The Freeport Chronicles

All Aboard
Delusions of grandeur

Summary

  • the Hellhound Social Club vessel attacks the Shadow Swift
  • the companions are overcome by Captain Dunbar and his crew
  • a void appears in the mind’s eye, each companion is granted a unique vision

Details

With the crew manning the sails and cannons, the companions brace themselves against the gunwale as the first line of defence against the attacking hoard. Freight and Lando cast several spells to aid the group in the coming encounter. From the other side, Dunbar can be heard rallying his troops, “Tally ho men, across the divide. Attack!

The Kuru warriors are the first to cross. The chaotic warriors fight with an unmatched zeal. Despite the companions best efforts, the Kuru are able to successfully gain a toehold on the deck of the Shadow Swift. Other sailors from the Hellhound Social Club’s ship soon follow and the companions are quickly surrounded. Lando is split off from the group as he attempts to rally the crew.

The companions regroup and focus their attacks on the Kuru combatants. The strategy pays immediate dividends as one of the woad-tattooed warriors falls soon thereafter. This drives the other Kuru into a fiery-eyed frenzy. Working as a team, the companions manage to overcome a second Kuru. The other sailors take a step back, affording the group an opportunity to catch their breath.

Just as the tide seems to turn, Captain Dunbar jumps acrobatically across the divide, landing majestically on the deck of the Shadow Swift. His cloak billows dark tendrils resembling those that were seen in the Temple of the Unspeakable One. With a rallying cry, Dunbar joins the fray. The gambit proves successful, as the Kuru warriors and sailors renew their efforts against the companions. During the melee, Anton and Magus Mike are afflicted by the dark terror emanating from Dunbar’s cloak. Despite their valiant defence of the deck, the group is soon overcome by the superior numbers.

The ship tilts precariously before correcting itself, the gunwale coming close to touching the water. Sensing a massive presence behind him, Lando turns in time to see the hand of a gargantuan coral construct reach out and encircle him. Watching his companions succumb to the onslaught, the gnome is crushed into unconsciousness.

A void appears in the distance, a light on the horizon growing larger. A strange whirring sound escorts the companions as they travel through the emptiness. One by one, the consciousness of the companions awake’s to a strange vision, one that appears so life-like to the senses that it feels real. But different, as if it has already occurred, is happening at present, or will happen, all at the same time.

Visions

Anton

The sleeping form of Yig lies before Anton stretching out immensely in a void of grey nothingness. He can hear the belaboured rush in and out of breath and a deafening, slow heartbeat. On the ground in front of Anton lies a vial of glowing green liquid adorned with an insignia of a serpent with 3 heads – a man, bull, and a lion. A hissing voice barely manages to rasp the words “There is still time to change your fate." The scene then disappears instantly.

It is replaced by a vision of a flag flying the crest of Port Peril flapping gently above the end of the alley. The child of Sil is on Anton’s back – a large dark shard is protruding from his chest and it melds into his skin. In a blur of sudden unconsciousness, Anton finds himself being born into a prison complex as the fires of Hell’s lowest level blaze around him. He is ushered into a cell. Right away, Anton notices that his cellmate is shackled about the hands, feet and neck. “Ah, finally,” Captain Sil whispers, “Hey Anton, you ever wanted to be famous?” His eyes motion to his pants where Anton can see the form of a wheel of cheese protruding from his front left pocket. He says, “The child is they key to everything.”

Romica

Austri, the dwarven god, appears before Romica and addresses him directly, “Romica, you need to reconcile the sellsword soul within you. Too long have you pushed down your noble instinct, as deep down you feared the pull of good and order would get keep you from being brave and brash. Hear me, that repression left unabated, will ruin you. True to your nature, your means may always remain chaotic, but you must turn this nature towards bringing order. Accept your dual nature. Step forward and accept this weapon. Bearing Light-Bringer grants great power and ability. And as long as you and your companions are seeking to bring about order then that power will aid you greatly. If you and your party’s motives are chaotic or neutral then you must accept the consequences of that chaos as well – you will struggle to control her. I trust this will serve as a constant reminder to keep your sights on a noble end. When you prove your worthiness and I can trust you to represent my interests, this condition will be removed.”

Romica scrambles to his knees beside a crew member of the Shadow Swift, J-todd the bard. They are both floating atop a hastily made raft of tied together dead bodies. Romica can see that the body-raft is made of a mix of border combatants and allies from the ship. Sharks circle below. In the distance he can see a tall galley girded in dark, spiky, iron armor. The galley flies the flag of a black nail hammered into the ground, blood flowing from the breach. The ship has dozens and dozens of oars and is towing the Shadow Swift into the mouth of a hidden lagoon. In the distance, Romica see a handful of The Sea Lord’s Armada’s ships converging on the other side of the island.

Magus Mike

Magus Mike’s eyes come into focus and he becomes aware that it is evening and it is foggy. He looks about and finds himself on the deck of a broad tall ship, which is armored by black spiky twisted bands. He looks down and sees he is wearing a dark breastplate with similar spikes protruding from the chest. He is positioned in front of an open air prison cell. Aside from the prisoners, he is alone on deck. Contained in the cell are adult men and women of similar red-haired, bronze-skinned be-freckled descent – they are wearing elaborately embossed hide armor with blue face paint, braided beards and hair. The captives are begging the magus to return them to their families, to their children. In the distance the magus can see the shoreline dotted with trees, their leaves brown and yellowing, a dark cloud is rolling over the forested coastline hills. A light snow begins to fall.

A prisoner pleads with the magus, “Please let us go.” Magus Mike feels a sudden pang of sympathy for the captives before him. It occurs to him, though he has no recollection of how he got here, that he has been tasked with guarding the captives… and that he may in fact have the ability to free them. He searches for a key but does not find one one on his person. Magus fastens one end of a rope to the ship and tosses the other end over the cell wall. He instructs the stronger captives to help the weaker ones over.

The ship has no lifeboats. The only way that the Magus can conceive of getting the captives to shore is to have them row the ship and so he instructs them down into the ship’s belly while he stands watch.

A menacing figure regaled in the same spiky black armor approaches the magus and demands to know what he’s done with the prisoners. Despite sensing his own demise the magus makes a valiant attempt to stall or bluff the armored warrior before being struck by a thick blade.

Fade to black.

Pharasma is revealed to the magus. As the guardian of death, she will return you to the land of the living, as an act of grace, but begs the magus to look deep inside to examine his path in the coming months. She warns him that a dark curse still lingers in his soul. He must seek to free others to free himself. Otherwise, his life will slowly fade once again.

She then vanishes leaving behind a vial of glowing green liquid that seems to swirl about on its own. The vial is emblazoned by a logo of a serpent with 3 heads – one man, one bull and one lion.

Freight

After seeing the devotion of her shipmates to the pirate goddess Besmara, Freight longed to worship more than the simple and dangerous ideals that she had followed for so long. The ideals left her empty and she hoped devotion to the goddess would buoy her soul.

In her search for meaning she discovered ‘the Voyage’, a ritual journey to the island in the Shackles known as Besmara’s Throne where supplicants dedicate themselves to the goddess.

Decided, Freight opens her soul up for the solitary journey only to find a dark force waiting for her.

She recalls little except for the name ‘Yarash’ and the flash of light and powder smoke that marked the arrival of Besmara as she came to her aid.

It is clear that Besmara expects much of Freight and that she will call upon her for service in the future. Until then, Freight is scarred from her truncated Voyage but vowing to embark once more to complete the task she started.

Lando

As the wizened gnome lays on the deck, a strange abstract vision of shapes and colours forms inside the mind’s eye. Somehow, somewhere, Lando knows that the snaking tubes before him, twisting, breaking, joining, are timelines swirling in an ethereal plane. Being a practical thinker, this foreign wave of imagination frightens him, but gains reassurance from a warm and familiar melodic, yet hoarse voice. “It is ok my dear. This is how the sight works for me too.” As his anxiety eases, Lando’s mind is drawn to one such gaseous thread-line. His consciousness, naive and curious, enters the thread. As his perspective shifts, his consciousness is left hovering above his own physical form below.

Lando notices immediately that he is no longer on the deck of the ship in the noonday sun. Instead, the vision shows him sitting quietly at a writing desk, his hair grey, his wrinkled and spotted hands leafing through the pages of ledgers, records and tomes. The surroundings are warm, comfortable and richly furnished, the view outside the window is one of a humble countryside setting. Lando is at peace.

The current document that he is working on details the make up and use of something called Vorpal Dust. Having researched these documents thoroughly in this possible timeline, he inherently understands that the formula allows for the distillation of a powdered substance called Vorpal Dust from a liquid known as Holy Grog. The Grog may be boiled down by simple means and the residue, when lit upon a map or navigation chart reveals highly valuable information regarding creatures, strongholds or vessels in the surrounding area. The records reveal that Vorpal Dust has been preciously coveted by pirates for ages as a means to gain advantage over potential threats or targets. The Dust is also seen as rightful reward for aligning oneself with piratetry, as it is the means by which the Pirate Goddess grants favour as well as a means to influence outcomes to her benefit and that of pirate-kind. Besmara only bestows the Holy Grog in simple clay flagons as a reward to her faithful devotees.

Lando’s academic reverie is soon cut short. A legion of human soldiers bearing the crest of Everstand (a dark iron anvil set against green and white checkers) descend on the house. The doors are quickly busted, his precious archives set aflame. His mother, the familiar voice heard earlier, is slain before his eyes. The Everstand Sargent speaks amid the smoke and flames, “It has taken us many years to find the thief of Our Lord in Iron’s altar, but we have at last found you Lando. The holy relic shall be returned to its rightful place in the north. With this icon back in its guardian’s possession, the Belkzen Orcs stand no chance against our holy conquest. And to think, our fates hung all this time with some pathetic gnomish bookworm. Now slit his throat and let’s be home to the keep.”

As his once peaceful home burns around him, Lando watches the crusaders carry the altar away. Knowing time on this plane is over, his thoughts return to his mother, once thought long lost.

