- the orcs reorganize and are defeated
- a treasure chest is found and identified as offering to Besmara – the companions plan to throw to bottom of sea
- a dwarf with ties to Hellknights is rescued
- Anton races through jungle, catches changeling before she can steal rowboat
- scrolls found on chieftan reveal that altar was destined for Everstand – orcs had intercepted and slaughtered elven escort, planned to sell in Freeport
- companions return dwarf to Hellnights
- too late in return, watch Shadow Swift burn
The altar is wrapped haphazardly in canvas and furs, allowing the companions a small glimpse of the object inside. It is rectangular in shape, with wings that extend from the top; the polished surface is ornately engraved with bands of precious metal throughout. There are poles on each side of the altar to assist in carrying the large object. Freight and Magus Mike position themselves to pick up the altar but it proves heavier than expected – it will take four to carry – forcing the companions to reassess their escape plan.
By this time, several orcs near the companions have regained their wits and appear to be organizing a counterattack. Anton wades into their midst and fells one with a mighty blow. Lando fascinates another with a colorful display of powder that changes patterns. Romica manages to chop down two more with a vicious swing from his axe; however, the weapon, acting of its own design, forces the dwarf to continue his swing, hitting both himself as well as Anton.
Many of the other orcs who initially ran away from the scene circle back to test the companions. The battle proves short lived as the companions control the engagement, although Anton, grievously wounded already, is knocked unconscious during the action. Freight uses her trusty wand of cure moderate wounds to ensure the halfing lives to fight another day.
The orcs dealt with, the companions take a moment to survey the scene and identify two things of note. Freight points out a burlap sack near the verge of the ocean, the medium sized bundle appears to be moving, albeit erratically. Romica and Magus Mike walk down to the beach to investigate. And secondly, Lando notices a treasure chest hidden under the altar.
The chest features a Besmaran emblem, so Lando calls over Freight to confer. The cleric immediately identifies the chest as offering to the Pirate Queen. Freight advises that it should not be opened, the chest belongs at the bottom of the ocean. The cleric makes plans to take the chest onboard the Shadow Swift so it can be returned to its rightful place. Lando next focuses his attention on the unconscious chieftan. A quick search reveals several scrolls, which include two sets of instructions as well as a map. Lando finds a comfortable perch and digs into the texts.
At the beachfront, Romica and Magus Mike catch up with the burlap sack just before it goes pitching into the surf. Removing the cover reveals a bloodied dwarf. Romica, who recognizes the surly character from his mercenary days, claps the dwarf, Steve, on the back and tells him that he is in good hands. They return to camp and he is introduced to the group. He has in his possession what appears to be a bundle of broken incense as well as accoutrement that reminds the companions of the regalia seen in the Temple of Holy Smoke. Romica advises the other companions that it would be beneficial to take Steve to the Hellknight galleon in the harbour. Steve has allies in Freeport that would grateful for his return.
At this point, the companions recall that the changeling was headed back in the general direction of their rowboat. Anton volunteers to race across the island while the remainder of the companions lug the gear. The plan – Freight, Romica, Magus Mike and Steve will carry the altar and treasure chest while Lando sits atop studying the scrolls. The orc chieftan is awoken and given the ultimatum of keeping pace or getting the sword. He chooses to keep pace and they all set off.
Anton decides to take the most direct route – through the jungle and up and over the hill – and receives some magical enhancements before racing off. Near the crest of the hill, a copse of trees moves to block his ascent, but the nimble halfling is able to acrobatically avoid their grasp. From the apex, the view of the beach at low tide affords a glimpse of a sea cave not noticed before, a faint stream of smoke can be seen indicating that someone likely inhabits the cave. During his flight down the hill, Anton notes a shrine complete with natural offerings and a stick figure lashed together with vine, but does not stop to investigate given that time is of the essence.
Gaining the beach, Anton can see the changeling attempting to launch the rowboat. The halfling screams at her to stop, and a quick sprint brings him alongside the skiff. The changeling takes Anton’s appearance in stride, she advises that she was getting the boat ready for the companions return in case they were being pursued. Anton notes that the group will be here shortly and they play tic-tac-toe in the sand.
The rest of the companions make an uneventful trip back to the rowboat, following the contours of the beach around the island. Lando is able to complete his review of the scrolls obtained from the chieftan. There are three separate documents:
- the original writ of sale with instructions for delivery to Everstand; the altar’s construction in Port Peril was commissioned by the elven nation; the altar contains magical investiture to bolster and inspire, presumably to aid those fighting against the orc nation in the Hold of Belkzen
- a set of instructions, in orcish, outlining that the altar is to be intercepted; the altar is to be taken to Freeport and sold to help fund an orc uprising in the Blood Salt; it insinuates that the Hold of Belkzen supports the uprising
- the third scroll appears to be a treasure map complete with annotated notes on how to find a treasure; it is located on an island not known to Lando; this scroll is unrelated to the other two scrolls
- Lando learns from the chieftan that he received the orders from his commanding officer; they are part of the underground orc liberation movement headquartered in the Blood Salt; he and his orc cell travelled through barbarian lands to the homeland of the elves, intercepted and slaughtered an elven escort, stole the altar and were on their way back to Freeport; they were on the island to resupply; they acquired the treasure map from the barbarians but no one knows how to use it
With nothing more to learn from the chieftan, he is unbound and set free. The companions load into the rowboat and set course for the Hellknight galleon, which is en route to the Shadow Swift. The Hellknights permit the companions to board and grant them audience. They are grateful for Steve’s return; however, they refuse to tow the Shadow Swift in recompense. Reason being, the Shadow Swift is presently under attack and the Hellknights do not wish to intervene.
The companions race topside to see coral golums and Kuru warriors wreaking havoc on the deck of the Shadow Swift. Too late in their return, they watch in silent regard as their crew mates fall one after another to Dunbar and his Hell Hound Social Club allies. Despite overwhelming odds, the Shadow Swift puts up a good fight. The sun sits low on the horizon when the last of the crew is slaughtered.
With the Shadow Swift aflame in the distance, a messenger pigeon flies overhead on its way to the ship. Lando shoots a web spell into the air to net the bird, which falls lightly to the deck. Within its scroll case, a message is addressed to the companions from Thuron, head of the Sword of the Edict. It reads, “You not showing up to the parade surprised many. Is everything ok? Please write back.” The companions confer – Thuron was at the parade and knew that they had attended as well. Confused at the implications of the message, the companions decide it best to write back, “All is not well. We were chased out of town by Hollister and his lackeys. We should have heeded your advice…”
The message entrusted to the carrier pigeon, the bird is set on a return course to Freeport. The companions follow the bird’s flight as the sun dips below the horizon. A familiar whirring sounds announces the end of the day as a thick fog picks up from seemingly nowhere. Vision obscured, the world goes blank…