S&S: Session 28 – Special Occasions

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!

Back aboard The Purr, Mirielle was getting some strange looks from her crew. They’d all seen her halo in combat, and all knew it usually faded fairly quickly. Eventually the captain said, “It’s not going anywhere.”

Ambrose, who had been the one staring at her to prompt the statement rubbed the back of his head. “I guess not. Never seen anything like it, Captain.”

“Yes, well you have now. The lot of you need to stop staring and get to work.” The later statement was directed at the swabs and mates who were loitering and watching Mirielle. They promptly hopped to work, assisting Revel and Nasha as they made their trips up from the Brine Banshee below.

Nasha was, unfortunately for her, the best suited to the task of retrieving the goods from the stern of the ship. Dolce made sure Revel at least could assist her. The crew tackled the prow together, for it was in shallower water and the cold wasn’t as damning.

They had emptied out Dolce’s Bag of Holding in order to use it to transport goods. Among the myriad possessions contained in the bag were the four buttons Dolce had claimed from the isle of the damned… One of them, she noticed, could be opened up. Inside the button was an Anchor Feather Token. The elf chuckled a bit when she saw it and put it with the others she had purchased in Port Peril while wondering how many other such things they’d missed.

Their second day of retrieving the treasures of the sunken Brine Banshee was quite inefficient. This because it was Revel’s nameday and everyone was celebrating with their Master-at-Arms. Still, there were quite a few trips made to the ship below and back up to The Purr. They’d be ready to sail on the following day.

Revel was distracted through the whole day though, because when they’d left Ollo she’d noticed a wrap package on her bed. Cog had stopped her from opening it and explained it was for her nameday. He’d proceeded to hide the gift. This morning he still wouldn’t let her open it, saying it was for the end of the day. When Revel finished eating with the crew below deck she and Cog retreated to her room and she looked at him expectantly. “So… where is it?”

Cog smirked. “I wondered how long it would-“

“Where is it!?” Revel asked again.

Now Cog was laughing. “Where would be the fun in it if I just tell you?”

Revel crossed her arms and adopted a sterner stance. “Do I need to pull rank on you?” She was trying to be just a little intimidating, but underestimated how scary her tone would come across. When Cog immediately started moving toward a secured chest of drawers in Revel’s room she relaxed, “Woah, woah. I’m not being serious.”

Cog looked surprised but seemed to want Revel to think he wasn’t. “I know that,” he said and knelt by the chest of drawers.

Revel saw he’d jammed the bottom drawer so it would only open partway and fashioned a false back of it that he now removed. “Clever bugger. I’d never have found the damn thing.”

Cog grinned up at her as he held out the brown package. “I know.”

Revel snatched it from his hands and plopped into their bed. It was nice being an officer. She snapped the ties around the package and opened the paper. Inside was a simple wooden box with a shark carved on it. “Aww, I love it!” Revel said, petting the shark.

“That’s not all,” Cog said.

Revel glanced at Cog and then opened the box. Inside of it was a soft, gray pillow. It had been jammed into the box by the look of how it was now puffing out over the edges. “A pillow, huh?” She pulled it free as she asked and saw the ‘pillow’ unfold into a more defined form. It was the shape of a shark, if a little rumpled, but Revel patted it gently to smooth down the odd lumps and get it smooth. When she’d done this, she looked up at Cog.

The human was leaned against the wall near her, smiling. “You like it?”

Revel snorted and set the box on the floor. The toy she set on the bed. “Yeah, I like it.” She stood up and tried to kiss him, standing on her tip toes to do it.

“You want more? Even after those wonderful gifts?” he asked, his voice teasing and mischievous.

Revel snorted again and grabbed the front of his shirt with her strong hands. She pulled him down and kissed him. “Yes,” she said, “and thank you. Definitely my favorite present.”

The Runaround

They finished collecting their spoils from The Brine Banshee in the early morning. Then they set their course for Beachcomber. Their four days on the sea were uneventful. They were welcomed in Beachcomber, as they had been before, and Dolce asked around in the same manner to draw the attention of Slip from The Temple of the Hidden Name. Soon enough she, Revel, and Mirielle were sitting with the halfling again.

“Well, back so soon? I can only assume that means you were successful,” Slip said.

Mirielle nodded and showed him a parchment containing Dolce’s description of the magic that made the wheel of The Brine Banshee work. “A secret for a secret.”

“Of course. You girls certainly work fast. Perhaps we can do business like this again sometime. As for the spy you’re interested in… I know of a spirit naga named Sarlis. She knows of a smuggler and spy who is dealing with a foreign power. You’ll find the naga on the Slithering Coast. You’re looking for a shallow cove located around here…” He indicated on a map of the Shackles the general location of the cove. “There’s a lone tree atop a hill. You’ll have to go into the jungle to find her meeting pool.”

Mirielle felt rather annoyed. After all, they’d tracked down the secret of The Brine Banshee and furnished it to the man and all they got in return was a person who knew a person who knew a spy. She bit her tongue because she knew making enemies here would not be smart no matter how annoyed she was.

“I have to say, I love your new look,” Slip said, gesturing to his own head.

Mirielle could only assume he meant her halo. “Yes well… If that’s all then.” She set Dolce’s notes on the desk in front of the man and began to rise.

“It’s actually not, Captain,” Dolce said. Mirielle shot the elf a curious look. “There’s the matter of the location of The Lady’s Sting.” Dolce said to Slip.

“Ah, yes. Well, since you’ve done so well I’d be willing to sell you that information for say… seven hundred gold in Absalom or Cheliax currency,” Slip said.

“Mm. But see, I’ve a secret for you. The location of this ship is not highly sought after, so I imagine a relatively insignificant secret will suffice in exchange?” Dolce asked, before telling him the secret she had in mind.

Slip looked curious. “Interesting. Here I thought you were rather averse to giving us a secret. Hmmm. You must have learned something you consider less risky?”

“Not something I learned so much as something I saw…” Dolce clarified.

“Well, plenty of nations have been toppled by ‘insignificant’ secrets, so by all means, let us transact this exchange.” Slip was smiling in a rather unnerving way.

“Right then. Captain Harrigan’s cabin girl, Caulky… She’s not a child at all, but a Changeling,” Dolce said.

Mirielle blinked in surprise. That certainly wasn’t a secret the girls minded sharing. If anything, it put Captain Harrigan in an interesting position because someone could potentially gain this knowledge and use it to leverage the cabin girl. Dolce was clever.

“Ooh, how interesting. Very well then. The woman you seek is known as Vakarla. She is a wrecker who has been preying on pirates southeast of the Rampore Isles. I wish you happy hunting,” Slip said.

“Now we’re done here,” Dolce said, looking at Mirielle.

Mirielle nodded and rose. “Thank you, Slip. We wish you well.”

With that the three girls left the Temple of the Hidden Name. They hoped they’d not be returning anytime soon.

Wrecking the Wrecker

They had arrived in Beachcomber in the morning and set sail to the Rampore Isles in the north the same day. They made it to the general area in a single day and started lazily roaming around the area looking for Vakarla. It was Alena, one of the first recruits who’d joined their crew in Rickety’s Squibs, who sighted the sails. It was a merchant vessel and the crew seemed to be trying to bail water.

When Dolce mounted the Crow’s Nest and looked through the Farglass she could see a Rahadoumi merchant vessel called The Shining Star, but there was no crew aboard. The pails of water being thrown overboard seemed to be moving of their own accord, as well as the rigging. The ship was passing through a perilously narrow break in a reef and seemed to be trying to escape the pirates. Dolce used the Farglass’ magic to cast Clairaudience… What she heard from the magically conjured sensor was… “pretend” Osiriani. The elf knew the language well, but this sounded like a rough proximity of it… As if those speaking it were doing so with their mouths closed. “Tell the captain it’s a trap,” Dolce said. She was trying to figure out the source of the magic she was witnessing and didn’t want to lose her sensor by moving her eye from the spyglass.

Alena called down, “Dolce says it’s a trap, Captain!”

