Kain Darkwind's Savage Tide

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XXIV
The Dark Mother!

DM We last left our heroes on the Thunderer, the ship entombed at the dark heart of Journey’s End. What awaits our brave adventurers in its depths? Read on, True Believers, and find out!

Thunderer Theme

Heinrick Even as the last of the monsters falls, Heinrick continues his sword’s arc, cutting a path through the western wall.

DM His blade cuts through the rotten boards with ease, opening up a hole to the ship’s prow.

The room’s stench is nauseating, but Katrina notices some of the floorboards are newer, and don’t fit quite right.

Katrina “Sneaky bitch…” she points to the newer floorboards. “Those are new, you can see they don’t fit quite right with the rest.”

Mari Mari nods. “Yep. Heiny, take that club of yours and smash them up, would you?”

Heinrick “It all looks like slime-covered gunk to me. Where do you want me to cut through?”

Katrina “A sword that doubles as a club. I won’t comment on how absurd that is…” Kat rolls her eyes and points to the newer boards. “There.”

Mari “Just chop, big guy, and then hop down so that us ladies don’t have to get our boots dirty.”

Heinrick Heinrick gives Mari a look that speaks volumes of skepticism about her being a ‘lady’, but chops where Katrina indicates.

DM A few swift strikes and the floor is reduced to soggy, vine covered kindling. Darkness lurks in the hold below.

Katrina Kat picks up a few pieces of splintered wood and calls light to them, tossing them down into the darkness.

Heinrick Heinrick hops down the hole after Kat’s lights.

Katrina Kat waits above for the all clear from Heinrick.

DM The hold is dank and reeks of mildew. A soggy skeleton lies slumped against the doors.

Mari “Well, Heiny?”

Heinrick “Nothing’s moving.”

Katrina “Joy.”

Mari Mari rolls her eyes at Kat and grins. “All right, catch me!” She jumps down onto Heinrick.

Heinrick Heinrick arrests her fall with his free hand, and sets her lightly on her feet.

Mari “Show off.”

Heinrick “At every opportunity, Mari.”

Katrina Kat slips down more carefully, catching herself with one hand on the lip of the hole and landing gracefully on her feet.

Heinrick Heinrick steps a bit to the south, and peers around the corner.

Katrina Kat looks at the skeleton, then around the hold for anything moving or of interest.

Heinrick Then, seeing it was just a trick of the light, he approaches the doors in the middle of the wall.

DM Other than the two doors that lean on rusted hinges, there is nothing of interest here. The skeleton is propped against the doors.

Heinrick He pokes the skeleton gently, making sure it won’t get back up of its own accord.

DM The skeleton’s water logged bones squish like a sponge as the half elf pokes them.

Heinrick “Damn… wonder how long he’s been here?” He moves the old bones to one side, clearing the doors, then opens them.

Katrina “I doubt we’ll ever know Heinrick. Even the wood on this ship is rotted, any paper – the ship’s log for instance – is likely long gone.”

DM The main cargo hold seems to be in relatively secure order…chests remain behind, still loaded with cargo.

Heinrick “Check the chests; there may be something useful in one of them.”

Katrina “After you.”

Mari Mari laughs as she pops one of the chests open. “Useful like money, maybe?” She spills a handful of coins on the floor.

Heinrick Heinrick approaches one of the chests, flipping it open.

Katrina Kat opens another chest.

Heinrick “Yep… exactly like money. Well, if we survive, anyway.”

DM The Thunder’s Hold still contains much of her valuable cargo. A quick search of the chests kept herein uncovers quite a lot of booty, including 1200 gp, 462 pp, four fine scrimshaw carvings, (each depicting one of the seasons and worth 250 gp if cleaned), a quartet of golden goblets worth 100 gp each, a silver church candelabrum worth 350 gp, an enormous barnacle covered shield depicting sharks devouring men (+1 animated tower shield) and a water tight bone scroll tube containing an arcane scroll of cone of cold, wall of stone, and permanency.

Mari “You got room in that magic purse of your, Heiny?”

