Ptolus: Blood in the Streets

Session 20: Leska’s Lure and an Old Friend

After a night’s rest back at the Glass Window Inn, the party planned over breakfast how to convince the Council to have the Lyceum join the war against the Ragesians. During the conversation, the god-child Krystin appeared to exert subtle influence over Torrent and Vennman, soothing away their concerns and calming their demeanor. Puzzled but not overly alarmed, the party left Krystin in Vennman’s care while they and Torrent went to speak with the Council.

When the adventurers reached the Lyceum and were admitted to the Council chamber, they found the mages in animated discussion. Master Ken, head of the Council, stopped the proceedings and informed the party of the news that Leska desired a peace conference at Gate Pass. She had requested representatives from the Lyceum and specifically the presence of the “Ptolus Six” meaning the six adventurers. As a sign of her good will, she provided the six with a staggering gift – six astral diamonds worth 10,000 GP each!

The party warned the Council not to trust Leska and raised the issue of the Ragesians outside the city, which caused a nervous Master Renn to lose his composure and shout that the adventurers were traitors. Taken aback at first, Master Ken believed Moog’s claim that Renn was under a lot of stress from rebuilding the Lyceum tower and had probably just cracked from the strain. In the end, despite pressure from Master Ken to join the Lyceum contingent and travel to Gate Pass together, the party only agreed to provide an answer to the Council by the end of the day, and they were dismissed.

After returning to the inn and regrouping with Vennman, the well-tested adventurers decided to travel on their own by the quickest route to Gate Pass, which meant going by ship up the coast for the first leg of the journey. They also decided to sell the astral diamonds to avoid any potential magical connection between the gems and Leska. Nameless immediately wanted to spend his diamond on magical enhancements for his claws. And with only a twinge of hesitation, Baffin quickly gave away his diamond to the gnoll, to fulfill the promise to repay his friend for the wagon of gold they returned to the Dassen military.

While Nameless sought his desired magic and Torrent watched over Krystin at the inn, the rest of the party went to the docks to rent a ship. Fortunately, they discovered that one of the fastest ships had room to take them and was preparing to depart with the evening tide, though it was already booked with a few passengers. Curiously, the ship was manned by dwarves, including Captain Shallowgut (he of the lean proportions for a dwarf and the tri-point Bonaparte hat) and First Mate Fergel (he of the tall height for a dwarf, but only when wearing his very tall hat).

Even more surprising, the person who had already booked the ship was none other than Malachi Longshadow! The World’s Greatest Navigator! As the dashing fellow climbed up from the hold to join everyone on deck, his magnificent hat preceded him, to the delight of some and the consternation of others.

“Hey! Malachi! Greetings!”

“Oh no, Malachi … How did we end up with him again?”

For more on Malachi, read Sessions 3-6.

Upon learning Malachi was escorting two female passengers to Gate Pass, the party entered into financial negotiations and aired their concerns about Malachi’s relationship to the two females. Infatuated daughter of an angry and powerful businessman? Fiancée running from an angry and powerful future husband? Mistress swept away by Malachi from an angry and powerful nobleman? Married woman stolen away by Malachi from an angry and powerful merchant? Who knew what trouble Malachi offered to entangle the party in. Finally, the party agreed to pay 3500 GP for passage and food for themselves, Torrent, and Krystin, and with grumbles of disgust from Moog and Snow, for Malachi and his companions.

Nameless rejoined the party with a joyful bounce in his step, and the grinning gnoll dropped a 5000 GP diamond into Baffin’s hand, change from his magical purchases. Seeing the enlivened gnoll and with a few hours remaining before the tide changed, everyone left the ship to convert their diamonds into magic items and laundered gold. Nameless, however, followed Malachi to learn as much as possible about the navigator’s companions and their plans. Unfortunately, the gnoll learned little of use, though he was lucky to avoid having the watch called on him.

Just before the tide changed, the party sent a courier with a message to the Council that the party would meet the Council at Gate Pass, and everyone boarded the ship, including Torrent and Krystin despite not being told about the ship. To the chagrin of Baffin and exactly as Vennman had predicted, Krystin somehow knew where to be at the right time. Baffin sighed in disappointment at not being able to rid himself of the dangerously powerful orphan girl.

Captain Shallowgut welcomed everyone aboard, but also warned them that Hold Four was off limits. Malachi then introduced his companions, Sylvus a brunette woman and Mara a younger blonde woman, and the crew directed the passengers to their section of the hold and their sleeping hammocks. Malachi and company, however, were led to the door of a small, private room. Several of the adventurers scowled at the disparity, but said nothing. Typical Malachi.

In short order, though, Snow, Moog, and Baffin were happily drinking dwarven ale with some off-duty dwarves, while Vennman talked with the first mate about ships and pirates and Nameless prowled the holds. Meanwhile, Ophelia boldly approached the door to Malachi’s room and was quickly let inside.

A few minutes later, both Sylvus and Mara suddenly emerged from the same room, looking a bit confused and very annoyed. After what must have seemed like an eternity to Ophelia, the eladrin sorceress magically appeared outside the room … falling down drunk. Nameless was passing by, so he scooped her up and brought her back to the hammocks. Not before wretching on the gnoll’s coat and on the floor next to Baffin, Ophelia blurted out to the bard in a slurred voice, “Malachi … the princess … Princess Sylvus … unnhhh … zzzzzz,” and passed out.

“Wow,” thought Bafin, “She’s good.” The bard was gaining even more respect for Ophelia. He was always impressed by Shialis, especially after the locket incident, but more so for sending Ophelia to monitor the party. Not only had Ophelia extricated the party from the brow-beating and potential jailing at the hands of a paranoid Dassen officer, but she delivered a barrage of heavy magical attacks in a fight. Now, she had obviously taken one for the party in order to finesse a shocking secret from Malachi.

While everyone cleaned up after Ophelia and resumed their drinking, Nameless placed the sleeping sorceress in her hammock. Vennman also turned in for the night, but Snow and Moog continued their efforts to drain every barrel of ale in one night. Responding to a look from Nameless, Baffin decided it was time to join the gnoll in exploring the ship’s holds, especially Hold Four. Surely, the bard’s greed and curiousity would get him killed some day.

The two comrades soon approached Hold Four, already scouted by Nameless, and they met three dwarves sitting at a table and watching the door that led into the hold. Baffin tried to distract the dwarves by joining them in their drinking, playing and learning sea songs, and playing a drinking game that involved brined pork. When the dwarves’ attention wandered from the door, Nameless attempted to pick the lock … and set off an explosion that destroyed the door and sent deadly shards of wood into the gnoll’s body.

Immediately, the dwarves regained their focus, jumped up, and reached for their weapons. In the now open doorway into Hold Four, three ogres roared at the five puny figures blocking their escape. Simultaneously, a thunderously loud thump echoed throughout the holds, as the hatch to the decks above fell closed in a flash and trapped the ogres, and everyone else in the holds, below decks.

The ferocious battle lasted only a few moments, but resulted in an ogre splitting one dwarf into two halves, and the destruction of three pieces of precious cargo (the ogres). Nameless defended his poking around the forbidden door by arguing that the symbol “4” marked on the door was meaningless to him, while Baffin tried to restore his strength with a snack of brined pork but, instead, accidentally bit into a gobbet of dwarf flesh sent flying by the brutal ogre attacks. A steamed Captain Shallowgut was only mollified after the party agreed to pay for the door and his lost cargo.

To be continued next session …

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