and ran towards the dock, but the statues and the fountain itself had also began to grow what looked like legs.  Although the DPR’s men were able to run past them, soon Roberts, Shultar and Canton were surrounded. Their way was blocked.

The Inn’s door opened on its own, and the tables and chairs, running like wolves sped out and after them. They were trapped!  The two windows above the Inn’s door flung open, and a sinister glow filled the windows and door, making it look like two wicked eyes and a gaping mouth.  A sound issued from it like a gigantic beast, and even it’s outer walls began to shimmer and shake, as if the thing was coming undone.  Too late, they realized this building was not a building at all, but another of the copycat beasts pretending to be a building, and it was hungry!!!

“Our only chance is to make the ship!” yelled Roberts, stabbing one of the chairs, his scimitar stuck to it’s sides. “Time to go!” He broke off and tried to divert the creatures away from the docks.  Smart thought Shultar, he’s faster than those things are and he can double-back.

Canton too broke for the dock, and soon he was clear. But poor Shultar became surrounded, her size slowing her down.  One of the beasts was sticking to her mail by a long appendage that shot out of it like a frog’s tongue catching a fly.  The group looked on helplessly as Shultar’s fate seemed destined for a slow drag into the crunching orifice extending out toward her.  The Inn’s mouth, what was once a door, twisted into an evil tooth filled jaw stretching out to consume her.

But, then the DPR dropped to the ground.  It looked as though he had been put to asleep or passed out.  He just collapsed.  “What’s he doing now, thought Canton?” And then he saw all of the creatures race towards him.  Leaving Shultar free to make for the docks!

That dastardly pirate! As soon as the DPR saw the creatures heading his way, he shot up and doublebacked around towards the docks, racing behind the crew, who were yelling wildly to untie the ship! Thanks to Roberts’ trickery, they were all racing down the docks, with chairs and tables, statues and a fountain hurling themselves along the cobblestones in pursuit.

“Do ye hear something, Roscoe?” asked Jethro. They had just finished a thrilling verse about their voyage thus far.

Roscoe pulled the flute from his lips, and immediately heard what sounded like yelling coming from the landside of the docks.  “Look Jethro!  Our friends are running back to the ship, and someone’s throwing chairs and things at them.”

Portia was at this time wandering through the galley of the nearest ship.  Something felt wrong, but she couldn’t place it.  The ship was filled with exotic fruits and vegetables, but they had all been left to rot.  A wasted cargo to be sure.  Coming back up to the deck, she looked around.  Birds and seals had clearly been using the deck of this small craft, their droppings were everywhere.  Why this ship hadn’t been touched in weeks!

Simultaneously, while Canton, Shultar and Roberts raced for the lives, Portia, Roscoe and Jethro saw them coming and everyone sprang into action. Portia began to untie the boat and tied it to the Revenge.  The remaining crew, led by ol’ Calhoun who said he had given up drinking on land several years ago, began to untie the vessel and ordered the prepping of her sails.  Jethro swung across and helped Portia.

The others made it aboard just as the monsters raced across the dock.  The last sight any of them had of Mofang Zhe was of the creature mimicking the Vulgar Unicorn crashing through the docks in a last effort to reach them.  Sailing out of the cove, they heard it’s lamenting roar as it’s meal drifted farther and father away.

“Don’t leave the town, eh?” whispered Canton in his usual tone. Everyone burst out laughing.

Running the Gauntlet.

“This puts us in a dilemma my friends.  With Mofang Zhe out of the picture, there are few areas around that we can safely harbor in for repairs. Thanks to Portia’s quick thinking, we can use the iron bands from the craft she borrowed,” he winked at Portia who blushed.  “Some of these coves are more treacherous than others, and none are without “native hostilities” should we be noticed. There is one place however,” he pointed to a small set of isles on his charts to the west.  Here the islands are often taken under the waves, little lives upon them.  We can safely harbor here,” he pointed at a small cove, “make repairs and be back in business and on our way. The only draw back is that we’ll have to enter the Celn traffic lane here, but with some luck we should be able to cross it safely.”

It was an easy decision to make, and soon they were on their way across the channel. But no sooner had they begun, then a most familiar gilded man o war appeared far off in the horizon.  Luckily for the Revenge, they had spotted the vessel before entering, and swiftly tacked back out of view.

Roberts-

Well, well, my friends. For years, it’s been guessed that Trunilan has been looking for the Kings Lady treasure. Looks like Trunilan has taken a liking to you.  We won’t get too far with that bastard sailing the King’s Vengeance behind us.  Any ideas or shall we park and walk through leagues of serpent infested jungle to New Cellione in between swimming through shark infested waters? I sure hope your information about Swanson is right. 

Out of ideas, the party agrees to consider to make repairs off the small unnamed isles.  Waiting for nightfall, they quickly maneuver the Revenge into the shipping lane, and within hours are safely through, no sight of the Vengeance, or Trunilan.  Sometime near High Night, the ship arrived at the cove Roberts had marked on the chart.

Roberts’ Secret

The Revenge sails into a small cove, and Roberts crew drops anchor, metal on metal scraping together making small birds in the trees caw and screech.  Aboard the Revenge tonight, a fine fish dinner is roasting. It looks as though the storm has finally subsided. A fine orange glow emanates from the horizon, shimmering off the land and sea.  What a beautiful, yet deadly place you think this is.  With so much happening in the last few days, the men aboard have begun to bed down for the night.  Supplies of rum what they are, it looks like it will be a dull night. 

Before turning in, Roberts turns to the party and nonchalantly mutters, “My men and I have buried some supplies we recently left on the isle here.  I’m going to send out a few of them to get it during the night from a small dinghy.  If you hear anything, it’s just them heading out.  We’re better off doing it during the night, as we’ll need everyone to help with repairs in the morning.

“Supplies, what supplies?” asks Jethro.

“Nothing much, just some fine wood used in the cities to make furniture.  It’ll fetch a fine price in New Cellione. We all have to pay our debts don’t we….”

“Just out of curiosity,” it was Roscoe interrupting the DPR, “but who buries wood, Captain?”

The question hung in the air, as Roberts opened his mouth, but closed it again. He seemed to chew on the question, smiled and said, “Keeps it supple, master Sorceror. Good night you scum.”

Being the untrusting type, the party sets a watch.  The night passes uneventfully, although Shultar thought she might have heard something. But then, during Portia’s shift, she hears whispers of concern, from the aft of the ship.  Laying carefully over the railings, she sees a small compartment open near the water’s edge, just above the water line.  Voices drift out into the night.

“He should have been back by now, blast you!” It was one of the men known as Dillard.

“Yeah, well he aint. He told us he’d be back with the tide. It’s come and gone, hasn’t it!” The men were trying to whisper, but clearly in their agitated state they were talking louder than they intended.

“Well, what did he expect? He’d just board the blighted Black Scream and walk away with her valuables???”

Portia couldn’t believe her ears. Gingerly, she ran back to the others, woke them and told them what she had heard.  They sprang into action, drawing weapons and preparing spells. If this is a double cross, thought Shultar, we’re all going down this time.  With the others in pursuit, she marched herself down into the lower hold. The door was bolted, but with a single massive kick, it splintered open.

Several of the crew were there, a look of shock on their faces.  The party had never seen the lower hold. Shultar knew enough about cargo holds to know that this one in particular had been converted to hold very heavy objects.  And the door in the aft had been specially designed as well.

“What in the name of Cellinor is going on here?” Demanded Canton, throwing his cloak back and pushing his way to the front.

