S&S: Session 21 – Port Peril

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!

Five days it took them to reach Port Peril, and each of them was quiet. Dolce was apprehensive the entire time the shoreline of Kepre Dua was in view, but the elf had known they would be passing near her home. She spent the majority of the four days considering what may await them in Port Peril. Occasionally she discussed this with relevant parties. It was tradition to bribe Captain Bonefist’s first mate, Tsadok Goldtooh, with a substantial sum of plunder… Typically goods worth at least four thousand gold coins. Gods knew they had the plunder after Mancatcher Cove.

“So you’re telling me, I’m just gonna take four thousand gold worth of goods and leave it there?” Revel asked, sounding incredulous.

Dolce chuckled. “It’s tradition, Revel.”

“What if they say I didn’t?” the hobgoblin pressed.

“They won’t say you didn’t. If they did that they wouldn’t get many people seeking to be Free Captains, would they?” Dolce countered calmly. Mirielle was smiling a little.

“I’m just saying, that’s a lot of fucking wealth to just drop off,” Revel said. She looked from Dolce to Mirielle. “Captain?”

Mirielle’s smile grew, “It is a lot of money, Revel. Think of it this way… It’s less than a quarter of what’s in our hold.” In fact, they’d only had room for all the treasure of Mancatcher Cove because Mirielle had left some of their plunder with The Thresher and the men they’d stationed at Tidewater Rock. Maheem would keep it safe until they returned to claim it.

Revel still didn’t look happy at the prospect of letting the money go. “Can’t you have someone else do this?” she asked Dolce.

The elf just smiled and said, “Revel, you’re The Shark. People know you. And they fear you, and they love you. You can be polished when you want to. I know it, I’ve seen it. And you’re smarter than most people think. I would trust no one else to do the job.”

Revel blinked a little, the praise had been unexpected. She felt a warmth come over her that she didn’t want to admit to her captain or the elf so she cleared her throat. “Well, you’re right. They fear me, and I’ll make sure they keep fucking fearing me til I drop it off.”

Dolce’s smile grew broader and she nodded. “Just what I was counting on.”

“So,” Mirielle said, “what happens after we give him the goods?”

Dolce grinned and turned toward Jack Scrimshaw, “Run and fetch Mama Nasha, would ya?”

Jack nodded eagerly and took off to find the lizardfolk he had taken to calling ‘Mama Nasha’. Dolce turned back to Revel and Mirielle, “The fun part… But we should wait for Nasha. Anyone else thirsty?” She was gesturing at one of Mirielle’s bottles of wine.

The captain smirked a little, “Help yourself. Pour me a glass while you’re at it.”

The elf opened the cabinet and withdrew the bottle as well as two glasses though she glanced at Revel questioningly. “Naw, wasted on me. If I can’t chug from the bottle without making an elf cry I shouldn’t be drinking it,” the hobgoblin said.

Dolce nodded, suspecting Revel rarely cared about offending most elves, but had developed a soft spot for her. At least, she liked to think so. She certainly had a fondness for the hobgoblin. What would her parents think about that?

Nasha entered the captain’s cabin with Jack Scrimshaw as the second glass, the one for Mirielle, was poured. “Nasha?” Dolce offered, tilting the bottle.

The lizardfolk shook her head no and said, “I am fine.”

Dolce replaced the bottle and took her seat. “After the bribe is given to Tsadok Goldtooth there will be a test.”

“A test?” Revel asked.

“Mm,” Dolce took a sip of the wine and said, “It’s a tradition. He’ll come and insult us and try to see what kind of pirates we are, what skills we have. There’s usually some fighting, some sailing work, and some gambling involved.”

“Dibs on the fighting,” Revel said.

Dolce chuckled, “I figured you’d be keen on that part, but the test isn’t always the same so we’ll wait to assign tasks until we’re in the moment.” She looked at Mirielle, seeking the captain’s approval.

“Sounds reasonable to me,” Mirielle said.

“After the test,” Dolce continued, “we will meet with the Hurricane King. Assuming, of course, we passed muster.”

“And you have case to think we won’t?” Mirielle asked.

