S&S: Session 5 – Trouble at Home

Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!

Pulling Quinn and Ambrose from the chains had been easy enough when Nasha had handed over the keys. Their wrists, while injured, weren’t as bad as they could have been. Dolce checked their throats for any sign of the leaf they’d found over Narwhale’s mouth while they were still unconscious, but found none.

The girls set about making their way out. They knew the tunnels they’d come from would be difficult to pass what with their ceilings being so low and the tide being in, so they rowed their way up the other tunnels, hoping to find better luck there. It was a bit of a gamble.

They explored the chambers as they came to them, believing it would give Ambrose and Quinn more time to recover from the poison. In one chamber they found a pair of ghouls trapped in a submerged cage. Perhaps the ghouls responsible for the infestation of the rest of the humans on the island? Dolce thought so. She and Nasha disposed of the ghouls from outside the cage’s bars, Nasha employing a spear they’d taken from the female grindylow.

In the cage they found a scattering of gold coins and silver. Dolce also noted some fine-looking buttons on one of the ghoul’s coats and removed them, thinking perhaps she’d use them if she one of her companions lost a button of their own.

They continued in the boat, but found they did have to capsize it and take it below the rocky ceilings on occasion. Revel and Nasha saw to this while Mirielle and Dolce held Quinn and Ambrose aloft inside the overturned boat so they could breath. They would not have done well holding their breath while paralyzed by the poison.

The tunnel connected to their original tunnel and they passed by the cliff face where the bloodseekers had swarmed Nasha. They lingered there while the lizardfolk scaled the cliff and returned with the belongings they’d left above. Tired though she was, she still managed to make climbing it look effortless, even as she removed the pitons from the wall in her wake on her way back down.

With their possessions in the boat, the girls took the opposite route up the main tunnel and soon found themselves out in the ocean. More grindylows attacked them, but they made the mistake of swarming the boat and clustering up in front of it so Dolce’s Chilling Spray spell encompassed almost all of them, trivializing the combat.

Once beyond the cave’s mouth the girls debated heading straight up the beach… However, Mirielle still had some spells and they knew the sunken wreckage of The Infernus was nearby. They decided to go explore that and give Ambrose and Quinn more time to recover.

In the Wreckage

They made anchor above the wreckage and left Revel on the boat with the two men. Using both Mirielle’s final powerful spell as well as a potion of Water Breathing they were able to ensure that all four of them and the two men could breath water. Dolce didn’t want the men to drown if something should happen and the boat capsized, however unlikely that may have been.

Mirielle moved effortlessly through the water with her ring, and Nasha had great skill at moving in the water too. Dolce, however, still had to make an effort to swim, and occasionally found herself lagging behind the others. Nasha and Mirielle responded by slowing their pace.

Soon enough they were drawing near the ship, and down below in the wreckage a very conspicuous tail was visible poking out from under some of the ship’s ruins. Dolce signaled the girls to fall back, and at a further distance she used a casting of Magic Missile to get the creature’s attention.

What came for them was an eel, not unlike the one that had been summoned to fight Nasha in Quinn and Ambrose’s prison chamber. This one was bigger though. Dolce found herself grateful that Mirielle still had some of her weaker spells available.

The battle was rougher than it would have been with Revel alongside them, but they managed well enough. Mirielle expended her last minor healing spells in the combat. In the wreckage of the ship the girls found some knickknacks worth taking above. They had accrued a good deal of wealth from the island, as well as some Alchemist’s Fire, some Potions of Healing, and a Wand of Mirror Image. Dolce held onto the wand and alchemist’s fire, but divided the healing potions between them.

Water

They rowed the boat back around the tip of the island until they found the beach just south of the marsh. It wouldn’t do to have Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge see the magical properties of the hat. By now Quinn and Ambrose were speaking and able to move, though, very slowly. When everyone had disembarked Dolce touched the side of the boat and dismissed its magical effect. The wood shrank and transformed in her fingers until she was holding Quinn’s hat.

He looked quite surprised by the transformation and Dolce smiled a little. “I guess you weren’t aware it could do that, hmm? Only works for the faithful of Besmara.” She took the hat and put it on Quinn’s head, where its size adjusted once again.

