The Freeport Chronicles

Thunderstruck - Redux

It's deja vu all over again

Summary

  • the companions are transported back to the Shadow Swift as the mast is struck by lightning and critically damaged
  • they remain in possession of objects seen within their visions
  • several crew are tasked with rowing to a nearby island to find timber to replace the mast and rudder
  • the companions continue (restart) their investigation of Chaplin Fardell’s murder
  • a stowaway was found to be living in the cargo bay
  • Loquacious Winding-Tam, one of the crew on watch, advises that they interrupted a man wrapped in shadows throwing something overboard before being attacked by a giant wolf
  • J-Todd the bard provides guidance on the next steps of Sil’s rescue, he will prepare a ritual to allow the companions to speak with a contact in Hell
  • one of the crew, Gary Soldana, skipped watch duty and instead visited the tavern where he got into fisticuffs with the chief petty officer and was thrown in the brig
  • the crew speak with members of the Hellknights and learn of a secret lagoon

Details

A fog descends over the visions, consciousness slowly fades into the distance. A strange whirring sound resonates, seemingly occupying a space far away and yet close, followed by disorientation. The discombobulating experience ends abruptly with a loud thundering crash.

The companions finds themselves back in the Captain’s Quarters of the Shadow Swift. Anton holds a vial of green liquid with the insignia of a three-headed serpent, a block of cheese gripped tightly in his other hand. A coin is embedded in the cheese, a coin bearing the likeness of a snake-person. The other companions also have items clutched in their hands. Above, an alarm sounds to call crew to the deck, heavy footfalls can be heard from the hallway and stairs.

Dressing hastily, Anton notices that Sil’s child feels heavier and appears much larger, as if he has grown several months overnight. Further, Anton and the Magus are somewhat fatigued. Could the two be related – it dawns on the companions that the child may be feeding on the curse afflicting the two.

Topside, the sun peaks over the horizon revealing a chaotic scene. The main mast has been splintered, the sails aflame. The crew attends to the fire attempting to save the sail. Mario Poffal directs the crew while at the same time maintaining a cordon around a portion of the deck. The companions make their way to the quartermaster.

While they walk, Lando sees the Magus looking to the horizon and notes a strange galleon anchored off the coast of a nearby island. The wizards asks Magus Mike if he recognizes the ship – Magus is unsure of who they are, but advises that they have captives onboard and that they plead to him to help them escape. Although a strange response, the Magus’ conviction is resolute.

Before Lando can delve further, the companions get a status report from Mario. He advises that the mast was struck by lightning, the crew should have the fire under control shortly. That said, the damage has been done – without the main mast, the ship is unable to achieve any significant speed, and will have limited maneuverability. The Shadow Swift is a sitting duck until the mast can be repaired. Further, one of the crew, Chaplin Fardell, was killed by the lightning strike. The quartermaster has secured the area in case the companions wish to investigate the scene.

Acting quickly, the companions examine the scene and collect nearby evidence. Cecil is instructed to lock down the Chaplin’s quarters. In consultation with Poffal, a crew of sailors – including Pretty Ike, the carpenter Rockinsky, Romica and Magus Mike – is tasked with rowing to shore to obtain timber for a new mast and rudder. The cleric Freight is sent to the infirmary in case anyone else was injured. And lastly, Anton and Lando are sent to investigate the cargo bay as the large doors were left open a crack.

A ladder leads down into the hold. The bay is set up into several compartments, the large bulkheads have doors leading between the different areas. There is minimal cargo in the hold, primarily food stores, water casks, and mundane items. Walking the floor, Anton perceives something of interest behind some water barrels – a blanket has been left on the floor, several rations have been haphazardly discarded and the nearest water cask has been tapped. Seems that the Shadow Swift has a stowaway.

Believing that they are likely being watched, Lando addresses the room. Several small creatures flit away into the darkness, but there is no response otherwise. The remainder of the search of the hold provides no further clues. Anton and Lando return to the deck.

Meanwhile, Freight has made her way to the infirmary. The surgeon, Zwicket, is fast at work on one of the crew members. She has sustained many injuries in the past, she sports an eye patch and peg leg along with many scars. With Freight’s assistance, they are able to bring her back from the brink of death. Zwicket identifies her as Loquacious Winding-Tam, she was one of the crew on watch last night.

She comes to shortly thereafter. Freight asks about the events of the night previous, advising that there has been a murder onboard. With a knowing glance, the surgeon advises that the cleric is trustworthy. Loquacious is happy to be alive. She explains that the watch caught sight of a blurry individual that appeared to be tossing something overboard. They approached to find out what he was doing when they were suddenly attacked by a large ferocious wolf. The last thing she remembers is a blinding flash, and then darkness.

Unfortunately, she is unable to provide much more. Loquacious was unable to tell what the individual was doing given that she was fighting for her life. She does advise that the person appeared to be wrapped in shadows. As a druid with intimate knowledge of natural creatures, she is perplexed as to the origin of the giant wolf. And she detected similar magical auras as the companions did on deck.