“Right then!” Mirielle bellowed, “Hard to port! We’ll go around the reef and take them on the other side!” The crew scrambled to obey, working the rigging and turning the wheel.

Moments later, The Lady’s Purr jerked violently under their feet and the splintering and groaning of wood assaulted their ears. Dolce nearly fell out of the Crow’s Nest but managed to keep her hold. She saw several other sailors in the rigging who had also barely managed to cling to the yardarms and sails.

More concerning than that though, she’d heard magical words spoken above her. Peering into the clouds she saw a woman floating in the sky. “NOW!!!” The woman yelled.

Far below, on the deck of The Lady’s Purr, four half-orcs scrambled aboard. They were an imposing collection of half-orcs, and their presence was not missed. Revel pulled Zul, the trident she’d claimed from the sahuagin king in Mancatcher Cove, out and threw it at the nearest even as she bellowed ferociously at the one that was farthest away.

The trident hit, but hardly hurt the half-orc and he literally chuckled at what little it did. “That the best you got?” he asked in Goblin. “I thought you were important being up there by your fancy captain and all.”

Revel snarled and said, “I keep my best on me… Why would I waste it on someone like you?”

“That so?” he asked.

Above them Dolce took the momentary distraction as an opportunity and cast Earthbind on the flying spellcaster. She saw the magic take hold and the woman sank from the air and landed in the water with a splash. “Fuck!” the caster exclaimed. She seemed to climb onto ‘nothing’ in Dolce’s gaze, but standing atop ‘nothing’ like it was a solid surface she cast a spell at the elf in return.

Dolce’s vision was suddenly dominated by a prominent image of what she imagined the obelisk of Kepre Dua to look like. She’d never seen it, of course, but in her mind it was tall and black with a golden pyramid atop it. She saw herself standing before it, her eyes glowing a dull blue as her hands touched its smooth, black surface. She knew in those moments she was losing herself to it. Her free will. She would forever long for the sea, but the longing would be buried beneath a haze of mindless obedience and she would remain on Kepre Dua for the rest of her days.

Just as quickly, the sight faded from her vision and the feelings she’d suffered faded from her mind. Dolce realized she was clinging to the railing of the crow’s nest with trembling hands. Her eyes narrowed at the spell caster. She knew well what spell she’d just been inflicted with and intended to return the discomfort to her and then some.

“Aww, don’t worry, Rashbad, I’ll take care of the big, scary hobgoblin for you.” The female half-orc cooed, moving past her companion and into Revel. She swung her sword ferociously, the blade driven with such fervor that Revel felt almost like she was contending with herself. It dug into Revel’s steel blue flesh but didn’t hurt too terribly much. Her second swing connected as well.

“I’m not scared of her!” Rashbad protested.

“Sure,” the female said with a voice dripping with sarcasm.

Another of the half-orcs charged across the deck and up onto the aftcastle. He swung his blade at Mirielle, but missed her spectacularly.

Rashbad himself rushed forth, going up the far steps of the aftcastle, but veering for Revel instead of Mirielle. “I’ll show you!” He bellowed at his female companion and swiped at Revel. His blade struck true as well.

“Idiot! Attack the captain, not the henchman!” The female called. She’d only gone for Revel because it was the most direct path to the captain, but her dimwitted companion had wasted a perfectly good opportunity to strike out at Mirielle in his eagerness to prove he wasn’t scared.

Nasha darted up the steps behind him, but she stopped beside the one menacing her captain. She shoved him away from Mirielle and followed in his wake. “Get away from my captain,” she said, her reptilian lips curled back so her fangs were bared.

Up above them Dolce had retrieved a scroll of Feather Fall from her Bag of Holding. She used it now, jumping from the crow’s nest and casting the spell so she could safely land beside Revel. She readied her rapier on contact with the deck.

Revel tore into the female half-orc from above while Dolce harried her from the main deck. Mirielle’s attacker snarled at the lizardfolk. “You can’t push me around!” He declared.

Unimpressed, Nasha slashed at him twice with her claws and then said, “Yes. I can.” And pushed him off the aftcastle and into the ocean behind the stern of the ship. She turned her focus to the male half-orc attacking Revel.

Mirielle moved to safety and used her magic to aid and bolster her companions. Soon both the female and the male half-orc attacking Revel were dead… One from Dolce’s slender rapier, Brine’s Sting. The other from Revel’s devastating teeth.

Vakarla, the spell-casting half-orc who had initiated this whole attack, said, “Fine then. We’ll claim your treasures from the bottom of the ocean!” She cast Fireball, centering its effects on the wheel.

Dolce didn’t know what exactly Vakarla was casting, but she knew very quickly that it was doing real damage to the ship. Acting fast, Dolce cast Shadow Siphon and exchanged some of the energy from the Fireball for energy from the plane of shadow… Her quick actions greatly mitigated the damage of the Fireball, but so did Mirielle’s quick command of the ship.

“FUCK!” Vakarla cursed. “That’s it, elf!” Vakarla moved forward, closing the distance between her and Dolce with murderous intent.

Dolce gracefully stepped to Vakarla’s side and stabbed her with Brine’s Sting. The half-orc called out in pain. Revel came bearing down on the half-orc soon after and Dolce snapped, “Don’t kill this one, Revel. We need her alive!”

Revel grumbled. “Fine, fine.” She bit at Vakarla once, but missed, and then grabbed hold of her with both of her powerful arms.

Nasha moved to better position beside the half-orc, and Mirielle edged forward on the aftcastle so her halo’s aura would envelop her friends.

“Now then-” Dolce began.

Vakarla murmured the words of another spell, barely managing the somatic components due to Revel’s grasp. The half-orc was instantly gone from their ship, and in the distance Dolce saw her appear standing on seemingly nothing. Standing though. Not flying.

“FIRE THE PORT BALLISTAE!” Nasha yelled as she caught sight of the half-orc in the distance. She, like Dolce, had realized the woman must be on her ship.

“Aye-aye, Nasha!” Conchobar yelled with excitement as he rushed to the nearest ballistae. Soon enough they all fired toward the unseen ship.

Mirielle smirked and closed her eyes. A strange, red light entered into her halo’s glow as she murmured new words of power. Thirty feet from her, flying in the air, appeared a Flame Drake. Mirielle’s eyes were open as the spell completed and on seeing the drake appear she spoke words in a language none of the others on her crew were familiar with… Draconic. “Burn that woman.”

The drake responded to her words with an unnerving voice, though his words were lost on all but Miri as he said, “With pleasure.” There was a rumbling sound from his throat before a ball of fire launched forth from his jaws aiming for the half-orc woman. When it reached her it exploded violently.

Dolce and the crew aboard The Purr witnessed flames bursting into existence for a brief moment before disappearing from their sight. “It caught the ship on fire, right?” One of the crewmen asked, looking to Dolce, who nodded as she moved to the aftcastle. “Since you’re focused on your spell, Captain, I’ll handle piloting the ship, yeah?” Dolce asked.

“Yes. Make me proud, Dolce,” Mirielle responded, though she hadn’t taken her gaze from the drake.

“HARD TO PORT!” Dolce bellowed. Their ship was still perilously close to the Wall of Force, but she could see where it was in the water before them by how the waves sloshed against it.  With enough effort and a hard enough turn she believed their drift would allow them to clear the obstacle.

“FIRE GREED!” Revel called as the ship moved into a viable position to attack with their lead catapult.

Conch eagerly obliged, but the shot missed its mark. Nasha helped reload Greed.

Mirielle maintained the energy required to keep the drake in the world as it flew toward their enemy with startling speed… In addition she called, “AGAIN!” as Nasha finished loading the catapult. This attack flew true and destroyed the oars of the ship just as it appeared in their vision. Cheering broke out among the sailors, for the sails of the ship were tattered and in flames. She was crippled now, with no forward momentum.

Dolce pulled alongside the vessel and their flag came hurriedly down. Surrender. It seemed their captain had finally run out of tricks. Mirielle had Vakarla brought aboard The Lady’s Purr while Dolce oversaw keeping her pitiful ship afloat.

