The Freeport Chronicles

Third Time's a Charm

The murder mystery is resolved

Summary

  • the pirate’s code requires a public trial
  • sufficient evidence and corroborating accounts point to Cecil’s guilt
  • the cabin boy attempts to rally the crew to mutiny but fails
  • the punishment for murder is death – Cecil is sacrificed to Besmara
  • notes found in his quarters reveal that Cecil was in league with Hollister
  • Ansor and Annabelle join the crew
  • in consultation with Annabelle, it is learned that the time loop centers on Thuron
  • the time engine is fired up and Shadow Swift returns to Freeport on the last day of Swag Fest

Details

The pirate’s code requires a public forum so that any member accused can have their fair say before due process is completed. The crew gathers and Mario describes that, for the benefit of all, a trial has been requested before punishment is adjudicated. The good Chaplin Fardell has been murdered and justice must be meted. The Captain’s word is law, but the Captains wish the crew to be engaged in the decision making process. The companions are given the floor and the trial commences.

  • The murder scene is described, the investigation of the deck detailed.
  • Zwicket is called to the stand. He discusses the cause of death and advises that there were two blasts – one that killed Fardell, and one that impacted Loquacious and ultimately the mast. He confirms that Loquacious, Gary Soldana, Creston Burge and Draghor Redblade were on watch duty.
  • Loquacious is summoned next. She confirms that Gary Soldana did not report for duty, leaving the rest of the watch in a challenging situation. A shadowy individual was interrupted while releasing something over the side of the deck. The suspect was responsible for the blasts that killed Fardell and destroyed the mast.
  • Of the evidence found on deck, most were ruled out. Two items – the crushed bird cage, with feathers corresponding to a long distance pigeon, and the strip of red brocaded material – have been identified as material to the investigation.
  • The crew’s quarters were searched, and stolen bird cages as well as a red embroidered jacket were found in Draghor’s room.
  • Draghor is called to the stand. He confirms that he has done a lot of bad things, and that some of the crew may have a beef with him. And that he holds sway over others. But he did not murder Fardell and has nothing to hide. He admits to the stolen birds in his room. He uses them to communicate with Freeport and Port Peril to conduct business. Given his station, however, he would have no use for the red jacket – official regalia – found in his room. He believes he is being frame. There are several in the crew that would have reason to do this – he identifies Zwicket and Loquacious, who owe him a tidy sum in recompense for him sneaking Loquacious out of Freeport and certain death; as well as Creston Burge, who he attempted to poison after she sided with Sil, despite an agreement to do the contrary. At the time of the murder, Draghor was in the tavern attending to an altercation that several of the crew confirm.
  • Creston is next to the stand. She confirms that Draghor attempted to poison her and that he deserves everything coming to him. With some creative questioning, she relates that Cecil, via hand written note, had asked her to plant the jacket in Draghor’s room. The note is produced and read aloud. It insinuates that she must do so by way of Captains orders. The handwriting is confirmed as that of Cecil the cabin boy.
  • Cecil is requested to the stand next. He begins by playing to the audience; bad things have happened since the new Captains have stepped on board – the former Captain Ancias died, strange things have been happening, and now Fardell. Clearly the crew have lost Besmara’s favour. The companions remind everyone that they are not on trial and commence questioning Cecil. He confirms that he was in his quarters alone at the time of death. The note appears to be written in his hand, but there is illusory magic emanating from the parchment. Zwicket confirms the illusory effects and dispels the magic. The hand writing is undisturbed, the illusory effects were there to misdirect.
  • At this time, Cecil attempts to incite the crew into action by accusing the companions of being orc sympathizers in league with Draghor the kingpin of the Bloodsalt. He calls on the crew members loyal to Ancias to rise up – only to be reigned in by Mario who takes command of the situation.
  • In closing, Cecil is judged guilty of Fardell’s death by the Captains and crew. Mario confirms that the crime is punishable by death. Cecil is granted an opportunity to speak but declines. As one of her own was cut down, Freight is given the right to exact retribution. She enacts a ritual to Besmara before running Cecil through. His clothes and regalia burn to a crisp, the ashes blowing away on the wind. His visage changes from that of a teenage cabin boy to a centuries old frail man. A small key falls from his vestments to the deck of the ship.
  • Bloodied and staggering, Cecil is pitched over the side of the ship in the ocean to complete the sacrifice to Besmara. The clouds part and sunlight bathes Freight in spiritual energy.

