The Freeport Chronicles

The House Always Wins

And other lessons learned at The Honey Pot

Summary

  • the companions travel to The Honey Pot
  • a message from the innkeeper Spence advises that Romica and Freight are persons of interest in the disappearance of Charlie
  • contact is made with Kel, Captain Sil’s representative
  • Lando receives a vision of seacaptain Kel signing a contract that binds him to the Shadow Swift
  • the companions play blackjack and lose a lot of money but gain a lot of intel
  • the compass is “fixed” and returned to Captain Sil
  • at the Opera House, the companions are recognized by members of the Hellhound gang

Details

Well rested, the companions decide their best course of action is to visit The Honey Pot. The establishment is easy to locate in the shanties of Scurvytown. The stone building has aged well, while the surrounding neighborhood has steadily deteriorated over time. Originally constructed as an inn a century or so ago, subsequent ownership has transitioned the scope of the business to more debaucherous vices. The sign outside reads “Bar tabs available, inquire inside.”

Before the companions enter the establishment, a messenger owl descends from the sky with multiple packages. The first is from Sir William Carson with payment for the week, some information on The Honey Pot, and 2 potions of wakefulness. The second is from Spence, the owner of The Bastard and the Bard. It contains a bill for the past week’s accommodations, and notes that Chuck from the city guard has inquired about the group. It seems that the companions were the last known persons in contact with Charlie from the Flaming Trunks before his disappearance. Spence recommends again that the companions keep a low profile. Understanding that the tavern owner continues to stick his neck out for the group, they ensure prompt payment is forwarded and also pre-pay for the next week.

Entering the grandiose building, the companions are impressed by the decor and general cleanliness. People of all races and stations, mostly intoxicated, peruse the room. There are plenty of tables, mostly occupied, and a large bar at the back of the room. The companions take a moment to observe the interior and note:

  • a huge half-giant mans the bar, a massive 2-handed lucerne hammer is mounted on the back wall with the name “Brughan” inscribed
  • behind the bar is a door leading to a separate room, there is a boisterous meeting presently in session
  • a party of upper class revelers partaking in the establishment’s fine wares
  • an old broken down seacaptain in utilitarian garb
  • a sly looking fellow operating a gambling table
  • a tall and charming server with an ashtray tattoo waiting tables

The companions seat themselves at a vacant table and summon the server. She is a self-identified sea-witch with an endearing personality. She provides a menu as well as an overview of the offerings. When asked about the available entertainment, she introduces Ansor, the man running the gambling table. He operates across the city and collects interesting rumors on his travels. She recommends a few rounds with him, as gambling helps to loosen his tongue. The companions decide a sample of the establishment’s wares is appropriate and order various items from the menu.

While this occurs, Lando approaches the seacaptain and observes that the hook and missing eye remind him of a famous captain named Sil. The seacaptain is tickled by the comment and introduces himself as Kel El-Masilado, representative of the good Captain Sil. He is stationed here awaiting the companions and the return of the compass – although he assumes that things have not gone well given the compass is not in sight. This worries him as Captain Sil is a hard master, someone that rewards his allies but crushes his enemies.

Lando and Kel hit it off, and Lando orders a round of opiates in return for stories of Kel’s travels. Kel warms up quickly, although he laments that many of his tales are sad. He was the captain of the Shadow Swift in a former life. Fate, and several ill-advised decisions, led to unfortunate circumstances and the acceptance of a terrible contract. Captain Sil helped to arrange his freedom, although at a terrible cost. He has great admiration and respect for Sil, and in return for his assistance, Kel acts as a host for the captain. When asked about how Sil lost the Shadow Swift, Kel loses some of his lustre and advises that it is not his story to tell.

Although he is genuinely happy for the opportunity to live the rest of his life on land, reminiscing about his former glory, he understands that the end is near. Lando commiserates with his plight and a deal is struck – Lando readily agrees to share with Kel his essence in return for a vision. Kel takes Lando’s hand and is instantly bolstered, while Lando descends into a trance. The Honey Pot fades from view and Kel’s grin is replaced by a blinding light:

Peering through someone else’s eyes, a tropical landscape appears – a long white beach framed by the ocean. Seated at a table, a contract written in an unrecognizable language is reviewed. There are many signatures on the paper, two of which are fresh. A glance up from the table – a large sleek ship with many masts can be seen in the distance sitting low in the water. Two shore-boats are rowing toward the beach. A shaking hand – the left hand – signs the document. The foreground of the vision begins to slow, while at the same time the background speeds up. A sudden storm approaches with gale force winds and green lightning buffeting the landscape. The shore-boats are torn asunder although the large ship in the background remains untouched by the storm. The hand visibly shakes as tears blur the vision, which fades from view.