Lando play’s over what he can remember of his mother – Annabelle Hingewhile Peppernick – the memories of her strength, resilience, and compassion bringing a tear to his eye. The death of her husband changed her. She would not speak of his final days, instead, the guilt she bore made her more powerful, but at the same time, more vulnerable. She was considered an adept at the time given her natural insight regarding future events. The loss of her husband pushed her to pursue these powerful abilities to discern the consequence of altering the course of time. This became supernatural when combined with narcotic substances. Through this exploration, she was introduced to the black goat’s curse. Annabelle became a powerful oracle able to manipulate her curse to divine potential unforeseen side effects of alternate realities. This was advantageous to her and her peers, and she learned to live with the side-effects. Over time, however, she could no longer ignore the long-term effects of the substance. And one day, she just disappeared. It was her disappearance that pushed Lando to excel in his studies and hope that one day, someday, he would find her.

But now she is gone. And for what? These are the last thoughts that run through Lando’s head as he is transported from the horrific vision. For some cold and coveted relic of an almost forgotten quest? Why! Why would he agree to keep that blasted altar?

As he awakes from this terrible vision Lando finds himself holding the recipe for Vorpal Dust and a small parchment wrapped sample of the powder, which seems to perpetually spark, sputter and give off the smell of gun smoke.

Aside from the these physical items, the vision grants the following powerful feat: [Future Memory: Once per day Lando may call upon the collective memories of his clan to grant a +3 circumstance bonus on a non-combat action.]

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The Beginning and the End
Leaving port in peril for Port Peril

Summary

  • The companions find themselves aboard the Shadow Swift again as the ship leaves Freeport
  • Captain Ancias is murdered in the midst of child birth, completing Sil’s mission
  • The baby, Sil’s heir, is birthed successfully; the dark onyx shard fuses to the child
  • As Sil’s representatives, the companions take command of the ship as regents
  • A course is set for Port Peril to resupply
  • The ship’s rudder is intentionally damaged by someone on-board
  • During the night, crew-member Fardell, the ship’s Chaplin, is murdered; the ship’s mast is also damaged
  • An investigation into Fardell’s death is commenced while the crew begins repairs
  • A ship crewed by Hellhound Social Club members and Kuru warriors attempts to board the Shadow Swift

Details

The clouds clear as quickly as they formed, and the companions find themselves back on the deck of the Shadow Swift. The ship is casting off from its moor, a mass of civilians thronging the docks shouting and waving fists in their general direction. As if in a dream, the companions are drawn forward towards a door that, although they have not yet entered, is understood to lead to the Captain’s quarters. A sense of déjà vu washes over the group.

The burden of destiny tugging at their coattails, the companions led by a charging Romica burst through the thick door. An angelic creature sits atop a table in the midst of childbirth. A physician attends to her while a seasoned officer takes in the scene. The doctor turns toward the sudden intrusion, “Not a good time sailors.”

Sil’s mission was clear – end the life of the current Captain. Quicker than a blink, the halfling Anton rolls acrobatically onto the table to straddle the Captain. With surprising skill, he performs a crude c-section while keeping the Captain pinned under his body. Lando, not comfortable with his companion’s actions, casts web across the room, attempting to bring the conflict to a standstill. His actions are for naught as Freight, undeterred by the sticky web strands, moves effortlessly to the table and with a mighty chop fulfills Sil’s mission. The angelic creature’s body lies motionless on the table.

Anton carefully cradles the baby as the halfling drops to the floor. Lando slumps in the corner, aghast at the scene. The physician and officer remain rooted to the floor, stunned by the savagery of what just happened.

The physician is the first to break the silence. The tiefling walks over the lifeless body of the Captain, checks her vitals, and calls the time of death. He then turns to the group, “My name is Zwicket, I am the ship’s doctor. You have just murdered our Captain, Ancias. Mario Poffal, the ship’s quartermaster, is the one that made the puddle in the corner. I am assuming that you were sent by Sil?” A nod from Anton. “Ah yes, Captain Sil, always looking out for our best interests. What does he have in store for us I wonder – does he have a plan?” Another nod from Anton. “And is it a good plan?” The halfling glances between the physician and quartermaster, making sure to make eye contact with both before nodding a final time. Both appear content with the answer.

With Anton’s consent, the doctor checks the newborn. After he is satisfied of his good health, Zwicket calls for the cabin boy, a sprite youth by the name of Cecil. The two excuse themselves after collecting the body of Ancias for transport to the infirmary. The quartermaster, Mario Poffal, attempts to leave as well, but is asked to remain – the companions have questions for him. During their discussion, they learn that:

  • The contract signed by the crew of the Shadow Swift was with Asmodeus, the Lord of Hell. In return for the power that binds the crew to the ship, Asmodeus receives the souls of those who die under contract, whether it be at sea or on shore.
  • After many years aboard the ship, Captain Sil convinced the crew to partake in a brash mission – to infiltrate Hell and steal back the contract and release themselves.
  • They bribed one of the Lieutenants of Hell to grant them entry through a one-way portal into the River Sticks.
  • The mission did not go well. Many crew members died in the assault, many more in the retreat, and Sil was captured. This occurred a little more than a month ago. The Shadow Swift was in port for repairs and resupply, and to recruit new crew.
  • Ancias, the wife and first mate of Sil, took over as Captain when he was captured. The ship was under siege during its escape from Hell and her first mate died in action. The post remains vacant.
  • Asking about the relationship of Sil to the serpent folk, Mario advises that they have all had dealings with the serpent folk – indeed, there are several on the crew.
  • Ancias was a lore-keeper, those that are tasked to keep the history of the ship. The bard, J-Todd, is also a lore-keeper.
  • Mario is a protocol-keeper, those that are tasked with maintaining order and discipline upon the ship (i.e. the pirate’s code). The protocol-keeper acts as judge, the crew the jury. The ex-first mate was also a protocol-keeper.
  • Discipline is relatively easy to maintain, as those that break the pirate’s code are dropped to the end of the list for shore leave. This is a bad thing, as shore leave represents an opportunity to recruit new sailors, thereby allowing veterans to complete their contract.
  • Lastly, the companions confirm that the baby is Sil’s heir.

Lando, upon learning that Ancias was Sil’s wife, and therefore Kell’s daughter, becomes understandably distraught – he had agreed to look out for her with his parting words with Kell. The pain of the loss, as well as the knowledge that his companions were to blame, results in immeasurable conflict within the old gnome.

The quartermaster is excused and the companions have a moment to unwind. They survey the Captain’s quarters, their new living quarters – it is a large room complete with a closet for their clothes, a massive chest for gear, a writing desk, and a bed – one bed. Understanding the problem at hand, they draw straws for who gets the bed tonight. Before they come to a conclusion, the bag of holding in Anton’s gear begins to vibrate. A dark onyx shard, acquired on Brightglass Island during their previous adventure, appears from the bag. The shard hovers lazily, moving slowly towards the baby and attaches to his chest. There is no discernible effect as the shard fuses with the baby’s skin, seemingly becoming a part of him.

Freight is visibly upset and voices her displeasure at the turn of events, “Gentlemen, this is wrong, it feels wrong. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s wrong.” Lando sympathizes with her and detects magic. A tinge of evocation, necromancy, and conjuration emanates from where the shard has fused with the baby, but it quickly dissipates.

The companions recall that the shard, which appears to have been broken off of a larger formation, was found in a chest along with some articles. This included a journal which detailed the history of the shard – it was found by a fisherman floating in the ocean. It was brought on shore to the fisherman’s village, but was thought to have brought ill will and was quickly returned to the ocean. Other journal entries mention that the shard returns to the village on several occasions. The entries become increasingly disconnected, suggesting that the shard was corrupting the author. Feeling a heightened sense of responsibility for the child after failing his mother, Lando is compelled to learn more about the dark onyx shard and its possible influence on the child.

Fearing for the safety of the newborn, Zwicket is called back to the Captain’s quarters. He performs a second check-up on the child and confirms that he remains in perfect health. Further, there is no magical emanations as before. Arrangements for a wet nurse are made, and the doctor is excused again.

Before bedding down, the companions summon Pretty Ike the boatswain as well as Rockinsky the carpenter. The companions update them on their mission – that Sil had tasked them with killing Ancias and that the deed had been done. They thank the group for the update and advise that they had been visited by Sil in ethereal form as well. Their mission was to get the delivered portal up and running. When asked about the portal, they advise that is it not quite ready, although the group believes that they are holding back. In terms of next steps, they advise that Sil’s plan was to release his wife from the contract – to do this, she was to be killed so that her soul would be sent to Hell, and then rescued although the details did not mention how this would be achieved. That said, he may not have understood that she was pregnant, although the companions are confused as to how he would not know this.

This information provides a glimmer of hope to Lando, who appears somewhat relieved. The companions offer their assistance to Pretty Ike and Rockinsky. The two advise that reconnaissance is required – there are allies on the ship that may help, but there are others that will not be happy with Ancias’ death. They explain that Sil was always a pragmatic but brash personality. He preferred to meet conflict head on. The decision to assault Hell, and the subsequent failure of that mission, has rubbed many the wrong way. Ancias did things in a more rational manner. Her idea was to fulfill the original mission of the ship, which many thought was a rational choice.

Before being dismissed, Lando asks Pretty Ike and Rockinsky about the lore-keepers’ records. They advise that the bard’s quarters are right around the corner. As Captains, the companions have access to the lore-keeper’s records; however, it is not necessarily socially acceptable to do so. There are secrets kept within the records that are meant to remain secret. The two sailors agree to provide the bard, J-Todd, with a good word on their behalf. With that, the companions bed down for the night.

The Shadow Swift easily outruns the Freeport Armada and morning comes soon enough. The bell boy, Cecil, is instructed to call the officers together on deck. The companions introduce themselves as the new Captains of the ship. They inform the crew that Ancias died in child birth, although the baby was saved and is in good health. As Sil’s representatives, the companions have been entrusted by the good Captain to look after his heir in his absence, and will take command of the ship for the time being as regents. The officers accept the story without question.

