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!
Mirielle had adapted quite well to her new routine, and seemed to wake before the majority of the crew every morning. This time she spent wandering the ship and conversing with the three souls unlucky enough to draw the night duties.
Dolce was only aware because she woke early every morning to study her Tome of Arcane Whimsy. Some days she did this in the privacy of her room – privacy she was quite thankful for. Other days she wandered the deck herself while deciding which spells to prepare.
The crew never really woke until Revel started yelling at them, but then they scrambled above deck quick as they could. Revel, Dolce noted, wasn’t sleeping in her room. Rather, she was sleeping on the second deck with Cog, their quartermaster. It seemed the two had grown quite fond of one another and Dolce was wondering if it went deeper than just physical companionship at this point. Revel wasn’t the sort to discuss such matters, so she wasn’t entirely sure if she’d ever know. Perhaps if they made port and she noticed the two shared a room on land as well as at sea.
For Dolce’s part, none of the crew really held much romantic interest to her. Musical interest was another matter altogether. She spent her spare time with Rosie and her fiddle as often as with Ambrose, sometimes convincing the halfling to perform in the kitchen so Ambrose could enjoy their duets as well. She encouraged everyone to sing, whether for work or leisure, drawing in as many voices as possible.
Revel seemed to have quite a knack for singing. Mirielle had a natural talent for it and a voice that was quite gifted for it, but no education. It struck Dolce as a little strange that the noble should be so knowledgeable of ships and sailing but not of singing or needlework. She supposed it came down to their family’s dependence on their merchant fleets to keep them well funded. What a waste Mirielle would have been in Sargava.
Then there was Nasha… Dolce hadn’t heard the lizardfolk utter a single syllable in song. She’d have to remedy that. Even Grok, The Wormwood‘s quartermaster, had joined in when given the opportunity. Nasha was, by far, the strangest “pirate” Dolce had ever known. She seemed quite ready to leap into combat, and more than happy to work the sails even in the worst of storms, but had no real interest in wealth. It was mind-boggling!
Sure, Dolce’s interest in piracy was born of longing for adventure with a crew you could practically call family, but she was not immune to the charms of wealth or the comforts it provided. Nasha was, it seemed. Then again, they’d not been in a proper port yet. She’d have a chance to gauge her companions better when they did make port.
“SAIL ON THE HORIZON!” came the call from above. It was Maheem’s voice. Revel had been the one to get through to him while they’d stayed aboard the Wormwood. Dolce took out her spyglass and moved to a position with a better vantage point.
It was a ship from Absalom. A merchant vessel, if she was correct. “Don’t recognize her, Captain. Think she’s a nice merchant ripe for plucking!”
Dolce looked toward her captain and was happy to find her smiling. The pursuit began. This ship’s captain certainly seemed to have a fair mind for her vessel. She had turned to the west, sailing for open ocean or perhaps the Chelaxian trade lanes. Still, The Lady’s Purr caught her within a few hours of pursuit under Mirielle’s skillful leadership.
Artillery fire was exchanged. This ship was not so foolish as the fishing vessel, The Elten Baide. She had ballistae of her own. Conchobar took to his task with relish as Nasha and Revel aided him in reloading The Purr‘s own ballista. And soon enough the distance was closed and the order to grapple was given.
The lines flew out toward the Absalom ship, creating a crisscross of rope connections between them. The boarding ensued, Mirielle, Revel, Nasha, and Dolce among the first to cross the threshold. They dodged the bolts and arrows fired at them as they made their way across the perilous gap. Revel made the task look as natural as walking.
So fast was she that she boarded the ship before the others and found herself surrounded with enemy crew. “YES!” The hobgoblin cried, her blood rushing with adrenaline. Her veins seemed to surge in her skin as her jaw drew out and her extra rows of teeth grew in. “I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT HOW YOU TASTE!!!!!”
Her roar was unnerving to the foe, a few staggering back even as she charged forward and bit their captain. Then the thick of combat came in and Mirielle, Dolce, and Nasha were stuck trying to catch up as they contended with the crew around them. Well-placed spells were making quick work of their opponents and knitting the wounds dealt to them, but Revel was beyond Mirielle’s reach.
