S&S: Session 25 – Chasing Rumors

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 purchased the tools necessary to transfer magical runes to weapons, as well as some of the runes themselves. For Nasha and Revel she purchased magical handwraps. On at least one of each of their weapons and handwraps Dolce placed a Ghost Touch rune. She still had that piece of the Honeysnake so they could track the ship, and meant to follow up on it at some point and she’d not heard any tales yet of what kind of creatures – if any – occupied the vessel. A ghost touch rune, which was relatively inexpensive, would save her a number of spells if they did end up fighting actual ghosts…

For Revel, the elf had purchased handwraps bearing a Flaming rune and a Grievous rune. For Nasha, wraps, a Corrosive Rune. On Mirielle’s dagger – the dagger of Vulpius Scariano because that had apparently become Miri’s preferred blade – a Frost rune. On her own Besmara’s Embrace, a Disrupting rune. This blade she intended to save specifically for undead and ghostly ships like the Honeysnake and the Deathknell. On Brine’s Sting, her more favored rapier of late, a Frost rune and a Wounding rune. This she wouldn’t mention to the Captain… It would help her make sure people she felt would be a liability died in combat.

Dolce also placed Ghost Touch runes on Nasha and Revel’s Returning weapons. For Nasha she actually transferred the Underwater rune and Returning rune from a spear that had long been her primary ranged weapon to the boarding pike. Its ability to morph its reach would allow Nasha some more flexibility.

To accomplish all of this the elf was spending a good bit of money where she could to shorten the time it would take her to accomplish everything, but also time to do what needed to be done herself where it was more convenient.

Stowaway

It was well after dark when Nasha saw a woman emerge from the trapdoor that led below deck with Vixi close behind her. The woman was gagged and her body covered in what looked like a sticky substance. The lizardfolk didn’t recognize her. She watched Vixi curiously as he approached.

The tengu said, “Found this one below when I was taking the count. Certainly wasn’t expecting a stowaway.”

Nasha’s tail thumped lightly against the deck and she asked, “I’m surprised we made it this far from port before she was noticed.” They were two days out from Port Peril.

Vixi nodded a little. “I think it’s because I didn’t take inventory last night.” If he was annoyed at having missed the lass it didn’t show in his voice.

“What was she doing?” Nasha asked.

“Sleeping! Curled up behind some of the barrels.” The woman was trying to say something, but the gag muffled her efforts sufficiently and Vixi went on, “Found this with her.” He held out a rather large satchel toward Nasha.

The lizardfolk took the satchel and rifled through its contents. Many empty books, ink, quills, sand, some nautical charts, some loose papers with details about members of the pirate council. An interesting collection and one that certainly suggested she had some sense of the sea about her. Nasha closed the satchel and reached out with a clawed hand to pull the gag from the human’s mouth. She noticed as she did so that the woman wore a collar over what looked like a scar on her neck. “Why are you here?” she asked.

The woman worked her jaw for a moment and said, “Look, I’m sorry, I would have presented myself tomorrow-“

Nasha snorted a little and repeated her question, cutting the woman’s apologies short.

The human swallowed, “I was a slave aboard the Sandsworn. I just took my chances in Port Peril.”

“So you had no other reason for being here, on The Purr?” Nasha was mainly concerned with if the woman was here for something in specific rather than just trying to get away from something.

The woman shook her head no and said, “I swear it, I was just trying to escape and I finally managed in Port Peril. With your captain’s reputation I thought my chances would be better on this ship than one I didn’t know.”

The lizardfolk considered that. She knew well they had a reputation as capable pirates who didn’t take slaves or try to ransom crews. She supposed it made sense. Finding no fault in the woman’s claims she said, “You will speak to Mirielle in the morning. I’m not waking her.”

The woman nodded, “Of- of course.”

“Being a stowaway is bad,” Owlbear said. He’d been sitting near Nasha watching the ripples of the ship in the water below them, but now was speaking to the woman.

The human shrank a little and said, “Yes, I- I know.”

Owlbear nodded as though her admission satisfied him.

To Vixi Nasha said, “You go ahead and get some sleep. I will watch her.”

The tengu nodded and headed for officers’ quarters. Nasha returned to stargazing, though she occasionally got up to do work with the rigging or make sure their course was adjusted as needed. She’d become the de facto leader of the sailors who drew the night shift… Probably because she was so fond of the stars. Partly also because Owlbear was permanently on night shift and Nasha wanted to look out for him.

“You can see the rider really clearly tonight,” the human said.

Nasha blinked a little and turned toward her. It had been some time since she’d heard someone refer to one of the constellations by name. Most simply stated how pretty they were like that elf had. What a strange elf he’d been. “Do you know much of the stars?” she asked.

The human nodded and said, “I was a Pirate Master for the Sandsworn. I did a fair bit of navigating though, and that requires a good knowledge of the stars. I guess you’d be more interested in the hunter’s prey.” It was an Iruxi constellation she referenced, and to Nasha’s surprise she pronounced its Iruxi name flawlessly.

“Mm, we believe this is a time for attaining goals,” Nasha said softly.

“And overcoming trials,” the human said. The Tanglefoot effect that had been binding her had hardened at this point and she broke the binds and watched them crumble to the deck of the ship.

“What is your name?” Nasha asked, more interested in the woman now.

She smiled a little. “It’s Emilia. You’re Nasha, right?”

Nasha couldn’t remember if Vixi had called her by name or not, but she didn’t think so. “How do you know that?”

Emilia chuckled. “I told you, I was a Pirate Master.”

“I don’t see a rider.” Owlbear said.

Nasha’s had almost forgotten he was sitting with her, but now realized he was searching the skies for a rider. She started to speak, but Emilia was faster.

“It’s not an actual rider, but an image made by connecting the stars,” she said. When Owlbear looked confused she said, “I’ll show you.. If, that’s alright with you.” She had reached out toward her satchel. Nasha nodded warily, watching her in case she turned out to be a spell caster or something. The lizardfolk was prepared to strike if the need arose.

All Emilia took from the satchel was a piece of chalk. “Like this,” she said, and drew small dots int he shape of the rider on the ship.

Owlbear watched her, still looking puzzled, until she connected the lines for him. “Oh!” he said, and looked between the deck and the sky above. “It’s up there! You draw really good!”

Emilia chuckled a little at the praise, for it wasn’t exactly a hard thing to draw. “Thank you.”

“Show me more!” Owlbear said.

Nasha smiled and watched as Emilia gave him a very simple demonstration of where the constellations were above them. Some of the formations she named and drew were unfamiliar to the lizardfolk, bu she knew many cultures had their own. How many of them had this pirate learned? Eventually she retrieved a bucket and water and handed it to Emilia to clean the deck while she and Owlbear tended more rigging tasks and adjusted course again.

Nasha was going to like their new shipmate, she suspected. She also thought Dolce and Mirielle would want to talk to her.

Nasha was right. Mirielle spoke to the stowaway at some length, as did Dolce. In the end she was told she could stay aboard and work as crew. She’d receive only a half share, as was their custom for those who were not yet considered Mates. Emilia agreed to this.

Ultimately, Mirielle let Shade be the one to demonstrate how rough it could be for a stowaway. Shade did it well. He invoked the family Mirielle had built aboard the ship when forcing others to pick up the slack of Emilia. It seemed that while she had quite a head for pirates and stars, she was not the most able sailor. Still, Mirille let her languish in rigging work under Shade. She couldn’t have the whole crew thinking she was completely soft, after all.

The House of Stolen Kisses

They made port in Quent. Mirielle gave them two days of shore leave. The city had a reputation for having whorehouses that were unrivaled in the rest of the Shackles, but their true interest was in a particular establishment known as The House of Stolen Kisses. Thankfully, Tessa had furnished a letter for them to gain them access to Dindreann, the high priestess. Apparently it might have otherwise taken months to make an appointment with the woman.

Dindreann revealed to Dolce that she knew something of spies in the Shackles, but she required a favor for the knowledge she possessed. The girls needed to track down a relic that had been aboard The Lady’s Sting, a ship belonging to the establishment. The ship, of course, had been taken and the woman did not know where they should look.

Dolce took this information to Captain Mirielle, who listened to the report and then attempted to make the elf blush by saying, “I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were in such a… lavish establishment.”

Dolce paid that little mind, she was unfazed by the captain’s efforts. What she did note was a passing grumble in a slightly ‘off’ elven accent… Shade murmuring, “More than I will at least.”

When she concluded her conversation with Mirielle she caught up to Shade and asked, “Why exactly is that?”

The drow looked at Dolce a bit confused. “Why is what, Sir?”

“Why is that you’re not visiting the House of Stolen Kisses or some similar establishment while we’re in port?” Dolce rephrased.

Shade regarded her for a moment before saying, “I’ve tried that before. Without the wraps it doesn’t end well. With them it draws undue attention.” Dolce wondered briefly if she could change that with her efforts and presence as The Lady’s Purr‘s shantyman. As though reading her mind Shade said, “Honestly I’m hoping all your pretty little songs can change that if I stick with this crew. Maybe I can walk in Port Peril without fearing the repercussions.”

Somehow Dolce felt rather complimented by this. The fierce, deadly, obnoxious drow bosun held her ‘pretty little songs’ in enough esteem to believe they might be able to help him mingle with the populace of the Shackles more easily. “I guess we’ll see…” Dolce said, turning and heading off to tend her duties.

The conversation stuck with the elf, rolling around in her head. He’d never once gone ashore when they made port, and she supposed it made sense. Many elves, like her, would as soon kill with him as deal with him… But Dolce was indebted to him. Once for saving her from the Canopy Creeper, but mainly for teaching her to be more efficient with her blade. It was time to start mentioning the drow in her songs… Honestly, there were a few old timers that could use some love… She’d remedy that soon.

They lingered in port the extra day and made for Beachcomber. This city, located on Bag Island, was of a much different nature. The information broker on it, also of a much different nature. Dolce discreetly asked around until she gained access to the temple of Norgorber. The four girls met them together, for Dolce and Mirielle didn’t like the idea of anyone being in there alone.