Katrina Kats eyes light up at the scroll tube. “I’ve got a bit of room still in my pack. Take the platinum first, we’ll see what else we have room for.”

Heinrick Heinrick picks up the shield. “This might be useful if I’m ever on the wrong side of a fight. And yeah, it’s got plenty of unspace, or whatever it’s called.”

Mari “When are you NOT on the wrong side of a fight, Heiny?”

Heinrick “Good question. I’ll get back to you on that.”

Katrina “Whatever, he likes it. Load what you can, Heinrick, I’ll grab the rest if I can, we’ll split it up if we ever make it back to the Sea Wyvern.”

DM The adventurers quickly fill up their packs with the Thunder’s Cargo.

Katrina “Hum, well, shall we see what’s behind door number two?”

Heinrick Heinrick puts the shield and artwork in his enchanted backpack, then shovels in gold. Once the chests are empty, he proceeds down the room.

DM A huge section of the hull has rotted away here, leaving a stinking pit with walls of writhing green and brown vegetation. These walls shift with horrible half-formed life, semi-human shapes twisting and spasming from thick tumescent stalks like anthropomorphic fruits ready for harvest. The pit drops away into a noisome, unseen depth, certainly far deeper than sea level, into an unknown hell below.

Heinrick “Okay, see… this is more what I was expecting.”

Katrina “Why do things inevitably have to be at the end of dungeons or at the bottom of deep dark pits covered in monster plants.”

Mari “What sort of ‘things’, Kat? You think there is something down there?”

Heinrick “Because anything easier to get to has already been killed or taken?”

Mari “Killed by those thousands of swarming plant men that are out side, in case you’ve forgotten.”

Katrina “The heart of this thing if I had to guess Mari. And yes, probably Heinrick. I wonder how it would react to fire…” She tosses a fireball as far down the pit as she can.

Heinrick “You’ll probably wish you hadn’t done that, next time we have to fight.”

Katrina Kat shrugs, “There are a lot of things I wish.”

DM The fireball detonates below, probably a hundred feet down. A scream of pain and rage echoes up the maw to the heroes.

Katrina “I don’t think it liked that.”

Mari “Uh-oh… looks like you pissed it off, Kat.” Mari moves backwards, her cutlass ready and lightning growing in her eyes.

Heinrick Heinrick tightens his grip on his sword, and steps right to the edge of the pit, ready to slash the thing as it emerges.

Katrina Kat takes a few steps back and quickly casts haste, granting them all supernatural speed for the coming battle.

DM Rising from the center of the Maw, you lay your eyes upon the Mother of All.

This dislocated sack of vile smelling vegetation is wreathed in screaming humanoid forms that struggle to free themselves from the foul flesh. A vast distended belly bathed in nauseating green mucus hangs from the vaguely humanoid form. Infantile cries echo from the hideous passengers that slowly pull themselves from their mother. Twenty feet tall, this grotesque hybrid of woman and plant is a nightmare of mucoid arms and clustered eyes. It is a deviant thing of rot, a pyramidal bulk that rises to a head of red orbs and barbed thorny teeth.

Mother of All photo MotherofAll.jpg

Heinrick Choking down his reflexive fear and revulsion, Heinrick chops at the arm pulling the Mother up from her disgusting lair.

DM The blade bites in deep, but the Mother’s thorny exterior seems to resist the full force of the cut. Still, half formed growths scream all the louder as they are splattered by the weapon.

Mother of All The Mother’s sudden appearance at the mouth of the maw does little to shock the hardened adventurers, but her ferocious attack catches Heinrick somewhat off guard. A tentacle slams into him, knocking him back, but he resists, only to have a second forcefully send him stumbling away. (25 damage and moved back 10 ft.) Another tentacle lashes out towards Katrina, striking her as well, flinging her back. (14 damage) A final tentacle lashes Mari, sending the priestess flying away.

Mari “Burn!” Mari screams, lightning lancing down to strike the monstrous Mother. She moves back farther, out of the monster’s reach.

DM The lightning is ineffective.

Heinrick Heinrick rolls back towards the obscene plant-thing, and rises up with another heavy chop, putting all his weight behind it.