Dolce smiled and said. “Of course not, Captain. This part will rely heavily on our social skills, probably with you and I having the most influence.”

Mirielle nodded again.

Nasha quietly said, “Why is there a bribe?”

Revel looked from Dolce to Mirielle to Nasha again and started laughing. Soon Mirielle was chuckling too and Dolce said, “I’m sorry, you missed the first part of the conversation. We’re bribing Tsadok Goldtooth to introduce us to his captain, Captain Bonefist, the Hurricane King.”

“Ah,” Nasha said. Then, “Do you require me for this?”

Dolce chuckled some, “We will see. Perhaps you can accompany Revel to drop off the bribe. Likely we will need you for the tests that follow, so probably no going into port for you when we make anchor.”

Nasha looked at Jack, who was still in the cabin, “I see. I will plan for this.”

Dolce could practically hear Jack protesting in her mind, for Nasha always went into port with him and Owlbear. “Maheem will be sad he missed this, Captain,” the elf said.

Mirielle sighed, “Yeah. Him and Fipps, and Ratline, and the list goes on. It’s a shame they’re the ones I trust most to hold down the Rock. Though at this point I’m pretty sure The Thresher‘s old crew will be true to us.”

Dolce nodded her agreement and finished off her wine. “Well, that handled, I’m going to go see what Ambrose is up to.”

Mirielle nodded. She saw Dolce cast Prestidigitation to clean her wine glass and set it with others before she headed out of the cabin. Revel and Nasha soon followed.

Tsadok Goldtooth

Revel and Nasha did as Dolce bid when The Purr docked at Port Peril. They escorted four thousand gold worth of plunder to Fort Hazard, where they left it for Tsadok Bonefist because Revel had been ordered by Dolce to be on her best behavior.

They returned to The Lady’s Purr, and that was where they spent the night. Cog gave Revel some trouble for not getting an inn room while they had the opportunity, but the hobgoblin reminded him her loyalty was to the captain first and the captain wanted her on the ship… So Cog also remained aboard. Shade, who no longer hid his purple skin, Vixi, Ambrose, Conchobar, and Quinn were also aboard, meaning all the officers were there.

When morning came, so did Tsadok Goldtooth, his voice carrying clear above the harbor, a crowd gathered around him already. “What sorry swabs here think they’re fitting to meet with the Hurricane King?” He challenged.

Mirielle had risen early, as was her custom, and so was dressed in her finest for the day’s events. “I do.”

The half-orc’s voice rang out again, “You’d be Captain Mirielle, then? Such a fine lass you are.” He did a very mocking bow to Mirielle, earning laughter from the crowd. “Permission to come aboard, Milady?” More laughter from the gathering crowd.

“Of course,” Mirielle said plainly. Dolce had suggested they should try not to offend Tsadok or insult him.

The Lady’s Purr, is it? I bet it’s a lovely purr to hear,” the half-orc went on as he approached the deck.

“Aye, it is a lovely purr, so long as you’re aboard and not facing her down,” Dolce said with a smile, casting her voice so it too would carry over the crowd.

“Oh, I think I’d be happy to face her down,” Tsadok was indicating the Captain when he spoke rather than the ship.

Dolce smiled, “Indeed. So was Captain Astian of The Red Mariah and Captain Tisserond of The Famished Mane… Alas, no one need fear their switches any longer.” Dolce’s hand ran along frame of the nearest ballista for emphasis. She’d spread their stories well enough that the Shackles would know they claimed to have defeated both the free captain and the pirate hunter. This was Dolce’s tactic, brag at every opportunity so she could distract from Tsadok’s insults without insulting him in turn.

Tsadok snorted, “Which one are you? An officer, I’m sure, but which?”

“First mate, like yourself, Tsadok, though I daresay Captain Mirielle is a fairer face to answer to,” Dolce said. She’d been working hard to spread rumors of the captain’s beauty. There was no reason her appearance shouldn’t work in their favor.

“Fairer?” Tsadok asked. “We pirates like things dirty, right boys?” He said it as though explaining to outsiders. More laughter from the crowd. Dolce was fairly certain some of them were purposefully egging the others on.

