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 and Dolce questioned the shops of Ollo. They’d sold a ship to one in particular while here the last time, and he was friendly enough with them to point them in the direction of good shops at which pirates might resupply. One of these indicated they frequently sold to The Dryad’s Grave and that they’d probably be back in town soon as they’d supplied quite a bit ago. Of course, this was casually obtained with subtle conversation thank’s to Dolce’s practice at manipulating conversation.
The Lady’s Purr set sail shortly after that and Dolce took up the day post in the crow’s nest with her Farglass. She watched the horizon throughout most of the day, though occasionally she had Revaress take over while she took a break. The octopus was comical to behold, coiling the Farglass in its tentacles to peer out the scope.
Nasha, meanwhile, found that she had a new crewman to order around on the night shift. Emilia had requested to be the third permanent pirate working overnight. The first night Nasha watched as she brought coffee to the crew. Nasha was the last she approached with a steaming mug.
“I thought you might like some too, though I made yours a little differently…” Emilia said.
Nasha took the mug, noting it smelled different than the others had. The scent was pleasant and rather nutty. The lizardfolk let her long tongue dip into the steaming liquid. The taste was strong enough she might actually remember it where most human drinks tasted little different from muddy water to her. She must have accounted for the Iruxi having a weaker sense of taste and a stronger sense of smell than humans. Nasha looked at the woman again. “Why is it you know so much of the Iruxi?”
Emilia was drinking her own coffee and seemed surprised by the question. She gulped down her drink and asked, “Do I know so much?”
“You named one of our constellations, you pronounced the name correctly, you accounted for my senses being different from your own. You seem to know much of us.” Was it possible there were humans being asked to watch Irxui in the same way Nasha had been sent to watch humans?
Emilia chuckled a little. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just.. A bit of a sponge for information. I know a lot about many cultures. Astrologically speaking, the Iruxi have a great understanding of the stars. Of course, there’s a vast knowledge of astrology held by many who worship Desna, by the Osirians, and by the Rahadoumi as well.”
Nasha’s tail swished as she considered the human’s words. She seemed sincere. It was not likely she studied the Iruxi specifically, and yet, it was refreshing to be around someone who seemed to know more of Nasha’s own people. “Perhaps, you will tell me what you know of our astrology?”
Emilia smiled brightly. “I’d be delighted to discuss astrology with you. Or any topic really. I love a good conversation. I will tell you much of what I’ve learned about the Iruxi was from another slave aboard the Sandsworn.”
“An Iruxi slave?” Nasha asked.
Emilia nodded. “He was very old. Apparently one of few to survive in a battle that took place at Neruma.” The human was frowning now.
“What was his name?” Nasha knew well of ‘Neruma’. It was a city built upon Iruxi breeding grounds, and one which they wished to reclaim. As yet they had been unsuccessful. Nasha believed they sent her and others to observe people throughout the Shackles to determine if there was another way to reclaim the sacred breeding grounds since raiding had failed.
“Oxaquae. He was very kind to me, and in turn I tried to ease his life aboard the Sandsworn,” Emilia said softly.
“Until you left?” Nasha asked as she dipped her jaw into the mug, using her tongue to pull the coffee into her mouth. She often got strange looks from humans that weren’t accustomed to watching lizardfolk drink when they saw this for the first time, but Emilia was not phased by it.
Emilia shook her head. “No, he died in a pirate attack. I had only been aboard for four years, but I was very sad to see him perish.”
She sounded genuinely remorseful. Nasha stopped her drinking and stood straighter. “Today we speak of the fallen. Who will share a memory of the lost?” She was looking at Emilia, of course, who was the only one to have lost this particular sailor.
The human seemed confused at this, and Nasha supposed it was because this was not an Iruxi custom, nor even a custom that could be traced to piracy. It was what Mirielle had done when Narwhale had passed.
As though he’d heard her thoughts, Owlbear said, “I remember Narwhale. He gave me a crab.”
Nasha looked over at Owlbear and nodded her head in approval. It seemed they had more of an audience than Nasha had realized, but it was no big surprise considering the lights were out below deck and all of the night crew was active above.
