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Oh, there is more!
The whole Aiger's kiss plot bothered me, as it felt unfulfilling. They get an artifact and it isn't a major point in the plot neither they will be giving it a lot of use. Knowing my players, they would be disappointed.
We were playing Reign of Winter at the same time, where I was a player. And some strange coincidences took Kiani's player (who was the GM on RoW) and me to make an aggreement to a second crossover, who wss a major plot point in RoW and an interesting take for Skull and Shackles.
By now, here is another short chapter.
Our pirates got out of the tower with Aiger's Kiss and more looted treasure, not air walking like they had come, but just teleporting back to their ship, only to realize there was another ship, named the Wanton Wastrel, anchored next to theirs.
-What 's happening here?- demanded Kiani to know.
Fox approached the group, with a sarcastic smile on his face.
-That jester says that he has come here for something about a sword and wants to speak to you.
A man on the other ship waved to them. He was a half elf, who could have been quite attractive if he wasn't completely overdressed in the most archetypal pirate fashion.
-Captain Kiani the Blue, I am Captain Valerande "Barracuda" Aiger, rightful heir to Aiger's Kiss! Hand over the sword and you'll be spared.
The crew of the Mustakrakish burst with laughter. Kiani had to yell to make sure she was heard from the Wanton Wastrel.
-Spare me from what? Swabbing the deck with your pitiable ass? If you wanted the sword, you should have claimed it before! And who says I have it?
-I know you have it!
-I don't.- laughed the undine.- My first mate does.
Sandara had started to toy dismissively with the sword in her hands. She gave Barracuda a defiant smile.
-We have rightfully claimed it, we can do whatever we want with it.- the priestess walked to the board, swinging Aiger's kiss.- I think Zeboim would be glad of being offered one of her mother's artifacts in sacrifice.
Barracuda went pale. Sandara laughed.
-That is my mother's sword and I am going to have it, no matter the cost! Maybe we could negotiate a price.
-Negotiate? Do we look like merchants?- cackled Kiani.
Anyway, they aggreed to meet on the shore to negotiate. After having been threatened, our pirates were more interested in teaching him a lesson than in handing him over the sword, but they also knew they needed funds to build a fleet.
Kiani, Sandara and Fox got into one of the boats and sailed to the shore. During that short sail, Sandara used Aiger's Kiss to carve the names of the crew on the boat's deck. As she didn't have enough time to finish, she only carved Kiani's name and half of her own, resulting in something like this:
When they finally met Barracuda he was evidently pissed off for the disrespectful treatment they were giving to Aiger's Kiss, but he wanted the sword so badly that he said nothing.
Barracuda was willing to give his treasure and some magic items for the sword, plus his aid to battle Harrigan, but our pirates felt it wasn't enough. Aiger's Kiss was an unique artifact who belonged to a goddess who was now dead. That should increase the price. They wanted 10 ships or nothing.
-But I don't have 10 ships!- said Barracuda desperately.
-Not my problem.- said Kiani- Buy them. Capture them. Build them. I don't care. Get them and the sword is yours. Or whatever is left of it when we are done with it.
-The Goddess wants us to do something with it. When we are done, we will no longer needed. Bring us our 10 ships and we will give you your mommy's sword.
Kiani wasn't willing to negotiate her conditions so Barracuda reluctantly aggreed. He obviously hated and despised them, but he did his best not to confront them. Despite his brave pose, it was clear that he feared them.
-What a jester.- spat Fox once he was gone.
With Aiger's Kiss still on their hands, they sailed away from the Black Tower's island, still not knowing what they where expected to do with it.
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Being the awful storyteller I am, I forgot telling on last chapter that the Shrouded Queen mutated when the energies of the portal were disrupted. Even though it's not relevant for the story, it is a piece of information that adds some sense to the background so I felt it was worth mentioning.
With the Black Tower looted and the Shrouded Queen released from her eternal agony, the group had to choose between locating Scrags Rotgram or helping Endymion. Half for geographical convenience, half because they liked Arronax, they decided to go to Death's Teeth first.
Arronax received them on his manor and gave them instructions on where to find the artists that were causing him trouble. The troupe was led by Isawyn, a nerakan opera singer who was the main star on the show, and had two more members: another performer called Gorebeard Trench, who made very violent and gorey performances, and a mysterious woman of unknown name who was hardly ever seen and was the one in charge of "special effects".
Their place was closed in the morning, so our pirates decided to make them a visit right before dawn to take some advantage from the cover provided by darkness.
They approached the place using invisibility and when they were close enough they just teleported inside the building, triggering an alarm spell that silently warned the troupe.
Hearing movement on the rooms, the party casted some preparation spells. Meanwhile, they heard an Invisibility spell being casted on the other side.
The first one to get out from the door was an angry looking man wearing a cheap pirate disguise. As he crossed the umbral he was met by multiple Ederleighs, who delivered an attack of opportunity and, after one of the mirror images was destroyed by the angry man, followed with a full attack powered by his spells. A critical hit with his scimitar and the attached Vampiric Touch left him seriously wounded, and the follow up attacks finished him.
(At this time Fox's player was traumatised because Ederleigh had not a much attack bonus as Fox had, but still never missed a hit. Not that a raging barbarian is so hard to hit, but surely Fox would have rolled some nat 1s)
Meanwhile, Kiani casted a Glitterdust spell. She didn't have a good visibility at the other side of the door, but she counted on being able to reveal the invisible creature. It worked. The revealed person cried for help and casted a spell afterwards. Failing to identify Sandara (who wore a newly crafted Plate Armor of the Deep and had grown to large size thanks to Righteous Might) as a cleric, she casted Dominate Person on her. Being the one with the strongest will on the group it wasn't a big surprise that the spell wasn't even close to land.
Suddenly, something teleported in the middle of the room, invisible but quickly revealing itself as it attacked. It was a devil covered in barbs which was unsurprisingly recognized as a... barbed devil. While Sandara focused on engaging it on melee, Isabella and Kiani attacked the stupid opera singer. When Ederleigh stepped forward and attacked her, it was done. She was knocked down. The barbed devil could have been the real adversary with its ability to grab and impale opponents and to cause harm to attackers with its barbs, but Sandara's large size allowed her to completely avoid being grabbed. As soon as the party focused on killing it, the fight was done.
And what about the mysterious third member of the troupe? She was willing to help her peers, but everything happened too quick and while she prepared to summon creatures from behind, everybody was defeated. Not willing to die without a reason, she casted Dimension Door and teleported away. Our pirates tried to locate her after the fight was over, but she had just disappeared. Without a strong motivation to seek revenge, she was never seen again, remaining forever as a mystery, and not allowing me to present to the party the coolest looking tiefling I have ever seen.
(If you want to see what I am talking about just go to Google images and write Pathfinder Lady Nightshade. I positively know I am using this character again for something just because she looks completely kickass! She also has a pretty solid strategy with quickened illusion spells and summoned creatures.)
Gorebeard was dead, barbarians hardly ever survive being knocked down, but Isawyn, the bard, was still alive. After looting everything that wasn't nailed to the floor, getting some proof that the troupe had been forging false evidences to frame Endymion and discovering that the barbed devil had a ring of invisibility that Kiani would always wear since then, they tied up Isawyn, covered her on a coat so she didn't look as beaten up as she was, and took her into Endymion's manor.
Arronax was satisfied by the group's efficiency, and glad to have Isawyn on his hands. He ordered to have her chained and locked to further interrogate her. Being an expeditious man, it can be guessed that Isawyn would have been better dead.
As promised, Arronax granted the group a full squadron of five warhsips, led by the Captain Brok "Madshanks" Cordain, who Endymion presented as a skilled and resourceful commodore. The squadron, who called themselves Madshank's Marauders would soon earn their new name of Madshank's Mutineers.
After that they parted ways with Endymion and sent Fox to the Island of the Broken Shackles to get Madshanks and his people introduced to the inhabitants and get them used to work their way. The rest of the group sailed towards Scrags Rotgram's last known location (which they had been investigating) with both the Mustakrakish, led by Kiani, and the Thresher, in charge of Isabella.
They wanted to test her to see if she was prepared to lead her own ship again, after redefining her way of seeing the role of a pirate captain. Before meeting the party, she had led by fear, taking her crew to ruthlessly attack and destroy enemy ships and using severe punishment against anyone who failed or disappointed her. After spending quite a long time with them, she was trying to learn to inspire real loyalty as Kiani was able to do. She was still a more strict commander than Kiani was, but she wanted at least to be a fair one. Having been mistreated and abused in the past, she had set the goal of not becoming what she hated. Next weeks would tell if she was prepared or not.
Next time... thermometer cools down as the aforementioned Reign of Winter crossover takes place! Keep tuned!
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FAR BEYOND THE ICE AND SNOW
After solving Endymion's problems, the Mustakrakish and the Thresher had to sail
North South close to the coast of the Desolation to go to the last place Scrags Rotgram had been seen.
At first the trip was uneventful, but when they were three days away from their destination the weather started to get worse in an unexpected way. Our pirates were used to heat waves, tropical storms and thick fog, but as the weather at the Blood Sea varied from tropical to equatorial, they had never experienced a cold wave.
At first it was mild. The temperature dropped a few degrees and everybody but the party (all of them resisted cold by race or class) had to wear thicker clothes. Tessa's magic navigation charts revealed a strange spiral of white clouds ahead of them. Giffer (remember that she was a cartographer in our game) was nervous, walking from one side to another, mumbling to herself "this cannot be natural".
As the night fell, temperatures dropped below the freezing point and big chunks of ice covered the sea. At the same time, a heavy snowfall started, soom becoming a blizzard with winds strong enough to rip the sails and zero visibility.
They could of course sail around the storm, which seemed to be growing bigger in size and intensity. But not only they wanted to know what was going on, they were also pretty sure that it was related somehow to Sandara's visions of the Dark Tower and to Aiger's Kiss. So instead of sensibly sailing around, Kianni commanded "all ahead!" through the storm. It reminded her of the Free Captain's Regatta.
(Actually, to create this scene I took many events and rules from the regatta. The only fact that the blizzard hindered the visibility so much adjusted the encounters to be level appropriate. I also applied the cold weather rules strictly to share a lot of the pain they caused me when playing Reign of Winter. This made a neat combination of both games)
Sailing on a frozen sea was dangerous. Not only the wind and the waves made the ship nearly impossible to maneuver, but they had to dodge big chunks of ice and even some icebergs. Avoiding it completely was really difficult, so they had to rely on their scrolls of Make Whole to repair the damage to the hull. Isabella hadn't been on the Regatta and she was not as experienced on navigating in extreme conditions so she got the worse part. Fortunately, as she was carrying Sorrinash's magic ship in a bottle to protect the Thresher, she didn't take enough damage to compromise her navigation, but she had to sail much slower due to many unavoided collisions.