The Golden Vespal

Revel accompanied Mirielle to the captain’s cabin. Once inside Mirielle seated herself and said, “Well then, I believe you’ve found yourself in quite a disadvantaged position. We’re after a particular item that was aboard a ship known as The Lady’s Sting.”

“I don’t remember the ship. We’ve wrecked plenty of them,” Vakarla said. She was, of course, manacled, and Revel was right beside her in case she should try anything foolish.

Mirielle looked between the half-orc and her hobgoblin friend briefly before saying, “Perhaps you will remember the item then. It was a statue of a golden wasp.”

“Mm, I do remember that. I tell you what.. You let me and my crew go and we’ll show you to my base and the wasp.” After a moment she seemed to remember the state of her ship because she said, “Or I guess, you take us there.”

Mirielle considered this. She’d debated trying to recruit Vakarla as her third captain. Milksop, being the second, of course. But Vakarla had a certain edge to her. She’d seen it in the way they fought. To this woman her crew was nothing more than tools to get what she wanted. “Why are you here?” Mirielle asked.

“What?” Vakarla asked in turn, taken by surprise by the change of topic. “What do you mean?”

Here. In the Shackles… Preying on pirates.” Mirielle clarified. She’d originally thought that perhaps Vakalra and her crew preyed upon pirates because they didn’t want to harm innocent civilian ships, but now she believed this was false.

Vakarla snorted. “You make it so damn easy. Why should I go to all the trouble of hunting down ships when I can lay in waiting and you fuckers’ll come right to me?”

Yeah… Mirielle had been misguided in thinking there was any merit to the nature of their choice of prey. “I suppose a fair point. I wonder though… Would it be worth it to you to hunt down prey for a bigger payoff?”

“We get a pretty decent payoff with far less time wasted the way I run things,” Vakarla said dismissively.

“Hmm. Well then, as we are only interested in the wasp statue, I will happily transport both you and your crew to your base of operations. Shall we get this moving?” Mirielle said it without missing a beat. Of course, she purposefully avoided any mention of agreeing to the woman’s terms.

It seemed her ploy had worked, for the half-orc agreed. They first retrieved the single half-orc boarder who had survived engaging with Revel and Nasha – this being the half-orc Nasha had pushed overboard – and then set their course for the island on which Vakarla’s base was set up. Her ship they allowed to sink into the ocean. Of course, they retrieved everything of worth off of it before doing so, but it wasn’t worth the effort to truly save.

Vakarla’s base wasn’t far off, taking only forty minutes to reach. Granted, this was in part because of the speed The Lady’s Purr now enjoyed with its magical wheel. Mirielle found a moment in the hold to tell Dolce that they weren’t earnestly going along with Vakarla’s proposition, but it ended up being a short moment before more of the crew came below.

They saw three ship’s boats at her camp, as well as quite a collection of arms and armor. All of the structures were ramshackle shacks. Vakarla led them to one in particular, and inside it was The Golden Vespal. Dolce struck then, drawing Brine’s Sting and driving it mercilessly into the woman’s back. She still breathed after the first strike, but when Dolce’s blade sank into her flesh again the life fled her eyes and she slumped onto the ground.

“D-Dolce!” Mirielle shouted.

“What?” The elf asked, honestly confused. “You said we weren’t truly going along with her plan, right?”

Mirielle blinked. “I- I did, yes.. but… I didn’t mean… I would have left her alive.”

“You wouldn’t want her alive,” Shade said. He gave a nod of respect to Dolce before continuing, “If you betrayed her and took all of her hard-won plunder… I don’t think she’s the sort to let a thing like that go, Captain.”

“Neither do I,” Dolce said. It had become an odd thing to her to realize how often she and Shade were on the same page about things like this.

Mirielle frowned. She hadn’t intended this, but she also hadn’t explicitly explained that much. So far as she could tell, Dolce hadn’t realized her intent in conveying that this was a ruse was not to queue the elf to murder the woman. On the off chance that Vakarla wasn’t truly gone from the world, Mirielle cast Stabilize. This did not restore the half-orc. The aasimar sighed and said, “Well, it’s a moot point now, but in the future… Ask me if I want you to kill someone if you think that’s what I’m suggesting.”

Dolce nodded. “Will do, Captain.” It was odd to the elf that Mirielle seemed to care so much about murdering people when they were all but killing people anyways. Taking all of their wealth and stranding them in a port in the Shackles…

The girls sorted through all of Vakarla’s possessions. They found many magical items in addition to The Golden Vespal. They moved everything aboard The Lady’s Purr. Their ship was full up with the treasures of this and The Brine Banshee. They’d need a larger port soon.

The crew of Vakarla’s ship was brought aboard The Purr and given the option of being dropped at their next port of call or becoming Mirielle’s pirates. They agreed to the latter and The Lady’s Purr went from having zero half-orcs to having nine. Only one of these was from Vakarla’s boarding crew. A half-orc by the name of Lukluk.

Revel was delighted to see the unruly half-orcs join the crew. She rightfully suspected she’d get to wield her whip more often as they adjusted to their new lives aboard The Purr. She did find, however, that she had to escalate their punishments a bit more harshly than she’d needed to for the existing crew. This because they responded to a single lash with laughter, and even three was trivial to them.

The House of Stolen Kisses

They made their way back to Quent after plundering Vakarla’s base. Here Mirielle sent Dolce to return The Golden Vespal. Dolce gained access to Dindreann relatively quickly this time, for the priestess was eager for the relic’s return. She ushered the elf into her personal quarters. A man lay passed out in her bed, completely naked and looking rather content. Dolce raised an eyebrow at that, but Dindreann simply said, “You needn’t worry about him. He payed very well and lasted very little.”

The comment made Dolce chuckle. “I imagine many earn such a review from a lady like yourself, being one of Calistria’s high priestesses.”

Dindreann smiled and said, “You’d be right to imagine that.” She sat in a finely upholstered chair and gestured for Dolce to do the same. “I trust you’ve found my errant relic then?”

“I’m happy to report we have.” Dolce pulled The Golden Vespal from her Bag of Holding and held it out to Dindreann.

The priestess took it with delight. “Oh, you are wonderful!” She said, her accent drawling a little as she pet the golden relic’s back. “She doesn’t even look disturbed. Thank you, Dolce.” She set the relic aside and turned to face Dolce more fully. “You wanted to know about a spy. I have called upon my contacts and I’m pretty sure a scrimshander by the name of Jaymiss Keft knows about your spy. He lives in Drenchport.”

Dolce nodded. Of course, another deed done for another lead to someone else who knew about a spy. At least this was more pleasant than visiting the Temple of the Hidden Name. “Thank you for that, Priestess Dindreann. I wonder, are you powerful enough to cast the strongest form of the spell Restoration? We would supply the diamond dust, of course.”

“Mm, I would dearly love to help you, Dolce, but I’m afraid I don’t quite have that power. However, since you’ve done us such a great service, I will tell you my sister of the cloth, Froras, at the House of Stolen Hearts in Port Peril, she can definitely cast the spell with the power you require.” Dindreann was smiling. “There are other services I could provide if you’re inclined.”

Dolce took the priestess’ meaning well. While she couldn’t help but be curious what sleeping with a high priestess of Calistria would be like, she didn’t really need the distraction and she wasn’t sure Captain Mirielle would accept the delay. “I’m honored that you would offer such a blessing, Priestess, but you know I keep my faith with Besmara and she would not approve of me delaying my captain’s errands.”

Dindreann twirled her finger through her silky hair and said, “Such a shame. I imagine I would have enjoyed you… And that you would have lasted much longer than he did.” She gestured idly at the naked man on her bed. “Well, if you ever have a spare moment, Darling, you know you’re welcome here. Do extend my thanks to your captain as well, for the return of our beloved relic.”