A general report is provided by the officers. The ship was hastily repaired in the aftermath of it’s assault on Hell, leaving the coffers in bad shape. That said, some of the cannons were not yet loaded and have been left in Freeport. Along with several crew-members that were on shore leave. Morale is relatively low given the failure of their last mission. And stores are in bad shape given their early exit from Freeport. The ship’s cook, Potvin, estimates there are 3 days of food and water available. On the flip side, there is plenty of grog available should the Captains wish to improve morale. Lastly, the ship’s sails are in good condition; however, Telecum, the ship’s engineer, advises that he would like to chat in private.

The companions put their heads together and come up with a plan – the ship is to sail for Port Peril, about three days away, to complete repairs and restock. Further, the companions will ask the Mage’s Guild to provide a message to the orc crew aboard the Bloody Vengeance – if they can deliver the Shadow Swift’s cannons and missing crew-members to Port Peril, they will be granted ownership rights to the Vengeance, including the lucrative privateering writ. Lastly, Lando wishes to consult with the Mage’s Guild regarding their knowledge of the black onyx shard.

The course is set and the Shadow Swift sails for Port Peril. Feeling good about their plan, the group meets with Telecum after the officers disburse. He reports that someone has tampered with the rudder, intentionally. It appears as if some sort of detonation has damaged the steering mechanism. It will be challenging to steer the ship in tight quarters without the rudder, although the ships’ sails should suffice on the open water.

This information suggests to the companions that there could be someone on-board looking to undermine their command. Wanting to get the rudder fixed as efficiently as possible, the group calls on the services of their friends Sprocket and Glurp. The goblin and gnome are happy to assist and get to work investigating the damage.

The companions decide to retire to the ship’s common area, where they bump into J-Todd. The bard pulls up a chair and several drinks, and the companions reminisce about their time in Freeport. Lando and J-Todd hit it off, and the bard agrees to let the gnome come by in the morning to check out the lore-keeper’s chronicles.

At this time, Sprocket and Glurp make their report on the rudder. The steering mechanism was not seriously damaged, but the rudder needs to be replaced. To do so, they will need some timber to hew, which they can likely obtain in Port Peril. The companions thank them for the good news, and given that its getting late, retire to their quarters.

The weather becomes rougher as the night wears on. In the wee hours of the morning, the companions sleep is interrupted by violent swells and howling wind. It is not long thereafter that voices can be heard on the wind, then a crack of lighting and a giant bang, followed by shouts of alarm. The companions quickly dress and make their way topside.

The sun has recently crested the horizon making for a hazy light. The main mast has been struck by lightning and has exploded halfway up the shaft. Further, the sail is on fire. Mario Poffal, along with several other officers, are on the opposite side of the ship directing crew-members to the fire. The quartermaster also appears to be keeping sailors clear of some sore of disturbance.

With many sailors already attending to the fire, the companions investigate the disturbance on the other side of the ship. As they close on Poffal’s position, a dead body, charred and bloodied, can be seen on deck. The quartermaster has enforced a perimeter to preserve evidence. Poffal waves to the group and indicates that they may examine the crime scene. He identifies the murdered crew-member as Chaplin Fardell, a resident priest of Besmara. A tattoo of holy grog can be seen on his hand. As Chaplin, he counselled crew-members and collected tithes on behalf of Besmara. Not surprisingly, the quartermaster advises that Fardell was universally loved and respected on the ship given his relationship with the Goddess of Piracy. His death will be seen as an ill omen. The companions request that his room be locked down until they have a chance to search for clues.

The cleric Freight inspects the body, concluding that the crew-member’s death was caused by an explosion. A red piece of embroidered fabric, possibly ripped from a piece of clothing, is found in the left hand of the body. Glurp, the ship’s explosives expert, is called to the scene. He examines the blackened deck but is unable to tell if the blast was initiated by magical or natural means. That said, he finds an explosive residue near the gunwale that he recognizes as gun powder. It is fairly damp, meaning it has likely been there for some time. In discussion with the companions, they learn that gun powder distribution is controlled by Glurp. It would take a significant amount of the substance to produce an explosion of this magnitude, of which the gnome advises is not missing from his stores. The companions thank Glurp for his time and excuse him from the scene.

Wishing to help the investigation, Lando detects magic and isolates an aura of evocation that lines up with the blast marks on the deck. He also recognizes a faint aura of necromancy coming from the cargo bay below. The other companions scour the immediate area and find:

  • a long gnarly staff on deck near the stairs below deck; it is not magical in nature, it appears to function as a walking stick
  • a cold iron trident leaned up against the gunwale
  • uneaten rations tucked behind the water-barrel
  • a message pad lying face down on deck, wet from the rain; Lando places the pad in a special tube designed to dry papers for later examination
  • a trail of blood leading from the scene to the entrance of the rigging stores
  • an empty bird cage that appears to be crushed, the door is askew and there are white feathers inside; Cecil uses birds to run messages across the ship
  • a poodle is found cowering behind the rigging, it is wet and shivering, the dog has a pink leash with a brass tag that says “Perfect”; no one has seen the dog before
  • one of the large doors to the cargo bay is slightly askew

Their initial investigation of the scene complete, the companions discuss next steps. First things first, the fire in the sails has been bested and repairs need to be attended to. Several officers are summoned and tasked with facilitating the repairs. At this time, a lookout calls down to the crew. A massive galleon, black and heavily armored, has been spotted on the horizon anchored off nearby islands. With the mast down, the Shadow Swift sits low in the water. The companions instruct the crew to camouflage the ship as best as possible in hopes of avoiding detection while repairs are completed.

The quartermaster, Poffal, returns to the deck once he has secured Fardell’s quarters. He provides the companions with the key. The group asks for a roll call of those on watch at the time of the murder. Poffal advises that there were four crew-members on watch: Creston Burge, Loquacious Winding Tam, Gary Soldana, and Dragor Redblade. Everyone on the crew is accounted for with the exception of Loquacious and the physician Zwicket.

The companions put Poffal in charge of monitoring the galleon so that they can continue with their investigation. There are two clues that require immediate attention – the trail of blood and the slightly askew door to the cargo bay. Understanding there is only one exit from the cargo bay, the doors that lead topside to the deck, the companions put the door under watch while they follow the trail of blood. The droplets lead away from the scene, as if some was staggering, then double back in a smeared fashion, suggesting the body was dragged.

The trail leads below deck to the infirmary. Inside, the ship’s doctor, Zwicket, is attending to a female human. She is in rough shape, with burn marks that would imply she was wounded by an explosive force. The doctor is not in the mood to speak, but advises that she is indeed the missing patrol person, Loquacious Winding Tam, and that he transported her here after finding her near death on the deck of the ship. The companions note that neither are wearing a red coat.

Alarm bells sound from above and the group quickly returns to the deck. A sleek ship, smaller than the galleon spotted earlier, quickly approaches the Shadow Swift. The ship is flying a standard adorned with a spear piercing a flag, a pennant affiliated with Freeport. On the deck, a stout male human shouts orders to his crew. The companions recognize him as Dunbar, the head of the Hell Hound Social Club. Further, several members of the crew are identified as Kuru, a cannibal clan of fierce warriors. Neither the Club nor the Kuru are known to ply the waters, but extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

Anticipating impact, the companions instruct the crew to man the cannons and to unfurl the sails in hopes of picking up speed and making boarding more difficult. The ship manages to successfully navigate alongside the Shadow Swift. Grappling hooks are attached to the hull, and the opposing crew prepares to board.

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Black Coral Cove

  • The companions set off on their water mounts in pursuit of the Magpie Princess. Their old ship is in sight but far enough ahead that they are unlikely to catch up before it makes landfall upon Brightglass Island – the location on Warvil’s map identified as the location of Jemma Redclaw’s treasure
  • The skies darken around the ship; the sea below turns into an enormous whirlpool as the black sky above mirrors the sea, churning into a swirling vortex pulling light and clouds upwards into the heavens. Ahead a massive, black pirate ship appears and the figure of a raven-haired pirate captain manifests, floating toward them; her face black on one side and white on the other. In the blink of an eye, the companions are on the deck of the ship and she stands before them, flanked by four clockwork Mighty Men, one of them missing an arm
  • Besmara, the Goddess of Piracy requests that the companions aid her with three worldly matters:
    • to capture and bring forth Captain Varossa Lanteri, who has been pilfering and plundering shrines, holy sites, treasure, and offerings left for the goddess
    • to retrieve the clockwork arm from the body of Captain Jemma Redclaw so that it may be fitted back where it belongs, on one of Besmara’s mighty guardians
    • to free one of her own clerics by the name of Freight who is possessed by a malevolent spirit and bound in the hold of the Magpie Princess by the group’s former crew
  • The companions agree and, as Besmara’s ghostly ship disappears from view and the seas return to normal, they discover themselves in front of the Magpie Princess, anchored just off the shore from Brightglass Island
  • The companions board the Magpie Princess and discover Lanteri, Hinsin, and Vancid Creed have all gone ashore in search of the treasure. Freight had to be subdued and tied up as her possession was causing her to develop stigmata wounds and become violent toward the crew. Exorcism is possible but no one aboard has a holy symbol of Besmara with which to complete the ritual
  • The party follows the captain and her allies into the ancient temple where they find Hinsin unconscious. When revived he reluctantly agrees to come along with them to find Lanteri
  • The way forward becomes blocked with a black coral / chitin / obsidian type substance that is sharp and seems to emanate a low hum. When Romica breaks through it to go deeper into the temple the shards break into a deep indigo dust before disappearing completely
  • The companions stumble across a black, rune-covered chest within which floats a black shard made of a shiny, glass-like black substance similar to the black coral chitin seen around the temple. The shard oozes dark indigo shadows and has the imprint of a tentacle upon is surface. When placed in a bag of holding light returns to the chest and they find a simple, leather-bound journal of a fisherman
  • The companions enter a secluded cove within a great cave where they discover an aging, derelict ship covered in black coral and obsidian secretions like armor plating. The group recognizes the ship as Captain Jemma Redclaw’s vessel, the Fearsome Tide
  • On the deck of the ship, the companions encounter Captain Jemma Redclaw – decomposing and covered in black coral, but moving as if very much alive – and Captain Varossa Lanteri – still breathing, but covered in the same black coral and seemingly controlled by an unseen force
  • After dispatching the two captains the group is set upon by a monstrous incultis lord, his tentacles lashing out to embed his mind-controlling stingers into anyone he strikes
  • The party successfully dispatches the incultis lord but not before Romica and Hinsin are impaled by the aberration’s stingers, requiring Lando and Magus’ unskilled hands to try and remove them
  • The Three Reasons to Live is used to retrieve Captain Jemma Redclaw’s treasure.
  • Given that the entrance has been blocked by coral, the companions are unable to sail the ship out of the cave and instead fashion a travois to carry the injured, along with Lanteri, back to the beach.
  • The crew isn’t thrilled when they learn that Lanteri is held captive, but accept the companion’s authority when they advise that her fate will be decided by Besmara.
  • The ship’s doctor is called to attend to Freight who advised that traditional forms of medication will not help. A shrine to the Goddess of Piracy is created and her power flows through the doctor. A magical grog is created and fed to the semi-conscious Freight.
  • The cleric comes to and tells of seeking Besmara before a darkness descended. Freight remembers nothing after that point.
  • A sunny day to this point, a cloud bank violently rolls in, surrounding the vessel. When the clouds part, the companions find themselves on the ship of Besmara, where the companions present the Goddess with:
    • Captain Varossa, who must answer for her malicious plundering of pirate shrines to Besmara. Instead of making an example of the Captain, Besmara binds Varossa to ply the seas as part of crew, forevermore. Lanteri is visibly shaken.
    • the clockwork arm is returned, as requested.
    • Freight is presented to the Goddess as proof that her possession has been overcome.
  • As reward, the companions are permitted to keep Redclaw’s treasure. Further, Besmara draws a deck of many things from her pocket, and the companions select magical cards, for better or worse.
  • Clouds enshroud the ship again, and the companions find themselves back on the deck of the Shadow Swift.

