(Session 1: 01/15/2014)
Nivosus the 14th, 1694 AK
“We’re on a boat, friend.”
After a night of drinking and general good times Godric, Vasili, Vinkain, and Broujit awaken to find themselves somewhat inhospitably detained in the cargo hold of what can only be a ship. They are chained to the walls (and quite offended to find themselves so), and great pains in particular have been taken to render Godric both mute and immobile. They are not alone.
With them in the hold is a family, comprised of a woman and child, and an unconscious man. Only the man is chained and is noticeably in distress. Vinkain, unsuccessfully, attempts to enlist the child to help them, but as children often are – the boy is too frightened to approach the elf. Vasili, however, turns on that gypsy charm and soothes the woman’s fears, convincing her to investigate the small cargo hold for him. She introduces herself as Marlys Grey, her husband as Mykal and her son as Caliph. They are a simple fishing family from Havard’s town. Vasili and Marlys converse briefly, and she explains that it has been five days since she, her husband and son were taken, and one full day has passed since the rest of the captives were brought into the tiny hold. She does not know by whom or why they have come to be on the boat. However, she is able to describe three men she has seen come and go in those five days: a mean looking type wearing a bandolier of daggers, an equally mean looking man with an eye patch and hook for a hand, and one who smells distinctly terrible. Obviously, there must be others on board, but these are all that she has seen.
There isn’t much to be found in the cramped space, aside from a creepy, shifting form beneath a tarp that is shortly revealed to be a sleeping Halfling. Attempts are made at rousing the strange little man, but they are unsuccessful, and he is ignored for the moment.
When a search of the cargo hold reveals nothing of particular interest that will help them escape, Vasili and Vinkain resort to more primitive means of escaping the shackles that hold them. Not one to shirk a task that might cause a little pain, Vasili casts and is able to slip one hand free from his chains, though he injures himself in the process. With his help, Vinkain is able to impressively tear one of his chains from the wall entirely, gaining a makeshift weapon in the process. Broujit the bard has luckily retained her flute, and uses her significant skill to both soothe and bolster the spirits of the poor, poor kidnapped slaves.
Having not taken too kindly to being kidnapped and chained, the prisoners agree on a course of escape by means of brute force and commit to the end game. Meanwhile…
Korgil, Kiel, and Maggie (under the guise of Mat) are waking to another morning on the Brazen Beagle. While Maggie has signed on as a deckhand and is content swabbing decks and mending rigging, Korgil and Kiel have taken on jobs as the daytime guards for whatever mysterious cargo it is they are carrying.
Rumor has it that the cargo is actually people, but it is only rumor and is difficult to substantiate. Korgil and Kiel are under strict orders to allow none but a select few down into the hold, and they aren’t being paid to snoop. However, as the rumors grow harder to ignore, Maggie sits the three of them down when they have a moment to themselves to discuss the opportunities that the existence of slaves may present to them. She suggests that if the slaves are particularly important or come from influential families, they may be able to take them and hold them for hostage, thus making far more money for themselves then they would just serving as crewmen. After a relatively brief conversation (interrupted once by the quartermaster who is quickly rebuffed) they agree on doing exactly that. Korgil and Kiel will go about their daily duties and glean what information they can about the things down in the hold, while Maggie makes her rounds to gather information from Olav’s men about their loyalty and to sow the seeds of dissent. They’re planning a mutiny! With some relatively easy digging, Maggie is able to identify who is loyal to Olav, who is loyal to Vax, and just how hot the temperatures are running on the ship.
Heading below deck, Kiel and Korgil relieve Strom and Helga from their night shift. Operating under the agreement they’ve made upstairs between themselves and Maggie, they decide to snoop as carefully as their (somewhat limited) intellects will allow them, sneaking peeks into the mysterious cargo hold whenever they are able.
If there are people in there, they’re either not making noise, or they can’t be heard.
Vasili and Vinkain manage to free themselves enough to take action the moment Grek, Dag, and John Fish gain access to the hold from Kiel and Korgil. When they step in and the door swings shut behind them, Vasili and Vinkain lay into them with a combination of well-practiced magic and good old fashioned chain flogging. Accompanying them on the flute is the ever cheerful Broujit, who stuffs a little magic into her music and manages to boost their morale.