“Of course, Priestess Dindreann. I’m sure Mirielle will be pleased to know you are satisfied with our transaction.” Dolce rose from her seat. She could now steer her captain to Port Peril where they could sell their plunder and see to Haneilius’ ailing mind, and then to Drenchport on their initial errand for Captain Freewind. “Thank you for your end of this as well.”

“Off in such a hurry? At least tell me this, did you visit Calistria’s divine vengeance upon the fiends who wrecked our poor Lady’s Sting?” Dindreann asked.

Dolce chuckled a little. “Most of them, aye. The captain died, much of her crew. The rest are hard at work on The Lady’s Purr where you can rest assured, they won’t be harassing your ships without provocation.”

“Oh, well I would have rather they’d all died, but at least I know they’re in good hands,” Dindreann said. She rose and offered her hand to Dolce. The elf shook it. “Do take care now, and remember, you’re always welcome here, Dolce.”

Dolce nodded. “Of course. Thank you again.” She bowed slightly and took her leave of the charismatic woman. When she returned to The Lady’s Purr she informed Mirielle, Nasha, and Revel of what she’d learned.

When Dolce finished relaying Dindreann’s appreciation Mirielle sighed and said, “These information brokers… An errand for a rumor. It’s a bit exhausting.”

Dolce chuckled. “At least we have a rumor to go on now, Captain. I’m not sure we’d learn much at all without that.”

“Everything must start with something, and before them we had no place to begin,” Nasha said quietly.

“Fucking annoying,” Revel said.

Mirielle nodded. “I’m with you on this one, Revel. All the same, I suppose we can make for Port Peril first to sell all the treasures in our hold, and then for Drenchport. That will also allow us to make good on our promise to Haneilius.”

“You read my mind, Cap.” Dolce popped her knuckles. “And I will have time to study Vakarla’s spellbook while we’re in route.”

Mirielle chuckled. “Do you have the supplies to copy any spells out of it?”

“I do,” Dolce said, a little defensively.

Mirielle could smell blood and with a smirk she asked, “Is that because you bungled copying some scroll or other and the magic of the inks wasn’t expended?”

“Tch. You know too much for your own good, Captain.”

Revel started laughing before saying, “What? You bungled copying a scroll? I thought you were the smart one!”

Dolce eyed Revel flatly. “I am smart, but so are you.”

“Yeah, but no one expects it from me!” Revel said, laughing some more. “I’m sure that’s fine though. I’m sure you’ll do better next time.”

“Ugh. May I go?” Dolce asked Mirielle. Her cheeks were a little pink at this point. The aasimar mercifully nodded and Dolce left the captain’s cabin.

Seeing Dolce leave in this manner caused even quiet Nasha to snicker in her oddly hissing way. “Perhaps she is not as patient as I imagined.”

Revel snorted. “I don’t think she’s nearly as patient as you imagine. She likes to get things done right the first go around.”

“This is true. Hopefully she is able to make good use of the spellbook at least.” Nasha’s tail gently thudded on the floor of the cabin.

“I’ve no doubt she will. Let’s get back to work, hm?” this was Mirielle. And as she asked the others nodded and left the cabin. Mirielle was behind them and soon enough had the ship sailing for Port Peril.

Port Peril

Dolce managed to copy over a few of the spells Vakarla had mastered that she had not herself while on the way to Port Peril.

Nasha spent the nights discussing the stars and the Iruxi with Emilia; the woman’s knowledge of her people was still very surprising to Nasha, and she could only imagine this indicated how close Emilia must have felt to Oxaquae, the lizardfolk from whom she’d learned.

Revel spent most of her days looking for half-orc infractions to discipline; though she never overstepped like Master Scourge had. She ate her dinner with the crew and spent her nights with Cog.

Mirielle, of course, spent her days captaining her ship, and still found herself surprised at the freedom she had to do so. She also got to know her knew crewmen, the half-orcs better. Each of them was assigned to the day shift for now, to maximize Mirielle’s time to interact with them. Quinn was sharing her room at night, so the two ate with the officers before making their way to bed.

At Port Peril they sold their ill-gotten gains for a tidy profit. Haneilius made over three thousand gold from his share since he’d required an even share of what was claimed from the Brine Banshee before disclosing its location.

Dolce and Shade headed for the House of Stolen Hearts. This place was even more opulently appointed than the House of Stolen Kisses. Honestly, Dolce had expected it would be. Pirates were a superstitious lot – herself included – and they believed gold was good luck. Dolce spoke with a dwarven man who seemed to be organizing the ‘work’ taking place in the temple. He said Froras likely had the spell prepared but would be terribly bored to hear this was all they required.

Dolce and Shade retrieved Haneilius and led him to the temple after acquiring the required diamond dust. Within they met an Ulfen woman with quite a bored countenance. Dolce couldn’t help but try to gain the woman’s attention, and so she used playful words and flirtations to see if she could. The elf was at least successful in making Froras less bored, for she was offered a discount should she choose to partake in the priestess’ more ‘mundane’ services.

Haneilius paid for the casting of the spell out of his share as well as for the diamond dust. Still, he was moved by the fact that Mirielle had chosen to help him find a spell caster and had sent her crew to see he got what he required. When they returned to the ship he informed Mirielle that he had decided to take her up on her offer of residing at Tidewater Rock. Mirielle told him it might be a while before they headed back that way, but Haneilius said this was no trouble. He’d simply stay aboard and assist in any medicinal needs while he was there if he was allowed.

With this accomplished they set out for Drenchport to track down Jaymiss Keft and see what he knew about a Chelaxian spy.

OOC Notes

Shadow Siphon became one of my favorite spells. I already thought I liked it, but this was my first chance to see it in action. So it’s a Reaction spell, the trigger is “A spell or magical effect deals damage”. The range is 60ft (but thankfully, Dolce was right where the fireball went off). It requires a successful counteract check (so a roll using your spellcasting bonus against the caster’s DC) with a +2 bonus, and reduces the damage dealt by the triggering spell by half. It worked as beautifully as I thought it would… And the targets of the spell (my characters + my ship) still got to make their saves to reduce the damage they took by half again… Mirielle and Revel failed that, Nasha succeeded, Dolce critically succeeded, the ship succeeded… So the ship and Nasha took ¼ damage, Dolce took 0 damage, and Mirielle and Revel took ½ damage.

Freaking Dimension Door, am I right? She rolled a 6 on her flat check to cast a spell while being grabbed… And I forgot that somatic components trigger Revel’s Attack of Opportunity feat, so she got away unscathed. -.-

Mirielle got a feat last level that allowed her to learn one spell from a tradition other than her bloodline tradition (which is Divine)… So I opted for Summon Dragon from the Arcane tree. Dragons are just so useful… Fly speed, special senses, breath weapons, multiple attacks… Of course, at this level she can only summon up to level 5 dragons and they have to be common (as opposed to monsters with the Uncommon, Rare, or Unique traits), so she only has like three options… But in the future she will have many more.

Dolce has been rolling so bad on copying spells, and she has to wait til her next level up to attempt any particular spell she fails a second time. At least this isn’t like 3.0, where the scroll would be wasted on a failure.

I don’t remember if I mentioned that Shade finally left the ship while in the port of Quent. He was in the waiting are when Dolce finished meeting with Dindreann (I think this was the first time she went to The House of Stolen Kisses). This is the second time he’s left the ship. Dolce is pleased he’s taking the ‘risk’ of doing so because of her songs.

The Brine Banshee’s Rest

Spoiler Warning: Spoilers are contained within for the Skull & Shackles campaign path. I would not read this if you don’t want to encounter said spoilers.

A little song Dolce put together about their exploration of The Brine Banshee.