Regarding the other sailors on watch, it is clear she is holding something back. With a little prodding, she advises that one of the crew members, Gary Soldana, did not appear for his shift – its not the first time that he has failed to report for watch duty. Freight also asks about some of the other clues found on deck; the gnarly staff belongs to Zwicket, she can’t recall any of the crew wearing embroidered red fabric, and tridents are common weapons amongst the crew. She is unaware of anyone staying in the hold and recommends that Freight ask Telecum and Pretty Ike for patrol reports. Lastly, it is not rare to see officers such as Fardell on deck at night. He was likely at the wrong place at the wrong time. She thanks Loquacious for her time and wishes her a speedy recovery before exiting the infirmary.

Making her way above deck again, Freight meets Anton and Lando mid-ship. In discussion with Poffal, the quartermaster advises that the fire is now under control. He is happy to hear that Loquacious and advises she is good hands, indicating that she and Zwicket are more than acquaintances. He was not aware of anyone living in the cargo bay. And lastly, Gary’s insubordination is not news. He abandoned post to go the tavern and ended up starting an altercation. He was thrown in the brig before the lightning strike.

With the fire under control, Freight, Anton and Lando move their investigation to the pub. Besides doing their best work there, they wish to speak with J-Todd the bard, who is known to frequent the tavern. The bard is easy to find and is happy to chat with the group. Anton gets straight to the point – he received a message from Sil advising that J-Todd would provide the group with information relating to next steps. The bard asks for proof and Anton produces the coin that was embedded in the cheese wheel. J-Todd is overjoyed, “Our master told me you would be in possession of his coin. He said that the one with the coin could be trusted, and trust you I will. The next step in the plan for Sil’s liberation involves gaining entry to Hell. We have made contact with a low level official that is agreeable to our cause and can likely grant us entry through Ironjack’s portal. I can invoke a ritual of communication so that we can finalize the details. The ritual takes several hours to complete, so if you don’t mind, I will begin shortly.

Before leaving, Lando wishes to benefit from the bard’s great stores of knowledge. Their discussion covers several topics:

  • Tensions in the immediate area have amped up in recent years, resulting in near open warfare. This has increased the need for slaves, a lucrative business in Port Peril.
  • The Hellknights as well as other slaving factions have increased their activity in the surrounding area.
  • The local islands are populated by Kuru clans, indigenous peoples known for their woad tattooing.
  • The Kuru people fear the Blood Queen. They see her as an evil force who corrupts the Kuru people to join her cause, which results in cannibalism.
  • Between the slaving ships and the Blood Queen, the population of the local Kuru tribes has been decimated.
  • J-Todd has no further information regarding the Blood Queen but will research further in the ship’s annals.

The strange whirring sound returns, causing a queasy feeling and forcing the companions to their knees. The experience fades as quickly as it started. A glowing J-Todd greets the group, “Great to see you again mates. What can I do for you?” Unsure of how to respond, the companions discuss the dark onyx crystal with the bard. J-Todd examines the child and advises that the glass shard appears to be from a larger piece, a statue perhaps. The though piques something in his memories and he excuses himself to return to his quarters to look through the ship’s annals.

The companions next speak with Tang McGallish, the chief petty officer responsible for the ship’s cargo. The lad has recently been roughed up and sports a black eye and split lip. The group knows from prior conversations with the crew that Tang descends from one of the local Kuru clans and was formerly a slave in the servitude of the Hellknights. He considers himself lucky to have escaped that life and is motivated to make things work on the ship to ensure that he is not put in that situation again. Tang is often described as keen, eager, and efficient, all the right skill sets to be an effective chief petty officer. That said, some of the other sailors are not happy with his rise within the ship’s ranks.

Tang is, not surprisingly, eager to chat with the group. He advises that he has accurate records of the food rations, grog, and other stores kept in the hold. He has reported on several occasions to management that there has been some slippage – not a significant loss, but he would estimate about the amount needed to sustain an extra crew member. He noted the difference shortly before the ship left port. Regarding the recently sustained facial injuries, he advises that he was assaulted by Gary Soldana last night. Tang has a favourable standing on the shore leave list and was willing to trade it to Soldana in return for extra grog rations. However, Gary had already consumed them, negating the deal. A scuffle ensued and Gary was thrown in the brig.

The companions thank Tang for his willingness to answer their questions. They quit the tavern and head to Fardell’s residence on the ship. His quarters are attached to the chapel and are situated behind the altar to Besmara. Spartan in nature, the companions quickly exhaust their search with little to show. Perhaps he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

By this time, the crew that has set out for shore is passing the Hellknight galleon – Magus Mike recognizes the ship from his vision. An official hails the rowboat and motions them closer. “Good day sirs, I can’t help but notice the plight of your ship. Given your state of affairs, I wonder if there is anything we may assist you with? We have many wares that you may find of interest – armour, cannons, labour – all at an agreeable price.” In discussion, Magus and Romica learn that the Hellknights are in the midst of an exploratory sailing, seeking slaves to sell to Port Peril. In addition to goods, the ship is capable of towing the Shadow Swift to a salt water lagoon hidden within the Glengarney Chain – the group of islands nearby. The offer is graciously declined, and the rowboat continues to shore.

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