As navigation got next to impossible and they got closer to the origin of the storm, Kiani and Sandara grew more excited. The rest of the crew was freezing but they were enjoying.
Teleporting to the origin of the storm meant that they were throwing themselves into the metaphoric jaws of the wolf. It raged so strong there that they couldn't do anything to avoid being pushed aside many feet each turn. At least Ederleigh's guess of the center had been extremely accurate. They teleported exactly to the location of a massive spheric rift on reality: a portal to another realm from which the cold was emanating, causing the storm and the frozen sea.
Kiani and Ederleigh noticed something moving around them, but the winds and snow blinded them.
-Sandara! The sword! On the portal!- Kiani's cry was almost swallowed by the wail of the wind.
-NOT... SO... EASY!
Despite being under the effects of Righteous Might and having large size (oh, surprise!!! It's not like that was Sandara's strategy for everything that couldn't be dropped to the sea), Sandara had to struggle to be able to beat the force of the wind and attack the portal with Aiger's Kiss.
-STUPID PORTAL!... I CAN DO THAT TOO!- Sandara was speaking about her cyclonic aura, which kept enemies from approaching her.
Making use of all her strength, she attacked the portal, causing an immediate imposion of its energies into Aiger's Kiss. Despite being protected by her Zeboim-granted resistance to cold, she had to drop the sword to avoid being trapped in a solid block of ice.
(Mechanics for closing this portal: a Strength check DC 25 as a move action to approach the portal, which was not needed because Ederleigh teleported them. After that, a Strength check at a DC of 20 to attack the portal, no attack roll needed, as a full round action. To avoid being pushed away by the winds another Strength check DC 25 as a move action is required, so as attempting to seal the portal is a full round action, you are automatically pushed away by doing it. Sandara got a pretty good Strength check, fortunately, and she was the right one to attempt it, as the other party members had a +1 modifier to the check at best xD. After succeeding a Reflex save DC 15 was required to the one holding Aiger's Kiss to avoid having to do a Fortitude save DC 20 not to be encased in ice. There was a way to avoid this: bearing Baba Yaga's mark but, of course, that was beyond our pirates reach.)
The storm inmediately decreased its intensity, but it would take a while before it completely faded away. By now, they might have closed the portal, but they would have to deal with its keepers: some advanced winter fey and a couple of elder ice elementals.
As they had been cautious enough to get Darren and Isabella to cast protections against cold, the cold damage from the creatures was non existent, but still the elementals caused some trouble because of their huge size. Anyway, the major issue was the weather, which hindered visibility and movement, not allowing them to attack enemies that weren't on a 5 feet range. If it wasn't because enemies were also hindered by many of this restrictions they might have more serious trouble, but taking advantage of weather, our pirates managed to beat the enemies without taking severe damage (though Sandara and Isabella ended pretty badly injured).
With the Winter Portal closed, the storm would soon stop and though it might take some time until the ice completely melted, it no longer threatened to freeze the whole Blood Sea.
Sandara grabbed Aiger's Kiss, whose ability to close portals would take a full year to recharge. The sword was encased in a solid block of ice, caused by the absorbed energies from the portal. They still didn't understand what had happened but they knew they had saved the day again and they had a new story to tell. It was enough for them. Now back to track Scrags Rotgram.
Meanwhile, on a different story, a desperate group of unwilling heroes was fighting hard for finding a way to close the Winter Portals that were opening all across Krynn. One of their leaders had sold his soul to get information about Aiger's Kiss and its location.
The group had already been to the Black Tower, and found it empty, with clear signs of having been raided and looted recently. They couldn't even solve the puzzles, as some parts were missing.
With the use of powerful divination magic, they had managed to locate the sword in the hands of some pirates that they already had met before...In the party of Palanthas. Destiny has funny ways.
Back to our pirates, they were exhausted after a night sailing in a storm and fighting wintry creatures. Sandara, forced by her goddess to be an early bird to commune with her was particularly sleepless. Suddenly, she noticed an attempt of magic on herself. Someone was trying to scry her. She warned the others and they prepared for an attack. They were worried about Harrigan and his people making a scry, teleport and kill attempt on them.
A second scry was made. This time on Kiani. This time, successful. Despite her failing her save against scrying, they noticed the magic sensor, knowing they were being watched. A whispering voice came out from the sensor, a Message spell, asking for permission to teleport to the ship and negotiate. Despite they didn't trust it wasn't a trap, they were prepared to give a warm greeting to anyone who dared to attack them on their own ship, so they aggreed to allow a small group to teleport.
They were surprised to recognize the faces from Palanthas: a wizard who they had forced to drink until unconsciousness, a red haired elven woman with rather unusual features (who they just remembered because of the unusual features), and the honored lady of the party herself! (Who didn't look in a good mood) To be honest, if it wasn't for the fourth member of the group, they would probably had attacked them on sight, thinking they wanted to take revenge for giving them the most awesome party ever. But the fourth member of the group, also one of the guests of the party, was also a devoted worshipper of Zeboim, and he had made good friends with both Sandara and Kiani (getting to know both *cough* pretty well *cough* during the party). Why he was teaming up with boring and uptight Solamnics was beyond our pirates understanding.
-Hey, Indi, how are you doing?- greeted Kiani cheerfully buy still not sheathing her weapon.
-Fine- answered Indi with a charming smile. Under so many layers of leather and fur he was a rather attractive young man-. Saving the world from another White Apocalypse, among other things.
With both groups still on a defensive position, Indi and the pirate immersed themselves on some small talk. The solamnic lady, who seemed to be willing to bash some pirate asses, exhalated an exasperated grunt. She was in the middle, like a one woman barrier.
-We don't have much time.- said the elven woman in a soft mediating tone.- Winter portals are opening everywhere. We need something that you have to close them.
-So you want this?- Sandara pulled Aiger's Kiss out. The ice had melted and it looked normal again.
-Let's negotiate.- smiled Kiani.- We got something that you want, and it's an unique artifact, what's your best offer?
The red haired elf looked puzzled, like she didn't expect pirates to act like pirates.
-The whole world will freeze. We really need that sword.
-That should increase the price, then. We are safe here, we have already saved the Blood Sea, what do we care about what happens to the rest of the world? Let their inhabitants save themselves. I have to protect my own people. We are going to be under attack very soon.
-Maybe we can help you when we are done with this.
Kiani raised an eyebrow.
-What can you do? Do you know how to sail a ship? Have you ever attempted to cast a spell under a storm? You'd be a nuisance more than an aid.
-What do you want then?- asked the elf.
-We have been offered 10 ships for the sword. Equal that and it's yours.
-That's roughly 10 thousand pieces of steel each ship!- the white robed wizard rushed to say, before his good willed friend blindly agreed to the deal.- This is insane!
-We won't keep the sword for long. We'll be done in a day or two and you can have it back and sell it if you wish.
-Why should we trust you? You might just go away with it. You might destroy it in an attempt of closing the portals. This is my last offer: give us 10 ships to protect our island and we'll give you the sword plus the name of someone that will be more than willing to buy after you are done with it.
-OK, then - the elf looked defeated-. Is it OK if we just give you the steel and you get the ships? I don't know how to buy a ship and we are in a rush. We might have to sell some stuff to get that much money, though.
It was Kiani now who looked puzzled. She was used to deal with hardcore negotiators, but this woman wasn't even trying. She was just willing to give them whatever they asked for. Kiani felt some pity for this girl who couldn't negotiate her way out of an open field.
-In fact, the sword is discharged and completely useless for what you want to do with it right now. You'll have to wait at least for a year. Each time.
-I think we can fix it. Arthur could Wish it to recharge faster.
The pirates were shocked. Were they powerful enough to cast Wishes?
-I have another deal for you. As the sword is discharged and you just want to borrow it, we are going to be more lenient. We have an enemy who is hiding in a place protected against scrying. Find a way to get there and take us there and we won't be in need of those ships.
With their help, they might end the fight before it was fought. If they killed Harrigan before he attacked their island there wouldn't be a battle against his fleet. Killing Harrigan was their privilege, but having some help to remove the protections against scrying was just perfect.
The elven girl asked what was the big deal with Harrigan. She seemed worried about helping them slaying an innocent person. When Kiani explained who Harrigan was, and what they suspected he had done to some of their friends she looked relieved, even eager to help. The white robed wizard and the solamnic lady didn't seem to be so pleased with the deal, though. When everything was set, Kiani added a last condition to the deal:
-When you are done with what you are doing, you have to lend us Indi for our crew for some weeks.- she said with a smile.
-OK.- answered the "negotiator" with a smile, knowing that Indi would be eager to spend some time with them.
-Hey! I am here!- complained Indi without a lot of conviction.- It's me who is supposed to have to agree! You are whoreing me again!
-Shut up. You know you want to go.- said the solamnic lady with a serious voice.
-You are whoreing me!
So, finally, the other group left with Aiger's Kiss, with the promise of helping the pirates to reach Harrigan and lend them Indi for a while in the future.
And the Mustakrakish sailed again towards the last known whereabouts of Scrags Rotgram.
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THE FATE OF SCAGS ROTGRAM
After some interruptions on their trip, the pirates were finally free to get back to the search of Scags Rotgram. He had a lot of information about Harrigan and no love for him, so he could provide an useful help.
For what they knew, he was last seen sailing Zeboim's Gullet, which consisted in a couple of sharp islands (called Zeboim's Jaws) separated by a deadly current that pushed the ships towards the rocky cliffs. Most people sailed around them, as crossing the Gullet was close to a death sentence.
After leaving Harrigan's crew, Scags had been away from the Blood Sea, but he had got back recently with his pirate ship The Devilish Duchess. Harrigan couldn't allow him to be around, so he hunted him. Scags had attempted to cross the Gullet to avoid the chase by the Wormwood and he hadn't been seen since then. He might be dead or just hiding. Nobody knew.
When the Mustakrakish and the Thresher were close to the island, a small group of dolphins approached the ships, jumping out of the water and then swimming away towards the Gullet. Even if dolphins had a reputation of leading travelers through a safe sail, Kiani found this dolphins suspicious and decided that no way she was leading the Mustakrakish through the Gullet. She commanded Darren to cast fly and invisibility and scout ahead to have an overall view of both islands while they kept the ships anchored near the safe side of the biggest of the two islands.
Darren came back soon with information: the smallest island seemed to be empty, and had almost no vegetation, but the biggest and sharpest was covered in thick vegetation and had a small beach where Darren had seen footprints that led to the jungle. He had found a small settlement not far from there, whose inhabitants semed to be the survivors of a shipwreck. He had also seen some strange statues from the distance on another location at the same island, but they would never decide to explore that location.
Sandara used Air Walk on the party, leaving Darren behind to watch the ships.
-If I find a scratch on my Thresher that wasn't there before, I'll make you walk the plank, Mom, I am not kidding.- warned Isabella.
