Skulls and Shackles

The Dominator, Part 2
Back for Revenge

With the skies clear and sea smooth once more, the two ships set off once more. A few days passed before they reached the expected interception point, and were happy to see their expectations were correct. The outline of the four-masted man-of-war was clear on the horizon, and damage from the storm was obvious. It was missing ballistae and suffered serious damage along the hull.
The pirates sailed towards the mark, closing the distance with the battered warship. Sidon noticed through the telescope that the ship was far less well-manned than before, almost certainly due to the savage storms. He noticed also an unexpected but pleasant sight: bound by ropes, Sandara hung from the mast, seemingly alive. It seemed that the Chelish had taken her captive rather than killing her outright in battle.
An intense naval battle ensued, with the pirates circling the crippled man-of-war and raining ballista bolts upon it. After the ship was broken, it tried desperately to limp away from the ongoing assault. Rohn launched bolts upon the captain of the Dominator, impaling her multiple times before she finally dropped dead and left her ship uncontrolled. With the warship disabled, boarding was easy.
The fight didn’t take long to win. With the enemy leaderless and their first mate fighting Tessa, the party was able to fight off (and even force to flee) the lesser officers of the ship, while the two crews battled Chelish marines around them. In less than a minute, the battle was over, and the man-of-war was taken.
Plundering began as Sidon climbed the mast to free the cleric of Besmara. Sandara was grateful for the rescue, but that didn’t stop her from giving Sidon a shove, causing him to lose balance and fall to the deck of the ship.
After everything was looted, the alchemist Mel set up explosives at vulnerable points across the man-of-war. The pirates sailed away and launched a single alchemical fire bolt at the ship, triggering the chain reaction. As the man-of-war burst into a ball of fire on the horizon, the crews cheered. Revenge had finally been fulfilled.

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Power of the Eye
The Unending Storm

Rohn recruited two new crew members from a tavern called The Grumpy Parrot, including the owner herself. He regaled them with tales of their valiant battle against the captain of the Devil’s Pallor, in particular his own use of a ballista to finish the fight (though he definitely embellished his story).
Meanwhile, Sidon met with Tessa to request that they attempt to board and loot the Dominator before bringing it down, seeing as a ship of this size would certainly have valuable treasure on board. Tessa reluctantly agreed, but stated firmly that the ship must be sunk, not taken as a prize.
They set out from Quent overnight, the party on the Triforce of Wisdom and Tessa on the Luck of the Draw. Cloud cover heralded an incoming storm that would arrive by morning, but neither ship was discouraged, considering the mission too critical to delay.
The storm hit hard, weather of the fifth verse. As rain pounded the ship, and waves broke against its hull, Tetra made her best efforts to keep everything steady. The storm wore on and on, minute after minute, hour after hour, testing her resolve and skill. For over twenty-four hours she stayed at the helm, forced to drop anchor just to keep the ship afloat. Rudders jammed and sails tore. With only magical aid to keep her awake, Tetra stayed. This, though, was but the prelude.
Sidon alerted the crew that the tropical storm was but the herald of a far greater danger: a hurricane, bound straight for the two ships. Tetra raised anchor and ordered sails unfurled once more, hoping to dodge the hurricane. Offerings were tossed overboard to Besmara, in hopes that she might spare the ships from a watery grave. These offerings, though, did little.
The hurricane finally slammed the Triforce, blinding rain and howling winds all but ending any chance of legible communication between the two ships. Every minute felt like an hour in the face of the ninth verse, and even for Tetra’s skill, there was little she could do but hope that they made it out alive.
Sixteen minutes later, the hurricane finally moved on, replaced merely by the tail end of the storm. Tetra finally went below deck, collapsing onto her hammock while Sidon took the helm. Just over an hour later, the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds, a shining light unseen for almost two full days.
Sidon cried.
To their surprises, when Tetra and Sidon again checked their cabins, they each found enchanted rapiers, with holy symbols of Besmara obvious upon the hilts. It seemed Besmara had found their offerings attractive, after all.

