Fury in Freeport

Part One
The rag tag group arrives in town and take a job offer

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Fleeing from their homelands for various different reasons, the group sails into Freeport on The Black Rose, a privateer vessel captained by the rogue sea trader Captain Jacob Silverblood. They are unceremoniously deposited on the bustling docks and spend some time trying to work out what to do and where to go before finally settling on gathering their plans and working through their options inside a nearby stinky tavern.

Once inside the motley crew of races and classes instantly attract the attention of the taverns’ patrons but fortunately the presence of the robust and somewhat scary looking Azhar Templar, Malfice, prevents the outbreak of any bar fights. The Templar has a quick conversation with The Black Rose’s pilot, Mr Crumble, and learns that the most appropriate place for the exiled Prince Zan’thire to reside is in the Old City.

The Half-Orc, Willard Darksting, attempts his best as learning of his new environs from the plain speaking barman and ends up renting a room for four of the group within the tavern. Willard is then approached by a bystander, a rough looking man, who enquires as to the groups newness in town and their monetary situation. He ends up conversing with Willard and the musketeer, Edward, while Izzard and Gito eavesdrop. The man offers them the job of retrieving a case from the Municipal Auction House for a 18% share of the profits; he refuses to reveal what is in the case but confirms that it can be carried by a single person and that the auction house is well guarded by members of the city watch. Willard agrees and he is told that once he has the case he is to take it to the Chum House in the Scurvytown district.

The Elf prince and the Templar duly depart and bribe their way into the old city and take up residence in a plush and very expensive looking tavern. They take the Royal Suite and safely ensconce themselves within its luxurious confines.

The rest of the group heads into the Warehouse district to reconnoitre the Municipal Auction House before nightfall.

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Part Two
Breaking and entering

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Edward and Lucern manage to locate the Municipal Auction House (MAH) and scout around its perimeter and observe that it is a sturdy compound ringed with a 20ft high wall topped with spikes; the flat squat roof of the auction house itself just peeks above. Lucern knocks on the front door and attempts to use her feminine charms to admit her entry but the responding guard does not want to risk losing his job. As night falls the duo decide to return to the dockside tavern and gather the rest of the group.

Once back at the tavern the musketeer and mystic relay the key information back to the group and a discussion on how best to proceed ensues. After a while a plan is formulated and the goblin is dispatched to steal two grappling hooks from a nearby moored ship which he does with suitable professional aplomb. Izzard, the dirty lizard grafter, is dispatched to locate the paladin and prince in Old Town. Izzard manages to charm his way past the guards and the tavern doorman and informs the pompous Elf prince and the pretentious templar that their assistance is required over at the MAH.

A short time later, at roughly 8pm, the entire group is assembled outside a closed shop whose roof is the closest to the MAH. Gito the goblin deftly picks the locks on the door and admits the musketeer who locates a hatch out onto the roof upstairs. While the majority of the group pile into the shop the pompous prince and his templar bodyguard head off into a side street and summon an undead spirit. Zan’thire instructs the summoned angry spirit to enter the MAH and drive out anyone wearing a guards’ uniform (blue and silver). The incorporeal spirit then charges into the wall and disappears from view.

Meanwhile, back on the shop roof, the musketeer expertly casts a grappling hook over to the MAH perimeter wall which allows Gito to shimmy across carrying the second rope which he throws over to reach a ventilation tower on the MAH roof. With a clear rope path leading directly onto the MAH roof Lucern, Gito, Edward and Izzard make their way across with Willard the half-orc remaining at the shop, securing the rope. While the musketeer sets about dismantling the wooden slats of the ventilation tower a commotion, opening doors and shouts and cries from somewhere at the front of the building. With slats removed, Gito is daring enough to be the first one through the aperture but soon finds that he is hanging by his claws from a 20ft drop into what appears to be the MAH warehouse. The musketeer quickly calls over to Willard and instructs him to release the end of the first rope which he duly does – Edward then conveys the rope over to Izzard and drops it down into the warehouse, allowing the dirty lizard to safely clamber down on top of the nearest pallet.

Lucern and Gito quickly follow and make entry into the MAH while Edward remains up top guarding the rope and exit point. Inside the warehouse the trio observe that the large dark room contains a number of 6ft pallets covered with sheets and bearing a single letter denoting the lot it belongs to. They can still hear a commotion occurring on the other side of the wall but decide to exploit the opportunity to search through the lots; they execute the search systematically with Izzard taking the outermost row, Lucern taking the middle row and Gito taking the innermost row. The goblin walks past the letter K (K for Knobertal, the lot where they have been instructed they will find the case) and as he is about to reach the next palette a monstrous green howling demon with red eyes comes screaming out of the shadows. Gito’s quick thief reflexes allow him to spring out of the way just in time to avoid a swipe of the demons claw and he turns to flee for the exit rope, but not before another swipe from the demon sends him sprawling across the floor, several feet away. Before the demon can exploit its advantage Lucern the mystic springs to Gito’s aid and uses her arcane knowledge to successfully cast a banishing spell which sends the howling demon back to the dimension from which it came. Lucern picks Gito up and they can still hear shouting from the front of the building and decide that they will continue to search every pallet which they do – and find no trace of any case.

With all pallets searched and empty handed they come across a corridor and three closed doors. One door leads into a dining room which appeared to have been used as a guard room; the upturned chairs and general disarray indicate that the occupants left in a hurry. Lucern opens the door to the left and finds herself in the auction room where a raging spectre is holding a number of terrified guards at bay. The guards are backed at the main entrance with their swords drawn; the sergeant, clutching a glowing gem about his neck observes the strange woman standing in the doorway on the other side of the auction room. Lucern darts back into the main building and closes the door. Izzard and the mystic decide it’s time to make good their escape and run back to the warehouse and climb back up to the roof. Gito meanwhile, has discovered a room with a safe; once more using his expert skills as a thief and a burglar he manages to crack open the safe and discovers a purse containing 10 sovereigns. He turns to leave but finds his way blocked by two guards with swords at the ready.

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Part Three
Maniacs

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Confronted by the two guards, Gito sprints forward and slides through their legs and out into the hall beyond and spots two other guards at the other end – he springs through the door which leads into the outdoor auction room and finds himself face to face with the guard sergeant, another guard and a mage. The goblin thief sprints for the door to his left and races into the warehouse hotly pursued. He jumps on top of the packing crates in an effort to grasp the rope to freedom but is struck by a spell cast by the mage. Gito is suddenly, inexplicably compelled to answer the young wizard when asked about his life’s story; as he begins to recount he is grasped firmly by a couple of guards.

Edward the musketeer, Izzard the dirty lizard and Lucern the mystic stand on top of the warehouse roof, peering down the ventilation shaft, waiting for Gito to appear; he does not. Edward tasks Lucerne to seek help from Willard the half-orc – this involves clambering across a rope and straddling the outer wall. She duly shouts down to Willard, Malefice the Paladin and Zan’thire the Elf Prince and beseeches them to help. They quickly race off towards the front entrance without a second thought. From her vantage point on the wall, Lucern sees two guards come racing down the walkway towards her. Meanwhile a guard’s hands appear on the rim of the ventilation tower and Edward quickly sets about dealing with the newcomer, knocking him unconscious. Peering down the ventilation tower, Edward observes that another guard is already climbing up the rope – he doesn’t however spot the mage below, readying to cast another spell.