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Dangerous Waters

  • The crew and the companions spend the following day making the final preparations; the captain, feeling uneasy following the ambush by Snowfeather, delays departure until the following day
  • After their final day in port, the crew is given leave for one final night of revelry wherein the ship’s bard, Jaspin “Heartbreak” Hinsin, serenades the crew with the tale of the Three Reasons to Live
  • Three pirates, including Captain Lanteri’s late husband, slew a great brine dragon named Nicorydine among whose treasure they found a magic instrument with documents claiming it to be the key to accessing the legendary treasure of Captain Redclaw. The pirates split the instrument into three pieces and agreed that whoever lived longest could claim the treasure. Nicorydine’s son, Kelizar, avenged his mother’s death by killing one of the pirates and sinking his ship. Another was hanged by Besmaran priests at Blackwarn’s Gallows. Warvil Lanteri was killed by his wife in a heated argument where Warvil drew his pistol and threatened to kill Varossa. With all three dead, Varossa Lanteri is now setting out to find the three pieces of the magical horn that will open the gates to Redclaw’s treasure.
  • The following day the crew sets out in the direction of Blackwarn’s Gallows but are intercepted by a siren along the way that charms members of the crew. The group does what they can to not injure any of their former allies while they dispatch the source of the danger, ingratiating themselves towards their new crew
  • The ship arrives at Blackwarn’s Gallows later that evening and drop anchor
  • The companions are briefed on their target: Captain Rahil Harkhalm, or more specifically his peg-leg where his piece of the Three Reasons to Live is thought to be hidden
  • The group sets out in a skiff accompanied by two aging crew members and approach the massive stone arch from which hang three decaying corpses – the least decayed among them sports a peg leg
  • Following an encounter with a Karkinoi matriarch and her two brood swarms that nearly killed Romica and Magus Mike (twice), the group reaches the top of the arch to find the body of Captain Harkhalm
  • The companions pull up the bodies of those hanged from the arch and build a funeral pyre to put them to rest after they loot each corpse for any valuables
  • A search of Captain Harkhalm’s peg leg reveals the mouthpiece for the Three Reasons to Live among other magical items
  • Back aboard the ship, Romica becomes stricken with fever and an aversion to salt water that even the ship’s doctor is unable to treat – a curse for desecrating Besmaran sacred ground
  • Upon the waves the Magpie Princess is beset by a preternatural storm that claims some of the crew members in the rigging of the ship
  • Magus Mike receives a vision from the sentient storm of the group riding water horses across the sea to the sound of pipes playing as the sky around them darkens and an immense pirate ship appears
  • The Magpie Princess reaches the atoll ruled over by the dragon Kelizar, the son of Nicorydine, where the second piece of the Three Reasons to Live is known to rest in the sunken wreck of the Sabre’s Kiss
  • The captain asks the companions to pose as captain(s) lest Kelizar recognize Lanteri for being part of the crew that killed his mother. She provides magical cloaks and costumes to help the companions look the part. To Anton she provides a golden ring of protection
  • The companions negotiate passage in Kelizar’s atoll to look for an item of sentimental value
  • The underwater reef proves dangerous but the companions manage to successfully enter the shipwreck where they are haunted by one of the crew of the Sabre’s Kiss and the last moments of his life
  • The Sabre’s Kiss is under attack and the companions can feel the hull shaking with blows from above deck. Ahead they see a younger version of Captain Lanteri in embrace with Halid, the Boatswain of the Sabre’s Kiss. He urges her to get back to her ship lest her husband find her and as a parting gift he gives her a golden ring. As she departs up to the main deck the head of a dragon bursts through the hull, spraying the inside of the ship with acid breath and killing Halid.
  • As the haunt lifts, the ghost of Halid attacks the group. The ghost’s power seems overwhelming until he notices the ring upon Anton’s finger, the momentary lapse being enough for the group to get the best of him and put him to rest
  • The companions search the remaining cabins of the sunken wreck and find some magical items as well as the end piece of the Three Reasons to Live
  • The Magpie Princess makes its way toward Warvil’s Folly, the island where Warvil Lanteri was marooned and where Varossa Lanteri believes the final piece of the Three Reasons to Live is hidden
  • The companions set off toward the island and make landfall in a cove deep inside the island where they encounter Brooke Shields, a Triton. They aid her in rescuing one of her hippocampus herd from two attacking sea cats. She tells of the difficulty she has had with a water fey that has moved into the area and claims Brook Shields’ herd of hippocampi as her own
  • Climbing the mountain paths into the jungle the companions run into a lizardfolk tribe that believes the group to be kin of the tribe’s long lost friend Warvil. In exchange for helping to kill some of their enemies, they provide the group with talismans that will provide them access to the temple where Warvil kept some of his belongings
  • Within the temple the companions meet Kahobeah, the air elemental guardian put in place to ensure that no one tries to reclaim the temple from nature. He remembers Warvil and allows entry to claim what remains of his effects
  • The group discovers a map of the Shackles with the island location of Captain Redclaw’s treasure clearly marked but the final piece of the Three Reasons to Live is absent among Warvil’s things
  • The companions return to the beach to return to the Magpie Princess but they are intercepted by Brooke Shields who tells them that their ship has already sailed without them. She can help them get off the island if they will help her deal with the cursed water fey that continues to harass her and the hippocampus herd
  • After the defeat of the water fey, Brooke Shields provides the companions with a set of pipes made from coral that summon hippocampus mounts upon which they can pursue the Magpie Princess and get their revenge

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The Rum Punch Festival

Having received too many bumps on the head over countless adventures, Lando is forthcoming that many tales have, for whatever reason, slipped through the ephemeral sieve that serves as his memory. Others are so fantastical that they are not likely to have occurred. And several appear to be narrated out of order.

The following chapters are a good example of this latter condition. That said, the author has been diligent in confirming the stories to eye-witness accounts, and has therefore maintained the original sequencing as presented by second scribe Lando.

  • The companions awake on the beach of a strange island town, groggy, bleary-eyed, and reeking of rum
  • The group is greeted by a cleric of Caden Cailean named Anyabwile who tells them about the Rum Punch festival that is currently underway
  • Anyabwile shows the companions around the town of Lillywhite including indulging in some of the local hospitality through a drinking contest prior to watching the main event: the parade of freedom
  • A shot rings out over the assembled crowd and Captain Varossa Lanteri challenges anyone who wishes to help her find the lost treasure of the infamous pirate Captain Jemma Redclaw to be the first at the God’s Revel Inn
  • In the crush of the crowd the group make it to the Inn where they are challenged by a pit fighter and his companions for the coveted spots on Lanteri’s crew
  • In spite of Captain Lanteri’s urging not to spill blood, the companions use lethal violence against their foes before the captain calls off the fight declaring the group as the winners and shaming the surviving pit fighter
  • The group is welcomed aboard Captain Lanteri’s ship, the Magpie Princess, as full members of the crew
  • The companions are told that after a recent mutiny the Magpie Princess is damaged and in need of repairs before she can set sail in search of Captain Redclaw’s treasure
  • The group is tasked with seeking out someone in the lumber yard that can create a new masthead for the ship and are given a budget. They are warned about one of the captain’s enemies, a tengu named Hyrix Snowfeather, who led a failed mutiny against Lanteri but escaped capture and who is thought to be stalking the captain and her allies
  • At the lumberyard the companions are informed they can have a masthead rushed free of charge if they can deal with the ongoing problem of loggers going missing in the jungle, preventing the sourcing of quality wood
  • The group proceeds into the jungle to find the missing loggers and discovers a group of River Drakes that appear to be the cause of the disappearances. The drakes are dispatched and the group receives the carved masthead in return
  • Back on the ship the crew and the companions install the masthead and assist with other chores to get the vessel seaworthy while the captain and her entourage head back to town for supplies and to tie up some loose ends
  • That night Freight is awakened by the sound of a woman’s voice calling for help outside. She goes up onto the deck and helps the woman up to the ship but she turns out to be Mother Grund, a green hag known to haunt the swamps around Lillywhite
  • As the companions battle the hag, Hyrix Snowfeather appears on board the ship searching for Lanteri and information relating to the Three Reasons to Live, the key known to give access to Captain Jemma Redclaw’s treasure
  • The group dispatches Mother Grund and Hyrix Snowfeather. Upon her return, Captain Lanteri makes an example of Hyrix Snowfeather, showing them all that his fate will be theirs should anyone further consider mutiny aboard her vessel

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Battle on the Beach

Summary

  • The parade route is navigated, the companions reach the beach before the guards
  • A massive horned demon rises from the sand and is engaged in battle
  • Milos and Rooster, as well as Kendrick and Marcus Wade are summoned to fight the companions
  • Rooster defies his possession and allies with the group, the goat demon is vanquished
  • Captain SIl asks the companions to kill the current Captian of the Shadow Swift
  • The group boards the ship just ahead of an angry mob of civilians led by Hollister
  • A contract is signed, the companions join the ship’s crew
  • The Captain is found mid-child birth, the companions reconsider their mission

Details

The guards take possession of several of the parade floats and supporting vehicles in order to follow the companions. The Captain of the Guard, Chuck, leads the pursuit; he situates himself in a bunny themed chariot pulled by old pony. Other guards commandeer a float shaped like a giant wiener, as well as a large float populated by a brass band. Lastly, two toughs jump in a penny cab. Hollister screams at them from the ramparts above to bring him the heads of the companions.