Strike after strike she took, blood coating various patches of her clothing and hide armor, but it seemed that even though each wound brought her closer to death it also only invigorated her thrill. Her voice was growing louder as it cut above the rest. “GODS I LOVE THE TASTE OF BLOOD!”
Dolce heard and shook her head. She wasn’t sure how much of Revel’s exclamation was true and how much was an effort to scare her opponents, but one of the marines that had been protecting the captain laid at the hobgoblin’s feet with his throat torn open. The captain herself had a chunk missing from her arm and blood trailing down her side.
The elf saw an opening in the jumble of enemy crew and with a parting glance at Mirielle stole away to Revel’s aid. She somersaulted between the legs of one man and slipped around behind the captain. “You should really consider surrendering,” Dolce said calmly.
“NO! DON’T DO THAT!” Revel bellowed with equal amounts of gusto and exhaustion.
Revel needn’t have worried for the captain snorted at Dolce and said, “I would never.”
Dolce’s eyes narrowed and a smile crossed her lips. Nasha had slain two more of the marines and the captain’s crew looked on the brink of surrender themselves with Revel standing there covered in blood and so many dead around them. “Those who don’t wish to die for nothing, like all of your betters have already, lay down your arms! Those that don’t, well, my companion here is still quite hungry!”
Dolce stabbed the captain even as she was bellowing her false threat. She knew Mirielle would never let Revel eat anyone they weren’t actively fighting, but this crew didn’t. Perhaps Revel needed a nickname or a song of her own. Something Dolce would have to dwell on.
Her ploy worked though, for the crescendo of weapons thudding onto the deck of the enemy vessel sounded and the captain’s eyes widened. “Wait! We still have a chance! Don’t let them break your spirits!” She was trying to rally her sailors, but not one of them seemed stirred by her words.
She did, to her own credit, manage to dodge Revel’s lethal teeth long enough to realize she was basically fighting The Purr‘s crew alone. Then she cursed and dropped her rapier. “Fine,” she said flatly to Dolce.
Dolce flashed her a smile and stepped between her and Revel lest she get eaten after all.
To the victors…
Mirielle ordered the spoils of their engagement moved from The Truewind to their own ship. She split the surviving crew on both vessels. Dolce was made the temporary captain of The Truewind with Revel alongside her to help keep everyone there in line. Meanwhile Mirielle and Nasha oversaw operations aboard The Lady’s Purr.
Maheem, who had spotted the vessel, laid claim to a blanket and pillow set as his one extra item. The entirety of The Purr‘s crew burst into laughter as one asked, “What are you gonna do with those, Maheem?”
The Rahadoumi flashed a smile at the pirate, “For my hammock, of course! I’m gonna sleep good from now on!” More laughter erupted, but Maheem was not dismayed. He too was brought to dine with the officers that night, reinforcing a new unspoken tradition on The Lady’s Purr.
Mirielle set a course for Senghor, a vehemently anti-slavery port. Their stance on slavery mattered little to The Lady’s Purr as they had no intention of engaging in slaving. It was a missed opportunity for profit, but Dolce found herself in agreement with Mirielle on this point. After all, she’d not much enjoyed being forced into piracy the way she had been. They would allow all of the captured crew to disembark at Senghor before selling their ship.
The journey was four days and change on the sea heading southeast by east, and the time gave Dolce an opportunity to see what sailing under Revel would have been like… At least, potentially. Revel kept the captured crew’s spirits so low they dared not raise a complaint, and she seemed to enjoy doing it. At the same time, to those of The Purr‘s crew that were aboard, she showed a completely different side. She encouraged them. Despite this, some of their own crew were a bit put off by Revel’s harsher antics and Dolce found herself glad she’d nominated Mirielle to captain rather than the hobgoblin.
Senghor was a well protected port city, and before either ship made it near their destination another vessel approached. A warship. A ship’s boat came out and requested to board The Lady’s Purr. Mirielle granted permission and was soon speaking with the commander of the impressive warship. She explained they’d taken the ship and her crew several days to the northeast and had no intent of enslaving them. She submitted to rigorous inspection and allowed the captain to question the crew of The Truewind.