They approached the island from the western side, the nearest to the castaways' camp, using the cliffs as a cover to avoid being noticed from the distance. What they didn't expect was that some of the castaways were watching the shore near there, hidden on the trees. They had spotted their ships at their arrival and had been watching them since then, making any stealth attempt unlikely to succeed.
The pirates were received by a volley of crossbow bolts, which didn't cause much damage but forced them to act. They approached as much as they could and Kiani used her Dirge of Doom, followed up by Isabella's fear. Even the ones who made the saving throw against the spell were frigtened because of the combination. And so they made their way to the castaways' camp: they combined fear effects to have them running away and quickly dealt with the few ones that were out of range. Their leader got the same treatment. She failed her saving throw, so when she was cornered and disarmed she curled on herself saying: "I surrender. Tell Harrigan to make it quick."
She was unresponsive to any explanation for a long time, until the fear effect wore off. The only thing they got from her was a command to her people to surrender their weapons.
After she had calmed she proved to be much more reasonable. She presented herself as Alise Grogblud, one of Scag's former officers, and explained that the captain had been killed by some terrible undead creatures when the Devilish Duchess ran aground on the island. She told that they had been misguided by some dolphins ("I knew they were up to no good!" interjected Kiani) and crashed into the rocks. Then the dolphins transformed into undead monstrosities, jumping into deck, and attacked. Most of them had been killed, but some managed to make it into the safety of the jungle. For some reason, the undead never ventured inland.
Alise didn't know too much about Harrigan, but she had seen how the undead removed the ship from sight dragging it into a hidden cave on the smallest island. She knew that Scags had been on Harrigan's secret lair and taken some notes on a diary about what he remembered about it, planning to attack his fortress in the future.
Even if all the information they could get would be fine, just knowing the location of the fortress was already worth recovering the diary. Also, if the undead dragged the ships they attacked into the cave, maybe there were still a few them that were in good enough shape to use.
Before they went to explore the caves, though, they decided they should teleport the castaways to the ships so they were safe. As they would soon learn, safety was relative, as they found the ships under attack.
Darren had made a good job defending the crew, ordering them to lock themselves below deck and luring them into try to attack him only to use his magic flight to avoid being hit. Now, the remaining two of the four attackers were on the Thresher's deck, caught in Black Tentacles, while Rosie and Scaly used the ballistae on the Mustakrakish to attack them.
-Mom, you are dead!!!- cried Isabella- What did you do to my Thresher!?
She didn't worry about the undead attackers at all, but for the big hole on the board that a failed ballista shot had made to her ship (say thanks to Scaly!).
So they defeated the remaining undead while trying to convince Isabella not to kill Darren when they were done. In Isabella's discharge it can be said that she proved to be quite reasonable after she calmed down. She had changed a lot since they had met her. She never let Darren forget how she had left her in charge of the Thresher and found it with a huge hole when she came back, though. And, in the best Kiani's fashion, the hole was bigger each time she mentioned it.
With the two ships and the crews safe, believe it or not, on Darren's hands, the rest of the group left to explore the hidden cave. As they knew its location, it wasn't difficult to find. Though it was above the level of the water at anytime but high tide, it was filled with water and the remains of dozens of ships. Four of them were still functional despite the broken masts, and wouldn't be complicated to repair. One of them was the Devilish Duchess.
It didn't seem to be anyone in the cave so they proceeded to explore the ships, starting by the Devilish Duchess. It still had all its cargo, and they found the hidden cache on the captain's cabin that Alise had told them. Aside from money and some magic goods, they also found the diary. Most of it consisted on Scag's rambling against Harrigan, but it also contained a detailed description of the parts he knew from Harrigan's fortress, its location and even a plan to get inside unnoticed. In the end, they would have to depend on nobody to find their long term enemy.
The trip had paid off: they had got new ships (that Sandara would have to Make Whole before they could be moved), a lot of plunder, relevant information and some new people willing to join their crew. Even when they were ambushed by some undead when they got back to the deck of the Devilish Duchess they didn't need much effort to defeat them. It was what they could call an easy catch.
And now, with everything set, they didn't need to defend against Harrigan: they were going to be the ones to attack!
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On this part I made up better stats for Concho-stupid-gnome, Fishguts, Owlbear, and Caulky. I made them useable, but fun a silly. I had them draw a random character to play and they defended themselves from the undead attackers. It actually went a lot better than I thought it would. Even Stupid-gnome-bard did pretty well with his silver rapier.
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HARRIGAN MUST DIE! (EVENTUALLY)
The pirates had just left behind Zeboim's jaws when Kiani received a magic message, asking for permission to scry and teleport to give them Aiger's Kiss back. They had succeeded really quick... or they had found the weapon completely useless.
Despite not having still any trust on them, they allowed the teleport. They were the same four as the last time. The redhead elf brought handed Kiani Aiger's kiss in seemingly perfect state. She explained that they had used some Wishes to recharge the sword with the wild magic energies released from the destroyed Tower of High Sorcery from Daltigoth. That sounded dangerous, but the sword seemed to be OK and the world was still there, so it must have worked.
Kiani told them that they were no longer needed to help locating Harrigan, so they would be demanded a favor in the future, and they would have to pay. They didn't seem too pleased, but they couldn't do anything but agreeing.
After they were gone, Sandara casted a Sending to deliver a message to Barracuda Aiger: they were ready to sell the sword, as soon as he had the ships. Barracuda answered with a laconic "OK".
On the way to Harrigan's fortress, Sandara tried to Scry both Harrigan and Peppery a few times, but she was always unsuccessful. They had the feeling that something terrible had happened to her. Darren also teleported away to their island both to check everything was fine there and bring Fox back. He didn't want to be left behind when hunting their old enemy.
After considering many options, they decided to use the same route as Scags suggested to infiltrate Harrigan's fortress: they would approach the place by boat, search for a hidden passage and get into the fortress using it.
Scags diary mentioned a giant serpent watching over the sea around the fortress but also explained how to avoid being attacked: sounding a gong while throwing big chunks of meat to the water to feed it. But they would rather use their magic to avoid detection, as sounding a gong wouldn't be of any good it they wanted to remain stealthy (and Isabella already had experience in approaching enemy fortresses stealthily, as you know!).
So they anchored the Mustakrakish and the Thresher at a sensible distance from Gannet Island, where the fortress was. Darren and Ederleigh were left behind to take charge of the ships. Curiously enough, Darren didn't hold such a grudge against Harrigan but Isabella was eager to beat the crap out of him, not seeing any difference between him and the pirate who enslaved her.
(The fact that Darren's player wasn't there was the main motive for him not taking part, though. Because he rarely could come, Darren was shaping as a pretty non confrontational dude who'd rather stay doing his own things than go adventuring. A pretty unusual profile for a pirate, but it fitted quite well his background!)
So they approached by night, avoiding to warn the sea serpent, and got into the cave on the beach near the fortress. Everything went well the first few meters but, with Fox back, underwater vermin should be back too. And what a vermin! It was an anemone the size of a great wyrm red dragon! It was able to attack everyone on its reach (and due to its size and the narrow place it was in, it reached everything), and to release a gush of water to push them back. Of course, one of the first thing it did was grabbing Fox, poisoning Fox, and swallowing Fox whole. Welcome back to the action, Fox!
(Insert comments of Fox's player here saying "I should have brought Ederleigh!")
This anemone was a tough battle, as it was a battle against the clock to release Fox (as a rapier is not really a light weapon he couldn't use it to attempt to cut his way off). When they managed to defeat it they were all wounded to some degree and Fox was already on his last negative hit points and taking CON damage because of the poison. They managed to save him in extremis.
A lot of resources were spent on recovering from the fight against the anemone and they started worrying if they would manage to get to Harrigan in good shape enough to fight him.
As they were reaching the end of the tunnel, Kiani moved ahead to explore, under the effects of an Invisibility spell to avoid catching attention. She almost crashed against a giant water scorpion which was dwelling in the water in the next room. As they didn't know if there was going to be anyone close, they decided to cast Silence to avoid fight sounds and lure it so they could blast it from the safety of the cave. It proved to be a good strategy and they defeated it quick and without catching attention. Then Kiani moved forward and used the sword cane to spy inside the room. She saw some people in dark clothes speaking, but she couldn't hear anything. The whole room seemed to be silenced, though the people in front of her seemed able to speak and listen perfectly.
So they decided to level down the encounter. If they were going to be silenced then everybody should be silenced. Fox would take advantage of being already under Silence effects and approach them quickly. Sandara would have another Silence effect on herself, but first she would cast Blessing of Fervor on everyone, which would allow the spellcasters (all but Kiani!) to cast their level 2 and inferior spells as silent spells or alternatively attack like they were under a Haste effect. Actually, only Isabella benefitted from the first part, spamming Scorching Rays.
The strategy proved to be really effective. The people on the room was defeated before any of them could do anything useful, as some of them wasted their actions trying to cast before realizing they were silenced. The enemies were all wearing Dark Knight emblems with the symbols of the Order of the Skull, the ones that made the Dark Knights' priesthood.
(I changed the enemies here from being clerics to oracles, as the Dark Knights have gone godless. That was a fun change to do and they could have been interesting to fight... if they weren't defeated so soon!!!)
With some short lasting buff spells on themselves, the pirates decided not to stop to loot and crash into the next room, catching the only person inside completely unawares. She was a slender pale woman dressed in robes. Sandara and Fox closed into melee with her, while she grabbed her rapier and summoned some kind of ghostly plate armor with Dark Knight emblems on herself. Despite the Silence spell, she was far from defenseless: she stepped forward towards Sandara (who she recognized as a cleric because of the holy symbol and the unusual weapon choice) and touched her with her bare hand. Sandara let Zul fall from her hand and ran away, affected by a fear effect.
That wouldn't save the godless priestess, though, Kiani danced her way to Sandara's previous position (yay for visual bardic performances that work on Silence!), teaming up with Fox to attack her. It didn't take another round for her to be oh so very dead. It took a bit longer to have Sandara back to her senses (and very pissed off).
(Luccaria, the cleric of Norgorber, was replaced by Luccaria, Dark Knight oracle with the Occult mystery. I gave her a keen agile rapier in place of her other gear, as I wanted to provide something that the party could use. Kiani had been passing all loot to other party members and her melee effectiveness was starting to be low, so a good weapon for her was a neat option)
The presence of so many Dark Knights that didn't even care to hide their allegiance was proof enough that Harrigan was their ally or their pawn.
Our pirates didn't even stop to search and loot the place. They wanted to get Harrigan as soon as possible. They would have time to claim their booty later. They just rushed the fortress, knocking down or killing all the guards they found. They also encountered an old man living as an hermit at the tower.