When they inquired about the location of The Lady’s Sting, the man indicated he knew where she could be found. The price of this knowledge? A secret for a secret. Mirielle brought up the spies, for Tessa had mentioned this might be another avenue to discover more about them, and for that the man wanted something more specific… The secret of The Brine Banshee, a ship which had been captained by a man named Jalhazar and which was known for travelling far faster than it should be able to.

A secret Mirielle wouldn’t mind having herself with the regatta right around the corner. The man indicated they might be able to learn more of the fate of The Brine Banshee if they traveled to Quent since the ship had passed through there on its last voyage. They said they would look into this and made back for Quent.

Dolce mulled over what secrets they could offer for the location of The Lady’s Sting. Her being a wizard was still somewhat of a secret… Though one that was bound to come out before long as more people survived their raids on ships. The location of Mancatcher Cove was a secret. The original identity of The Purr was a secret. All things she was unwilling to give up. Perhaps there was some other secret she was missing that would satisfy his request without agitating her.

Back in Quent the girls started searching for news of The Brine Banshee‘s passing. Mirielle had help from the retainers of her previous life. She, ultimately, was approached by a minstrel.

“Pardon me, but you are Captain Mirielle, are you not?” The refined man asked. He had olive skin and beautiful black hair.

Mirielle smiled warmly at the man and said, “Yes. Is there something I can do for you?”

The man smiled. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Khadiq, and was once the Shantyman aboard The Red Star.” His was not a name Mirielle recognized, nor was his ship. The man continued, “I heard you were looking for information regarding the whereabouts of The Brine Banshee. I think I might have a lead for you.”

The aasimar said, “I imagine there’s a cost for the knowledge?” Nothing was free in the Shackles after all.

“Mm, well yes. You see, there’s a particular crewman of yours I’m very interested in…” he trailed off and looked a bit sheepish. Somehow Mirielle expected him to say Dolce, but she waited for him to continue. When he did continue he said, “I was wondering if you could introduce me to Revel.”

Mirielle’s eyebrows arched in surprise. Revel? The Shark? Yet his disposition certainly suggested one of admiration or more. “I- I mean, I can certainly introduce you, but Revel is involved with a man aboard The Purr.”

The minstrel looked a bit crestfallen, but after a moment regained himself and said, “All the same, I’d like the chance to speak with her. And if she says she’s not interested, that’s fine of course. I’m happy to accept coin for what I know as well.”

Mirielle chuckled at this. “Well, I’m pretty sure I know where to find her. I suppose come along.”

The captain led the man through Quent to one of the more affordable taverns in the area. Revel had stated she enjoyed the rougher inns because they catered to a more lively clientele than the ‘stuffy’ establishments Mirielle stayed in at port. Sure enough, Revel and Cog were to be found within. Dolce was actually there too, singing her most recent songs about their exploits.

Mirielle told the man he’d be on his own when speaking to Revel and that she’d wait outside. She called the hobgoblin over once he’d said he understood.

“Hey, Cap, what’s up?” Revel asked, pretty decently drunk if Mirielle were to guess.

The aasimar inclined her head toward Khadiq and said, “This gentleman wanted to meet you. He says he may have information for us regarding the whereabouts of The Brine Banshee.”

“Is that so?” Revel asked, looking over at Khadiq. “Why you wanted to meet me?”

Mirielle bowed her head to the two and exited then, stepping outside with her retainers. Revel watched the captain go and looked back at Khadiq with more curiosity.

“Well, I- um…” The man stuttered, a blush creeping into his cheeks. “I wondered if- if you’d.”

Revel blinked at him, unsure what his issue was. “I’m not gonna bite you, just spit it out!”

His cheeks grew darker. “I wondered if you’d consider… sleeping with me.”

The hobgoblin blinked again. She’d not been expecting this. Cog and she had been sleeping together for… well, months now. Since the Wormwood. That had been a relationship born entirely out of boredom and resentment at their situation. “Why?” she asked.

Was it possible for his cheeks to get even darker? Revel wasn’t sure if she was imagining it or not as he said, “You’re just so- so amazing. All the stories about you-“

“Me? The Shark? You hear my stories and it makes you want to fuck me?” she asked. She was feeling equal parts confused and amused at this. Most people bought her drinks from a distance after one of Dolce’s tales about her bloodlust on the field of combat. Some of their own crew were nervous around her despite her best efforts to be friendly when not disciplining them.

He swallowed nervously and fidgeted under her scrutiny. “Y-yes,” he said, his voice hardly audible.

“Aww, shucks. That’s a new one on me, Fella. And I would, honest, but I got Cog over there.” Revel looked toward her human, he was still drinking and gambling. Conch was going to make a fortune on him again tonight, unless Cog managed to keep picking the gnome’s pocket without getting noticed. She looked back at the human. “Sorry, but I can’t ruin a good thing. They don’t come along very often, ya know?”

It seemed something about that struck a cord with the man, who smiled faintly himself and nodded. “No, I, I understand. I shouldn’t have-” He sighed. “Look, there’s a man named Haneilius Fitch… He was once the doctor on The Brine Banshee and says he knows a way to track her. He’s been looking for people to bankroll his operation, but…”

Revel was surprised when the man started spitting out what he knew. She figured he’d be angry at being turned down, but she listened attentively. At the last she tilted her head up at him and said, “But what? With the regatta around the corner it seems like that should be a pretty well-received request.”

“Well,” Khadiq said, “the man is.. He had an episode shall we say? And I don’t think anyone believes he actually knows a way to find it.”

Revel considered that for a moment. He was crazy, huh? Might make this more complicated, but still better than no lead at all. “Where could we find him?”

Khadiq smiled a little. “He lives in Ollo. I think he’s hoping to get out of there with this.”

Revel nodded. After a moment she said, “Look, I appreciate this, really.”

She started to leave, but Khadiq put a hand on her arm. “I’m glad you’ve got someone, Revel. I hope the two of you are happy.”

There was a sorrow there Revel didn’t have context for. He must have lost someone. Still, what kind of partner had he lost to be interested in someone with her reputation. She gave the man a nod and said, “You seem like a decent guy. If.. uh, if anything ever changes and we come back here I guess I know where to find ya.”

He chuckled, though he seemed like he wasn’t holding out hope for anything like that. Still he did say, “I’d certainly welcome that, though not the circumstances that would bring it about. Take care.” He bowed to her and turned away.

Revel relayed the lead to Mirielle, and in the morning they were off for Ollo… A port they’d avoided since their theft of the egg.

Narwhale

On their way to Ollo, a journey of three days, Nasha showed Jack the basics of wielding a spear. The boy had gained a decent understanding of fighting without weapons, but she wanted him to have some knowledge of how to use a thrown weapon like a spear. It was useful in hunting as well as fighting.

The spear she showed him with was the improved boarding pike, and when the lesson was finished she smiled and said, “You have a pretty good feel for the weapon.”

Jack beamed at the praise. “Thanks, Mama Nasha.”

“I wonder, could you do me a favor?” Nasha asked.

“Sure! Anything!”

“Help me to name it. It is not the weapon it was before, but rather a combination of two. I believe it deserves a new name.” Nasha watched Jack scrutinize the spear closely. He’d seen, of course, the returning property of it.

“What else can it do?” Jack asked.

“Imagine it growing longer in your hands… But make sure you do not point it at any of the crew.” Her tone was even as she instructed him.

Jack did as he was bade and watched as the spear magically lengthened. “Oh yeah! I remember this one! It almost knocked Dolce off The Man’s Promise!” Jack said.

“It can also strike a ghost as surely as a man,” Nasha said. She smiled at his enthusiasm.

Jack jabbed with the spear a few more times before returning it to its normal length, then stood in silence for a while looking down at it in his hands. When at last he looked up he said, “We should call it Narwhale.”

Nasha blinked. She was surprised she had not thought of that name for herself. Narwhale was, after all, the first of the original crew to fall. He was missed on the ship. Nasha’s eyes teared up a little and she placed a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “I knew you would give it a good name.” She bent down and brushed her scaly lips against the top of his head, mimicking the human gesture of a kiss.

Jack smiled at Nasha and returned the spear to her. Later Nasha had him tell the crew what he’d named it and all agreed it was a good name in memory of a good friend.

Ollo

They arrived in Ollo well away from the full moon. In fact, the moon was waning. Most of the crew was ordered to stay aboard all the same, for the girls didn’t intend to linger in Ollo long. Mirielle and Nasha set off seeking their quarry while Dolce and Revel did the same. They agreed to meet at the docks after an hour of searching.

It was actually Dolce who managed to catch a hint of where the man could be found. She told Mirielle and they sought him out at a low-end tavern. Dolce, Revel, and Nasha watched as Mirielle approached the man, but despite her best efforts the captain was not able to get him to tell her a thing. To Dolce it seemed he had run into trouble on this particular subject matter and now watned to avoid it, but Mirielle only sensed his reluctance to talk about it.

In the end the man left the tavern and Mirielle made to follow him, using her Vanishing Wayfinder to turn invisible. Just before she lost sight of Mirielle, Dolce informed her of what she’d picked up on. Mirielle followed Haneilius closely while the rest lingered a bit further behind so as not to be spotted. They saw the small house he entered and waited. Mirielle reappeared beside them. “We’re going to sneak inside and have a longer conversation about this. If you’re right I just need to convince him we’re sincere.”

Dolce nodded. “Shouldn’t be hard to sneak in. House isn’t nice enough to have any complicated deterrents.” Then again, the man was a pirate. “Still let me scout it out first.”

Mirielle nodded, though she sent Nasha along with the elf. The pair checked for any traps or complicated locks on the outside of the house, but Dolce’s initial assumptions proved correct. They reunited and it was agreed Revel would keep watch on the street since she had no aptitude for moving quietly.

The other three infiltrated the house, Dolce and Mirielle through the back door while Nasha slipped in through the front. The man was inside as they’d seen, and quietly brewing tea. When Mirielle cleared her throat to announce her presence it startled him, but not as much as Dolce had expected.

