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 were returning from gathering the last plunder to be had on the sunken Deathknell. A leisurely course had been laid, and no trouble and no sails had been sighted the previous day while they toiled or while they traveled. The ship had been sleeping peacefully when a burst of whistling pierced the relative silence.
Dolce awoke instantly. They were long whistles. Not a monster, not a sail. She was grateful she’d bought the whistles, for their sound carried three miles on land and just as surely carried to the whole of the ship. She wouldn’t have to worry about Vixi not hearing in the Quartermaster’s chamber, or those in the lower hold sleeping through this.
The elf lamented not taking the time before sleeping to substitute a casting of Mage Armor for her usual casting of True Strike. Normally she just relied on her leather armor, but she didn’t sleep in it and likely didn’t have time to-
“Shut that whistle up!” An unfamiliar voice said.
No. She didn’t have time. Dolce grabbed her rapier and cast Invisibility. She had plans for whoever that was and already heard others rousing in the officers’ quarters.
Revel lurched out of her hammock with the first blows of the whistle, sending Cog sprawling to the ground in the process. The hobgoblin snorted drowsily. “Ship? Ah fuck, I don’t remember which whistles mean what. Get up, Cog!” she said, snatching her trusty polearm and heading for the deck.
The man rubbed his head, “Obviously.”
When Revel opened the door she was faced with a foreboding scene. There were several strangers on the deck, most of them engaged in fighting Owlbear, who wasn’t looking very good. The big fella was terrifying to behold ever since they’d outfitted him with real armor and a spiked chain, but he still wasn’t invincible.
Revel started to charge to his aid, but one of the invaders, a big tough fella himself, barred her path by stepping into the doorway. “Where you going, Missy?” The intruder swiped at her with a cutlass and managed to slice into her skin.
“Out of my way!” Revel snarled in response.
Nasha, having heard the whistle bursts and being faster than anyone else aboard, was the first to reach the trapdoor to the deck. She threw it open, and had but a brief moment to take in the scene before being swarmed. Nasha saw at least 6 men on deck, one pressing forward toward the Captain’s chambers. Soon though, she was fielding attacks from most of them.
“Fuck. It’s probably with the captain! Find her!” A woman’s voice barked.
The man who’d been heading toward Mirielle’s room opened her door, but Mirielle was nowhere to be seen. The aasimar’s sleep had been disturbed by an odd, soft light and a subtle vibration on her chest.
Her holy symbol of Besmara, fashioned from a very expensive chunk of deep platinum and golden coral the girls had claimed off the bodies of some sahuagin, was glowing in the darkness and seemed to be vibrating. Moments later she’d heard the sound of people outside, and soon after that the whistles.
Mirielle had taken hold of Besmara’s Grace, a powerful Staff of Healing that Dolce had commissioned an artisan to craft in the form of a bejeweled golden cutlass, and hidden in the darkness of the chamber. Now she saw the pirate seeking her, and he did not see her. “No sign of her, Captain!” The man called back to his superior.
“What?” Another man’s voice. This one came inside the room. “She has to be here somewhere.” He took but a few more steps inside before Mirielle was in his sights. “Aha! Found her!” Then he closed the distance to her, his hand on his own blade.
Mirielle had hidden the holy symbol under her nightshirt, and thankfully the glowing was dim enough it didn’t shine through the fabric. She swallowed nervously with the man now so close at hand, but summoned her authority and said, “FLEE.”
Her eyes glowed with golden light as the Command spell was issued and took hold. She could see he was already turning to run.
Meanwhile, Revel faced off with the man in the door of the officer’s quarters, unaware of Dolce slipping past her and beneath his legs unseen. The Shark got some solid bites in on the man and boasted she’d soon know what his heart tasted like, but he said he’d kill her first and returned her blows with his own blade slices.
Dolce, speckled with the blood of both of them, but invisible to the naked eye, surveyed the deck. Nasha had just broken free of the throng of sailors that had been nearly surrounding her, unfortunately putting herself directly in the line of Dolce’s plans. The opportunity was too good to pass up though so the elf simply muttered, “Sorry, Nasha.”
Her invisibility faltered and failed as she called upon her next spell’s magic. A single stab she made with her new rapier, Brine’s Sting, and all of the enemy crew save those engaged at the forecastle and aftcastle were struck by the magically multiplied attack. A flawless use of Weapon Storm from such a position of advantage.
Unfortunately, Nasha was cut as well. The lizardfolk had been uninjured prior to this, but didn’t seem irate. She simply snorted and continued fighting the foes before her.
The enemy captain cursed as Dolce’s replicated blade cut into her. “Like magic, do you?” She sidestepped so there was a clear line between her and Dolce and fired off an all-too-familiar spell. Hydraulic Push.
It caught the elf completely flat-footed and sent her sprawling through the ship’s railing and into the sea below. “Great shot, Cap’n!” bellowed one of the intruder’s crewmen.
The captain laughed, pleased with herself. “We’re here for the necklace. Surrender it and no more need to die.” She said simply.
Mirielle saw Dolce be flung from the ship and heard the captain’s words from inside her cabin, one sailor fleeing from her now, tearing clear across the deck and climbing onto the aftcastle. The other pirate, still standing in the door paused to see how Mirielle would respond. With a flash of inspiration, Mirielle proclaimed, “You just sent the damn thing overboard!”
Her pronouncement was flawless, and as she’d hoped the enemy sailors didn’t even pause to wonder how she knew which necklace they meant. The mysterious captain cursed and ordered her men to pursue, which they eagerly did, diving overboard after Dolce.