“We….we….”, attempted Dillard.  “We’re just doing what we’re told.  Roberts does have cargo on the island, but only he and his closest went in search. We’re supposed to stay here and wait.  Double shares, he told us. But, he hasn’t returned yet. Something’s wrong!  Can you please go and find out?  I fear some foul beast of the land or seas may have caught them!” Although these men had often joked mercilessly with each other, the party could clearly see that they were, in a word, unnerved.

“What we need is to know what that pirate has got himself into first,” said Portia. “If I were Roberts, there’s only one place I’d keep my secrets.”

They all said it at the same time. “The chart room.”

After a thorough search, the party had found nothing. They were beginning to give up, when Canton, resting atop the table where Roberts kept his charts, felt something like a corner under one of the maps.  Throwing the scrolls aside, he looked underneath and found a cleverly hidden compartment.  Inside, was a journal.

Everyone gathered around.  Canton turned the pages slowly and delicately, his eyes searching for clues.  The entire journal seemed to be bits of details, pictures and thoughts about the ship Roberts had once told them about, the Black Scream.  The last entry however was the most horrifying.

“Black Scream’s last known sighting.  Beached, listing to starboard, torn hull.  Western beach of the Sunken Isles, cape at 116.21/103  Estimate that there’s a 10 day window before a Celn or Orst vessel spots.  6 Days from New Alpha.  Need to convert lower hold for black rock and other valuables.”

If the journal were true, than Roberts had located the Black Scream, and it had been beached. What terrible treasures would it hold?  No wonder, he was willing to risk a visit in the middle of the night.  Clearly, this was an obsession with Roberts, perhaps much as it was with Rooney or Trunilan with the King’s Lady.

But this obsession had now just involved the party.

“Well,” asked Roscoe, taking his hand away from a picture showing odd tubes sticking out from the sides of the Black Scream. Question marks were scribbled near it and the words “black rock” were written nearby as well.  “Shall we ignore Roberts advice again? I mean last time we listened to him, we almost got eaten by a tavern.  Maybe this time, we can get eaten by a big ship.”

“Or whatever, beached that ship,” moaned Portia. But she was already sliding her knives into her belt.

Things to come? MUA HAHAHA

 

Session 4, A Brave New World

Our pirates have decided to investigate Robert’s disappearance.  In order to make sure they aren’t sabotaged in some way, they leave Roscoe back on the ship.

A Crimson Shore After All

The party slowly makes their way to the beach in their boat that Portia “borrowed”. They beach it well, and slither up a sand dune to take a peak at the adjacent cove. Their eyes fall upon a colossal ship, nearly 2 times the size of the largest Celn man-o-war they’ve ever seen.  It’s sails are tattered and it has major hull damage. It is unlike anything they have seen in any port in the Crown’s Isles or elsewhere, Orst, Celn or even Trebian.  Catching movement, they see the DPR and two of his men near the water’s edge.  Several bodies float in the water and a trail of blood is flowing from each.  Shapes are rising from the ocean, shapes of what look like combinations of men, fish and lizards.  These creatures are bearing down on Robert’s and his last two remaining pirates standing on the beach, swords drawn.  The battle doesn’t look like it’s going well!

Our pirates spring into battle, racing down the sand and jumping into the surf racing in from the sea around their knees.  Swords and weapons clang against the sahaugin’s weapons.  And although they quickly dispatch with several, they discover soon that a couple of the sahuagin are able to cast deadly spells.  Jethro is put down by a ray of some kind of magical energy, and as if this weren’t enough a fin rises from the water. One of the pirates recently struck down is grabbed by a large shark and dragged into the water, never to be seen again.  The DPR is stuck down as well, but luckily he is dragged back onto land before the shark can take him.

The fight continues but Jethro is too far to receive help from Schultar or the others.  “Jethro is dying! Who can reach him?” Yells Schultar, while keeping the Sahuagin Baron’s many arms from tearing through his mail with quick parries. But, one by one, the party looks on in horror as they each begin to realize Jethro cannot be reached.  In fact, soon, another of the party is struck down.  The battle is turning against them!  As another shark drags off a helpless victim in the surf.

“Your friend is dying! You cannot save him! Soon, you too will feed our sharks!” roars the Baron in a hoarse and corrupted version of common.  This is our beach, and our sea.  You will die a watery death by my hands!”

Sadly, while the Baron kept his friends at bay, Jethro, who had fallen onto the sand, was just able to turn his head. His last view was of the Baron striking Schultar with a wicked trident, but Schultar’s eyes weren’t on the weapon, they were on him, Jethro.  From beneath him, Jethro could feel the blood, warm and wet, spreading around his waste and back.  Strange he thought, to feel so warm on the outside and yet so cold on the inside. It would make a great song he thought, a sad lamenting ballad about what it feels like to die.

With his last thoughts, one of the sahuagin priests advanced on him, and with a wicked grin, raised his trident, bringing it down into Jethros’ chest.  Jethro closed his eyes, and was no more.

Ship of Fools

Seeing their friend die like this did something to each of the pirates.  The battle continued, and it looked as though they too might find their end on the beach next to Jethro.  However, the battle turned when the DPR struck down the Baron with a wicked slash of his sword!

Spurred to their survival, the party dispatched with the others who began to try and swim away to deeper water.  Soon, the sounds of the wind, and the churning surf came back to them.  And then they saw Roscoe, coming down from the sand dune from the other cove.

“What’s happened to Jethro, friends?” he said.

“Jethro has been killed, Master Halfling.” It was Roberts, coming to kneel beside the bard’s body.  Looking up at the others, he said, “The blame for this death is on me. Our lives are risk. Risk is the nature of a pirate. It’s in our hearts to risk and want.  But with risk comes reward to those lucky enough to make it.  I tell you friends, there is reward here for all!”

The DPR confirms to the party that this abandoned, derelict ship is The Black Scream itself.  Roberts believes it is a ship from a culture past the still waters to the West.  And it’s technologies are greatly advanced. He already has many of the metal tubes in which blackrock is placed to propel a round ball with a fiery blast.  But, the DPR says there is more.

“There’s a main galley towards the aft, but we couldn’t break the hinges free. The metal it’s made of isn’t anything like Iron.  It’s stronger somehow.  That’s what I was really hoping to get into. Who knows what we’ll find there!  Look, if you help me, I’ll let you claim the lot except for a few negotiables.  Mostly, I’m after these ballistics.  They will make my fortune. OUR FORTUNE!  These weapons are exactly what the King has been searching for. Not only will they make us rich, they will help Cellinor fight off the Trebians to the North and the Orst to the South. We’ll be heroes!”

“For the Sake of Cellinor, eh?” It was Canton, who had already begun the grave for his companion.  “Why didn’t you say so…”

Gathering their gear, the party rests on the beach and bury the body of their comrade, Jethro.  They each try a verse set to one of his favorite tunes, but the words are hard to come by.

“Too bad you aren’t being attacked by monsters,” said Roscoe. “We always make a great song then.”

After regaining their spells and health, the party enters the ship and notices soon why it may have come aground.

All around them, lay bodies in decay. Their oozing liquids made the air terrible to breath.  Small birds and other creatures crawled over their bloated bodies. On closer inspection,  puss filled sphericals appeared all over their exposed flesh. It would seem as if the crew died by some terrible disease.

“So this is how the ship came to be here,” muttered Schultar, examining the skin of one of the bodies.  “These are not Celns.  These are humans but not from our land.  I do not think whatever contagion they have would affect us.

In fact, I have seen this before when visitors from one land come to another. These look as though they are the Sister’s Circles. Three rings.  Our people survive this disease, usually as children.  However, it would appear to have killed everyone on this ship.  This was a ship of ill fate.”

“Whether contagious or not,” said Canton, “A noble man is wise to stay tall while others lay.  I’m sure you’ve all heard this Cillandrian expression, have you not?” Canton did not wait for anyone to affirm this,

“I think it best to leave the bodies as they are,” explained Portia.