While Lando socializes, the other companions take advantage of Ansor’s services for a lively game of blackjack. Ansor has the gift for gab, and over the course of many hands, proves to be a valuable resource for local information. Besides leaving much lighter in the wallets, the companions learn that:

  • there is talk that the water source in several neighborhoods is tainted, the locals call it the salt curse
  • the Opera House’s rendition of Freeport Follies, which has proved surprisingly popular, is coming to a close; its next production, Admiral of the Black, begins soon – Jeremy Welsin, stage manager, is accepting applications for audition
  • a local druid, well-known for his work in the restoration of the city in the aftermath of The Great Green Fire, was tried secretly by the Minister of Penance and hung publicly – it was apparently quite the show
  • a local gang, the Hellhound Social Club, is holding a party this evening at a farmhouse north of the Blood Salt – Ansor can obtain tickets if interested
  • be careful at The Honey Pot, its not uncommon to find oneself indebted after a long night of partying; many chose to “work” off their tab, pursuing criminal activities to fund their growing dependency
  • Brughan attempted to bribe the Minister of Penance, a member of the Church of Atonement, to smuggle a magical missive from his lover out of the Fortress of Justice but ultimately was unsuccessful in his bid; Ansor asks that the companions keep this on the down low as it could compromise his ability to deal here

Lando awakens from the vision and thanks Kel for his camaraderie by coordinating another hit of opium. Conversation returns to the compass and Kel advises that Sil is expected soon. Lando asks his opinion regarding the compass and Kel recommends that presenting it in a broken condition is a bad idea.

A brainstorming session is needed, so Lando, with Kel in tow, reacquaints himself with the group and they share what they have learned with each other. It is decided that the best course of action is to use their wand of raise dead to “heal” the compass. Freight and Barnicle, both clerics, retire to the bathroom to perform the rite. The compass quickly transforms into the form of the old sailor, somewhat startled, who yells, “It’s not hell again is it?” The old man becomes transparent and fades from view, returning to compass form, this time in a fully functional state.

The clerics return to the table with the compass, just in time, as the translucent visage of Captain Sil takes over Kel’s body. He congratulates the crew on their progress, noting the return of the compass provides a strong indication of their competence. He is excited as well as the compass represents an important step in the return of his ship, the Shadow Swift. When asked about the compass, Sil takes on a contemplative posture, “In this world, when you can’t trust yourself, how can you trust those you love, your crew mates, your family? We forged a contract long ago to bind us to our word – to bind us to the Shadow Swift. For good or ill, we are destined to accomplish the mission that we set out on many years ago, or die trying. You have helped to move us toward this goal, and for that I thank you.” The companions wish more information about the contract and who drafted it, but Sil waves the line of questioning aside, “I cannot give you that answer, yet. It is true that you have proved your competence, now we must work on trust. Our interests remain aligned, let us continue to work together as you seek to fulfill Ironjack’s legacy. As a token of my appreciation, I will ask Kel to furnish you with a weapon to assist you in your journey. Unfortunately, I must say farewell for the time being as I have pressing matters to attend.” Sil’s visage fades from view – in the reflection of Kel’s eye the companions can glimpse Sil turning to meet with several people in an alley, a yellow sky in the background. Kel is happy to oblige Sil’s offer, and the companions request a keen blade for the Magus. The old seacaptain nods in satisfaction and provides that it will be made available in the near future. Kel stumbles back to his table to enjoy the remainder of his opium.

The server returns to the table and advises that the companions resemblance to a notice posted around town – an artists rendering of a hairy dwarf and female cleric – are drawing the attention of several patrons in the bar. The companion’s coin and amiable spirit have won her silence, and she offers to coordinate a taxi discreetly. The group readily accepts her offer as they wish to make their way to the Opera House.

As they settle up, three thugs are observed leaving the owner’s office behind the bar. They take some money from the till and, in a concealed manner, exchange something with Brughan. The sleight of hand is well done, and whatever was swapped could not be seen. This piques Lando’s interest, however, and he makes his way to the bar. Overlooking Ansor’s request that the companions not pass along information provided, Lando attempts to commiserate with Brughan about his loved one in the Fortress of Justice. The large half-giant is equal parts furious and baffled by this turn of events. Brughan lifts the gnome from his feet and punches him about the face. Dangling several feet off of the floor, the half-giant threateningly advises the stunned gnome he must be mistaken. Lando is thrown to the floor, where he not-so-quickly regains his feet, brushes off his clothes, and marches indignantly out the door to the waiting cab.

The trip across town to the Opera House proves uneventful, although several patrols are seen – it seems that the City Guard are active on this night. The group, for once, wishs to keep a low profile, so they join the ticket line. While in line, a messenger owl descends from the sky with a package. Romica and Anton accept the package and duck into an alley to open it. It contains a note from Garvey along with payment for the week. The note advises that things are progressing well in his research, but he will require more artifacts to fund his investigation. He is maintaining discretion with his reports, which is delaying his progress, and funding, with the guild. As a result, the coffers are running thin. He has provided a rune of transport inanimate object in case the companions adventures turn up anything of interest.

Before the two can rejoin the line, several questionable looking individuals exit a back entrance to the Opera House. Insignias on their clothing identify them as members of the Hellhound Social Club, a sister gang to the Flaming Trunks. They instantly recognize Romica as a person of interest in Charlie’s disappearance. The three members walk hastily toward their steam punk bikes, while a street urchin runs in the opposite direction. Several thugs brandish weapons as they attempt to cover their colleagues escape.

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