The Freeport Chronicles

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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Battle Royale
What happens in the octagon, stays in the octagon

Summary

  • the orcs enter the second section of the gauntlet
  • bolas equipped with bells are thrown at the companions
  • blinded land sharks (bulettes) are released into the pit
  • via magical means, the bulettes are led into the nobles box-seats
  • the portcullis to the central octagon is raised
  • the other combatants are unable to cooperate to open their portcullis
  • a gelatinous death trap is bested to gain access to the hammer
  • Herder coup de graces Derp to achieve champion status

Details

The memory of their fallen companion Ferp still fresh, the orcs do a double take as a near clone jogs up from behind. The new orc introduces himself as Derp, the barbarian brother of Ferp. Interested in revenge, he leads the charge forward.

The next section of the gauntlet is a long hallway of fine coral sand. The corridor is broken up by several large barriers that appear to funnel combatants towards a gate that presumably leads to the central gladiatorial pit. The sounds of large creatures can be heard from an enclosure on the left. A platform of box seats to the right houses nobles.

The orcs cautiously enter the corridor. The crowd begins to chant – buel leh, buel leh – as the portcullis leading to the enclosure on the left begins to rise. Several nobles in the crowd raise bolas, the cords specially equipped with bells. The bolas prove difficult to dodge, with Herder, Gargle Rat and Strangles entangled by the thrown weapons. Strangles manages to escape from the cord and hurls it back at its owner. The crowd goes wild as he successfully wraps the bola around a noble.

Rooster, who has run ahead, notes something odd in the sand and bends down to investigate. He warns the orcs to tread lightly as there are other noise-makers hidden under the sand.

The portcullis rising, the orcs sprint across the sand. A curtain drops across their path, the rope filled with all sorts of bells and other noise-making devices. The orcs valiantly attempt to avoid the bell strewn cord, but alas, are unsuccessful. Clappers and bells sound as the portcullis opens.

Two large beasts burst into the corridor from the enclosure. The creatures appear to be land-based sharks, their eyes are covered by metal bands that are tacked to their skulls. The noise-making devices begin to make sense – unable to see, the bulettes rely on the bells and clappers to locate their victims. The powerful charge of the beasts takes them clear through the barriers, sending the hapless orcs sprawling.

Deciding that brawn is not the way to defeat such creatures, Magus Mork targets the platform of nobles with a spell. The sound of many bells and clappers can be heard emanating from the noble’s box-seats. The orcs stand silent and hold their breaths. The bulette’s heads jerk around to the platform and they charge towards the wall. The crowd erupts in panic as nobles and citizens alike clamor over each other to rush for the exits. The bulettes have little trouble scrambling up the wall to devour the slower of the nobles. The announcer begs the crowd to stay calm as help is on the way. Whistles can be heard in the distance.

Focusing on the portcullis that leads to the central pit, it is apparent that the mechanism to raise the gate resides on the opposite side of the wall. There are tubes to either side of the gate, each with a large grappling hook. The orcs pull out the hooks and remove a length of rope. Hauling on the ropes raises the portcullis enough to allow the orcs to slide underneath.

The central ring is shaped like an octagon, the sand a volcanic sheen as if scorched by a great heat. The large pit is barred from the crowd, a fine mesh sitting over top to prevent raucous citizens from throwing items into the ring. The air takes on a decidedly humid state. A raised dais dominates the centre of the ring, a large hammer sits peacefully atop the stone platform.

Movement from the other side of the pit draws the orcs attention. Combatants appear behind a similar style gate and portcullis on the opposite side of the ring. Instead of cooperating, however, they are engaged in full scale melee. A large frost giant attempts to open the portcullis. Magus Mork hits him with a ray of enfeeblement. Unable to lift the gate, the giant is cut down from behind. The remaining combatants continue their quarrel until only one is left standing. The warrior attempts to lift the portcullis but, similar to the frost giant, is unable to muster the strength necessary. Dejected, the warrior solutes the orcs and walks back to the mustering area. The crowd voices its displeasure at the disappointing turn of events.

