Skulls and Shackles

Harrigan's Last Stand...
And War on the Horizon!

After a few hours of drinking, Harrigan rose from the table and demanded that Tetra follow him. Tetra was wary, especially once Harrigan told Tessa to back off, but she decided to go along. Tessa promised that she would come at Tetra’s shout.
Harrigan took tetra to the cellar of the tavern, where one of his crew members slammed the door shut and guarded it. He demanded a captain’s share of her plunder for a year, as a way to pay back the labor lost when she and her friends abandoned the Wormwood. He leveled a gun at her head and demanded a quick answer. Tetra stalled for time, as her lizard familiar escaped the cellar to get help from Irene and Tessa.
No sooner had Harrigan said “Time’s up”, than the cellar door burst open. The guard tumbled down the stairs and fell unconscious against a wall, and a brief, intense fight broke out. Irene touched Harrigan, cursing him, before he with two swings of a short sword decapitated the captain of the Triforce of Wisdom. Tessa guarded the door to prevent his escape, while Irene maneuvered away from him after casting Sanctuary. Harrigan attacked Tessa next, but then with a spell from the Pirate Lord, he went rigid. Irene saw her chance and plunged her rapier into the old foe’s neck. His pupils dilated, and his body keeled over, falling dead to the floor.
Kixis at this point burst into the cellar, completely naked. Tessa demanded Kixis clear out the tavern, then to get dressed and fetch Sidon. Tessa distracted a confused Avimar while Irene got both bodies upstairs.
Sidon was shocked to hear of Harrigan’s death, and along with Rosie, Crimson, and Kroop, joined Kixis on his return to the Drowned Dwarf. They were stopped midway by Master Scourge, who seemed not to realize what had happened. He and a group of pirates were instead there to bloody Sidon’s nose, but this was simply not to be. In a very brief fight, Scourge was knocked out and his companions bolted. Scourge was taken prisoner aboard the Triforce of Wisdom, while Sidon went to dissolve Harrigan’s body with acid, ensuring no resurrection would be occurring.
Tessa realized that it wouldn’t be long before war broke out for this attack. She and the party left port the next morning, carrying Tetra’s body along so that she could be resurrected soon. Back in Quent, she sent word to Port Peril so that the high priest of Besmara would be temporarily transferred to cast the spell. She also began sending word to ships in the fleet that Harrigan’s colors now announced enemies of the fleet, fair game for piracy.
When Kirsisdi came into port, she was welcomed and told that she had been the explicit exception to the brewing war. With some persuasion, she agreed to defect, not at all wishing to become the enemy of the party nor Tessa Fairwind. She announced that Harrigan’s fleet was abandoning his colors rapidly, but one or two dozen ships could be expected to remain loyal, and Harrigan almost certainly had allies outside of his fleet…

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Pirate Lords' Celebration
Drenchport's Finest Tavern