“I see I have company,” Haneilius said. “You don’t have a reputation for being the sort to do undo harm to anyone. Would you like some tea?”

Mirielle considered this only briefly before saying, “Yes please.”

Haneilius poured the aasimar a glass, but when he turned to hand it to her he noticed Dolce by his back door and tensed a little. His gaze traveled to the front where Nasha was and he tensed further. Perhaps their presence would only hinder this. Still, it was a bit late to do anything about that, and so Dolce tried to look as relaxed as she could manage while leaning on his small counter. “The captain just wants to talk to you a little more,” the elf said.

Haneilius drew in a long breath, but Dolce’s relaxed posture at least seemed to calm him some. “By all means. I’m afraid it’s not a particularly impressive place here, but make yourself at home, Captain.” He sat on a couch by a small table and Mirielle sat opposite him in a chair.

“We are being sincere,” Mirielle said, sipping at her tea. She did not find the flavor offensive and was thankful for that. “We have a ship and the means to take you to The Brine Banshee. You would, of course, retain a share of anything we claim there.

Haneilius chuckled, “Well of course I would. But I’m done with all that, done with ships. I lost a tooth the last time a person came asking about it.” His eyes strayed to Dolce’s left.

The elf followed his gaze, but saw nothing to be concerned with and returned her attention to the man.

“Look,” Mirielle said, “I am a pirate, and I’m not above taking what I want by force if I must… I just don’t see any reason this shouldn’t profit both of us.”

The man looked at Mirielle again, assessing her statement if Dolce was correct in reading him. “I believe you, really, but it’s brought me nothing but trouble.”

Dolce was beginning to see an opportunity here. Someone who didn’t want to pursue this venture personally might be willing to settle for far less in a payoff than someone that wanted in on the whole ordeal. She’d wait for the right moment to offer an exchange of his tracking means for some coin.

Mirielle nodded at the man’s words. “I understand that,” she said. “And I can see where it would tire you, but I’m really very keen on this.” She was counting on the authenticity her voice carried to drive it home, but she also decided it was best to point out why. “I am after all a Free Captain… And the Regatta is just around the corner. I’d like to win it. The Brine Banshee may hold the key.”

And just like that, Dolce’s glimmer of hope was slipping away. His eyes darted back to the same place off to her left. She looked again, but again saw nothing. Her brows knit together.

“Yes, yes, I realize.” He said, still looking that way. His eyes found Mirielle again though. “I just don’t…” His statement trailed off and his eyes snapped back to Dolce’s left, “That’s enough from you!” He said.

Dolce arched an eyebrow now. Revel had said Khadiq had referred to some kind of episode. This must have been what the minstrel meant.

The man blinked and frowned. “I’m- I’m very sorry,” he said, fixing Miri in his gaze again. “It’s this, these damnable.. Most of the time I can tell what’s real from what isn’t, but…”

Mirielle and Dolce both knew enough about the mind and body to realize what was going on. The man was rather aged, and suffering an affliction of the former. Dolce thought to capitalize on it to pay him off, but her captain had other ideas.

“This… This is something you could get repaired with the right magic,” Mirielle said.

The elf groaned inwardly. She knew her captain was soft-hearted, but she was going to cost them quite a bit with this one if she convinced the man. Despite her inward groaning, Dolce also realized this was why people followed Mirielle. She had compassion where others might not.. Dolce included.

“I can’t afford that, and besides I wouldn’t know what to look for,” Haneilius said.

Mirielle smiled. “You likely could afford it with a share of The Brine Banshee, and I’d help you get the right magic worked.”

He blinked at this. “You would?”

Mirielle looked to Dolce and the elf knew she was asking Dolce’s opinion about finding the right magic for the task. “Dindreann could likely cast it,” she said. She wasn’t completely certain Dindreann could, but the woman was a powerful priestess of Calistria. “If not her, your own power is growing close to what would be required… Or we could always buy a scroll of it. We’d need one with the essence of diamonds worked into the scroll.” Mirielle was still looking at her so Dolce added, “I’m sure we could find one in Port Peril or Senghor.”

Mirielle nodded at that point and looked back at Haneilius. “Help us find the ship, we’ll help you restore your mind.”

The man looked like he was skeptical, and Dolce couldn’t blame him. He lived in Ollo, after all, where pirates rampaged as wolves under the full moon… And here he was faced with a pirate offering to help him. “That seems like a lot of trouble to go to,” Haneilius said.

“What were your plans?” Dolce asked.

“Hmm?”

“Your plans? You originally were trying to find the ship yourself. What did you mean to do with your share of the profit?” she pressed.

“Retire,” Haneilius said.

“Here?” Mirielle asked.

Haneilius blinked and looked at Mirielle like she was crazy. “Gods no! It’s time for me to leave the Shackles I think. Getting too old.”

“Ah, that’s a shame. I was going to say there might be a place for you at Tidewater Rock if you wanted it.” Mirielle sipped at more of her tea. It was cool enough now she could drink it a bit more quickly.

“Ha! I’d heard you took the rock!” Haneilius said. “Some didn’t believe it. So many claims are circulating about The Lady’s Purr they’re hard to keep up with.. And hard to verify.”

Dole smiled brightly at that. “Oh, we took the rock. We clipped the Dominator. We silenced the Deathknell. We claimed the treasure of Mancatcher Cove. There should be stories circulating. We’re far from done… With your help we’ll steal the speed of The Brine Banshee.”

Haneilius rubbed his chin for a moment. “Remarkable really, for a ship active for so short a time. If anyone is going to do this, I imagine it would have to be someone like you. Very well then.” He got up and strode across the chamber, taking a jar from a cupboard. Inside the jar was a tibia suspended in liquid. “This is the tibia of Vargus Brack, my old crewmate. He was still on The Brine Banshee when she went on her last voyage. Always came to visit me when they made port in Ollo.”

“And you have this why?” Dolce asked.

“Oh, I kept quite a few such oddities over the years, but none so long as this one. He was glad to be rid of it, see. The gangrene would have killed him if I hadn’t taken it!” Haneilius patted the jar with an odd sort of affection.

Dolce shook her head. “Pity you didn’t keep a part of the ship,” she said. She had a spell for tracking ships, after all. She meant to use it on the Honeysnake and could have employed it on either The Brine Banshee or The Lady’s Sting just as easily if they’d had a piece of either.

“I thought of that too,” said Haneilius. “Alas, all I have is the bone. But I also know the way it can lead us to the rest of him.” Now he had the elf’s attention. “There’s a ring worn by a man named Captain Milksop Morton… It’s called The Ring of the Iron Skull. It has a few magical properties.. One of them being, if you activate the ring while touching a piece of a corpse it will tell you all kinds of things about them, including where the rest of them is if they’re close enough.”

Nasha, who had been quietly looming near the front door this entire time, now said, “So we must obtain the ring to track the body… Do you know where we would even look for the ship’s general whereabouts?”

Haneilius craned his head to see the lizardfolk and tensed a bit again. It seemed he’d forgotten her presence. “Erm, yes. They were heading north, and I know roughly the course they plotted.”

Dolce thought to get more out him then, but Mirielle seemed to have other plans for she said, “Well then… There’s a room int he officers’ quarters that’s currently not in use. We can let you stay there while we track down more information about Captain Milksop.”

Haneilius nodded, “He makes port here all the time. It’s how I know he has the ring. I’m sure you can figure out about when he’ll be back again if you ask the right folks. And, if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to keep this with me for the time being.” He indicated the tibia.

Mirielle nodded. When Dolce inquired which officer’s room the aasimar stated Quinn had been sleeping in her quarters. Dolce was, of course, already aware of this but she’d not yet harassed Mirielle about it at any length. The aasimar assured her they were taking precautions against pregnancy, not that it was any of her business.

Haneilius was allowed to get comfortable in Quinn’s quarters once Quinn had moved his desired belonging’s into the captain’s cabin. Of course, the rest of the crew who hadn’t been in the know about the pair of them made wolf whistles at him as he moved between the cabins. Mirielle blushed, much as Dolce had known she would.

Special Occasions

While Haneilius was getting settled on The Lady’s Purr Nasha sought out Ambrose. It was not often the two spoke, simply because Nasha kept mostly to herself. “Fishguts,” Nasha said.

“Well hello there, Nasha. What can I do for you?” He was in the galley, of course, taking inventory.

“I want you to go shopping with me.” Nasha said simply.

Ambrose raised an eyebrow. “May I ask what for?”

“Crabs,” she said. It didn’t seem the answer was sufficient to Ambrose and so she continued, “Owlbear’s nameday is coming up. Jack Scrimshaw says it’s important to celebrate them, and Owlbear likes crabs.”

Ambrose chuckled at this. “I’d be happy to help you find some good ones. I’d think you’d know how to pick them out yourself.”

It was true Nasha knew her way around creatures of the ocean well enough, but this was a matter of human tastes. “Maybe. You might be better at it.”

Ambrose nodded and finished his inventory, then accompanied Nasha to the markets to find some suitable crabs for Owlbear’s nameday. They bought them live since it was a few days out yet. Ambrose hadn’t gone to such trouble for a non-officer in a while, but found it refreshing.

S&S: Session 24 – Stars

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!

The next six days were agonizing for Dolce. Each one bringing her closer to the isle she found so loathsome. Shade provided some distraction with his harsh education, and now they had a audience slanted in Dolce’s favor. The elves, those who didn’t immediately vacate the area when Shade drew near, seemed to enjoy watching Dolce best the drow.

Somehow that aggravated Dolce more than Shade catching her off guard did.

On The Purr, Sanev was getting to know all of the females on board. A number of them took the charismatic elf up on his affections. On one particular evening the man approached Nasha as she was stargazing. “It’s Nasha, isn’t it?” He asked.

The lizardfolk looked over at him for a moment before nodding and returning her gaze to the heavens.

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you,” he said, offering his hand. Nasha didn’t notice, so he let it fall back beside him. “I wondered if you would enjoy some company.”