The other combatants no longer a threat, the orcs investigate the platform. Derp is the first to the dais, and as Gargle Rat attempts to warn him, he climbs onto the stone formation. A large ax falls from the ceiling in a pendulum motion and impales the unsuspecting orc in the chest. The trap begins to morph into a gelatinous entity. The magus recalls the story of a deadly creature that could fashion itself into a living trap. In the story, the ooze is vulnerable to fire, and the magus relays the information to the other orcs. Taking advantage of the weakness, Rooster mixes an exploding concoction, Gargle Rat tosses a flaming flask, and Herder casts burning hands. The creature quickly succumbs in an explosion of gelatinous matter.

All preconceptions of cooperation quickly vanish as the orcs individually make a play for the hammer. Derp is first to the platform. He grabs the weapon and makes a run for the exit. Herder clotheslines the barbarian and finishes him off coup de grace style while he is dazed on the ground. This brings the spectators back to their feet. The other orcs bow to the vicious display. With his name chanted across the stadium, Herder raises the hammer victorious to the crowd.

Arena officials escort the orcs from the stadium. The orcs are given their entry pay as well as Herder’s winnings as champion. Battered and bloodied, the orcs travel back to the Vengeance feeling satisfied with their showing.

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Running the Gauntlet
Welcome to the jungle

Summary

  • several members of the Bloody Vengeance’s crew is entered into the gladiatorial competitions at the Arena
  • the orcs encounter Rooster in the pit, his presence is tolerated
  • the crew must run the gauntlet to fight in the central pit
  • with Rooster’s help, traps are navigated and other combatants defeated
  • Ferp drowns in a pool of oily liquid
  • a gelatinous cube yields a corpse with a key that opens the way to the central pit

Details

The opportunity to leave the ship and kill things, legally, is too much for the orc crew to pass up. Games are played, competitions had, and the worst of the worst of the crew are selected to represent the Bloody Vengeance at the arena.

The noon day sun blazing, the orcs register to fight at the Arena and are escorted into a lower hold where officials prepare them for the competition. There are several ways to “win”; the combatants must run the gauntlet to a center ring which will be contested from several directions. Individual performance will be ranked by officials and used to qualify for the next round of fighting. Otherwise, a combatant can win by taking hold, uncontested, of a hammer placed on a raised dais in the central gladiatorial pit. The orcs are then led topside – a near sold-out crowd screams, drowning out all sound with the exception of a ring master who can be heard from time-to-time, his voice magically amplified. The crowd is a mishmash of society, with the general population seated between raised platforms and box seats where nobles reside in opulence.

A gunslinger with a southern drawl addresses the orcs, placing them from the Bloody Vengeance. He introduces himself as Rooster Pumpernick. Seems he had contracted their former captain, Scarbelly, to procure a staff. The orcs are unsure of the gunslinger. Seeing their confusion, the gunslinger advises that he can help the crew run the gauntlet if they assist him in finding the staff. Before they can respond, the portcullis is raised and the crowd cheers.

The combatants stream out of the pit to enter the gauntlet. The gunslinger stands in front of the orcs, “Hold it, hold it. Patience will help you survive. Let the eager ones locate the traps for you.” Several of their fellow combatants take arrows from the crowd. Another is taken down by a cleverly hidden trap. “While I have your attention, I would like to tell you about a bounty I am chasing, a swindling thief named Crick McGillicuddy. I am open to sharing the bounty if you would hear more…

Patience running thin, the orcs stream out of the pit. Not wanting the nobles to have all the fun, they decide to focus on the other combatants as they navigate the gauntlet. Herder and Ferp are the first to strike and manage to take down several thugs. Strangles grapples another, Herder beheads the struggling warrior as he passes. The crowd begins to chant the cleric’s name.

The initial corridor free and clear, the companions round the corner and fall prey to a pit trap. Strangles manages to catch himself on a ledge but Herder falls to the spikes below. Magus Mork drops a rope to assist the cleric from the pit and the orcs gain the opposite side. Herder decides to hang out by the edge of the pit in hopes of using his pike to catch other combatants unawares as they attempt to jump across.

Rounding a second corner reveals several items of note. The corridor opens up, with the inner wall featuring a large waterway, the liquid giving off a viscous appearance. A swarm of insects sits atop the stagnant liquid. There are two statues on the opposite side, both look to be representations of former gladiatorial participants. The statues are decorated with studded gems glinting in the noon day sun. Lastly, a gelatinous cube is present, threatening all that wish to continue further.

