"Toni Catone?" Sasha snickered. "Is that really their name? His mom and dad must have been a couple of goofballs!"
Arion winked at Sasha and his eyes glittered as he adored her lively nature in her new outfit.
"THERE is the Sasha I admired. Happy that our angel found You inside that noisy cabin. We will need a great Commando like You on this mission. Truly, our Princess gave us a powerful component of planning, when she disguised this ship and crew. I believe she is correct and the ship will not dare to try fleeing what they assume are overbearing Freebooters. That might force their crew to hand over any new passengers."
He chuckled, "That'd be just about the luckiest break we've gotten." He imitated an enthusiastic priest, "Oh, Kahn, please let it be that easy!"
After he finished his show, he looked to Arion, then the rest of his allies, and the crew around him, "It's never that easy. One can hope. But, together, we'll do just fine."
Lureene asked, "SOooo, the plan here is to approach the ship openly while flying the flag of Port Eldarion, or will we not raise any flag at all?" She took a deep breath and then added, "And what about my suggestion to send Grak ahead to scout things out? We need to make sure this 'Toni' person (if that is his real name) is actually aboard."
Arion recovered from laughter after the Dwarf's priestly parody and he nodded and said, "Our combined powers and being among You veterans of past adventures is what bolsters my confidence. This is my first serious assignment afield. The rest is merely my attempt to tip things in our favor before the scenario heats up. It is possible to both scout and use the ploy of approaching Freebooters one after the other. I do not doubt that Captain Fingel would know the better strategy about overtaking the ship and which emblems to display. May she enjoy to the full her day of playing a pirate."
"The manifest stated he boarded the Sprite, but that does not mean he is currently aboard! If he is a powerful wizard, then it is only prudent to plan for the possibility he may have already fled the ship. If I was involved with assassinating someone, I would certainly have taken precautions to hide my trail."
"What need would a powerful wizard have of a ship? I would simply turn invisible and fly off into the jungle." The captain chuckled at Arion's enthusiasm and Lureene's anxiety. "Aaah, I should have sought a letter of marquee from her Highness before we set sail, it would be quite ironic to waylay Freebooter vessels in one of their own ships. Ah well, maybe next time."
"To answer your questions, for now, I am simply flying Dafar's flag. It makes a certain amount of sense that two vessels bound for the same port would follow the same route, and I see no reason to show our hand too soon. The design of this ship, along with her new sails, is common enough that we should be able to draw within closing distance before they get nervous."
Looking to the strange white serpent that lounged atop a nearby barrel, she added, "Now personally I like the idea of sneaking your Grak aboard while we close for boarding. The question is, can it outpace The Avenger?"
Note: The Avenger is currently sailing at about 9mph. Essentially the ship has a movement speed of 30 and is 'running' at x3. Therefore Grak would have to be moving faster than 90 feet per round to outpace the ship.
"Acid huh? You sure da Captain's ok wit dis?" With a shrug, he helped Amhranai rummage about thru the various crates and kegs until she had found what she needed.
As the priestess got to work within the darkened hold, Giovanni opened a few portholes to admit a breeze and cautioned, "Jus' make sure you don' go spillin' nothin'. Dere's sharks in da bay you know."
A laugh burst from Arion, "HA! A Chest-Canyon-Carriage? Your powers excel expectations extraplanar enchantress! May we all enjoy such transportation someday."
Hand extended for Sasha to accept, the wizard asked, "How would You like to be an airborne Ranger? I can easily grant the transmutation of flight to fiery, beautiful Commandos."
Oh the thoughts that raced through Arion's mind.
Having heard that discretion is the better part of valor, he said instead, "I shall now avoid plays upon every trite boat and pants jest in history. I certainly wish to avoid driving our Helmsperson to abandon us. I would not like to explain to the Princess how we ended up wrecked upon the rocks. Yes. Fly spell. I touch You, breathe out the words and You shall fly all on Your own my Lady."
Lureene watched Sasha hug Arion and as he returned her affections, she covere her mouth with her hand as to hide the smile on her face.
Nice job Arion...you can certainly be the charmer when you set your mind to it...
She slipped behind the happy couple and softly caressed the handsome elf's long pale locks. Leaning forward she whispered softly "Thank you SOOoo much Arion...for everything."
Not wishing to arouse the man any more than he was already, she stepped away from them and moved to a position towards the bow of the ship using her wings for balance. As she gazed off to the horizon, she could not help but wonder, What did Mother promise you for your assistance in bringing her here? I certainly intend to find out!
Amhranai favored the man with a smile. "Thank you Giovanni. I promise to be especially careful; as I told the captain, I have very little desire to take a swim today. Especially if these waters are shark-infested. Iscandu keep you safe."