DM All his weight whiffs.

Katrina Kat takes a further step back and calls up the power in her robe to again bring celestial beings to her aid.

DM The ape comes forth into the Mortal Coil, beating its chest.

Ape It swiftly turns its chest beating into a monster beating, pounding at the Mother of All with its ham-sized fists and biting with its teeth.

DM The ape’s mighty fists appear to do no actual harm to the massive Mother.

Mother “Mmmmrrrrrdddddrrrrrrssssss!” the Mother screams.

Horrors Her half formed children echo her scream, and reach out to batter Heinrick and the ape who are standing so close to her. Heinrick bats them away, but the ape isn’t so fortunate. (11 damage)

Mother The Mother then strikes out with her tentacles, lashing Heinrick and the ape. (14 damage Heinrick, 15 and 14 damage to the ape.) Heinrick is once again flung back ten feet, while the ape is hurled five feet away. The Mother shifts towards the open cargo hold.

Mari Mari rushes towards the monster, avoiding its lashing tentacle to slice at it with her dessicating blade.

DM However, she suffers a devastatingly bad run of luck, and her blade gets lodged in the wall next to the creature.

Heinrick Heinrick steps towards the creature again, and launches a flurry of slashes, the likes of which have reduced many a lesser foe to shreds.

DM Heinrick’s flurry of slashes bore deep into the creature, despite its resistance. Massive gouts of blood and sap run over his hands, sizzling a bit as they land. The creature continues to shriek however, even as its tentacles sag limply.

Katrina Kat calls out to the others, “Don’t bother with electrical or cold-based attacks.”

Mari Mari gives a mirthless chuckle. “You can see that my bolt did jack piss squat to this bastard.”

DM The mental buzzing in their heads grows to a roar, as the Mother cries out to her endless army of children.

Katrina Katrina fires two thin beams of flame at the creature, trying to concentrate enough to get the spell off and wary of the monster’s reach.

Victory over the Dark Mother

The flames lance out and the Mother lets out a horrific shriek, echoed by a hundred thousand voices from across the sargasso. Her body degenerates into a writhing mass of rotting vegetation, screaming until it finally lies still. A moment later, the sargasso itself wakens, as the countless seaweed horrors that live within feel the true death of their Mother. Without her to hold their forms, they rapidly fall apart into sludge. Seconds later, the sargasso shudders and shakes as it begins to unravel from the center. The first to collapse is the maw itself, filling rapidly with sea water.

Katrina “I think we should get out of here!” Kat shouts over the roar of the rushing water.

Mari “Yeah, good idea, genius lady!” Mari yells back. “Let’s move!”

DM The ship begins breaking up.

Heinrick “Ya think?!” Heinrick rushes for the stairs that lead above the waterline.

Katrina “I try,” Kat shoots back, as she rushes toward the exit to the hold.

DM The Thunderer collapses into ruin as the kelp forest breaks apart, sending driftwood floating throughout the area. The churning water of the sea makes it difficult to stay afloat. The heroes are left floating in a rapidly expanding ocean, even as the kelp crumbles away to rot.

Katrina Kat swims toward the largest piece of driftwood she can find.

DM Grasping a hold of it, she manages to float with relatively little effort.

Heinrick Heinrick treads water for a moment. “Good a time to use these as any…” He pulls a potion off his belt and drinks it, then climbs up onto the surface of the water, standing as if it were dry land.

Katrina “Maybe you’d like to take advantage of your water walking powers to gather up enough driftwood to make a raft?”

Heinrick He sees Kat floating relatively safely, then looks around for Mari. “Sure. I’d share, but they don’t last long enough for all of us to get back to the Wyvern.”

Katrina “Let’s hope the Wyvern comes for us – I don’t even remember which direction it was in, but once it gets dark I’ll send up a flare or something, hopefully it’ll help them find us.”

Mari Mari is treading water next to Kat’s driftwood. “Never let go, Kat…. never let go.”

Katrina “Show off,” Kat says to Mari.