“Where did you just come from?” It was a questioned asked by several of them, at the same time for Portia had not been there just a minute prior.

“I was just looking around,” replied the Halfling stuffing Jethro’s gold coin into her trouser pockets.

Passengers and Prisoners

“Watch out for that cage.  I don’t think we want whatever is in there to get out!” It was the DPR who had motioned to one of the cells in the lower galley.  Earlier, he explained, he and his men had tried to use some of the blackrock to blast into the galley where he believed the captain’s quarters were, but to no avail. The galley, as was this entire prisoner ship, was protected by bars made of some strange and hard new metal.  It was unlike iron in that it seemed to have no rust!

“These creatures must have died a slow agonizing death,” the DPR explained motioning to piles of bodies in some of the various cells around him.  “I can only imagine how horrible it must have been inside this hot and humid ship while the masters who caught them died from their disease.”

“Then, you take them for slavers?” It was Schultar.  “We know the Realm outlaws the practice, as unwilling servants do not feed the Flame’s fire! And yet, this foul race beyond the seas, seems to create great ships meant just for the taking of them.  What disgusting beings we have uncovered here.”

“Cellinor is the Light in the world,” said Canton studying the contents of one of the cells.  He thought he had seen something move, but couldn’t be sure.  “If not for Cellinor, and our King who thus began the light and brought forth the Flame, the land of Gaia in it’s entirety would be a vast swath of unrighteousness.” There, he had seen it again.

But before he could speak, one of Robert’s men cried out.  “Captain! Blight me if it didn’t shake a bit here!” Everyone approached the cell that Roberts had earlier spoke about. They looked carefully inside. Inside the cell, they saw a fantastically enormous cocoon.  Strands of a silky substance in coils as wide as an arm connected it to the sides and ceiling. Whatever was inside there is enormous.  Next to it, were two smaller cocoons.  The hairs on the back of Roscoe’s arms stood up just looking at it.  “Thank the light it’s in the cell he thought.” Their eyes moved back to the bars. And that’s when they noticed, the bars had been bent.  A single hinge damaged by the DPR’s earlier blast to try and get in the galley.

The cocoon began to quake and shudder, and then two bulbous eyes glared out. With lightning speed a creature from out of a nightmare, with wicked moth like wings, and giant spider like legs bent and twisted emerged from the orifice spreading through the cocoon. In a flash it was out and crawling along the ceiling bearing down on them!

“KILL IT!!!!!!!!!!!” Someone shouted, but instantly it attacked them, spitting a milky white substance at Canton’s feet, it just missed.  Canton saw the fluid eat away the wood of the ship, but only for a moment, for it dropped on him, attacking him with legs like giant curved swords.

“KILL THAT IOUS!!!!!!” Roared Roberts.

At that exact moment, something sprang from another cell.  It too had been damaged by Roberts’ men. But it wasn’t a creature, it looked, well it looked like a man!  A strange man, not a native Celn.  It was wearing hides and with a savage grace it knelt down, picked up a weapon left there from some unknown person, and lunged at the insectile monster.

“Someone survived the beaching!” It was Schultar, pointing open mouthed at this blur of a person stabbing the monster with one of the strange swords that the builders of this ship had apparently created as well. “There is a survivor!”

“I’m just glad he knows how to fight!” yelled Roscoe backing up to the galley bars, he had his crossbow out and was trying to stay out of arm’s reach of the beast.  “By the way, what’s an IOUS?”

“Insect Of Unusual Size!” screamed Portia, she too was staying out of reach, circling the beast while trying to hit it with her crossbow.  “Fellows!  This creature is an insect! It’s been dark in here for who knows how long!  WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A MOTH SEES THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS?”

“DO IT!!!!!” roared Canton, who just at that moment was brought to his knees.  Passing out, he saw Roscoe mouthing the words of the spell.

The Treasure Galley

“Where am I?? Am I in the Flame?” It was Canton, being brought to by Schultar’s medicines. As if in response to his own question he opened his eyes and immediately realized his entire face was pressed into the bossom of Schultar.  “Well, perhaps. I’ve always thought life in the Flame would only consist of size DD breasts! Schultar!!!! Give me some room, for the sake of his Majesty’s Honor!!!”

“Easy Canton,” replied Schultar. “You get so loquatious whenever I heal you.” They both smiled at the reference to Jethro’s old ways.  “By the way, meet Elad. It looks as though he, Portia’s thinking, and Roscoe’s light spell, has saved your life. But he wasn’t the only survivor. We found others.  The story they have told is incredible.

“Well,” Roscoe sighed. “Are we going to get into the treasure galley here or what?”

“Get working on it would you Porsh,” Canton said, with a  groan as he stood up on the tilted deck.

And that’s when they realized, she was already inside.

THE PARTY discovered many items here as well as several things of tremendous value.  But what or who were of the most value?

Gloves of Climbing and Swimming, “Elvish” “Fashion”, Mariner’s Armor +2 Chain, Folding Boat

Ring of Dual Image-Like the watch in Total Recall. X1 per day, 2 rounds

1 Flametongue, Rapier, only becomes magical after tasting blood from a fresh attack (Hungry quirk)

Leather armor +1   x2 (I halfling size set, one set for a human/elf), Boots of Speed

Arrow of Slaying (type unknown!), Back of Tricks, x1 per day  , Spear +1

Dagger +1, Ring of Free Action, Alchemy Jug, 2 Sending Stones (the character may receive any healing/magic as if standing directly next to the caster)

Sovereign Glue, Instrument of the Bards, Lyre: barkskin, invisibility, speak with animals

+1 to all Bard DCs, Mirror of Life Trapping, Pearl of Power

1 pistol contained in a wooden box.

1 map of Sasserine, See Below

A strange map.  It mirrors the map of Sasserine lands, however, out in the ocean is shown as a vast expanse.  Several circles exist in what looks like an enormous ocean. These circles are marked in three concentric circle rings. It would appear as though whoever made this map did not believe any lands lay beyond theirs, only a vast ocean.

A sword, identical to the one in pictures you have seen that Lord Taryn wore into battle at the Siege of Alpha. Sword has songcraft, but currently no other special properties.

A Treatise on the Power of the Web. “According to the Sasserines, intelligent beings are composed of seven separate universal characteristics.

The Sassers believe that once, long ago, these seven characteristics were pooled together in seven immortal beings, who served as Gods to the people. But a great schism occurred, and the seven gods power was divided among the people, who to this day carry the seven powers within us.  Collectively, we refer to these godly powers as The Web. Chief among these are the fertile and motherly nature that resides in all of us to protect those for whom we love. Compassion is the most chief of characteristics.  Embodying this spirit are those women who have given birth, therefore females of age, especially those who are mothers, have the most power within the Sasser Empire.

This text is a treatise/ a discussion with oneself.  Inside, the author contemplates a paradox known as the Ship of Theseus. He compares the division of the seven characteristics into the souls of intelligent beings with a ship.  For example, a ship can be taken apart into many pieces and put back together and be exactly as it once were, maybe even stronger.  The author therefore poses the question, could the same be true for the power and will of mankind?

The Sassers believe that people who harbor more of one characteristic than the normal person are simply better suited for different tasks. They are therefore assigned different duties in the empire according to their characteristics.  Compassion, mothers.  Bravery, soldiers.  Curiosity, mages, sages and lorists.  Sacrifice, clergy of the Web. Lust, whores.  Ambition, leaders and commanders. The exception to this is greed. Greed is universally frowned upon and greed is reserved for the Sasser Circle for the benefit of the Empire through worship.