The elf turned away and carefully laid out the materials around her newly-acquired cauldron on a table bolted to the floor. A swell threatened to send all the items to the floor and it was only through her quick reaction, hands darting out like snakes, that kept them on the table. I definitely do not miss the constant need to tie everything down!
After catching her breath, Amhranai turned a calculating eye on the items. Four hours isn't much time, even for something simple. Maybe waiting would be a better idea. Safer too. She sighed wistfully. It would be nice if I could spend more time perfecting what little I do know. Her eyes swung to where she had last seen Giovanni. "On second thought, I think now is not the right time for something like this. It would take too long to prepare and I'd rather not endanger all of us by trying to speed up the process. Here, I'll help you put these away."
Amhranai left the galley after everything was put back and stopped just inside the officer's mess. Sasha will probably have come out by now. I suppose I should figure out something to say to her. This should be fun.
It had been an hour before sunset when Captain Fingel's lookout first spotted a smaller, ketch-rigged scow, and nearly sunset before a positive identification could be made thru the heat and haze. It was the Swollen Sprite.
Now, a half hour past eventide with Brightpool at her zenith and Darkshoal hovering low above the jungle, The Avenger had drawn within half a mile. "We'll be comin' alongside in 10 minutes, Captain," Aerys called out, "less if you can get them to quit gawkin' at us and heave to."
Ridger 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (6) + 14 = 20
"That might be possible," Këowyn mused. Clapping the younger woman on the shoulder, the captain drew her cutlass and leaned forward over the rail, pointing her blade towards the Sprite. "Run up the Devil's Razor, and man the ballistae! I want a warning shot across her bow, sparkler rounds, and MAKE SOME NOISE!"
As the crew erupted into raucous cries, Sasha jumped up and down, squeezing Lureene's hands, shouting in her excitement, "I'M GONNA HELP!" before dashing off to the heavy ballista mounted atop the forecastle.
Whatever she shouted to the weapon's engineers, whether there was a nod of approval from Captain Fingel, or if Sasha's charm simply overwhelmed the engineer, the firing team quickly prepped the weapon and helped her to sight it while leaving the aiming to the tricorn-wearing ranger.
Lureene stared at Aerys for a moment, unsure what to do. For a brief second she recalled Sasha gawking at the huge ballista at the Arrowhead Citadel but for the life of her she could not recall whether she had EVER fired one of them before...
I don't think this is the time to find out...
She called out loudly to her friend, "SASH, LET THEM DO THAT! YOU NEED TO HELP GRAK!"
Whether Sasha simply did not hear Lureene, or whether she ignored her, there was no mistaking the look of concentration on her face as she hunkered down behind the massive weapon, biting her tongue as she furrowed her brow.
Yet before Lureene or anyone else could stop her, Sasha yanked the firing cable and the giant bolt screamed away, trailing sparkles like some some raving-mad pixie shot from a bow!
"C'MON, GET THERE!"
As the projectile flew in a long arc, heartbeats ticking past, the curly-headed succubus might well have been afraid to watch, and a rapport like thunder might almost certainly have set her teeth on edge.
However, it was not a cry of dismay, but a cheer of victory that rang out, having detonated in a hail of silvery sparks not 10 yards off the Sprite bow! Turning to Lureene with a jubilant look on her face, the huntress squealed with delight and shouted, "I DID IT ELLIE, I DID IT!"
Indeed as the crewmen of the Swollen Sprite frantically hopped to the lines to comply with the 'Freebooter's' unmistakable directive, the young redhead just might as well have been flying already as she daydreamed.
I have to get one of these!
Engineer's AA 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (10) + 12 = 22
Caught up in the excitement, Arion ran to the bow.
Even better. Most senses being dimmed and confused near the hour of eventide, this slap across their semblance shall shock them into submission. After such a sensational sunset, shores silhouetted in shadows; oh what an intoxicating climax to yesterday's overture. Now, to capitalize on the euphoria to accent the next sonata.
Raising his voice among the loud cheers, Arion chanted,
"Do not flee but BEWARE!
Sparklers bursting in air
Gave proof to the Sprite
of the Scarlet Corsair!"
Arion grasped Sasha's grip, congratulating her, and said with a smile, "The Scarlet Corsair strikes again! When the Sprite is hove to, there will be a few minutes before this ship comes broadside. Before that we should prepare You for Your flight. I should also make You invisible, but that spell ends if You aim an attack at someone. Do You have all the gear You will need?"
The wizard accompanied her as he quickly explained what he thought she might understand about the conditions of both spells.
As Arion consulted with Sasha, Grak flew over next to them and silently hovered near them. He hissed softly to them, "Misssstressss says she issss ready when you are, Sssashhha."
Lureene will cast Invisibility on Grak when they are ready to proceed.