Now Nasha turned toward him again. “You may join me, if you wish to.” She was not accustomed to people making an effort to spend time with her, aside from Owlbear and Jack, but even they had started seeking her out only after she’d made an effort to befriend them.

The male elf sat beside her, looking up at the stars as well. “They are quite wondrous, aren’t they?” Nasha nodded, but said nothing. After a bit of silence the elf said, “What do you find most spectacular about them?”

Nasha was quiet for a time. She got the sense that wondrous and spectacular were words expressing appreciation for the stars… But this was merely from the tone of his voice. Truth be told, Nasha didn’t have the largest vocabulary. Though.. it was growing. “They give us answers about the future,” the lizardfolk said at last.

“Do they?” This seemed to pique the elf’s interest and he was facing her now. “What do they tell you about the future?”

Nasha blinked at the question. She had said ‘us’ but it was not really what she meant. “Nothing.. I am not skilled at reading them in that way.”

“How are you skilled in reading them then?” Sanev asked.

“To guide the way. It is how I know where we are on the ocean. That and the shorelines. Very telling.”

“Hmm.” The elf said, and fell quiet for a few minutes. Eventually he said, “I think I can see a future in them, involving the two of us.” He was attempting to flirt, and conveying as much with his tone and positioning as he angled himself toward Nasha.

The lizardfolk had never been hit on by anyone, and completely missed his cues. “Do you?” She was looking straight at him, wondering what the stars foretold of them.

Sanev blinked as he realized she hadn’t picked up on his intention. “Erm, yes. You could say, of our.. immediate futures intertwining.” Nasha continued waiting for him to further explain. He sighed and placed his hand on hers, “Do you want to sleep with me?”

She still didn’t take his meaning, asking, “Why? Are you cold?”

Flustered, the elf spoke slowly, as though she didn’t know common well, and asked, “Do you want to have sex with me?”

Now Nasha knew what he meant. What an odd and fumbled way to convey his desire. And.. what an odd desire. The feel of his warm hand on her cold scales was nice, but no. She decided she was not interested in elven mating practices. Surely her tribe didn’t need her to gather knowledge of those particular customs. “No,” she said simply.

The elf sighed and got to his feet grumbling, “Your loss.”

Nasha watched as he stalked away toward the hatch that led below deck. “Strange…” Then her gaze returned to the heavens and she didn’t give Sanev a further thought.

Homecoming

As they drew nearer to Kepre Dua, Sanev sought an audience with Mirielle. It was easy enough to obtain since they were on relatively good terms. The man had not hit on Mirielle and had somehow managed to sleep with various females among the crew without making them angry at one another.

“What can I do for you?” Mirielle asked.

“Right to the point, Captain. Well, we are nearly at Alendruan Harbor. I wanted to discuss the means of you gathering your reward,” Sanev said.

“Very well. When we reach the harbor The Barbarous Hook will dock and Dolce will go on land to collect our ‘reward’ before we release you. I’m sure your father wouldn’t want anything to happen to you,” the captain said.

The elf nodded. “This is true…” he admitted, but then went on, “I think however, you would gain more benefit from approaching the matter in a different manner.”

Mirielle fixed him in her gaze and said, “Enlighten me then.”

“Well, Captain, if we make land and Dolce goes seeking your reward it will seem rather as though you are ransoming me… Which, you are welcome to do if that’s how you want to handle that… But Captain Haryk is not really in a position to be making enemies right now… So if you instead send Dolce and myself ashore together perhaps you can come out of this with an alliance.” He was smiling. He didn’t seem to have ulterior motives, except perhaps appearing less foolish in his father’s eyes.

“Know that there would be consequences if she returned empty handed. Perhaps not today, in your home port, but at some future date.” Mirielle was being serious, primarily because this conversation was had in the open air outside of her cabin’s privacy and her crewmen would soon see her let their guarantee of payment leave the ship with only Dolce beside him.

“Yes, I- I understand, Captain,” Sanev said.

Mirielle nodded and moved to the railing on the side nearest The Barbarous Hook. She used one of Dolce’s prized signal whistles to make a single long tone until she heard Dolce’s voice whisper in her ear, “Yes, Captain?”

Mirielle said simply, “You will accompany Sanev on shore.”

Dolce scowled, but would obey. They needed to transfer Shade back to The Purr anyhow. He would not live long if he docked with The Barbarous Hook. Indeed, none who landed on Kepre Dua that weren’t of elven lineage lived long.. Not even half-elves.

Dolce and Sanev went directly from the docks to Haryk’s estate. The servant received them readily and guided them to the lord of the residence. Dolce was shocked when she saw Haryk. He was missing his legs completely and seated in a chair to which wheels had been mounted. Thanks to her skill at deceit, Haryk was none the wiser. Haryk grumbled a greeting to Dolce and his son.

Sanev explained that The Purr had aided The Hook in returning to port, raising his father’s ire. When he further explained that The Purr had not been the cause of The Hook requiring assistance, his father asked what was… Sanev sheepishly admitted they’d damaged their vessel on a shallow reef and was soon met with cursing and ridicule before being dismissed by Haryk.

Dolce was just wondering if Haryk remembered her when the elf said, “It seems you’ve made quite a name for yourself, Inara.”

She felt satisfaction. She’d begged the man to let her take any role even aboard his weakest vessel and been turned away, but regret was clear in his voice. She hid her smugness, difficult though it was to do so and said simply, “I have come a long way.”

“The boy said he promised you a reward, eh? There’s plunder in the hold of The Sodden Manger. I won’t be in a position to sell it any time soon, that much is for certain. Is this acceptable to you and your captain?” His voice was dry, but a hint of humor carried in it.

Dolce was impressed he could make a joke about his ‘position’. She didn’t think she would have been able to if she’d lost her legs, and thus the sea. She simply nodded, “I’m sure it will suffice, Captain.” Much as she enjoyed having overcome his doubts about her inexperience and abilities, Dolce still respected the elf as a pirate.

“Very good,” he said and turned his chair with his arms. A servant moved to push him forward in it, but he struck their hand hard and they quickly withdrew. “She’s this way.”

The Sodden Manger was one of Haryk’s favored ships, though not his flagship. Haryk had many, but Dolce was fairly certain she knew them all. It was strange passing through town. Both on the way in and the way out Dolce had taken note that most of the elves seemed almost in a stupor. It gave her shivers and made her want off the island even more urgently.

When they reached The Manger, Dolce received permission for The Purr to come abreast of her to unload the hold. No boots would set foot on the dock, she assured Haryk. He posted guards to be certain it was so. Dolce oversaw the transfer of the goods and bid Haryk farewell before boarding The Purr again. She could have visited her parents, but she hated being on the island again at all and had no wish to spend the time necessary to hunt them down.

So it was that as quickly as she’d come to Kepre Dua, she left it again. She did, however, make time to tell Mirielle, Nasha, and Revel that her born name was Inara. She explained to them that it was not the elves’ custom to share their birth names with non-elves, but that she felt like these three were closer to her than her own family and it seemed strange relative strangers like Sanev and Haryk should know her true name while her chosen ‘kin’ did not.

Port Peril

They docked at Port Peril. Here the plunder would be sold and Dolce would spend a good bit of coin outfitting Kuzayoni with a fine alchemist’s lab and tools to use with it. As they were overseeing the unloading of their cargo a familiar mast caught Dolce’s eye. It was the Bonaventure and aboard none other than Captain Merrill Peggsworthy.

The elf smiled and used a Message spell to whisper in his ear, “Fancy seeing you here, Captain Pegsworthy.”

The man startled and looked around him before catching sight of Dolce on The Purr. He shook his head and waved at her before leaving his own ship to make his way over to theirs. “Dolce!”

“Captain,” Dolce inclined her head before hugging Pegsworthy. The two had established rapport in Rickety’s Squibbs. “What brings you to Port Peril?”

“Oh, business as usual. And there is the lovely Free Captain Mirielle!” He did a flourished bow to Mirielle. “Congratulations!”

Mirielle beamed at Captain Pegsworthy. “Thank you.”

“I was sad when I heard I missed your celebration. I tell you what, let’s have another one, shall we? I know a good place, and it will be my treat!”

“Careful offering that, I can drink a lot!” Revel exclaimed from behind Pegsworthy.

Captain Pegsworthy looked over at her and smiled. “Can’t be as much as my first mate.”

Brimvi, Pegsworthy’s dwarven first mate, indeed had a reputation for drinking, but Revel didn’t know this as she said, “That sounds like a challenge.”

Captain Pegsworthy laughed good-humoredly and looked back to Mirielle. “Well, how about that celebration?”

“Sure,” Mirielle said. “We’ll meet you there as it’s growing dark?”

“Sounds like a plan to me. I’ll see you at The Riptide Alehouse then,” Pegsworthy said. He tipped his hat to them and left the deck of The Purr to oversee his own ship’s operations.

They met at the appointed time. The girls arrived before Pegsworthy. They had brought Quinn and Kuzayoni along. Dolce had taken advantage of the opportunity to show Kuzayoni the city on the way. The woman was rather overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bodies in the city, but still didn’t seem adverse to the idea of enjoying a drink with an old friend of theirs.

Just as Pegsworthy had approached the table Mirielle caught sight of a familiar face. Caulky Tarroon. She was the cabin girl from The Wormwood, and she had slipped something into someone’s drink. Caulky saw Mirielle looking at her before the aasimar could look away. “We might want to choose another tavern,” Mirielle said softly.

“Oh? Why’s that?” Pegsworthy asked.

“Looks like The Wormwood is recruiting in this one,” Mirielle said. again keeping her voice quiet. Pegsworthy followed her gaze.

“What is this swill” An angry voice demanded from near Caulky. Revel quickly realized a fight was about to break out when the tainted ale sloshed onto another man who bellowed in turn, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

The hobgoblin also noted Caulky was about to slink away. She sprang to her feet and from her 4’4″ height bellowed, “YOU BETTER STAY STILL AND SHUT UP!” Her eyes made contact with several people, in particular the ones who seemed the rowdiest and Caulky herself. All of them froze and the noise of the establishment came to a complete standstill as Revel singled out Caulky. “You, come here.”

