- someone may be using the chronos and vorpal dust capabilities without the aid of Sprocket and Glurp
- the companions learn that the poodle may in fact be a transmuted humanoid
- dispel magic reveals an emancipated changeling
- the ship’s curse is slowly killing the creature given she is onboard without signing the contract
- the companions return to the nearby island with the unconscious changeling
- she recovers quickly, she was onboard the Shadow Swift as it was the first ship leaving port and she must return to her mother
- the orc encampment is attacked, the artefact (an altar) obtained and the chieftain taken for questioning
- the changeling bolted during the attack
The companions continue their conversation with Sprocket and Glurp. The two confide that the former Captain, Ancias, and 1st mate, Buckwheat, knew about the enhancements. Many of the officers were likely to have some knowledge as well, given the capabilities have been used on many occasions. Lando commiserates with the duo, as it likely difficult for them not to discuss openly these capabilities.
Thinking that the capabilities may have been used recently, Lando asks how long the tanks have been empty. The goblin and gnome share a look, and with a little cajoling, confide in the group and advise that they are somewhat perplexed. There were some dregs left in the chronos and vorpal dust tanks but they have recently been emptied. However, the fuel was not used within the ship’s mechanisms, or they would have recognized. They are powerful resources, so perhaps someone could have stolen the fuel. That said, it would be strange to have this occur out at sea – they can’t imagine what a crew member would use it for. It takes both magical and mechanical engineering knowledge to be able to use the capabilities.
The group returns to the main deck to check in with Mario. The quartermaster confirms that repairs are underway – the mast has been loaded on the ship and is being prepared to be raised. Work on the rudder is occurring concurrently. The companions advise Mario that they are concerned the ship will be attacked while in the present vulnerable state. With that in mind, the crew should be prepared for hostilities as the companions do not wish to be caught unawares. Mario agrees with the sound logic and sets a lookout in each direction.
Lando at this time remembers the message pad that is being dried in his scroll case. He removes it from the case and gently reviews the notebook for clues. It appears to be a duplicate record of the chief petty officer’s inventory. The book contains information on the ship’s grog rations, food rations, ship leave intervals etc.
A further chat with Tang McGallish is in order so the companions summon him. Magus Mike recognizes the woad tattooing and identifies him as part of the McGallish clan from his vision. The companions ask him about the notepad. Although not required, he keeps duplicates of his inventory in case the originals are compromised or tampered with. He admits that he misplaced the notepad while he was double checking stores – he is ashamed that he was not able to find the records and understands that punishment is likely necessary. The companions advise that no such reprimand is forthcoming.
Running out of clues to investigate, Lando detects magic again from the deck. There are four distinct types of magic emanating from the ship – evocation from the blast site, transmutation from the dog, divine magic from the infirmary, and necromancy from multiple sources below deck. In fact, the necromantic auras appear to be moving, many of which run through the cargo bay. The companions return there to investigate further.
As the group descends the ladder, they can see movement on the periphery of their vision as little creatures skitter away from the light. The companions follow the critters around until they have several cornered – they appear to be rat-sized poodles. Lando utilizes an orison to communicate with the tiny creatures. It appears they are transmogrified rats that were caught up in the radius of a transmutation spell cast on deck. Regarding last night, they advise that the saw a shadowy person with a cage at the side of the ship. The were very interested in the contents of the cage – a carrier pigeon – but before they had an opportunity to get close to the bird, it was released and flew away in the general direction of Freeport. The last thing they remember was a small humanoid creature, who was sickly looking, sneaking up on the shadowy figure and then a big blast. When they awoke, they were changed. They wish to be returned to their prior appearance.
Unable to help them, the companions return to deck to examine the poodle. Freight and Lando, with the assistance of Zwicket and Loquacious, manage to identify and dispel multiple magical effects afflicting the poodle. The form of the dog transforms into an emancipated being with long dark hair and claws. Freight identifies the creature as a changeling. From prior knowledge, the companions understand that changelings are the offspring of witches that visit and copulate with other races. They are raised among their father’s kin, but receive “the call” to return to their birth mother when they come of age. This changeling appears to also have some elven features.