As Zan’thire, the half-orc and the paladin race along the side of the building a group of six guards come running around the corner to meet them. Inexplicably, the trio don’t even consider turning and fleeing and instead chose to meet the threat head on. Willard is first to blows and is soon surrounded by three of the guards; using his duelling skills he is able to disarm one of them and hold the other two at bay. The paladin launches himself at the group and brings three of them down and manages to spring up and run through two of them with his broadsword (a hanging offence in Freeport). Before the hapless guards can react Zan’thire comes strolling up and, with blasé nonchalance for the consequences, proceeds to kill the three standing guards with a spell of chain lightening. With their route now clear they round the corner, spotting only an empty horse and cart tethered up outside, and make their way to the front doors of the MAH. Finding the sturdy doors are locked the half-orc attempts to break it down using brute force but only succeeds in injuring himself. The heavily armoured paladin however is powered by a blindly psychotic belief that the jewel he is seeking is somehow involved in this incident and may even be in the MAH; he therefore proceeds to repeatedly batter the door until it gives way. As Zan’thire and Malefice make their way into the Gauntlet, Willard is left to sit outside, nursing his injured arm.

Back on the roof, Edward manages to beat up another guard but makes the mistake of peeking down the ventilation shaft too many times and the mage below finally has his act together and manages to cast a sleep spell which renders the violent and inquisitive musketeer unconscious. Lucerne, having dragged herself back over to the roof comes running to the rescue and casts a spell which promptly reawakens Edward. Izzard meanwhile busies himself robbing the knocked out guards and before Edward can object he also severs the rope in the ventilation shaft, preventing any more guards from coming up and sending one who was mid-climb, tumbling back down onto a palette. The trio decide that they can achieve nothing further up on the roof and devise a plan to get back down to street level with only one rope. They shimmy across the gap to the outer wall and Edward shoots the other end of the rope with his musket and Lucern pulls it up and throws it down over the other side of the wall, allowing them all to climb down to freedom. Once on street level however, these guys too don’t decide to make good their escape and instead spout some rhetoric about not leaving any man behind and make their way towards the front entrance! Before they reach it they come across the bodies of the five murdered guards and make an attempt to convince the one remaining injured guard that they are not involved in the robbery – something which is belied by the fact that Izzard is busy looting the bodies of the injured guard’s dead comrades in plain view.

Zan’thire and Malefice continue on their mad plan to break into the MAH (again!) and after a failed attempt by the paladin to brute force the next door blocking their way, Zan’thire proceeds to use the last of his magical reserves to pick the lock. With access to the facility achieved once more they rush into the auction yard and warehouse and find both empty and seemingly deserted. Searching around they find a closed door to one of the rooms. Inside the dining room, which served as a makeshift guardroom, the guard sergeant, the mage and the one remaining guard have barricaded themselves inside and placed a table and bookshelf across the door. Gito has been placed in chains and seeing his captors distracted gives him the idea of making a break for it but he receives a sturdy clobbering for his efforts. The paladin meanwhile begins to batter in the door blocking his path once more.

Outside, Willard is surprised to see two carts full of city guards come trundling up, each containing mages. These are the second re-enforcements summoned to handle this outrageously bold attack on the MAH by a band of skilled and determined attackers. These guys are taking no chances and quickly arrest the injured half-orc, clap him in irons and place him aboard one of the wagons. One of the mages and eight guards then enters the MAH.

Edward and his compatriots then finally make their way around the corner and spot Willard being held captive. Against all sane reason and still spouting the “leave no man behind” mantra they quickly decide to approach the guards and bluff the release of their colleague in crime. They are challenged upon their approach and agree to be disarmed. Both Edward, with a bullshit story and a letter, and the skilled conman Izzard, fail to convince the nervous guards, and the no-nonsense wizard instructs his subordinates to arrest the interlopers and place them aboard the wagon.

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Part Four
Shackled

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Malefice and Zan’thire continue to attempt to break into the dining room inside the MAH when they hear the sound of approaching people; the next thing, three city guards enter the corridor from the auction yard. The Azhar paladin turns from his task, leaving it to the weakling Elf prince to continue the effort to break into the dining room, and meet the threat. The guards take a swipe at the templar but he is deft in the use of his trusty broadsword and easily deflects the blows and sends a couple of them sprawling to the floor, injured. Unfortunately, two wagon loads of reinforcements have turned up at the MAH and they begin to file into the building corridor.

With his path backwards blocked by the determined Elf, the deranged paladin has no option but to hold his ground and deal with the seemingly never ending line of advancing guards; but deal with them he almost does. The swords fly but the expert templar parries and blocks continuously and either knocks his attackers aside or cleaves them almost in two. A minute later and several guards are sprawled on the floor dead or injured. The paladin makes an attempt to stop the flow of attackers and risks exposing himself to attack by rushing forward and closing the door to the courtyard, receiving a vicious strike to the back in the process. Unfortunately the door isn’t locked and the guards re-enter and continue their assault on the lunatic intruders. The wave of attacks just keeps coming and by sheer mass of numbers the guards manage to land several blows that further degrade the Paladin’s ability to resist and after taking an unsuccessful swipe at one of the guards a counter strike take’s the Azhar’s head clean off; the golden armoured body slumps to the ground, a fountain of blood pumping from the stump.

Zan’thire, recoiling in fear, only too aware of his lack of fighting skills and having exhausted all his magical powers, left his deluded compatriot to his fate and speedily runs away around a corner and peeks out through a door, into the main courtyard. He spots a long line of guards filing into the building, including a mage. With no other options for exiting the building other than the front door, the elf dark mage plans to creep out through the front entrance and attempts to sneak over to the stage to hide. Unfortunately he is not stealthy enough and is spotted by the mage, who dispatches several guards to seize him. Zan’thire makes an attempt to flee back into the warehouse but is not fast enough and two guards catch up to him. Finally realising how futile his positioning is, the elf trouble-maker puts his hands up and surrenders.

For the next forty minutes the guards and mages clean up the mess, picking up the bodies, loading them onto the carts, threatening their prisoners before the local militia turns up along with a few of the more inquisitive local residents; soon the small crowd are baying for the captive group’s blood. Fortunately the wagons start to move and drive along the streets, straight into the old town and into the courtyard of a keep. The prisoners are taken into the custody room of the basement dungeon where their names are taken; they are relieved of all their belongings and then shut into cells. Zan’thire is incarcerated in a anti-magic cell to prevent him getting up to any additional mischief while the two green skins aren’t afforded cells of their own but are instead thrown into a large dark cell containing over twenty of their brethren. The next morning Edward, Izzard and Lucern are taken individually from their cells and are bought before Tarmon, the High Wizard of the Wizard’s Guild and member of the Captains Council. He interrogates them in turn and learns everything of the group’s escapades and the reasons for their assault on the MAH. Each of them points the finger at the deranged Elf prince, and then sign agreements to assist the elderly mage on recovering the malign enchanted object that was in the Knobertal house. The high wizard also enlightens them that the mysterious man they accepted the job from is probably Aporcus Beedle, the unruly criminal nephew of the late and well respected Delinda Knorbertal. The next subsequent morning the three are brought before Tarmon again to receive a briefing on their new task; before commencement the trio ask for the release of both Gito and Willard, stating that their skills will assist them. Tarmon mulls the request over and agrees to release only one of the green skins for the short time; after short deliberation they ask for Gito.

