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!
By the time they reached Slipcove, Calden, the lone surviving marine from The Kurstav, had proven himself a capable member of their crew. Mirielle had recruited him shortly after revealing her plan to transport The Kurstav‘s crew to Slipcove rather than stranding them in Ollo. It seemed the battle-hardened marine was fine working with pirates so long as there was no slavery involved. He’d taken to instructing the crew of The Purr in combat, trying to shore up the shortcomings of those with little battle experience. Honestly something Dolce and Revel probably should have taken the time to do…
Dolce suspected part of his willingness to convert was how fairly the crew of The Kurstav had been treated… Even their captain left alive and all of them fed from the same food The Purr‘s crew ate. Perhaps there was some merit to Mirielle’s mercy, even if it would bring the Aspice Consortium down on their heads.
The aasimar was right about their reputation… Without a reputation Mirielle would never be named a Free Captain. While technically being named one wouldn’t do much for the crew of The Lady’s Purr, it would mean that other Free Captains should leave them be… Should… But they were all pirates, so Dolce made no hard assumptions about that particular point.
Conchobar had really taken to his post as Master Gunner. Cog and Rosie were another matter. Their Quartermaster was quite capable of keeping inventory and securing the quartermaster’s cabin, but he was miserable doing it. Aside from frolicking with Revel, his duties gave him little in the way of distraction and he missed working the rigging. Strange creature, that. Rosie, on the other hand, didn’t like the weight of her responsibilities as Bosun. She did the job well enough, but Dolce honestly wanted to free her of it so she could be a full-time entertainer.
Songs did much to break up the monotony of long days at sea, and Dolce suspected Rosie’s passion for music would make her a natural at that particular task. Even Mirielle had suggested as much in private conversation. As a result when ever they made port Dolce kept an eye out and an ear open for good candidates for Quartermaster and Bosun. Perhaps in Slipcove.
As they approached the port a vessel of respectable size came alongside them. A longboat came out, and much like in Senghor, a detachment of personnel requested to come aboard. Mirielle allowed them and openly told them they meant to sell The Red Mariah here in Slipcove as well as to release the crews of both The Red Mariah and that of The Kurstav here in Slipcove, where they were likely to find a softer landing than they might have in our last port of call, Ollo.
The fee, as a “fleet” with neither a reputation for freeing slaves nor a reputation for taking them, to enter Slipcove was a single payment of a thousand gold coins. Luckily, Mirielle, Dolce, Revel, and Nasha had eight thousand gold coins they were eager to be free of. They didn’t particularly want the currency of the Iku-Tursos lingering with them. It would give them an all too easy thing to scry upon.
The payment for their two vessel fleet was made to the halfling who had inspected their ships. When they reached land, Mirielle loitered long enough to see that the halflings who had met them on the ocean were setting up the two crews The Purr was leaving here with work and a place to stay. Senghor had made sure they’d been true to their word and freed the people they’d taken there, but Slipcove went a step farther. It made sense to Mirielle, after all, Captain Raffles had had his start as a slave aboard a Chelaxian vessel.
The Chains of Freedom was at port, meaning Captain Raffles was at home. Dolce was sure he wouldn’t claim their ship, even though it was in his right to do so. Raffles had a reputation of singling out slavers and Dolce felt certain the money they were about to spend upgrading The Purr in his settlement would put them in his favor.
Mirielle and Dolce set about selling The Red Mariah. The buyer was employed by none other than Captain Raffles. Dolce asked him who he recommended to armor their hull, sell them silk sails, enchant their catapults, and sell them light ballistae. The people suggested to them also worked for Raffles. Mirielle and Dolce spent thousands of gold, easily more than the remaining seven thousand from the Iku-Tursos’ payment on these improvements, plus buying the supplies to carve a figurehead.
The last was a surprise project Mirielle assigned to Dolce. Dolce then set about acquiring better tools for all of their needs.. Healer’s supplies, higher quality thieves’ tools, better-suited climbing kits, carpentry tools, jeweler’s tools, tailor’s tools, and on and on. Soon she felt like she had a tool for everything short of smithing in her Bag of Holding.
She bought an extra set of the healer’s tools for Quinn, plus two nice spyglasses for herself and Mirielle. Her old spyglass, claimed on the island of the damned, would go to the crow’s nest for whoever was on duty up there.