Creation Story of the Ata’uh-un, From A Crimson Shore…see the Gazetteer

 

 

Session 5 and 6, New Cellione and New Beginnings

Having survived the encounters in the ship known only as ‘The Black Scream’,  the party brings a small treasure board back on the Revenge.  Unfortunately, the inquisitive DPR was trapped in a mirror.  In so doing, the party had no one to keep the pirates in order. Using a hat of disguise, Elad, the foreigner from across the seas filled in. But he could not speak the language so he made use of gestures to frankly startling improvisation.

The DPR sees a mirror.

“Is he dead?”  “No, he is mostly dead.”

Cans and Can Nons!

The party has no choice but to commandeer the vessel. With the DPR in a state of agony, they load the vessel with the cannons on the top deck.

A man named “Hank the Suntanned, who had his tongue cut out, says.

“I have nold you, you cannon pun nhem here!”

“You musn nake nhem down below winh ne oners.”

You cannon! Cannon I nell you!

Cannon!

Within a short period of time, the others are calling the items cannon laughing hysterically with the back breaking effort.

The cannons are decidedly placed 3 to a side, and 2 forward in the bow.  A total of eight loaded, the crew begins to instruct themselves on their use. Luckily, the party had experience with black rock from their troubles in New Alpha, and of with a bit of experimentation they are able to fire the Can Non with fairly decent accuracy. The Revenge is now much more than just a pirate ship. It  is a considerable weapon, against any adversary Cellinor, or the Orstmen have at their disposal.  Any Lord will kill to have this technology aboard their vessel.

As the party begins to consider their options, one thing keeps returning to their minds (partly because the DM keeps reminding them). Their map that they first took from Mr. Joshua showed a location and the name of a ship. “The Skinny Wench”. When the party inquires of this name with the other pirates they learn of something interesting….

“Aye, the Skinny Wench did you say? That ship belonged to the Admiral Benbow, that old bastard.  He was a Celn Captain turned pirate.  His ship was supposed to have been sunk by a Celn man-o-war last season. It’s a shame too because it was made in the fashion of a merchant’s trader ship, and could easily be converted back.  It would make a perfect pirate vessel.   I don’t understand why it would be marked on this part of your map.  The battle should have taken place much farther south.  Unless….”

Perhaps, the ship is still intact! If so, it would be a perfect vessel to come into New Cellione with for the rendezvous with Swanson.  Time is running short, the party makes their way for Bear’s Claw.

Sea Battle in the Celn Style

It’s a magnificent morning.  Sun’s rays melt the night dew atop the ballistrades and the cry of sea birds is all around.  The party has a plan, a ship and a destination.  With a  little luck, the 6th coin will be theirs soon. As they sail out of the peaceful bay, they wonder how a place so serene could be so savage.  Below these waves, who knows what foul beasts slumber in addition to the sahuagin that took the life of their friend, Jethro.

As if in answer to these thoughts, a raven lands atop the central mast, it’s dark beak opens and out booms a cavernous voice with a Cillandrial accent. 

“Good evening, my fellow Celns.”

“To what brings you to this part of our glorious realm.”

“According to our Lord’s Adventuring Decree of 122, section 40, any and all items of a magical or otherwise nature of interest to the Crown, are subject to immediate confiscation.”

“Furthermore, any subjects of the Crown who do not immediately declare these items to proper authorities are to be Inquisitioned for High Treason.”

“But, you know, out here in these beautiful waters, I find it hard to live by such strict doctrine, don’t you?”

“I’ll make you a deal.  Immediately surrender your vessel and all property and I will place you on an isle near here.”

“I’ll chase you to the Ketian Seas if I have to, you blighted bastards.  Give me the coins, and I’ll let you limp your way back to New Alpha so the Crimson Fleet can have you!  GIVE ME THE COINS OR YOU’LL DIE!!!!!!!”

“To the Darkened Deep with you Trunilan!!” roars Roscoe.

“Well, what do we do now?” said Portia, “We’ve got a smaller ship and an angry Commander after us!”

“It’s not what we can do,” said Schultar with a grin, “It’s what we Can Non do!”

Canton clapped his friend on the back, “That’s right Schultar! Let’s give Trunilan the 9 Hells for Jethro!”

“FOR JETHRO!!!!!!” Roared the crew.

Into the sunlit waters they sailed, Trunilan gained, but the Revenge was sleek and outmaneuvered the Vengeance.  Unfortunately, Trunilan caught the open air once out of the lee of the isle and gained.  The crew of the Revenge knew they’d have to turn and fight.

“Ok men!” It was Montoya, “Be ready on the Can Non when we turn and fire, we’re going to get one good shot at this.  They’ve never seen anything like us before!” Roars came from the crew, as Trunilan’s ship, mighty, and immense loomed closer and closer. The party could see the boarding crews scimitars sticking out from behind their cover as the great ship drifted by.

“NOW!!!!!” Came orders from both ships.  As Trunilan’s men fired harpoons into the Revenge’s decks, so too the Revenge blasted the Vengeance with the cannons!  Bodies blasted out the other side of the Vengeance and the mast took a hit that sent several riggings into the sea. Luckily for the Revenge, none of the harpoons landed, instead the soldiers pulled out their crossbows, and fired at Schultar who had taken a position to give better orders.

“Roscoe, aim for magicians!” shrieked Canton over the wind and tumult. And he did, sizzling several of them! As for the noble Celn himself, he had grabbed a rope and singlehandedly fought off several of Trunilan’s men as they attempted to board.

Again and again, the ship came. For awhile it looked as though the mighty Vengeance might have her way with the smaller Revenge, but the cannon proved to be the difference in the battle. What an advanced piece of weaponry.  No wonder, the DPR wanted to get his hands on them.  They were a treasure far more valuable than any in the Crown Isles. 

But little did Trunilan know that while above the battle waged, below, one Portia Treeleaf had jumped through a portal window and into the very cabin of Trunilan himself!!!

There she found a man, tied to a bulkhead. His eyes pleaded with her, so she removed his gag.

“Thank the Light, little one. Who are you?”

“”Portia!” At your service said the Halfling, she held several items from the room already, but she was busy searching for more. “You’d better tell me why you are here, this boat will most likely be at the bottom of the sea soon.” As if in answer, a loud boom rocked the ship and sent Portia into the walls of the cabin. A book knocked from the shelves and opened on the floor in front of her. She took it and placed it in her satchel.

“I am Fritz. Paladin and Order of the Crimson. I serve our Lord Borindin and I hereby declare Trunilan a traitor to the crown!!!!”

“Well, that’s good enough for me I guess!” And Portia began to untie Fritz who then led her to Trunilan’s secret compartment and exit.  Behind him, he locked the door from the outside, sealing the corrupted captain’s fate.  Together they rowed out to the Revenge, just as it began to sink below the waves. 

“Pirates, this is Fritz!” The silver and green tree of Cellinor shone in the sun, emblazoned on his breast plate as he grabbed Inigo’s hand and was hauled aboard the limping Revenge.

“And what does a paladin of the Flame have to do with us?” It was Hank, and he didn’t look pleased at all, neither did any of the men.

“Relax everyone,” smiled Portia, “Fritz is one of us. Aren’t you Fritz buddy?”

“I serve the King. I will grant you all a reprieve until such time as I return to the Order and properly locate….”but he never finished, Schultar hit him squarely on top of his head from behind and he collapsed like a sack of Southern Valley potatoes.

“I’ve always wanted a pirate prisoner,” said Roscoe. “Can we make him walk the plank later?”