The fighting inside the hold is loud and violent, and though it seems to take forever, it is over almost immediately, with the prisoners emerging as the victors. Encouraged by their victory and in quite a better mood (all things considered) they begin to argue their next course of action. They can either wait for more people to come down and discover them, or they can storm the ship and take it over by force, becoming the masters on deck. There is some discord amidst their discussion, and without waiting for a proper group consensus, the door to the hold is flung open so they can march outside – at the exact same moment Korgil and Kiel decide to open it from the other side and see just what the hell is going on inside.
There’s an awkward moment of face-to-face confrontation where no one has any idea what’s going on. A lot of confusing questions and shouting later, it’s resolved that Korgil and Kiel have thrown their lot in with the prisoners – they’re obviously the winning team and the mercenaries have no intention of going down with someone else’s ship. All matters of allegiance are wonderfully settled just in time for several men to come clunking around in the other (non-restricted) area of the cargo hold. The crewmen are understandably confused at the sudden and rather drastic appearance of people they’ve never seen before, standing with the daytime guards. Vasili attempts to talk with them but they’re too freaked out, and advise everyone to just…go back to where they were. The prisoners, still riding high on the wave of their recent victory, scoff and ignore the warnings to return to the hold for the sake of their own safety.
A crewman leaves, sprinting upstairs to go find the boatswain and let him know what’s going on. At Kiel’s behest, a second man departs to go find “Mat Blackwater”, in the interest of letting her know that plans are obviously about to change.
Rather than sitting around and waiting for their fate to come to them, they muscle and rush their way upstairs and onto the top deck to confront the man responsible for kidnapping them and for keeping them in chains. Several hostile crewmen pile down the stairs on top of them and they dispatch them with relative ease – with the exception of one man who escapes and alerts the rest of the crew.
Their element of surprise stolen, the party emerges into the open air and are set upon once more. Kicking open the door of his restricted cabin, Captain Vax comes roaring from inside with three vicious snapping war dogs that are eager to kill at his command. Also loyal is the quartermaster/man at arms and he attacks the party.
This fight goes considerably less well than the last, with the war dogs waging a particularly savage assault against Kiel, who is pinned and mauled with disturbing violence. A series of lucky swings, dagger throws, and spells finally shift the fortunes to the favor of the party and the war dogs are taken down one by one, followed by Vax and Bill. Bill, who threw down his arms and surrendered, is decapitated by Kiel almost immediately. Victory has been assured…right?
As the dust settles, it becomes apparent that there’s a fire burning on the ship, and in the center of it is the body of the murdered navigator, accompanied into the afterlife by the flaming remnants of his maps and charted courses. With Godric’s assistance, the flames are put out and Maggie tries to salvage the maps and information that she can, but it sadly isn’t much. Now, they cannot ask the navigator where they were going, and the other people who could tell them are (mostly) dead.
As a few minutes pass and blood begins to cool, Maggie and a few other members of the party begin to search the ship for both their belongings, and the elusive half-elven second mate – Killian Silverstring. He has not participated in the fighting at all. In fact, he’s not even been seen. A little disturbed, the party hopes to find him and get some sort of answers from him before they try and kill him.
Found relatively soon thereafter by Vasili, he’s perched quite comfortably on the bow of the ship, on a decorative wooden outcropping that hangs out over the water. Maggie and Vasili attempt to draw him into a conversation, looking to weasel information out of him, but the rest of the party has other ideas. Kiel begins chopping at the wood supporting Killian in an attempt to dislodge him and dump him into the ocean, where he won’t be a problem anymore.
His axe, while quite adept at cleaving heads, has some difficulty with the hardness of the wood, and Vasili is given enough time to clamor onto the outcropping with Killian. In this passive and nonviolent way, he is able to halt Kiel’s chopping and get some meager information from the mysterious elf, who Godric notices, is wearing a strange pendant that he does not recognize.
Killian reveals that Godric was the intended target all along. “I’ve been hunting you for a very long time”, and that he, unlike the other prisoners, was never going to be for sale. What Godric has been taken for, however, is never explained. When pressed, Killian explains that Vasili, Broujit, and Vinkain were extra prizes, taken to be sold into slavery for a high price.
Unfortunately, anything else that Killian might or might not have told them is halted when the elf activates a magic item and leaps from the ship, hitting the water and turning into a fish-man. He swims away, and the party is left with far more questions than answers.
The chaos on the ship is brought under control, and they begin the search for valuables – coming across a few magic items, several pieces of excellent quality gear (some of it their own) and a small fortune of coin.