Mirielle, meanwhile, took advantage of this distraction and called upon a Searing Light spell. The man who had stood in her doorway was literally reduced to ashes by the holy flames that consumed him.
Revel cut down the man who’d been barring her path and she, Shade, and the rest of the officers joined the fighting. Nasha finished off some of the sailors injured by Dolce’s brilliant weapon strike. Things were looking grim for their enemy captain as only she and three others remained on deck.
Still, she seemed supremely confident and unleashed another spell on them rather than fleeing. Her three crewmen fought alongside her until she was knocked unconscious, and then surrendered hastily, one of them even asking Mirielle, “I don’t suppose you need any crew?”
Captain Mirielle regarded him coolly, but decided it would be best to suggest they might have a future aboard rather than have to completely subdue them. “We will see.” She stepped to the edge of the boat and looked in their wake. There she saw Dolce, struggling to get free of the grasping hands of their assailant’s crew.
It was a comical, if guilt-inducing scene for Mirielle, for she knew good and well the necklace was with her. After a moment she suppressed her smile and called upon her angelic heritage, growing wings of light from her back and flying over the water. “Your captain is fallen and your crew surrendered. I suggest you follow suit if you wish your lives to be spared.”
The men in the water, once they were all made aware of her presence by her glowing wings, agreed, and Mirielle helped Dolce to the deck of The Purr. She let the rest help themselves, for her flight only lasted a short while and the ephemeral wings were gone.
“You,” Dolce started, sounding agitated, but soon the agitation melted into amusement. “I would not have expected that from you, Captain.”
Mirielle pretended to tip her hat to Dolce, though she was still only wearing a nightshirt.
“The boat,” Nasha said, nodding her reptilian head in the direction of a ship so black it was hard to see in the night, “she flees.”
Mirielle followed her gaze and saw she was right. They were running from the battle. “It is no matter. We’ll give chase when our new crew is aboard. We can use the extra hands for the ballistae.”
Nasha nodded. Mirielle retreated to her room to pull on her proper clothing. Dolce did the same, for she was wearing even less than the aasimar as she slept in nothing but a thigh sheath for her dagger. Despite this, she didn’t rush, or blush, or even seem phased by the catcalls of crew members telling her how good she looked. She simply smirked at them and made her way inside.
Mirielle was the first to re-emerge, completely dressed. She had no armor to worry about. Nasha, who normally wore nothing but a harness and belt, hadn’t bothered to dress at all and simply was getting things ready to get underway. Soon enough they were doing just that.
When Dolce emerged from the officer’s quarters her sensitive ears picked out the sound of strings being plucked. One of their assailants was playing a guitar, singing lines about the blushing captain and the naked elf and the lizardfolk with knives for claws. It made Dolce smile. She was always happy to hear new music.
Mirielle gave the new crew a trial by fire, barking orders at them and putting them to work on the arduous rigging tasks. Her usual crew did their jobs as well, of course, but she wanted to see that these new faces would perform for her.
Soon enough they were underway in pursuit of The Thresher. A boat with black, silk, sails and ten ballistae, five in each bank. Thanks to Mirielle’s captaining, the chase was rather short. The Thresher, however, proved a capable opponent. As The Lady’s Purr was still quite a ways out, The Thresher had aligned its side facing her. They broadsided The Purr, firing five ballistae in a brutal attack. The structure of The Purr was badly damaged, and several crewman fell limp.
The Thresher then turned hard to port, and Mirielle realized they were about to do the same with the ballistae on their other side. Rather than let this happen, Mirielle rammed The Thresher. She had intended to clip her sails first with Greed’s brutal attacks, but she couldn’t afford to stay at a distance long enough to do so.
The grapple was successful and The Purr‘s crew boarded, but Revel recognized the man currently captaining the ship. Knuckles Grype, was his name, and he and Revel had a history on the docks of Port Peril. She used to fight for money there, as often as for survival. “I WANT THIS ONE!” Revel bellowed, closing the distance between them.
Knuckles roared loudly, and all of them to a man felt it in their core, but none so much as Mirielle, who thought if her crew were not around her she might tremble in fear. She masked the reaction behind her captain’s facade and firmly said, “Have at it then, Revel.” Grateful for an excuse to draw no closer to the enemy.
Revel grinned wickedly and said, “Remember me?” Her fear was still upon her, but it didn’t stop her from tapping into her natural rage in combat. Her jaw elongated and her teeth surfaced as she tried to chomp Knuckles’ head off, only catching him in the arm when he fended off the blow.
“Wh-what the hell is wrong with you!?” The human noted Nasha had moved close, but held back because of Mirielle’s command. He seemed content to just try and take Revel down with him, and the two began exchanging blows.
In the end, Revel was victorious, and the rest of The Thresher‘s crew joined The Purr‘s. Knuckles was dead from his bout with Revel, and with the rest of the dead he was thrown overboard.
Mirielle and Quinn tended the injured aboard The Purr, and to their delight, no one had died, though some had gained nasty scars from the broadside. The ship was another matter. Dolce tended to that with her magic, watching as splintered wood drew itself together again.
When all of this was said and done they inspected Inkskin, this was the female captain’s name, and found a quill in her mouth. They’d seen these before, in the mouths of the sahuagin they’d had conflict with. The creatures had used them to end their lives so they couldn’t be questioned. They carefully removed the barb and roused the captain, trying to question her.
It took Dolce’s magic to wear down her defenses, til eventually she explained the necklace had belonged to the son of a particular sahuagin who laired at Mancatcher Cove. Fishguts and the girls also noted a map tattooed on Inkskin… One they suspected might lead to the renowned treasure of Captain Wolfe…