Rooster rounds the wall and unloads both of his pistols into the gelatinous cube. Magus Mork steps close and unleashes a shocking grasp. The cube doesn’t flinch and begins to move ominously towards the gunslinger. Ferp and Strangles, wanting nothing to do with the gelatinous creature, and race around it to investigate the statues. The warrior, Ferp, is there first and pokes one with his axe. Nothing happens. Strangles attempts to follow – the other statue shoots out suddenly and attempts to hook the orc. Strangles manages to acrobatically elude the statue, which returns to its original position. It is noted that the statues move along concealed tracks in the sand that lead directly into the foul smelling liquid pool.

At this time, more combatants are released into the gauntlet. A burly warrior and gnome sprint for the pit, while a celestial creature unfurls its wings and flies over the wall. The gnome reaches the pit first and pulls up short, understanding that Herder is there to stymie those that try to cross the pit. The gnome attempts to pull out a bow and shoot the cleric, but Herder anticipates and steps forward with his pike, skewering the hapless gnome. Performing for the crowd, the cleric levers the gnome over the pit to fall awkwardly on the spikes below. Cheers erupt from the stands.

The bearish warrior has little time to alter its movement as it jumps mightily across the pit and it takes the cleric’s back-swing full in the chest. The girth of the bear allows it to complete its jump, and the bear engages Herder in a deadly grapple upon landing. Hearing the screams of his companions, Strangles doubles back to assist in the melee. Seeing the cleric being slowly choked into unconsciousness, Strangles grapples with the bear who is constricting the cleric. The grappling duel is a war of attrition. Strangles holds his death grip on the bear until the large warrior succumbs. Herder is able to escape the unconscious bear’s grip, returning air to his burning lungs.

The celestial creature arrives in the middle of the corridor and attacks Rooster from behind. The gunslinger and Magus Mork abandon their efforts with the cube to focus on the winged angel. Rooster unleashes a double salvo and Mork chops with his sword. Gargle Rat joins the fray as well. Their concentrated efforts quickly overcome the martial prowess of the angel.

While this occurs, Ferp attacks the second statue, venting his frustration. His footwork crosses the hidden track and the statue engages, hooking the hapless orc and depositing him into the viscous liquid. A quick taste reveals that it is not water, but a pool of oil. Ferp, heavily armored, sinks to the bottom. Movement from the corner, he is not alone. A hideous humanoid creature with a horse-like face and transparent skin circles the orc. The creature speaks in Ferp’s mind, magically pleading with him to stay awhile as it is lonely down. Ferp empathizes with the creature and decides that it would be nice to stay. He opens his mouth and willingly allows the oily substance into his lungs.

Topside, the insect swarm has been irritated by the orc’s entry into the pool. Magus Mork identifies the pool as oil and sends a shocking grasp through the liquid. The spell sparks the oil, which erupts into flames, the swarm instantly disintegrates in the fire. Rooster steps close to the flames, “Oh my. Your companion seems to be in a pickle. Well do I have a proposition for you. You see, I have a dear loved one, my sister, who is possessed by a demonic presence, a black goat to be exact. I seem to be a little short on the money necessary to procure the reagents to cure her of this affliction. If you would agree to team up with me – to win this arena competition, complete the bounty I discussed earlier, or help me obtain that staff – I have the ability to extinguish the flames forthwith and rescue him. Agreed?” The orcs continue on with their business.

The shock from Mork’s spell jolts Ferp from his magical stupor and knocks the keltie unconscious. Near death, Ferp swims with all might. The glow from the flames is beautiful from under the oil, beckoning the orc forward. The heat intensifying, Ferp makes one last push. And runs out of air just before he breaches the surface. Armour sizzling from the heat, Ferp slowly floats to the bottom to spend eternity with his good friend the keltie.

Returning their attention to the gelatinous cube, Rooster loads several special bullets from his bandolier and fires them into the cube. He turns away as the bullets produce an explosion that rips apart the cube, gelatinous matter splattering across the arenas’ sand. The gunslinger blows at the smoking tips of his guns, to the crowd’s delight, before holstering the weapons.

After the smoke clears, the orcs comb through the gelatinous remains to find two weapons of note, a dagger that glows blue in orcish hands and a nasty sickle, as well as a half digested body. Searching the decomposed body reveals a key that shimmers with a strange energy.