The Brine Banshee’s Rest

From the deep sea he called to me,
Down from the scattering debris….
He sang of his secrets and treasures too
And then there was not much left to do
But make my way below…

Down we swam, to the ocean floor,
The pressure grew louder than we could ignore.
But there in the deep where the light all dies,
Her wreckage loomed before our eyes…
There so far below…

We swam through the bow and then through the stern
And all of her secrets did we learn.
We came to the hold in the water cold
And confronted a monster from legends of old…
In the cold below…

The aboleth preyed upon all our minds,
It twisted our thoughts like a toy that winds.
We overcame its malicious play
And there does its body lie today
There in the wreck below…

We left the Brine Banshee where she rests,
Taking her treasures from her chests.
Her scattered remains yet linger there
A reminder to all of the fates we dare…
Lost to the world below…

Leaf Leshy

Another PF2E bestiary poem chosen at random from creatures in the first bestiary between level -1 and 1. This one is level 0 creature. I love leshys. They are also a player race, so I wouldn’t strictly consider them ‘monsters’, but then I wouldn’t consider angels to be ‘monsters’ either.

Notably, this one took me longer than some to write. It’s a bit strange writing about random stat blocks. I also think if I were a DM I may only give out a stanza or two depending on how much I want my players to know about a monster in advance. Enjoy!

From the Journal of Vyscaria

Well… This is a different day. Remember how I encountered that Sprite? And it said some things about my relationship to the world around me? Yeah… Today I met Eresad, an elven druid. He was quite intriguing to me because of the little creature traveling with him. It was… well, something I’ve never seen or heard of. I followed him for a time, thinking I wasn’t seen, watching this green and leafy pet of his move around in the underbrush and climb into the trees above and retrieve things before gliding back down to his master. Eventually Eresad asked me why I was following him and revealed he’d detected me quite a while earlier. Heh. I admitted to him I was curious about his companion and he explained to me that it was a Leaf Leshy… And that he was a druid. Of course I am writing a song about this leaf leshy of his, but.. He also commented on my connection to the world around me… And offered to teach me a thing or two. Naturally, I’m accepting. We’ll see if there’s anything to this Sprite and druid soon enough.

Leaf Leshy

Among the trees and the forest glades
Nature’s little guardians roam…
Sharpening spears and honing trades
All in service to their home.

When they fight foes who stay afield
They shoot their seedpods fast and proud
Should they strike the pods are peeled
And the sound of that rings sharp and loud!

The leaf leshys are a particular sort;
Delighting in the mock battles they wage.
They’re happy in their homes with their peculiar court,
But careful if a true battle should rage.

Wearing pine cones for armor and clothes of woven leaves
They wander through their sacred grounds…
Leaving nary a trace with their barky greaves
They hear the flora’s whispered sounds.

The leaf leshys remain at ease –
Even in the fading light.
They glide with grace from the highest trees
Never feeling any fright.

When they wish they change their shape,
Becoming but a young sapling.
When they die the near landscape
Is covered with new growth they bring.

Among the trees and the forest glades
Nature’s little guardians roam…
Sharpening spears and honing trades
All in service to their home.

S&S: Session 27 – The Hunt

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!

When the last of the cargo of The Dryad’s Grave was brought aboard The Purr they set their course north of the Shackles. Haneilius admitted he’d described The Brine Banshee‘s course a bit misleadingly, but Mirielle had expected as much. She was a pirate, no matter how gentle her reputation was. Following the man’s instructions ultimately had them traveling north by northwest. Mirielle had taken the Ring of the Iron Skull from Dolce and given it Haneilius so he could be the one to locate the rough whereabouts of the ship.

After lights out on the day of their encounter with The Dryad’s Grave Nasha led Owlbear to the kitchen. Long ago Mirielle had told Ambrose that any time the crew ate crab Owlbear was going to help him crack the shells. Owlbear usually only ate one or two while assisting and it made him very happy to do so. Tonight Nasha lingered as well and watched Owlbear diligently cracking crabs for Ambrose.

Ambrose cooked them, singing to himself as he did so. It occurred to Nasha that she hadn’t seen Fishguts drink in quite a long time. “Crabs still your favorite, Owlbear?”

“I love crabs! Narwhale gave me a crab.” Owlbear said.

“Oh, I remember. Narwhale was a good dwarf,” Ambrose said.

“Good dwarf. Good crab.”

Nasha smiled. “You like cooked crabs better now, right?”

Owlbear smiled and nodded enthusiastically. “Cooked crabs!”

Nasha looked over at Ambrose as he took the crabs out of the boiling pot and put them into a cold bucket. Owlbear didn’t care much about presentation after all. “Want to help me take these to Jack?” Nasha asked.

“Good crabs! Take to Jack!” Owlbear said.

Nasha nodded. “To Jack.” She watched as Owlbear took the bucket and then walked with him above deck. To his credit the simple giant didn’t eat any of the crabs as he was carrying them to Jack. Nasha wondered how much of this was because Jack was his friend and how much was simply because they weren’t his crabs.

Jack was waiting on the deck, having been informed of the nameday celebration. With Jack were most of the old crew and some of the new. Mirielle was among them, as was Dolce and Revel. Owlbear looked delighted when they all started clapping. “Good crabs,” he said, and held the bucket out for Jack.

“Oh, are these for me?” Jack asked. Owlbear nodded enthusiastically. Jack lifted one out of the bucket and looked it over closely before putting it back. “You know I think there’s been a mistake.”

Owlbear flinched a little and said, “I’m sorry.” ‘Mistake’ was not one of his favorite words.

Jack shook his head, “No, no, you didn’t make a mistake. Fishguts did! These crabs are for you, Owlbear.”

“For me?” Owlbear asked, his face lighting up with excitement.

“For you, because it’s your nameday!” Jack said, excited.

Owlbear paused to think about that. “6 Sarenith,” he said.

“That’s right. 6th of Sarenith,” Nasha said, putting a hand on Owlbear’s shoulder.

“My crabs? My cooked crabs?” Owlbear asked. Nasha nodded. That was all it took for Owlbear to begin digging into the crabs. He ripped their shells like they were nothing in his large strong hands and bit into the tender meat happily. His joy was contagious.

Soon enough Dolce began to sing and Rosie played the fiddle and Lyric the guitar. The night was filled with music and laughter and well-wishes for Owlbear as he enjoyed his crabs and after. When the noise quieted down and just the night crew was above deck Nasha sat at the rail of the forecastle with Owlbear, looking at the stars. She found herself thinking she’d never really felt this sort of peace among the lizardfolk. What did that mean about her?

In the morning, Dolce fixed an altar of Besmara she had purchased while they were in Quent to the deck of the ship roughly in the middle. She, Mirielle, and Revel set about making use of the Consecrate ritual Mirielle had tracked down some time before. The casting was an involved process taking multiple days and special incense and golden offerings, but their work was rewarded with a successful completion. The gold disappeared before their eyes as the last of the incense faded.

Dolce swore she felt the energy of the ritual blanketing the ship. On the deck at least those who prayed to Besmara – herself, Mirielle, Revel, and Quinn to name just the four she knew for certain – would find their attacks more sure, their labors more productive, their eyes more keen. A year the ritual lasted, but Dolce’d heard rumors that such a thing could have much more spectacular results… So perhaps they’d try again before a year was finished.

When Haneilius used the power of the Ring of the Iron Skull on their fifth day out from The Dryad’s Grave he exclaimed, “It worked!” His excitement was palpable to Dolce and Mirielle, who had watched him use it three times a day on the previous days with no success. “We’re close!”

Mirielle smiled at Dolce and said, “That means the ship should be close enough for Wanderer’s Guide.”

Dolce nodded. “I’ll go and wake Nasha.” She went below deck and found Nasha’s hammock. It was easy enough. Even though she worked at night the lizardfolk slept in the hammock nearest the stairs to the deck above so she could answer quickly if needed. Dolce hardly had to touch her scales to rouse her.

“It is time?” Nasha asked, groggily. Dolce nodded. Nasha stretched out, her tail extending further than even her legs as she did so. She got out of the hammock easily, a sure sign of someone who’d dealt with the infernal things more than their fair share. She was already wearing her eelskin harness and Belt of the Five Kings. “I am ready.”

Dolce chuckled. “Are you ever not?”

“I try to always be prepared,” Nasha responded, not realizing the question had been rhetorical.