“I remember Rollo,” offered Ratline. “Always gambled; never won.” Ratline had lost his own gamble recently to end up on the night shift, and as a result had greatly appreciated Emilia’s coffee tonight.
“I remember Narwhale too,” Evith said. “He was the only one among us to stab the captain and live.” She had drawn night shift a fair few times and seemed more able to make the adjustment than her halfling friend.
Nasha nodded at Emilia now. “I remember Oxaquae,” Emilia said, following the others’ examples. “He taught me the Iruxi tongue, and how to read the stars.”
After Emilia a few others of the night crew named fallen that Nasha had never met. People they cared about. There was Shaveka who remembered ‘Ciranorn’ for being her first captain, Tildra who remembered ‘Doldris’ for taking her to Rickety’s Squibs, Kennor who remembered ‘Natraj’ for being his first love, and finally Ada who remembered ‘Zathig’ for being her best friend.
When it seemed no more remembrances were forthcoming Nasha straightened again and said, “They rest now. Perhaps finding home in their second life.” She was sure her wording would be strange to those who were accustomed to Mirielle leading this, for most of the others didn’t refer to death as ‘second life’… But Nasha’s family always had.
Emilia watched as most of the gathered crew finished off their coffees, almost like they were toasting those they’d spoken of. After that they all returned to work or idly peering over the rails into the night. Emilia drank of her coffee too. After a bit she asked Nasha, “Where did you learn that custom?”
Nasha smiled and said, “Mirielle started it when we lost Narwhale and Rollo to the Deathknell.”
The human’s eyes widened. “You faced the Deathknell?”
“I thought you were a pirate master,” Nasha said, her tail idly thudding into the floor of the boat.
“I- I hadn’t heard. What happened?” Emilia asked, truly curious.
Nasha frowned now. “I am not good at the telling. Ask Dolce. She is always happy to talk…” She supposed she could have sung Emilia the song, but she was hesitant to sing without Dolce present to coach her.
Emilia must have picked up on the hesitation for Nasha soon heard her ask, “Is there something more?”
“I could sing Dolce’s song to you, but I don’t think I’m as good as her.” The lizardfolk said.
Emilia smiled a little. “Won’t you give it a try? I’d love to hear you sing.”
“Alright,” Nasha said. She took a moment to still herself, drawing on her form in the ways Dolce had taught her, then slowly sang The Final Toll while using her tail as a metronome by softly striking the deck with it. Her tone was low and steady, a natural bass. She was not surprised by the nerves she felt, for it had taken some coaxing from the elf to get her to agree to singing lessons in the first place.
Nasha’s people were known for their oral history and epic poetry. Singing was a prized skill, and one her voice had been found lacking for… But Dolce, with patience, had taught her to hone it, and now it was fair enough. Perhaps more fair, even, than some of those who had been chosen to cultivate their voices among her family.
Emilia clapped her hands together when Nasha finished, as did Owlbear. “That was lovely!” Emilia said.
Owlbear echoed her, “Lovely! Pretty!” He said, clapping as well, his spiked chain rattling with his movements.
Nasha smiled. She thought if she were human she might have pink cheeks now, for she felt a little embarrassed at the praise. “Thank you,” she said, inclining her head to them.
The Dryad’s Grave
When morning came again the night crew went below and Dolce resumed her vigil in the crow’s nest. On one of the elf’s breaks from searching the horizon she felt Revaress prod her with a tentacle. When she took the Farglass from her familiar and looked in the direction it indicated she saw their quarry in the distance. Ten miles out, for she could barely see it with the Farglass‘ enchanted lens.. Dolce piped on the whistle to announce the sail and descended to join Mirielle.
They got the ship underway with haste, employing their new rapid deploy sails. Alas, as they drew close they were not met with weaponry, but a flag of parley. Mirielle, being who she was, drew alongside them rather than simply engage. Dolce suspected this would turn sour quickly.
“Ahoy, Captain Mirielle!” Called Milksop from his smaller vessel. There was a creature Dolce recognized as an air mephit at Milksop’s side.