Caulky visibly trembled, but nodded and moved forward. Dolce, watching this unfold before her, quietly said to Pegsworthy, “That’s why we call her The Shark.”

The Free Captain looked impressed as he nodded. Then all but Dolce and Nasha followed Caulky and Revel outside. It was clear chaos was going to break out only moments after Revel left, for everyone’s fear lifted and they started yelling again. Dolce tried to quiet them, raising her voice above the cacophony to say, “Please, calm down, there’s no need for trouble.”

No one responded to the elf’s request. She tried a time or two more and then shrugged her shoulders at the bartender, mouthing ‘I’m sorry’ before following Mirielle and the others out front with Nasha. The guard in Port Peril did not take kind to disruptions like this and Dolce had no desire to be detained.

It wasn’t hard to catch up to the others. When they did they heard Caulky confirming that The Wormwood was still recruiting because they were hard up for crew. The girl then said, “Please, if you let me go I won’t tell Captain Harrigan you’re here.”

Revel blinked, realizing this plea was motivated by fear. The hobgoblin snorted and said, “Relax, Kid. I don’t eat children.”

Something about the way Caulky had responded to Revel’s statement tickled Dolce’s mind. Satisfaction about a.. deceit? The elf passed her hand over her magical astrolabe, Svingli’s Eye it was known as. She’d plucked it off the corpse of Captain Inkskin before leaving her with Shade. It had a unique property.. A single time per day if a person focused upon the astrolabe while looking at their surroundings they could see things as they truly were. This momentary action made Caulky suddenly appear as a ghostly image overlaying a rather short, human female. An adult by all accounts. Interesting. Dolce made no indication of what she now knew and watched as Revel continued talking with the ‘girl’.

Meanwhile, Revel went so far as to ruffle Caulky’s hair before saying, “What have you been doing anyway? Harrigan’s been busy for quite a while now.”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t tell me what he’s doing,” Caulky said, sounding distressed. “We’ve just been travelling a lot and we need more crew. Can I go now?”

Revel hesitated and looked at Mirielle, who nodded. “Yeah, pipsqueak. Get lost.” No sooner had she said the words than Caulky was running away. “She’s gonna tell ‘im,” Revel said when she was out of earshot.

“She certainly will,” Mirielle said. She’d sensed the lie was just an effort to get away from the scary hobgoblin. She didn’t blame Caulky for that. She was sometimes scared of Revel’s antics and Revel was on her side!

“In the future,” Dolce said softly, “You needn’t worry about harming her. She’s not a child.”

They all blinked in surprise and looked at her. “What the hell are you on about?” Revel asked.

“It is a magical disguise.” the elf explained.

“You mean she’s got-” Revel started.

Dolce realized quickly Revel had thought of Dolce’s own preferred spell to disguise herself and so she cut the hobgoblin off before any of her tricks were revealed to Captain Pegsworthy, who was still among them. “Transmutation magic, Revel. She’s actually a very rare creature, much like our Captain.”

“She’s angel-blooded?” Revel asked now.

Dolce saw Pegsworthy take another look at Mirielle, like a puzzle piece had just fallen into place for him. Those rumors of Mirielle’s heritage were ones Dolce did want to go around, so she made no effort to deny that. “No. She’s a changeling. They can change their appearance with the use of a spell known as Humanoid Shape. However, it is usually a fleeting effect. Caulky must have some method of extending hers”

Mirielle absorbed all of this and then turned her attention back to Captain Pegsworthy, “Well, whether or not she tells Captain Harrigan we are here, we’re safe for the time being. Do you want to get that drink elsewhere?”

“Yeah!” Revel said, “And where’s your second?”

Captain Pegsworthy blinked at the hobgoblin’s question. “I, didn’t realize I should bring him,” the captain said.

“How am I gonna drink him under the table if he isn’t here?” Revel asked.

Pegsworthy chuckled for a time. “Let me go and fetch him. There’s another alehouse just up the way. We’ll meet you there, alright?”

Revel nodded. Nasha, who had remained quiet this whole time, simply shadowing her friends and taking in everything they were learning, asked, “Why does it not bother people that Revel eats those she battles?”

The other girls blinked in surprise at Nasha’s question. Mirielle was the first to speak, “If I’m being honest, it does… well, unnerve me a bit. Especially when she screams about how good it tastes after taking a bite out of someone.”

Revel blinked now and looked at Mirielle. “Why would that bother you?” the hobgoblin asked. “Not like I’d ever bite you!”

Mirielle blushed under the scrutiny of her Master-at-Arms. “Well, it’s just- It, it’s rather violent.” Dolce stifled a giggle, but Mirielle still caught it and fixed the elf in her gaze. “Does it not bother you, Dolce?”

The elf looked at Revel and then back at Mirielle. “I mean, it’s weird, but it doesn’t concern me.. Anymore… It did take some getting used to, but… if anything I think it makes her scarier to our enemies, and that’s a good thing in my book.”

“So you do not object because you like that it bothers others?” Nasha asked, looking at Dolce. Dolce considered that for a moment and nodded. The lizardfolk turned her gaze on Mirielle. “Why do you not object?”

Mirielle blinked as all three of them looked at her again. “Umm, well, it’s just.. she’s rather in the moment… You know, like, caught up in the heat of battle? And it’s.. it’s how she fights. I mean, I probably would object if she tried to eat someone when we weren’t actively fighting them?” She fidgeted, her cheeks were still pink from being under their scrutiny.

Revel snorted. “You don’t have to worry, Cap. Blood just tastes like blood when I’m not The Shark. There’s something about it when that energy overtakes me… Even my sense of smell is sharper in the thick of things.” Her eyes almost rolled in delight, like she was conjuring to mind the taste of her favorite chocolate. Mirielle shuddered a little. “You’re cute though, Cap,” the hobgoblin said, and then bopped Mirielle’s nose.

Dolce now burst into giggles as Mirielle’s cheeks turned a much darker red. “You’ll never escape it, Captain, you know that right?”

The aasimar actually covered her cheeks. “I would if you wouldn’t egg people on!” she insisted.

Dolce had a habit of singing about Mirielle as a fearsome tactician on sea and a leader who could rally her men as well as revitalize them, but relating stories to tavern rooms of her captain blushing. The result being that half the time people spoke to Mirielle with deep respect, and the other half they tried their damnedest to turn her cheeks pink.

The girls moved along toward the alehouse Pegsworthy had indicated. The rest of the night passed peacefully enough, with Revel drinking Brimvi under the table. Dolce lost money betting on the dwarf, but Mirielle made it back betting on Revel, who told Dolce her loss served her right betting against a friend.

Dolce made sure Kuzayoni had comfortable quarters at The Gelded Devil, her and Mirielle’s inn of choice. Kuzayoni drew a small bit of attention for her clothing of choice, but bare-breasted women weren’t that uncommon in Port Peril. They went shopping in the morning. While she was still rather overwhelmed by the mass of people in Port Peril, Kuzayoni retained enough clarity to appreciate the quality of the tools she and Dolce procured while there.

Unfamiliar Customs

Mirielle and Quinn stayed at The Gelded Devil as well, sharing meals with Dolce and Kuzayoni while they were there. Revel and Nasha had gotten rooms at The Copper Topper again and enjoyed their stay at the noisy inn.

On their second day in Port Peril Jack Scrimshaw noticed Nasha was behaving oddly. Rather than following him around to keep him out of trouble and playing with him, the lizardfolk was keeping to their room and seeming introspective. Eventually the youth asked, “What’s wrong, Mama Nasha?”

Nasha was surprised by his question and returned it with one of her own. “Why would you think something is wrong?”

Jack put his hands on his hips and said, “You’re acting weird.”

“Am I?” She was asking in earnest, though she soon realized why he thought it was strange. “Ah, I see, I see. Today, young Jack, is the completion of my 27th year of life outside of my egg. On these days I reflect upon my journey thus far.”

Jack looked at her for a moment in confusion, then said, “Wait, it’s your nameday!?”

Nasha nodded. “I believe that is what you call it, yes.”

“And you didn’t tell me!?” Jack asked, sounding quite upset.

Nasha blinked slowly and said, “I did not think it was a matter of significance.”

“What!? Of course it is! What’s wrong with you, Mama Nasha!?”

He was gone before she could respond. Nasha wondered what had him so flustered. She shrugged it off and returned to her meditation. She did not see Jack again until mid-afternoon, but when she did he came inside with a plate bearing a cake covered in blueberries.

He set the plate down in front of Nasha on the bed. “There! Sheesh! You can’t do that! Namedays are important!”

“Important,” Owlbear echoed Jack, bouncing up and down a little and eyeing Nasha’s cake like it might try to crawl away if he didn’t watch it.

Nasha tilted her head a little. “I have seen this before. It is a nameday celebration?”

Jack sighed and sat down on one of the other beds in the room. “Not always. Sometimes people just want cake, but most people have some on their nameday.” Nasha nodded a little, but seemed to be waiting for further explanation. Jack ran a hand through his hair and said, “You do it with your family and closest friends. I couldn’t not do something with you, Mama Nasha.” The lad actually looked like he might cry a little.

Nasha, who found herself rather touched by his explanation, reached over and pulled on Jack’s arm, tugging him into a hug. “You are a sweet boy, Jack.”

“Aww, stop it!” Jack hugged her back briefly despite his protesting, but soon tried to wriggle out of her grasp lest she get too used to this.

Nasha let the boy go and watched as Jack cut a slice of cake for her. “Try it! It’s blueberry, to match your scales!”

The lizardfolk blinked. She’d not even thought of the fact that she had blue scales when she’d seen the cake he’d chosen. It was a strange reason to choose a food. “Does the closeness of something’s color to your skin make it taste better?” This honestly had never occurred to Nasha as a possibility.

Clearly it hadn’t occurred to Jack either who regarded her with surprise and said, “What? No! Just try some!” Nasha took the piece of cake from him and used her claw to cut out a portion. She gulped it down, hardly giving it a moment in her mouth. Jack definitely noticed as he said, “What are you doing!? That’s not how you eat cake!”