They caught him unawares with Invisibility and attacked him. Everybody that wasn't chained or trapped was an enemy. They couldn't make mistakes if they wanted to avoid raising the alarm. In this case, as the old strange looking man was attempting to cast a spell when he was knocked down, they had done the right thing. They left him unconscious but alive to talk to him later.
Finally, they got to a locked door, that Sandara knocked off under a Silence effect. It seemed to be some kind of warehouse, full of crates and all kind of goods. As they entered, they ran into a three legged, vaguely insectile creature, that Kiani recognized as some kind of daemon. She knew that it could have some nasty SLAs, so she gestured Fox to get quickly into melee, while the casters remained behind, out of the silenced zone.
The daemon had a feeblemind aura, but this time nobody (I am looking at you, Fox) fell to it. Anyway, even without access to its SLAs, it was a powerful adversary. It resisted most forms of damage and had many natural attacks that delivered some wild damage. Fox was knocked down again with a combination of raw damage and CON damage dealt by the rend attack. Sandara was heavily wounded when the fight ended, but fortunately they still had enough healing left to be brought back to full shape. Having a cleric creating scrolls on the downtime really payed off.
What they didn't know was that, while they were healing, Harrigan was planning his defense on the upper floor. The daemon was telepathic and he had been commanded to warn Harrigan of intruders.
Kiani scouted ahead to the upper floor using her ring of Invisibility, but she was caught in an ambush by a couple of erinyes devils, who could see her perfectly despite being invisible.
When the rest of the group was able to go up the narrow stairs, two more erinyes had teleported into the room. While the pirates had difficulties to fight related to the small size of the place that forced them to get into melee to get LOS with the enemies, the erinyes used their flight and teleportation abilities to get full advantage of the setting.
Taking advantage of the mess, Harrigan approached the melee with a potion of Invisibility on himself and flanked Kiani with one of the erinyes. This put him on a bad positioning, but he really wanted to punish the leader of the mutineers who had caused him so much trouble.
Even though they managed to bring one of the erinyes down, the fight didn't look good for the group. In such a narrow place, Harrigan had a big advantage with his sneak attacks and the erinyes were effective flanking buddies. So Isabella risked losing a spell by casting Dimension Door defensively to take the group to the lower floor, where the room was big enough. The first erinyes that followed got caught in an ambush, but the other two knew perfectly where to teleport, as they were given telepathic instructions by the first. Harrigan was nowhere to be seen, he had stayed behind, drinking another potion of Invisibility.
Before Harrigan reappeared, two of the erinyes were slain, and the last one remained on a corner using her bow, so he had to rely on a last single powerful sneak attack against Kiani. Good attempt, but it wasn't so powerful. And as he became visible all the group fell on him. They could have been quick, but they wanted to take some delight on a delayed execution: Kiani used her powers to get him sickened and shaken and Isabella casted Feeblemind on him. Unable to use any kind of strategy, he was an easy defeat. Fox and Sandara ended him quickly, dealing non lethal damage when he was wounded to avoid killing him... yet.
With Harrigan captured now they just had to loot the place and search for their friends... But there were still some surprises left for them.
|Captain Kiani the Blue|
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Long time since my last post!
Of course we wanted Harrigan alive! We had found some of our friends in Harrigan's... ehm... prisons and what we saw there made us thirsty for vengeance. And we hadn't even seen the worst of it!
We wanted to punish that little mudfish, of course, but we didn't want to become him! It was a difficult conundrum, but I think I had a cool, albeit very cruel, idea. Just wait for it, you'll love it!
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That's right, Kiani. You always need to have a bard to remember this kind of things.
When they were exploring the place, they got to the prisons after fighting some sea trolls. I forgot to mention that. The place reeked of closure and bodily fluids. As it was dark, Kiani was the first to see the three figures that were held inside, chained and tortured.
Compared to Peppery Longfarthihng, Habbly Quarne and Tilly Brackett were in a pretty good shape, with just some minor mutilations. But whatever Peppery had done, she seemed to have earned Harrigan's rage: she had both hands brutally cut off, her eyes gouged out and her tongue cut. She also seemed malnourished and dirty.
Fox was stunned, Sandara and Isabella were enraged (while Sandara focused her rage on Harrigan, Isabella just insisted on how stupid Peppery had been), but Kiani, despite how furious she was, only showed a cold determination to make Harrigan pay. She didn't want him dead yet, and instructed the party not to kill him. In her mind, a lot of creative and cruel ideas to torture and make him suffer were already taking shape.
THE STORM AFTER THE STORM
After cleaning the whole place, they proceeded to loot the place and go back for the people they had left behind. One of the first things that they found was the fountain on the dark knight priestess room. As Sandara cast Detect Magic on it, an image formed on its surface, like reflected on the water. It was a pale skinned raven haired noble woman, who looked at them, first with surprise and then with contempt.
"So you must be one of Harrigan's pests." the woman spoke in a soft nerakan accent.
"Harrigan is now ours" cocked Kiani. "Do you want to see what happens to him? I invite you. You'd suffer the same fate as him!"
"I must admit that you are resourceful. Maybe you'd want to take his place. You'd be greatly rewarded once we set our new colony."
"There are a few problems: Harrigan will soon be dead. You are setting no colony here. And we don't negotiate with whores."
The face of the woman froze in an expression of disbelief and then changed to a furious expression.
"As you wish, then. Your dead shall happen soon."
Before anyone could answer to her, the woman made a gesture of pushing something away and the font exploded in a hundred shards. It didn't cause any serious damage, though. The party was glad to have a glimpse of the one who pulled Harrigan's strings and of having been able to upset her.
About the old man on the upper floor, after healing him and making some questions, they let him go. He didn't seem to have any love or loyalty for Harrigan, as he had treated him like a slave. He claimed to be too old and tired to do anything else than retiring to a calmed place where he could end his days without being disturbed. He seemed sincere so they just let him go.
But before they got back to the prisons to get Peppery and the others out of the place, they found the torture pits. The dismembered body of a skinny half ogre woman lied tied to a rack, not to keep her from escaping (she had no legs or arms) but from falling to the ground.
-Grok!- cried Kiani, jumping onto her friend.
She was still alive. Someone had also removed her nose and ears. This was a precise work, unlike the one Harrigan made with Peppery, Habbly and Tilly, which was rough and brutal. This had been done by a different person.
The half ogre didn't react. She breathed and even opened her eyes for a moment but she was unresponsive. She was too traumatized and her mind has just slipped away. That almost brought our tough pirates into tears. Peppery might have confronted Harrigan, but Grok had only made the mistake of befriending them. She had always remained out of conflict. Nobody deserved that treatment, but they somehow saw Grok as more innocent and undeserving than anyone else.
-Call the witch.- commanded Kiani to Sandara in a cold voice.- She said she was a healer. She said she wanted to help. I want her here and now.
-I might be able to do it tomorrow.- said Sandara.- The Goddess would answer my prayers for sure.
(They had a level up while rushing the fortress, but as they hadn't time to rest Sandara couldn't cast Regenerate until next day. Anyway, she couldn't cast 4 of them, which was the quantity they needed)
-I don't want them to suffer a single day more.- insisted Kiani.- Tell her to come here now with enough magic to restore 4 people.
Sandara was unsure that demanding the favor to be paid that way was the right thing to do, but she knew how adamant Kiani was when it came to helping her friends, so she obeyed. After they had released all prisoners and gathered them together she casted a Sending:
"Scry me. Teleport to my location now. Bring Regenerate and Heal for four people and the debt is paid."
"Gods, what happened? I am going!" was the immediate answer.
Not more than ten minutes later, four people came out from nowhere. The white robed wizard wasn't on the group this time: he had been replaced by a short but lively looking wild elf who looked as defensive as the solamnic woman.
The whole group was impressed by the sight of the four mutilated yet alive bodies. It could be seen on their faces that they were genuinely worried.
-Your former captain did this?- asked the witch, horrified, while she approached.
-Yes, but he is going to pay for it.- answered Kiani in a cold voice.- If you can heal them, rush. But don't restore their sanity before restoring their bodies!
-I know what I am doing!- protested the redhead witch. She laid her hands on Peppery and the others, one by one. Whatever mysterious powers she recurred to, they made her able to restore lost limbs without casting any spell.
(Regenerative Sinew major hex. Healer's Handbook. I love it. Fast healing or 4 ability damage heal plus all the effects of Regenerate minus healing.)
After that, Indi, the druid of Zeboim, casted a Heal spell ok Grok to restore her mind, as she was too traumatized and remained unresponsive. Though all wounds and scars were gone, the pirates demanded Heal spells to be casted on every Harrigan's victim, just in case they were needed. All the four felt right, though still scared. The only exception was Grok, who had suffered the worst part and seemed unable to remember anything from the past months. She didn't recall being chained by Harrigan or tortured by his minions to try to get information about Kiani and her crew. She wasn't ready for remembering.
Before they left, the other group asked about Harrigan, that had been tied like a sausage and struggled to release himself, still affected by Isabella's Feeblemind spell.
-What are you going to do to him?- asked the witch, concerned.
-Some of his limbs seem useless now.- laughed Sandara.
-I am looking forward to introduce him to Grinner.- added Isabella with a wicked smile.
-He deserves a taste of his own medicine.- ended Kiani, in a grim voice.
-You are not better than him, then.- answered the witch in a disturbingly sad tone.
That words hit Kiani. Since she got away from Harrigan and Plugg she had made the vow of not becoming like them. She despised that kind of people and she had learned from Isabella how easy can be to become the same thing that one hates.
-It's not the same. He deserves it!
Kiani engaged herself on a lengthy and disturbingly descriptive list of different things that they should do to Harrigan. She had kept her blood cold until then, but at that time she exploded and all her feelings towards Harrigan erupted from her mouth. Everyone was puzzled, as nobody had seen Kiani lose it like that before and they didn't know how to react.
Sandara put a hand on Kiani's shoulder, and looked at her in the eyes. "Calm down, we can do what we want with him. He's ours" she said to her without words. Then she pulled her and both started kissing for enough time to make some of the watchers feel uncomfortable (You know, that sensation of "this is getting too intimate, I'd rather be out of here"? That).
-Thanks, I needed that.
-I aim to please my captain.- laughed Sandara.
-Feeling better?- asked the elven witch with a subtle smile on her lips.
-I'm pretty sure that your former captain also thought your friends deserved what he did to them, you know.
-Curse you, you are right.- "and I hate you for it" added Kiani with her eyes.- Thank you for healing them.
The witch shrugged.
-It was the deal we had, wasn't it? It was a good way to pay our debts.
-Yeah, whatever. When we are done with all this mess we are throwing the biggest party ever. It's going to be much better than Palanthas. If you want to come, you are all invited.
-Sure!- cheered the druid.
-Why not?- nodded the elven warrior, who looked much more relaxed now.
-I'll...think about it.- answered the witch with a slightly scared voice.