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The Dominator
Pirate Hunters

The party, rightfully alarmed at the prospect of pirate hunters finding them just a short distance inland, scouted out the new danger. They saw a heavily-armed man-of-war anchored just a hundred feet from the inlet, evidently unaware of the ships further in. It was a heavily-armed ship, with ballistae on both sides and what was likely to be hundreds of hardened Chelish soldiers. A head-on battle would be suicide.
A plan was concocted to sneak Sidon and Rohn aboard the ship, where they would cut the tiller rope and disable the ship long enough to free the pirates from certain doom. Together they swam out to the ship, but not before being detected by the marines on watch there. As alarm bells rang, the two desperately attempted to clamber up the sides, to no avail. Force into full retreat by crossbow fire, they returned to the pirate ships and reported that their presence was now known.
Kroop suggested a dire new plan: a skeleton crew would sail out to sea on the Devil’s Pallor, sacrificing themselves to the Dominator to provide the remaining ships with an opening to escape. Sidon and Sandara volunteered for the mission, taking nine other crew members and setting out to face certain demise.
The Dominator took the bait, not knowing there was more than one ship within the inlet. It pursued the Devil’s Pallor, ballista bolts and catapult stones flying through the air. After the Devil’s Pallor was crippled, Sidon did as the plan dictated, leaping overboard and returning to the now-fleeing Triforce of Wisdom, while Sandara remained behind with most of the crew to fight off as many Chelish soldiers as they could.
The Triforce followed favorable winds back to Quent, where they somberly reported the man-of-war to Tessa Fairwind. She immediately offered to help them fight off the man-of-war before it could return home to Cheliax, intercepting the Dominator with her own sloop-of-war Luck of the Draw. The party eagerly accepted the help, and plans were arranged to take revenge on the pirate hunters.

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Dangerous Waters
Storms of the Fever Sea

The caravel, rechristened Triforce of Wisdom, set out from docks to find a long storm awaiting them. Inexperienced with sailing even in calm waters, Tetra chose to put off the maiden voyage until after the storm subsided a week later.
When they had the chance again to sail, they set out to monitor the coastline of the southern Fever Sea, watching for targets ripe for plunder. They found after a few days that a Sargavan merchant vessel was being attacked by a Shackles drekar. They chose to save the merchants, valuing the Shackles’ relationship with Sargava over any immediate plundering opportunities. The enemy ship, the Devil’s Palor, was captained by a hobgoblin. He enthusiastically waged battle over his prize, attempting to board the Triforce. He was surprised when the party flipped the tables, boarding his ship instead and laying into him with unexpected fury. Within thirty seconds of being boarded, his face had been ripped off by a ballista bolt from the adjoined ship, and the remaining crew surrendered.
The new ship was given to Sidon, and they joined up with the merchants to arrange for an escort back to Sargava. With a damaged ship and few remaining crew members, the captain was grateful for the help, and gave the party half of their goods as thanks.
On the route southward, another storm brought the party to a coastal inlet for shelter. The respite was short-lived, though. Jack reported a fourth ship waiting at the exit when the storm passed: a man-of-war sporting Chelish flags. The pirate hunters had found them.

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Shark Hunting
The Quest for a Caravel

To earn a caravel and a place in Tessa Fairwind’s fleet, the party set out for Rapier Bay to convince the swordsmith Halgo Tewey to move. They learned from his sons that their two sisters had been kidnapped, and a large supply of swords stolen by a gang called the Red Sharks. The gang mainly worked extortion rackets, but had recently become far more violent.
The party infiltrated a gambling and drug den where the Red Sharks had a known hideout. There, they convinced the Red Sharks to let them meet the second-in-command, who they surprise attacked and took down with ease. From her, they learned of the main hideout beneath an alchemy shop, where the boss Mercy was keeping the daughters.
A tense battle broke out in the dockside hideout, where several crew members flirted with death. In the end, though, they were victorious, killing Mercy and freeing the daughters (as well as quite a bit of plundered goods).
Halgo Tewey, in exchange for the safe return of his daughters, agreed to the party’s expectations. He promised to move to Quent within the month, taking up shop in a pre-built forge. Their mission successful, the party returned home and was rewarded with a caravel and crew.
Before they set out for a Free Captain’s life, the party was given advice on where to ply their trade, and a warning: Chelish pirate hunters stalked the Fever Sea.