The Dryad’s Grave sported a stunning satyr figurehead. Dolce would have had a hard time telling you which was more beautiful, her own ice angel or the satyr before them. Mirielle moved to the rail and responded, “Ahoy yourself, Captain Milksop. Would you come aboard The Purr to discuss this parley?.”
He ignored her offer, asking instead, “What brings you to these parts?”
Mirielle was looking over his crew as she responded, “The Purr has made port at Ollo before.” They didn’t look especially battle-hardened. Good for Mirielle and the crew of The Purr.
Milksop nodded a little, “Oh, aye, but not commonly. I more meant, what in particular has you here. Your sails were open and you seemed rather intent on The Dryad’s Grave.”
Mirille considered lying, but decided in this instance she would just be honest. Perhaps they’d strike an agreement and bloodshed would be avoided. “You have something we want, Captain.”
“Is that so, Captain? And what might that be?” the man asked.
Mirielle didn’t even hesitate to say, “The Ring of the Iron Skull.”
Milksop looked surprised that she knew of the item’s name and twisted it on his finger. “Interesting. Well it seems we’re at an impasse, for I want the plunder in your hold!”
Mirielle chuckled. “Pity for you then.”
Milksop hesitated before asking, “Why’s that, Captain?”
“We’re not carrying anything in our hold at present,” Mirielle said plainly.
The man smiled again and said loudly, “Then your ship will have to do! Fire the springal! Target the wheel!” cried Milksop. His crew did as they’d been instructed, firing the weapon at The Purr‘s wheel.
To Revel’s annoyance, the springal’s ammunition appeared to be grappling hooks and the three things came to life as they landed on the aftcastle, striking at the hobgoblin. Revel took the blows in stride, letting the injuries stoke her anger. “What the FUCK IS THIS!?” She bellowed, biting at the animated hooks. One fell idle, broken in pieces by her powerful jaws.
Dolce, noting that this was her best opportunity to strike at Milksop’s crew without catching anyone from The Lady’s Purr, cast a Weapon Storm spell, striking out with her rapier and watching as the attack was replicated against each of his crewmen in its area. Milksop himself didn’t get struck at all, but the mephit that had been beside him disappeared from the force of the blow it took.
‘So much for an agreement. Then we’re back to my original plan..’ Mirielle thought. “GRAPPLE!” she yelled, and the crew scurried to oblige. Meanwhile, the captain made her way to the far side of The Purr so she would be harder to target by those aboard The Dryad’s Grave since it was resting lower in the water.
Milksop snarled in rage and spoke a word in a language none of the girls understood. To their surprise the figurehead came to life, whirling up above the deck. “Kill the captain!” Milksop shouted, and the wooden satyr tried to oblige, firing a ballista that was attached to its wrist at Mirielle.
Her captain’s cry of pain sent chills down Dolce’s spine. She saw Mirielle was still conscious, but barely. Captain Milksop cast a spell of his own, summoning a zephyr hawk to his aid. It appeared beside Dolce, attempting to strike her, but to no avail.
Nasha decided that of all the targets present, the satyr was the most dangerous. It had almost laid her captain low. “Hit the wooden one with Ivory, Riddle, and Pain!” Nasha ordered.
“Aye, aye, Nasha!” Conchobar called, scurrying to fire off Ivory. The ballista shot flew wide. Shaveka Fired Riddle, and her shot hit the satyr, but to little effect. Ratline fired Pain.. His shot bounced harmlessly off the satyr’s flank. Not nearly as effective as Nasha had hoped. She prepared to board the enemy vessel, convinced that the ballista would be of little use after the display.
Revel and the animated hooks continued facing off, the hobgoblin taking more injuries, but none of them serious as she chomped at the metal and wood of the grapples relentlessly. Another sundered and fell to the deck, the last one was severely splintering, but not quite idle.
Mirielle hesitated to act, but Dolce didn’t. The elf ignored the zephyr hawk and rushed to Mirielle’s side, casting her most powerful Invisibility spell on her captain. That seemed to pull Mirielle out of her hesitation, for Dolce heard her captain call upon her heritage to heal herself. Since Dolce had used a more powerful form of the spell for Invisibility it held true even with Mirielle’s own casting. Mirielle ordered loudly, “BOARD THAT SHIP!”