-We are done here. We should go.- was the only answer of the solamnic woman. By her looks, she seemed to be saying "believe me, you don't want me to be there".
So they left. Our pirates took Harrigan and their friends to the Mustakrakish. They hadn't wanted to do it before they were healed so the crew didn't have to see them on their pitiful state, specially Kroop, who was so protective with Grok and probably the most soft hearted member of the crew.
Despite being careful, the crew were shocked when they saw the former officers from the Wormwood appear, malnourished, dirty and with all they had been through reflected on their eyes. Kroop almost burst into tears.
-Grok, girl, for Zeboim's sake, what happened to you? If I am not there to feed you, you will starve to death!- he laughed humorlessly, giving a cold ice stare to Harrigan. He would probably have killed him right there if he wasn't more worried about his friend, who still had a completely confused look on her face.
They had Harrigan tied to the main mast, to interrogate him and decide what to do with him later. Now they had some friends to care for and a victory to celebrate. It wouldn't be a long celebration, though, as soon Harrigan would reveal that his fleet was still sailing towards to their island and reading their attack.
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Now into the first fleet battle! My players had a good time setting their squadrons for the battle and choosing significant character bonuses, which went as follows:
Kiani: Advanced tactics
Fox: Remorseless advance
Darren: Magical artillery
Sandara: Swift to battle
Isabella: Reckless maneuver
Ederleigh: Swift repairs
I didn't allow the PCs to have as many ships as they would be able to control with their impressive CHA scores because that would have made the battle too easy. I didn't forbid them to attempt to get more ships, I just encouraged them to get back to their island as the attack was imminent. That kept them from wasting time trying to get new ships.
THE SKIES WERE ROLLING WITH THUNDER
After interrogating Harrigan, they learned that his fleet, led by his new first mate Adelita Doloruso, was heading towards the Island of the Broken Shackles. He was confident that they would take good care of them, even if they killed him. But the crew had already taken a decision about what to do with him: they would let him watch while they destroyed his fleet, just to destroy all his hopes alongside it. Only when he bore no faith or hope, they would get rid of him.
Peppery knew Adelita Doloruso, and shared her knowledge of her: she was a dark skinned woman who liked to dress in baggy clothes and had a hook hand. She was some kind of magic user and, considering the contempt that she showed towards Peppery, she was pretty sure that she belonged to the High Sorcery.
Knowing they had very limited time, they got back to the island as soon as possible (not before making a swift stop at the grindylow island from the first book) and started preparing their defenses which, of course, being them, involved a lot of attacking and not so much defending.
Madshanks had been preparing himself and his crew for that moment, and Merrill Pegsworthy came also to their aid. His squadron was small, but he had loyal and highly organized people.
Sandara took the Dryad's Grave, which she never bothered to rechristen, as she was bond to claim the Wormwood as her own. Fox led the Infernus (rechristened as the Inspired Blade, seriously, Fox?), the shipwrecked Nerakan ship from the first book, resurfaced by Sandara with a scroll of Salvage. Isabella, of course, led her Thresher. Ederleigh and Darren weren't of the commanding type, and were given the tasks of staying with Kiani and using their teleportation magic to fetch anyone who got tossed into the water.
Harrigan's fleet appeared on the horizon at a cloudless and warm dawn. Our pirates were prepared to greet them. They formed an arrowhead around the eastern side of the island, with the most powerful squadrons leading and the weaker ones behind them, shielded. They decided to stay near the island, to allow any damaged ship to get an easy retreat.
Harrigan had recruited a good fleet of his own, composed mainly of allegedly captured ships from the dark knights, but it was a single ship which caught our pirates' attention. It was a humble vessel compared to the Wormwood, but they had seen it before: the Wanton Wastrel, Barracuda's ship. The stupid jester had joined Harrigan in an attempt to claim his inheritance.
-Fool!- yelled Kiani, pointing in his direction as she spotted him on her spyglass.
Sandara looked on the direction Kiani was pointing and her face changed swiftly to surprise and then to a wicked grin, as she pulled out Aiger's Kiss and held it in the air so Barracuda could see it. He had horror in his eyes. Before he could say anything, she spoke, with her gaze locked on him.
-ZEBOIM, THIS IS THE WEAPON OF THE MOTHER WHO BETRAYED YOU, THE SWORD THAT IMPRISONED YOUR SERVITOR.
The anxiety on Barracuda's face increased. Everybody remained silent, in expectation.
(As a GM I expected some of the players trying to stop Sandara from tossing an artifact to the sea, but they held no love for it. They were too amused to try and stop her)
-GODDESS, TAKE THIS SWORD AS A SACRIFICE!
Everything seemed to go in slow motion. Sandara tossed Aiger's kiss, while Barracuda did a silent "noooo" face. Then a lightning came down from the cloudless sky, hitting and vanishing the weapon with a crack of thunder and releasing a wave of power that knocked everybody prone. From the point in the sky where the lightning had come, a spiral of storm clouds started spreading. In a few minutes, it was as dark as it was dusk, the wind and the waves made maneuvering difficult and heavy rain was falling. An epic background for a fleet battle.
After that demonstration of power, the defenders of the Island of the Broken Shackles were convinced that they had the Goddess on their side and they couldn't lose (I granted them a +1 bonus to their morale). On his side, Barracuda looked more scared than furious.
Finally, the two fleets clashed, attacking each other with siege weapons, ramming horns and magic. Isabella and Sandara's squadrons were ahead, with Isabella viciously leading a suicidal charge (backed up by the other squadrons) that completely destroyed a whole squadron and earned her the attention of all the enemy ships, which focused all fire on her. Thanks to Kiani's command (call it Advanced Tactics, I love that bonus), all her ships survived, though too damaged to keep fighting. Being reckless but not a fool, Isabella called retreat to the safety of the bay. The enemy squadrons that fell on the first clash weren't as lucky. Many of the ships were obliterated, and anyone who fell into the water, enemy or ally, was pushed by the storming waves towards the cliffs of the island. Anyone who wasn't rescued quickly faced a sure death. Our pirates had commanded Ederleigh and Darren to use their magic to pick anyone who went overboard, but Harrigan's people weren't so compasive. Zeboim took a big toll of lives on that battle. The goddess hadn't come to help on the battle, she had come to feast on the fallen.
The second stage of the battle was more chaotic. The two fleets had already clashed and it was no longer possible to protect the back squadrons with the leading ones.
(I allowed to choose a formation and gave the mechanic benefit that some of the squadrons couldn't be attacked on the first round, reflecting that they were covered by the leading ones. That allowed the weakest ones, like Merrill's, to be able to do something before being destroyed)
Recognizing it as the weakest slab, the enemy focused attacks on Pegsworthy, who couldn't do anything against a superior attack force. Fox had taken Isabella's place, and Sandara and him were leading the offensive under Kiani's command. Sandara's squadron was seriously damaged, but again the ability to designate damage to different ships kept her in the fight.
The battle was starting to turn to the defenders side, and seeing that, a couple of the enemy's squadrons decided not to risk their lives on a lost battle and fled. Showing loyalty to a man who was tied to the main mast of the enemy's flagship was probably not the wisest thing to do, anyway.
The players' side wasn't free from trouble either. Madshanks Marauders had been nervous since Sandara's little exhibition and watching so many people being killed into the cliffs really got their nerve. Despite Brok's attempts of calming his people, they started a mutiny and fled the battle. Here started the legend of Madshanks Mutineers (but it doesn't end here).
With the loss of two squadrons due to mutiny by Harrigan's side, the battle was decided. When the Wanton Wastrel was sunken by the remains of Sandara's fleet (who was enjoying way too much), only the Wormwood remained. The whole group met in the Mustakrakish and prepared for the boarding. But, of course, high level magic made boarding much easier. No water stairs were needed this time, just some teleportation magic to the Wormwood's deck.
Adelita had a Mirror Image on herself, but Darren broke havoc before they got into melee with AoE spells, debilitating the enemy.
Riaris and Patch tried to keep the group from approaching Adelita, while she used quickened blasting spells on them (sometimes catching her own people in the middle) and Kipper cackled madly while he shot them with a ballista. He had severe burn scars on all his body after the explosion on the Man's Promise.
The fight was quick and painful for both sides. Adelita was giving it all with her spells. Finally, as she saw herself surrounded by enemies she stepped back and casted a Prismatic Ray defensively. Though it caused some massive damage, and Kiani had to use her Saving Finale to avoid Darren to be affected by a ray of insanity, the one who took the worst part was Riaris: she was vanished to another plane and never seen again.
Adelita and Patch were soon dispatched (pun intended), and Kipper was next. Fox was specially inspired this time, with a lot of crits and almost no missed hits. This meant that they got no survivors, as each crit usually caused an overkill.
As they were done they got back to Harrigan, who was watching from his privileged position on the main mast. He was furious, but he still didn't feel defeated. He was still sure that the army of the Dark Knights would obliterate them.
-Then we'll let you live until you see it destroyed. Just to make sure all your hopes are destroyed with it.- said Kiani.
Then they casted Feeblemind on him again and started one of their epic celebrations. It wouldn't last as long as others, though, as the attack from the Dark Knights was imminent, according to the evidences they had found.
So they finished the party the next morning, when Sefina approached them with a serious look on her face.
-I was checking the corpses on the cliffs and I found some garbage. I took it into my cave. Do you want to see?
-You took garbage to your cave?
-Yes. I will bring it to you.
They were intrigued by Sefina's words, and when she brought an unconscious man with her they were truly surprised. It was Barracuda Aiger. He had almost drowned, but somehow he was mostly unharmed. There were no more survivors.
-This is a gift from the Goddess.- said Kiani.- She is giving him to us!
-So we can do with him whatever we want.- added Sandara with a playful smile.
They called Ederleigh. They had a good plan for Barracuda. After healing him enough to regain consciousness they toyed around a bit with him before informing him of his fate: he wasn't good enough to call himself a barracuda. He was more like a mudfish. So a mudfish he would become. They weren't going to kill him, they weren't monsters, they would just provide him of a more fitting life for him.
So, while Isabella dragged him into water, Ederleigh casted a Baleful Polymorph on him, and he was released to the bay. That was the fate reserved for traitors.
I have been away from the site for a while. Glad to have a good read when I came back!
I haven't been online a lot lately either, but I am trying to get this going.How is your campaign going? I almost have another episode written.
I enjoyed a lot writing the last ones because they have the most changes from the original material.
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Into the final book already! I am so happy to be already finishing telling this story, it was a new and difficult experience, but when I am done with this one I plan to move to Reign of Winter, also adapted to Dragonlance.
Even though I usually lose fuel when I go on with the campaigns, I got to this book with a lot of energy and motivation. I liked this book, and all the story had been going as expected, so I had mixed feelings about finishing the campaign as I was going to miss GMing it.
Now, let's go to the final part of Skull and Shackles!