Nasha started chuckling, a sound she did not often make and which could be confused with hissing. Jack blinked and then put his hands on his hips again. Nasha took another bite, this time normally so she could actually taste the ingredients. “It is good, Jack.”

Jack smiled and hugged her again. “I’m glad. I love you, Mama Nasha.” He nuzzled into the scales of her chest as he said it.

Nasha felt more than just the warmth of his body in her scales as he spoke the words. She had been reflecting on what it meant that she was beginning to feel closer to some of the pirates than her tribe before he’d questioned her about her ‘strange’ behavior. Now she knew they were truly her new family and she quietly said, “I love you too.”

New Friends

Four days into their stay, as The Purr was getting refitted with rapid-deploy sails, a Vudrani man approached Dolce, Mirielle, Quinn, and Kuzayoni as they were eating dinner. He gave his name as Asemari and informed them that he was an agent of Captain Tessa Fairwind, a well known Free Captain with an impressive fleet. He said they had been invited to dinner with her on the following day and handed them a sealed letter.

Mirielle opened the letter, which shimmered with some faint magical effect, and read its contents. Indeed they had been invited to dine with Tessa Fairwind, but she bid them come at lunch rather than dinner. It was rather curious to Mirielle that she should go to the effort of misdirecting observers, but the captain met Asemari’s eyes and said she would join Captain Fairwind for dinner.

When they went the next day Dolce used a Veil spell to disguise them. The servant greeted them at the door and Dolce dismissed the effect on just Mirielle to gain them entry. Within they were led to Tessa Fairwind and enjoyed a lavish meal with her as she explained she wished them to investigate the possibility of Cheliax spies in the Shackles. She also extended Mirielle the offer of allying with her, which Mirielle declined.

They left the meeting and finished their business in Port Peril before heading off to Quent as Tessa Fairwind had suggested.

OOC Notes

So Nasha is decent at reading people, but she’s been living among humans for 11 years and mostly viewed as a strange creature by them. It never occurred to her that anyone hit on her, resulting in the bruised ego of Sanev after their humorous conversation.

So Revel specializes in intimidation. She has feats that let her do it after a single round of interaction (so 6 seconds) instead of a minute, as well as feats that let her target more than 1 person at a time. She can target 10 people with the same check. It felt pretty epic to just stand up and just be like, ‘You better shut up and listen to me’ and have the fight stop for a second. Most of my characters don’t go the intimidation route so it’s definitely a change of pace.

Owlbrarian told me he had completely forgotten about the ability granted by Svingli’s Eye until I used it. Only Dolce made the perception check to notice Caulky’s reaction because Dolce is suspicious of everyone that isn’t part of The Purr‘s crew. It just so happened I’d assigned the astrolabe to Dolce. It’s a small necklace she’s wearing. So when I picked up on amusement from Caulky I used the item, and got some bonus exp for figuring out Caulky’s surprise.

So, I could have fleshed out the meeting with Tessa Fairwind, but mostly it was just a meeting with a charismatic and scheming free captain that Dolce respected, so I decided not to. I really wanted to be caught up when we play again tomorrow, and this post officially has accomplished that, but if I’d fleshed out that meeting I might well have decided to make yet another post. I’m sure we will meet with Fairwind again, and at that time I’ll give her a bit more attention.

S&S: Session 23 – Fair Winds

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 spent her time in Port Peril working on a project of hers.. As well as paying several others to work on the same project. As the elf understood it, the deep platinum they’d found in Mancatcher Cove could be used to track other pieces of it so long as they were on the surface. It was how Inkskin had caught up with them.

Basically, infusing the deep platinum with magic of any sort caused it to resonate. The closer it was to another piece mined from the same source, the more it resonated. They also gave off the faint glow Mirielle had observed the night Inkskin had boarded The Purr.

They had the ingot Inkskin had used to track them, the original necklace from the son of Krellort (the sahuagin king), Krellort’s own necklace, a necklace obtained from the mummy pirate in the buried chamber, and a crown. Quite a lot of material to work with. Dolce left Mirielle’s holy symbol alone. It was worth a thousand, five hundred gold pieces and fashioned of the deep platinum and gold coral.

Dolce had been the one to get that reworked for her captain. She, of course, had it made in the likeness of Besmara’s holy symbol (the skull and crossbones) with Mirielle’s halo circling it. Now the elf set about doing the same again.. She, Revel, and Nasha would each have a lesser twin of Mirielle’s necklace worth a thousand gold pieces. The officers of The Purr would have lesser versions still, worth four hundred gold pieces. Lastly, little Jack Scrimshaw, Mirielle’s cabin boy, would have one worth a hundred gold pieces. These would all use normal gold where Mirielle’s used golden coral since Dolce wasn’t particularly inclined to gather any of that.

Should any of the crew ever go missing in port, these would make it much easier to track them down. The crown’s material, Dolce saved. It was five thousand gold pieces worth of deep platinum… And when Mirielle became an admiral with other ships sailing under her those ships’ captains would also need a symbol of their admiral.

Getting the jewelers of Port Peril to make all but one of the necklaces had cost a pretty sum, five hundred gold coins. Dolce was debating how to divide up the crown now, because she could do it herself so long as she was willing to take the time. But her time was highly prized. In fact, she’d soon be learning more spells again if she could get past her latest hurdle in magical endeavors.

Of course, to go along with all of these holy symbols of Besmara, Dolce had also acquired something else… A small altar and a ritual. The Lady’s Purr would soon be a floating bastion of the Pirate Queen if Dolce had her way. She suspected Mirielle would be in favor of this and doubted Revel or Nasha would argue considering how much gold they’d sent to the depths at this point. After all, they were still breathing.

Making Way

To say Dolce was surprised by the seven new “crew” members would be an understatement. Among them was the oldest human the elf had ever laid eyes on. Mirielle explained that these were some of her old attendants as well as the events that had transpired at port. Dolce hadn’t spoken to Mirielle since the celebrations at the fort since she’d been caught up in her own activities.

The fact that seven servants were only some of Mirielle’s servants made the elf wonder just what kind of adversary they were going to find in House Torvaros. Perhaps she needed to start coming up with contingencies… She had heard of things like whole ships submerging below the surface of the ocean to reemerge unharmed later. How this was accomplished, Dolce had no idea. Perhaps with a Wish spell or a favor from Besmara herself? It bore researching.

But if they were going to be facing Taldan warships… Their ballistae also bore enchanting. She’d get to work on that sooner rather than later… Except they’d spent most of their coin aside from the ’emergency fund’ Mirielle wanted them to have. ‘Fucking complications…’ Dolce thought.

She had more immediate requirements though.. For she intended to learn to wield her blade the way Shade would… She’d seen him employ ruthless efficiency when fighting the Canopy Creeper, and she wished to learn to his methods… Which meant asking him for a favor while already in his debt. She could have, she supposed, hired someone in Port Peril… But needlessly spending money was not something she aimed to do, and so she approached the Bosun. “Shade, if I could have a moment.”

The drow met her gaze and inclined his head, “By all means, Sir.”

She’d thought about how to ask this favor a thousand times, but a thousand moments of mental consideration did not make the actual asking any easier and now the words threatened to stick in her throat. She led him a few paces away from the crewmen he’d been overseeing and turned to face him. “I’d like you to teach me to wield a blade the way you do.”

The drow grinned. Dolce was certain he knew just how much it irked her to be asking him for a favor. All he said was, “I’d be happy to, Sir.”

Dolce nodded. “Thank you.” It felt foreign to be saying those words to him, but if she was honest it wasn’t the first time she’d thanked someone she didn’t like. She glanced at the crewmen he’d been overseeing again and started to say, “We’ll begin in the mo-“

“Now is fine. I’m sure they’ll tend their tasks well since they know I’ll be going over there work later,” Shade said.

Dolce drew a long breath. They’d be training in the confines of the ship and it was very likely they’d have an audience. Nasha and Jack had garnered an audience often enough when the lizardfolk was teaching the boy how to throw a punch. She nodded, and just as quickly Shade sprung to motion, his leg sliding out as he attempted to knock her off her feet.

Dolce started falling, but turned the movement into a roll. She regained her footing and saw he’d used the maneuver as a diversion to draw his blade while she was still unarmed. With the point of it aimed at her neck he simply said, “Dead.”

The elf frowned and drew her own blade. Training ended up taking up most of her day as well as most of Shade’s. The drow knew she rose early and originally intended to take over her hour before the crew rose, but Dolce didn’t allow that on any day where the time was required to renew her spells. Otherwise she gave in.

Most days she found herself rather sore from their bouts, and when she fell back on her old favored tricks of misleading the drow with her attacks he usually disarmed her. It was rather aggravating. At least she won their spars when they grew heated more often than not. Of course, even a victorious bout sometimes resulted in him criticizing how she employed her blade. Too much of her movements relied on brute force. They targeted weaknesses, sure, but not in a way that capitalized on fluidity. This was what she wanted to learn, and what he slowly taught her.

They did share the deck with Nasha and Jack, but the lizardfolk worked with her pupil only three times a week and usually only for a few hours. Dolce enjoyed the respite when they were at it, for it gave her time to consider what she had learned from Shade thus far and how she would employ this knowledge in their next spar. There was also something relaxing about watching Jack emulating Nasha. Perhaps it was his adoration of her, or the cute way in which he would meditate beside her. Of course, when that began it usually meant Shade was calling Dolce back for more lessons herself.

The next month proved relatively tame. Their first undertaking had been to return to Tidewater Rock. Mirielle used her Greater Messenger’s Ring to inform Maheem they were coming, they would take the plunder that had been left on The Thresher, and that she expected him to be seaworthy, as well as all those from The Purr‘s crew that wished to leave the rock behind them.

When they arrived Maheem met them at the docks. All eight of the original crew were more than ready to leave Tidewater Rock behind even though they’d only been stationed there a couple of weeks. Mirielle was satisfied with the loyalty of the crewmen she’d brought from The Thresher at this point, and left them to hold the rock with the understanding that they would still receive plunder from time to time, but not as much as they would if they risked their lives at sea.