Heinrick He hands Kat and Mari each one of the potions. “On the other hand, won’t do us any good to drown in the next hour, either.” He then starts pushing some of the larger chunks together.

Katrina “Save the potion for now, I’m content to sit here and watch you put together a raft. You could probably dig some rope out of my pack if you need it.”

Mari Mari laughs. “It’s twilight, I can pray to Besmara for her blessings… we can contact the cap’n and have her come pick us up. Assuming His Nobleness doesn’t take over and sail away.”

Heinrick “Don’t even joke about that. I’d swim to Farshore just to get back at him.”

Mari Mari paddles around a bit, doing a lazy backstroke.

Katrina “If His Nobleness tries I’ll put together a raft out of this mess and chase him to the end of the world if I have to. I’ll make myself an Avner skin rug so I can walk all over him like he walks all over everyone else.”

Mari “Ugh, having that hideous face looking at you all day? I’d have nightmares.” Mari swims a ways away and begins praying.

Katrina “Priests and priestesses,” Kat bemoans. “She can pray while floating in the middle of the ocean and get new spells. If only it were that easy for me…”

Heinrick Heinrick lashes the chunks together with rope from his and Kat’s backpacks to form a jury-rigged raft. “This isn’t gonna be pretty, but it should keep us afloat.”

DM The work takes much longer than Heinrick expects, and he has barely managed to get something that will support Kat’s weight properly when the Sea Wyvern comes into view, three hours later.

Katrina “Convenient timing.”

Heinrick Heinrick grits his teeth, then shakes his head and starts laughing at the absurdity of the scene.

Katrina “I applaud your attempt at least, Heinrick.”

Amella “Ahoy there! Tavey, get them ropes down t’ th’ girls on th’ double!”

Tavey “Er… but… Mister Heinrick is a man, Cap’n…” Tavey cuts himself off at a glare from the captain. A rope ladder is lowered into the water.

Amella “Git up ‘ere, y’ loafers!” Amella yells with a grin.

Katrina Kat waits patiently for the rope before climbing aboard.

Heinrick Heinrick gallantly gestures for the ladies to go up first, still chuckling.

Mari Mari clambers up the ladder after Kat.

Katrina “One plant monster killed.”

Amella Amella sneers good naturedly. “Yeah? Well we killed about two dozen afore they collapsed.”

Katrina “Mine was bigger.”

Heinrick “Actually, I’d say we killed a couple thousand, since the mother’s death took out all the rest. But who’s counting?”

Katrina “That too.”

Mari “I didn’t even think you knew how to count, Heiny,” Mari chimes in.

Tavey Tavey looks at Kat with wide eyes. “How much bigger, Lady Islaran?”

Katrina “Eh… what would you say, Heinrick, you got a, shall we say, more up close and personal look. Twenty feet?”

Heinrick “At least.”

Tavey “How… how did you kill it? That… must have been as big as the mast!” Tavey is incredulous.

Mari “Heiny’s breath did the trick, Taves,” Mari answers the young cabin boy.

Heinrick “Well, much as I’d like to claim it, kid, Kat deserves most of the credit. I couldn’t hardly have scratched it without her magic helping me, and she dealt it the final blow, to boot.”

Tavey “Wow, Lady Islaran… you must be amazing…” Tavey’s eyes are shining with puppy love directed at Katrina.

Katrina Katrina spares Heinrick a scowl only because Tavey is still present. “Don’t let him fool you, that weight he calls a sword did more than its fair share. And now I’m going to go get something that isn’t soaking wet.” She heads below to get some dry clothes.

Heinrick Heinrick smothers a grin, glad to see Kat coming out of her shell. He turns to the captain. “You say you got about a dozen, Cap? Anyone hurt?”

Amella Amella shakes her head. “Naw, th’ non-combatants holed up in th’ passenger room, while th’ rest o’ us fought them off, takin’ a breather as we needed. Folks are a bit bruised, but no one’ll not make it t’ th’ next day.”

Heinrick “So the tar worked then. Good.” He nods approvingly.

Amella “Yep… but there’s some magic on tha’ room too. Not sure what did it, but y’ can’t fight in it.”