AND ON MY COMMAND, UNLEASH HELL!
Knowing that the attack was imminent, our pirates called an emergency meeting of the council as soon as they were done with the celebrations. Using Sandara's Sending spell made easy to find everyone and gather them as soon as possible. They still had to make the trip to Sea Reach, so meanwhile, the PCs dedicated their time to rebuild and increase the size of their fleets thanks to the ships they captured from Harrigan's.
After a week and a half, the meeting took place. Despite the apalling evidence that the attack was going to take place, Kerdak Bonefist was dismissive. At first he was skeptic about the attack, but even when he acknowledged the validity of the evidence he still refused to do anything about it.
The evidence said that the attack was going to come from the north, which meant that unless they had a way to cross the perennial storm, they would have to take a long and narrow path that was easily defended.
He commanded all the pirates to go back to their homeports and fight at them. He insisted that gathering a fleet was suicidal and thay they couldn't win against the superiority of the Dark Knight army if they faced them directly.
He grew increasingly angry, clearly not willing to discuss or change his decision and he took any complaint as a personal attack. The other pirate lords didn't even attempt to argue against him. The situation was so delicate that anyone who tried to oppose him could be seen as a candidate to the crown. None had enough support among the pirates to hold that claim, and that would mean an open conflict that might end with many deaths.
But Kiani and her crew didn't mind a lot. They had to stop the Dark Knights and if that meant upsetting an old stubborn man, so be it. They argued against him for some time until he got pissed off and just dismissed the reunion, saying that anyone who dared to disobey his orders would be labeled as a traitor.
-I am going to fight that Nerakan whore and her army, if anyone wants to come with me, they will be welcome.- said Kiani as he left.
She had a surprising quantity of supporters. The pirates wanted to go to war. Arronax Endymion was the first to sign himself in. He had been wanting to fight the Dark Knights for long, and thought of Kiani as a worthy though unusual leader. The Master of the Gales would have to leave his ships behind to defend his homeport as it was really close to the storm, but he was more than willing to go with them to help on the fight. And Tessa, being one of they older allies, was free to join them now too. Mase Darimar was the last to offer his aid, not only leading his own squadron but also being a link to the aquatic elves, who were still grateful to Kiani for helping them and wanted to aid on the fight. Even the water nagas showed up in the end wanting to take part. They didn't want to see their home conquered by knights.
(I wanted to bring to this fight all the allies that the PCs had gathered through the story to give a sense of continuity and also to make they feel that what they had done during the campaign was useful. As Sandara couldn't be recruited for obvious reasons, replacing her for Mase looked like a good thing to do. I had to change Mase's stats a bit so he could be a commodore, as he had negative Cha. About the Nagas and the aquatic elves, I didn't give them ships, it made no sense, but each faction gave them a significative character bonus, reflecting their help in battle)
The heterogeneous army of the Blood Sea managed to reach the Nerakan fleet soon after they got out from the storm unharmed by it. They should have used powerful magic to do it, as not even the Master of the Gales with his weather shaping spells was able of such deed. The proximity of the storm made that the battle was fought again in the middle of a heavy storm (Sandara would be happy).
The fleet of the Blood Sea advanced directly towards the enemy. They had less squadrons, but some of them were enormous and heavily armed (like Isabella's, who at that time had a charisma modifier of +6). They didn't want to defend their homes and make the Dark Knights retreat: the plan was destroying their fleet so they didn't dare to attempt an attack against them again.
But before they came close to them, when they still were too far to attack them, something happened. The Dark Knights had more assets than a bunch of warships. The Mustakrakish suddenly stopped, like being held by an invisible force.
Before they could react, a group of flying creatures teleported above the Mustakrakish, armed with ranseurs and prepared to attack. Only Ederleigh and Darren were with Kiani at that moment, though Sandara's squadron wasn't far away.
Darren casted a blasting spell on the creatures, that Kiani recognized as host devils and, according to their reaction to the spell, a mere illusion, though a well crafted one.
Ederleigh used his flight hex to get quickly to the poop to check what had stopped the ship. He heard unsual sounds, so he casted Glitterdust, revealing a couple of real host devils. As they had been discovered, they rushed towards Kiani, flanking her, and before she could react one of them grabbed her. She attempted to release herself, but the hold of the devil was strong. It lifted her on the air and carried her out of the ship without her being able to do nothing.
Meanwhile, Darren and Ederleigh were fighting the host devils and trying to release their captain. There were 5 of them, 4 when Sandara provided some aid from her own ship by summoning a lightning storm powered up by the adequate climatic conditions. A lightning hit Kiani's captor, banishing it to the Abyss (In Dragonlance there's no distinction between Hell and Abyss) and making her fall into the water. When she managed to get back into the Mustakrakish, the fight was already over. The host devils were gone. Despite the fight being solved without serious damage, Kiani felt humiliated for not having been able to do anything. She feared that her allies would think she was weak and wouldn't respect her.
The Armada of the Dark Knights was prepared to deliver the first attack after they sent the host devils. Both fleets charged towards the others.
This fight was far more complicated than the one against Harrigan. The dark Knights had galleys and battleships, while the pirates had mostly sailing ships. But they were far more spirited and coordinated. Once again, Isabella led the charge, making a devastating attack on the enemy. Her squadron didn't last long, but neither it was meant to. Isabella had a thing for suicidal attacks. Merrill tried hard, but his squadron was too small to be able to deal significant damage to the enemy (he didn't land a single attack). Tessa, Mase and Endymion were important allies, fighting with the best of their strength.
Marauders Mutineers, though, didn't last long in the fight. Again, the whole squadron fell into mutiny and chaos, and Madshanks was unable to control them.
Fox caused also a wild amount of damage, as most of the offensives started with him after Isabella was taken out of the fight, and Sandara, despite the enemy fleet focusing on destroying her Squadron, managed to keep herself on the fight until the end, with a single operating ship but still spirited enough. After the fight, when telling the story she'd proudly repeat: "they tried, but they couldn't take me!"
After a tough fight they sunk or incapacitated all the enemy ships. Takhisis' Fury, the enemy flagship, was straight ahead, unprotected. Trying to buy herself some time, the enemy admiral, Druvalia, commanded to summon some more devils on the pirates. The drowning devils weren't even a distraction, as the pirates dealt with them in a flash.
But they delayed their attack some turns nonetheless, while they casted buffs on themselves. Meanwhile, Druvalia was in no rush, as she took advantage of the time to do the same. She waited for them next to the wheel, protected by a tall woman in a full plate and carrying a bardiche and some other Dark Knights.
While both crews clashed, the party teleported right behind Druvalia. Ederleigh, who casted the Dimensional Door, was the first to attack, thanks to his Dimensional Agility chain of feats. Druvalia was hard to hit, but he managed to land a good hit on her. Kiani casted Silence on Sandara and used her Bardic Performance to debuff Druvalia. Isabella had been holding a Vampiric Touch and released it on Druvalia. This probably saved her life, as her next movement almost got her killed. Trying to get out of the Silence to be able to cast spells, she underestimated the woman in the black armor: how fast could she be on a full plate? The answer was "very". Not only she was able to react to Isabella's movement despite not having acted yet, she was able to do it repeatedly. Isabella didn't stop her movement whe she was hit, asuming that she shouldn't be able to attack her more than twice, in the worst case. After the fourth blow, she was unconscious and dying.
(No, I didn't make Isabella act recklessly on purpose. In combat, I allow other players to decide NPCs actions unless they cannot decide or there is something that I think they really would do. So the players reasoned that, with a full plate, she would only be able to make 2 AoO, one for Dex and one for Combat Reflexes. Dangerous assumption, as her armor allowed her to make attacks up to her Dex of 16)
This wasn't such a good movement on the Dark Knight's side, though, as she had ran out of attacks to opportunity to use to protect Druvalia. The party fell upon her, and not even her bodyguard could protect her by switching positions with her. If they had any hopes of capturing her alive, a critical with spell combat from Ederleigh was enough to swipe them away. The woman in the black armor didn't last much longer. She was knocked down by Sandara with desperation and disbelief on her face. She survived, but emotionally destroyed by her own failure and her mistress' death. She no longer cared about what happened to her: she had failed Druvalia and she deserved to die. She wouldn't be so lucky, though, as she was put into Endymion's hands to be interrogated exhaustively about any secrets of the Dark Knights she could reveal. She wouldn't be dead for a long, long time.
With Druvalia and her crew slain or captured, the invasion had been frustrated almost before it started. Arronax didn't think they would be able to gather a new fleet soon, so they shouldn't have to worry for more invasion attempts for a few years. A lot of plunder was captured from the defeated enemies, and one of the most epic pirate parties was thrown on the place. Kiani and Sandara discovered a comfortable, gigantic, noble bed on Druvalia's room (Kiani insisted that it was a whore's bed because only whores have such big and flashy beds), so they weren't seen a lot during the celebration, as they devoted themselves to test the "whore's bed" exhaustively.
No. Not really. It should have been the end... but the Pirate Lords had another plans for Kiani and her crew.
|Captain Kiani the Blue|
And, of course, after the celebration we took care of Harrigan. He had spent the whole battle tied to the main mast of the Mustakrakish so he couldn't lose a single detail.
With the battle won and all his dreams and hopes of vengeance shattered in a thousand pieces (Don't mess with a Bard. Seriously, bro.) we passed judgement on him.
For being a traitor? Kellhaul.
For harming our friends? Keelhaul.
For being an ass? Keelhaul.
No, seriously, we keelhauled him three times in a row! Damned S.O.B. was tough! We took turns pulling the row so every person who had things to settle with him was able to.
Then, we parted the loot so every pirate captain who had lost a ship in the battle was able to reclaim one of the captured ones.
We even saved Madshank's life from Arronax' wrath. The former Black Knight was adamant about keelhauling Madshanks for not being able to control his squadron!
And then we tested the whore's bed again... and again... and again!
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Thanks, but we are not we done yet!!!
Today, just a small interlude.
THIS SHOULD HAVE A TITLE BUT I AM NOT ABLE TO THINK A GOOD ONE
Our pirates had defeated the baddies, saved the Blood Sea, looted the remains, keelhauled Harrigan and thrown a big party. What else could be left? They felt fulfilled and happy with their lives.
But it looked like the other pirate lords had different plans for them. During the party, Tessa approached Kiani.
-Listen, do you know what the situation on Sea Reach is right now?
-What do you mean?- Kiani was confused.
-You have challenged Kerdak's authority. He's going to be furious. He will claim the heads of everybody that has taken part on this. He doesn't have enough supporters to go after us all, but if he doesn't nobody will respect him after that. Whatever he does, his reign is over.
-So be it. If he wants to attack us, we fight him, it's simple.
-Kiani, there will be blood. War on the streets. And then more war to decide who the new Hurricane King is. We haven't saved our lands just to lose them to ourselves. Someone has to do something.