Gito is shortly retrieved from the greenskin cell and brought to join the others after signing a document. Tarmon informs the foursome that their task is to locate Aporcus Beedle and the mysterious unknown relic. While Willard is left to rot in his cell the group set off for the Dockside and back to the Silver Hag tavern. Lucern uses the allure of her good looks on the young barman within to learn that the Chum House, the place Beedle had told the group to meet him with the stolen case, is in the middle of the Scurveytown district. The group finally reaches the edge of Scurveytown and walk along the seafront façade of decaying ramshackle hovels and come across a group of street urchins and a slumped drunk tramp. Gito unwisely decides to approach the drunkard and ask directions for the Chum House; the haggard boosehound is offended by being accosted by a filthy greenskin and lets the goblinoid thief know with some choice insults. Soon the street urchins are also joining in taunting Gito; while this unpleasant scene transpires Edward decides to take advantage of the situation and convinces the drunkard to reveal the location of the Chump House to him. The drunk tramp duly gives the directions to the location. Back at the keep, Zan’thire is finally brought out from his cell, bound in magical chains. He is brought before Tarmon who informs him that the council has contacted his father, King Garoldus, and a ship is on its way to return the errant royal murderer to face familial justice.

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Part Five
Prison Love & Life on the Streets

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Willard is stuck in the greenskin jail without friendly company and as the time drifts by he feels the call of nature. Having heard the guttural grunts of other relieving themselves violently in one of the far corners he sets about trying to locate the dunny. Midway across the dark as hell cell he is jostled and a voice to his right asks him who he is; Willard responds with wit but a voice to his left informs him that he is less than amusing. A gruffer and dumber voice directly to Willard’s back asks the first voice if it’s okay to strike the half-orc. The first voice, who is identified as Nargil, asks Willard to come over to one side so that they can discuss a business proposition. Willard resists, not wanting anything to do with the accosting strangers, but sadly they are insistent and the dumb voice to his back, belonging to one very large Orc called Hardnox, physically picks him up and carries him to the required destination. Nargil reveals to Willard that he wants him to take care of a small problem for him; this problem is in the form of another Orc gang leader, called Karcil, who occupies and runs the other side of the cell. Willard is given a shiv made out of a length of metal and half a bog brush and is told to stick it into Karcil. Willard, under some duress, agrees to the plan and obediently sets out on his new mission. Things almost quickly come to a calamitous early end when Willard bumps into an irate Hobgoblin who sends the half-orc and his shiv flying; fortunately the weapon is located before it can be pocketed by someone else. After bumbling around the other side of the cell, Willard finally manages to locate the corner where Karcil sits, surrounded by his gang of four Orcs. The duelist uses his wits to convince the Goblin gang leader that he has important information that he must hear outside of the earshot of the rest; Karcil feels so secure in his surroundings that he invites Willard closer. Willard duly informs the Goblin that Nargil wants him dead before driving the shiv into his throat. As a savage gurgling scream fills the cell, three of the four gang members manage to keep eyes on Willard and pursue him as he attempts to flee back to the other side of the cell. Knives flash out as the figures duck and weave through the crowd and Willard manages to parry and stay one step ahead. He reaches Nargil and his gang, who instruct Willard’s one remaining pursuer to leave before things get bad for him. Willard is then invited to take a seat next to Nargil.

It’s clearly a bad time to be a Goblin in Freeport; on the dockside in Scurveytown, Gito is being subjected to a torrent of racial abuse and missiles from a small crowd of street urchins. The rest of the group decide that it’s best to get away quickly and opt to follow the old drunken tramp’s directions to the Chum House so they can locate Aporcus Beedle. They head down several rough looking streets (the whole district is a derelict rat hole populated by the city’s human undesirables) and end up in a narrow side street where their path is suddenly blocked by three masked men armed with chair legs; at the same time two masked men armed with an axe and cutlass coming running out of a house behind them and block their line of retreat. The leader of the gang demands to know what the group is doing coming into Scurveytown in the company of a Goblin; the two men at the rear can barely contain their hatred and begin to close in on Gito who is at the rear. Feeling in threat of his life, Gito springs through the open door of a hovel to his right pursued by the two men. The leader and one other at the front also spring forward and give chase to the little greenskin.

The one attacker left at the front swings away with his chair leg and a fight ensues between him and Izzard and Edward. Lucern jumps to Gito’s rescue and throws herself into the path of the two attackers at the rear. A sword and axe are swung at her and she duly turns and runs away to safety leaving the rest of the group to it. Gito meanwhile swiftly ducks behind the door of the hovel and waits for the two men at the front to enter; he lithely jumps on the back of the last man and sinks his blade in the thug’s neck. The leader spins around and moves in to attack the Goblin but Gito launches himself at him and does a forward roll between the man’s legs; his manoeuvre doesn’t quite go as planned and he roll’s short – committed to defending himself he frantically thrusts his blade upwards and stabs the thug leader straight in the crown jewels, much to the horror of hovel’s resident who was innocently baking on her stove when the strangers suddenly burst into her home. Out on the street outside Izzard is leaping around and clawing at the street thugs, which enables Edward to gain an advantage and kill one of them. Lucern, feeling guilty at watching her comrades fighting for their lives without her, comes running back and manages to strike down one of the attackers herself with a dagger. Only one attacker is left and he turns and runs into the building from which he came, hotly pursued by the group; despite several attempts to bring him down and several swipes of blades at him, he manages to close a room door on them.

Still being held prisoner in the Keep for murdering seven city guards and master-minding the MAH robbery, Prince Zan’thire endures being trussed up like a Xmas turkey. Finally, after a couple of days he is brought out from the cramped cell and is taken upstairs onto the first floor into a room where Tarmon, the City Watcher’s Captain and three elves await. Tarmon informs the prince that a ship from his homeland has been diverted to pick him up; hence the Elven Sea Captain – Xilther, Marine Lieutenant Falthar and a subordinate Marine – Trillane. The necessary papers transferring custody are signed and Zan’thire is transported to the Elven ship, the Questalis, which is moored at the warehouse docks, under conditions of the utmost security. He is taken aboard the ship and placed within the brig, under even more stringent protective measures. The ship sets sail and after a couple of hours Falther visits the errant prince and discusses how eager everyone back in the kingdom is eager for Zan’thire’s return and subsequent public execution.

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Part Six
Pimps, Pirates & Pints

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The psychotic Prince Zan’thire remains trussed up in the brig of the Questalis merchant ship. An Elven seaman ensures that he is routinely fed a basic meal at regular intervals and a marine periodically checks the integrity of the cell door and the bonds. After a restless night’s half-sleep the prince spends the morning gauging his surroundings prior to receiving his lunch. He then attempts to slip one of his hands out of a manacle and after an hour of careful and painful pulling he manages the feat. Over the following three hours he manages to free his other hand and then casts a spell to cut through the neck brace. Finally free from his restraints he then casts a spell that unlocks his cell door – the maniac is free again!

He opens the door of the brig, just about to creep up and out, when he bumps into the Elf seaman coming to deliver his tea. The food is dropped and the seaman wisely flees for his life while the marine at the end of the corridor raises the alarm. Zan’thire attempts to cause a fire by smashing a nearby lamp and then attempts to scuttle the ship by casting a spell to blow a hole in the vessel’s floor as a group of marines coming running down the stairs. The spell is miscast and four angry marines are running towards him armed with a net and cudgels; Zan’thire concentrates and recasts the spell. This time he is successful and there is a powerful explosion the tears up the floor before him – three of the marines are too fast and pass over before the blast but a fourth is not so lucky and falls screaming. Before the maniac Prince can do anything further the marines are upon him and the last thing he sees is a cudgel being swung at his head and then there is only darkness.