Avner “Hmph. I see you’ve managed to solve our little problem then, Katrina?” Avner is coming up the stairs as Kat is going down them. His left arm is in a sling.

Katrina “It was a group effort, Avner. If anything Heinrick deserves more praise for meeting the monster up close and keeping it far enough away for me to work my magic. If you’ll excuse me I’d like to get into some dry cloths before I catch a chill.”

Avner Avner bows and steps out of Katrina’s way, a tired expression on his face.

Katrina She slips past him and heads below to change, thoroughly tired of soggy clothing.

Heinrick Heinrick sees Avner coming up on deck. “I believe I’ll go and change, as well. Nothing worse than saltwater socks.” He looks at the noble’s bandaged arm, and gives him a brief nod as he passes, heading down.

Avner Avner stalks past Heinrick without a word, heading towards Amella.

Katrina Kat heads back to the deck before long.

Heinrick Heinrick soon emerges as well, no longer wearing his armor, dressed only in a new pair of pants and a shirt.

DM The stars twinkle in the sky.

Katrina She heads for Amella if she is still on the deck.

Amella “What’re y’ still doin’ up, Nav?” the captain asks, standing at the wheel.

Katrina “Side effect I suspect of having slept through half the day.”

Amella “Well, y’ best rest up, ‘cause tomorrow we’re back t’ business as usual.” Amella looks at Kat hard. “O’ is somethin’ on yer mind, Nav?”

Katrina “Not much of consequence, Captain. Wondering what the origin of that monster was, how many souls it swallowed up, and how lucky we were to not lose a single one.”

Amella “Well, I can’t help y’ wi’ th’ first two, but we’re damn lucky not t’ve lost a single man t’ this.” Amella’s face grows unusually thoughtful. “Damn lucky.”

Heinrick “Except a couple of pirate scum. No great loss there.”

Katrina “Maybe a couple. Fargus might have escaped yet.”

Amella “Then y’ didn’t find tha’ bastard? S’too bad, tha’ bounty would’ve set us all fer life.”

Katrina “Assuming it paid out and he didn’t wiggle free at some point and cut half our throats in the night,” Kat replies.

Heinrick “And I’ve been thinking about that; I’m suspecting that Aurion’s visit wasn’t as much by chance as he claimed. Not that I’m condoning his treatment of you, Captain, but without him we’d still be struggling against tonight’s batch of horrors instead of sailing free.”

Katrina “We already know that dark powers have meddled in our lives, maybe it was time the ones of light decided it was time to balance the scales. Optimistic, I know, but I can hope.”

Amella “Ha! What do y’ think I keep you two around for?” Amella laughs, fingering a tattoo of an anchor and wave on her forearm. “Tha’ scum needs t’ be brought t’ public justice… too many souls lie dead cause o’ ’im.”

Heinrick Heinrick shrugs. “That would be nice. And if Fargus did survive, Cap, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again.”

Katrina “Seems like the type to hold a grudge.”

Jerard “Did I hear my name called?” Jerard walks up.

Katrina “Not by name, Jerard.”

Jerard The hollow laughs. “Could have SWORN I heard it.”

Katrina “You’re mistaken.”

Heinrick “Sorry, Jerard, no. You doing all right, considering… everything?”

Jerard Jerard’s eyes shift back and forth at Katrina’s remarks and he chuckles to himself. As Heinrick speaks, his head snaps back up. “Oh… yes. Considering everything, I’m doing FANTASTIC. But I was thinking… I don’t think I ought to be called Jerard. I’m not him, and if he ever comes back, it’ll cause all kinds of confusion. I think I need a new name.”

Katrina “Then pick one that suits you.”

Heinrick “A fine idea. You are your own person, should have your own name. I’m sorry I didn’t think of it sooner.”

Jerard “That’s the crazy thing, Lady Katrina Islaran, I can’t. I can’t actually rename myself. See watch, call me T..t..t..t….” the hollow pants from the effort.

Katrina “You want us to give you a name?”

Jerard “Well, I don’t want to be called Jerard forever. And I don’t seem to be able to do it myself, probably because I’m a horrible mockery of real life in a fleshy shell.”

