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!
They found a nice cove on the shores of Sargava near a small outcropping of trees. They anchored The Purr and began repairs on The Sandbalot. The cove was a convenient hiding place, and one with terrain advantages. From the nearby landmasses they could keep watch on the shores around them. Watches were assigned, water was gathered to restock both ships, and for four days they worked in peace.
The Sandbalot was almost seaworthy again when Samms Toppin, one of the original Wormwood crewman, came rushing over to Mirielle saying, “Captain! Captain! We’ve got trouble! A ship’s anchored, and she’s big!”
Dolce looked at Mirielle and the two looked back at Samms, “Show us, Barefoot.” Samms nodded and led them to the vantage point from which she’d spotted the ship. Flat on their bellies they peered through their spyglasses.
Dolce knew this ship almost at once. “She’s called The Dominator, Cap. Bad news having her so close at hand.” She was a man-o’-war, and more than The Purr and The Sandbalot could handle even if they’d both been fully crewed. It looked, from what she could see through the spyglass, like her crew were re-provisioning too. “I don’t think they’ve spotted us. Good thing our boats are smaller than theirs or they might have made for our very cove, Captain.”
“What can you tell me about her Captain, Dolce?” Mirielle was watching the crew unloading water barrels as well.
“Captain Paravountess Axia Lorvika. Mouthful if I say so, but she’s taken her share of pirates to their graves, she has. She’s a ruthless combatant, quite skilled at captaining. That particular vessel carries at least a hundred marines, has a whole slew of officers, and a commander who’s said to be more ruthless than even our Revel. Commander Kyan Kain’s his name, and he’s the meanest cur on the ship,” ship’s boats were making for shore. Luckily, The Purr and The Sandbalot were already stocked with fresh water and the crew of The Dominator would be going inland rather than up the shore. Still, they might find recent tracks by the river and follow them back. “We’re in a shit situation. With all her yards of sails, we wouldn’t stand a prayer of getting away from her.”
“Aye, that’s true,” Ambrose said. Dolce hadn’t even noticed her friend join them, but she smiled and rolled to a side to make room for him on the ground beside her and Mirielle. She also offered him her spyglass.
Ambrose scooted further forward, “She is a fearsome ship, but…” He let the words trail off.
Mirielle looked at Ambrose now, “But what? Don’t leave us hanging, Fishguts.”
Ambrose smiled over at Mirielle, “We may not be able to match her speed, but that’s assuming she’s ready to sail, right? What if someone were to say, sneak aboard and sabotage her?”
Dolce grinned. Ambrose was an old salt, been on more ships than she’d heard stories about if his own tales were true. “What are you thinking, friend?”
Fishguts rubbed his chin and said, “Well… It takes forever to refit the pulley ropes of a tiller.”
Mirielle’s eyes lit up. “That’s true… and with our magic…”
Dolce nodded, “We could swim to the ship from underwater and climb aboard without much issue. I can give Nasha and myself the ability to see without light and you the ability to climb walls without effort.”
Nasha, who had apparently also crept up on them, said, “There will be very little moon tonight.” She was nodding as though agreeing with them.
“Revel could be a problem though. She’s not exactly quiet…” Dolce said, considering. She had learned many spells for contingencies, but she hadn’t counted on needing stealth when they spent so much time aboard their own vessel and in pursuit of others.
Mirielle shrugged a little, “They aren’t likely to hear her if she stays below. She can just listen for trouble and join us if fighting breaks out… Or provide a distraction.”
Dolce nodded now. “True. Right. I need to change some spells around for this to work. I’ll be nearly spent when you figure in allowing us to breath water. Besmara’s bounty, I’m glad you bought those Rings of Swimming.”
Dolce crawled away from the hill and made for their encampment. There she changed out her spells. It was indeed a plan that centered heavily on clever magic. Spider Climb, for Mirielle, Darkvision for both herself and Nasha, Water Breathing for the five of them. Unfortunate that she needed to use more power with these castings to pull off longer effects. Still, she’d have her trusty Truestrike / Acid Arrow combo to fall back on. The thought made her snort a little. She also had a slew of scrolls though, from all the spells she’d learned.