“Damnit, shoot the blue one!” Milksop instructed the satyr as he lost sight of Mirielle. It wouldn’t matter in the immediate future, for the stayr was still reloading the crossbow, but Milksop saw it set its sights on Nasha and barked, “No, the fleshy blue one!” The captain then cast another spell and his visage became blurry. His zephyr hawk chased after Dolce, attempting to strike her and succeeding once. Then Milksop’s most recent spell sent him thudding into the side of The Lady’s Purr. “Damnit,” he grumbled.
Nasha, meanwhile, landed on the deck of The Dryad’s Grave and closed the distance to Captain Milksop.
The last grapple bit into Revel’s flesh before the hobgoblin broke it in two with her vicious fangs and roared in triumph. Revel jumped onto the deck of The Dryad’s Grave as well, but she closed the distance to the wooden satyr.
Dolce moved to the edge of the ship to better have Milksop in her view. He had cast Blur. Of this much she was certain, for she knew the spell herself, but she was not attuned with it today and thus couldn’t tell how much energy he’d put into the casting of it. ‘Besmara smile on me,’ the elf thought, sending up a quick prayer as she intoned the words of power required to attempt countering his spell with her own. Dispel Magic struck him true, but the effect did not waver. Dolce cursed and said to her captain in the celestial tongue, “Use a powerful spell and see if you can end that. Nasha will have a hard time hitting him if you can’t!”
Mirielle had joined Dolce at the rail and nodded her understanding. She too cast Dispel Magic, and hers unraveled the energy of the enemy’s spell. Milksop cursed loudly.
The satyr wheeled on Revel, who was now in melee with it. It fired its ballista all the same and the hobgoblin roared, “I’M GONNA TEAR YOU TO PIECES!” Her energy was menacing, but her voice was clearly pained as well.
Milksop intoned another spell, and this one allowed him to take flight. He rose above Nasha, out of her reach. “YOUR CAPTAIN’S RUNNING!” Revel bellowed as she saw him lifting up.
Milksop chuckled and said, “Heh, not nearly, just repositioning.” He lost focus on his zephyr hawk and it returned from whence it came.
Nasha, now useless on the ground below Milksop, joined Revel in harassing the satyr. The powerful lizardfolk moved to the side opposite Revel and swiped at their foe. Her first hit connected, horribly. Her claw hooked in its wooden form and ripped back, tearing the scales of her digit. She was pretty sure she felt something break. She snorted in pain, but lashed out again with a more basic slash of her claws. It wouldn’t exert the same pressure on her, but also wouldn’t damage her foe as much. Alas, this strike also was ineffective.
Revel chomped into the wood vigorously, and Dolce’s new runes brought flames to her bite. The satyr splintered and burned. Revel’s second bite clipped the creature’s ballista, severing its cord and making it useless in the process. As the splinters lodged in Revel’s mouth she cursed again. “Fuck me, not nearly enough blood in this fight.”
Dolce fixed Milksop in her sights and cast yet another Dispel Magic. She watched as he fell to the deck with a thud. “Two!?” He asked, “You prepared two of them? How did you- Gah. You were looking for me!”
“We said as much,” Mirielle stated simply. “There’s no need for further bloodshed, surrender now and talk with me about terms.”
Milksop surveyed battle crew, his eyes lingering on the smoldering bites Revel had taken out of the satyr. It was truly on its last legs and the man actually whimpered observing it so. “Fine, fine.. We surrender. LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS!” Milksop commanded.
His sailors obeyed immediately. Mirielle’s voice chimed out in quick succession, “The battle is won! Collect their weapons and hold fast!” Her crew likewise obeyed.
Mirielle, still invisible, moved to Revel’s side and tended the hobgoblin’s injuries. She did this with magic. As the wounds sealed she also plucked one of the more prominent splinters from Revel’s lips, deftly tucking it into one of her belt pouches with no one the wiser thanks to her subtlety and invisibility.