Stealth 1d20 + 19 + 20 ⇒ (6) + 19 + 20 = 45 invisible
Aside from a few glares, no words were spoken between priestess and huntress during the pursuit. Amhranai had distracted herself working with the sailors and, as she had guessed earlier, found that all the knowledge was still there, waiting to be used once again. The unspoken bond she shared with those she worked with was at once comforting and disconcerting. Good-natured joking and ribbing came swiftly, interspersed abruptly with silence and, for a few, the thousand-yard stare of eyes that had seen too much. And the elf found herself similarly lost.
Mavato's announcement of their imminent encounter brought Amhranai back to the others, eyes sliding coolly past Sasha and then watched with a mixture of mirth and alarm as the human darted for the ballista and proceeded to fire it. Gods-blessed? Must be. Since she seems to be so happy, I guess I'll talk to her once we're done.
Sasha nodded excitedly to Grak and Arion, eager to be on her way. "Yeah Lissi made me invisible once before so know it goes away if I gank anybody. Oh, and how do you want me to signal you guys if I find anything? I could fly to the back of the ship out of sight, but if I'm invisible you won't be able to see me and I won't be able to see Grak either, right?"
Lureene walked over to her friend absentmindedly twirling a stray lock of hair around her finger. "Well, Grak can scent you so I am not worried about him locating you, as long as you do not outpace him." She unconsciously started to chew on her hair, obviously thinking hard to herself. "Sash, if you carry a source of light and light it while you are invisible the light will still be visible. I don't know if you want to arrange a signal with Grak but I would start with lighting something if you see something out of the ordinary."
She turned to look at Arion, her blue eyes inscrutable. "What say you, Arion?"
"Oh lights will still work?"
Holding up her left hand, she looked at an ornate silver ring set with a large, garnet and pinching the setting between thumb and forefinger, murmuring, "Righty nighty, lefty lighty."
Then giving it a quarter turn counter-clockwise, a concealed light shone forth from the stone, her grinning face looking decidedly devilish in the crimson glow. "Sin gave it to me with the rest of her old stuff. Check this out," she rotate the ring so the stone faced her palm, opening and closing her hand like it was the mouth of some fiery dragon, "that makes it real easy to hide, huh?"
Looking at her lovers hopefully, she asked, "Think that'll work, guys?"
"Clever and adorable," Arion nodded and reached out to hold Sasha's fingers, swiftly examining her ring. Then he moved nearer and kissed her hand as prelude to casting both spells upon her.
"If You find this...bony Toni Catone or an enemy crony, if You stay near them and we see Your light, I will move towards You at once."
Sasha giggled a bit at Arion's praise, nodding eagerly at everything he said.
Toni 'The Bony Crony' Catone
"Alrighty, Grak and I'll go have a look. See you guys in a little bit!" With that, she gave Arion a quick kiss and beamed a smile at Lureene before the magus' spell turned her invisible.
"Oh wow," her voice called out, suddenly high above, the next instant out over the water, "this is GREAT! C'mon Graky, let's do this!"
As the two flew off, a fading, "SEEE YAAA!" could just barely be heard over the ruckus of the crew.
Although he was capable of outpacing someone using magical flight, Grak conserved his stamina, flying at the same speed as Sasha so that she might follow the sound of his wings. As they flew, Sasha whispered, "Somebody left the cabin door open, poke your head in there and see if there's any hiding out. I'll fly around to the far side. Oh, and Darv said to look for a mulatto guy sooo... yeah."
Although the flying serpent could see that there were several open portholes in the sides of the scow's cabin, the open door looked like it would provide a less risky form of ingress and he bided his time. Waiting for the frantic human sailors to busy themselves with tending to the ship's sails and rigging before sneaking inside.
Within, Grak found the crew's cramped living quarters. By the door was a small counter from which he could smell the evening's meal being cooked, and straight ahead there was a simple table with two benches at which the men could take their meals or prepare for them. Further towards the back of the ship hung six hammocks, all empty, with a small stool located in one corner.
Interestingly enough, there was a trap door in the center of the floor, just forward of the mast and currently inaccessible due to the table and bench resting atop of it. It was by no means difficult to see, and judging by its plainly visible hinges, it was designed to pull open rather than fall open. Still, judging by the undisturbed dirt and grime on the floor, the table had not been moved in quite some time. It was unlikely that anyone had used the door in quite some time.
Outside, Sasha looked out over the deck of the ship with interest. There were six men on deck, a fat yet fancily dressed Mestaran in an ornate hat manned the helm. He was perhaps the owner or captain. Near him stood a sullen looking man (from Trull perhaps) who wore a stained apron and looked as unhappy with the captain's fretting as he was about the approaching pirate ship. Further forward, a strong black tended the bowsprit while 2 Setenbori men (one who was right in front of her) worked the foreward sail, the aft sail having already been tended to by an older-looking Mestaran who now peered at The Avenger thru a spyglass.