When he wakes up Zan’thire can barely see – largely because only a single lamp lights the room and because one of his eyes is now swollen shut. He sees that he is once again trussed up, this time even tighter, and now he also has a weighted net draped over him. A moment later he realises he is now in the adjacent cell within the brig! The time once again drifts by before his half-crazy musings are abruptly interrupted by a juddering impact – something has rammed into the ship. Moments later there are sounds of shouting followed by the sounds of clashing swords, musket fire and screams. The noise of battle fades after time and 45 minutes later all is silent when Zan’thire hears unfamiliar voices marvelling at the massive hole in the ship’s floor; the mad prince calls out to them. Moments later the brig door is kicked in and a furtive haggard pirate comes into view brandishing a musket. A second pirate, evil looking and weasel-like, peers and laughs at the amusing sight of the trussed up Elf prince.

Back in Freeport, within an Old City keep jail, Willard is getting to know his new Orc friends of The Bloodied Nose gang. Nargil congratulates Willard on joining the gang and informs him that Karcil’s gang will most assuredly be out to get him in revenge for their boss’ murder. Nargil tells Willard that he will protect him and that they’re going to get him out of the jail, and that he can seek safety in one of their gang safe houses in Bloodsalt. Willard is instructed to locate Sardain and to pass on the message that Karcil is dead and that Mote is to be taken care of. A bribe of some well hidden coins to the guards buys Willard his freedom and he is escorted to outside of the keep’s walls. From there, as night falls, Willard has to make his way out of the Old City, where he will surely be arrested if encountered by the City Watch, and across the city to Bloodsalt. He stealthily and briskly walks through the streets, jumping into a fountain at one point to avoid a guard patrol, and then manages to successfully bluff his way out of the Old City’s gates and into the Eastern District.

The rest of the gang are still dealing with the aftermath of the Black Knot ambush. One of their attackers has successfully escaped and Gito mischievously attempts to set the house on fire but the wiser and more moral Edward prevents this. Izzard rifles through all the corpses, retrieving an axe and about seven copper coins. The group then blunders on down the streets of Scurveytown attracting more negative attention from the locals as they prepare to shut up their abodes for the night. Edward, distancing himself from the non-humans of his group, manages to learn that the Chum House is nowhere near the middle of the district; it is in fact on the dockside, where they originally were!

The group duly heads off, this time wising up to the fact that the whole of Scurveytown hates non-humans and especially greenskins; Izzard stands on Gito’s shoulders and they manage to disguise themselves as a single sinister looking human, supported by Edward. An hour later and the foursome have managed to balance their way across town to the docks. After a quick confab on the best approach to take it is decided that Lucern will go out and find out where the Chum House is exactly located while the rest hide in the shadows, not attracting any further unwanted attention. The very attractive peace-loving mystic walks over to a couple of prostitutes and attempts to buy directions to the Chum House but this only serves to gain the attention of a nearby pimp who recognises that the very attractive woman is out of place and a viable victim for robbery. The pimp attempts to first extort Lucern’s monies and then, failing that, grabs a-hold of her and rifles through her pockets and manages to retrieve several coins. The mystic breaks free and pulls a knife, demanding the return of her money. The pimp laughs in her face, turns and walks away, calling her a bitch. This enrages the normally pacifist Lucern and she springs forward and plunges the blade into the pimp’s back. The man falls screaming and the mystic wastes no time searching through his pockets and locating her stolen money.

During the encounter with the pimp the exact location of the Chum House was revealed and the group have another quick discussion and decide that perhaps it’s best not to take any greenskins into the bar and that maybe only one of the group should go in to initially scout the place out and ask a few subtle questions; after some deliberation they conclude that having the highly attractive mystic go in on her own isn’t such a good idea so the responsibility falls on Edward, who agrees and makes his way over to the front door, with a wood-axe for company(!)

The awol musketeer opens the Chum House front door and finds himself in a dirty and ramshackle drinking den populated by some of the roughest looking types he’s ever seen. There are lots of mean-looking thin and wiry wild eyed men adorned with tattoos of black knots and hands – there’s even a massive flag with a black hand and black knot hanging from a wall – indicating that perhaps the Chum House serves as a club house for some rather greenskin-unfriendly fraternity. Lots of eyes fall on Edward – who is decidedly not a local. The rather large, finely moustached and slightly dangerous looking bar man suggests to Edward that he should hand over the wood-axe – which he wisely does. The musketeer sits himself down and makes casual conversation with the bar-keep and eventually asks him if he knows of Aporcus Beedle; and it turns out he does. The barman is clearly no fan of Beedle and angrily states that the no-gooder stood him up for a job, but ultimately he blames himself as he should have been smarter than to deal with a wizard! Edward enquires if the barman might perhaps know where he could find Beedle and is told that Kurgan’s Kradle in the Dockside district is his best bet. Having successfully gleaned useful information without instigating a fight, Edward leaves the dingy bar and informs the rest of the group – they duly set out for the location and manage to reach the dilapidated multi-storey abode without problems.

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Part Seven
Planks, Perverts & Pursuits

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The pirate with the musket asks if he can shoot Zan’thire but the weasely-looking pirate refrains and asks a series of questions so as to ascertain just why the elf with the badly swollen eye is trussed up like a xmas turkey and banged away in the brig. The maniac elf reluctantly reveals the truth and the two pirates duly leave. Sometime later they come back and remove him from his cell and take him up to the deck where a loud crowd of pirates are cheering and jeering as their Captain, Lubbock, makes the crew of the Questalis walk the plank. Zan’thire, psycho that he is, shows no sympathy or regard as the noble Sea Captain Xilther, is thrown overboard nor when the gallant and stoic Lieutenant Falthar and his subordinate, Marine Trillane, are tossed to the sea beasts. He even jeers when the young seaman, Silderus, who had shown him nothing but compassion in bringing him his meals, is also drowned. It’s about to be Zan’thire’s turn to walk the plank and as he’s pushed forwards he begins to feebly beg for his life, vaguely boasting of being worth a lot of money, and when that fails to impress the very busy Pirate Captain, he then offers his skills as a practitioner of the black magical arts; this serves to alarm the pirate crew’s current battle mage, Pierre Ledoux – there’s no way he wants any type of competition that could threaten his comfortable position. The pirate mage tells Lubbock that Zan’thire is dangerous and not to be trusted and urges that the elf should be immediately tossed overboard. A vigorous debate ensues as the two mages try and convince Captain Lubbock of the wisdom of their suggestions; it’s a close call but Zan’thire just manages to convince the veteran pirate that two wizards are better than one and that he is keen to make himself useful. Lubbock warns Zan’thire not to disappoint him and has him taken aboard the pirate ship – The Golden Ram, where he is stowed in a makeshift brig and warned by the First Mate, Smiling Jack, to behave himself.