“Survey the hold,” Mirielle instructed. When no one moved she realized they could not see who she was looking at. With a sigh she said, “Dolce.” The elf obliged at once, beginning to move below with Fipps and Shaveka in tow. She returned to Milksop’s side and pulled the ring that had caused them to cross paths from his finger. “Dolce,” Mirielle said, causing the elf to pause. Mirielle tossed the ring to Dolce. It was a testament to the elf’s reflexes that she both saw it appear in midair and managed to catch it on such short notice. “There’s your prize.” The captain, of course, was talking about Dolce’s prize for ‘sighting the sail’. Dolce simply nodded and continued below after slipping the ring on her own finger.
Mirielle continued giving orders. “Tend to the injured, Quinn.” He inclined his head and began looking over the wounded. “Nasha, you will accompany me and Captain Milksop aboard The Purr.” Nasha nodded and Mirielle took Milksop’s elbow until her invisibility faded. They boarded The Purr and entered the captain’s cabin.
Mirielle sat at her small table with Milksop opposite her. Nasha stood at the door. The aasimar had used magic to mend her friend’s injuries once she’d seen the ragged state of her claw, but Nasha said the strain was only slowly getting better. Still, she would prove a deterrent should Milksop attempt anything foolish.
“Now then,” Mirielle said, pleased to have him on her ship as she had initially intended. “Let us discuss the terms of your surrender.”
Milksop swallowed and said, “Of course, of course. Look, you can have the treasures in our hold, just please don’t take my ship.”
Dolce had told Mirielle that Milksop had high ambitions. He intended to hand over the largest bounty of any pirate when he made his stake to be named a free captain. That would require surrendering about twenty thousand gold worth of goods to Captain Bonefist. “I’m told you’re rather ambitious,” she said.
Milksop’s brows furrowed, “I.. haven’t the slightest idea what you’re saying, Captain Mirielle.”
Mirielle smiled and said, “Of course not. But you see, there’s room for a pirate of great renown, such as one who’s claimed his position as a Free Captain with more wealth than any to come before him, in my fleet.”
“You have a fleet? I hadn’t heard.” Milksop seemed genuine in this, rather than mocking. A good thing for him as Nasha would not have taken lightly to him disrespecting Mirielle.
“We’ve The Purr as well as another vessel called The Thresher. She once belonged to Captain Inkskin and is currently settled at Tidewater Rock. Yours would make the third… But I’m not sure I’m willing to wait that long. Just how much of the wealth you aim to present to Captain Bonefist have you gathered, Milksop?” She had fixed him in her gaze and was unyielding as she observed him. She almost felt like she could see thoughts rolling around in his mind.
After a time it seemed he decided to be honest with her and he said, “Seventeen thousand gold worth, including the two thousand on The Dryad’s Grave.”
Mirielle nodded. “Well then, consider this a minor setback. The rest of your crew will keep their lives. We’re taking half of what’s in your hold. You will continue your efforts. When you attain your title as an independent Free Captain in the very manner you desire and you will sail to Tidewater Rock to begin sailing as the second captain in my fleet. Understood?”
“O-of course, Captain,” Milksop said.
Mirielle could tell the man would require more persuasion when he had attained his title, but she had little worry about that. “If you fail to report to Tidewater Rock we will hunt you down and this time there will be no parley before Greed rips your sails to shreds and we sink your ship. Do I make myself clear?”
Milksop swallowed. It was not that Mirielle sounded particularly frightening, indeed, her voice lacked that edge that Dolce and Revel had honed so sharply. No, it was her sincerity that unnerved the man. “O-of course, Captain.”
“Good. Now, get off my ship,” Mirielle said. She watched as he stood and, after bowing to her, left the cabin. Her eyes strayed to her silver toucan. It was ‘grooming’ itself on a perch near her bed. She’d really not spent much time with it, but Jack was another matter. He played with the bird through much of the day while Mirielle was busy. Perhaps she’d give the thing to Jack. Cupiir kept her company well enough.
Nasha had stepped out of the way to let the man passed and watched now as he made his way back to his own ship. She wondered how wise it was to let him leave. Her attention was drawn back to Mirielle as she heard her captain say, “See that my orders are carried out, take only half of what is in their hold.”