Under Cover of Night
The night was dark, as Nasha had said it would be, with just a sliver of the moon overhead. Also working in their favor was an overcast sky.
The girls snuck as close to the ship as they dared along the beach. Not close enough to be easily spotted or for Dolce to be heard casting the numerous spells she was about to make use of. Soon enough they were wading into the water and then below it into the sea. The Rings of Swimming made approaching the ship a simple matter, though Mirielle was slow enough that Nasha had her captain hold onto her shoulders to pull her through the sea.
When they reached the ship they came up from beneath the water and Dolce spotted a slew of parrots on the deck. Quietly she whispered, “Those are actually imps. They keep watch at night, but from this angle they shouldn’t see us. You…” she singled out Revel, “…you listen for trouble and only come up if you hear it. Straight up from here to the window.” She gestured. Revel already knew this, but the hobgoblin could be headstrong so Dolce wanted to reinforce it.
“Right, Boss,” was all she said in response.
Dolce went back under the water and pulled Mirielle down with her. The captain was the weak link when it came to their athletic prowess, and now Spider Climb would make that a non-issue. She cast the spell under the water so there was no risk of sound carrying to the imps above.
The girls scaled the boat, well, three of them. Dolce and Nasha had little trouble, and Mirielle none at all for the strange spider limbs Dolce had granted her simply carried her up the side as though she was walking on flat ground. Of course, she leaned forward to minimize the chance of being seen.
Dolce used slender thieves’ tools to open the window and Nasha entered first, followed by Mirielle, and finally the elf. Within all was dark, but all of them could see the thick rope that was the tiller’s pulley cable. Nasha looked at Mirielle, who gave a nod. The lizardfolk fell into the all-too-familiar fighting stance and slashed at the cord with her mighty claws. She cut about halfway through when the door to the room opened.
There stood Commander Kyan Kain himself, mid-sentence, “The inspection shouldn’t take lo-“
He stopped, shocked to see a seven foot tall lizardfolk in the room, Dolce imagined. Nasha capitalized on his hesitation, striding to the door and closing it. “More will come.” She said simply. The door thudded as the men outside beat upon it and Dolce clearly heard Kain directing someone to go in from above.
The elf moved Mirielle into a corner where she’d be more protected should the assailant make it before they finished their task and fished through her satchel for the right scroll. The elf also readied her rapier. “Break the cord, Nasha.”
The door splintered first and Kain triumphantly shouted, “Did you think that would keep us out?” His battleaxe swung hard at Nasha and bit into her flesh, sending blood splattering on the floor and walls. Dolce swore she saw her friend’s scales grow pale.
Nasha grunted, but hadn’t moved. She hesitated, weighing her options. Thankfully Revel joined the fray, for she’d heard the commotion from below. “OUT OF THE WAY.” The hobgoblin shouted, and Nasha obliged. She stepped back quickly, leaving Revel just enough time to get in Kain’s face before he gained entry to the room. “Good. I was hoping I’d get to taste you!”
The man snorted derisively. “Really? Not before I cut you to pieces!”
There posturing was all well and good, but Nasha sawed at the cord again. It almost cut through.. Almost. Hanging by a tantalizing thread as she prepared one more strike.
Mirielle, meanwhile, called upon her halo and sent healing energy flowing into their companion, who – stoic as she was – displayed obvious duress after the blow she’d been dealt. The magic knitted much of her injuries, stemming the tide of blood that had covered her belt and scales, but still there were parts of the gash that were open.
Dolce paged through the scrolls in hand briefly, but another combatant joined the fray. “Took you long enough!” Kain shouted. “Bar their escape!” The soldier nodded and moved in front of the window they had entered through, taking a swipe at Dolce in the process.
The elf felt the blade cut her and cursed. She launched her Acid Arrow at Kain, but used the time she would have needed to ensure a more accurate hit to find the right scroll for her future plans instead.
Kain’s axe came down on Revel now. Not as hard as he’d struck Nasha, but still quite mightily. The hobgoblin laughed heartily as she felt her flesh tear open. It was one of the more disturbing traits of hers. A fight wasn’t good in her mind until she’d been cut open or bruised. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Stop – ” another swipe, “- laughing!” and a third.
