For the remainder of their passage on the Good Ship Flea, the party tried to avoid getting into more hot water with the captain and his crew. The presence of a mysterious passenger staying in a cabin on the aft deck, however, increased the adventurers’ paranoia over Leska’s plots and Malachi’s secrets. At dinner one night, Baffin attempted to spike Malachi’s drink with a few drops of Moog’s green “happy” potion, but the clumsy bard failed miserably and spilled the entire vial into the cask of dinner ale. Trying to cover his mistake and protect people from ingesting the tainted drink, the bard quickly broke the tap from the cask and allowed its contents to drain onto the floor. Yelling a few choice words, the dwarves jumped into action to try to save what they could, and Baffin proffered an apology, publicly for the loss of the ale and privately for fumbling the green potion.
Over the course of dinner, Snow asked Baffin for a moment to talk, and the close-mouthed shifter uncomfortably offered an apology on the matter of her offending the bard. Quite surprised, the shocked bard gladly accepted the gracious gesture and proposed that the two end the grievance between them with a toast. Snow heartily agreed, and after touching mugs, the two comrades gulped down their ale. Baffin then proposed that they seal the matter completely … by Snow giving him a kiss on the cheek. The infuriated and horrified shifter growled in disgust and backed away from the impudent bard.
The following night at a special feast above board, the mystery person emerged from the cabin … a well-dressed man with a precious and stylish sword and dagger at his side. As the man served himself a plate of food and headed back to his room, Moog and others in the party noted his sword bore the insignia of Ragesian nobility. Even more interesting, Sylvus became visibly upset upon seeing the stranger, and Malachi immediately escorted her and Mara below decks.
While the party conferred about the implications of a Ragesian noble being on board, Malachi approached and asked to speak in private. In a frank conversation in his cabin, the navigator explained that Sylvus was actually Princess Airia of Ragesia, daughter of the former Emperor, and the stranger was her brother, Prince Aildred. The Princess intended to sneak into Gate Pass and rally the Ragesians to fight against Leska. Airia, however, had promised Aildred that she would stay safely in hiding during the war, and she feared his reaction to her dangerous plan. Malachi, at Airia’s instruction, was now planning to set up and mediate a meeting between the siblings to clear the air.
Since Airia, as one of the rightful heirs to the Ragesian Empire would be in grave danger on her journey to Gate Pass, Malachi further requested that the party, already traveling the same route, escort and protect the Princess. Baffin, remembering the cost of ship’s passage for Malachi’s party and being sensitive to Moog’s and Snow’s disgust in feeling used by Malachi, countered that the adventurers required compensation for the task. The navigator, well-versed in contract work, agreed to raise the issue with the Princess.
Following the meeting between sister and brother, Malachi informed the party that Aildred had similar designs as Airia for raising the Ragesians against Leska, and the two nobles were now joined together in this cause. Also, as payment for escorting them to Gate Pass, the nobles would provide 3500 GP to the party upon reaching Barrabas, the port city at the end of the ship’s journey. The party agreed to the bargain, and everyone celebrated (or brooded in the case of some) at a final feast. After drinking up the last round of drinks, Snow and Baffin fell unconscious … for three days. The industrious dwarves had managed to save the ale polluted by the green potion at Baffin’s unsteady hands. Fortunately, no one else was impaired, and the puzzled dwarves tossed the remainder of the contaminated drink.
After Snow and Baffin regained their senses, the party returned to the problem of the case and their contract with the annoying imp. Instantly, the imp appeared. After more unsuccessful negotiations, both sides gave up, and the imp vanished. At wit’s end, Baffin wondered if the hidden compartment in the case was connected to Lolth’s Bracelet, and in desperation, the bard spent the day secretly studying the bracelet piece that he wore under his shirt. After rejoining the rest of the party, the bard attempted to open the case, and he was promptly knocked unconscious.
Early the next morning, just off the coast of Barrabas, the crew spotted a large sailing ship approaching fast on the starboard side, and shouts of “Sea Reavers!” filled the decks of the dwarven ship. The enemy ship was manned by creatures with heads engulfed in flame and fire, and the diabolical fiends pulled with inhuman strength on the ship’s oars and scrambled to ready four ballista. At Captain Shallowgut’s behest, the adventurers helped with the ship’s defenses by manning three ballista, each requiring crews of three, and two adventurers and one dwarf raced into position. Along with a dwarf at each station, Snow and Ophelia, Moog and Baffin, and Nameless and Vennman formed the three ballista crews, and they enjoyed some early success knocking out enemy ballista.
The Reavers, however, blasted the hull of the Good Ship Flea, disabling the dwarven sailing vessel, and two boats with hellish boarding parties dropped into the water and surged toward the dwarf ship, which was now sinking. Captain Shallowgut shouted the order to abandon ship, and dwarves began jumping overboard. Hesitating at first, Baffin, Snow and, very reluctantly, Ophelia abandoned their posts and plunged overboard on the side closest to shore. Nameless and Vennman hung in for a bit longer and launched a blast that smashed one of the approaching boarding parties, but then Nameless leapt overboard as well. While Moog hid as best he could to ambush the first enemies to climb on deck, Vennman raised himself to his full height and then launched himself, blazing staff in hand, at the remaining boarding party. In a defiant rage, the wizard plumetted down onto his enemies, shattering them to pieces and utterly destroying them. In disbelief, Moog waited momentarily, but seeing no sign of his comrade, the goliath turned away and dove overboard.
After all the survivors reached the shore, Moog shared the tragic news of Vennman’s demise with the remaining party members. Refusing to accept that Vennman was lost, Baffin began patrolling the beach and soon found the wizard’s staff. Seeing that it was undamaged, the bard took hope and walked back and forth along the shore, looking for any sign of his friend, and Snow joined the somber search. In the meantime, Ophelia, Moog, and Nameless escorted the royals, Malachi, and Mara into Barrabas and obtained rooms at the Dirty Griffon.
Baffin and Snow trudged up and down the beach all night, and while Ophelia and Nameless guarded the Princess and Prince, Moog returned to join the search. After an exhausted Baffin finally dropped senseless onto the sand, Moog picked up the sleeping bard, and Snow offered a silent prayer and toast to Vennman. With that, the goliath, carrying the bard, and the shifter returned to the city to join their remaining companions.
To be continued next session …