Dolce had made her own preparations for this little mission. She’d emptied almost everything out of her Bag of Holding satchel so they could use it to transport goods. She’d specifically left her collection of books, her writing tools, and her lute in her room. She didn’t want them getting damaged when water inevitably entered the satchel.

As she and Nasha joined Revel and Mirielle above deck the elf found herself grateful she’d convinced the others to invest some of their wealth in the ability to breath water. It was all well and good that Dolce could cast a spell to allow them this ability, but better the spell be saved for other uses.

Dolce and Mirielle were both wearing Electric Eelksin armor. Mirielle had learned how to wear the armor from time spent training with Dolce. Nasha and Revel, one who preferred no armor and the other preferring heavier armor, had to settle for Chokers of Waterbreathing. Dolce’d taken the liberty of having Revel’s shark tooth necklace enchanted. Apparently the hobgoblin had owned it for almost as long as she’d been in Port Peril. For Nasha the elf had purchased a simple brown, leather choker embossed with images of seashells and fish to hold the enchantment. They both seemed satisfied with the results.

It took a minute for Mirielle to cast the spell. When she completed the casting she turned her attention on Shade, “I trust you to keep everything in order up here while we’re below.”

“Aye, Captain. You can count on me,” the drow said.

Mirielle looked then at Haneilius. “You stay above until we locate the ship. I don’t imagine you’d fare well in the waters.” She said it because the human was of a rather mature age.

“Alright, Captain Mirielle.” Haneilius still had the tibia. He’d returned it to the jar.

Mirielle turned to Nasha, Revel, and Dolce. “Are we ready?” The other three nodded. “Alright then.” Mirielle was the first to jump from the deck, also the least graceful in the act. She splashed into the water unceremoniously and began swimming below.

“See ya later!” Revel called to the crew. She curled her knees when she jumped, making the biggest splash she could, and descended into the water after her captain. Nasha made no farewell, simply diving from the deck. Her long, lithe body was graceful and she hardly disturbed the surface of the water when she hit it. Dolce dove in with a similar grace, if one that had required more effort to learn.

Into the Ocean

They swam down for what seemed like hours, but each knew it was not. Long before they reached the ship their vision had been reduced to a mere sixty feet in the murky seawater. Magical light emanated from Nasha’s belt, not for the lizardfolk’s benefit, but for Dolce’s. The Belt of the Five Kings made it so Nasha could see without any light all, but Dolce was still reliant on the spell Darkvision to elevate her senses. She would wait to cast it until they reached the ship.

They were still quite far from their destination when a trio of sharks entered their view. Accompanying them was a merfolk, though it didn’t look quite right. This merfolk had teeth quite similar to Revel’s. The sharks closed the distance to the girls, clearly seeing them as prey, but Nasha and Revel made quick work of one while Dolce fixated on the merfolk.

Soon enough the girls were able to subdue the merfolk and had killed the sharks or knocked them unconscious. The fight did make one thing abundantly clear to Dolce… She’d chosen the wrong runes for Revel and Nasha. Fiery fangs and corrosive claws were great above the water, but underneath the flames were completely quelled and the acid’s potency was rarely concentrated enough to do any harm in the presence of the sea water.

Perhaps Dolce would transfer the Flaming and Corrosive runes from their wraps to some of the ballistae on The Purr and replace them with Frost runes. It would mean the four of them were themed, which might not be so bad a thing… Though it would make some of their deadliness easier to negate if someone was well-studied about them. There was always Thundering and Shock… But the former would mean their presence was announced anytime the wielder made an attack.

Problems for another day. For now, they learned the whereabouts of the merfolk’s lair. He was an outcast of his people because of his obsession with sharks. He might well have found friends with Revel if he hadn’t tried to attack Mirielle and ended up getting himself killed. His lair contained trinkets of some value including a collection of polished shells. Nasha was allowed to keep the shells since she’d expressed a fondness for shells at Mancatcher Cove.

Following Mirielle’s divined route led them deeper in the water, where they came upon the bow of the ship. Here Dolce employed her Darkvision spell. It would buy her an hour, and if needed she could cast it again. The ship had been split in two and the stern was nowhere to be seen from here. They explored the bow carefully. Many things were found here, including various goods in the half of the hull that was above. There was a ‘trail’ of sort leading deeper into the water, but Mirielle’s spell would give them more direct guidance when they were ready to find the stern.

In the meantime the girls fought a Jellyfish larger than all four of them combined. The creature was easy to hit, with flesh that had no chance at resisting Nasha’s claws and Revel’s fangs. Soon enough it had been slain and they had free access to the prow’s wreckage.

Dolce kept their searching short, for her Darkvision was limited, but they still searched every foot of the space before them, giving each at the least a passing glance. With thirty minutes left the girls started making their way toward the stern of the ship. Mirielle’s spell guided them accurately enough, showing them the best route in the deep water.

It began getting colder as they swam lower. Cold enough they started feeling their limbs getting numb. Dolce had just been considering turning back when something emerged from the darkness. It was a creature known as a charda. Dolce recognized it. They excelled at combat in cold environs, their attacks drawing strength from the chill.

This charda though, it was bigger than any she’d ever heard of. Even if it had been effected by magic like the spell Enlarge, it should have only been the size of a human… Not four times that size. Revel, Nasha, and Dolce dispatched the creature with little trouble, though it showed remarkable tenacity for its kind. Dolce signaled they should return to the surface.

The trip back to the top of the water was uneventful and the four climbed aboard The Lady’s Purr. “So what now?” Mirielle asked.

“Well, the pressure was beginning to be problematic and the cold was as well… Kuzayoni can probably help with at least one of the two… The question is which.. I can deal with the pressure, but the cold is out of my reach,” Dolce said, casting a spell to dry her clothes as she headed for the hatch below.

Mirielle flicked her captain’s hat, watching the droopy feathers sway as they sagged with water. Soon enough Kuzayoni and Dolce emerged from below deck. Kozayoni was grinning as Dolce handed over the vials. “This one was a step ahead of me.. Already had some Winter Wolf Elixirs prepared.”

Mirielle blinked a bit at that. “You didn’t give them to us sooner?”

Kuzayoni shrugged a little. “I honestly did not realize we’d made it to our destination. I was busy in the lab.”

Mirielle laughed a little at that, but it really wasn’t much of a surprise. “What about the pressure?” she asked Dolce.

“That, I’m afraid will require me to prepare Freedom of Movement… And I’m going to need quite a few castings to shield us all from it.” The elf looked toward her room where her spellbook was, but waited to see if Mirielle had anything else to say.

“I did not feel it,” Nasha said.

They all looked at her. “Really?” Revel asked.

The lizardfolk blinked slowly and said, “It was as deep as the pearls sometimes were. I did not notice any discomfort.”

“Well, that will help a little,” Dolce said. Three castings was easier than four after all, though it would likely take six in total. More if collecting the treasures from the stern of the ship took them much in the way of time. “At any rate, I need some time to change my preparations, Captain.”

Mirielle nodded. “Before you go, if you don’t mind drying my clothes at least?” She looked from Revel to Nasha, both of whom shrugged like the water didn’t bother them, then back to Dolce.

The elf chuckled and nodded, casting Prestidigitation to dry her captain’s garments. As intricate as the clothing was, it took a few castings. “Maybe leave the hat above?” Dolce suggested, noting that some of the feathers looked a bit worse for wear. “I can mend them as they are now, but if any got lost below…”

Mirielle followed her gaze and nodded. She spent the time it took Dolce to prepare her spells in her cabin. There she changed into some of her old clothes, a loose fitting shirt, much rougher breeches. She hadn’t really realized just how spoiled she’d become by her fine captain’s attire. Jack entered partway through her waiting. On his shoulder was the silver toucan. They still hadn’t named the creature, but she often heard Jack asking, “Want a cracker?” as he offered it a copper coin.

Mirielle took her own companion from it’s pack. Cupiir rested in her lap. “Are you nervous?” it asked, speaking in the Celestial tongue.

“Mm, I’m always a bit nervous,” Mirielle said. She’d no fear of admitting this to the familiar since Jack couldn’t understand the words. No one on the ship would know.