One of them declared that Mirielle was a pirate, but the visiting captain only chuckled and said that much was obvious. It was night by the time they actually docked in Senghor. The fees for docking were steep, but the city was a proper city with resources and an economy one wouldn’t gain access to in a lesser port.
Mirielle had the crew rotate shifts onboard as well as days off so they could enjoy the port for a week. She anticipated needing the time to find a buyer for The Truewind, though ultimately she managed it quite quickly. They netted a profit of 4,085 gold coins for that, plus more for their plunder. Dolce handled this and paid the crew out of their earnings before deducting an additional 530 gold to use as a gift to Besmara. She’d decided some time ago she would give ten percent of anything she earned at sea and five percent of anything she earned on land to the Pirate Queen now that she herself was a pirate.
It took some convincing to get Mirielle to agree, but not as much as Dolce had expected. Nasha shrugged and volunteered to cover Revel’s share if Revel didn’t agree. Revel had said no until Dolce had shown her how much gold was leftover, and then shrugged and said it was fine. After all, the leftover gold was more gold than Revel had seen in her life. This set a precedent. Much like having Rosie to dine with the officers on the night of sighting the Elten Baide.
Dolce roped Revel and Mirielle into helping her scour the prosperous city for spells she wished to learn. They would help the ship and the crew, she promised, and Mirielle agreed after learning the spells in question. Between the three of them they tracked down every spell Dolce wished to have. One individual was a common thread. An instructor and benefactor at The College of Gales.
Dolce sought the wizard out herself, finding him in the midst of a lecture about water elementals. He was a human, quite stern seeming, and of middling age. Dolce listened quietly in the back of the room, watching as all of his pupils scrambled to take notes. He seemed rather intelligent and rather unyielding in his manner. Gidras was the wizard’s name.
When all was done and the students left Dolce waited further for him to collect his things, but before he’d completely finished straightening the pile of paper on his desk he said, “And what can I do for you, Elf?”
She smiled and approached, attempting to charm him with her manners and respect. “I’m told that you are quite the scholar and with quite an impressive collection of spells under your mastery, Professor. I was hoping I could trouble you for some scrolls.”
He looked her up and down and Dolce felt certain his eyes had lingered on her bicorn hat and the cutlass she wore. After a time he said, “The school is always happy to accept donations. What are the spells you’re seeking?”
She listed them off and he occasionally informed her of extra costs for those that were more rare than others. The cantrips she desired to learn he said he would instruct her in himself. The rest he said he would take scrolls from the library to provide her if she had the coin.
The transaction completed and scrolls acquired, he had her sit in a student’s desk. In his hands was a long, thin rod of varying colors. It was carved in such a manner that it made a pleasant noise if swiped quickly. She’d seen that earlier when he had rapped a student’s knuckles for answering a question incorrectly during his lecture.
Thankfully, cantrips were a simple enough matter and Dolce was finished within three hours without making any mistakes. She wasn’t sure she wished to be disciplined by one such as he. She thanked him for his time, and inquired if she could return later when her abilities had grown. Gidras agreed, stating again that the college was always pleased to receive donations.
Aside from that, their time in Senghor was spent relaxing. Dolce was right. Nasha had paid only for a common bed in one of the inns, meaning she slept in the common room with many others. Revel at least had indulged in a private room. As for Dolce, she was staying in luxury, paying ten gold a night for an inn with private bathing chambers and a servant.
She got Quinn to agree to help Mirielle with getting some new clothes tailored to her. Their captain still looked like a swab, and that was unacceptable. She told their stories in Senghor, drawing crowds in different inns each night, and was surprised to meet with another pirate at one of them. A shantyman by the name if Ikiko who was also a tengu. Fortunate for that vessel as the tengu were considered quite lucky to have aboard.
It was lucky that Mirielle’s new clothes were ready, for the tengu suggested they should meet with his captain. Ikiko and Captain Slip were relatively new pirates, not unlike themselves. They seemed to agree on the point of slavery, and Mirielle proposed they be allies. After all, they had enough to worry about with the Free Captains of the Shackles. The captain agreed. A night of drinking ensued, and in the morning The Lady’s Purr departed Senghor to seek more prey upon the seas.