This seemed to suit the Thresher pirates just fine.

Dolce regaled the reunited crew members with a detailed telling of the events of Mancatcher Cove and Port Peril since they had not been present to witness them. More celebrations occurred after Mirielle showed them her Letter of Marque.

From the Rock they began making leisurely patrols of the shipping lanes to the south and west. Mirielle intended to have The Purr fitted with rapid deploy sails for the upcoming race, but she was in no hurry to do so. They captured relatively inconsequential amounts of plunder from passing ships, giving their crew more experience in pursuit and the hectic nature of the boarding process.

These leisurely laps gave Dolce plenty of time to work with Shade, and the elf was reluctant to admit it, but she was coming to respect him a bit more.. As well as to believe he might actually be trustworthy, as Nasha had suggested… Might

Chasing Fairytales

Among the various things they’d found on The Deathknell had been a journal that Dolce had magically restored and paged through. Within it she’d found the description of a rather marvelous creature. It seemed a master jeweler by the name of Liat Murks had deigned to craft an animate silver toucan, capable of moving and singing just as any other toucan could but through the use of springs and cogs. The journal stated that the bird was sent off with a rescue plea, but flew into the jungles of Mgange Cove, never to return.

Naturally, this was one of the last entries in the journal, and since reading it Dolce had whispered in Mirielle’s ear that they should investigate the cove to see if they could find the bird. Mirielle didn’t see what there was to gain from such a thing, but Dolce believed it would garner Mirielle more attention. Now, with the lull in their activities, the captain finally agreed to visit Mgange Cove.

When they docked and went ashore they found the islanders quite standoffish. They had little interest in dealing with the pirates, but were happy enough to receive their gold for the docking fees. It was suggested that the girls speak with the hunters further inland, which would require a few days on shore. Dolce readily agreed, for this gave her further respite from her training under Shade. He was a very good instructor, but also very keen on teaching by examples and often Dolce went to bed sore and bruised.. Too prideful to seek the succor of magical healing from Mirielle or Quinn.

They traveled to three different groups of the hunters. The third proved the most receptive to them. When they explained what it was they sought a woman among them said, “Yeah, you would not be the first to come seeking the infernal creature.” Like the rest of the island’s inhabitants, this human woman had dark skin and coarse hair. “We saw it a few days back. I could take you there for a price.”

Dolce’s keen ears caught a hint of resentment that was lost on the other girls. It wasn’t directed at them, but rather to the island. Their arrival provided the woman with a happy chance at distraction. Intrigued, the elf said, “Mm, well let’s see. You are their chief mender, are you not?” She nodded. “To deprive them of your services I suppose should be worth the cost.. How about a gold coin for every hour it takes you to lead us there?”

The woman looked pleased, “This sounds reasonable to me.”

Before the matter was completely settled Dolce said, “That’s one coin for every hour spent actively tracking the beast… Not for hours spent sleeping, mind you.”

The woman smirked, “Still a reasonable price. I agree.” She offered her hand, which Dolce shook. She was wearing very little on her torso, in fact her breasts were completely bare. Two straps bearing many pockets criss-crossed over her torso, and into these she occasionally placed herbs they passed while traveling. Her skirt reached to her knees, and her feet were covered only by simple sandals. About an hour into their walking she bent down and retrieved something from the soil. When she straightened she showed them, “This is the bird’s scats.” In her hand was a single small, silver cog.

Dolce raised an eyebrow, “You’re serious?”

“Quite. It leaves these behind rather than droppings. The other animals do not like the creature. It is too noisy for them.” She was smiling.

“I didn’t catch your name,” Dolce said.

“Abimbola.” She had drawn her hand over her heart as she said it. “What are yours?”

“Dolce, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha,” Dolce said, gesturing to each in turn. “Have you lived on this island long, Abimbola?”

Abimbola laughed, “Oh yes, since the day I was born. I could tell you everything about this island; I’m the smartest woman on it!” There was no hesitation in making her claim.

Again Dolce sensed resentment in her tone, subtle though it was. “I believe that,” the elf said. “I wonder, what can you tell us of others who’ve tried to catch the bird?”

“They were not fast enough nor clever enough. The contraption flies away before they have the chance.” Abimbola smiled and said, “It is why your offer is so good. We may be seeking the creature for quite a long time.”

Dolce chuckled at this. She was certainly shrewd, and the coin seemed to Dolce like perhaps it was a key to freedom. With enough gold she could leave the island… Or… she could just leave. The elf rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Do you have any insight to the creature, or is your knowledge limited to healing poultices?”

“Tcha! Limited, you say. I know of many poultices to mend wounds and also many elixirs that would harm or otherwise enhance. Beyond that I know how to make a thing, but never have I seen another creation so intricate as this one. You will see when we find it. You will.” Abimbola was prideful of her knowledge, but there was no anger in her tone when she answered Dolce.. So not offended that one might think her scope limited.

Dolce liked her, generally speaking. “So, which of the men back there was yours?” She figured the chief mender of the hunters would likely be married.

“My husband is not really mine any longer,” Abimbola said.

“Why is that?” Mirielle asked.

Abimbola sighed. “To master my art required much experimentation. There is not much on the island besides ourselves. One of my experiments did not go as I intended and I lost the ability to carry children. We do not believe in ending a marriage so he is with another woman who is more truly his wife and I am alone.”

Mirielle frowned, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Did you choose to marry the man?” Dolce asked. Abimbola shot her a scrutinizing look and Dolce said, “I just wonder because Captain Mirielle here was sworn to marry some man her father had chosen before she became a pirate.”

Abimbola gave Mirielle an appraising look before saying, “He was chosen for me. We had no passion together.”

There was much discussion about Abimbola’s skills as they continued tracking the toucan. Dolce wanted to get some idea of her capabilities. She was already inclined to have the woman aboard simply because she had a sharp mind and fiery personality, but having some gauge of how sharp a mind wouldn’t be a bad thing.

To Dolce’s amusement, Abimbola seemed somewhat immune to Mirielle’s charms… She did not, however, seem immune to Dolce’s charms, and the two were soon becoming friends. They made camp in the jungle that night and continued their hunt in the morning. Abimbola spent much of the time talking and much of it laughing. Dolce managed to strike a cord with the woman when she mentioned having left her own home island of Kepre Dua in search of something greater.

When they sighted the toucan Dolce had the others linger behind. Her Earthbind spell should give her an opportunity to capture the creature if necessary, but the journal entry had described the bird as convinced of its own authenticity. They’d seen it look rather deflated after trying to befriend the other birds in the trees, and now it lingered on a nice thick branch.

The elf drew as close as she needed to be for her spell’s effect to reach and straightened out of the underbrush. Figuring that it had been trained as a messenger bird, she adopted an authoritative stance and tone and spoke to it in elven. The words would not really matter, but the commanding nature of them would. She had her arm held out for the creature to alight on.

The silver toucan turned its head and regarded her, at first it did not obey, but neither did it fly off. Dolce could see a key rotating on the toucan’s underside. Perhaps powering the creature? She adopted a more gentle tone, now entreating rather than demanding. She also fished into her satchel as she called the creature, producing a copper coin she intoned, “Polly want a cracker, hmm? You know you do.” Her voice was pure honey. This method seemed to be what the creature was accustomed to, for it immediately lifted from the branch and alighted on Dolce’s arm, pecking the copper disc from her fingers.

Dolce smiled delightedly and pet the bird, “That’s a good boy. I bet you’ve been lonely out here, haven’t you?” The critter actually nuzzled into her affection. Dolce couldn’t decide if its head was bobbing in answer to her or because of her petting it. “Well don’t worry, we’ll introduce you to our friends soon enough.” Revaress and Cupiir were who she meant, of course.. While at the moment Revaress was on Dolce’s shoulder, it didn’t move to interact with the bird. Dolc ehad asked it to be very still, lest they spook it.

“Fascinating,” Abimbola said. “You approached it as if it were alive. Perhaps this is where the others went wrong!”

Dolce smiled at her. “Thank you for guiding us here. I suppose it’s back to the hunters for you?”

Abimbola’s own smile faltered and she sighed, “Yes, back to the hunters.”

“Unless you want to come with us?” Dolce offered.

“What?” Abimbola seemed surprised at the offer.

“Come with us, be a pirate. Let the seas be your home and travel all over the Shackles and perhaps even beyond. I know your talents would lend you to a ship’s crew quite well, and anything you don’t know…” Dolce trailed off.

“Would be easy to pick up,” Abimbola finished for Dolce. “I thought she was the captain.” Abimbola gestured at Mirielle.

Dolce looked at her captain and back at Abimbola, “She is the captain, but I’m pretty sure she would happy to have you aboard. Especially considering your similar histories, even if her fate was narrowly escaped.”

Mirielle chuckled and added, “I trust my first mate’s judgement, and she’s right. I would not turn you away if you wish to join us.”

Abimbola was smiling again. “Very good then! I accept!”

Dolce still retrieved twelve gold coins from her satchel and handed them over to the woman. “A deal is a deal. We’ll have to get you some proper tools for your experiments the next time we go to a major port. Do you need to collect your things?”

Abimbola nodded. “I should tell them as well.”

The girls followed their guide and new crewman back to the hunters from which they’d taken her. There Abimbola explained that she was leaving. The hunters protested, but Abimbola assured them another among them – her apprentice – was ready to handle their needs. She wished them well, but would not let them sway her, and soon she left Mgange Cove, the newest member of The Lady’s Purr‘s crew.

Aboard the ship Dolce pointed out that many used piracy as an escape from past pains. Abusive families, bad reputations (usually honestly earned by their own bad actions), religious persecution… Faltering marriages. Those who turned to piracy often chose a new name to leave their old life behind them.

Abimbola considered that for a time and said, “I think I will do this as well. My new name will be Kuzayoni. It is a bit of a bastardization of the name, but it means, ‘Born of silver birds.'”