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Pirates and Prostitutes
Quent, the Deepwater Port

Finally reaching the popular port city of Quent, the party split up to attend to their own business after selling off treasure they had found. Tetra found a shop selling black powder for her gun, the shop appropriately named Black Powder. Sidon went to The Hooked Hand, a prosthetics shop where he ordered a mechanical arm with a clamp for a hand. Kofe met Doctor Bocul at the Lake Lily Clinic, getting a job there helping sailors back to their feet. Tael took Concho to the House of Stolen Kisses, a Calistrian temple and brothel.
Rosie and Sidon finally got together when in port, sharing a room and being startled awake by Tael’s shenanigans.
After a night’s rest, while everyone else was finding work throughout the city, Tael met Tessa Fairwind at Lilibeth’s Tavern and Hostel. She agreed to get the party a caravel in exchange for completing a job for her. The party would need to meet Halgo Tewey, a swordsmith from Rapier Bay, and convince him to move his shop to Quent. She had herself tried in the past, but the swordsmith stubbornly refused to move.

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The Wilds of Motaku Isle
The Wandering Weeks

After landing on shore, the party waited out the storm they’d fled in while coming up with a plan to reach civilization. Between the crew members, they ascertained that Quent was the nearest city to their location on the east edge of Motaku Isle, but getting there would be difficult, especially with no supplies. After a week spent trying and failing to build a pontoon from wood and the two ships they stole, they chose instead to go ahead and take the long way, foraging for food as they went.
Their first trial would be getting through a range of hills. On their first day in these hills, they met a young adult copper dragon named Rokiere, who demanded treasure in exchange for safe passage. The party agreed, killing a manticore and mining gems for the dragon so that they could pass. After two days mining, they finally set off again.
They soon met a new face, a woman in a similarly shipwrecked state who had been wandering alone for a while. They allowed her to join them on their journey to Quent.
After a few more days, they were set upon by a group of hobgoblin raiders, who attacked them in their valley from the hills. While not an easy fight, the party prevailed, even as Rosie nearly died from focused fire upon her.
When the party finally reached the border where the hills met the forest, after a full week of walking, they rejoiced and took a break. There, the party schemed to figure out how they would get a ship, and the authority they’d have upon it. They decided they would try and meet Captain Tessa Fairwind, a popular Pirate Lord and ruler of Motaku Isle. With her help, they figured, they could eventually acquire a ship and strike out on their mission of piracy and revenge against the Wormwood.
Before they could get into the drier sections of forest, the party was forced to slog through a marsh. This was bad enough on the first day, with the shorter members of the crew forced to be carried by taller members (the gnomes with Owlbear and Rosie with Sidon). It got ten times worse on the second day, as a storm hit the island, making walking conditions even worse and stirring a giant frilled lizard, which attacked them. With little effort (even as Rosie again was nearly killed), they dispatched the lizard and pressed on.
Finally reaching the dry depths of the forest was welcome respite, but not for long, for the party’s final and most desperate trial was yet to come. After a few days journeying through the deep forest, Sidon stopped the party just before walking into a massive spiderweb. Looking up, they saw dozens and dozens of man-sized spiders among the trees, and they realized they would need to navigate a maze of webs and fend off attacks from dropping spiders. They advanced slowly, with Sidon catching himself in webs twice and Rosie once. They pulled two bodies of previous victims, retrieving still-usable equipment from the bodies. When they finally reached the end of the maze, Tetra lit a torch and sent the forest up in flames behind them.
Finally, a few days later, the party met a group of adventurers who directed them over a large field to their final destination: Quent. Their weeks of trials and tribulations were over, and finally, they found civilization.