Fortunately for the party, the first pirate to see their crippled ship was not an unfriendly one. A frigate flying Harrigan’s flag prepared to board them, but then the captain noticed who they were. The ship was no less than the Winter’s Frost, captained by the friendly Kirsisdi. She was confused as to what happened to their ship, and after hearing the story offered to tow them into the nearest port rather than attacking them. They graciously accepted, and Kixis made her fine rum as way of payment for the help. She towed them into the ramshackle city of Drenchport before leaving for more piracy.
Over the next month of intensive repairs to their disabled ship, R’ahn spread tales of their battles and struggles for survival, impressing the locals with their deeds in spite of their ship’s obviously bad state.
As Rova gave way to Lamash, a house on a nearby hill opened, and out walked one of the most secretive and powerful Pirate Lords in the Shackles: the Master of Gales. He rose his ship from beneath the waves of the harbor, and his crew began piling on. The party realized that it must be time for the annual Pirate Lord’s Regatta, the Master’s last before he took a break to allow fresh blood onto the Pirate’s Council. This man had, after all, won every race for the past several years.
A few days later, with the final touches being put on the Triforce of Wisdom’s repairs, his ship returned, tailed by three more. It was obvious that the Kraken had once more won the Regatta, and it seemed that Tessa’s ship the Luck of the Draw came in second. In third was the Wormwood, and in fourth place was the Blood Moon, captained by the dreaded werewolf Avimar Sorrinash.
The crew walked out to meet Tessa as she left her ship, but first they ran into no less than Harrigan and Scourge. While Harrigan, for now, seemed not to remember them, Scourge turned and recognized them only too well. He readied his cat-o’-nine-tails, while Tetra drew her rapier and prepared for a fight. Kixis was also ready and eager for a brawl, which is why she was disappointed when Tessa leveled her rapier at Scourge’s back, forcing him to stand down. Harrigan slapped R’ahn after the cat began annoying him, knocking the gunner unconscious with little effort.
At this point, Avimar came off his ship, and sensing a building battle, came to join in. However, by now Harrigan and Scourge had left, disappointing the bloodthirsty werewolf. This was when he challenged Kixis to a fight instead, a duel to first blood. On Kixis’s condition that it was unarmed only, he gleefully accepted, transforming into his full werewolf form and brandishing his teeth and claws. He narrowly dodged Kixis’s first punch, before tearing into her shoulder with his teeth. He pulled away and grinned as he shifted back to a human form. In celebration, the two went off together to Avimar’s quarters for some passionate fun… where Kixis learned she had been infected, and would become a werewolf with the next full moon.
That evening, Tessa invited the crew to come celebrate the Regatta’s end with them in Drenchport’s best (and only notable) tavern, the Drowned Dwarf. Inside, they saw the tavern packed well beyond typical capacity, with easily a hundred or more pirates from all of the crews mingling and drinking. The Pirate Lords – Tessa, the Master of Gales, Harrigan, and Avimar – were seated at the same private table, a table that Tessa invited Tetra to join. Sidon went to meet Scourge, a meeting that lasted only a few seconds before devolving into a fist fight. Sidon being a trained monk, he had no problems bloodying Scourge’s nose. Harrigan demanded Tetra control her first mate, and not wanting a fight with Harrigan, Sidon consented, returning to the ship while Scourge also left the tavern in rage.
Tessa happily recounted to Tetra about how the crew’s infamy was spreading, especially back home in Quent. She declared Tetra ready to meet the Hurricane King, Kerdak Bonefist. Harrigan objected, to nobody’s surprise, and Tessa admitted that they may want to pay off their debt first.
Nobody knew what else the night would bring, nor could they have expected the turn of events to come…

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In Besmara's Debt
Saved from a Storm

Fortunately, things in Quent did not go as poorly as they could have. With any familiar faces hiding below deck, a few unknowns walked out to attend to their business in Quent. Irene was paid by Master Scourge – now First Mate Scourge – to make a magical eyepatch for Caulky Tarroon, while Kixis went to the Grumpy Parrot to check up on his business. There he met Riaris Krine, the master gunner for the Wormwood. She complimented his establishment and told him about Harrigan’s desire to sell off a recently captured Chelish frigate.
Knowing Sidon’s desire to sail his own ship, Kixis returned to the ship and suggested stealing the ship in port. However, knowing this to be a grave breach of Shackles courtesy, Sidon rejected the notion, also pointing out that it may be a bad idea to make Harrigan even angrier.
As the Wormwood left port, the party learned that the frigate had been sold to a half-white dragon woman now known as Captain Kirsisdi. She was using the frigate to break into a life of piracy, but to do so, she first had to pay a debt to Harrigan, during which time she had to serve in his fleet. After meeting Kirsisdi and determining her to be better than most of Harrigan’s lackeys, the party decided to let her go, hoping to one day bring her over to Tessa’s fleet instead.
With business in Quent settled, the ship took off again, this time headed north to meet Jack Falcon in the Steaming Sea. Plotting a course, the crew decided to skirt within a hundred miles of the Eye of Abendego, risking the powerful storms there for a quicker trip of only six weeks’ sailing. This turned out to be a mistake, and a very costly one.
A savage hurricane spawned a week into sailing, with lightning lashing and wind howling. A tug on the ship’s anchor alerted the crew to a far greater threat, though: a whirlpool was beginning to form beneath the ship’s position, and no amount of loosening the sails was enough to stop the disaster that was coming. The pull of the whirlpool and the crashing of waves sent everyone on deck overboard, leaving the entire ship in the hands of Sidon, R’ahn, and Kroop. Even as the storm continued to hinder the ship, doing its hardest to sink them, Sidon managed to keep a grip on the ship’s wheel. Masts crashed into the water and the better swimmers in the crew tried desperately to save drowning crew members being pulled ever deeper into the sea. Tetra used her new magic armor to stand above the torrent and rush over to the ship, climbing up one of R’ahn’s ropes to take the wheel and allow Sidon to join the rescuers. She also tossed him her hat, which turned into a rowboat.
By the time the storm was subsided, the ship was in a sorry state, and ten crew members had drowned beneath the surf. The crew sent offerings to Besmara for protection while Irene attempted to begin work on mast repairs (no easy task).
Their offerings were well-received by Besmara. The next day, Irene spotted an incoming ship through their magical spyglass, and recognized it as the living ship Kelpie’s Wrath, the Herald of Besmara.