Revel looked about ready to pound the half-orc, but Nasha put a hand on the hobgoblin’s shoulder and quietly said, “Just watch.” Revel only growled in response.

Dolce swept her fingers through her hair and said, “Oh, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. How else would we have claimed Tidewater Rock when Captain Harrigan failed to do so before us?”

Tsadok grunted. “Claimed the Rock, did ya? Too bad she’s not what she used to be. I suppose one fine lady replacing another there won’t make much difference in the Shackles!”

More laughter, but it was lessening as people whispered to each other. Them claiming the Rock was not common knowledge… yet. This really would have been easier if Dolce were willing to insult him, but the man was a renowned pirate and the elf had a deep respect for pretty much every pirate that showed an ounce of loyalty to their captain despite their greed.

Before Dolce could get in another boast Tsadok said, “Well then, let’s see if the ladies of Tidewater Rock have what it takes to be a pirate, ey?” Cheering from the crowd. He faced the captain. “Choose any one among yours to face mine. We’ll see who can unfurl a sail more quickly. Not on this ship though, no.. We’ll go over to…” He cast his gaze out at the docks and all the vessels lingering there when finally he said, “The Stingray.”

Dolce had suspicions he may have had the vessel in mind all along, but she didn’t voice them aloud. Mirielle nodded to Tsadok and much of the crew of The Purr that was still aboard joined them as they followed Tsadok and his crowd to the indicated ship. The Stingray was about the same size as The Lady’s Purr.

“Haines, get over here!” Tsadok bellowed. A sailor stepped forth. He didn’t look like any of the descriptions of Bonefist’s officers that Dolce or Mirielle had heard. Now the half-orc turned to Mirielle. “Choose your man.”

Mirielle looked between Revel and Nasha. The lizardfolk was faster and it seemed only fair to meet a regular crewman with a regular crewman of her own. “Nasha, if you please.” Nasha simply nodded and stepped forward, her eyes traveling up the mast.

“A lizard, eh? Seems almost unfair. Won’t matter. Haines Boyne won’t lose to a lizard. GO!” Tsadok had been almost rambling before he suddenly shouted go.

Nasha sprang to action, scrambling up the mast. The rope that had been nearest her was slick with something. Oil if her nose was trustworthy. It mattered little. She was easily the most skilled rigger aboard The Purr and her natural speed only made her more suited to the task.

Haines Boyne was not too shabby though. He nearly kept pace with Nasha.. Nearly. The crew of The Purr – the girls included – cheered Nasha on, but none so enthusiastically as Jack Scrimshaw who was bellowing, “Go on, Mama Nasha! Kick his ass!”

Revel couldn’t help but smile at Jack, and perhaps this was why she noticed another man who’d been keeping close to Tsadok cutting the line Nasha was climbing with. “What?” Revel said loudly, “Couldn’t win honestly?”

The man blinked when he realized he’d been seen, looked at Tsadok and shrugged his shoulders before cutting the line. “We’re pirates,” he said.

Nasha, who heard them from below, simply sprung onto the mast itself as the rope plummeted down behind her. She was no longer relying on any ropes to aid her climb. Soon enough she’d topped the mast and began unfurling the sail, putting Dolce’s lessons in quickly completing tasks requiring finesse to good use.

Boyne joined her at the top and began loosing his own knot. They were neck-and-neck at the end, but ultimately the small lead Nasha had was enough to secure her victory as her side of the sail came lose.

Tsadok grumbled to himself before saying aloud, “Well I guess that’s not bad, for a crew that relies on a lizard to do their climbing.” It was a weaker insult than some of his earlier ones, but still it drew chuckles from the crowd. “Right, time to see how lucky you are. Luck is an important part of piracy, after all. Let’s return to The Lady’s Purr.”

A Measure of Luck

Dolce wondered how he’d go about testing their luck. She felt sure this would be where the gambling came in… Although, there had been gambling on who would win the race. Onboard The Purr Tsadok sat by an overturned barrel and said, “Now, to measure your luck we’re going to play a little game of Bastard’s Fool. Are you familiar with the rules?” Again, his voice made it sound like he didn’t think they would be.