The Skinny Wench

The party knew they couldn’t carry on with all the damage sustained.  They faced a dilemma.  They needed to make it to New Cellione in 2 days, yet they also needed repairs. The Revenge would also have to disguised or they would risk being imprisoned. For a while, the ship sat idle while the crew took the sails down.  And then Canton remembered Mr. Joshua’s map and the story of the Skinny Wench!  Of course!  These pirates must have their hands on the Skinny Wench or have hiddened it here on the map. All they had to do was take it for theirs and they could sail into New Cellione risk free!

For a peaceful night they passed silent isles and odd craggy shore lines.  On one particular night, a light high on a lonely isle seemed to beckon to them, but sail on they did. And then, in the morning, they came in sight of several pieces of land spread only just a few hundred meters from each other.

Rounding an archipelago, with mangrove trees lining the shore, the Revenge comes opun a set of small isles.  Inigo points to the first and yells, “The Bear Claw!” As the sun is setting, the Revenge sails near and soon comes upon a ship hidden in a small river delta.

“There, like something out of a dream, lies an enormous ship.  You can see now why Roberts would see the value of it. It looks like an ordinary merchant vessel, but if what Robert’s says is true it’s slimmer hull and mast design give it better pull in the water.  A pirate ship, that doesn’t look like a pirate ship. Perfect. But where is Benbow? How did Mr. Joshua learn of this ships’ location?  For now, those are mysteries as you sail closer to the ship.  It’s mooring is sound, and the hull looks intact amazingly.  Nonetheless, vines have begun to creep over it.  It’s still going to need some work you think.”

“There is nothing to fear in the Light!” Schultar yelled. She dropped anchor and motioned to the ship. “It is derelict! And ours for the taking! Come ye Pirates, tis ours!!!!” With that, she lunged into the water and for even for such a big woman, swam gracefully through the green silty water towards the Skinny Wench.

But from the Revenge, the crew began to fill with horror as a grey form erupted from the water, it’s tentacles splaying in all directions and a gigantic mouth enveloped the shocked Schultar. The creature groped it’s appendages all around her body and began to take her back down with it.

“SHooooot Her!!!!!! SHoooooot Her!” Roared Schultar, trying to wedge her feet between the closing mandibles. She looked almost comical standing upright on the creatures mouth, while fighting off it’s whirling limbs.

Many arrows and spells were cast upon the creature, and Schultar was just about to be taken down, when Roscoe’s magic missiles soared through the air and sizzled it’s brain.  Going limp immediately, it released the still stunned Schultar, and sank into the murky depths.

Aboard the Skinny Wench, the party discovered they had indeed made the right decision. Inside they found disguises and everything they would need to sell a merchant story to the dockmaster in New Cellione. As they ate the last of the perishables that night, Portia read from the book she had found on the Vengeance.

Trunilan’s Father, A Note Discovered by Portia aboard the Vengeance as it is about to sink!

To my son.

I leave you as I exit this world and return to the Light from which I came. Enclosed is the only real thing of value I possess. It is not a deed on paper, nor contained in a chest.  But it is indeed treasure.  It is the story you are about to read. You are the only one to hear it, so listen well to the tale, your inheritance child.

In the year of our King (65 AB) I was assigned aboard the grandest ship that ever sailed Celn seas, His Majesty’s King’s Lady. It was a great honor.  I was young and my future looked bright.  I became a deck hand, nothing special but for the King’s Lady, what an honor!  For nearly a year I pulled the tow, and rigged the sails.  And then one day we pulled into Cillandar and prepared a special cargo.

No one knew what it was at the time.  We had been hand selected, and there wasn’t a loose lip among us.  We kept to ourselves about such matters as we always did, but this, this felt different.  Several deckhands were given land leave, while men at arms took their place, men who were sailors, but seemed much more capable with a sword or spell. They watched us. Carefully.

On a late night, by the high of the three moons we set out and sailed out of Serpent’s Bay, and it was then we were told of our mission.

We were to bring a great treasure to the Orst King. A treasure unlike any that had been collected before. A treasure of Kasillian artifacts and Celn gold. A treasure to keep the Orstmen happy.

Blast it! What luck to be a Celn aboard the King’s Lady that night. 

For days we sailed on, proud to be a part, any part of this task.  And then, one morning, from the crow’s nest, we heard the call.  There was a body in the water. A body of a woman.

I pitched a life-raft over the side and jumped into the water.  Her cold frame was floating on a piece of wreckage, her body nearly white. We hauled her aboard, cold and limp. 

She was Orst. An Orst maid, but she was special. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  Her hair was white, as if the sun had bleached it completely. But then, to the shock of us all, she opened her eyes.  They were radiant. Like diamonds. She had survived.

For days, we sailed Southerly, into the colder waters, while she recovered in the Captain’s quarters.  For he too had been so taken with her beauty that he gave her his sleeping chambers in which to recuperate.

We were nearly halfway there, just rounding the great Claw when it happened. I remember the day fiercely for I had just won a hand of Pockens. From each player I earned a gold. Six in total. I tucked them in my trousers pockets for safe keeping. Of course the men were already on high alert as this sea was the last waters of our Lighted world, beyond lay the Ketian cold.  We sailed on focused on the task. Then it hit.  A storm. A storm unlike any other I have seen or heard of.  It rocked the ship like a toy and tattered our sails.  We tried to keep up, but the waves built one upon the other. The captain seemed content for keeping to open water, despite what was happening. 

All I can now remember from this point on are images in my memory.  I recall the higher ranks arguing with the Captain.  I remember one of the mages casting a spell at the captain, and the captain stopping in his tracks.  He seemed confused.  I remember the woman at his door. Her beauty saying something to him.  I can’t recall what it was!

Then, I remember the screams as the winged creatures came through the clouds.  White beasts like flying men with tails. They were those bastard dragonmen that are infrequently allowed in the realm, but these were different, they had enormous wings and sailed on the air towards us! Out of nowhere.

From there I only recall fragments.  As the creatures landed on the decks, the soldiers gave fight.  It was chaos.  Somewhere in the melee, the woman seemed to lose her footing because she went to the rail and fell overboard. Gone into the icy sea. I raced to save her but it was as if she didn’t try to save herself.  Her body disappeared beneath the icy waves.

I remember a crash.  As if the ship had hit something hard.  It was not uncommon for icebergs to be present in these waters. Maybe it was, for the next I knew the deck was at an angle. I gripped the side as I watched men I had sailed with for years fall overboard, into the black depths of the sea.

I was delusional.  My life was at an end, I too would go down with the sinking ship.  I had only one thought that if I could mark the location of the ship’s sinking, maybe somehow someone would know what happened to us. With my knife I released the liferaft and with my last energy slinked onto it with my belly.  I cut myself away just as the prow of the King’s Lady fell below the waves.

There was no sign of the creatures anywhere, the sea churned and foamed. It was as if the ship had never existed.

Off in the distance, a colossal iceberg. With jagged icy cliffs. But around me the waves foamed and frothed.

And this is how I know I was injured in the melee for it was later while adrift that I had a vision.  A dream.  Before me, the sea erupted in foaming spray, and a gigantic white head of a great serpent emerged.  It’s sinister eyes burned into me. I could feel it’s hideous aura, and I trembled with cold and fear. I daren’t look at it. I was still on the life-raft, I closed my eyes and waited to awaken.  When I opened my eyes, it was gone.

Sometime later, I don’t know how but an Orst fishing vessel picked me up.  It took me weeks to recover, and nearly a year to learn the language and earn a passage to the Crown’s Isles. 

But my son, this is where I tell you of what no living soul knows of.  When I awoke aboard the Orst trauler, the only thing I wore were my trousers and in the inseam was still tied my coin purse.  When I removed it, written on each coin was a longitude or latitude coordinate! I had somehow in my delirium recorded the precise location of where the King’s Lady sank!