“I like it! Welcome aboard, Kuzayoni!” This was how Dolce introduced her to the rest of the crew and would be the only name most of them ever knew her by.

Traces of Home

Dolce’s time was split between tinkering with the silver toucan and training with Shade. She was restoring the bird from damage it had taken in the years of its life at Mgange Cove. She’d also taken to feeding it coppers, and had plans for its future diet. When it was restored she would see if she could get it to spend more time with Mirielle. For the time being, Jack Scrimshaw was taking care of the toucan when Dolce was called to training with the relentless drow.

Dolce had just won a match by knocking Shade to his feet when the whistling broke out. The elf held her hand out for Shade to help him up, but her attention was immediately drawn to the crow’s nest and then toward the sea.

The drow wasted no time in knocking her off her feet and said, “Focus, at all times.”

He was grinning at her even as he climbed to his feet. Dolce sighed and said, “Aye, I know, I know.”

“Then practice it,” Shade said. He held a hand out for her now. The elf couldn’t help herself but try to return his tactic, sweeping her legs toward his own, but he swiftly jumped over hers. “Really?” He asked, plainly unimpressed.

Dolce sighed and rolled onto her feet without his assistance. She grumbled, “Worth a shot,” and made toward the railing, taking out the Farglass as she did so. She saw the sail Badger was announcing easily enough. It was an elven ship, and stationary in the water. The crew were dumping buckets of water overboard even as she looked. A trap, maybe?

“Elves,” she said to Shade, and then made for the wheel. Mirielle was looking through her own spyglass, though not seeing nearly the detail the Farglass showed Dolce. The captain had insisted the elf keep the magical spyglass since she was so well-informed on matters of piracy in the Shackles. “It’s an elven ship, Captain. Seems to be taking on water, or rather.. trying to put off water.”

Mirielle took the Farglass from Dolce at that point, taking a look herself. “Hmm, easy prey.”

Dolce nodded her agreement. “I doubt they’ll attempt to fight if it isn’t a trap… Let me climb to the crow’s nest and see what I can hear.”

Mirielle nodded and Dolce took the Farglass and did as she’d said. Atop the crow’s nest the elf used the innate magic of the spyglass to cast Clairaudience. If this was a trap it would be revealed by the magical sensor now aboard their ship. The sensor would linger for as long as Dolce kept them in view. All she heard though were orders being given and buckets being thrown overboard until someone took sight of The Purr. Then came a hurried attempt to identify her and dismayed observation that she had a jolly roger.

It wasn’t a trap. She returned to her Captain’s side and informed her as much. They approached the ship, which lowered its own flag.. A sign of surrender. And they boarded without resistance. Before much at all was said the captain aboard this floundering ship said, “Dolce?”

Dolce bristled at being recognized.. Primarily because as an elven ship this ship was likely to hail from Kepre Dua. When she looked upon the captain she knew she was right. Sanev Venfir was the son of the most infamous pirate captain to make port in Kepre Dua, Haryk Venfir. “My, my, what a surprise. And how did you come to be here, Sanev?” Her voice was cool and lacking the usual friendliness she exuded. Most of the faces of the elves she could see were not familiar.

“Captain Haryk sent me to bring these elves home to Kepre Dua,” Sanev said.

Dolce’s eyes narrowed, “You’re telling me that fucker gave you a ship?” Her blood was boiling as she recalled pleading with Captain Haryk to make her even a swab aboard The Mangy Grail, one of his least impressive vessels. Captain Haryk had insisted she was too young, though she’d been sixty years of age.. And here she was face-to-face with Haryk’s son, who she knew to be in his fifties, and the man had been made a captain.

Sanev flinched at Dolce’s harsh tone, but swallowed. “He is… not the same as when you knew him, Dolce. And with the way things are, there are few enough willing to take to the sea.”

Dolce’s mood was not much improved by this, though her curiosity was piqued. What had happened to Haryk to make him send his son out for such tasks. “You will take to wherever your leak is,” Dolce instructed another elf. She would have taken Sanev himself, but she knew Mirielle would want words with the elven captain. The elf Dolce had singled out hesitated until Sanev nodded, and then they headed for the damaged part of the ship.

“Well,” Mirielle said, “Let’s discuss your future.” Mirielle’s demeanor was full of its usual charm and calming nature, though tensions remained high among both crews.

Sanev nodded. “Let’s. I believe there is no reason for you to seize our ship. We have little aboard beyond the passengers and their meager belongings. I also believe my father would reward you for assisting our travel to Kepre Dua.”

Mirielle considered his words, but they seemed truth to her. She detected no hint of deceit in his tone or posture. “Escorting you to Kepre Dua, eh? Well, it certainly seems you could use the assistance. What exactly befell your vessel to leave you in this state in the first place?”

Now the elven captain blushed and dodged her gaze. She would know why soon enough for he sheepishly admitted, “There was a rather shallow reef…”

Mirielle refrained from laughing, though the impulse did well up within her. Some of her crew did chuckle at the man’s admission. “I see. Well, Dolce is gifted in magic and will be able to keep your ship afloat long enough to reach land, provided she remains aboard.”

“Of course,” Sanev said. “And my crew?”

“Well, as things are, I intend to be paid. Your crew will remain on your vessel under your second’s direction.” She let that sink in. Not under his direction. “You will be a guest on The Lady’s Purr until we have our payment.”

“Of course, Captain Mirielle.” Introductions had not been given, and yet he knew her name. This was a matter that brought Mirielle some happiness. Of course, that happiness was relatively short-lived when Mirielle had to explain to Dolce where they were headed. Dolce was in a sour mood. She verified that every elf aboard The Barbarous Hook actually did want to go to Kepre Dua, and much to her chagrin.. All of them did. She agreed to aid them, staying aboard and keeping the ship afloat with her magic, but remained quite aloof to them all throughout the journey.

Shade joined her aboard The Barbarous Hook for he wished to continue their training. The elves were greatly displeased at the presence of a drow in their midst, but had no say in the matter since their own captain had ordered them to treat their guests as though they had the same authority he did.

Dolce and Shade slept in the captain’s cabin since he was aboard The Purr. It gave them at least some distance from all of the resentful elves aboard. Dolce also commanded one of the officers surrender his rather colorful shirt. This was because Badger had Dolce it was what she would have chosen if they’d taken the ship and the elf considered it Badger’s right to claim the prize since they were sparing the elves their lives.

OOC Notes

I probably should have kept track of Dolce’s tithes. I have literally taken 5% of everything I’ve been awarded on land and 10% of everything they’ve claimed from the sea (including the treasure of Mancatcher Cove since it was below water in the caves) and had them throw it overboard for Besmara. Not immediately mind you, normally they go to port, sell the plunder for gold coins, buy a chest with a portion of the ‘tithe’ and then fill it with all the gold and toss the chest into the ocean as they’re en route elsewhere. I think I’ll endeavor to describe this in more detail the next time they bring in a big haul.

So we had a month of downtime that Owlbrarian put in for me because I wanted to retrain Dolce from a Scoundrel Rogue to a Thief Rogue. It didn’t make sense to leave her as a Scoundrel because I found I very rarely rely on feint for Sneak Attack. I initially chose Scoundrel thinking I could use feinting to give Sneak Attack to my spells, but that’s not the case. Feinting only makes your target flat-footed to melee attacks. As a Thief Rogue, Dolce will constantly add her dex to damage instead of her strength, so a 3 point jump per successful strike. It may not be much, but at least she’ll actually benefit from her racket (rogue subclass). This also meant a lot of time for Dolce to spend with Shade.

Nasha has actually been training Jack in the background for a while, teaching him how to protect himself if he has no weapons on hand. Jack’s a cabin boy, so relatively young. He’s actually on the verge of being a bit too old for the role. Nasha is hoping to basically turn him into a monk so she doesn’t have to worry about him during boarding parties once he’s a regular crewman. They train for about 3 hours on the days they train, though that includes meditation and conversation about observations made during their spars.

Notedly, Calden, the marine Mirielle recruited a while back, had been training with much of the crew in matters of combat with Revel helping and overseeing. Jack, being a cabin boy, was not included in this instruction. Owlbear, however, has been learning primarily from Revel, who’s teaching him to wield the spiked chain they outfitted him with as terrifyingly as possible. They allocate roughly an hour a day for this.

Mirielle rolled a two on the die the first time she attempted to Make an Impression with Abimbola. I think that was her first failed diplomacy check since The Wormwood. Dolce, on the other hand, rolled a 19. I roll for Mirielle by default because she is, generally speaking, trying to make a good impression. I only roll for Dolce, Nasha, or Revel when they are specifically trying to impress people (meaning Dolce usually rolls when dealing with pirates of great renown, Revel for big tough guys or sullen people, and Nasha for people that catch her attention or stir her protective instincts).

On Kuzayoni herself, I didn’t know until she was already aboard the purr, but apparently I rolled an incredibly narrow range on Owlbrarian’s random tables for NPCs. She was actually level 11. A good three levels higher than my party at the time. Glad we didn’t get off on the wrong foot!

The Farglass was a magical spyglass we claimed from Tidewater Rock. It lets you see far further than you normally could.. Three miles at sea level, ten miles from the crow’s nest (or the top of Tidewater Rock).

S&S: Session 22 – Reunions

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.

OOC Notes

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.

Waves

This one pivots again, to Mirielle’s perspective. No spoilers are contained in it either.

Much of it employs imagery, but I have to admit I’m rather out of practice with imagery in general… Most of my poems are far more literal and descriptive since they are written to relate stories that occur in sessions or actual mechanics of creatures (with my more recent monster poems).

All the same, I hope you enjoy.


Waves Crashing

Waves crashing with their mighty roars –
Breaking down to spray.
Mists clinging to the ragged shores
As the ship does sway.

Stars glowing in the velvet night –
Flickers o’er the sea.
Each crested wave, a new delight –
Echoes of the free.

The sun rises to greet the mast;
Toils begin anew.
The sails, by wind, are soon harassed
Glistening with dew.

Each wave carries the tang of brine,
Tainting every thread;
But silken sails with fortune twine
Where the bold now tread.