-Why do I suspect that by "someone" you mean "her"?- smiled Sandara, who was also there.
-If someone claimed the Hurricane Crown before Kerdak takes his people to the streets, someone that everybody respects...
Tessa had access to all the information our pirates had got from Harrigan's fortress. She knew that they had a way to get into Lucrehold, Kerdak's lair, from a secret passage not even Kerdak was aware of, as it was built by the first Hurricane King and then forgotten. The Dark Knights had planned to use it to kill the Hurricane King. And now Tessa was thinking of doing the same.
-Go for it. You'll be an awesome queen.- said Kiani.
-I have said it before. I don't want to be a queen. Neither I command enough respect. You, on the other hand...
-No! I refuse! There has to be someone else! Arronax...
-Nobody fully trusts him.
-The Master of the Gales?
-Good at piracy, terrible as politics. We need someone who can keep us all united.
-Sandara! She has demonstrated just as much as I have.
-Heyyy! Keep me out of this!- complained Sandara.
-You would be the best queen. You even have the name!
-The Free Captains respect you more than anyone.- Tessa went on- It has to be you! They already think of you as their new queen. You have uncovered the spies, led them to victory against the Dark Knights...
-OK, how long have you been planning this, Tessa?- asked Kiani, like "this" was stabbing her and feeding her to the sharks and not making her a queen.
-Well... I saw some potential in you the first time we met, but...
-The first time! - cried Sandara.- Damn! I've lost a bet! Noone thought it was before the alchemist thingie!
-Well, I wasn't sure until you uncovered Harrigan. But you will surely make a good queen.
-I'd be a terrible queen. Because I don't want to be a f*cking queen and I would screw everything up and not give a damn about it.
The argument went on for a while, and it finally became obvious to Kiani that she didn't have an easy way out of this.
When morning came, as everybody was resting from the party, she went out for a swim on the turbulent waters. It would be easy to swim away from everything, like she used to do before she got into the Wormwood. She felt really tempted. She hadn't put a lazy bastard on the throne. She had nothing to do with the Pirate Lords fighting over the crown. It wasn't her fault. It wasn't her responsibility. Screw them all.
But still she had made close bonds with too many people, and she didn't want to leave them behind. So she found herself swimming back to the ship. Sandara was among the few who were awake, she had to pray for her spells. She looked like she had got next to no sleep and had the hangover of her life (of course, anything that couldn't be solved by a lesser restoration).
-Perfect day to go swimming, huh?- said the priestess with a tired smile.
-Perfect day to commune with the Goddess. I was tempted to just swim away and let them solve their own mess, you know? This is getting way too serious.
Sandara looked at Kiani like she had slapped her on the face.
-Hey, I am still here, OK? I couldn't do it.
-You are going nowhere without me!
-I am going nowhere. We are kicking that old bastard's ass, taking that crown, and then we'll see. Are you sure you don't want to be a queen?
-Are you insane? I'll help you on anything you need. But I am no f~&&*ng queen, OK?
-You could be my co-queen.
-I'm not even sure you could do that.
-I can do whatever I want if I am the queen.
-I still don't want to be a queen.
-What if we just sacrifice the crown to Zeboim?
-I am not sure the Pirate Lords would be happy but it sounds like an idea.
-We should do it.
-Yeah, maybe we should.
I was a bit evil with my players here. All of them were like "No, I don't want the crown, we should make Sandara the new queen", and I just didn't feel like making a NPC the new queen was the right thing to do. So I just prepared everything so they couldn't refuse. Kiani had been leading the party from the very beginning (usual thing, as most of my players HATE taking decissions and rely on Dalindra's characters all the time to take the leading role and do most of the relevant speaking. They love role-playing small talk and combat but when it comes to the real matter they *poof!* just disappear). So I thought, Kiani has been leading the party and being the face from the beginning, there's no way I am allowing her to get away from this without disappointing too many people. In the end, it felt like other Pirates were forcing her to take the leadership because they didn't want it. It was a fun outcome!
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EVERYTHING HAS TO END WITH A DOUBLE EPISODE. PART ONE
After being encouraged to it by Tessa and all the allied Pirate Lords, Kiani had taken the decision of claiming the crown. She still thought that sacrificing it to Zeboim sounded way too good not to do it, but she also thought that the Pirate Lords would kill each other without leadership, so she was still undecided about what to do with it. One thing was true: Kerdak Bonefist had proved to have become lazy and incompetent and he didn't deserve to wear the crown any longer. Though she didn't care a lot, everything was on her hands and the ones of her group. After his huge success at the fleet battle, Fox was ready to join the group again on this task. He wouldn't be left behind for one of their greatest victories. Darren stayed behind again, though, watching with Ederleigh the streets of Sea Reach for possible conflict between pirate lords.
(I would have loved to have all my players on this last part, but Darren's complicated working schedule wasn't compatible with Fox's, and it wouldn't have been fair to leave him out, so Darren was the stay at home Mom again xD)
Knowing a secret entrance to the caves under Fort Hazard, hidden on a near warehouse, our pirates decided to use their knowledge as an advantage. As far as they knew, the entrance should have been abandoned since the time of the first Hurricane King and unknown by Kerdak.
They got to the warehouse by night and they found it almost undefended. They took some red bracelets they found on an office and wore them, guessing they'd be useful for something. Though they identified a huge iron statue as a golem thanks to the golembane scarab Fox was wearing, the creature didn't even move (as it was commanded not to attack anyone wearing a red bracelet). The few defenders they found were taken easily, and after that they worked to free their way to the secret passage. Unfortunately, that meant spilling some high quality rum that got in their way. Becoming a queen requires sacrifices.
They got to some long time forgotten catacombs where the first Hurricane King buried his enemies. Those enemies didn't seem to be getting a good rest, as the place was full of undead. Some of them were incorporeal creatures who weren't unable to approach them thanks to a Blade Barrier casted on time by Sandara. The ones who attempted to cross it were banished by the high damage and the others only were able to attack by summoning some spectral hounds that more often than not missed their hits and even with a scored hit they caused next to no damage. After a long uneventful fight, the incorporeals were easily defeated.
Then they ran into some more undead, these ones corporeal and without a single ranged attack. At this point, taking the time the party spent underwater or on a ship and the time they spent walking on air, they barely remember how it felt like stepping on firm ground. They attacked them from above and the undead couldn't even respond. It was being easy.
When they got to the end of the catacombs, Fox detected something with his golembane scarab. Kiani used her scoundrel's sword cane to take a look to the golem without being detected. She had never seen such a particular golem before, but it was obviously armed with some oversized firearm. Kiani didn't know a lot about those exotic gnome inventions, but she had heard that they were highly unstable and got useless if they got wet. So they opened the fight with Kiani casting Create Water on the golem and nuked it from the distance, as its only ranged weapon was neutralized. Bardic Knowledge+ high skill roll + the right questions= the ultimate encounter solver.
They were quick at finishing the golem, so they were able to keep going without alerting anyone. They found a whole brigade of bomber alchemists waiting for them... on the wrong place, as they expected them to come from Fort Hazard, not from the secret tunnels. The bombers weren't able to react on time when attacked from their backs and were dealt with ease.
They detected the trap on the next room and found the secret passages on both sides. A group of fully prepared archers was hiding on the secret rooms, waiting to prey upon anyone who fell into the trap. Being experienced archers, they caused our pirates some serious damage (well, only to Isabella, who was getting used to be targeted and almost killed. Kiani got targeted twice as often, but she had a higher AC), but nothing too serious for a party with a high level cleric.
With so many people prepared to deal with intruders, it was obvious that the Hurricane King was expecting them. After having dealt with the first defense line, they got out to the inner cave where the Hurricane King had his secret lair. They found themselves out to a massive inner lake, with some buildings near to it. On the distance, the sound of a crew operating a ship could be heard, but they still couldn't see it because of the buildings that hindered their vision. There were some houses, and a vigilance tower of sorts. The Hurricane King had a nice lair indeed, but our pirates found it rather oppressive.
The water of the inner lake was dark. A pier with a pinnace tied to it was close to the entrance to the caves where our pirates had came from. But they didn't trust the dark and apparently calmed waters. They decided to walk on air following the walls of the cave, invisible to avoid being spotted.
As they went around the cave, they noticed a massive skeleton. The remains of its wings and the oversized bones revealed that it had once been a dragon. All the group had pretty sure that it would wake up if it was disturbed, but they considered calling its attention only to get rid of it. Finally, they decided they might call other unwanted attention if they engaged the skeletal dragon in combat and let it remain undisturbed. They would have to deal with it later, but now it wasn't a threat.
They approached the guardpost trusting their invisibility to do the work, but they didn't expect to run into a bunch of weresharks. The creatures has both a keen sense of scent and blindsense, and they noticed that there was someone lurking around. The group had to get rid of them really fast to keep them from raising the alarm. Fortunately, they weren't near as dangerous as their buffed bodies told they were and they didn't even make a decent opposition.
From the guardpost they had the first view of Kerdak's ship, the Filthy Lucre. They could only see the masts and a tiny part of the board. It seemed to be bursting in activity: it was preparing to sail away! Our pirates found this to be extremely funny: Kerdak was such a coward that he was trying to get away instead of giving them a proper fight!
Still, without the Hurricane Crown, there would be dissension when Kerdak went missing, so they had to get him and his crown.
Kiani proposed that they approached some more, so they could get a clear view of the ship and Dimension Door inside of it instead of above it. Considering it a more stealthy option, they advanced invisible, using the walls of the buildings and the dark water as cover so they couldn't be easily spotted by anyone who was able to see invisible creatures.
But in this case the watchers were underwater. Some hideous cross between a lobster and an octopus, with some disturbingly human features emerged from water. There were two of them, and Kiani recognized them as some kind of daemon, but she didn't know anything about them. She commanded her group to step back to a place where they didn't risk being spotted.
Fox was already starting to feel ignored. He hadn't got the beating of the day yet. But the enemies focused on Sandara. One of them dispelled her flight and the other grabbed her with its tentacles. The things were poisonous, but Sandara resisted. Fox charged towards the one holding Sandara. In my headcannon he was yelling: "stop ignoring me, you aren't a jellyfish but it will do anyway!". That never happened, but I am telling the story and I will make it happen that way.
Of course, he ended being poisoned and losing some CON. It wasn't anything too serious, as the daemons fell before posing any serious threat, but I bet Fox felt better after it. Oh, and Isabella also took a kinda high amount of damage, but that was also becoming so habitual that I don't think it's even worth telling. At least she suffocated one of them to death!