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The crew allowed the draugr crew of the ship to board them. One of the draugr approached Tetra and laid out the terms for the salvation of their ship. In return for saving their one ship, they now owed Besmara two ships full of plunder, which would not be touched by the party. They agreed to the terms, and were instantly transported to just outside of the Shackles. There the Herald left them, taking no responsibility for potential attacks from this point – it had done its job.

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Return to Tidewater Rock
Ring the Wedding Bells!

After a short time spent in Goatshead to recover their strength (during which they purchased a brass dragon construct from an eccentric inventor), the crew made their way back to Tidewater Rock to finally secure an alliance. They were welcomed with open arms by the occupants, who had been wary that the ship may have been lost to the Deathknell.
Lady Smythee was joyed to hear that Tetra had chosen to marry her, though this joy was somewhat dulled by Tetra reaffirming that this was strictly a business arrangement, nothing more. Nonetheless, she offered Tetra a dowry consisting of a magical chain shirt and a magical spyglass, both of which would be soon to serve her quite well.
Meanwhile, upon the roof of the fortress, R’ahn was attempting to impress some guards with a bet: if he could just narrowly miss Sidon on the deck of their ship with one of the tower’s ballistae, he would win 40 gold. He lined up his shot and fired… and hit Sidon in the chest, with Rosie beside him.
The enraged lovers ran to the tower, swearing to kill R’ahn when they reached the roof. While Tetra briefly attempted to intervene, the cat’s smooth tongue deceived her, and she left back down the stairs. This left R’ahn fighting two pissed pirates, a fight he stood no chance of winning. While Sidon put him in a chokehold, Rosie gleefully smacked him around with her axe and knees until he passed out.
With R’ahn tied to the mast, the ship was ready to set sail again. They returned to Quent to check up on businesses, but there they met a most unwelcome sight. The Wormwood was in port.

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The Deathknell
The Return of Mr. Plugg