I lay tonight, dying, Trunilan.  I wish I could see you grow to be the Celn I know you will be.  No doubt you will follow in my footsteps and serve the King on the seas. It is in your blood.  Fear not, for I will place the coins and this note in good hands until you come of age. I will give it to my brother, your uncle, Licentius Burke, to be read upon your 18th Birth Dawn. 

Your father,

Lonitus Burke

 

Session 6, New Beginnings, Old Friends FINALE

Our scurvy crew of pirates dress themselves as merchant sailors and enter the port of New Cellione in disguise.  The rendezvous with Swanson is but days away, and they need to find him and take the sixth gold coin without being captured themselves.  Little do they know however, that other gears are at work in this maze of mischief.  Getting the coin may turn out to be harder than they imagined.

The Mos Orstley Cantina

The Skinny Wench sails into the harbor in the dead of night, and luckily finds a dock master with a poor habit for patience and a need for some coin.  They dock their ship and immediately set about to make plans to find Swanson. First stop? Some goods and bartering and then right to the Mos Orstley.

On the way however, they come across a crier, and their blood runs cold hearing the news.

“Here ye, Here ye!!! News from New Alpha. News of High Treachery!!!! His majesty’s vessel, the Vengeance is naught to be found and four rapscallions of the greatest deceit did conspire to bring war between Cellinor and the Orst! The reward is 1000 gold for any information!

“Better let me do the talking from hear on out,” whispers Canton to Elad. Canton is dressed as an old man walking with a cane.  “The last time one of our party decided I spoke too much for us, he got himself killed.”

“It was a Sahaugin’s trident that got him killed,” mutters Portia. It was comical to hear her voice coming from the person she was now dressed as. She was disguised as a bald skinny man holding a cat.  The cat however was real, none other than Rooney’s cat Primordia. “Just stick close to the others, but not to me,” she said in her best “bald old man” impersonation,  “last person who stuck too close to me got himself nearly shipwrecked.”

“It was the raging Orst commander that nearly got us shipwrecked,” sighed Roscoe, who was dressed as a young man, wearing his hat of disguise, “Better stick to my side, Elad, Canton didn’t do that in New Alpha and we almost got locked in prison.”

“It wasn’t Canton that got us imprisoned,” said Schultar as quietly as she could, even though it wasn’t working too well. Coupled with the fact that she had disguised herself as an old woman with a bent back and couldn’t stop glancing side to side, she looked nearly comical. “Look Elad, the truth is you might just want to wait on the boat, chances are we are ALL going to get ourselves killed.” Several people in the crowd noticed an odd mixture of strange individuals all laughing about something then, but as none of them fit the descriptions of the rapscallions the crier was describing, they let them be. 

Primordia and the Crimson Fleet

Walking down the surprisingly clean streets of New Cellione, the ramshackle group of “merchants” looked for clues that might help them set a trap for Swanson. At one point, they were haggling over some potions, when a young child came out of the shadows and attempted to grab Canton’s purse. Canton was just about to grab his hand when another hand, pale and with wicked fingernails, shot out from the dark, it lurched onto the young man’s shoulder and locked itself onto his neck, the nails practically digging into the boy’s neckline.  A man followed the arm out from the shadows, wearing the red robes of the Inquisition!  From somewhere nearby another figure approached, she too wore the red robes of inquisition, but these were wrapped over plate mail, emblazoned with the Great Tree.

“May the Light Shine upon you young man,” whispered the voice of the man, his face was pale to match the hand and something about the way he said it felt sickening. “My name is Kovitar, servant of the Flame. You are hereby ordained by the power of the Light to stand before me and be Inquisitioned for the criminal act of thievery.” He said it in a formal tone, but there was something else there, almost subtle and faint, like mockery but well hidden.

“But, I …..,” tried to plead the youth.

“He was only…,” began Canton, who knew what was about to follow, having grown up in Cillandar himself.  He somehow couldn’t help but try to save the youth, even though he knew it was by now unstoppable.

“Stand aside, so that the Light may reveal the darkness!” this came from the woman, a Paladin of the Flame.  Her sword drawn, she used her shield to create a circle around the scene, trembling onlookers taking it all in.

“You have been observed by our Order in the act of thievery,” continued the man, “for foul deeds must be espunged from the Righeousness of the Flame and Realm, you are hereby volunteered to return your LIGHT to the Flame so that your darkness can be cast from our lands!”

Canton knew the swiftness of the deed, but others in the party had not.  Roscoe couldn’t believe the speed at which the Inquisition was carried out, how Kovitar swiftly drew a knife from his robes, marked with the Flames’ emblem and before the wide eyed youth could speak, he drew it slowly across his throat!

The dying youth struggled to breath as blood trickled down his neck, staining his dirtied shirt crimson red.  Kovitar knelt in front, whispering parts of the Order’s many chants while Minnie held the boy in her arms, it was only later that Roscoe realized she had been crying, the way a mother would cry, she sobbed taking the boy into her bosom. While his body spasmed and then grew limp, she lifted him up and carried him through the crowd, the stunned onlookers returning to their work, muttering a prayer for the boy and thankfulness to the power of the Flame.

Little did the party know however that from the shadows of a merchant’s stall sat a man with a red sash tied around his neck.  Next to him sat another man, who also wore a sash.  Together, they noticed that this interesting hodgepodge of people knew each other very well for being so very different.  But it wasn’t the diversity of the group that caught their eye, it was the cat that one of them was carrying, a very interesting cat indeed.

The Glass is Half Empty or is it Half Full?

I am telling you, we have tiiiiiimmmeee!!!!” repeated Roscoe. He was trying desperately to get the others to join him at the Glass is Half Full bar, realm famous for its drinks and Halfling sized seats and tables.  Of course, the Glass is Half Empty is directly adjacent to the Glass is Half Full.

Roscoe and Portia used the left entrance, with swinging doors at their size, while the others used the entrance on the right, with a more human sized door, not that any of them were actually human of course….except maybe for Elad, but they were still trying to figure that out.

The bar that night was packed, and several items of conversation taught Portia and Roscoe (over a few Dying God Ales of course) that the Crimson Fleet had become a very large dealer here in New Cellione.  They had infiltrated all areas of the government and had created a monopoly of much of the trade. The Halfling Guild wasn’t happy about this, but for now the discontent of the various arguments seemed confined to resignment on the issue.  Halflings did not like it when their trade was cut into anywhere in the Realm.

Meanwhile, Canton, Schultar and Elad, in their various guises decided to rent a room at the more to their size Glass is Half Full. Lucille, who ran the establishment was famous for his “ball and chain”, a set of anchor weights that rumor had it had been left one night on the bar.  As legend has it, the feisty bartender had just returned from the Temple of the Flame after an accident in the kitchen in which he lost, among his dignity, his left testicle as well. Once word of this got out of course, his name Luciar, quickly became Lucille and “Ball” was quickly added thereafter to indicate the singularity of his middle trouser region. Lucille Ball, as he was now known made the night lively with his jokes, and recanted for them how the chain and anchor had appeared on his bar without any evidence as to it’s being brought there.  He suspected some wizard had performed the deed, and was thus always skeptical of one in his bar, but he didn’t know.  The good news was the incident had brought him the odd fame that a new bar needed, and from then on the Glass was Half Full was always at least that.

Finding accommodations, they rented their rooms and retired upstairs.

But sleep would only find them for a while…

With a watch set, the others slept, enjoying the comfort of a bed that didn’t rock side to side, but soon, a lone figure emerged from the shadows beneath their room. Out from several shadows stepped others, upon the cobblestone steps they glanced at each other, and one pulled forth something dark from it’s robes, rubbed it between it’s fingers and spoke the language of magic. Pointing to their sleeping room, Schultar roared “Incoming!” as an immense ball of fire soared into the room and as if in slow motion burst open into a fiery burst right in the center of the room!!!