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EVERYTHING HAS TO END WITH A DOUBLE EPISODE. PART TWO
Now they still hadn't a perfect view of the ship, but it was good enough to guess where they had to teleport to go below deck. Isabella casted a Dimension Door, and they appeared in the middle of a room. There were a lot of cannons (they never had seen cannons before, barring the golem, but Arronax had told them stories... and Kiani had heard some more for sure). Some sailors were operating the cannons, preparing them for a possible fight. They didn't want to catch too much attention, so (Isabella/Kiani?) casted Mass Suggestion on them, and Sandara and Fox knocked down the few ones who were out of range.
It looked like most of the crew was on deck, so they didn't found much trouble below deck.
They wandered around for a while until they found the stairs leading to the captain's cabin. But Kerdak had heard them coming, and he was prepared. As Fox got inside, it was heard a crack of thunder and he was hit by a bullet. He felt his living force being drained. The rest of the party got into the room, it was tiny and cluttered, and an unexplainable wind blew inside, despite all windows being shut. Kiani started a bardic performance and readied an action. Suddenly, one of the windows opened, whoever was inside was trying to get out. Kiani casted Glitterdust, revealing Kerdak's invisible silhouette, floating in the air, lifted by the force of the winds. The rest of the party fell on him. The tiny space didn't favor a ranged fighter like him, which was why he was trying to take the fight out of the cabin.
Fox stepped up and made a full attack on him, causing serious damage on him. His armor magically deflected the most painful hits, but he didn't rely on scoring critical hits to do his thing. Each time he scored a hit, though, a wave of wind was released towards him, damaging him and trying to knock him prone. He resisted, though. He was the final boss, it was time to start succeeding some saving throws!
Isabella went for a different thing than her usual blasting and SoS, and casted a Greater Dispel Magic on him. He might not be a spellcaster but he had some nasty spell effects on himself. Though she didn't dispel the storm that surrounded him granting him flight and counterattacks, she managed to banish most magic effects on him, as they came from magic items and had a ridiculously low caster level.
Sandara was next. Her large size allowed her to hit by just stepping up, and all the buffs she had on herself made her a powerful melee fighter. But Kerdak wasn't down yet. Kiani still had to contribute to the party damage with something more than her Discordant Voice. Before Kerdak could react (you gotta love Improved Initiative!), Kiani finished him with a couple of elegant moves of her rapier.
But Kerdak wasn't dead. Sandara stabilized him and grabbed him, being the only one with enough strength to carry more than her own gear. They still could give him some use as a hostage. That meant, of course, that the first thing they did was looting him. Apparently, he wasn't carrying the crown, but when Detect Magic revealed a powerful magic on his tricorne, they realized that it was just under some clever disguise. They were truly surprised about the really powerful magic it emanated.
They got out of the cabin, using Kerdak as a human shield. Nobody dared to attack. A woman on the crow's nest, calling herself Omara Culverin, was the first to depose her weapon, a long and strange firearm. She claimed to be there under contract and not having reasons to fight them now that his contractor wasn't in conditions to continue hiring her. The rest of the crew followed her. None of them were loyal or stupid enough to give their lives for a defeated captain.
They kept exploring the hidden fortress, taking Kerdak with them as a hostage. They didn't want to leave any opposition or loot behind. Most people just surrendered as they saw Kerdak captured, but that wasn't the case of Tsadok Goldtooth, his first mate. He was waiting for them with a couple of thugs, ready to bring them down. He wasted the only action he could make shooting his firearm, then, the group went into melee and he was quickly defeated. He didn't survive. While they were dealing with the thugs, they saw a couple of strange animals approaching from another room, some sort of six legged weasels. They weren't a big deal, but they allowed their owner to get a good positioning without being noticed. Suddenly, Sandara was attacked by an invisible enemy. It carried some sort of slashing weapons, and was kinda good at using them. The first hit also drained Sandara's wisdom score, something she was specially sensitive about, as you already know.
-Free him.- said an invisible female voice.
-Counter-offer!- yelled Kiani.- Show yourself, stop attacking, or he dies!
Sandara pointed Zul towards Kerdak. No coup de grace was needed. He was so wounded that any hit would kill him. To their surprise, the invisible creature obeyed. She dropped her invisibility, revealing the raven haired woman they had already seen a few times in the company of the Hurricane King. Only that she didn't look human at all, as she had a snake tail instead of the lower side of her body. She was holding two scimitars and looked at them as she would kill them all if she could. Kerdak's girlfriend, Hyapatia, was a lamia matriarch.
-Give him to me.- she commanded.
Kiani commanded not to attack her. She was intrigued. Such a creature wouldn't stop her attack and expose herself unless she actually cared for Kerdak.
-I am not an idiot. Then you'll attack us and we'll kill you.
-I can leave whenever I want. But not without him. Give him to me.
-How can we trust you?
-You cannot.- answered the lamia, sincerely, she asumed her human shape, as a proof that she wasn't willing to attack them.- But let us go. I will take him far away, you will never hear about him again.
-Even if we could trust you to do that, how can we trust him not to come back to seek revenge?
-I won't let him.- her voice was demanding and emotionless.- I will convince him not to do it. Please.- she spat the last word like it physically hurt her throat.
Then they realized: she wasn't demanding, she was pleading! She just wasn't any good at it.
-See, imagine that we trust you.- said Sandara. She seemed like she wanted to do it.- What keeps you both from changing your minds and seeking revenge against us? I know I would.
Hyapatia looked at her with hate.
-That could happen. But you've already defeated us once. With the crown, and all the resources of the Hurricane King. Kerdak isn't going to live enough time to become a threat again. There's one thing you can trust: if we come back, you will defeat us again.
-That seems fair enough.-said Kiani, satisfied. Like Sandara, she seemed to be looking for an excuse to spare Kerdak's life.- Sandara, heal him enough so he can listen to us.
The priestess did it. Kerdak was confused and furious, but he came to his mind soon.
-We are going to let you keep your ship. We already looted all the valuables, but it will allow you to start from anew, with the condition that you never come back.
Kerdak reluctantly aggreed, asking if he could keep his pistol, to which Kiani added an extra condition. We cannot forget that our pirate captain was a bard and that she loved stories. She wanted to hear everything about how he had earned his bone hand, how he had met Hyapatia and how he had become Hurricane King. Kerdak found this condition a bit strange, but he didn't complain and told them everything. Then both him and Hyapatia were allowed to sail away.
-You should have killed both to keep them from causing further trouble.- complained Isabella as they were gone.- And you have allowed him to keep some of his stuff. Why?
-I don't know. I felt pity for them. She really cares for him.
-Now you are a romantic?- asked Fox- You felt pity for whatever that snake woman was?
-Hey! She was a pretty nice whatever-snake-woman... a lamia, by the way!- responded Sandara.- We should get back to the Pirate Lords now.- she gave a playful smile to Kiani.- Your court will be waiting for you.
-Awwwww! We really have to? Shouldn't we just toss the crown to the sea?
-You'll do fine!- laughed Sandara.
-I won't, I'll be a terrible queen because I don't give a damn about any of this sh*t. You'd be a better queen.
-I'll be there to help, OK? But don't try to pass this to me, it's you who they want!
Kiani had commanded the crown to look like the tricorne that Sandara and she had been sharing since the days of The Man's Promise. With a not so quick hand move, she traded one hat for another.
-Heyyyy! Keep that sh*t out of my head! How come you think I wouldn't notice? It weights a ton!
-It suits you!
-No, no, no, it is all yours!!!
Isabella and Fox looked at each other.
-Are we being ignored?
-Yeah, it seems so.
Somehow, it all had degenerated into Sandara promising Kiani to stay at her side whatever happened, and both sharing an endless kiss that made Fox and Isabella feel completely embarrassed. Kiani didn't want the kiss to end because then she knew she had to go out to meet the pirate lords to become their queen.
-Oh! Here we go again!- complained Isabella.
-What's wrong?- asked Kiani, after disengaging her tongue from Sandara's.- Are you jealous?
-No, it's just that you two are being too... cheesy since you are a serious couple!
-We are not serious!- cried both in unison, which made Isabella and Fox snicker.
-Yes you are!- laughed Fox.- You are together all the time, and how much time it has been since any of you has been with anyone else than the other?
-That's because you have got boring and predictable lately.-said Kiani- She's way better than you!
-I won't be offended because you are blinded by love!- mocked Fox.- When is the wedding?
-You are a jerk!- laughed Sandara.
-What about getting out of here before they start to think we got eaten by a were-shark or cut into slices by a lamia?
-Yeah... OK...- Kiani seemed less than excited about it, but she had to do what she had to do.
They met the pirate lords, and Kiani gave the least heart-touching speech of her life, claiming that she'd continue doing the same as she used to, and if someone had any complaint about it, she'd be more than willing to give the crown away. Fortunately, everybody considered doing the same as she used to as acceptable, and nobody said anything about that. She was acclaimed as the new Hurricane Queen (and she was the first blue hurricane queen of all history! Because minorities also deserve representation) and, of course, the biggest pirate celebration ever was thrown. Stories say that they are still celebrating nowadays. Sandara and Kiani got to a private room to discuss whether they were on a serious relationship or weren't. They didn't get to any conclusion, but they completely disappeared from the party after that. My best guess is that they are testing the whore's bed again.
Thanks a lot!!!
I had a lot of fun GMing and writing it!
Now I am taking my bikini off and putting on my warmest coat to step to Reign of Winter.
I have already started to write it down and I will post the first episodes soon (maybe today)
I was a player, not the GM on that one, so it will be written on a pretty different tone.
|Captain Kiani the Blue|
What are you doing in MY story? Get out and let us keep on with the celebrations! Or better yet, come in and join us!!!
Thank you all for reading the story to the end. It was a great experience, one of the two greatest stories I've played in. It was funny, intense and serious at equal parts.
See ya in the forums!!
A Very nice ending. I haven't posted because my group hasn't played in a while. However, they just defeated Harrigan. They ended up facing him, his pet witch, two erynies, and a beared devil. The witch nailed their alchemist with baleful polymorph from greater invisibility and two failed saves later we had a fuzzy bunny. The inquisitor countered with invisibility purge and the shaman summoned a dire tiger that finished the poor witch in one round, thanks to two crits and high damage rolls. The devils were a bit of a problem, as they were immune or resistant to most of the damage the wizard could put out. The shaman was able to dispel the polymorph and Harrigan focuses all his efforts on that target, as he was the last remaining mutineer from the Man's Promise. After some close calls the devils were defeated, as was Harrigan. The group surprisingly took him alive. We then ended the night with them discussing all the different tortures they would do to him. On a side note, they were not happy when they found the condition of the prisoners and discussed regeneration spells and the like. When they found poor Cut-throat they quickly surmised a mercy kill followed my resurrection wsa the cleanest way to handle things.
We are going to skip the upcoming fleet battle, but they will have the shipboard fights. Though, I am half convinced that they may decide they like Thrune's offer. I will post on here when they finish the last book. And I look forward to reading your Reign of Winter story!