Midnight of the 21st of Trical, 1331 Avard.
The Dellistar was pitched into the wind and waves, and wave upon wave picked the bow up, splashed along the sides, and pushed the stern up in turn. The rain and lightning and thunder added to the assault on the senses as the ship pitched and sometimes yawed in the storm. The deck was awash in blood and bodies and sea and rain. Hadarai held the wheel, keeping them pointed into the direction of the storm, as all but Dolon furiously and carefully heaved bodies off the deck. One by one, all of the pirate corpses were given over to the care of the Sea Goddess.
Below decks, Dolon furiously wrote on every surface he could, writing a message for Master Horbe to find, when at last he scried them from the Tower on Mad Dog Island. The hours were counting down, and mere hours remained before the master mage would find them, and teleport them to safety.
Lightning flashed, and Hadarai saw the unthinkable. The galleon Cries of Gulls was bearing down on them. The deck was washed in a hail of arrow fire, and mangonels fired spiked balls attached to ropes and windlasses. Killik went down in a hail of arrows, and several of the others were hit as well. They retreated below-decks, as the pirates winched the Dellistar closer and closer, until the hulls of the two ships ground together in the fury of the storm.
Below decks, the party crowded into the petty officer's mess in the bow. The irony of their situation was not lost on them. Barely an hour before, it had been the leftenant and his pirates confined to that very room. Now the roles were reversed. The party heard boot steps on the pitching and rain-soaked deck, and the grinding of the hulls, the complaints of the ships.
The very leftenant they had cornered in the petty mess, yelled from the other side of the door. He guaranteed their survival – if they would only turn over the Shield of Serendin.
The party refused.
The leftenant – armored in steel-plated hide – did his best to keep the party penned into the mess, while at the same time allowing for his archers to pour fire into the petty mess. Several of the pirate marines went down, from Grania's blades or Hadarai's spells, but the leftenant would not go down, and the deadly hail of arrows continued.
In a desperate attempt to change the situation, Dolon slipped by the leftenant into the crowded sailor's mess. Surrounded as he was, he bravely tried to take the leftenant down. Grania took advantage of the situation to slide out of the petty mess like a scythe of Death himself. Marines went down, some without heads or whole hearts, as she spun about in a whirl of deadly blades. Their desperate maneuver seemed to paying off.
And then Dolon was run through by the leftenant. As she went down, the shock of his fall was enough to distract Grania enough so that the pirate leftenant ran her through, as well.
The battle seemed all but over, as Hadarai and Johannes desperately fought back, one marine at a time. The end seemed all but certain.
Aboard the Cries of Gulls, the minstrel known as Meredith had seen enough. She had served as bard and entertainment aboard the pirate vessel for several months. The half-elf was exploring her human side, traveling the seedier realm of man. Captain Nallya of the Dellistar was perhaps the first noble soul she had seen in all her explorations of humanity. Her travels had shown her the Inquisition in its bloodlust, the slaves of the Principalities, the pirates of the open sea, the Dons of the Western Edge. The Pirate Prince Ihoaea had given the order – secure the shield at all costs, even if they had to crush the Dellistar beneath the hull of the Cries of Gulls.
Meredith knew how much the Dellistar meant to Captain Nallya, and how much it meant to her crew. In the starboard fore-cargo of the Cries of Gulls was chained half the crews of the Dellistar and the Alahandra, as well as Captain Nallya and Captain Mirage, both of whom had been tortured by the inhuman shape-shifter known only as the Bosun. The Bosun had started the torture of Captain Nallya off by painfully crushing one eye and ripping the bits and pieces out slowly. Then the questions had begun.
Meredith slipped below decks, and using the armor granted her by the elves of her home waters, slipped through the deck to join the chained crews of the Dellistar and the Alahandra. With raw determination, she began to conjure arcane acids to eat through the chains, one at a time. And then with a well-placed force shove, the lock on the door was blown outward. The slaves were free, below decks. The Cries of Gulls was nearly empty, with all the pirates ashore, save those on deck to take the Dellistar. The lock of the armory proved as easy to blow out as the lock on the starboard fore-cargo.
Grania put one bloody hand on the hull to steady herself as a wave rocked the Dellistar, the hull complaining loudly. The leftenant and his marines continued their bloody battle against Johannes and Hadarai, not seeing Grania slowly regain her footing.
An elemental of air, clad in light and rain flying through it, joined in the battle as a half-Chillean, half-merelf dropped through the hatch – ready for battle. The half-elf called 'friend' to the hastily uttered challenge from Hadarai, and the sailors' mess became awash in even more blood.