They traveled through the marsh, following the path they’d taken before. They passed the smoldering remains of the ghouls’ tent and eventually made their way around the stream again. Back in the village’s husk they collected the empty water barrels and rolled them to the waterfall to fill them.

It was all quite time-consuming and tedious, but ultimately the four girls were in high spirits. Mirielle confessed to the others she had no desire to return to her noble life. Not just because she’d committed acts of piracy, either. Rather, she found the idea of being free to choose her own direction in life appealing. This brought Dolce a smile and she felt Besmara’s machinations at work.

Dolce had coached Ambrose and Quinn on the lies they would tell Master Scourge about how the six came to be reunited. The men had to try to convince him they’d escaped during a moment when the grindylows’ attention had lapsed.

As they rolled the barrels out of the marsh with Quinn and Ambrose leaning on one another for support, Dolce saw a number of crew on the beach as well as a pile of dead Rahadoumi. The original crew of The Man’s Promise. The pirates were all those that Dolce, Revel, Nasha, and Mirielle had not managed to befriend. Although, thankfully Ratline and Narwhale were also among them, and Mirielle had managed to win them over with enough effort. An uneasy feeling set over Dolce and she slid her Wand of Mirror Image into her palm as she found herself feeling thankful she’d saved one casting of Acid Arrow.

The pirates were loading barrels of water, at least she assumed that was what was in them, into longboats. Master Scourge called out to them first. “Well, look who it is, and look who they’ve found!”

Dolce spoke up first, planning to keep to the story she’d concocted. “Yeah, these two caught up with us this morning. We had to go quite a ways into the island to find water. Might have even gotten lost!”

Mr. Plugg snorted and said, “Funny that, since we found tracks by the waterfall where we filled our barrels.”

Dolce wasn’t sure what to say to that. There were other inhabitants on the island, but would they believe the girls had been able to overcome three ghouls? And what would ghouls be doing by the waterfall? Looking for prey? She started to say that but Master Scourge spoke first, “It’s just as well. You were never going to leave this island.” He looked so pleased with himself it made Dolce’s blood boil.

Since they and all their friends were readying for a fight anyway Dolce said, “Well, just as well then, cause I’m really sick of biting my tongue. Between your stupidity and his incompetence you’ve made a right mess of what could have been a damn fine crew! And the kind of hostility you ferment in your own crew!? It’s despicable! Besmara would never condone your treachery, you sorry sod!” The tirade went on a few seconds more as Dolce highlighted specific incidences of their “infractions”. Of course, her audience didn’t particularly care, but she was giving Revel, Nasha, and Mirielle time to prepare for the combat that was soon to follow.

The girls took advantage, adjusting their positions so Mirielle was behind the rest, and Quinn and Ambrose were behind her. When at last Dolce fell silent Mr. Plugg said, “Is that all?”

Dolce looked as though considering before nodding, “Aye, think that about covers it, Bosun.” She made a point of calling him Bosun because he’d made such a point of correcting others and telling them to call him Captain since boarding The Man’s Promise.

“Good. Kill them all!” He shouted to his men. Chaos ensued, but Mr. Plugg started it off by brandishing his fancy little sword at Dolce and saying, “Since you’re so fond of Besmara, let’s see how you enjoy her embrace!” He activated the sword’s magic, casting Hydraulic Push through the weapon. Water spewed forth in a forceful burst that struck Dolce clear on her chest and sent her skidding back ten feet despite her best efforts to hold her ground. Laughter erupted from the pirates as Plugg said, “Pathetic!”

Dolce snarled, her grip on her wand tightening. She had intended to use it, but first.. First… This fucker needed a lesson of his own. “You know, I had a feeling about today. I saved one of these for just this occasion!” She intoned the words of power and formed the gestures required to send an Acid Arrow soaring right back at Mr. Plugg. Unfortunately, the arrow struck his shoulder and was far less effective than she’d hoped it would be. Still, the acid would linger, she knew, even as more laughter sounded in her ears.

