Morning in Silver Springs. Breakfast takes a little longer to be served, since people are too busy whispering about the “River Maiden” (Quandril‘s ship) coming into port. Look guys, I know he’s some sort of hero to the non-enslaved people, but you really can talk/whisper AND make a omelette at the same damn time. Also?
There’s no excuse for lukewarm coffee. NONE.
And guess what? That bed & beverage / merchant bar we like, “The Lacquered Clam“, (I don’t even want to know the backstory on that one) is one of his favorite stops. I guess that means I’m never getting that side of biscuits and gravy. Crap.
So we decide to just wait. While we’re there waiting for this alleged salty savior, we do learn some things from other adventurers. They overall tend to like him less than the regular folk, and are a bit more honest/forthcoming with information. For one, it seems like he’s in league (hehe) with Jolly Grimjaw. Faaaantastic. Also, it gets better – and by better I mean worse. Or, maybe better as in “justified homicide” – as if we didn’t already have enough because he’s the Slaver’s Hero. Apparently mercs/adventurers who join up with him, with a promise of a cut of the loot, don’t tend to return.
I think we should join up, if given the opportunity. He’s probably in league with the water cultists, and it seems like a good way to infiltrate their cult, AND to murdilate this waste of flesh. At this point, I’d settle for either. Both would be nice, though. WE all seem to think this is the best chance we have – our best course of action. It’s not the best, sure, but it’s the best we’ve got.
After a while (apparently he was taking his sweet goddamn time at the slave halls), his first mate – that halfling named Pike – boisterously announces Quandril’s arrival as he’s carried into the bar, held up by slaves (I presume). He likes to curry favor it seems by being “generous” and buying a round for the bar. It won’t change how I see him (except maybe a little blurrier), but I’ll certainly take a free drink at the expense of a scumbag.
He’s looking for mercs, it seems. He takes one look at me, and we discuss terms. We settle on my share being 50% of what I can carry, to start. Arvos “bears up” – man, that really is impressive to watch. He gets the same terms as I. Kary’klii has a bit more of an uphill battle though. While he can scout, he’s not as good with the carrying. He joins up, but at a lesser rate I think. Not that it really matters though, as we’re not actually doing this for the money.
We get black armbands with a blue symbol – the Water Cult symbol (). One of the other mercs – an elf woman – decides to cut out of town. She was lowballed and opted to join, and got the feeling that if she didn’t bail, she’d be forced to join. I don’t blame her, especially since we saw Quandril point to her and whisper something to a guard.
We head out in the morning, so that leaves tonight. What to do in this weird town when there’s an enforced curfew? Well, I’m content to sit at the bar, but then again, it’s not like I have options. Arvos, though? Arvos has options. He shape-shifts into a small cat. He returns around midnight, looking spooked and not wanting to talk about it in front of others. So, head up to one of our rooms.
Apparently, he just staked out Quandril’s ship, the River Maiden. Apparently, Quandril showed back up to it not all that long ago. And apparently, when he stepped on the ship – it shimmered! And after that, it apparently sank! In what was apparently a controlled fashion! And apparently as it was lowering itself below the water, it turned – it rotated! It apparently rotated to point to the Hall of Servitude!
Apparently, things are apparent. This word has now ceased to make any sense, like when you think too hard on the word “ladder” and how completely absurd it is.
Kary’klii wants to check it out. But a) it’s gone, and b) there’s an enforced curfew and he’s a giant talking bird in a town where that is definitely not normal. On the other hand, Kary’klii can warg, which is decidedly cool. The only problem? The only creatures that we could warg into that might know where the ship went, are fish. The other problem? Dammit. More than one problem. Okay then, another problem? No access to fish – the building is over water, but we’re on the second floor. But there is a bathroom …
- Fish passed through some underwater gates.
- The water there is “sweeter” (brackish? influx of fresh water?)
- This sweeter water seems to be coming from the general direction of the quarry.
- There’s lots of noise – banging/sawing around a boat.
- They’re building huge multi-level galleon-sized boat.
- Overheard Pike/Quandril say “If Shatterkeel’s plan goes through, the Air is not the place to be.“
Well, that’s enough excitement for tonight. Time to rest – we head out in the morning.
In the morning, we head to docks and on our way there, we meet up with a muul woman named Bev who’ll be joining us as crew. She hopes this raid doesn’t go as one she recently heard of did – the only known raid to fail. Apparently a crew of Fathomers (cultists? Elite raiders?) we defeated by a party defending a small ranch – a party which had a defiler as a member, it’s rumored. Well, we say, there’s no defiler in our party, obviously wasn’t us.