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Escape from the Wormwood!
A Stormy Opportunity

The night after losing his arm, Sidon spoke to Rosie Cusswell about helping her obtain her violin. With little issue, he convinced his friend Cut-Throat Grok to let him take it back to her. Rosie was very grateful, promising to have Sidon’s back.
Meanwhile, Tael only barely survived his lashings from failing to finish his work the day before (due to heatstroke). He silently promised to have his revenge.
An opportunity came the next morning. All hands were on deck as a storm rocked the ship. Tael sneaked in a spell, charming Mr. Plugg. Convincing the rest of his allies to back up his claims, he convinced Mr. Plugg he was going to be imminently keelhauled. Horrified, Mr. Plugg aided them in stealing two lifeboats to escape. Immediately, a scuffle ensued, as Master Scourge, the only available crew officer, worked to stop them from escaping. His efforts were futile, though, and soon the party’s lifeboats were in the stormy waters.
Rowing through the storm was no easy task, but lashing the twin boats together, they managed. Before reaching Motaku Isle, the largest island in the Shackles, the crew of Mr. Plugg’s lifeboat tossed him overboard. He was sent to sea in the middle of a storm, never to be seen again… or at least, so it would seem.

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Rats and Owlbears
Days 3-5 on the Wormwood

An uneventful day came next, where Captain Harrigan ordered a pig slaughtered for a special evening meal of pork and bacon. Crew members began warming up to the party, but Master Scourge only seemed to get nastier towards Tael, the party’s gnome bard. Sidon met Owlbear Hartshorn, a man cruelly played with by the crew and treated as Mr. Plugg’s pet.
On the fourth day, Jack Scrimshaw, one of the other crew members, alerted the crew to dire rats lurking in the foul water of the bilges. A struggle far too great for mere rats ensued, as the party swung desperately and continued to be unable to hit the halfling-sized rodents. By the time the battle was over, Sandara Quinn was able to realize that the monk Sidon’s arm had been infected.
Mr. Plugg ordered the infected arm amputated, and separated Sandara from Sidon to ensure she doesn’t help him. Sidon challenged this, saying he would instead fight Owlbear, and if he won, he would get proper medical treatment from Sandara. Mr. Plugg giddily agreed to the terms.
Meanwhile, assigned by Master Scourge to the bilges, Tael suffered extreme heatstroke. He passed out near the end of the day, and was dragged out by an exuberant Master Scourge, who assigned him lashings for failing to perform his duties.
The next day, Sidon fought Owlbear. Despite Owlbear’s partial blindness, he soon was knocked out, and sent to the ship’s surgeon to have his arm removed. He passed out from the bone saw going through his arm.
Makow, the party’s incanter, finally had enough of the terrible conditions on the ship. Without a word to anyone, he teleported off of the ship and swam away.

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Press-Gang!
First Days as a Pirate

The party found themselves press-ganged into service after a wild night in Port Peril, the largest city in the Shackles and de facto capital. They awoke aboard the Wormwood, a large ship captained by the terrible Captain Barnabas Harrigan. His main enforcers, First Mate Plugg and Master Scourge, were quick to take command.
The party met several friendly faces despite the situation, including the ship’s chef and others. A few of their stolen goods were recovered by Sandara, a Besmaran cleric who seemed to take a quick shine to them. On the other hand, many of the pirates seem to have attitudes that are indifferent at best towards the party.
At the end of the second day, much of the crew was brought to tears by a beautiful sea shanty sung by the party’s bard. Even Mr. Plugg seemed to love it, and the only thing he’s shown delight in so far was punishing transgressors.

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