The goblin and gnome, who introduce themselves as Glurp and Sprocket, instruct the group to hang on as they ignite the fireworks in the bed of the vehicle. The wagon rockets through the portcullis. The parade route opens in front of the companions – there are multiple switchbacks and other obstacles that will need to be navigated.

The guards on their tail, Lando casts a web spell across the gate as soon as the companions are through. The sticky web ensnares the first cart and disrupts the guard’s pursuit, providing some valuable time to create some distance between the companion’s wagon and the guards. The group focuses on the parade route:

  • The switchbacks are navigated to precision by the goblin and gnome
  • At a split in the road, the companions chose the less traveled route that goes through an underpass – there are few festival goers on this route, the revelers are distracted with a magical summons for free beer in the distance
  • At the next split, the group chooses a route that leads to a locked gate – the chime of opening is rung and the gate opens just in time for the companions to motor through
  • The wagon beginning to slow, the companions barely make the crest of the next hill. The descent has two paths, the companions choose one that leads into the city. A dirty street urchin is being bullied by several nobles. The companions use their elixir of forceful exhalation to buffet the nobles and provide the urchin time to escape.

The guards hopefully lost behind them, the companions choose to follow the straightest route to the docks, allowing several other potential detours to pass. With the fuel for their rockets almost spent, the companions exit the wagon near a theatre. Wanting to maintain their anonymity, Anton dons a mask and entertains the crowd while the other companions organize a cab. His performance complete, the companions pick up Anton as they pass.

The cabbie takes the group towards the docks, dropping them off at the edge of the beach. The companions walk onto the sand and spot the Shadow Swift, disguised as a gravel scow, at a nearby dock. Before they can make their way towards it, a giant black goat with massive horns and the face of a human, rises before the group. A bright blue aura emanates from the core of the goat. Although the docks are crowded with people, none seem to pay any attention to the extra-planar demon. Lando casts an obscuring mist to hide the battle to come, and provide more time before the guards are able to locate the companions.

“How should I crush you, who can hurt you the most? Let me look deep into your hearts and see the depths of hell in your souls.” The goat begins the motions of a spell. The companions begin to charge the beast. The summoning is completed well before they can close the distance – Milos and Rooster rise from the sands, appearing diminished, as if shades of themselves. “Ah, I see the fear in your eyes. Excellent. Attack my minions, complete in death what you could not in life.”

The companions decide to focus first on Milos and Rooster. Romica averts his charge and attacks the gunslinger with a nasty swing. Anton is right behind the hairy warrior and notes that Rooster appears conflicted, as if he attempting to fight the possession. “I know he have a complicated past Rooster, but we need you here to fight the good fight.” The gunslinger’s voice is cold steel, “I need more time. You need to give me more time.”

Anton moves past the gunslinger to attack the goat. Black whispers swirl in his mind, but he is able to resist their temptations. Magus Mike follows the swashbuckler and is also able to defy the dark thoughts in his head as he nears the goat demon. Milos successfully casts hold person on Lando, the wizened gnome is unable to move. Rooster, hands shaking, fires at Romica.

Romica joins Anton and Magus as they focus on the black goat. The demon appears frustrated with his minions, and that he must fend for himself. “If hate does not work, perhaps it is love that will win this day. Are there friends that you miss, friends that have died due to the decisions that you have made? Decisions that you now doubt.” With a flourish, the massive goat summons more minions – Kendrick and Marcus Wade rise from the sands to battle the companions.

The outcome of the battle balancing on a knife’s blade, the arrival of Kendrick and Marcus had the potential to tip the scales – and also to provide Rooster the needed push to overcome his possession. “Gentlemen, you cannot let this dock fiend prevail, let’s drive him back through the gates of hell!” The gunslinger unloads his pistols into an unsuspecting Milos, returning the snake person to the land of the dead. The death of Milos also breaks Lando’s imprisonment, allowing the gnome once more the use of his body. The gnomish wizard provides Rooster with a near-toothless grin, “Didn’t believe much in karma ‘till now. My thanks sir. And in return I will grant you this – your sister lives.” The gunslinger’s smile brings a tear to the old man’s eye.

Riding high from the turn of events, Lando decides to push his luck – the wizard casts a grease spell centered on the goat. Engaged on three sides, the goat is unable to maintain his balance in the slippery substance and loses his footing, crashing to the ground. The companions focus on the prone goat, while Rooster battles with Kendrick and Marcus.

Given the dire predicament, the black goat tries one more time to turn the tide of the battle. The demon casts a summoning a spell – Magus Mike receives a premonition and recoils in fear. Dark tentacles, incorporeal in substance, rise from the ocean and approach the city. They head directly for the docks, although the people there are unable to see them. The tentacles attach themselves to the citizens, who continue on with their daily routines.

The companions continue to hack on the vulnerable goat demon, attempting to banish it from this realm. Freight lands a mighty blow, severing the head of the goat. The demon liquefies into a dark molten puddle, and the goat’s minions fall lifeless to the ground. A sudden calm descends on the beach.

The mist dissipates to reveal Chuck and the rest of his guards approaching the beach. A large mob of civilians rides in their wake, ready to rip the companions to pieces for their perceived injustices. Hollister can be seen on the fringe, rallying the crowd to attack the group.

Artificial twilight suddenly descends and a strange green brightness alights the sky. A black swath appears, a giant flag falling towards the ship announcing the arrival of Capitan Sil. “Well done, well done, I knew you could do this! We have almost completed our introduction. I have one last task for you, one last objective before I am restored to my noble destiny. I need you to enter the Captain’s quarters and strike down the Captain. Do this and this mission is complete.” The Captain shimmers and fades from view.

With a veritable sea of dissenters chasing, the companions make haste to the Shadow Swift and arrive at the ship seconds before the guards. Boarding the vessel, they are met with the quartermaster, a stout gentleman with the head of a hammerhead shark. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are heading out of port shortly. Are you here to sign up? If not, you can leave post-haste.” A contract is produced, similar to that seen from Captain Kell’s vision.

Nowhere to turn, the companions agree to the terms of the contract, although Lando produces a writ to note that the contract is signed under duress. The quartermaster welcomes the companions aboard, at the same time allowing five ancient and beleaguered sailors to exit the ship. Tattoos appear on each of the companions on the skin between the index finger and thumb – Romica receives an anchor, Lando a quill, Freight a scroll case, Magus Mike a gong, and Anton a crow’s nest.

With a signal from the quartermaster, the tie lines are removed and the sails unfurled. The wind catches the sails and the ship moves into the channel. Hollister and his guards scream from the shore, waving their fists.

The companions make their way inside the ship, intent to find the Captain’s quarters. On their way, they meet Pretty Ike and Rockinsky the carpenter who tend to the delivered cargo. The group watches as they pull back the canvas to reveal what looks to be a portal, similar in shape and size to the one viewed in Thrall Thangar. The companions ask Pretty Ike and Rockinsky to join them, but they refuse as they have their own mission to attend to.

Directions are provided, and the companions locate the Captain’s quarters soon thereafter. Opening the door, the group bursts in on a surprising scene – an angelic creature lays atop a bed in the midst of child birth, attended by the ships tiefling physician. The angelic creature, the ship’s Captain, addresses the group, “I bet that imbecile Captain Sil sent you, didn’t he – Sil always knows best, that one. So what are you going to do?” The doctor, not hiding his contempt, points to the door. “Not a good time, why don’t you come back later to talk.” The Captain grunts in pain as the labour takes its toll, sweat streaking down her face. She regains her composure after the contraction passes, “Let me make this easy for you. I am Captain of the Shadow Swift, and I see from the tattoos on your hands that you have joined the crew. Well as Captain, I order you to your stations. Go.”

The companions, unsure of what to do, decide it best to leave the room and find their quarters for some well-deserved rest.

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The Sealord's Feast
Hollister enacts his revenge

Summary

  • Port officials are bribed providing a window to execute Captain Sil’s plans
  • The Bloody Vengeance is sailed to the provided coordinates
  • The companions take delivery of cargo from a snake person’s vessel
  • The cargo is delivered to the carpenter Rockinsky on the Shadow Swift
  • The companions attend the Sealord’s Feast as honored guests
  • A rather impressive list of litanies is recited by Hollister, the group is betrayed
  • The companions attempt to escape arrest with a little help from a goblin and gnome

Details

The companions thank Lord Brack for his kind words, and advise that they look forward to chatting further at the Sealord’s Feast. But the night is still young, and there is much work to do. With that in mind, the companions set off for the office of Barnaby the Uncorruptible, which they have learned from Spencer the barkeep is located in the modern portion of the docks on the west side of the city. The group hails a cab and heads in that direction.