“Of course, Captain,” The lizardfolk said before bowing and leaving to do as Mirielle had bidden.
Mirielle, meanwhile, made for Kuzayoni’s alchemy lab. There she took a single glass vial from the multitudes that Dolce had furnished for the woman. As she was making her way above deck she ran into Dolce. The elf looked truly perplexed and frustrated. “You’re letting him leave?” she asked.
“Yes,” Mirielle said. “But we will not be empty handed. We have the ring and we’re taking half of what’s in their hold.”
Dolce scowled, “Half, and not their ship?”
Mirielle frowned. “No, not their ship.”
“Ratline is dead. As is Ado,” Dolce said quietly.
Mirielle felt as though her blood got colder. Ratline had been with them since The Wormwood. Ado was a halfling recruit from Bag Island. The aasimar sighed. Death was inevitable, but it still wore on her to lose crewmen. “I am letting him go because he will be a captain under me.” She offered this because she knew Dolce was telling her about the deaths because she felt they shouldn’t let the captain leave at all, much less with his ship and crew and magical figurehead.
Dolce blinked in surprise. “He agreed to this? And.. and you believe him?”
“Yes,” Mirielle said, “And no.” She took the vial, now containing the charred splinter of the figurehead, and handed it to Dolce. “Do you know what that is?”
“A piece of his ship?” Dolce asked. She was about to ask ‘What if he sells it?’
Mirielle spoke first, “A piece of his figurehead, plucked from Revel’s splintered jaws. He may sell his ship to try and dodge this agreement, but we can track him with that.. The way he reacted to Revel damaging it, I don’t think he’d ever part with it. Even if he did we would find another means… And I think a few choice uses of Nightmare would compel him to answer soon enough.”
Dolce found herself off-balance. Here she’d come with accusations and anger at the loss of their crew and Mirielle being too soft-handed, but her captain had a plan. She swallowed. “You- You continually surprise me, Captain. I’m sorry I did not have more faith in you.”
“Indeed,” Mirielle said flatly. “You should be careful about that.” There was an edge to Mirielle’s voice. She appreciated Dolce, but Dolce was a large part of why she had been named captain. The elf needed to begin listening to her wishes more readily.
Dolce could sense Mirielle’s tension and frowned. “Of course, Captain. I would never question you in front of the crew.”
“That’s all well and good, Dolce, but even in private you should do so with less hostility,” Mirielle said, and then continued above deck.
The elf stood still for a moment. Her captain was right, of course. She tucked the vial into her bandoleer and her fingers strayed to her holy symbol. ‘That’s as much from you as from the captain, isn’t it?’ Dolce thought. She certainly believed it to be the case. Besmara had chosen Mirielle, and Dolce was a bigger pawn in her goddess’ schemes than she’d first believed.
Poor Nasha. She rolled terribly this whole fight, including a natural one that “broke” something according to her critical fumble spell. It didn’t say she couldn’t use “natural attacks”, but did say she couldn’t use the attack that had caused the fumble until healed (which requires treat wounds (a 10 minute activity) or being fully healed and 10 minutes to pass). We ruled it as she snagged a claw terribly and couldn’t do her Tiger Slash attacks, but could still punch or do more normal lizardfolk attacks. Not that it mattered. She never landed a blow.
Milksop ‘lost focus’ on his zephyr hawk because Summon Elemental is a sustained spell. This means he has to use an action every round to keep its effect going. Unfortunately for him, he was more concerned with getting away from Nasha than maintaining the elemental so he cast Fly (2 actions) and used his last action to move.
Dolce rolled spectacularly on her Pirate Lore check to know about Milksop, resulting in her preparing both a 2nd level and a 4th level casting of Dispel Magic. Meanwhile, Mirielle can cast the spell spontaneously and it is a signature spell for her.
• In Pathfinder 2, a sorcerer can choose one spell from each of her spell levels to be a ‘signature spell’. These spells are automatically heightened to the level of spell slot they use to cast them… She could also cast other spells at multiple levels by taking them as her ‘learned’ spells when she levels up, but with a limited spell list I try to avoid doing that.