The rigour of the transmutation has left the already weakened changeling in a state of unconsciousness. Freight performs a heal check on the comatose creature – she is close to death, her pulse weak, she seems to be afflicted with some kind of powerful wasting disease of magical influence. The affliction is hell-oriented. J-Todd comes forward to confirm that the disease occurs when someone is aboard the ship without signing the contract. He suggest the stowaway be thrown overboard so she can die of natural means as opposed to going through the process of dying on the Shadow Swift.
As this occurs, Annabelle enters a trance-like state, her eyes flipping back so that only the whites show. She speaks to Lando in short bursts, “My son, my son. I walked a long road. At the end was a hut. There was a stove in the hut. Inside the stove was bread. Inside the bread was a coin. The coin flipped, I caught it in my hands. It burned me. It left the image of a time bomb. Inside the time bomb is a magnifying glass and key. Inside the magnifying glass…there is nothing.”
Lando is unsure of what this all means but is shaken by the revelation. However, he is unable to think on it, as the companions debate whether the changeling should sign the contract. Before the moral dilemma of that decision can be discussed further, Lando advises that he will take the creature to shore. He asks that the companions journey with him – he tells the group about his vision, that he believes the artefact discussed by the orcs on the island has something to do with his destiny. The companions agree to escort him back to the island with the changeling in tow.
Once the rowboat is lowered, Freight prays to Besmara about the righteousness of their plight, and the potential benefit to pirate-kind, and asks for divine favour. Besmara grants her wish and provides a strong current that guides the rowboat to shore in short order. The companions disembark the rowboat with the body of the changeling. On shore, the creature’s color returns instantaneously, and a rather amazing recovery occurs.
The changeling regains consciousness shortly thereafter, “Mother, mother. I’m coming. I took the first ship out of port. Who are you?” The companions advise that they are agents of Besmara and have saved her life. She thanks them for their service – the last thing she recalls is sneaking on-board with the timber. Although not fully recovered, the call is strong and she wishes to return to her mother. She senses a ship not far away that she can guide across the ocean. The companions convince her to stay with them for the time being, the island is home to orcs at present and it is dangerous to be out alone. This sounds logical to her so she agrees to come along for the time being. She was a thief in Freeport and adept with ranged weapons so Romica lends her a longbow.
As they make their way towards the orc’s encampment, the changeling continues her story about her time aboard the Shadow Swift. She had run out of rations and was weak from due to an unknown disease so she decided to explore for food on deck. She saw several flashes and witnessed a shadowy figure harming people. She rushed the figure to interrupt what the person was doing and was transformed into a poodle for her efforts. Her eyes begin to shine and her voice takes on a different timbre – she advises that she does not know the person, but the figure was not foreign to her. “It is not what I saw, it is what I shared.” It was a crew member, someone that she had shared rations with on-board. The gleam leaves her eyes as the vision recedes.
By this time, the companions have closed on the orcs. It is twilight and they are in the midst of setting up camp in the jungle for the night. There appear to be maybe a dozen or so orcs. In the middle of the meager camp is a large fire, a chieftain attends to the flames. Lando casts invisibility sphere on the companions and they use the gong of silence to mask their approach. The companions move quickly to the centre of camp and attack the chieftain. Freight and Romica deliver vicious blows, rendering the orc chief unconscious. Several orcs flee, others freeze, unsure of what to do. Romica bellows at them, “Where is the artefact?” They point towards a large altar near the fire before joining their brethren on the run. The companions notice that the changeling is nowhere to be seen, she likely bolted in the commotion.
Lando directs Freight and Magus Mike to the altar, and Romica to pick up the unconscious orc chief. Lando and Anton deliberate on how best to get back to the beach, where they expect to find the changeling attempting to borrow their rowboat.