“Is that the best you can do, Elf? And you thought they were dangerous!” Plugg said to Master Scourge. Scourge’s eyes were on Mirielle all the while. With a frustrated grunt Dolce hurled her rapier at Master Scourge. He was a good sixty feet away, but with Hand of the Apprentice the distance was no trouble at all. The rapier struck true and she had gained Scourge’s attention, at least for the moment.

Nasha sprang forward, covering the ground between her and Mr. Plugg in hardly any time at all. Soon the lizardfolk was upon him, claws brandished in deadly fashion. She scored one hit, but it didn’t stagger Plugg the way it may have staggered a lesser man.

Scourge looked torn, but Plugg shouted orders and he ripped his gaze from Mirielle, instead moving forward and lashing Nasha. The whip strikes were well practiced and red blood flowed from her blue scales, making some of them appear almost purple in color.

Revel sprang forward, her jaw twisting, her fangs growing sharper. She closed the distance between the girls and Plugg and Scourge in a hurry, coming to Nasha’s aid while confronting Plugg directly. The pirates also descended on them, though Ratline and Narwhale broke from the group and made for the marsh. Master Scourge was infuriated and yelled after them to get back into the fray, but they didn’t listen.

Mirielle felt helpless as she’d already expended all of her spells. She got her potion at the ready and drew close enough to cast Forbidding Ward on Revel, to help shield her from Plugg. Only a cantrip, true, but it would at least do some good. Doing this drew Scourge’s attention and she heard him shout, “Kill her!”

Jaundice Jape closed in on Mirielle with a wicked smile, “With pleasure.” He stabbed her and the feeling of the blade tearing her flesh reminded her all too much of the fight she’d had with him and Narwhale in the bilges.

Ambrose staggered forward, not really able to move effectively. He still moved to her side and took an awkward swing at Jape with his cutlass. It went wide, but Ambrose still assured Mirielle, “Don’t you worry none, I’ll protect ya.”

As Ambrose was speaking Quinn used his magic to heal Mirielle’s wounds, casting Soothe. She’d all but forgotten he had command of magic at all, and suddenly found herself grateful for his presence there, though now Scourge was telling the crew to kill him instead of her.

The battle went on, Quinn, Revel, and Nasha taking the brunt of the injuries. Dolce cast Mirror Image from her wand before engaging Plugg, and all three of his next attacks simply dispersed her illusory clones rather than causing her any harm. She did spare a moment to throw a Ray of Frost at Jape, finishing him off even as he was trying to do the same to Quinn.

In the end, Revel ripped a solid chunk of Plugg’s shoulder off with her powerful fangs and jaws, leaving a gaping wound that made him bleed out quickly. Master Scourge tried to run for a longboat and managed to get aboard it and shove it off, but Revel and Nasha pursued. Dolce instructed them to keep Scourge alive. She had plans for him.

Had Revel landed the final blow, he might well have died then and there, but it was Nasha who took him down, leaving Revel to visit her ferocity on the last remaining pirate.

As the girls took stock of the field distant cheering reached them. It was travelling over the water from the ship. They must have seen the fighting going down. To Dolce’s delight, Ratline and Narwhale had entered the fray to help defend Quinn, Mirielle, and Ambrose. It certainly seemed Mirielle had way with people, for both of these men had at one point been targeting her specifically. Then again, saving Narwhale’s life from the grindylow had probably helped.

Dolce looked out across the water at The Man’s Promise. A ship without a captain now… But… not for long. She looked back at Mirielle and smiled. This plan suited her well. “Let’s get this water aboard and get underway. I think Rickety’s Squibs is still going to prove a wise destination.”

Ambrose nodded his agreement and they picked through the bodies, retrieving the magical boarding pike that had once been wielded by The Man’s Promise‘s original captain, as well as the sword Plugg wielded, which Dolce renamed Besmara’s Embrace and claimed as her own. Some coin was collected, but the bodies they left to rot on the beach as they rowed the two longboats back to The Man’s Promise with more water than they would need for a month.

Dolce was amused when she noticed that Quinn seemed to have given Mirielle his hat. She wasn’t on the same longboat, so she couldn’t be sure, but at least at that moment, Mirielle was wearing his tricorn and the two were laughing over something or other while Narwhale and Ratline helped row them out toward the ship.

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