Dolce moved forward, she bent low beside Conchobar to whisper, “Let’s see if I’ve learned anything from you, ey Conch?” , for she knew he was a professional gambler. Really she was ‘borrowing’ his playing cards because she knew Tsadok would make fun of her if she didn’t bring any to the deck for the game. No one seemed to notice, not even Conch, and she took her seat opposite Tsadok. “Sounds like fun.”

Tsadok raised an eyebrow. “Really? See, when we play every hand you win you get to drink some of my own special gutrot rum.” Just then the pirate who’d cut Nasha’s line set down a bottle and a small mug. “Thank you, Bilgerat,” Tsadok said, though it sounded more like a threat than actual appreciation.

Dolce actually wondered if she would regret this. She’d drunk her share of alcohol in her years traveling from tavern to tavern. She was quite accustomed to the antics of drunken sailors as well, and had a high tolerance for their ‘attentions’. Still, this particular pirate was rumored to have one hell of a constitution. He’d once been an arena slave if rumors were to be believed.. And he probably took very hard alcohol with very little trouble at all. “Sounds lovely,” she said, with the most convincing tone she could muster. Somewhere behind her she heard Revel complaining that she hadn’t been chosen for this task.

Tsadok gave her a toothy grin. “Good, good. We’ll be starting with one hundred platinum pieces.. Assuming of course, you have a hundred platinum pieces.” More chuckles from the onlookers.

Dolce found herself grateful she was the one who’d taken the Bag of Holding. Otherwise she’d have had to send someone to fetch the coin. As it was she reached into her satchel and pulled out her stake. “No trouble at all, Tsadok.” She set the coins on the overturned barrel and handed Conch’s cards to the dealer. Her coins were gold, of course, but Tsadok had brought a money changer, and mercilessly he didn’t let the pirate charge her anything. Dolce was pretty sure he expected to be winning all of her share.

Tsadok took them before they were shuffled in. The cards were beautifully crafted and the artwork upon them beautifully drawn… Of course, each bore the image of a naked woman. Conch seemed to enjoy all manner of women, so the races were quite varied. At least they were of good quality. “Mm, pretty little cards you have here,” Tsadok said. “Looks like a full set, even.” He handed them back to the dealer.

Tsadok’s cards, of course, were covered in skulls. Both decks were a common enough theme to be found in the Shackles. Dolce was pretty sure she saw Conch checking his pockets out of the corner of her eye, but when he found his cards missing he didn’t say a thing about it. “Right then. Who’s betting first?”

Tsadok grinned, “I am.” They each began with a one platinum buy in. Then were each dealt their starting hand. Dolce’s was weak. Only seven points between her cards. She emphasized her frustration in her facial expression, hoping he’d play a bit foolishly as a result. “And I’m starting with thirty,” Tsadok said, sliding the coins to the center of the barrel.

Well, her plan had at least worked in part. Dolce matched his bet, sliding her own coins toward the center. Dolce drew a large number of cards in the draw phase. She was at no real risk of going over the desired twenty points. It wasn’t a perfect draw, but it was still good enough. She kept her smirk to herself and focused on reading her opponent.

When the hands were revealed they each had seventeen points. Another hand was played, lower wagers this time since Tsadok was realizing Dolce was better than he’d initially suspected. Another draw. At the end of the third hand, however, Dolce had nineteen points and Tsadok had seventeen. The elf smiled and pulled her winnings to her.

“Mm. Now drink,” Tsadok said, pouring her a glass.

Dolce had forgotten the alcohol. She took the offered glass, pretending she felt no apprehension. Normally she made sure to drink lighter alcohols when she performed in taverns. This stuff.. Rotgut Rum, surely harder than she was accustomed to. She couldn’t lose face though, or give him anything to harass them about, and so she slammed back the glass and drank it down, not daring to let herself cough despite its burn.

She was successful and set the mug down on the barrel. “Strong stuff,” she said, as though it wasn’t unusual for her. Her sensitive ears picked out the sound of Captain Mirielle snickering behind her. And somehow she already felt her senses were dulling.

Several hands followed the first, most of them ties. She was grateful she didn’t have to drink on a tie. The bets were smaller, but she already had a big advantage from the first hand. Still, his hands were brutally high. Not once did he have lower than fifteen points. Whereas she came up with thirteen once, and even eleven.

By the time she was three drinks in, Dolce had figured out why this was.. The dealer was cheating for Tsadok, shuffling certain cards to the top. Dolce’s keen mind, hazy though it was now, started tracking them too. ‘If I play my cards right I can use this to my advantage…’ It struck the elf how ironic it was to be thinking that in a literal sense for once.

The crew of The Purr was accustomed to seeing Dolce in various stages of drunkenness, and her very friendly, flirty, almost cute persona was showing in full after three swigs of Rotgut. It certainly gave the onlookers plenty to laugh about, but Dolce was accustomed to being under scrutiny and performing despite it. She simply didn’t let the laughter and jests phase her.

Finally the bastard decided he had the winning hand and went all in. Dolce was pretty sure she knew the cards coming up and matched his bet, an easy thing for her since she had the bulk of the money now. She drew her cards and contained her smile. When their hands were revealed Dolce had a perfect twenty to Tsadok’s nineteen!

“YEAH!!!” Revel bellowed from behind the elf.

Tsadok said, “Ah well, ye seem to be lucky after all.” He was trying to take his coins from the table as he said it. “That’s that then.”

“What is this? I won didn’t I?” Dolce said, slurring her words and leaning forward, smiling at the half-orc.

Tsadok nodded, “Oh of course, of course, but the betting was just for motivation.”

She put her hand on his, stopping him from moving anymore coins, and said, “Should have said so at the beginning, Love!” The crowd around them cheered and agreed and Tsadok grumpily released the coins to her. Dolce collected them quickly and stood, wobbling a little more than she naturally would have, she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “There’s a good sport.”

“Speaking of,” Tsadok said, “DRINK.” He poured her one last glass of the rum, filling this one to the very brim. Some of it sloshed to the deck below.

Dolce grimaced inwardly, but she had won and she made him give her the coin. She couldn’t very well refuse. So the elf took the burning swill and knocked it back as well, gulping down the alcohol as it burned her throat.

It seemed to please the half-orc.

Boarded!

“Right then,” Tsadok boomed, “Time for the boarding party!” The crowd cheered. The combat portion was always the favorite. Dolce wrapped an arm around Nasha and the girls waited for Tsadok to continue. “You can choose four, Captain, including yourself… After all, a captain should fight alongside their crew.”

Dolce snorted and giggled a little as she said, “C-Cap’n Mirielle always boards with us.”

The crowd was loving the tipsy elf’s antics. Even Tsadok was enjoying them, though he tried not to show it. “As it should be. So choose which three will fight with you, Captain.”

Mirielle nodded, “Dolce, Revel, and Nasha.” There was no hesitation. The four had done so much together already. In fact, the captain wasn’t done. She went on to say, “It seems fitting that those who helped me lay claim to Captain Cyrus Wolfe’s treasure should aid me in this test before I’m named a Free Captain.”

Tsadok’s eyebrows rose, as did many others. More murmuring broke out in the crowd. Meanwhile, Dolce was grinning from ear-to-ear. She’d been prepared to make the claim herself, but had hoped Mirielle would be the one to do it… What with her voice always being so damn believable. “At’s right, folks. We got the treasure of Mancatcher Cove~” She sang the words more than spoke them, and on the heels of the phrase was a hiccup.

Nasha looked down at Dolce as the elf leaned on her side. The lizardfolk did not see the appeal of drinking, but even like this Dolce seemed to know how to play people, for the crowd responded to her sing-songy words with cheering.

“QUIET!” Tsadok boomed. “Suppose we’ll see if that’s true or no. BUT NOW PREPARE TO BE BOARDED!” His thundering voice made Dolce sway on her feet. Of course, she was being a bit dramatic, but he really was quite loud.

Mirielle smiled and said, “Alright, ladies, this will be unfamiliar territory. The Purr‘s never been boarded before, but we’ll make quick work of this, hm?”

More cheering from the crowd, and Dolce felt like she was floating. Mirielle was really shining. Not only was she saying the right things, she had taken his earlier insult and owned it. ‘I wonder if she learned that from me…’ Dolce thought to herself. She released Nasha and followed Mirielle to the aftcastle.

Revel and Nasha stayed on the main deck. The girls were positioning themselves roughly where they’d be if they were battling an enemy at sea. “The Filthy Lucre‘s never been boarded either,” Dolce heard Tsadok grumble. It actually made her giggle. “BRING OUT FISHPORK!”

The crowd started cheering louder. “FISHPORK! FISHPORK! FISHPOOOORRRRKK!!!!”

A large cage was moved into position near the foot of the ramp that led aboard The Purr. Inside Dolce could see a marsh giant. They were quite unnerving creatures to behold, with mouths resembling those of fish baring sharp, jagged teeth. Their skin, slimy and gray-green in color. This one had glassy blue eyes. She knew they had certain abilities, and she hoped… she hoped it would use one in particular. One that would give her cover to use magic without anyone really seeing any of her tricks.

“Are you ready?” Tsadok asked, but before they could answer he said, “I don’t care. OPEN THE CAGE!” Two of his pirates ran in and released the cage door. Soon the marsh giant emerged and Dolce could see rocks littering the floor of his cage.

Immediately the creature did what she’d wished, casting an innate Obscuring Mist. The creature had centered it in front of the aftcastle. It was positioned in such a way that it would obscure not only Mirielle and Dolce, but Revel and Nasha as well. “Perfect~” Dolce sang.

She clapped a hand on Mirielle’s shoulder and cast a Stoneskin spell on her. Last thing they needed in Port Peril was for the world to see their captain get knocked out, and she was easily the most fragile of the four even with the added stamina of her pink rhomboid aeon stone. Mirielle in turn, called forth her halo and cast Bless.

Revel moved to the railing, peering into the mist. She hurled Zul, her new trident that was previously wielded by the king of the sahuagin, at the marsh giant, but the weapon flew wide before returning to her hand. Nasha also threw her returning spear. She managed to strike it once.

The creature threw a boulder at Revel, but he also missed, though the girls heard it scrape along the deck of The Purr. “That fucker picked this thing on purpossse-” Dolce slurred. She clapped her hand down on Mirielle again and this time bestowed her with Haste to help her navigate the field of battle. “Let’s get down there!” The elf exclaimed, moving clumsily down the stairs of the aftcastle.

Mirielle had had the same idea. She increased the radius of Bless and followed Dolce down the stairs, ending her movement near Revel and Nasha, close enough they were both within the amplifying effect of her halo.

Revel and Nasha made three more throws a piece at the marsh giant. The odd one connected, but the creature didn’t seem deterred in the least. Another boulder was thrown, but this one aimed for Mirielle and this one struck true. The aasimar called out in pain as the rock slammed into her, but she didn’t fall. Dolce’s stoneskin made all the difference.

Dolce was flummoxed, but even so she remembered not to hurl her spells outside the mist’s concealing area. Instead she moved into a better position for when the creature boarded and took out her Wand of Mirror Image.

The elf didn’t have to wait long, for after another barrage from Nasha and Revel the giant came striding aboard the ship. It slammed its gaff into Revel mercilessly, tearing her flesh open with ease. Dolce stabbed it in the side, taking advantage of her ally’s distraction.

Mirielle could tell Revel was injured, but for the time being she focused on herself. So close was she to falling she knew the thing might knock her cold if it focused on her. A powerful healing spell flowed through her, giving off golden light as it did so.

Revel’s veins seemed to bulge as fury overtook her and she gnashed her sharp teeth into the creature’s slimy hide. It seemed she didn’t find the taste of it nearly as distasteful as she’d found the undead, for she bit again with relish. Nasha’s claws were soon upon it too, staggering it slightly and wounding it more severely.

Still, the marsh giant persisted. It was formidable to be sure, and it violently twisted and yanked on the hook in Revel’s flesh. The hobgoblin actually cried out in pain with no excitement for this particular wound. Dolce didn’t think she’d ever heard that from Revel.

The elf stabbed the giant again and again, wielding her rapier expertly. Between her and Nasha’s claws and Revel’s fangs, it started to sway on its feet. Mirielle bolstered Revel, mending much of the wound the creature had dealt her, but still the hobgoblin’s blood was flowing.

The creature struck Revel with the gaff again and again, for she was wounding him the most. It struck true, twice in quick succession, but the hobgoblin managed to shrug off the last of its blows before sinking her fangs in it once more.

And then… then it was over. Mirielle poured healing magic into Revel, restoring her before the blood loss could claim her. It took a lot of healing, but when the mist cleared and the crowd saw all the girls still standing there was uproarious cheering.

Dolce, still tipsy despite the adrenaline in her veins, strode to the top of the gangplank. “Thank you, thank you, we’re here all week,” the elf said, doing a flourished bow much to the crowd’s delight.

Ironic how excited they were considering so much of the show had been obscured from them. Tsadok grunted, “Well done.” He toed the marsh giant with his boot and saw it slump back limply. “Tch. Dispose of this Bilgerat.”

“Why me?” The pirate asked, but Tsadok gave him a hard stare and he quickly nodded.

“You lot… You lot did well! I guess you’re pirates after all! Tonight we’ll see the Hurricane King!” The cheering only grew from that. They were given the day to prepare for the evening’s celebrations. Tsadok said he’d lead them from the docks himself.

The Hurricane King

True to his word, Tsadok led them to Fort Hazard, the home of Kerdak Bonefist, the Hurricane King. All of the officers, except Shade, followed them to the fort. The drow stayed aboard The Purr. Inside Fort Hazard, the celebrations began. Dolce circulated in the crowd, listening to them telling the girls’ stories, correcting them when they made mistakes. She kept an eye on Mirielle though, just in case her captain got into trouble.

Nasha was thinking the same, Dolce suspected, because the lizardfolk was Mirielle’s shadow throughout the evening. Eventually, when they were deep into the night and a larger crowd had gathered, Kerdak tried to get the crowd’s attention. No one listened at first, but silence soon followed when he fired his iconic flintlock.

The Hurricane King then tossed it to a servant who hurriedly scrambled to reload the chambers while he addressed the crowd, “Well now! I hear we’ve had quite a showing today! Quite a showing indeed. You know normally, Captain Mirielle, those seeking to be Free Captains come in under another’s protection. Now I’d like to hear just what makes you think you’re so special!”

Mirielle glanced through the crowd and finding Dolce returned her gaze to Bonefist. “Aye, I thought you might. Allow my shantyman to earn her keep then, Captain Bonefist.”

Bonefist didn’t seem to care who did the talking. He simply wanted entertainment. Dolce noted him gesture at the servant just as the poor soul finished with the flintlock and returned it. The servant looked relieved. ‘This one’s got a sadistic streak, eh? No surprise I suppose..’ Dolce thought to herself.

She would cater to that to a degree, but also to the crowd. And now that Mirielle had claimed they’d taken the treasure of Mancatcher Cove everyone wanted to hear that story. Dolce launched into the tale without hesitation, singing songs she’d heard before to introduce it and songs of her own making to tell them of the girl’s adventures.

After Mancatcher Cove’s tale was related she started in on some of their other exploits. Her telling and singing was flawless, and yet there were hecklers in the crowd. She might have tried to silence them herself, but she noticed Revel moving toward one. Her sharp ears carried the hobgoblin’s words to her as she drew abreast of the man, “Say now.. I wonder what you taste like.” Revel grinned, leaned forward close enough to the man’s neck he could feel her breath on it, and licked her lips.

The heckler went pale and slipped off into the crowd. There had been two more, but Revel only needed to look at them to send them running. It was good having good friends, Dolce reflected. At the end of the night the Hurricane King was quite impressed and awarded Mirielle her Letter of Marque in grandiose fashion.

Reunion

The night’s celebrations continued for a time, but eventually people started dispersing. By this time Mirielle had committed to joining in on The Free Captain’s Regatta to happen later in the year.

She was leaving with her arm in Quinn’s, leaning up against him as they strolled leisurely toward the inn he’d booked. A familiar voice called out to her, “Lady Mirielle.” This time it held no mockery or disdain and Mirielle felt her hair stand on end as she looked up.

It had been bound to happen eventually, that someone from her old life would catch up to her. And here stood a member of her guard. The very guard she’d been separated from that fateful night in Port Peril.

“Abadar’s scale, it’s really you,” he said, disbelief evident in his voice.

She’d never seen Tertius look so haggard before. Stubble was growing on his face and his eyes had bags under them. The man looked like he’d aged years in the months they’d been apart. Mirielle’s heart ached because he’d always been kind to her. “It’s Captain Mirielle now, Tertius.”

“You can’t be serious. You can’t stay. Return home, before it’s too late,” his tone was one of concern.

Revel took a step forward, “Is there a problem here, Captain?”

“No, Revel,” Mirielle said, raising a hand to signal she should back down. “It’s too late for that, Tertius. Perhaps in the first days after, but not now.”

The guard shook his head and said, “No, no it’s not. Your father doesn’t think so. Return now, and everything will be forgiven.”

Mirielle was quiet for a time, the celebratory atmosphere suddenly seeming years in the past to her. She could return back, he said.. But really, that ship had sailed. She’d tasted freedom now, and not even claiming Tidewater Rock under her own power had been enough to make her assent to marriage. Returning to her father’s control felt like a road she could never walk. “It is, Tertius.”

“My lady, please-“

“It is, because I have made my choice, Tertius. I cannot go back, even…” She let that hang in the air a moment, wanting him to take the meaning of her next words well, “…if I wanted to.”

The man looked shocked and dismayed. “You know,” he said at length, “this will not end well.”

Mirielle sighed. She didn’t wish ill upon her family, but she knew her father could not let his daughter be a terror on any sea while they still professed to worship Abadar. He would send ships for her, and she would have to fight them and win. “No, it won’t.”

Tertius nodded, straightened, took on a cold, professional demeanor, and bowed before turning into the night.

As he walked away Mirielle felt her heart ache. She truly wished to inflict no further agonies upon this old friend. “Tertius, please..” He paused, turning back toward her. She swallowed, steeling her resolve. “Take care of yourself.”

“And you, my lady.” Another bow, and then he did leave.

There had been a crowd at hand, of course, witness to the entire conversation. If her noble heritage had not been known previously, it certainly would be now. “Are you alright, Captain?” Quinn’s voice. She was still holding his arm and he leaned over to ask her quietly.

“Of course,” Mirielle responded, letting her ‘Captain’s Mask’ fall back into place. She hid her pains and regained her stride, continuing down toward the city.

OOC Notes

Nasha just picked up Rogue Dedication. Hence ‘Dolce’s lessons in quickly completing tasks requiring finesse’. I had no idea what would follow bribing Tsadok in character beyond what Dolce shared with the others, but I found it quite fitting to be using Thievery to unfurl the sails when Nasha just learned that from Dolce. 🙂 She could have used other skills to accomplish the task if she hadn’t, but it was cool to me so that’s the route I went.

I really liked the rules for the card game. I honestly think it’s my favorite mechanic for a card game I’ve seen yet. You can check out the rules on this post on the Paizo forums. I enjoyed them enough myself I might just have the girls play some in downtime to play the ‘minigame’ again.

I can’t remember if I’ve said this before or not, but Dolce’s heritage is Whisper Elf. They have sharper hearing than others. I try to reference what she hears a lot because of this.

During the combat I rolled for concealment every throw (DC 5 flat check). The idea was if a throw ever missed for concealment we’d say the weapon flew into the crowd, potentially injuring someone. It actually never came up.

Also, yes, I’m using terrible metaphors on purpose. It brings me joy.

Finally, gotta hand it to Owlbrarian for the guard showing up. I’d finally forgotten she was a noble from a lawful family supported by merchants and he dropped that guy in with perfect timing. Great job, Babe. ♥

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