Dolce sang for three nights of their recent deeds – of course, not mentioning a thing about the shark egg that hadn’t left her Bag of Holding since the night they’d claimed it. She emphasized their most recent conquest, for The Switch of the North was known to participate in slavery and this port was overflowing with freed slaves. She was right, a swelling of appreciation could be felt in the tail of their combat with Captain Astian.
The fourth night, as she was sitting to dinner with Mirielle and Quinn, they were approached by a group of halflings who informed them they had been invited to dine with none other than Captain Raffles. Mirielle sent Dolce to hunt down Revel, and accepted graciously. The inside of Captain Raffles’ estate was covered in broken chains. It seemed there was a constant clinking sound. Dolce approved of the atmosphere it created.
They dined on the overturned and warped hull of the ship’s boat which his previous slaver had tried to escape on. During the course of dinner Captain Raffles informed them that the bones were still inside the overturned hull. A bit morbid, but understandable to Dolce. He also told them the sounds of the chains clinking had driven some servants mad. She wondered at the truth of that.
Raffles commented on their presence being bold when he could simply take their ship from them, but Mirielle calmly replied, “My first mate here seems to think quite highly of you, Captain. She assures me it would be very out of character for you to do something like that considering we’ve no history of, nor intent to engage in, slavery… And, I trust my first mate’s instincts.” Mirelle offered a smile to Dolce.
Raffles leaned back in his chair, considering first Mirielle and then Dolce. Dolce smiled at him when his eye was upon her, but she felt convinced he didn’t trust them. And why should he? Everyone at the table was a pirate. By the end of the meal he had warmed up considerably thanks to both Dolce and Mirielle’s efforts. They’d exchanged stories and Dolce had recounted going head-to-head with The Red Mariah yet again.
Here Captain Raffles laughed and said, “Ah, The Red Mariah. Was Captain Astian still wearing that ridiculous green hat?”
A test, Dolce sensed, to see if they’d really slain who they claimed when they themselves were pirates he’d never heard of before. “Ah, no Captain. Twas a red hat with varied colored plumage. One of our own claimed it for himself, his prize for sighting her sails. It was quite comical though, taking it in for him. He’s a halfling, like yourself, and Astian was a big man.” Captain Raffles laughed about this, and conversation moved on to his conquests again.
When they left Captain Raffles they were well-fed and Dolce felt they’d passed his tests. Of course, any alliance or friendliness was as likely to change as the winds. They’d leave here when the modifications were completed to The Purr and head back out to the trade lanes. Senghor was still a better port, and for now they were not selling their plunder because even with the gross influx of their coin the halflings wouldn’t be paying as well as Senghor would.
Dolce shopped some more, buying a number of blank books as well as a book full of designs for basic things one needed on a ship. Sails, ropes, anchors, wheels, etc. etc. And of course, a figurehead. She’d have to consult this to be sure the figurehead she designed for Mirielle’s vessel would stay affixed to it properly. They were having it mounted, but of course, right now it was just a large hunk of wood she could carve out of.
With all of those mundane needs handled she went back to her luxurious inn to relax. The atmosphere was amazing, but she expected no less from a high-end inn run by halflings. They were renowned for their love of homely comforts.
A week in total was spent in Slipcove by the time they got to survey their ship’s upgrades. The armor would make her slower, but the silk sails would compensate for the difference. Dolce had gotten the craftsmen to work in imagery of mist and ice crystals in their silken sails. Chosen primarily because Mirielle had Greed and Gluttony – the two catapults they mounted on the forecastle and aftcastle – enchanted with Frost. When Dolce had inquired why, Mirielle had said she was taking a page out of Dolce’s book.. Frost was safer than fire or electricity or even thunder on the sea.
True, it would be more likely to slow enemy vessels than inflict additional damage or burning to them… That was why Chilling Spray was Dolce’s go to spell rather than Burning Hands. She hadn’t even invested the energy or coin to learn the latter.
Now though, it gave Dolce ideas for the figurehead and she wanted the sails to blend with what she was going for. An angel with wings of ice crystals and a glowing halo not unlike Mirielle’s. That was how Dolce would repay her captain for the surprise task of making their figurehead… By featuring her prominently in it.
Dolce was smiling as they took to the sea again, leaving Slipcove in their wake. She had rigged a rope harness for her work carving the figurehead. If it was all she did for the next several days.. she figured she could manage it in four… But more time would have been convenient.