Yet of greatest interest to the ranger was the gaping opening in the center of the deck. There, the heavy wooden grate that covered the cargo hold had been pried out and now sat askew atop the opening.
Wonder what's down there...
As their ship closed in on the stagnant scow, Arion approached the witty, scarred elven captain.
"Captain Fingel, if You are not too busy, two questions for You. Although there might be less than a dozen hands aboard the Sprite, did You intend for Your sailors to secure the crew or should that be left to our team? Also, would You have a 'sap' or similar weapon that I might borrow for this encounter?"
As Grak relayed the information he discovered (which admittedly was not much) he paused awaiting the telepathic reply. Once he had received his instructions, he exited the cabin slithering silently on the cabin roof and down the outside wall and slid into the cargo hold. Climb to H10.
Stealth 1d20 + 19 + 20 ⇒ (10) + 19 + 20 = 49 invisible
Even as Grak slithered back out of the cabin, Sasha drifted noiselessly past the man near her in order to peer down into the cargo hold.
Big ass boxes and a sh1t-ton of barrels! Wonder if there's anything else..
The nearly imperceptible sound of Grak slithering down the front wall of the cabin was enough to inform the invisible huntress of his presence.
Better get out of his way...
Without a sound, she drifted down thru the hole, landing softly amongst 5 crates, each big enough to hold a horse if it were to kneel. Rotating Sindariel's light ring so that it faced her palm, she gave the setting a turn, cupping the red light in her hands and shining it upon the side of the crate next to her for Grak to see.
Upon joining her, a soft hiss acknowledge her and she closed her hand, but not before the both of them had read the side of the crate.
Silverhound ToolworksPort Eldarion, Dafar
HANDLE WITH CARE!
S 1d20 + 20 + 20 ⇒ (14) + 20 + 20 = 54 invis
1d20 ⇒ 5
1d20 ⇒ 17
Captain Fingel eyed the well-spoken scribe thoughtfully, more than a bit of curiosity in her gaze at his questions. While he spoke, she spun her cutlass around by the pommel, it's point boring a shallow depression into the surface of the deck. Straight-faced, she answered. "I thought we might invite them aboard for tea actually. That should provide a suitable diversion for your team to canvas their vessel and interrogate them, wouldn't you agree?"
"As for saps," she chuckled and slipped one from behind her back, "you should be more careful with your spells if you don't want them to get away from you."
With a playful wink, the good captain, flipped her blackjack to Arion, teasing, "Careful now, don't want to misplace another one."
Sense Motive Checks:
E 1d20 + 25 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 25 + 3 = 42 alertness
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
D 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (1) + 20 = 21
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
"An evening tea party, hmmm" Arion's attempt - at such a straight faced delivery as the Captain's - could not mask his entertainment at her reply.
Relishing her badinage along with her mien, the elven agent slowly closed towards the officer. Catching her offering, a keen smile drew across Arion's expression as he said, "Suddenly aware one is between the cutlass of such a tantalizing 'Freebooter' and the dark open waters, how could any man refuse?"
Arion held up the leather covered cudgel, waving it and saying, "We are in Your debt, Captain. May we find Your endowments handy and satisfy You with more than merely oral amends."
With a light bow and smile Arion turned and sought Amelia, Amhranai, Darvesch and Lureene, to consult with them.
Drawing near to Lureene, Arion asked, "What news of our serpentine sleuth?"
Lureene moved next to the scribe and raised her hand for him to wait a moment. She slipped into mental communication with Grak and it did not take long for a report.
"Arion, both Sash and Grak are checking out the cargo hold as they did not find anything unusual above decks. According to the shipping manifest you showed me earlier, there was 100 barrels of rice and 4 crates carrying a plow, I think." She again communicated with her loyal companion. "Arion, this is odd. Grak says he sees five crates instead of four in the hold."
The hazel-eye commander, raised an eyebrow at Arion's flirtations before casting a sidelong glance at Lureene as she approached.
With a friendly smile, Këowyn tipped her hat to Lady Ourson and asked, "I'm going to make some tea. Care for a spot?"
Lureene glanced over to where the Sprite was readying for the meeting with the Avenger, and where her friend was sneaking about.
I hope you will be careful Sash...I am worried about this situation...
She gave Arion a long look, again with that intense look in her deep blue eyes as she drank in his presence. It was almost like she wanted to remind him of the look which had filled her eyes the previous evening. Not just a fleeting glance either. She then returned the elvish captain's smile replying, "I would not mind that at all. I apologize for seeming distant however I am concerned about my friend."