Dolon was found beneath a pile of marines, near death – but he roused at a mere word from Meredith. The tide was turning.
Johannes seized the moment to call upon the full might and power of Arpelos, and the awesome and terrifying strength of a god fell full force upon the leftenant's mind. The leftenant fled in terror through the Dellistar, his mind all but broken by contact with the mind of a god.
And then the battle was all but over. The pirate prince flung himself overboard to escape, besieged as he was by the crews of the Dellistar and the Alahandra manning his own mangonels and light ballistae against him. The skeleton crew remaining aboard the Cries of Gulls could not hope to stand against so many before them, especially with the marines defeated.
The deadline for Master Horbe to teleport them came, and went. Sometimes they could detect his scrying, but there had been no sign of such scrying. Something had happened to Master Horbe, and it meant they were on their own with no support from the mage, and no teleportation away from all the pirates still on shore.
The Cries of Gulls was ransacked as quickly as possible, and the crane was manned even in the storm, change supplies from one vessel to another. Despite the dangers, having Captain Nallya and Captain Mirage there to assist made it possible. The last act of the crews, before moving aboard the Dellistar, was to drop the twin anchors of the Cries of Gulls through her own hull, using the mast crane.
Aboard the Dellistar, everyone set to cleaning and organizing. Captain Nallya, Captain Mirage, and the party, sat together and discussed their strategies and pooled their information.
The rest of the crews were aboard the Final Sunset – and would need to be retrieved. But not in the storm.
Just before dawn, the storm began to dissipate, and the stars could once-more be seen. The Alahandra, manned by a leftenant from the Cries of Gulls, sailed immediately for the river mouth and land, to take on the rest of the pirate forces.
The Final Sunset, seeing the situation, fled. The Dellistar gave pursuit. The two ships were evenly matched – save for one thing. The Dellistar had its tomanth, Killik, who could help the ship sail at good speeds in the night, giving her an edge. They would catch the Alahandra sometime after nightfall.
There was another problem, though. The Bosun was nowhere to be found. He had not been aboard the Cries of Gulls – nor had the shaman. Johannes and Dolon used the Candle of Truth to interrogate all of the people aboard the Dellistar, and they learned some things about the candle. Its power was to discern known lies; if someone told what they thought was the truth, then the candle could not tell the absolute truth.
Captain Mirage held something back, lying to Hadarai. From the candle, Hadarai knew that his father was not dead.
Noon came and went as they pursued the Final Sunset. The Alahandra attempted to give chase, but turned back, too heavily laden with pirates to catch up to the swifter ships. Nightfall… They all looked forward to nightfall, to catching the Final Sunset, and perhaps finding out if the dreaded shapeshifter was aboard, or worse, the shaman.
Beaten and hurting, the party turned in to rest, until the Dellistar could catch up with Captain Narfom's vessel, the Final Sunset.
Evening of the 22nd of Trical, 1331 Avard.
Each player received 2000 experience points for playing. Hadarai and Dolon now have 14500 experience points each (8th level), and Johannes has 14055 points (8th level). Grania has 14005 experience points (8th level), and Meredith has 9500 points (6th level).
The following notes represent the 'behind the scenes' and 'post op' actions of the players and the Dungeon Master.
We met at my place, and ordered some large pizzas from Papa John's. When I tipped the delivery guy, you'd think I'd saved the world with all the 'bless yous' I received. Very weird. We started late because I was helping with a State Guard project until five, and then we got the show on the road. There's apparently a rule in the handbooks that any single damage greater than a healing surge was a coup de'grace. This would have instantly killed both Dolon and Grania, as I'd rolled criticals with very high values for the leftenant, back to back. I tossed that rule out the window for NPCs. The various members of the party have been close to Death's door several times already. Dolon was one bad die roll away from death, as it was, even without the coup de'grace rules. Johannes has been that close, too, I think. But, they did survive, however closely it was. The party owes Meredith their lives, but I don't think they realize it. If the pirate prince and the rest of his pirates had gotten involved… It would probably have meant the death of several of them.
The following is taken from my DM notes…
You mean catch up to Captain Narfom's ship, Final Sunset? (DM: Editted. You were correct, Ross; I'd accidently put in the wrong ship name for the pursuit. It should read correctly, now. :)
Hey - I thought my companion was a water elemental. Like mist. Also, I impelled the charming prince overboard. :)
Good recap, btw!