The party was forced inside in Quent for a night as a hurricane blew across the town. Having little place else to go that didn’t leak in the face of the storm, the Grumpy Parrot was packed that night with rowdy, thirsty patrons. Many of the PC’s got involved in a drinking contest, in which Sidon won by putting away an astounding 13 mugs of cheap rum before finally becoming insensibly drunk. He polished this off by impressively throwing a bull’s-eye in a dart game, before devolving into petty violence as he tried to force Kafei into restoring his senses.
By morning, thankfully, the storm had passed, now merely a light rain. The crew set out that morning for Tidewater Rock, planning to crack the rock and earn themselves infamy for the deed. What they did not expect, though, was what happened that very night.
As a fog settled in, the party noticed a ship pursuing them, with the faint ringing of a bell accompanying it across the vast distance. They were at first wary, but then outright unnerved as they realized it was keeping perfect pace with them, stopping when they did and never gaining nor losing ground on them. They realized that they were being pursued by the infamous ghost vessel Deathknell, sinker of ships and captained by the infamous Whalebone Pilk, a long-dead whaler. The ship was known in Shackles lore for stalking a target for three nights, attacking on the third night and then vanishing after taking out its mark.
In order to pause the timer, so to speak, the party chose to dock in the town of Little Oppara for a week, stocking up on lore and weaponry with which to combat this new threat. They purchased holy water, ghost touch ballista bolts, and alchemical fire bolts. Armed and prepared, they set out on a morning to make it to Tidewater Rock before sunset.
At Tidewater Rock, they were greeted first by a hungry moray eel, then by a far more hospitable Lady of the Rock, Agasta Smythee. They dined with her that afternoon, discussing a potential alliance to be able to use Tidewater Rock as a staging point. She proposed a Shackles marriage, a binding promise to marry Tetra for one year in which they would mutually share resources, after which either party could end the alliance/marriage at any time.
While an appealing process for its usefulness to the young crew, the idea of marrying a women old enough to be her mother was a bit of a throw for Tetra. She said she would return after dealing with the Deathknell, at which point she would have an answer for Smythee. Smythee accepted this, and sent them off with a keg of wine as a parting gift.
That night, the ghost ship pursued them again. They had chosen to find their own battlefield, the waters just south of the settlement of Goatshead. This would allow them to limp into harbor should their ship be damaged in combat.
The third night, the Deathknell struck. Coming out of a supernaturally thick fog, it opened up with a heavy ballista bolt that went wild. R’han saw through the fog that the ship had a new master. No longer was it controlled by Whalebone Pilk, but by the undead form of a bloated, drowned pirate: none other, it turned out, than Mr. Plugg.
Knowing the ship was corporeal, Tetra turned around to expose the Deathknell to a full broadside of fire-tipped ballista bolts. The bolts tore into the Deathknell, setting the ghost ship ablaze, along with all of its occupants. Tetra kept her distance to prevent boarding actions by either party, as ballista bolts from both ships flew through the air, embedding in Tetra, but also killing Mr. Plugg’s apparent necromancer allies. The ship spent the battle on fire, its zombie crew burning to ashes even as Plugg relentlessly pursued his targets for revenge.
The battle was clearly turned against Plugg, though, and whatever remained of his survival instincts seemed to kick in. After R’han scored an impossibly precise shot at his forehead with a hand crossbow, across the expanse of open sea, the Deathknell vanished, carrying Plugg with it. Frustrated, tired, and injured, the Triforce of Wisdom turned to port, choosing to dock at Goatshead for the day.

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Woman Overboard
The Worst Rescue Ever

It didn’t take long for the Triforce to discover unusual control problems on the way home to Quent. An analysis of the ship found that its rudder had jammed once again, but this was highly suspect: after all, the rudder hadn’t jammed in the fight, to their knowledge. A closer look by R’han found the real issue: the rudder had been sabotaged.
Sidon, who had previously become suspicious of Sandara after she recoiled from a Besmaran symbol, took her into private to demand answers. She was evasive at first, but pressed further, she finally confessed to having broken the rudder… because, as it turned out, she was an undead. Sidon realized her true form to be a huecuva, before she dropped her disguise and revealed rotting flesh. Her brief attempt to overpower him failed, and Sidon didn’t hesitate in destroying the creature.
Another storm rocked the Triforce of Wisdom, albeit one a little less severe than their last. This didn’t stop a wave crashing into the ship from sending one of its occupants overboard, though: Rosie Cusswell tumbled over the side, sparking a prompt rescue from her boyfriend Sidon. He leaped into the sea, struggling in the storm-tossed waters just to keep the both of them above water. Kofe polymorphed into a fish and leaped in to aid, but this was where a terrible truth about the incanter was discovered: he couldn’t actually swim.
As the three pirates struggled to swim, Kixis leaped in to join them. In her haste, though, she miscalculated her dive and slammed against the hull of the ship, before being dragged under along the barnacles, effectively keelhauling herself. Luckily, she managed to dive deeper, away from the barnacles.
R’han, at this point, came up with a brilliant idea that worked much like his other ideas: he would shoot his ballista at something. In this case, he tied a rope off to it and, defying Tetra’s orders otherwise, fired it off, thankfully landing just between some of the floundering crew. To everyone’s relief, nobody drowned in the storm, despite stunning displays of bad rescuing all around.
Back in port, the party split off to work on selling plunder, buying an upgrade to the ship’s rudder, and earning infamy. Sidon and Kixis joined forces to fight the summoned dire apes of a powerful Mwangi conjurer named Chimwemwe, who reluctantly agreed to join their crew if they could first transport him to Andoran. Sidon was also met by Gossam Bluetoe, who designed both of his previous prosthetics and now wanted the monk to test out a new magical prototype – one with, most likely, a few bugs to work out.
Now the crew, at Tessa’s request, were preparing to find and crack Tidewater Rock, knowing it to be run by a Taldane noblewoman who may or may not be friendly. Sidon has plans to arrange for an alliance, but nobody yet knows whether the lady of the Rock is all too welcoming…

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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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