Cupiir awkwardly twisted himself in her lap to place a flipper on her arm. “You’ll do fine, I know it.”

Mirielle pet her familiar. “I think so too, but still, nerves are easy enough to feel. I think, by the way, that it’s time we change the magic I invest in you each morning.”

“Oh?” Cupiir asked, looking up at her.

“It seems only fair that you should be able to fly around with Revaress and … the silver bird,” Mirielle said. She’d seen Cupiir watching the other two longingly when they played. It was comical to her to watch a mechanical bird play with an octopus, but Dolce said Revaress enjoyed their little games of tag through the sails and rigging lines.

Cupiir seemed to brighten at that. “What will you take? Not my ability to speak to you, right?” It seemed the only hesitation the turtle felt about the matter.

“No, not that,” Mirielle said with a chuckle. She quite enjoyed their quiet moments of conversation. “Probably the cantrip you allow me access to. It’s not often my mark is necessary, after all.” Sigil was the cantrip Cupiir seemed attuned to. Mirielle knew that with time she could bend his attunement to something else. In the long run she was debating adjusting those energies so the turtle would be her vessel for Stabilize… Primarily because her cutlass, Besmara’s Grace, allowed the use of that cantrip. There was no need for her to be invested in it directly any longer.

“Oh good. I’d hate to lose my voice. I know Revaress doesn’t seem to care that she can’t talk, but… I like talking,” Cupiir said.

Mirielle chuckled at that, and the pair of them did talk as Jack played with the toucan, until Dolce came knocking on the door. “We’re ready, Captain,” the elf said. Then the girls were back into the depths…

Deeper Depths

They passed the depth at which they’d fought the charda and continued deeper below. The cold was held at bay by the Winter Wolf Elixirs and Dolce cast Freedom of Movement on herself, Revel, and Mirielle to shield them from the pressure. Finally the broken stern of The Brine Banshee came into view in the murky waters.

They began their search at the wheel, and there saw Captain Jalhazar’s remains clinging to the bladed wheel. The wheel itself showed no signs of deteriorating. The scene reminded Dolce of the anchor in Mancatcher Cove and so she cast Ray of Frost and aimed for the captain’s boot. As the bolt of magic stuck the corpse’s shoe she heard a booming voice in her head, “You dare defile my final resting place?”

The elf blinked, startled by the booming voice, a chill running down her spine. Mirielle and the others looked at her. “Everything all right?” Her captain’s distorted voice inquired.

Dolce felt fine and nodded to them, but all the same she murmured prayers to Besmara as she swam closer. Captain Jalhazar had lost his hold on the wheel and had now idly drifted to the deck of the aftcastle. Dolce cast Detect Magic. “Magical,” she said to the others.

They did not try to identify it then since Dolce was once again reliant upon Darkvision to see. Instead they continued on below. As they left the stairs that had brought them to the next Nasha noticed something was amiss. She couldn’t tell exactly what it was, but she swam forward to peer in the hold and the creature came into view. It was an anemone, but one of massive size.

The lizardfolk altered her path and swam alongside the creature, slashing at it with her deadly claws. She managed to hurt the creature, but not significantly. It returned her attacks, though its own missed the lizardfolk completely. Dolce came alongside Nasha, stabbing with her rapier. She struck true with her attacks.

Revel, not being able to easily come alongside the creature due to its positioning, swam above it and tried to bite it from there. The hobgoblin only managed a single bite, but this was enough to bring her joy. Mirielle moved into a position to better support her allies, calling on her halo again. Nasha slashed again, cutting into part of it. Then the anemone’s tentacles wrapped around Revel, catching her in the throat and midriff. Enthusiastic as the hobgoblin was, she still cried out in pain from its poisonous touch. Then the anemone pulled Revel inside it and her blue skin disappeared from view altogether.

Dolce panicked a little, and tried to cut her companion free. She only managed to hurt the creature slightly, but needn’t have worried. No sooner than she withdrew her blade than Revel came tearing out of the anemone with large chunks of it still hanging from her vicious fangs. The battle was over almost as soon as it had begun and the anemone drifted freely with the movements of the water.

Dolce tended her companion’s injuries, but as she did so they all noticed something strange. Mirielle’s halo never faded away. Its light had grown dimmer, but… It still persisted. “What’s with that?” Dolce asked, voice still distorted by the water.

Mirielle’s eyes followed her gaze, though she could only really see the faint light the halo gave off. “I couldn’t say… But perhaps my connection to my heritage is growing stronger? We’ll worry about it when we’re back above.”

The others nodded, and cautiously prepared to proceed below. Nasha, who had peered into the hold before seeing the anemone, had seen a very large shark swimming around down there. For this reason Revel and Nasha entered first. Sure enough, the shark was lurking in the corner.

Revel closed the distance to it and attacked, but to her surprise the creature vanished when she struck it. “What?” She looked around, confused, and swam toward the center of the chamber searching out any other dangers. There she caught the scent of something else. “Behind that wall!” Revel called, gesturing toward a wall.

Nasha couldn’t quite understand what Revel was saying, but she saw where her friend was indicating. Nasha swam toward the door in the wall, attempting to open the door. Her hand passed right through it. The wall became hazy, faded, as though it were made of water or air, and beyond she saw a creature she’d never seen before. It had a body similar to that of a fish, but in addition to a dorsal fin, there were tentacles coming off of it in multiple places. Three large, red eyes were on the front of the creature and it seemed to have no mouth. Nasha closed the distance to it.

Dolce came below next. She hadn’t seen Nasha pass through the wall and so she looked at Revel. “Where?” The elf asked. She was slower than Revel and Nasha both, and so lingered partway in the chamber. Mirielle entered behind Dolce and stayed near to the wall. She was the slowest of all of them with their Rings of Swimming.

Revel made no answer, instead swimming toward and and attacking Dolce. Her vicious teeth ripped into the elf’s flesh, putting her blood in the water, but the second bite was dodged. Revel made no quips about the flavor of Dolce’s blood or skin, her attack was silent and efficient.

Nasha struck out at the strange creature, letting some of its blood flow into the water. She then felt it try to influence her mind, but she resisted. The lizardfolk cursed as one of its tentacles slammed into her body.

Dolce cast Dispel Magic in an attempt to free her companion of whatever was compelling her to hostility. Unfortunately, her only prepared casting the spell was not potent enough. To Mirielle Dolce shouted, “Dispel her! Infuse it with as much magic as you can!” She knew her comrade wouldn’t attack her of her own volition. Dolce didn’t move, she didn’t wish to bring Revel closer to Mirielle. Her jaws had been painful enough on the elf.

Mirielle nodded. She was close enough to hear everything her companion said. She cast Dispel Magic as well, but hers was successful, unraveling the effect that had been controlling Revel. The aasimar’s halo grew brighter as she called upon her heritage to summon forth its healing properties in preparation for the rest of the battle to come.

Revel wasted no time in swimming through the wall after Nasha. It was dull to her as well, for even with the intrusion of her mind she’d seen Nasha pass through it like it wasn’t there. Completely enraged at her loss of control, Revel bit viciously at the Aboleth.. Unfortunately her bite missed and her forward momentum was enough that her foot slammed into a jagged wooden board sticking up from the deck. Further enraged she bit again, but missed again.

Nasha now flayed into the creature with her claws. She put more of its blood in the water, but the creature withdrew and swam through the illusory wall. It bent its focus on Revel again, and the hobgoblin’s mind felt muted.

Dolce’s blood ran cold when she saw the creature enter the hold. An aboleth! She’d never thought to see one of the Alghollthu here. That explained Revel’s attack! She “That’s an aboleth! They’re very dangerous and very evil! It must have had her Dominated!” Dolce adjusted her positioning slightly as she explained this to Mirielle. She was lining up a Lightning Bolt and cast it to resounding success.

The aboleth spoke to Dolce even as her lightning scoured its body, saying, “Impressive that you would know so much about us. Tell you what, leave me one and the rest of you may leave.”