Bev also notes shortly before we get on-board that a few months back, the water here started to get less salty. I think that’s pretty odd, and then it hits me: Dammit! I never got my biscuits and gravy from yesterday.
Some of Quandril’s crew seem to have really taken to the saltwater-flavored Kool-Aid – they’ve stitched barnacles to their face. It’s ugly as hell, but perhaps it has a purpose outside of labeling yourself as a sort of chosen? Maybe they’re Fathomers? I’m sure you’d really cut up your knuckles if you were to punch them in the face. Whatever, we start this journey a bit predictably: on oar duty. After a while, the ship transitions to land! A ship that not only floats (and also submerges!) but also doubles as a sled? Credit where credit is due: the River Maiden is a pretty amazing vessel.
We come to a stop after a while, a bit outside of a homestead in the middle of the desert. It’s the
five four three of us, Bev the muul, Quandril, Pike, and a few others. It should be an easy raid, but honestly I’m conflicted. I know I’ve raided before, but I did so reluctantly. I have just about zero qualms with killing a capable opponent. But the weak, infirmed, untrained? That’s a grey area I’m not a big fan of. But, maybe I can work it so that I only take out someone as a mercy kill, or if they attack me first? Will never forget the words of my old Captain:
Next thing I know, we’re inside and there’s a badly wounded homesteader, slumped against a wall. I know I have to kill him – it’s an unfortunate side-effect of this mission – and it is a mercy considering his wounds, but I don’t have to like it. I whisper “I’m sorry” as I ease his pain. Arvos comes out of a room, saying he smothered a bunch of kids. I look at him questioningly, and he his look seems to convey everything I need to know: don’t go in there – don’t let THEM in there – they’re playing dead. Good man. Er, bear. Good manbear.
Unfortunately, some of the others do check. Crap. He comes out with what looks like an 8 year-old, saying that they could be worth something on the slaver’s market, maybe even as a concubine.
I feel my grip on The Umbertaker™ tighten, when Kary’klii says he’ll take two of ’em and just drop them from the sky to their deaths.
What. The. Hell. Dude.
Well, the crew just *loves* that. They’ve apparently run out of inventive ways to kill helpless children, and this is novel. I can only assume he’s got a plan. I can only HOPE he’s got a plan. He takes on in each claw and flies off, their mother hysterical. Up he flies, and I hope he has a plan – and he does. Sort of.
He drops the children – on Quandril, still on the vessel – and then all hell breaks loose. My kind of hell. Quandril gestures at Kary’klii, who suddenly plummets from the sky. Looks like Quandril is a sort of spellcaster, and therefore the biggest threat. So, what do I do? I run straight for him.
But, I have to run by crew and mercs. Problem. So, I decide to yell as I run past them. “To the Captain! Protect him!”
It works. I close and scale the side of the ship, and tell him “I’m here for you!”
Except, it’s not that kind of “for”. I hit him with my my sword, and knock the bastard prone. He gets up quickly and cuts me, and then get this – winks at me. Winks! He just winks and teleports – back to right where I just was, about 50 feet away. Kary’klii gets up, helps take out that skeevy halfling Pike, and I tell him to go help Arvos and kill Quandril – I’ll take care of the rest of the crew here.
By the time the floorboards are soaked with the crew’s blood, I step to the aft of the ship, and see how everyone else is doing. As it turns out, the only ones left standing are Bev and Arvos (barely – or should I say bearly?). The woman and her children are inside, safe, and Kary’klii flies to chase down and finish a deserter. No loyal survivors.
On the various bodies, we find 790sp, 100gp, 3 malakites (sp?), and a healing potion. In the cargo hold: crossbows, sharp longswords, and metal crab-shaped shields. There’s also salted meat, ale, and animal hides – those are worth about 600gp, but are the now reclaimed property of the widow.
We offer Bev a position with us, as our pilot. At least for the moment. The homestead though, is not likely to be safe for the widow and her remaining children, so we offer her transport to wherever we decide to go. Perhaps Freedom? Dragon’s Bowl?
One things for sure: wherever we end up, we’re the only ones who know how we came to possess this recognizable ship, so we need to get our story together.
A re-christening is also in order. And as Captain (I do have the most experience), I think we should call her the Sand Witch.
Session Date: 09/01/16 Prior Journal XP: 250, Session XP: 1,133, Total XP: 11,776
Title Source: Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi