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!
Mirielle paused when they had separated from most of the others who’d left the party. She turned to Quinn and asked, “Do you mind if I take a moment?”
Quinn looked surprised, but shook his head. “Not at all.”
“No,” Mirielle said. She closed her eyes, focusing on the ring given to her by the locathah. As a Greater Messenger’s Ring, its form had changed when she’d donned it. The form it took, not surprising to her at all at this point, was the symbol Dolce had created for their ship’s jolly roger; a skull wearing a lopsided crown set just above over crossed cutlasses.
She spent a minute drawing on the ring’s magic and at the end said in crude-sounding Aquan, “Converse.” The mental message she sent was simple. ‘I will never return to you. You should let this go, Father.’
She knew her father would be able to respond. Being who he was, Lord Asclepius Torvaros, The Golden, would of course choose to do so. Moments later she heard his projected response. ‘You will return, one way or the other…’ The words sounded ominous even in Mirielle’s mind. She drew in a breath slowly.
“Everything alright?” Quinn asked.
She knew he would be aware of what she’d done. He knew the properties of her ring, as well as the command word to activate it. “Well, let’s just say I imagine we will be seeing more Taldan sails on our horizons.” She gave him a grim smile.
“At’s alright, Cap. We can take ’em,” it was Revel. She hadn’t broken away from them yet.
Mirielle smiled at the hobgoblin, though there was sadness in her eyes. She was about to speak when Nasha said, “She does not want to, Revel.”
It made the aasimar blink. Nasha was not the most outspoken among them, but when she did speak she always seemed to have quite a bit of insight. “I don’t,” Mirielle admitted, “But.. they will force my hand, and I will. I will not return.”
Nasha watched Mirielle closely for a moment. “They are your family.” She said it in a way that made it feel like this was a statement of understanding. An excuse perhaps.
Mirielle shook her head. “They were my family. At this point, I no longer think I would consider them a good one.” It wasn’t fair to say that really. Her sisters had been loving sisters. Her mother had been a doting mother. The only thing that wasn’t good was the way they her father sought to use them all to advance his family.. But it was also what was expected among the noble families of Taldor.
“They were not?” Nasha asked.
Mirielle frowned, “You know, honestly… I no longer know what I think. I just know I am not ready to let someone else choose the course of my life any longer.”
“Funny,” Nasha said.
“Why is that?” Mirielle asked.
“You choose the course of my life, Captain Mirielle,” the lizardfolk said.
Mirielle blinked a few times in quick succession. She supposed that was true. Before she responded Revel started laughing, and then Mirielle was laughing too. Before long Quinn and even Nasha had joined in, though the lizardfolk’s laughter was quite deep and carried vibration with it.
When they had all caught their breath Revel said, “She’s right, ya know? And you do a good job of it. I’d follow ya just about anywhere, Cap.”
Mirielle smiled at them all as Quinn nodded his agreement. She hugged each in turn. Nasha’s scales were cool against her, unlike the flesh of the other two. “Thank you, you three. Just, don’t follow me into our room tonight, alright?” The question was directed at Revel, but when Mirielle said ‘our room’ she looped her arm through Quinn’s again.
Revel laughed, “Right then, time to get drunk. Coming Nasha?”
“I will find Owlbear and Jack,” Nasha said.
“Probably at the tavern I’m going to,” Revel said, smiling at the lizardfolk.
Nasha nodded, “I will come then.”
“Goodnight, you two,” Mirielle said.
They said their goodnights and Mirielle and Quinn continued on toward his inn. Their inn. After a time he said, “It will be nice to sleep beside you.” He brushed one of his tan hands through her golden hair and smiled down at her.
Mirielle tilted her head a little, “Is that all you plan to do?”
Quinn looked surprised by this and said, “It’s all we can do, Captain, your magic..” Mirielle blinked and started laughing anew. Red crept into Quinn’s cheeks. “Wait, you can’t- right?”
She was laughing too hard to answer clearly, though she managed to get out, “You – believed – that?” between her giggles.
Quinn was flabbergasted. “We all- I mean-” He stumbled over his words, “You said!” he eventually exclaimed. Mirielle only laughed harder. “Alright, my lady, you asked for it!” He started tickling her sides. Mirielle squealed and tried to break free of him. “Oh no you don’t!” he exlaimed.
“Quinn, please!” she pleaded, but he didn’t listen, tickling her more. Finally she gained her freedom. She darted a few paces and lifted into the air on wings of light.
“That’s not very fair,” Quinn protested from the street below her. “Come back down here.”
“Promise you’ll behave,” Mirielle said.
He rolled his eyes, but then grinned and said, “I thought that’s exactly what you didn’t want me to do, Captain.”
Mirielle blushed. It was one thing to talk about that when no one was looking at them, but her wings cast light in all directions for a good thirty feet. There were people looking at them now. “Quinn!” she exclaimed.
Now he was laughing. “Fine, fine, I’ll behave… in whatever manner pleases you, Captain.”
Satisfied, Mirielle alighted on the ground beside him and let her wings fade. “Better.” She kissed his cheek and they made their way off to enjoy a lovely evening together.
The Copper Topper
Revel led Nasha to an inn called the Copper Topper. She was sure Cog would have gotten the two of them a room here. Inside there was still light shining and music playing. The inn was known for its reputation of never sleeping, after all. And only those like herself and Cog, who could willfully ignore the noise, would actually get a room here. As a result, the prices were cheap.
Inside they found a number of The Purr‘s crew, including Owlbear and Jack Scrimshaw. Most of the rest Revel actually didn’t know the names of. They’d been recruited from The Thresher afterall, and almost all of Miri’s old time crew had been left on Tidewater Rock with Maheem. The hobgoblin spared no time in finding Cog and joining him for a drink. He suggested an arm wrestling match. They, of course, would do the wrestling in proper style over an upturned barrel with shards of glass scattered across the surface.
There’d been a time when Cog could hold his own against Revel decently well, but she was winning more and more these days. “Ready to lose?” the hobgoblin prodded.
“Not on your life!” Cog said, elbow to the barrel’s lid.
Revel took his hand and tensed her arm in preparation. A crowd soon gathered and bets were placed. It tickled the goblin when she heard someone not from The Purr say, “Hey, isn’t that the Shark?” Course, she couldn’t spare the time to do more than flash that onlooker a smile as she struggled with Cog.
Nasha, Jack, and Owlbear watched this scene unfolding. They’d seen it plenty of times. “Who are yuo betting on, Jack?” Nasha asked.
“Mm, Cog tonight, Mama Nasha! He’s damn sore about something!” Jack’s eyes remained riveted on the pair as he spoke.
Nasha chuckled. She did not gamble money, and often wondered why others did. On occasion she offered opinion as to who could win such a competition, but only to those who sought it directly… So usually only to Jack. Sometimes the lad agreed with her, but often he bet his own instincts. She’d seen him win, as when Mirielle had been named captain and Jack was the only one who had bet in her favor regarding her survival. She’d also seen him lose.
“When they finish, do you want to play dice?” Nasha asked. She enjoyed spending time with Jack. She’d taken to teaching him how to protect himself, but the boy insisted that when they were in port it was time to play, not to work, so she knew there was little point asking him to train with her now.
“Yeah!” Jack said. “We could even-“
Just then, Revel slammed Cog’s arm back on the barrel with a triumphant, “HA!”
“Son of a whore!” Cog exclaimed. He brushed the glass shards off his arm and glared at the hobgoblin, “Rematch?” His glare let up and he grinned instead.
Revel snorted. “Maybe, if you’re lucky. Come on.” She took him and dragged him upstairs.
“Damn.” Jack watched as the coins he’d given for his bet got handed off to someone else. “Ah well, maybe next time.” He looked over at Nasha, “Dice?” Nasha chuckled and nodded her reptilian head. Nasha started to head for the common room, but Jack stopped her. “I got a room this time, Mama Nasha. Come on.”
The lizardfolk shrugged and followed the boy upstairs. So did Owlbear. There were four beds in the room and not much space, but it offered a small amount of buffering from the noise outside. “Did they not have beds in the common room?” Nasha asked.
“They did, I just thought we’d like a room of our own!” Jack plopped down on one of the beds and smoothed out the blanket on it. They passed at least another hour playing dice.
Owlbear loved rolling the scrimshaw dice, but didn’t know how to count. He did, at least, recognize when they came up with only one marking and would triumphantly proclaim “One! One!” Beyond that he was hopeless, waiting for Jack to tell him what he rolled so he could echo the youngin’s proclamation.
It made Nasha happy watching the two of them together. For her part, she cared little about the games, but was happy to gamble chores with the others just to make Jack enjoy it more. Of course, more often than not this resulted in her doing simple tasks like cleaning his clothes for him… She didn’t mind.
The Gelded Devil
Mirielle had almost forgotten about Tertius when she entered the Gelded Devil inn. It was, by far, the most luxurious of the ‘reputable’ inns in Port Peril. Earlier in the evening there had been fine tablecloths on every table and dishes trimmed with or completely made of gold laid out at some of them. Now it was late and the dishes were withdrawn.
A few gentlemen and ladies lingered in the nicely appointed sitting room, puffing on pipes with scented leaves as they discussed any manner of things. Quinn was leading Mirielle to the stairs when they heard a young girl’s voice say, “Lady Mirielle… It really is you!”
Mirielle paused, looking toward this voice, another familiar voice, and saw a young Taldan female she’d not seen in months now. “Bithlie, what are you doing here?” The girl was not yet an adult.
“Grandma told me to wait here in case it was you, and then to bring you to see her,” Bithlie explained.
Mirielle looked shocked. “Paniana is here? In Port Peril?” she asked.
Bithlie nodded vigorously. “You will come see her, won’t you?”
Mirielle looked at Quinn, “It seems I’m not quite ready to retire, Dear. You can wait here if you’d like.”
“Nonsense,” Quinn said. “I’m not letting you wander around out there by yourself.” He was smiling, but Mirielle suspected his concern was genuine. Nevermind that she’d reduced a few men to ashes with her Searing Light spells at this point.
The two followed young Bithlie through the city. They ended up in a middling part of town, which was saying something considering how expensive Port Peril could be. The building they went into was a small affair for a house. Probably intended to sleep one couple and their children.
Inside Mirielle saw seven familiar faces. She was taken quite by surprise as she looked over the people gathered. Each had been a servant of her family’s and each had been aboard The Ageless Mane when it had carried her to Port Peril. “What is this? What are you all doing here? And you, Paniana, you shouldn’t be in the Shackles.”
Paniana, a woman older than any other human Mirielle had ever met, looked indignant. “And why not?” she challenged. “If a lady belongs in the Shackles, I see no reason why I shouldn’t be here.”
Mirielle took her elderly servant’s hands in her own, smiling warmly at her, but didn’t relent, “It is a dangerous place.. And, I’m not a..” she hesitated. She was still a lady, but no longer a lady in the sense Paniana had meant. “…noble lady any longer.”
“What’s this now?” Paniana asked. The others, ranging in age from 19 to 59, were also looking at her curiously.
“I’m a pirate now. I can never return home,” Mirielle said.
One of the men, the second eldest person in the room, laughed heartily, “A pirate? Is that what this costume’s all about?”
Mirielle smiled over at the man, “That’s right, Iphelis. A captain in fact.” She’d done it then. Before she knew it the man started singing. The others joined in for every other line, just like the crew would if being led by a shantyman.
Our Captain is rising before the sun
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
Measuring all that needs to be done
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!
Mirielle had heard the song many times on the sea, for Dolce had written it as a halyard shanty. She found herself blushing and smiling broadly. Even Paniana was lending her voice to the chorus.
With eyes on the crew and heart out at sea
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
The ocean’s the lock, her ship is the key
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!
They fell quiet after the second verse, though Mirielle suspected they knew the whole song. “You still need to tell me why it is you are all here, of all places!”
Paniana squeezed Mirielle’s hand. “The Ageless Mane returned to Taldor a few weeks after you went missing, my lady. We were offered to return, or to stay and assist in the search. Tertius looked everywhere for you. Practically turned Port Peril upside down trying to find you.”
Mirielle’s heart sank at this news. She could only imagine the guilt Tertius must have felt after he’d been separated from her in the city. Her heart was also touched by the dedication they’d shown. “I must.. I am afraid I must dissapoint all of you.”
“Is that so?” This time it was Sindelthir, a female half-elf who had served her family for some twenty years and had once attempted to teach Mirielle how to sing.
“I will not return to Taldor,” Mirielle said softly. “I-“
She was cut off by Paniana. “Good!” The old woman said.
Mirielle’s eyebrows shot up. “Good?”
“Yes, good,” now it was Iphelis, but soon Modachus, Tiberi, Tsither, and all the others were murmuring their agreement.
“We don’t want you to return, my lady. Why, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so radiant and full of life.” Paniana sounded quite happy herself as she released Mirielle’s hands. “We do, however, want to keep serving you.. If you’ll have us.”
Mirielle was in shock. She’d never dreamed her servants would be happy to learn she wouldn’t return them to the far more ‘civilized’ lands of Taldor. When she got past her surprise she realized what else Paniana had said. “You wish to keep-” Her heart was overflowing with emotion and she was afraid it would come leaking out her eyes in the form of tears. If Dolce heard about that Miri would never live it down, and Quinn was like as not to tell the elf. She mastered herself by drawing a breath and said, “Of course I will have you. What are you thinking, to suggest I ever would not?”
The servants hugged her, all of them cramming in. It was certainly not a display they would ever make in public, but Mirielle had been close with each of them and shared int heir joys and despairs. In Taldor it had been the case that on occasion a trinket of the lady’s had gone missing. Often this occurred in conspicuously soon after Mirielle had learned that one of her servants was in need.
“Well then,” Paniana said as they released Mirielle, “Tell us who this strapping young pirate is!” She gestured at Quinn who had been watching the scene from beside the door, a smile on his lips.
So, on the heels of Mirielle meeting her old guard, Owlbrarian decided it was time to introduce the ‘core’ of her entourage (she took a feat to acquire said entourage; they are all noncombatants who will help with simple tasks in towns as well as gathering information and the like). Old servants of hers from her life as a noble who were not particularly fond of her father and were happy to see her break free of her family.
You may notice that Dolce is conspicuously absent from their time at port. She has enough focus I thought it would be nice to give you some time with the other three.