The dragon conducts a hit and run campaign, assaulting the Shadow Swift for short bursts as it crosses Lake Encarthen and navigates the river system back to Augustana. The city’s heavy artillery ensures peace for the crew while the ship resupplies. Under the cover of night, the Shadow Swift sneaks out of port and into the Inner Sea. The ruse appears to have worked, as the ship enjoys a few days of dragon-free sailing.
As the ship nears Freeport, however, the dragon reappears on the horizon. It quickly gains on the Shadow Swift and performs several strafing attacks, damaging the ship. The companions man the cannons, not an easy feat considering the short handed crew. The child is sent below decks, the group unwilling to risk his life again.
The cannon fire proves inconsistent, as the agile dragon is able to weave around many of the shots. A shift in tactics is required – a grappling hook is loaded into one of the cannons along with the stalwart swashbuckler. As the dragon performs a fly-by attack, the cannon is fired. The shot strikes true, the grappling hook managing to wrap around the creature. And further, Anton is successful in his act of daring do, landing lithely on the creature’s back.
The dragon is understandably upset about it’s restricted flight path, so it flies close to the ship before banking sharply to speed directly away from it. Understanding that the dragon is attempting to snap the chain attached to the grappling hook, Anton reaches deep into his bag of tricks. Pulling out an immovable rod, the swashbuckler plants the cylinder into the great maw of the dragon. Forward motion halts, and the rod lodges deep into the creature’s throat.
The dragon suspended in mid-air, the companions open fire with their full complement of cannons. The dazzling display is supplemented with magical balls of fire. The dragon takes a beating in short order. Taking advantage of the vulnerable creature, Anton climbs it’s neck and jabs his short sword into it’s body with all his might. The offensive proves successful, but comes at a cost. The dragon twists around to grasp the swashbuckler in one of its paws, attempting to squeeze the life from him. As it does so, the dragon strains against the rod and manages to overpower the magical force keeping it in place. The creature bursts forward.
Cannon fire following his every move, the dragon doubles back to strafe the ship again. As it flies by, Lando casts a well placed grease spell on Anton. The lubed up halfling manages to slip between the claws of the creature to land politely on the deck with a flourish. Nemesis, watching the battle from the safety of the cargo hold, applauds the majestic feat of acrobatic prowess.
As the battle rages on, the Shadow Swift continues to make progress toward Freeport. The harbor appears congested, with ships of many different shapes and sizes vying for berth. The dragon threat detected, the Sealord’s Armada has roused and navigates out of the harbour cautiously. The fleet keeps a safe distance from the battle, taking a wait and see approach to the conflict. Members of the Shadow Council can be seen amongst the sailors, although unable to act without bringing unwanted attention to their affiliation with the group. In the distance, the lighthouse known as Milton’s Folly awaits it’s unveiling, covered for the time being with a massive purple velvet canvas.
The dragon gravely wounded, the companions focus fire on the creature. The artillery bombardment is complemented by magical means, with Magus Mike unleashing several fireballs from the stern of the ship. The magical fire draws the attention of the creature, who flies in close to the ship so as to concentrate its electrical breath attack on the magus. The proximity allows the crew to score severe damage on the creature, shattering one of its wings. The dragon unsuccessfully attempts to gain altitude while sustaining several more shots from the cannons, before plummeting into the ocean several spans from the Sealord’s Armada.
The brilliant nautical display, however, comes at a cost. The companions rush to the aid of their companion Magus Mike, who lies prone at the stern of the ship. Despite a valiant effort at resuscitation, the magus’ mangled body is beyond the healing abilities of mere mortals. The elation of defeating a formidable foe pales in comparison to the loss of such a cherished colleague. The Shadow Swift sails into Freeport harbour at half mast, oblivious to the festive mood that has overtaken the city in anticipation of the long awaited unveiling of the lighthouse.