Continuing down the corridor, Gargle Rat stops the orcs short of a magical barrier that only he can see. The wall radiates a shimmering energy and extends across the corridor, cutting off access. Gargle Rat picks up a pebble from the ground and throws it at the wall. The pebble simply freezes in mid-air and falls to the ground. He continues to investigate the wall and locates a concealed keyhole. The key from the decomposed corpse fits perfectly and the barrier ceases to exist. The orcs continue on, readying themselves for whatever the Arena will throw at them next.

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Bad Moon Rising
There's something brewing at Gregor's

Summary

  • Magus Mike is possessed and attacks Freight in his sleep
  • he is subdued, Carson’s healing touch is required
  • Gregor’s Brewery is visited, business dealings with Marcus are completed
  • the mighty man in the basement is activated, a new key is found
  • Eagel contacts the group, he is worried that Carson has been kidnapped again
  • Carson is honoured in ceremony to welcome him back to the Edict
  • Milos’ room at the Marquis Moon is investigated
  • a dispute between several orcs and a street urchin is broken up

Details

Possessed, Magus Mike awakes from his terrible dream with the urge to slaughter his companions in their sleep. He rises to his feet and stumbles over to the next bed, where Freight dozes in peaceful slumber. The magus stabs down into her chest, eliciting a terrible scream. The companions awake instantly in confusion. Anton is the first to intervene. As he attempts to engage the magus, Mike manages a second attack on the wounded cleric. Freight’s screams are cut short as she fades into unconsciousness.

Anton disarms the magus with a practiced flip of his kukri. Little deterred, Mike unleashes a shocking grasp on the halfling. Lando joins the fray, stunning the magus with a colorful spray of dust as Romica knocks the hapless elf to the floor with a powerful charge. Anton attends to the nearly dead cleric while Lando runs to the owner’s suite in hopes that his medical cabinet is well stocked. Romica ties up the dazed magus.

Lando returns with bandages and medical supplies. Anton and Romica manage to stabilize the cleric in the interim, and they treat the wound. Lando calls for Carson via the magical communication device in their room and he agrees to join them as soon as he can.

Magus Mike wakes from his magically induced slumber and, memories resurfacing, apologizes profusely for his actions. He describes the dream and possession and the companions take note for future reference. Carson arrives a short time later and heals the injured cleric. The companions thank him for his services and pay for his cab home. The magus suggests that he be tied down for the remainder of the night, and the companions concur. The group beds down again in anticipation of a busy day ahead.

The companions awake early to pay a visit to Gregor’s Brewery. Arriving a couple of hours before opening, a furtive Marcus ushers the group into the building. He glances up and down the street before quickly closing the door. It is not hard to tell that Marcus is on edge. He advises that he would like to conclude all business dealings – he has procured all of the black goat’s blood and completed the shipments as required. He confirms that the product, in solid incense form, was picked up by several people wearing robes similar to those worn by the cultists. He asks that the companions knock him out and tie him up in hopes that his employers take this as a sign that he was an innocent victim in these proceedings.

The companions think this is a good idea as they require some time to search the premises for a secret door leading to the basement. Romica gladly knocks Marcus senseless and he is bound. The companions search the area carefully and locate a hidden keyhole in one of the cauldrons. This key is fitted and a trapdoor opened. It leads into the basement and a small room of blue-gray granite. A large statue of a mighty man dominates the center of the room. The companions use their key to engage the statue – a magical energy suffuses the room, runes alighting along the floor. The statue begins to pull itself forward. A section of the wall opens to reveal a key with an open scroll motif and a note. The companions take the items and return topside.

Marcus remains unconscious. The companions decide it best to ransack the place to add credibility to Marcus’ story. Several scrolls, including an old weathered velum in dwarven script, and a cache of gold is found.

The companions leave the brewery and return to The Bard & The Bastard to investigate the items found more closely. Upon entering the tavern, they are given a note by the barkeep. It is from Captain Kel and advises that a meeting has been set up with the harbor master at 10 pm. With much work to do before the appointed time, the group returns to their room to read the note attached to the most recent key found. It provides several clues relating to the Hall of Records:

Some men write a single legacy or ledger,
and some men interpret nine memos.
Old records reveal a final pair of receptors;
one placed under ancient records in the dwarven temple,
the last buried in the text itself.