Willard navigates his way stealthily through the entire Eastern District without any mishap until he arrives at the outer wall and spots a guarded gate. After vainly scouting around for a means to scale the wall he resigns himself to approaching the gate guards. They are suspicious of the half-orc but he manages to convince them that he is merely returning home from work. After being searched he is admitted through the gates and finds himself in foul-smelling Bloodsalt just after midnight. He heads the instructions Nargil gave him and weaves his way through the rough and unpaved alleyways and rat runs through the shanty town until he reckons he is in the proximity of the hub. He knocks on the nearest shack door and the door duly gives away with a loud crash. He hears the sound of a least one of the shack’s occupants clambering out of bed; the individual sounds mean and angry so Willard decides to move on to the shack next door and knock on that door (but much gentler!). There’s muttering as someone gets up from bed and answers the door just as a figure appears in the open doorway of the first shack and swings a club at Willard. The half-orc duelist is nothing if not swift and nimble on his feet and he manages to spring back, avoiding the club, just as the occupant of the second shack sticks his head out and receives the clobbering blow. Willard swiftly enters the second shack and picks the dazed inhabitant up; a shocked orc wife asks who he is and he tells her that he is just looking for someone called Sardain. As Willard begins to bandage the injured inhabitant up the wife informs him that she’s only just moved into the area and doesn’t really know anyone; she suggests that he asks around in the nearby bar. Willard asks for the directions and the wife tells him that it’s just at the end of the lane and is called “Sardaine’s”(!!!).

The group meanwhile are standing outside Kergan’s Kradle, a filthy looking two storey block with bars on all the windows. They enter and find themselves in a dingy looking foyer. Behind a barred reception a greasy looking man sits reading a book. They approach him and he assumes that they are merely seeking to rent a room for a couple of hours; he becomes wary when they inform him that they’re actually looking for Aporcus Beedle. He at first simply tells them that Beedle has left and that he has confiscated the man’s belongings; this excites the group and they bribe him with a generous amount of coin to buy possession of the bag. The first thing they note is that the bag reeks of snake weed – a quick rifle through the contents reveals a bloodied shirt, a wooden token, a loaded dice, a broken dagger and a small pouch with the initials “D.K”. They explore the contents and theorise what the items might mean – they then ask the proprietor what Beedle has been doing. The creepy guy demands additional payment to spill the beans but the group is running short of coin; Lucern tries to use her feminine wiles to illicit further info but the man wants a little show of flesh. Izzard, a seasoned bargainer and grafter is able to cut a favourable price which means they get some coin back – but unfortunately Lucern has to completely strip right there and then in the foyer. While the seedy owner ogles Lucerne’s fine form he informs them that Beedle has been visited several times by a local snake weed dealer called Slick. He gives them the dealer’s description and tells them that Slick can often be found peddling his wares down on the dockside market. The group also works out the initials “D.K” probably stand for “Delinda Knorbertal”, Beedle’s well respected aunt. It’s late at night and the market doesn’t open until morning so they leave the rat-infested establishment happy in the knowledge that they now have two leads to follow up on. Lucern leaves knickerless and with a sense of shame and violation – she has paid a heavy price for this progress.

The foursome spend the night in the favourite local haunt – The Sea Hag. The next morning they head straight for the market and start asking the stall holders if they have seen Slick before splitting up into two groups to systematically sweep through the site. Halfway through Gito spots the man they are after – there’s a quick discussion and they decide that Lucern will approach him pretending to be interested in making a purchase and will lure him into a side alley where the other three will jump him. With a solid plan of action formulated Lucern sidles up to the scrawny and rat-like Slick, noticing some fresh burns about his face and neck, and starts to speak to him. Unfortunately Slick is super wary and is immediately alarmed at being approached by the attractive stranger; he makes his excuses and begins to walk away at speed. Lucern follows, asking the man what the matter is but this serves only to alarm Slick more and he dives into an ally and then breaks into a run. The rest of the gang have been tailing close behind and as soon as Slick turns the corner they sprint after him and upon seeing him running away a full blown pursuit is on. Slick and the pursuing group race through the winding alleyways, turning this way and that. The drug dealer is surprisingly fast and nimble and three of the group slowly fall back, unable to keep up such a demanding speed. Edward, the musketeer, possessing a superior military standard of fitness not only manages to keep up but also makes ground and rugby tackles Slick to the ground with a crash.

Edward restrains the sobbing Slick while the rest of the group catches up to them. They are in no mood for any nonsense and immediately threaten him with violence. They ask him where Beedle is and he tells them that he doesn’t know. He says that the last time he saw him it was when Slick had informed him that the Knorbertal house and its possessions were being put to auction and Beedle had become excited, talking about a case. All the belongings had been taken to the MAH but Slick had come into possession of the case Beedle was so interested in. He revealed that the case contained only some money, a bag of teeth, a jar of paste, a scroll and a dagger. The group ask him where the belongings were now and the drug dealer says that he sold the bag of teeth to a hedge-witch in the market and the charm to a man on the docks who had just got off a ship and who appeared to be a wizard. They ask Slick how he came by the burns on his neck and face and he tells them that he was hit by a fireball two days ago while walking down a quiet alleyway.

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Part Eight
Rogue seamen venture down a dark tunnel and come to grief

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Sat aboard the Golden Ram, the wayward Zan’thire watches and listens as there is a flurry of frantic activity as the pirate crew set about dragging their booty back to their quarters, disengaging their own ship from the Questalis and then making ready for a swift departure. A young seaman, Jonas, comes into the galley, which is serving as the Elf Prince’s makeshift and not very secure brig. The young man looks quizzically at the stranger and asks a few pointed questions which are honestly, yet snootily, answered. Shortly, a huffing and puffing fat and bald man clutching various cooking utensils and crockery ambles into the galley. This is Hastins, the longest serving crewmember of the pirate vessel. He too enquires as to the identity and purpose of the stranger sat in his galley. Upon learning that Zan’thire is a new ship’s mage, he sets about keeping the newbie busy with a number of menial tasks and kitchen duties, dubbing the Elf “Sir Ponce” along the way. Zan’thire for his part decides to knuckle down and do as he is told, marvelling in the novelty of carrying out manual tasks as he does so.

After he has fed the crew his freshly cooked broth, the Elf prince hears the call to make sail from the deck above and soon feels the ship moving and the smell of burning as the pirates set fire to the Questalis. Returning to the galley the Elf begins to relax after having finished the last of Hastin’s tasks, but before he can fall asleep the veteran pirate enters the galley and tells Zan’thire to follow him. Walking to the aft of the ship he is taken to the Captain’s quarters. Inside the room Captain Lubbock is sat around his table with Smiling Jack and Perdin. The men have been looking at a map – Lubbock tells Zan’thire that it is time for him to prove himself. Lubbock wants Zan’thire to look at the map and tell him which island in the small archipelagos is the one he needs to get to. The pirate captain refuses to reveal the origin of the map or what it is he is seeking, merely saying that the map is of the Archipelago of Shadows & Strife, and that Perdin has been unable to perform the task. Zan’thire looks at the small plain and blood stained map and observes that it has been produced by an amateur hand and omits any labelling with the exception of sea depth measurements and the location of several surrounding reefs. There are ten almost identical small islands arranged in a vague arrow head shape for him to choose from. After several minutes of deliberation the Elf mage casts a divination spell that conjures up an image of Lubbock, Smiling jack and two crewmen surrounding another older pirate of stern features inside a tavern and murdering him and then removing the map from inside his pocket; Zan’thire then sees the a vision from the dead pirate’s memory of being onboard a vessel approaching a small jungle island with two other islands on either side; then he is pushing his way through a dense jungle with his crew and coming upon the ruins of a strange looking temple complex. It’s not much to go on but the Elf mage is being pressurized by Lubbock and after a moment’s hesitation he casts a clairvoyance spell and shares the vision with the Captain and with a bit of rough guess work based on what he saw he opts for the second island in the middle of the archipelagos.