The cabbie drops the companions off at the foot of a giant floating warehouse situated between two large docks. The group walks down one of the docks to a gatehouse where several guards are stationed. An official steps forward – he has been instructed to take payment from the group on behalf of Barnaby. The companions are a bit worried about providing payment in plain sight, but the official advises that the guards are of no concern, this type of activity is common on the docks. The payment is made and the official confirms that port employees will turn a blind eye until midnight.

Business complete, the companions head over to the Bloody Vengeance to make preparations for their rendezvous voyage. The orc crew is already at work under the watchful eye of Captain Kell. He is eager to get underway as he is happy to be on the water again. Anton barks at the crew, who return his verbal abuse begrudgingly. Herder is brought forth and officially named 1st mate in recognition of her victory at the Arena.

With a practiced wave, Captain Kell signals to the crew to castoff and the Bloody Vengeance sets sail. The ship arrives at the referenced coordinates after sunset. The companions and the crew stare silently into the night – there is no other ship in sight. From the depths of the dark recesses of the ocean, Freight notices two glowing green orbs quickly gaining in size. The orbs, the eyes of a giant beast, breach the surface soon thereafter. Heat rises from the water producing a mist that surrounds the ship, the smell of sulphur is strong in the air. The beast is huge, its skin rough and bumpy, its sides undulating as it breathes.

The orc crew is visibly upset at the sight of a massive sea beast and attempt to rally Captain Kell to return to port. Freight, a seasoned sailor herself, and the Captain discuss the turn of events – it is clear neither have any knowledge of a sea monster as such. Both converse with the crew in an attempt to soothe their fears. Anton jumps to the railing and addresses the creature.

At this time, two thin organic antennae break the surface, followed by a small platform. A circular hatch in the platform opens and two serpent folk appear, both dressed in aquatic suits. One of the serpent folk approaches Freight and signals for her to accompany him back to the hatch. Freight nods and follows. The second serpent folk addresses Freight in common – they have been sent to this location to make a delivery. They ask for one of Captain Sil’s coins to confirm that Freight and crew are the appropriate ones to take delivery. Freight advises that the coin is valuable to the group, and that the companions are concerned that the coin could be used to take advantage of Sil. The serpent folk deliberate and go below deck. They return with an intestinal-looking cord that ends in a speaker. Captain Sil is on the line and is upset at the delay, he advises that more coins will be forthcoming for use in future missions.

Happy with the arrangement, Freight provides the coin to the serpent folk. She notes a green glow and pulse emanating from the cargo hold. The second serpent folk advises that the Captain requests that the equipment be delivered and installed without delay. Further, the cargo is to be left untouched. Returning to the hatch, the creature waves, and in serpent folk language says, “May Yg guide you this night”. A green glow draws Freight’s attention to her pocket. There are two small beakers, both with the skull and bomb insignia inscribed on the cork – the first contains a milky gas, the second a long splinter of wood. The hatch closes and the vessel recedes below the waves at incredible speed.

Returning to the ship, Lando identifies the beakers as an elixir of forceful exhalation and a toothpick of pyrotechnics. The group proceeds to the cargo bay. Sure enough, there is a large container sitting atop a massive dolly. The cargo is wrapped in canvas and well secured. The companions decide to honour Captain Sil’s request and do not investigate further.

As the ship returns to port, Captain Kell pulls Lando aside to ask a favour. Given the trust that has developed between the two, Kell asks that Lando keep a watchful eye on his daughter aboard the Shadow Swift. She will be happy to hear news of his recovery, that he will die upon the open seas as a true sailor should instead of a broken man wasting away in a tavern. Lando, a tear in his eye, obliges. In return, Kell graces the gnome with the story of his life:

“I was once Captain of the Shadow Swift myself, many moons ago. I lived a happy life in those times, my daughter sailing at my side. But that little girl grew up and fell in love with a young man, a sailor in one of the port’s we visited from time to time. That sailor was Sil.” Kell takes some time to gather himself, reliving an old memory. “To sail the Shadow Swift is to serve the ship, for better or for worse. There are three ways to leave the Shadow Swift – to die in service, to complete the Shadow Swift’s mission, or to have someone willing to take on your contract. This is the gift that Captain Sil bequeathed me. He willingly took on my contract so that he could spend time with my daughter. He willingly took the curse of eternity from me, to spend eternity with my daughter. I need not have to tell you he is a great man, not many that would do that.”

The remainder of the trip back to port is uneventful. A much smaller ship relative to the Shadow Swift, the crew decides it best to dock at a separate pier in order to transfer the cargo – meaning it will have to be unloaded and physically moved between the piers. As the cargo is unloaded, a flamboyant voice behind a scarred face calls out to the companions – seems a kitten has fallen overboard and is surrounded by harbour sharks. The voice belongs to Pretty Ike, the boatswain of the Shadow Swift, .

Given time is of the essence, Freight and Lando magically enlarge Magus Mike and Romica to assist with moving the cargo. Lando and Anton, eager to make a good first impression with Pretty Ike, attempt to save the kitten. The attempt ultimately fails, but the intentions speak louder than words and Pretty Ike is appreciative of the effort. The cargo is loaded shortly thereafter, with the ship’s carpenter Rockinsky taking possession once on-board. The plant-based carpenter wheels the dolly around and heads below deck.

Their duty to the Shadow Swift complete, the companions head back to The Bard & the Bastard. The barkeep has two letters for the companions. The first is from Nicola Cage – she advises that the City Watch will no longer be investigating the group, seems the Dock Side Splitter has been tied back to a southern gunslinger. The second note is from Lord Brack, containing the companions’ invitations for the Sealord’s Feast two nights hence. The companions’ patrons will also be invited.

The companions freshen up and hit the town for the first night of Swag Fest festivities. The next morning is rough and the group muddles through a day of recovery with the rest of the city. The day is not a complete waste – the rest of the reagents to cure Magus Mike from his demonic possession are located and he is cured. Further, the companions have sufficient resources to also cure the sister of Rooster. She is staying with Ansor, a childhood friend, and they are both appreciate of the kind gesture, although the development is somewhat overshadowed by the news of Rooster’s tragic death.

Most of Swag Fest is a blur, and soon it is time for the Sealord’s Feast. The companions travel to the Sealord’s Palace and are greeted by Hollister and Nicola Cage. The group is escorted into the palace and introduced to Milton Drac, the city state’s crown leader. “The city owes you a debt of gratitude. We need heroes like you to turn back the chaos, symbols that the citizens can look up to. You are in many ways similar to the lighthouse I am building, a shining beacon against the darkness. I trust you will be justly recognized for your contributions. In the interim, come into my courtyard and let us gaze upon the greatness of the Ironjack himself.” The group follows Drac to look at the great statue, but dare not investigate it at this time. Soon thereafter, Drac is required elsewhere, “Alas, duty calls and our time is cut short. Enjoy the Feast, and I hope I may rely on you again in the future.” The companions are led from the room.

It is soon time for the Feast and the group is taken into a large inner courtyard, open to the sky above. They are introduced to a hero’s welcome in front of the aristocracy of Freeport and invited guests. The companions are seated atop the balcony, with a commanding view of the courtyard below. There are many tables arrayed around the Sealord’s Feast table, which sits on a platform designed like the forecastle of a ship, complete with a seahorse figurehead. The chamber is decorated lavishly, with festive regalia adorning the walls and streamers affixed to various guy-wires. Ceremonial guards are stationed around the courtyard. The companions take their seats.

The Feast is soon underway. After a short address from the Sealord, food is served. The companions’ patrons – the Sword of the Edict and Mage’s Guild – are honoured. Then Hollister takes the stage. “Honoured guests, we are here tonight to celebrate the contributions of the Freeport Five, saviours of the city. These heroes have worked tirelessly to make Freeport safe again. Well, we have taken note and would like to honour their contributions with a special gift, the best that the city has to offer.” Hollister points to the entrance to the courtyard where a phalanx of guards have come forward with a large container. “I would like to say these things, to celebrate these heroes, but I cannot. Your Majesty and honoured guests, I have evidence that this group is in fact responsible for the cult activity which almost caused our city to consume itself. Guards seize these villains,” Hollister holds aloft documents and packets of evidence, waving them about with great bluster “they are none other than the Dock Side Splitters, those who engaged in extended gang warfare, inciting theatre goers to mob violence, negotiated some kind of strange writ with an undead lord, summoned demons which terrified and possessed members of the clergy, those that terrorized the Fortress of Justice, impersonating holy men and broke free known criminals, went on a drug-fuelled brawling rampage, murdered an inn-keeper and his business associates, purposefully and knowingly ran a den of iniquity, consorted with an assassin clan from the mainland, then (for some reason) repeatedly entered multiple, and I mean multiple, stage entertainment venues under false pretenses, gambled what would be most of your lot’s yearly salaries away, desecrated and destroyed a variety of heritage sites, willfully and disturbingly summoned the wrath of an evil god, possessed one of their own members, then hired a group of orc mercenaries who destroyed the Arena resulting in the death of two noblemen, drown a dwarf, burnt a separate theatre to the ground, burgled and strong armed employees at Greg’s Brewery, killed a rival bounty hunter and tried to poison our guards and mercenaries to turn them against us.”

Hollister proves an effective orator, and the crowd becomes more aggressive as the litanies are read. By the end of the list, the audience is calling for blood despite the protestations of Lord Brack, who attempts to speak on behalf of the companions’ to no avail. With a signal from Hollister, the guards open the container that was carted in to reveal massive, writhing purple larvae. The giant maggots explode from the crate and make haste towards the balcony.

The companions use their vantage to survey the scene. From the balcony, they can view the parade route from the front gate all the way down to the Shadow Swift at the docks. Festival goers line both sides of the street awaiting the Sealord’s parade. Romica, using his engineering knowledge, discerns that the guy-wires, presently adorned with festival decorations, could be used as a zip-line. It would take some acrobatical prowess, but the ropes lead to the floor many stories below.

Given the alternative – facing the giant meat-eating larvae – the companions jump from the balcony and attempt to shimmy down the guy-wire. Lando casts web to create a safety net, which proves beneficial as Freight, Magus Mike and Romica are unsuccessful in their descent. The web holds, saving them from an inauspicious ending. Anton makes a great show of his trip, appearing to skate down the rope, drawing gasps from the crowd.