The companions also review the other scrolls found in the brewery’s laboratory. The one written in dwarven script details the ancient practice of wafting incense before battle. This pursuit was outlawed as it was found to corrupt those that took part in the ritual. While it instigated a berserker state useful for battle, it had addictive qualities that led to decreased mental acuity over time. A second scroll represents a ledger outlining Marcus’ business dealings. It notes he had produced nine batches of the black goat incense, the most recent of which was picked up this morning.

The group heads downstairs to grab a bite. Eagel is in the common room and is happy to see everyone. He is looking for Carson, seems he left in the middle of the night and has not returned. There will be a ceremony held in his honor today to welcome him back to the Edict and Eagel is worried that he may miss it. Becoming more frantic by the minute, Eagel mentions that he thinks Carson may have been kidnapped again.

Not wanting to make a scene, the companions escort Eagel to the war-room to discuss further. Eagel has had a lot on his mind and opens up. He has lived his entire life in Freeport. Recently, he has been noticing that things have changed on the periphery, shadows have formed where no shadows had been before. This feeling has been building over time and is reaching a crescendo. He doesn’t feel like he can trust anyone anymore. He hears footsteps in the night but there is no one there when he investigates. The previous night, he had felt the presence of someone in his house. He had a vision of a serpent person riffling through his belongings. But when he awoke, everything was fine, nothing was out of place. Except that Carson was gone. He has been living with Eagel since his return, it seems strange that he would just get up and leave in the middle of the night. Eagel is worried for his friend.

The companions sympathize with Eagel and advise that they will look for Carson immediately. This calms the page, who decides to spill more. The Edict has opened an official investigation into Milos and his conduct. His personal records have been confiscated. Eagel had access to some of his files and found out that Milos was living a double life. His alter ego, Felius Phelps, had set up a base of operations in a bar on the other side of town. Eagel provides the address of a tavern called Marquis Moon and wishes the group luck in their search for Carson.

Thinking Eagel’s conduct out of character, the companions decide to trail the page back to the Sword of the Edict’s headquarters. Once inside, Eagel is quickly lost in the labyrinth of the interior. Chanting can be heard in the distance. The companions follow the sound and enter a large courtroom. There are many people in full regalia taking part in a ceremony, it seems as if the entire Edict is present. Thuron leads the festivities, and Carson is next to him on the platform seated between other officials. Eagel is no where to be seen.

Not wanting to disrupt the ceremony, Lando messages Carson by magical means to ask whether he has seen Eagel. Carson has not and cuts the conversation short as he is about to be honored. The companions don their Edict cloaks and take in the festivities. Everything goes as planned and Carson is welcomed back to the order. After the ceremony, the group congratulates Carson and advise him that they are concerned about Eagel. Carson will keep an eye out for him.

The companions take a cab to the old city to check out the Marquis Moon, the tavern that Eagel had mentioned. The barkeep is bribed and key to Milos’ room procured. The quarters are small but immaculately kept. The room contains many bookcases filled with books and scrolls. There is little furniture besides a writing stand. Trace magic can be sensed, but nothing magical is found in the quarters. Investigating the bookcases, the scholarly tomes are primarily focused on architecture, masonry and construction.

As they search the room, Romica hears a commotion outside and decides to investigate. He and Anton go to the window and see a group of orcs crowded around a street urchin. The poor lad grips a satchel fiercely as he is shoved around by the orcs. Anton opens the window and shouts down to the orcs to leave him be. The orcs lazily glance up at the window and then return to pester the street urchin, attempting to take his satchel.

Anton and Romica launch themselves from the window into the midst of the orcs. Anton lands acrobatically and engages the orcs in a melee attack. Romica falls down hard on his ankle. Noticing that several of their colleagues have left, Magus Mike and Freight follow shortly thereafter out the window. Lando, engrossed in several books, doesn’t notice the commotion.

The companions quickly turn the tables on the orcs, who decide it best to retreat back to the Blood Salt. During the melee, however, Romica accidentally slashes Freight, knocking the cleric unconscious. While the companions tend to Freight, the youngster pickpockets the Magus and escapes into an alley. Lando attempts to induce a magical slumber on the youth but fails. The companions follow the urchin while Lando administers to the cleric, who has stabilized in the interim. The chase takes Anton, Romica and Magus Mike in the general direction of the abandoned house that leads to the cultists’ temple.

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