The prince sleeps soundly that night and when he awakes he resumes his job as second cook and prepares breakfast and serves it to the crew. Early in the morning while going about his duties, Zan’thire hears a cry of land ahoy from above deck. A short time after he is fetched by Hastins and joins a party of ten getting into row boats while the Golden Ram weighs anchor off a small jungle island similar to the one in the prince’s spell vision. Soon it’s all hands to the oars as the group rows to shore; once they are all stood on the rough and slightly muddy sands, Lubbock enquires which of his two mages will lead the way. There’s a lengthy argument before Perdin relents and casts a divination spell to indicate the direction they should all head in – however, it soon becomes clear that the ship’s mage is not as good as he makes out as the results are very vague and inconclusive. A weary Hastins decides he’s had enough of the nonsense and tasks several of the crewmen to run along either end of the beach and pop into the jungle to see if they can find a path; and sure enough, one of them does. Minutes later the group is cautiously making its way through the muddy and rough hacked “path” through the dense bush. Everyone, less Smiling Jack, becomes aware that the island is eerily silent and devoid of the normal sounds of wild life; this prompts Perdin to cast a “Detect Trap” spell that only reveals a vision of a couple of tree snakes and an ominous pit in the middle of moss covered ruins that may or may not be the same one’s Zan’thire saw via his spell. The captain is anxious to reach his goal and pushes the party onwards and after ten minutes they stumble into a treeless clearing and upon the ruins Perdin recently saw in his vision.

A careful study of the fifteen foot wide pit sitting amongst the ruins reveals it to have been constructed by someone or something a long time ago and that it was once inside a building that had since vanished. There’s another lengthy debate as various people squabble about who’s going to approach the pit first and once again a tired and vexed Hastins commands one of the seamen to peer over the edge. Musket and cutlass in hands the pirate scuttles over to the pit and reports back that it is too deep to discern the bottom and that there are large regular steps leading down. Satisfied that there is no immediate danger the group surges forward and observe that the steps do indeed wind their way down along the wall of the pit, which is constructed from large well engineered grey stone blocks, and is without an inner banister. Again still, there’s a debate about who’s going down first and neither Zan’thire nor Perdin fancy the job much and begin slinging mud at one another; for a third time Hastins takes command of the situation and instructs two seamen with oil lanterns to lead the way with weapons drawn. An irritated and impatient Lubbock orders the two bickering mages to take second place and then the party descends the slimy moss covered steps, surprisingly without any dramas despite their alien seemingly non-human dimensions. The steps keep coming and it’s fifty feet down before the group reaches the muddy and filth-caked bottom.

The two lanterns reveal that there are four arched doorways in the chamber and there’s another discussion about how best to proceed before Hastins instructs a seaman through each of arches. After two makeshift torches are hastily made the four pirates ready their swords and pistols and head through the arches which all quickly reveal themselves to lead into lengthy corridors. The first man to reach the end of a corridor shouts back that he has found what appears to be the remains of some kind of storeroom, largely due to the number of empty weird-looking metal pots strewn about the floor. The second man reports a similar room, also containing metal pots. The third shouts that he has found an odd looking room with a stone pedestal and walls covered with strange swirling bas-reliefs. Smiling Jack tells the first two men to come back and bring a metal pot back with them just as the fourth and final man reports back with a shout. The fourth man has found a long room covered in ornate swirling bas-reliefs and more disturbingly, there are four people sat there in the dark with their backs turned to him. Smiling Jack orders Zan’thire into the fourth corridor to determine just who and what is in the room. The reticent Elf, cursing his current predicament, tries to order the pirate into the room but the crewman is having none of it and tells Sir Ponce to go to hell; the ship’s First Mate instructs Zan’thire to go into the room and investigate. The mad Elf persuades the crewman to at least lend him his torch so that he can see into the room better, which he begrudgingly does. Zan’thire sees that the room is twenty foot long by ten feet wide and that the floor and walls have strange swirls and channels carved into them. He observers that the four figures with their backs to him appear to also be pirate crewmen, comprising of an Orc, a Dwarf and two humans. They are all sat stock still with their legs dangling down into something. There’s no other choice but to get closer and Zan’thire skilfully creeps into the room and slowly approaches the figures, seeing as he gets nearer that the pirates appear to be sat on the ledge of a shallow pit or empty pool. Close enough now to touch them, Zan’thire opts for subtlety (not!) and kicks the Dwarf pirate off the edge of the pit where he disappears from view and lands with a crumple. At that exact moment a sentient brown-black ichor shoots up from the pit and onto the wall in front as if on fire; the three other sitting pirates turn and cry out, revealing eyes coloured the same dirty brown as the ichor. Zan’thire wastes no time and turns and runs back towards the doorway with the ichor in close pursuit – the seaman also doesn’t hang around and also flees back along the corridor.

The rest of the group hears the shouts and yells from the dark archway and moments later the frantic fourth seaman comes diving out, shortly followed by Zan’thire, just as the ichor creature flaps out and shoots out a pseudopod which grasps the Elf mage around the ankle and brings him down to the floor with a crash. Hastins leaps forward and slashes the tentacle with his cutlass, severing it. The creature flaps back into the darkened tunnel and Perdin shoots a fireball in after it; seconds later a flaming possessed pirate, the Orc, emerges with a roar. Hastins and two of the seamen fire their flintlocks but only the veteran cook finds his mark and blows a hole through the Orc, but this doesn’t prevent the burning pirate from leaping upon one of the seaman and bathing him in flames; it takes a savage blow from Smiling Jack’s cutlass to end him. Another two possessed pirates, humans, emerge from the tunnel with swords drawn; one engaging Hastins and the other landing a blow of his blade across the prone Zan’thire’s back. Steel clashes against steel and Captain Lubbock determines that this isn’t the place he was looking for and that it would be prudent to leave; he heads straight for the steps and heads back on up, taking one of the crewmen with him. Perdin goes to follow suit but confuses himself when he tries to pick up a discarded sword enroute and manages to spectacularly fall flat on his face in the mud. A badly injured Zan’thire scrambles to his feet and over to the steeps, and frantically attempts to race up them, only to slip down. The third crewman emerges like lightening from the third tunnel and sprints past both Perdin and Zan’thire, flying up the steps. The first mate and the cook are still battling the possessed pirates and manage to run them both through; the latter then runs up the steps as fast as his legs can carry him. The first mate walks over to Perdin and helps him up just as a Dwarf pirate with a broken nose emerges from the fourth tunnel and comes at them with sword swinging. Smiling Jack avoids a couple of blows and manages to strike the Dwarf down with a couple of sharp swipes; he then turns and runs up the steps just as Zan’thire manages to pick himself up and scramble, bleeding, upwards to safety. Figuring on the threat now being gone, Perdin decides to look around and perhaps search the bodies, just as the brown ichor comes flapping out of the tunnel once more. This is Perdin’s queue to run for his life; he turns and flees with the creature in rapid pursuit. The pair keep perfectly apace going up the stairs and it becomes clear that if Perdin slips then it will be the end of him. He makes it, just; reaching the midway point first where there is enough sunlight to drive the deadly ichor back.

The group is now on the surface and free of the pit – they sweat and breathe a sigh of relief at so narrowly escaping a terrible fate. Deciding that it was just a bit of a scare and only the loss of one man, Lubbock wastes no time and reprimands Zan’thire for his poor divination skills. He then instructs the wounded and beleaguered Elf prince to pick another island so that they can make tracks to it. Studying the hated vague map again the weary mage plumps for the middle island.