The companions wrap up the trial with a rousing speech to the crew – it has been a trying last 24 hours but they are proud of the crew’s resiliency in the face of adversity. With Fardell’s death still fresh, extra grog rations are granted in celebration of the Chaplin’s life. The crew seems appeased for the time being.

Key in hand, the companions return to Cecil’s quarters where they locate a number of items of interest that are assumed to have been magically hidden during their prior investigation. Of note:

  • Observations regarding various activities and people on board – besides the Ancias and Sil factions, Cecil was tracking the movements of elven crew members, noting arms trading that hints that border tensions with the barbarians is likely to escalate into war
  • Dossiers on each crew member – the folders for the companions, as well as Drughor, Zwicket and Loquacious, are thicker than most; the information on the group predates them coming on board
  • A message intercepted from the Sword of the Edict. It is from Carson and states that the Temple of Knowledge has been ransacked and that many, including Thuron, have died. Carson fears that the companions absence at the parade is connected, and that, if alive, the group should flee Freeport. Hollister identified the companions as cultists and blamed them for the attack on the Edict’s headquarters.
  • Communications revealing Cecil’s relationship with Hollister. Cecil joined the Shadow Swift centuries ago, he is one of the longer standing members of the crew. As a teen, he was indentured by Lord Brack – the Shadow Swift and noble houses of Freeport used to have a much closer relationship. Over time, Cecil has become disillusioned and made a deal with Hollister to help expose the cult and its leaders in return for his freedom. Their next move was to purge the Sword of the Edict.

Their investigation of Cecil’s quarters complete, the companions seek out Ansor and Annabelle to discuss next steps. Both agree to join the crew, Freeport is not safe for them to return to and the prospect of adventure on the high sea excites them. The companions dispel magic on the poodle that Ansor and Annabelle were safekeeping, transforming the creature into its original state. The disoriented changeling is given some basic rations and granted her freedom. She scurries up the beach in the general direction of the orc’s ship.

Relating to the time loop, the companions chat with Annabelle about her knowledge of time travel. She advises that the curse of the black goat has conferred her some special abilities. By taking some of the black goat’s blood, she can enter a trancelike state and view the parallel timelines around a certain event or decision that are possible. There is a cost, however – the process feeds on her and leaves her exhausted.

Wanting to break the time loop for good, the companions ask her to investigate where things began to unravel. With Ansor’s help, she consumes some of the black goat’s blood and enters a comatose state. She babbles in coherently and her body twitches a great deal, her eyes open and stare blankly, seeing something else not evident to those around her. She screams and falls to the floor. It takes her some time to regain consciousness, and when she does, she seems diminished somehow. She advises that the time loop is centered on our allies in Freeport, and specifically Thuron and the Sword of the Edict. The further along in the time loop things progress, the more dire the consequences for Thuron. The companions need to return to Freeport and bring the time loop to an end or else Thuron will die and the Temple of Knowledge will be destroyed, the Sword of the Edict disbanded. She advises that she saw a branch of possible timelines that prevented this from happening.

The companions thank Annabelle for her guidance and leave her to rest with Ansor. Considering their next steps, the group notes that her observations align with the letters received from Freeport – that they were becoming more dire and violent, with the last confirming Thuron’s death. They decide it best to travel back to Freeport.

Returning to the deck, the ship’s repairs have been completed. The companions advise the crew to prepare to sail. Orders are provided to Sprocket and Glurp to fire up the engines, there is enough chronos solution to travel back in time to the beginning of the last day of Swag Fest, the same day of the fateful Sealord’s Feast and parade. The engines are engaged and a massive portal blinks into existence just ahead of the Shadow Swift. The ship is guided into the vortex to begin its journey back to Freeport.

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