On the way, the companions note that the guards are trying to close the gate’s portcullis, which would cut off the group’s escape. However, a large cart has been positioned underneath, the wagon filled with fireworks. A certain goblin and gnome familiar to the group wink at the companions. They appear to be equal parts arguing with themselves as well as guards, who wish them to move their cart.

Catching the guards unawares, the companions rush toward the exit, jumping into the wagon bed of the cart at the behest of the goblin and gnome. From behind, the companions can see the guards organizing themselves into several of the parade floats in order to pursue the fleeing group. Further down the route, the head of a giant black goat looms into view, blocking out the companions sight lines to the Shadow Swift.

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Temple of Holy Smoke
Plot to destroy Freeport thwarted, for now

Summary

  • the street urchin escapes within the formerly abandoned house
  • Hollister’s men are stripping the cultists’ temple, plan to return it to its former glory
  • unable to speak with Hollister, the companions travel to the Hall of Records
  • the entrance to Throll Thanger, a dwarven temple, is located on an old map
  • Hollister is linked to the War Company, a private military force
  • the mighty man in the Hall of Records is activated
  • the companions travel to Throll Thangar and find an incense burning mechanism that transports vapor to the city above
  • they piece together a plot to incite the city into violence and bloodshed
  • the incense burning mechanism is destroyed, thwarting the plot
  • the mighty man in Throll Thangar, representing the 9th and last, is activated
  • the portal to hell is sealed, Captain Sil modifies it before leaving
  • the companions provide updates to their patrons and are rewarded

Details

The street urchin nowhere in sight, the companions assume he entered the abandoned house that led to the cultists’ temple. The house is no longer abandoned, as labourers can be seen entering and exiting the premise. There are two guards posted at the main entrance. Anton and Magus Mike approach the duo to ask if they have seen the little scalawag that picked the magus’ pocket. The guards have no recollection of a wayward child. The companions chat up the guards and learn that Hollister has taken it upon himself to “clean up” the temple and restore it to its former glory. And further, he would like to ensure that the instruments necessary to summon an ancient evil presence are no longer available to the general population. The valuables from the temple are being shipped to Hollister’s personal residence located at 100 Wave Avenue.

The companions decide it best to chat with Hollister and follow the shipment of temple goods to his house. Hollister is not available, and the group is provided an audience with Nicola Cage instead. Inquiring into the temple goods, Nicola advises that Hollister is restoring the temple on his own coin, and that his actions are for the benefit of the city. She recommends that the companions consult the public archives at the Hall of Records should they wish to investigate further.

This piques the interest of the companions, as the last mighty man note also mentioned the Hall of Records. The group, excluding Lando who fears greatly another encounter with Sister Sprout, travels to the Hall located next to the Fortress of Justice in the Old City. Entering the grand old building, the companions are immersed in a hoarder’s paradise – there are stacks upon stacks of books and scrolls from floor to ceiling. An older lady sits at her desk in the middle of the stacks, paying little heed to the new entrants. The companions walk up to the desk and address Sister Sprout. Her eyes glint as she recognizes the group, “Apologies, I thought you were the guards back again. They stomp around this place like they own it and leave such a mess. Where’s that sassy little gnomish friend you keep?” She is visibly disappointed that Lando is not present. Further conversation proves uneventful, and the companions leave Sprout to continue with her bookkeeping.

The companions explore the vast archives with little success. There seems to be no logical order to the cataloging. They soon return to Sister Sprout and attempt to play to her good graces. She warms to the conversation and the companions piece together that the guards she had mentioned were Hollister’s men. Inquiring into their interest in such a humble and learned institution, Sprout leads the group to an ancient map of Freeport. She also provides the companions with a selection of documents regarding Hollister’s past.

Studying the map, the companions note that two locations of interest are highlighted. The first appears to be in the same vicinity as the abandoned house; the second an underground entrance to a dwarven temple by the name of Throll Thangar. The name rings a bell and the companions decide a visit is in order – they note the location of the entrance. The other documents link Hollister to a mercenary group called the War Company – a private military force that is often hired out locally to nobles for security detail, but is also known to work for foreign kingdoms on campaign. The company has been hired in a reserve capacity to provide extra bodies for the weekend.

Their research complete, the companions use the clues outlined in their last note to find a secret passage behind one of book stacks. A hallway leads into a room adorned in blue-grey granite, a statue of a mighty man stands in the middle of the chamber. The companions use their key to activate the statue. A magical energy explodes from the statue to fill the room, alighting runes on the floor that form a pathway. The statue beings to pull itself forward along this path. A section of the wall opens to reveal a small compartment with a key and note. The companions grab the two items and quickly exit the building.

The group hails a cab to take them to the entrance to the dwarven temple. On the way, they investigate the note, which reads:

Nine mighty figures take hold of the chain. Leaning back, the last is ready to take up the slack and be pulled to toward the center. Complete my legacy. Draw nine men inward.

Exiting the cab at the specified location, the companions find themselves in a small plaza with a well. Given that the dwarven temple is presumed to be underground, the companions lower themselves to the bottom of the well. Tunnels branch off in various directions. The companions rely on their general sense of direction to lead them to the temple entrance, which is only a short distance from the opening to the well. The temple is built from the very rock itself exhibiting beautiful stonework and craftsmanship. It is eerily silent, there appears to be no one at home.

The companions take their time to search the empty structure but are unable to locate the mighty man statue. Instead, they are drawn to a strange contraption that resides in a large domed room in the center of the temple. The mechanism contains a heating element, as well as bellows and chimneys that rise to the ceiling above. Recalling a note found in the sewers from a prior adventure, the companions surmise that the contraption is used to heat incense made from blackgoat’s blood, with the resulting vapors collected in the chimneys to travel to the city above. Given their location in the city, the companions believe that the chimneys lead to the barracks of the city watch and reservist guards from the War Company. Both are filled to capacity in anticipation of the upcoming Swag Fest festivities.

It dawns on the group that this was exactly what the cultists were planning to do – to use this mechanism to channel the incense into the barracks above, in hopes of unleashing the guards and mercenaries on the city to incite chaos and bloodshed. With that in mind, the companions obliterate the mechanism and bellows, the end product a jumble of random broken machinery.

Pleased with themselves for a job well done, the group heads to the exit. Before they can do so, however, Captain Sil strides through the door. His countenance appears incorporeal, his features strained as if his being here in physical form is taking a great toll. He motions to the group to follow as he leads the companions to a non-descript wall. With his back to the group, he activates some unseen mechanism – the wall opens to reveal a short hallway leading to a secret chamber. Within the chamber is the last mighty man as well as some sort of portal, a construct that emanates evil intent with great demonic horns on either side.

The companions use their key to activate the last mighty man. Magical energy fills the room, alighting the runes on the floor that create a path to the foot of the portal. The statue begins to pull itself forward, slowly progressing on an unseen track. A small compartment opens at the base of the statue revealing a parchment wrapped scroll. Anton grabs the scroll as the room begins to shake. Captain Sil steps beside the portal and places a rune-inscribed object between the two horns. The object fuses with the horns, creating a single elongated structure around the portal. Seemingly happy with the transformation, Captain Sil exits the room and the companions follow.

Outside the temple, Sil addresses the group as he fades from their vision, “My time here is short. Congratulations on activating the mighty men, you have sealed the portal and for that I am happy. But I fear our work is not done – I cannot tell you how critical it is for you to deliver the cargo we discussed to the Shadow Swift. I trust you will ensure the utmost care and timeliness in its delivery.” The companions return to the surface and hail a cab back to The Bard & The Bastard. On the way, the scroll from the last mighty man is reviewed, which reads:

The chain now forged, the last key delivered. Two statues bearing my likeness were conceived and created: One to bear the burden and one to reward those who have unlocked my legacy. I stand on the grounds behind the Sea Lord’s Palace. Retrieve my final gift as I depart the mortal realm, sealed to my fate for eternity.

Returning to their war-room, the group is eager to provide their patrons – Carson at the Sword of the Edict, and Garvey at the Mage’s Guild – an update on their progress.

  • Carson advises that the Sword of the Edict headquarters is abuzz. A protective barrier has been activated over the city, which will make it difficult for extra-planar beings to travel to Freeport. Carson assumed that the group’s activities were the source of this exciting development, and looks forward to reporting to his superiors. A suitable reward will be provided in recognition of the group’s contribution.
  • Garvey is also excited to hear from the companions. He advises that the barrier – powered by the weather towers around the city – that protects Freeport from the powerful permanent hurricane off the coast has returned to full strength. The waters of the outer harbor and surrounding seas are calm for the first time in a long time. The guild feels it is close to a breakthrough regarding their knowledge of how the azos field works. The guild would like to grant honorary membership to the group for their contributions, providing open access to their stores of knowledge. Lando is so happy he nearly faints.

Lastly, a message is delivered to the room from Hollister, it seems that news travels fast in Freeport. He congratulates the group on their adventures and acknowledges their contributions in keeping Freeport safe. He would like to extend an invitation to the Sealord’s feast, a sought after event during the Swag Fest festivities, so that the Council may recognize their heroic efforts appropriately.

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The Best Laid Plans
A bounty fulfilled, a debt repaid

Summary

  • Anton disguises himself as Felius Phelps for a performance at the Muggy Underpants
  • Rooster takes the bait and attacks Anton, who fakes Phelps’ death onstage
  • the gunslinger manages to escape, again
  • the bounty fulfilled, the companions are released from their debt with Hollister
  • the opening ceremonies of Swag Fest, hosted by Lord Brack, are attended
  • Rooster attempts to kill Brack, the companions intervene
  • Freeport loses one fine southern gentleman

Details

The companions awake giddy with anticipation for another encounter with Rooster. The morning is spent running various errands. A building energy can be felt across the city as residents prepare for Swag Fest.

