S&S: Session 13 – The Trade Lanes

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!

Dolce had done a double take when the crew had assembled in the morning on their first day out from Slipcove. There were at least twice as many halflings on board as she remembered, and now 32 crew. She supposed her stories must have gotten the attention of some of Captain Raffles’ kin while they were on Bag Island and it seemed Mirielle had felt they needed more crew.

She was, at least in part, correct. With the now four ballistae and two catapults on board they required more crew to man them. But the crew’s aggregate height had to have decreased by half, and the thought of that was amusing to Dolce and probably more so to someone like Nasha who already towered above the humans aboard.

Dolce didn’t get much opportunity to mingle with the new crew in their first days out. She was too busy hanging over the front of the prow getting splashed by waves as she carved at the figurehead. Mirielle had been all too happy to point out Dolce could have done this while they were in port, but Dolce just ignored her.

It did take a bit longer than she’d imagined, but… The image really came out as she worked the wood. The extra days were worth the effort as each detail of her ice-winged angel version of Mirielle came to life. Painting it would have to wait til the next time they made port… Which would likely be in Senghor… When she’d want to catch up with Gidras and buy more scrolls from him… She could manage both, surely.

The sixth day she finished her work and bid Mirielle look at it. The Captain looked at first surprised and in awe, and then amused. “I suppose I should have expected that..” she gestured at the angel’s halo.

“Aye, Captain, have to be true to your likeness,” Dolce said.

Mirielle snorted. “I don’t have wings.”

Dolce tilted her head, “What are those then?” She gestured up at the silken sails with their misty, ice crystal motif.

Mirielle followed her gesture and blinked, regarding her closely for a moment. Had she seen the poem in the captain’s log? Surely not. No. Dolce wasn’t snooping through her things. “I suppose a fair counterpoint, Dolce. Well done. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint.”

Another day passed in relative peace, but near the end of it the whistle sounded. This time the whistle blew long bursts. Dolce made her way to the prow, happy not to be dangling on a rope this time, and looked through her spyglass. In the distance, almost due east of The Purr was a column of smoke.

In the open ocean, that could only mean a vessel was burning. “Smoke, Captain.” Dolce nodded toward it as Mirielle joined her and looked through her own spyglass. “Can’t see just what boat is burning, but I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you when we get closer.”

And closer they did get. As they drew close enough to see properly Dolce could make out a single masted Chelish naval cutter and a brig. “Looks like someone’s already won the battle, but they’re busy with the crewmen.”

Mirielle smiled at Dolce’s words. “They’re still grappled with each other?” the captain asked. The elf nodded in response. “Good,” Mirielle said, “I bet they don’t even see us coming with the sun setting behind us.” She kept them on their current heading.

Dolce, as they drew nearer, identified one of the vessels. “That’s The Famished Mane. She’s a pirate hunter. Likes to animate some of the crew from every pirate vessel she takes to hang over the side of her ship as a deterrent to those who would board her. Captain Tisserond selects five or six. The rest of the crew gets chained in the hold and they burn the boat.”

Mirielle shuddered. “Well that might put a damper on our boarding plans. Do you have a solution for it?”

Dolce smiled. “Oh aye, I can handle the undead, Captain.” The elf was grinning again.

Lightning

Not a shot was fired as they made their approach. In fact, they were lined up to pull alongside with Dolce at the prow waiting for the perfect moment before they heard the enemy sound the alarm. Shortly after the elf completed the gestures and murmured the words of power required to summon a crackling bolt of electricity that bridged the gap from The Purr to The Mane and arced straight along her side and her dangling, animated corpses.

The undead were undone, hanging limp or falling apart when the Lightning Bolt finished its work. The rest of the crew boarded swiftly, met with armed resistance. Captain Tisserond had a compliment of six Chelish marines aboard, as well as a crew mostly on the vessel she’d captured. The Purr‘s surged from The Famished Mane onto the other vessel to contend with her crew another ship apart. Meanwhile, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha engaged Captain Tisserond, while Dolce slipped to the side to line up another brutal Lightning Bolt, this time aiming for the marines.

The battle was harder than Mirielle had expected. Her healing magic and her halo granting great boons to Nasha and Revel. Dolce went almost unscathed until she let her second Lightning Bolt fly. Then she fell under the focus of the two marines that survived it while the Captain tried to deal with Revel and Nasha.

In the end, Dolce slew one of the marines and Revel tore Captain Tisserond’s throat out. The hobgoblin was getting unnervingly reliable at performing that particular sort of attack. Sure, she’d bite an arm or a hand, or even a leg if the opportunity came to her, but she seemed to aim for the throat when she was able.

The last marine, seeing his captain fall, surrendered. Mirielle gave the order to release the men in the hold to her crew, who quickly set about it, hurrying down below on the burning ship, but not before Dolce cast Personal Rain Cloud on Ambrose to help him contend with the heat of the flames.

She’d learned the spell on a lark, intending to use it to let people know when they’d annoyed her, and here she cast the scroll of it for a practical reason. The constant pattering of rain would dampen the heat for him.