“That will never happen,” Mirielle proclaimed. Having heard Dolce both before and now she pulled even more heavily on her angelic heritage. The result of her focus was a Circle of Protection Against Evil. Her halo flashed as the spell took hold and her allies gained the benefits of it.

“Suit yourself,” the creature said. Revel swam back through the illusory wall as well, drawing close to Dolce and Mirielle. She bit Dolce first, savagely tearing the elf’s flesh, then just as quickly bit into Mirielle. Unfortunately for the aasimar, Revel’s shark teeth came down on her shoulder with such force that Mirielle bit clear through her tongue. She didn’t sever it completely, thankfully, but it certainly would make casting further spells prove difficult.

Nasha came swimming to their aid. She positioned herself by Mirielle, who was badly injured from the hobgoblin’s assaults, and shoved her blue-skinned friend away. With her forward momentum Nasha wrapped her arms around Revel, restraining her so she could do no more damage to their captain.

It seemed to Dolce the creature was not as confident as its words suggested, for in the chaos of Revel’s attacks the aboleth withdrew. It swam straight up above the hold, but the elf followed below. She could just see it on the edges of her vision above her, and realized this would likely be her last chance. Dolce cast another Lightning Bolt spell after drawing on the power of her arcane bond. The aboleth died.

The elf looked toward Revel to see if her mind as freed, but alas she was struggling in Nasha’s grasp and still not speaking at all. Mirielle noted this too and used another powerful spell to cast Dispel Magic. She barely managed the casting with her mangled tongue, but to the relief of all the enemy’s influence on Revel unraveled and the hobgoblin started screaming, “WHERE IS IT!?!?”

Dolce swallowed and looked above her. “Dead…” she said. With almost perfect timing the creature’s corpse drifted back into the hold and its tentacles draped lifelessly in the water before them.

“AAAAAH!!!” Revel screamed and savaged the creature’s corpse, biting and tearing with all of her might. Words were constantly rumbling forth from her, but all int he Goblin tongue. Dolce imagined they were all curses or similar.

The others simply watched, unsure of anything they could do to help the hobgoblin, but eventually the rage subsided. Revel’s eyes turned on Dolce and Mirielle. “I’m- I’m so… I would never-” the hobgoblin stammered.

“We know,” Dolce said. She could tell primarily by Revel’s look and demeanor what it was the hobgoblin must be trying to say, for her words were lost in the muffled water due to how quiet she was being.

Revel nodded a little and wiped at her nose before wrapping an arm around both the elf and the aasimar. “I love you guys,” she said. That time they were close enough that they heard well.

Dolce felt powerfully moved by the admission. She supposed they all felt it, though none had said it before. The elf wrapper her arm around Revel in turn. “Love you too, Shark,” Dolce was making light of the shark-bite wounds both she and Mirielle still bore.

“Oh gods! Heal those, would you?” Revel said, realizing why Dolce chose her wording. Mirielle looked amused. She too, returned the hobgoblin’s hug, but then she did set about to healing her wounds. Revel felt Nasha’s hand on her shoulder once Mirielle had released her. She hugged the lizardfolk as well, squeezing her much more tightly than she had the other two.. The more fragile two. “Yeah, I love you too, you damn lizard.”

Nasha blinked a bit at this, but returned Revel’s embrace. Love was something shared by families. And yes, that was what the crew had become. Nasha rested the top of her chin on Revel’s head. “I love you also,” she said, projecting her voice enough for Mirielle and Dolce to hear it too.

When all the healing was done a new casting of Freedom of Movement let them explore the rest of the stern. There was great treasure to be had, in the form of gold and silver, but it would take some time to move it above thanks to the depths it was resting in. They took what they could and made for the surface, including the magical wheel.

As it turned out, the wheel was the secret to The Brine Banshee‘s speed. Dolce was able to figure out how Captain Jalhazar had designed it. They would give that knowledge to the temple of Norgorber and keep the wheel for themselves. Perhaps then the temple would tell them what they knew of Chelaxian spies.

Regardless, Dolce had thought of the perfect secret to hand over in exchange for their knowledge of the whereabouts of The Lady’s Sting when she’d been preparing her spells today. Passing over the Exchange Image spell in her book had brought it mind, and Dolce thought it would work out just perfectly.

OOC Notes

Turns out the rules for underwater combat in Pathfinder 2 include all things with the fire trait simply not functioning (so, Flaming Rune) and Acid resistance 5 (so, 1 acid damage from the Corrosive Rune on a roll of 6). Rethinking my runes. Torn between giving Revel and Nasha each 2 handsets with different runes for different occasions and just overhauling their current handwraps with different runes. I liked fire for Revel and Acid for Nasha thematically though… So I’ll probably go the more expensive route and just hook them up with a second set of handwraps. At least we’re using Automatic Bonus Progression so I don’t need to invest in the Potency and Striking runes for said handwraps.

So, OOCly my ‘make sure he’s not undead’ instincts came over me as we approached the captain’s corpse… I had that be Dolce’s inclination. After all, they did fight a water-logged mummy who appeared to be inanimate and chained to a sunken anchor while they were in Mancatcher Cove. Then Owlbrarian said, “Make me a Will save for Dolce…” I rolled a nat 20… and you saw the result of that. I had her get the shivers and murmur a prayer to Besmara and Owlbrarian laughed and said, “That’s funny, if she’d been affected the only way to lift the curse is to return the corpse of the captain to the ship and say prayers to Besmara.” Thankfully she didn’t fail, because she had no desire to touch the corpse.

The anemone was amusing. First it critted Revel with an attack and swallowed her whole, then Revel critted it from inside it and drew a x3 crit card, obliterating the poor thing.

Mirielle now has a permanent halo, courtesy of an aasimar heritage feat from the supplement we’re using for aasimar stats. I rather like it and Dolce is going to milk that for all it’s worth.. A pirate captain with a literal halo present 24/7? You bet the whole of the Shackles will hear about that.

Oh Revel, poor Revel. She failed her first save, was absolutely furious at having been made to attack her allies and so I told Owlbrarian I’d spend a hero point on her first attack if she missed (my last hero point of the night, mind you). I rolled a nat 1. Gave him the hero point… rolled another nat 1. Then she critted Mirielle and drew a crit card that required Miri to make a flat check (only DC 5, thank goodness) for any spell she cast with a verbal component or lose it. I can’t make this stuff up. Between Nasha’s battle on the boat and her broken claw and Revel down here… They just haven’t been feeling all that lucky lately.

Fire Mephit

Another PF2E bestiary poem chosen at random from creatures in the first bestiary between level -1 and 1. This one is level 1 creature. So the write up for 2e fire mephits basically describes them as fickle sadists…

From the Journal of Vyscaria

Today was an interesting day. I left the cave behind a few days ago with the lovely Fire Beetles. I think my encounter at them had put me more at ease than I should have allowed… I saw the smoke from a fire and drew close. What I found was… well… Beautiful, if intense… See, there was this really intricate looking cage, only … It was on its side, and I’m guessing the thing that had been inside it is what I saw dancing around the burning encampment. I couldn’t stay very long because the damn critter was setting everything on fire. I didn’t find out til later what it’s called, but I worked it into my song after the fact. My first elemental monster

Fire Mephit

Bright orange skin and fire-kissed wings
Foretell the trouble the fire mephit brings.

Entranced by the burning,
Unfazed by the anguish;
The dance of their yearning
Leaves others to languish.

They watch with delight as the fire consumes
Seeing through even the thickest of plumes.

Gladdened by mewling
And spellbound by cinders;
The flames they are fueling
With far more than flinders.

If they should suffer from any malaise
They regain their vigor by touching a blaze.

Uplifted by ashes,
And free of remorse;
The fire’s light flashes
As it runs its course.

They can draw a deep breath and usher forth flame,
Or gnash with their teeth to burn and to maim.

Bewitched by each ember,
Enchanted by pain;
No time to remember
Each creature they’ve slain.

Bright orange skin and fire-kissed wings
The last that you’ll see of these troublesome things.