After dinner, the companions travel to the Muggy Underpants. Anton dons his disguise in the cab, using his magical mask to take on a similar countenance as Phelps. Arriving at the tavern, the companions are happy to see that Maggie has come through on her end – various posters advertise Phelps’ surprise performance this night. Anton circles around to the performers entrance while the other companions go in through the front.

Anton takes the stage with an armful of instruments, a hush falls across the tavern. The companions actively search the crowd, but Pumpernick is nowhere to be seen. Anton begins the evening with a soulful tune on the kazoo. The crowd appears displeased, they have come to hear the jazz flute.

Lando spots a dapper looking Rooster on the opposite side of the premises. To his chagrin, he notes that several of the orc crew have arrived with him. Lando points out the group to his companions and casts invisibility on Romica.

Wanting to get the crowd into the show, Anton picks up the flute and plays a lively ditty. Spotting the companions opposite, Rooster and his crew make their move. The gunslinger fires wildly at the stage as Anton rolls behind the curtains. Unphased, Rooster loads a hooked net into his blunderbuss as the orcs charge after Anton.

Playing his part in trying to publicly frame Rooster, Anton slashes his chest behind the curtain, a self-inflicted flesh wound that provides plenty of blood. Stumbling out from back stage, Anton drops to his knees and proclaims, “Rooster Pumpernick, you have slain me. In front of all these people, Rooster Pumpernick, I curse you with my dying breath.” The gunslinger fires his blunderbuss, ensnaring Anton as he keels over. Rooster commands the orcs to scoop up the body as he heads for the exit.

The crowd erupts into hysteria as the famed bard gasps his dying breaths. The companions, excluding Lando who has crawled under a table, and the orcs arrive at the stage at the same time. Freight pulls rank, using his sailor’s cunning to whip the orcs back into shape. They advise that Rooster offered to split the bounty and return the Bloody Vengeance to their control. Freight abrades them for their short-sightedness. Romica hoists the limp body of Anton over a shoulder and the companions, orcs in tow, sprint out the back door as the brouhaha picks up intensity.

The companions load into a cab and head directly to the Fortress of Justice. Anton cleans himself up to a presentable state on the ride. Arriving at the Fortress, Hollister is unavailable but the companions manage to gain audience with Nicola Cage. She advises that her sources have confirmed Crick’s death. The contract fulfilled, the companions are released from their debt. As the group leaves, Nicola passes a note to Romica. It reads:

You have completed the task at hand. Thank you for a job well done, you have chosen your companions wisely. We have complicated pasts you and I – please understand that I will continue to hold evidence of your prior exploits, as I know you do the same. Let’s move on with our lives. Go freely with my blessing.

Their business done, the companions travel to the Sword of the Edict headquarters. The compound is abuzz in anticipation of the opening ceremonies for Swag Fest. The companions chat with Carson, who passes along a letter from Maggie. The companions have been duped – there is no payment. Maggie feels bad for misleading the group, but she and Crick required the money to ensure their escape.

Disappointed, the companions head towards the docks to take in the Swag Fest ceremony, On the way, they bump into their good friend Ansor, who is running a roulette table on one of the piers. With some time to spare, the companions sit down for a few rounds. As always, Ansor has some juicy rumors to share:

  • Lord Brack, who is hosting the opening ceremonies of the Swag Fest festivities, is vying for a seat on the Pirate’s Council.
  • there are a number of stone work and quarry contracts which are up for grabs now that Milos is dead. Rumours abound that the head librarian was in league with devils. The side business whereby he provided consultation services to the Sealord has ceased. Undoubtedly, there will be unrest between the trade unions and other business magnets as the vacuum of his death is filled.
  • famed rivals Sproket Skyhigh, the gnomish pyromancer, and the Blackpowder Clan’s lead Goblin fireworks engineer, Glurp Gasdrake, have put aside their long-standing feud to join forces for the Swagfest Finale feast. Ansor has front row tickets, which include a meet and greet with the famed lunatics.
  • many of the Town Watch Reservists and off duty guards have been called on to add to the ranks of order this Swagfest. Many a reveler will wake up in the Fortress of Justice with a lump on their heads and count themselves lucky to be waking up at all. Further gossip abounds regarding the reservists and watch being boarded in the War Mercenary barracks – not a good place for a pick pocket to be hanging about this weekend, but maybe a fine area for those providing service to the servicemen.
  • there’s been somewhat of a flood of Dwarven artifacts, mostly weapons and armor, which have been finding their way to market through unknown means. Few of the items are worth more than their martial value, but some are quite powerful in this regard. One of my regular customers was trying to sell me such a weapon earlier tonight with the hopes of getting back to the tables, but alas, I have no use for fighting or its associated accessories.
  • Commissioner Hollister has declared that the Dock-Side Splitter has been captured. It was revealed that he was a disgruntled druid from the reclamation project looking to sow unrest for the Sealord’s lighthouse project. The assassins sister has been handed over to the Sword of the Edict, as it is said she is also possessed by a terrible deamon.

Bidding adieu, the companions make their way to the waterfront, where Lord Brack is preparing to speak to a large crowd to officially kick off the festivities. The group angles close to the front as Brack takes the stage to a large cheer. “Welcome to Swag Fest! Like the days of Drac and Francisco, we are here to celebrate three days of revelry in recognition of the three months of terrorizing our enemies in the great raids of yonder years. Drac is, unfortunately, busy building his namesake lighthouse. But I happy to be here with you to plunder and pillage.” The plaza erupts in gleeful cheering.

As the speech continues, Freight takes note of a certain southern gentleman slipping through the crowd. He appears to be making his way to the front. Pointing at the gunslinger, the companions climb onto the stage to get a better vantage point. Rooster draws two daggers from their sheaths as he nears the platform.

Freight and Romica break into a headlong charge as they bull rush Brack away from the podium, just before Rooster can get there. They position themselves in between the gunslinger and his victim. Rooster attempts to negotiate, offering to split the bounty for turning a blind eye. The offer is declined. Rooster shakes his head as he uses a phasing ability to teleport closer to Brack.

The companions close the distance and engage him in hand-to-hand combat. A desperate melee ensues. Rooster refuses to give up the fight. Romica buries his axe in the gunslinger’s chest as Freight skewers him with his pike. Rooster falls lifeless to the ground.

Lord Brack is suitably impressed, “Thank you for saving an old salt – if you stay by me, I’ll make sure we have a fine day yet.” The town guard quickly remove the body as Brack signals to his crew to tap the kegs, officially commencing the festival.

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Open Mic at The Rusty Hook
Felius Phelps plays a mean jazz flute

Summary

  • the companions learn that Rooster is trying to cut them out of Crick’s bounty
  • Rooster will attend the performance of Crick’s alter ego Feilus Phelps at The Rusty Hook
  • Rooster is unsuccessful in his attempt on Crick at the tavern
  • the gunslinger escapes in the ensuing mayhem
  • the companions are visited by Maggie, Hollister’s wife and girlfriend of Crick
  • they agree to help her and Crick leave town

Details

The companions sleep in and spend the majority of the morning catching up on errands. They return to the tavern for an early afternoon meal and are summoned by the barkeep – seems several of the orc crew from the Bloody Vengeance wish to speak with them. At a secluded table in the back of the bar, the orcs recount their gladiatorial glory. During the exchange, the companions learn that Rooster, the very gunslinger that they employed to take care of Crick McGillicuddy, has contracted the orc crew to do the dirty work for him. And further, he has cut the companions out of the bounty.

Although altruistic in nature, Rooster requires the money to buy reagents for a powerful spell to counteract the possession of his sister, the companions are unhappy with the turn of events. The orcs are sent back to the ship while the companions decide the best course of action is to pay their good friend Rooster a visit. The orcs were to meet him this very night at The Rusty Hook where Filius Phelps, an alter ego of Crick, is performing.

The companions hail a cab and travel to the Docks District. From the outside, the tavern looks like a dive that caters to sailors and other dock rats. This assumption is quickly confirmed once inside – nets and other sailing equipment decorate the walls and rafters, a ship’s ladder leads to a loft with rooms above. The bar is crowded with various pirate types and other rough looking folk. On stage, a man in garish attire plays a mean flute.

Surveying the crowd, the companions note that most patrons appear to be enamored with the music. Thinking something strange with this, Lando decides to investigate. He conceals his hands under the table and casts detect magic – an aura emanates from the stage. Before he can relay this information to his companions, a man sitting close to the stage rises from his seat and fires a double barrel at the performer. The musician rolls away from the attack, quaffs a potion and disappears.

Identifying the shooter as Rooster, the companions attempt to apprehend the gunslinger. This proves difficult as the barroom erupts into a full fledged brawl. Mugs of beer are spilled, chairs are thrown and tables overturned. Lando casts web in the middle of the tavern, entangling most of the patrons. Order is restored temporarily, but not before Rooster is able to make his escape. With the whistles of the guard heard in the distance, the companions also take the opportunity to exit the building.

No further ahead, the companions work the crowd outside for information regarding Phelps. They learn that he is a local performer that is gaining a cult following for his aggressive style of jazz flute. The owner mentions that his girlfriend, Maggie, attends the shows from time to time. Although not much of a lead, it is late and the companions decide to call it a night.

Returning to The Bard & the Bastard, the barkeep nods at a distraught looking woman that was looking for them. The lady introduces herself as Maggie and asks if she can speak with the crew in confidence. She tells a sad tale about her life with Hollister and his controlling ways. He keeps several lovers on the side but was furious when he found out about her relationship with Crick. She just wants to be happy and is willing to pay double for the companions to get Rooster off their case and let her and Crick leave town together.

Her story tugging at their heart strings, the companions agree to help them make their escape. Maggie provides an emerald encased amulet as down-payment, the rest of the money will be forwarded to Carson at the Sword of the Edict. A plan is hatched – Crick will send out word that Phelps is playing at the Muggy Underpants tomorrow night in hopes that Rooster will find out. Anton will disguise himself as Phelps for the show. Should Rooster rise to the bait and shoot at Phelps again, the other companions will apprehend him. Phelps will “die” during the incident, allowing Crick and Maggie to make a clean escape.

Everything in order for the night, the companions retire to their rooms.

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