Three jagged hack wounds bled through her steel blue skin, but her sharky maw still curled in a smile before she said, “I told you I wanted to KNOW!!!” and bit at the man. He dodged the first, but her teeth clamped down with the second and she left gashes of her own in his flesh. Kain snarled.
Nasha sawed the cable one last time and there was a loud snapping noise as it broke followed by the noise of it falling through the lower levels of the ship. “Gods be damned!” Kain exclaimed. “You will pay for this!”
Even as he issued his threats Mirielle was healing Revel, for now she was worse off than Nasha. It was time for their escape. Dolce’s fingers curled round the scroll she’d rifled for and she cast another spell from it, watching as the magical text upon the page disappeared in time to her speaking it. The room suddenly filled with mist, thick and agonizing. The elf shoved the man barring the window and heard him stagger back.
“Go!” Dolce ordered.
Revel didn’t listen, instead staying toe-to-toe with Kain, but honestly Dolce had been counting on that. Another bite landed and the hobgoblin growled happily as she tasted his blood.
Nasha hesitated until she heard Mirielle make for the window. The man Dolce had shoved tried to swipe at the Captain, but his swing went high and they heard it thunk into the wood. Soon came the sound of Mirielle splashing into the water. Nasha followed without hesitation.
“REVEL!” Dolce barked.
Kain assaulted Revel further, drawing more blood, “You gonna run like your companions?” He said, and the words were charged with magic.
Dolce feared the worst. Her companion was not exactly the most resilient to such effects and the elf suspected Revel’s own desire would be to linger and fight no matter how futile it would have been.
Another bite from the hobgoblin. Dolce was about to berate her when she heard her say, “Pity, I’d love to see how this ends..” And then she made for the window too.
Kain got a parting shot and left a nasty gash in Revel’s leg, but as soon as the hobgoblin got out the window Dolce was following behind. They swam straight down first, knowing the ballistae on board would be at a strong disadvantage and the ship’s crew would have trouble sighting them. Once they’d made it a decent way below they headed back to their own vessel, following Mirielle’s Know Direction spell to orient themselves in the water.
Dolce already had new song lyrics swimming in her head. This was going to be one of the better ones, she felt.
The rest was simple, for The Dominator was still scrambling to repair her lines when The Lady’s Purr and The Sandbalot fled the cove. Shots were exchanged between The Purr and The Dominator with one or two errant shots seeking The Sandbalot, but no real damage was incurred. The crew’s morale shot through the sky and they continued on their way to Senghor.
Fishguts joined Dolce at the rail watching The Dominator‘s sails vanish on the horizon. “I’m making a song of that for sure, Ambrose.”
The old salt smiled, “Oh, I expected you would be, Dolce.”
She looked at him. “You care if I give the Cap credit for your plan?”
Ambrose chuckled, “You earn it by working in the kitchen with me and I’ll consider us square.”
“Sounds fair…” Dolce was quiet for a while, but soon she said, “It’s Inara, by the way. My name. It isn’t our custom to share it outside of our family.” She emphasized the last, hoping he would take her meaning.
Even in the dim light, Dolce was pretty sure she saw Ambrose’s eyes tear up. “Aye, well, ye needn’t worry. I’ll be calling you Dolce all the same.” He put a hand on her shoulder and she smiled.
She and Revel would soon be moving back to The Sandbalot, but they’d all climbed onto The Purr initially to be sure there were enough hands for the ballistae and catapults til they got out of range. “The kitchen will have to wait til after Senghor though.”
“I expected. Have fun swimming.” He clapped her on the shoulder and headed off to join the rest of the crew in their celebrations.
This bit here: “His battleaxe swung hard at Nasha and bit into her flesh, sending blood splattering on the floor and walls.” This was where Commander Kain almost 1-shot Nasha with a critical hit. We use the Critical Decks and the card I drew for his nat 20 was triple damage and an abdomen shot. She was still standing though.. At 6 HP… With 1d4 persistent bleed going on. She was at 4 HP when Mirielle healed her.