Injured and dying, the others woke, just as another burst against the far wall!

“Quickly, for we will surely die here without the offensive!” Roared Canton jumping into the night in the elvish fashion.

“We must leave hence one way or another,” replied Schultar, “for now we will be discovered, and tomorrow’s meeting with Swanson will never be!”

Thus in agreement, they all issued forth through the window but searching, never found their attackers. They resigned themselves to return to their ship and wait until sunrise and their meeting with Swanson.

Everybody was Kungfu Fighting

“What does the note say again, Portia?” asked Canton, he began preparing his belongings for the evening, it looked as though he wasn’t sure quite what to bring.

“It says simply: Swanson, Mos Orstley, today’s date at King’s Supper” she replied.  “He will be there tonight, that’s all we know.”

“I know one more thing,” whispered Canton, “I’m going to give him a thanks from Jethro, for all this poodoo he’s put us through.” They all nodded in agreement as the silence and crashing waves against their ship brought back memories of their departed friend.

The bar was rather crowded that night.  Various different personages were present as usual.  There were a few members wearing red sashes, and others Orst, Celns, and even a Trebian or two. Several groups of elves and halflings all sitting together, Mos Orstly might be a melting pot, but the different members didn’t often mingle. They entered as they had discussed, one at a time, except for Portia and Roscoe who came together.

It didn’t take them long to see Swanson, sitting in the corner, just as the note said he’d be there.  Slowly, they began to move in.  It was Portia who first noticed the ruse, the best at being stealthy, she moved nearest the fastest, making a feint at joining a group of Halflings near their ex pirate friend. As she moved to pick pocket him, she noticed that something about him was amiss.  His skin was paler, and his hair color was wrong. Why it wasn’t Swanson at all! It was an impostor.

“Get them! The two Halflings here, the old man, the pirate in black and the woman in mail! It’s the party we’re after!”  A commanding voice came from an unlikely man sitting in view of “Swanson”, and soon the room was filled with fighting, as our pirate crew tried desperately to break away from the melee. Soon the city guard would be here, and they would be arrested and Inquisitioned.

A Friend at the Bar

Meanwhile…

Roscoe had been taking in a local brew at the bar and trying to gather information, while looking as though he wasn’t following the others attempts to surround Swanson. His drunken neighbor had bought him a couple of rounds and  seemed quite interested in his recent adventures.

“So, you say you’ve been to New Alpha, have you?” asked the man.  “Oh, but I think you’d find Old Alpha much more your style…” Suddenly,  fighting erupted around them, and Roscoe turned to help his friends.  But the man grabbed his sleeve and said.

“Friend, I forgot to tell you my name. Macavoy.  My name’s Macavoy, and if you’d like to live tonight, follow me!!!!”

None of the party was sure what happened next. The entire ordeal seemed too well orchestrated to be anything but a miracle or complete random act of nature.  Different people in the bar seemed to stand at all the right moments, and in so doing created a wall of persons.  Elad and Canton were stunned, as they looked toward Roscoe who seemed to point towards Macavoy and mutter something like “Uh whatcha think?” 

“Follow Roscoe!” yelled Canton, and with the miracle wall of seemingly unknowing people blocking them from a rage of red sashes, they exited out a back wall just as a whole contingent of Lighted soldiers were coming in through the front door.

In Thralled in New Cellione

“The Crimson Fleet is enthralled you see.  Portia, you noticed the gills along the neck of the man you killed, did you not?  Those are the marks of the beast. The beast which has taken over this town, and which has laid a trap for you. It wants the coins, and it wants you.  But we want you more.” Macavoy didn’t sound much like a drunk anymore, he sounded like someone who knew exactly what he was talking about.  He had led them through alleys and byways to this house in the middle of the city. Entering, several others, hooded and cloaked and ushered them into this room complete with a map upon a table.

“Our sponsor and Lord is not here yet. But we must not fail him.”

“Fail who??? IF you think just because….” Schultar began…

“Wait, Double Dee.  Let’s hear what our new “friend” has to say at least.” Whispered Canton, always the diplomat.

“Thank you, my good elf,” replied Macavoy, “I beg you to first hear me speak. And then decide for yourself how you will act. For tonight, we must infiltrate the beast’s lair, and it shall be done, with your help or without. But I cannot guarantee your safety either way.”

“You see, much of what I must tell you, I cannot.  Some of it I do not even know myself.  What I do know is this. You are all wanted men (sorry Portia, of course you are wanted as well)” Portia seemed to smile at the inclusion of this doom and Macavoy continued, “You will eventually be caught and Inquisitioned for your crimes against the Realm, and I think we both know this is inevitable with the resources that the Flame possesses.  However, there is another way. My Lord has taken great pains to find you, more than you know, and he has his reasons for entreating your services tonight. If you decide to take back the coins for yourself, if you decide to enter the Beast’s lair with me, then he promises you a full pardon, and a share of the treasure, more wealth than you can ever imagine.”

The room fell silent.

“And how do we know your “Lord” will keep his word, eh?” It was Schultar and she was tired of being used by so called Lords, but equally tired of being on the run.

“You don’t,” replied Macavoy, “but consider this, if my Lord had wanted you dead, you would have been dead already. Tonight, your fortunes sway upon a sword blade.  I cannot make the decision for you, but I tell you truly, I too am scared of our mission, but nonetheless, I’d be much less so if you were with me.” He held out a hand in the Cillandrial fashion.

Years later, the group would rejoin and relive this event and it was said that none of them knew why they had done it, why they had agreed.  All except of course for Canton and Portia. “I did it for the gold of course!” Portia would say, and then they would turn toward Canton, who with a subtle smile would simply say “I did it because it was the fashionable thing to do…ofcourse”. To which the others, dressed in the Cillandrial attire of nobility, would all reply “Of course….of course…”

Payback and Payment

How this merry band of pirates entered the lair of the Aboleth by means of a the Witch’s teeth, a large grate upon the river that runs through the city, of the horrors they found there, and the near death they suffered pursuing the creature deeper into it’s hole is a tale for another time, and a song.

However, after they emerged carrying Swanson’s sixth and final coin into the sunlight of day, to discover a crowd of onlookers and the entire garrison of troops from Fort Taryn, the keep within New Cellione, could best be described as the moment of their lives.

Before the troops in glistening mail stood several men wearing full plate and helms.  One, they recognized as Agitus, Commander of the the Keep and Protector of the City of New Cellione. The others they did not. Nonetheless, among them stood a very unlikely man, one not dressed in armor but rather simple clothing. Looking as though he had been though a great ordeal, holding his cat Primordia, with a red face and puffy lips, was none other than Edward Rooney, privateer. None of the men spoke, although Rooney was pointing desperately at all of them, waving his hand and entreating Agitus with his most dignified face. Agitus strode forward, silencing the crowd and raising his voice amongst the tumult of the river below.

“I, Commander Agitus, By order of his majesty, Lord and King Hadrius Borindin, by right of his sovereignty and of the rule of the Cillandrial Council, I hereby arrest you for the treacherous murder and foul sabotage against both the crown and his majesty’s allies, the Orst King and Land.  You are hereby immediately sentenced to Inquisition, and swiftly shall be brought to the Flame. Do you have any last words???”

The party was too stunned to speak.

Fine, then Lord Rooney? Are these the rapscallions who so dasdartly did sabotage the vessel known as Vengeance, his Majesty’s very own flag ship of the Southern Fleet? And attempt to bring war to Cellinor? Through coercion with the criminals known as the Crimson Fleet?”