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Part Nine
Daggers, Detections and Disapointments

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Gito, Lucern, Izzard and Edward continue to interrogate the low level local drug dealer and known associate of Aporcus, Slick. The young man is suitably intimidated by the group but is also confused by their disjointed line of questioning and internal bickering. Several questions concerning how he came by his burns and what he did with the contents of the case are asked and followed up with slaps; Slick reveals that he was ambushed by a wizard and the group conclude that this was probably Aporcus. They are very confused as to how he came by the case and after length Slick reveals that he heard that Aporcus’ late aunt’s house and its contents were being auctioned and he informed the rogue lay wizard associate of this and that the man was visibly excited by the news. Slick states that he went into Old Town to scope out the house and found the case just lying in the road nearby – which seems highly improbable to the group. After lengthy debate over what they have heard and what to do next they finally realise that they have asked about everything in the case but have missed an object out – a dagger. The dagger is described by Slick as being rather dull looking but having a mesmerising green emerald in its hilt. Slick admits that he was entranced by the blade but that it spooked him out as he kept seeing a woman in the corner of his vision and it felt like the knife wanted him to do bad things. The group once more debate what to do next with this news, during which Slick manages to crawl away undetected.

The group decide to call up Tarmon using the talisman issued to them, as they were instructed to, and update him of their progress. The wizard is impatient for news of the location of the box and tells them to get back onto tracking it down and not to bother him again until they’ve obtained it. The group rationalise that the next obvious step is to visit the Knorrbertal house in Old Town to verify the story and to see if there’s any further leads waiting there for them. They head across town and soon approach the open gates. Lucern and Izzard manage to simply walk past the chatting gate guards but one of them spots Gito walking alongside Edward and challenges them both. The goblin thief and awol musketeer are unable to provide convincing explanations and are duly refused entry, forcing them to make time consuming alternative routes in. Meanwhile Izzard and Lucern make their way to the Street of Dreams and locate the Knorrbertal house which is locked up tight and apparently devoid of life. Thinking about what to do next they opt to check on the neighbours and head over to the house on the right which turns out to be a tailors. Lucern introduces herself to the friendly and very chatty middle aged man and makes enquiries about the house next door and is told that Aporcus used to live with his aunt, Delinda, who was a respected mage, but he was thrown out several years ago. The man also says that the Knorrbertal house has been very busy since Delinda’s passing with lots of people coming and going, including Tarmon, who was in the company of a hard-eyed, black haired, tall bronze skinned man dressed in flowing white robes. The man also mentions that he saw the city authorities packing up Delinda’s belongings in preparation to transportation to the MAH, during which he then saw Aporcus sneak aboard one of the wagons and attempt to steal the much sought after case; the man reported this to the city guards who duly kicked Aporcus out of the wagon and placed the case precariously back inside. Lucern thanks the man for the information and leaves, just as Edward and Gito manage to turn up; the religious mage informs the group of all she has learned and they decide that the next step is to search the Knoberrtal house from top to bottom – but they can’t do this until night falls.

With some time to kill a couple of the criminal members of the group declare that now is the time to carry out a quick burglary on Zan’thire’s nearby hotel room where they hope to find the mad mage’s treasure trunk. Izzard, expert grifter, manages to talk his way into the hotel and obtain the room key. He slips into the room and locates a trunk which he then walks straight out. The group then whisk the purloined trunk down a nearby alley and cautiously break into it and explore its contents. Much to their surprise they realise that the case is not that of Zan’thire (this had been stolen long before by some of the hotel staff and its contents either pocketed or sold off to various pawn shops!); the meagre contents of this case appear to belong to some sort of prospector with the initials YBH.

Night falls and the group scuttle back to the Street of Dreams and scale the back wall of the Knorrbertal house and break in. The interior is completely bare since everything has been transported. The group carefully check the house for any secret compartments or rooms and Edward duly finds a small cavity under the floorboards that perfectly match the dimensions of the stolen case. With the house checked and all the discernible pieces of how the case came to be stolen and what it contained now in place, the group discuss how to proceed; the mysterious stranger seems to be the next and only logical step. Once more they call up Tarmon and report everything that’s transpired; the senior wizard and Sea Lords Council member is perplexed by the call and somewhat irritated – he freely admits to having visited the house with his merchant friend, Farastay, but fails to see what it has to do with the missing case. He harshly rebukes the group for wasting his time and once more instructs them to hurry up and locate the missing case.

Dawn arrives after an eventless night spent in the Knorrbertal house and the group decide that since the mysterious Farastay character is a merchant then a visit to the Merchant’s District is the surest way to locate and question him. A short time later they enter the Plaza of Gold in the heart of the district and attempt to enter the Merchant’s Guild, an imposing mansion house on a hill; they are turned away by the guards, but are told that the best place to enquire about specific individuals is in one of the taverns on the plaza. Izzard and Gito wait in the large and wealthy square while the more socially acceptable Lucern and Edward make their way into the Scales of Wealth tavern. The tavern is exceedingly busy, even early in the morning and Lucern unsuccessfully attempts to learn something from one of the barmen. Edward enquires at the other end of the bar and is rewarded with an account that the mysterious man in white is often spotted around the district and is often seen in the company of a wizard. Leaving the tavern the group believe that locating a wizard’s shop would probably be the best place to ask about Farastay; a short time later they manage to find The Firmest Wand. Lucern enters and makes her acquaintance with the fusty old man inside; after an exchange of pleasantries the attractive mage asks about Farastay and the old man vaguely recalls that the man’s name is “O-Tark-“ something; definitely a foreigner and not from Freeport.

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Part Ten
Wanted & Found - All in a day's work

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The pirate shore party of The Golden Ram hastily leave the jungle island, thankful of leaving only one casualty behind – for it could have been so much worse. They row back to the ship and Captain Lubbock, eager to reach his target set sail immediately for the next island, which is the centre-most in the archipelagos. An hour later and the ship has once more dropped anchor and the same party plus one new seaman, row two boats ashore of the almost identical island before them. Once ashore on another scrubby beach they are faced with the same dilemma before; Hasting s wastes no time though and once more dispatches the three crewmen across the length of the beach with instructions to head a little way into the jungle and locate a path. Etienne, a crewman who has been on the ship only for a few months, cautiously enters the jungle which is shaded by the canopy above and very quiet; within seconds he has lost sight of the party on the beach. He pushes forward when he suddenly hears something rustle in the bushes in front of him – a moment later and whatever it is comes rushing directly at him. The young sailor, unsure of the nature of the threat turns and runs as fast as he can back towards the beach, his adversary quickly gaining ground on him. As he exits the jungle his foot catches a tree root and he falls face down into the rough sands of the beach and moments later a wild boar comes shooting out after him. The rest of the group witness a frantic duel to the death as the frantic savage pig makes repeated charges at the newbie pirate; Etienne for his part manages to escape being gored and lands several blows on his porcine enemy before finally running it through. Meanwhile, Menage, one of the other seamen sent to scout for a path also cautiously explores the dark and quiet jungle interior with pistol and cutlass drawn. A short time later he stumbles on a dirt track intersecting the jungle – and spots a mysterious old man clutching a staff and dressed in rags, staring at him from the other side of the path, amongst the trees. Menage hails the old man, who in turn tells him to go back to where he came and that the pirate doesn’t belong there. Menage decides that it would be wise to head back to the beach and report the find and encounter to the rest of the party.