Only eight were saved from below before Mirielle had her crew come aboard The Mane. They released the grapples in a hurry and they all watched as the Vorsfang sank into the sea, the fire damage taking too much of her to keep afloat any longer.

In total they had rescued fourteen, for Captain Tisserond had selected six to animate as undead. The Vorsfang pirates were grateful to be saved, and quickly set about working for Mirielle even as she dealt with the crew of The Famished Mane.

At least having the pirates in addition to their own crew made dividing The Mane‘s crew easy enough. Dolce and Revel captained The Mane while Mirielle and Nasha stayed aboard The Purr and they set sail for Senghor… Though, not before Dolce and Revel destroyed the undead hanging from The Mane‘s other side. Dolce had no love for Captain Tisserond’s tactic and didn’t wish to listen to the chains rattle with their struggling while she was aboard.

New Beginnings

Among the six Captain Tisserond had chosen to be animated were the Bosun and the Shantyman of the Vorsfang. The Bosun was peculiar. He dressed covered from head to toe in wrappings, wore a rather large hat, and even goggles. It made Dolce suspicious… Though, she likely would have been anyway. She trusted very few that weren’t her own crew.

The Shantyman, to Dolce’s delight, was a tengu. A race said to be good luck aboard a ship. Though she gathered this one had not come into the luck they were rumored to possess, for he told her that twice before he’d been the only survivor of his former crew.

Dolce didn’t have much more opportunity to get to know them as they both stayed aboard The Purr, but she wondered if she could convince Mirielle to recruit them both. She passed the idea along to Mirielle through a Message spell, and Mirielle agreed their expertise might be useful. Dolce would see what came of that in Senghor, she supposed. To be honest, she would have been just fine with them only recruiting Vixi, the tengu. But…. but if they recruited Shade and he was actually decent at the task of being Bosun, it would free up Rosie to be a full-time entertainer.

Dolce still didn’t trust Shade, but that seemed a fair trade off to her as someone who loved music. She was also working on convincing Mirielle and Nasha to learn to sing. The aasimar was more willing than the lizardfolk, but with persistence… Or perhaps by pulling rank… Dolce would win them both over.

On the Purr

Mirielle oversaw the usual work on The Purr. The prisoners from The Famished Mane were moved below deck and watched closely by Maheem, Fipps, and a few others. Ernald, the halfling who’d sited the smoke, had claimed Captain Cyvantras Tisserond’s hat as his prize. It would need to be adjusted.

It looked good on him, if oversized, and Mirielle quipped, “I think you’ve earned yourself a nickname with that prize, Barb.”

The halfling cocked his head to the side. “Barb? Why Barb?”

Mirielle smiled, “The pin. It’s a barbazu skull.” She tapped a silver pin on the captain’s hat. “Revel told me only those who do well at the Chelaxian Naval Academy are awarded these pins. This particular pin means she graduated second in her class. They are quite rare as a result.”

‘Barb’ looked quite please with this and shortly said, “I like it!”

Mirielle didn’t tell him, but Revel had also said some pirates collected the Chelaxian pins. She wasn’t especially interested in doing so herself, and anyway it was unlikely she would have the opportunity given captain’s hats were turning out to be a popular prize for sighting a sail.

Barb joined Mirielle and the other officers at dinner. There was lively conversation, though it always felt a bit quieter with Dolce and Revel aboard their captured vessels. The next day she discussed with Rosie her ambitions for the future. The halfling was quite displeased with her responsibility, but willing to continue shouldering it if necessary because it came with a bigger share of plunder. She also pulled Cog aside, who more or less informed her he was bored to tears doing inventory and staying locked up in the Quartermaster’s closet.

She decided this was a keen opportunity to try Shade and Vixi, since both she and Dolce had noted they’d saved the Bosun and Shantyman of The Vorsfang. She was a bit concerned Vixi would have Cog’s disposition regarding being a quartermaster, but she needn’t have feared. The tengu’s eyes lit up at the prospect of being in charge of all their shiny tools and expendables. Shade was impossible to read, covered as he was, but he said he was happy to perform the role of Bosun if required.

They both effectively went into a trial period, and Rosie soon filled the air with fiddle music while Cog was the happiest man working the rigging Mirielle had ever witnessed. Her spirits climbed watching this, and Vixi and Shade seemed to perform their tasks well.

OOC Notes 1

Not quite done with this post yet, but…. For sensitivity reasons I’m including a page break to separate this from the next section. So here are the first OOC notes:

I rolled the craft check for the figurehead as Dolce was making it. She named herself first mate specifically so she could duck out of duties to pursue other activities for a time, but in this instance Mirielle imposed upon her freedom and she spent six days working on the figurehead. Her total was a 32 (a 19 on the die) on her craft check and they spent 1000g on materials… So The Lady’s Purr currently has one of the best made figureheads on the seas.

My husband came up with Barbazu skull pin signifying how well the captain performed at the naval academy. I really enjoyed it as a nice touch since Cheliax is quite heavily themed with fiends and devils. 🙂

Now, onto more IC writing if you wish.

Trigger Warning: An NPC commits suicide in the following section. I do not describe the act in brutal detail, but a brief description of his motivations and his means are described. To continue, please click “2” below.

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