“Yes, YES!!!!! THAT IS THEM!!!!! Arrest them!  They are the ones!!!!” and then stroking Primordia’s fur and whispering he muttered, “Don’t worry Primordia dear, their darkness will be cast out soon…”

Several of the guards moved forth with swords drawn, but just then bugles erupted from somewhere nearby, down one of the main streets.  One of the helmed soldiers stepped forward, and announced,

“Make way!!!! Make way!!!! You rascals, make way for the KING!!!!!”

But this was no ordinary soldier, his face was too well known and his demeanor too inspiring. This was Lord Genoran himself!  Prince and heir to the throne.  But what was he doing here???

The king? The king? Hushed voices, and then like a wave, a sea of people taking a knee one at a time, in your direction. Upon the hill rose the morning sun, and with it came the golden gleam of a man wearing mighty plate, following by dozens of the toughest soldiers they had ever seen.  Each bore the green and gold flag of Cellinor, The King strode in as a wave of people took to their knee. Withdrawing his helm, the King of Cellinor himself, Lord Borindin,  approached the group, ignoring Agitus, and embraced his son. After enveloping his son, and holding onto his arms with a smile, Genoran whispered something to him, and they both turned towards the crew of the Skinny Wench.

“Guess, we better bend a knee eh, Schultie?” said Roscoe, “even pirates have honor sometimes I suppose….”

The King then wasted no time, and turned toward the four, he motioned for the men at arms to withdraw and strode towards them.  “Rise! You four. Rise and face ME.”

He first turned towards, Roscoe. “Explain yourself, you Sorceror? State your name to me and declare what you will!!!”

“My, mm, my  Lord,” replied the shocked Halfling, “I am Roscoe, pirate and scoundrel. At your service?” He tried a smile, but immediately regretted it.  Borindin was a stone face, he turned  towards Schultar.

“You, Woman, state yourself. You are no warrior. How have you come by these gifts of the Flame?”

Schultar made a move to speak, but Borindin silenced her with a wave of his hand and motioned next for Canton.

“You, Canton Devond of House Devond. A most generous house in Cillandar. Your uncles have served on my war council with Trebia these last few years, what have you to say?”

Canton began, but again the King cut him off.

“You, you Halflings.  For what trouble have you caused?  Are you the saboteurs of the Southern Fleet? Did you fashion the weapons?   By where have you come by such weapons that you could sink the Vengeance with a frail ship the size of Robert’s revenge?”

And finally, you? From where did this man come?  Tell me now. Under pain of the Order’s High Command and it’s Keeper , Bishop Belloran.

As if on cue, each time Borindin silenced the pirates with a look.  It was as if he did not want to hear their reply. And then turning to the assembled mass he announced.

“These men are to be taken to my ship.  There, they will be clasped in irons, and given Inquisition at sea.  Let this be a lesson to you all! From this day forward, I declare the Crimson Fleet to be traitors to the crown and they will be executed on sight.  Enjoy your festival, Celns.”

With that, the King, made his way through the crowd, dozens of warriors and wizards surrounding him and trailing in his wake. The pirates were shackled and run along behind them towards the HONOR, which had made it’s way into port that night, while the party was fighting the beast.

Walking on this ship was incredible. The crew had never seen anything like it. It was in a word, the most incredible ship they had ever lain eyes on.  Judging by it’s woodwork and weathering, it looked brand new.

Once the gangplank was taken up and the last ropes were thrown away, thousands of cheering citizens came to the gangway, waving and cheering.  The men around the party kept their hands on their swords, ready to carry out the King’s sentence at a whim. But as the ship sailed out of sight, Genoran’s face began to smile, and turning towards his father he said, “Sire, my friends have suffered long enough. Please.”

“We are out of view of the harbor, My Lord.” Came the voice of someone near the wheel.

“Very well, then. Kruger, cut their bindings. To your stations. NOW.” Their bindings cut, Borindin faced them, but this time, his lips spread into a wide smile. He motioned with both hands to the sailors, who expertly made their way to various stations. When the men had left, they found themselves standing in front of the King. The wind whisped his hair and yours all around.  Slowly, his serious demeanor began to give way to something else.

“You saved a war between our country and the Orst, my friends.  For that, I am in your debt. My son here, tells me you have first hand knowledge of the technologies of our neighbors to the West, for that, you are in my service. We have loaded these weapons on board, and they will be studied extrensively.”

“My son seems to have been right about you.  You have to forgive me, I have never been told that my greatest treasure lies at the bottom of the sea along with 4 living souls who disappeared some ten years ago. He told me that placing the note among the Crimson Fleet would bring you here today.  And he was right.  This is encouraging, because he says that I am also to make you Commanders of my Southern Fleet, and that you can be trusted to this task singularly.

Do you accept this station?”

None of them could speak, but each in turn found themselves nodding yes!

“Then, I will give you your first order. You are hereby to find the King’s Lady Treasure and thereby find the friends, my son claim lie at the bottom of the ocean there.”

Genoran turned then toward Macavoy, and then to you, “We have some friends I’ve been waiting 10 years to thank.”

END OF ACT 1

Campaign Midpoint Narrative Interlude

 

“As we speak there are others.  They do not all share the same principles, but nonetheless it is happening. Already two of the markers have somehow been successful, and we have found a third. Even Borindin’s son now understands the task that is set before us.”

“When is the next opening?”

“Roughly a decade from now, on the next [overlapping]” 

“How will we find them?”

“We won’t. As with the others, they will rise.”

“This is madness. They will rise? How can we wait and just let it happen, when we KNOW what to expect.”

“It is the way it was meant to be.  It was created this way so that Ket could not lay in wait for them. You know this.”

“Aye, but how could the four entrust that such a path would work?  It is no wonder that even the Guardians accepted the failure of it.”

“They had no choice. They were betrayed, as you know. And besides, we must accept that the Guardians are no longer protectors. Nor are they twelve. They had no choice as did the Four! It was the only way to protect the arks….The only way to hide.”

“Hide? In plain sight? When the Darkening comes it will not matter, nor will these wanderings across Gaia.”

“Do not give in to the ignorance of those without courage, you may as well prostrate yourself for Belloran’s Flame. You must not lose faith in the Path. It is all we have.”

“All we have is a marker to tell us the time and location.”

“No, we have more than that.”

“We know they will seek the treasure.  We know they will bear the coins.”

“We can therefore set a trap. Bring them to us.  We need not look for them.  When they arrive, we will know them by their course.”

“A trap? For those we wish to ally with?  We are lunatics! And how do you suggest going about this?”

“We will make their arrival imminent. We know they seek the last coin, and we know who has it.  We will lay a path for them to follow and wait.

“You mean what! What has it….Why can we not dedicate more resources to this task? How are we to overcome this foe when the time comes?”

“More resources means a greater chance we are revealed.  If that comes to pass, those we seek will be discovered by our enemies.”

“But the coin’s bearer seeks the others as well.”

“And yet, somehow the marker exists.”

“If Tiresias could have held out longer, he might have convinced the others. The 12 would have found the others.”

“No, they would not. Tiresias himself gave up this task long ago.  It is not how the path was set.”

“But even the [metallics] could have done more. They were Guardians!”

“It’s not likely, there is nothing on Gaia with the resolve of a dragon.  The depths of the sea are nothing compared to the grief they suffered. Their betrayal was complete. They are no longer allies to their creators,” a long pause, “besides, the chromatics still outnumber them and remain far more powerful.”

“Their creators.  It is still unfathomable to think of the might of Kasille.”

“Yes, but even the might of Kasille was nothing compared to the power of Ket when the darkness comes.”

“And that is why we cannot fail.”

“And we won’t.”

“But will they?  They don’t even know the power they have, how the decisions they make will affect us all!”

“They will.  In time, as will we all….”

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