Captain Lubbock, upon hearing the news of the discovery of a path, duly orders the party to travel over to it. The First Mate, Smiling Jack, fails to notice that one of the three scouts has not returned. The party head into the jungle and a short time later come across the dirt path and spot that the same old man is still stood on the other side of the track, watching them intently. The Captain hangs to the back of the group, not wishing to expose himself to any risks; there is a quick discussion about what to do before Smiling Jack, tiring of the talk, decides to take a lead in the action and walks straight over to the old man with the intention of murdering him. As he approaches the old man once more tells the stranger to leave the island as he does not belong there; Jack is interested enough to ask why and is told by the old man that only death awaits them if they continue on the path. Jack then swings his cutlass at the old man, who is in fact not what he appears to be. The shape-shifting Arenea is far faster than the average human and responds by dodging the blow and striking forward in turn. The rest of the pirate party witness the Spiderkin drop its illusion and reveal its horrible human-spider hybrid form just as it leaps forward and delivers a poisonous bit to the First Mate, who promptly drops to the ground screaming. While a couple of the crew quickly retreat away from the horrifying team, and a couple of them futilely fight amongst themselves in the face of danger, Hastins lifts his flintlock pistol and fire an effective shot into the monster. The Arenea spins and bucks from the pain and reacts by spraying the group with is web fluid, managing to entrap several of them. It then begins to retreat, dragging its bound victims behind it. Zan’thire, who managed to dodge the web attack responds by casting a flashbang illusion at the creature, followed up by a cutting spell that manages to free half of the captives. Etienne, who also managed to avoid being encased, cuts the remainder of the group free and the ghastly Spiderkin turns and flees deep into the bush. The group are in no shape to pursue, and so they busy themselves freeing each other from the sticky webs and dusting themselves off.

Twenty minutes later and the party is once again ready to move. Everyone is miraculously unharmed with the exception of Jack, who is still very much suffering the effects of the venom. Lubbock is aware that they only have a few more hours of sunlight left and so orders them onwards, down the track. A short time later the path ends at a large clearing, in which sits the moss-covered ruins of an alien-looking temple complex. The group observes that the visible carvings and architecture is the same as that of the underground chamber on the previous island.

Back in Freeport the group is still determined to learn who the mysterious merchant seen with Tarmon is. They walk down the street and spot a corn exchange; Lucern heads inside the busy centre of agriculture commerce and attempts to quiz one of the sellers but learns nothing; she then moves on one of the buyers who proves to be better informed of local personalities and occurrences. The buyer reveals that the man’s full name is O’takan Farastay, that he’s not from the continent, but from somewhere else, and that he sails on the Narwhale which doesn’t fly any nation’s colours. Armed with the newly acquired information the group debates what to do next – they feel that the antique dagger is central to the recent events and that they should perhaps either learn of its provenance or better still, acquire it themselves, by visiting the local antique dealers, of which there are several. After some time spent walking the streets they do manage to find The Rusty Junk, a small shop crammed full of expensive and not so exotic bric-a-brac. Edward takes the lead in the talking while the other s wait outside; he asks the shopkeeper about the emerald pommeled dagger but the man is at a loss to say anything about it other than to try to sell the musketeer similar ruby and sapphire daggers that he has in stock. Unsatisfied, Edward leaves empty-handed, and upon stepping outside the shop and rejoining the group they are accosted by three very large thugs who ask politely for them all to follow them for a chat. Lucern and Edward demand to know where it is that they are supposed to be going and with whom they are to talk with – things that the three thugs are not at liberty to reveal. Gito uses the opportunity to slip quietly away from the group unseen while Izzard takes advantage of his small size to shoot out between everyone and leg it. The three thugs instantly react by grabbing the two remaining humans; Edward, weighing up the situation decides to be chivalrous and offers to come along without a struggle if they just take him and release Lucern – and the thugs agree to this.

Edward is then ushered into a nearby coach and driven to the docks and then whisked into The Golden Rivet tavern, a nondescript drinking hole, patroned by individuals who know to turn a blind eye. Edward is led through a rear door to a private room at the back of the bar and finds himself facing Demetrios, a key player and facilitator of The Black Mark, the organised smuggling outfit of Freeport. News of the groups questions around town concerning Farastay have reached his ears and he is eager to know what all the fuss is about. He easily menaces and persuades Edward to reveal everything about the group’s activities, including who they are, who they work for and what they are after. The awol musketeer for his part is so keen to avoid harm or further trouble that he blabs away and asks nothing of his inquisitor in turn. Satisfied that he what he has heard is the truth and that nothing further can be learned, Demetrios informs Edward that he is free to leave. Once outside, separated from the rest of the group, Edward decides that it would be best to try and locate the Narwhale by walking along the dockside. Within the hour he has walked back into the Merchant District, and spots the Narwhale, a sleek caravel in excellent repair, moored up on a pier; directly in front of it sits or stands a sizeable contingent of bronze skinned, dark haired sailors. Edward weighs up the options and decides to return to the Sea Hag back in the Dockside District and get a good night’s sleep.

When Edward was whisked away by the thugs the rest of the group reconvened and tried to decide what they were going to do about the situation when a paperboy selling the latest edition of The Shipping News wanders by, shouting of the headlines of multiple mysterious murders and fugitives sought. Lucern buys a copy and reads of three seemingly random murders, linked by bloody notes left at all the scenes. One of the victims was a prostitute killed in Rose Alley, another victim was an adventurer in Kergan’s Kradle, and the last was a well-respected member of the City Guard, called Reinholt Proy, who was found floating in the harbour. Six suspects are now being sought by the City Watch, a goblin, a lizard, an elf, a half-orc and two humans; a unspecified reward is being offered by authorities for any information leading to the apprehension of the suspects and there are two sketches that bear striking resemblances to Gito and Lucern. The pair quickly set about disguising themselves with what they have at hand; they then all discuss what to do next and decide that locating the Narwhale is the most sensible step and head for the Merchant District docks.

It is dark by the time the trio locate the Narwhale. Lucern once more decides that her innate beauty and charm will enable her to gain access aboard the vessel and she approaches the six crewmen sat blocking access to the gang plank. But no matter what she says and explains the crewmen appear to not understand her and merely motion for her to leave. Izzard then steps in and tries to use his skills as a conman and seasoned communicator to also get past the group but the silent men also refuse him access. Gito decides that while the other two are distracting the men he will use a mooring line to creep aboard the ship. Stealthily he manages to get onboard undetected and better still he also creeps past some of the crew still on deck. He lets himself into the aft of the ship and begins to explore the interior, aiming for the captain’s quarters; which he manages to find within a few minutes. He creeps ninja-like into the captain’s quarters where a tall bronzed man in white robes sits oblivious, reading a book. Gito clears his throat and makes a quip about the ineptitude of the ship’s security and O’Takan Farastay looks up with cool alarm. The foreign merchant asks who Gito is and the goblin thief attempts to bluff his way onto the ship’s crew as a security guard. Farastay thanks Gito for demonstrating the inadequacies of the ship’s security arrangements but firmly informs him that there are no job openings available. Gito then changes tack and reveals that he is working on behalf of Tarmon and asks Farastay about what he knows of Aporcus Beedle and the mysterious Emerald dagger; Farastay denies all knowledge of these and insists that he will meet with Gito outside the ship first thing in the morning and go and see Tarmon to discuss what this is all about. He then calls for a crewman to escort Gito off the Narwhale. Once back with the other two they decide it’s time to head back to The Sea Hag and get a night’s sleep before facing a new day.

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