Katrina “Are there any that hold any interest to you?”

Jerard “T.t.t.t.t.t…. or H.h.h.h.h.h.h.h,” the hollow scrunches up his face frustratedly.

Katrina “Thomas? Thain Thorn?”

Jerard “Last one sounds good?” the hollow rushes the words out.

Katrina “Thorn. Whatever makes you happy.”

Jerard “Um… is there some sort of magic you have to do to rename?”

Katrina “No.”

Heinrick Heinrick looks at the hollow’s struggles with a bleak expression, his heart nearly breaking for the creature so like and yet unlike his old friend. “A good name. Tain Thorn you’ll be, then.”

Tainthorn “So different up here. So… so now I’m Tainthorn?” the hollow mispronounces the name slightly, but speaks it freely. “Heh! I like it. Tainthorn! Look out, world, the fighting blacksmith from Home is headed your way! That’s right… Tainthorn is here!”

Heinrick Heinrick nods. “That’s great, T.”

Katrina “Congratulations.” Katrina is polite, if not as enthusiastic as the hollow. “I wonder what we could do to channel Tavey’s energies toward something more productive.”

Amella “Th’ boy? What’s wrong wi’ ’im?” Amella asks.

Katrina “Nothing is wrong with him, but I don’t need him following me around with those puppy dog eyes.” Kat is careful to keep her voice low.

Amella Amella laughs. “E’s young, Nav, e’ll grow out o’ it. Yer a pretty lady, ‘n not as hard on th’ heart as perhaps th’ other pretty girl on th’ ship.”

Katrina “Like there is only one other.” Kat rolls her eyes.

Amella Amella scrunches her face up. “You n’ Number One, Nav. By my count, unless y’ count His Highnessness’s doll.”

Katrina “Dance my puppet, dance.” Kat shivers. “Because that’s not creepy.”

Heinrick “Tell me about it. He tried to put on a show for me, when I was still pretending to be nice to him.”

Amella “Nobles,” Amella spits off the ship. “Present company excepted, o’ course.”

Katrina “Two out of three isn’t bad.”

Amella “Fer this voyage, maybe. But I got no use fer someone who taxes my goods, declares all manner o’ wares t’ be ‘contraband’, and generally meddles in my affairs. You n’ the Vanderboren lass are good souls, no doubt, but ferm what I’ve seen, it’s more inspite of yer upbringin’ than because o’. N’ the Meravanchis have a special place in th’ fires o’ Hell fer them. Sick creeps.”

Heinrick “I was kind of hoping it was just Avner. The whole family’s really like that?”

Katrina “Probably,” Kat agrees about the Meravanchis, though she skirts the earlier comments. “They have a reputation, Heinrick.”

Amella “There’s exceptions, but most o’ them are depraved… honestly, Avner’s just a snot…‘is father is a real piece o’ work.”

Katrina “I was hoping he was different, but if even a quarter of the stories about them are true… disgusting.”

Heinrick “Great. Meaning he’s going to go crying to daddy as soon as we make landfall…”

Amella “His daddy’s in Sasserine, Heinrick.”

Katrina “Sasserine’s three months in the other direction. His uncle perhaps if he landed in Farshore with the initial expedition as planned…” She pauses. “Have Brother Quintal or our unconscious guest stirred yet?”

Tainthorn “Neither of the men have arisen, Katrina Islaran,” Tainthorn answers her question.

Katrina “Well, I guess I’m going to turn in for the night.”

Amella “All right. Up n’ at ‘em bright n’ early, Nav. I’ll give th’ boy a tongue lashin’ if y’ think ’e needs one.”

Heinrick “Yeah, I should hit the sack, too. See you in the morning Cap, Kat. ’Night, Mari.”

Katrina “He doesn’t need a lecture, he needs somewhere else to spin all that energy. A hobby or something. Don’t suppose you want to teach him how to use a blade, Heinrick?”

Heinrick “Couldn’t hurt. I’ll talk to him in the morning.”

Katrina “If not a blade, find something that interests him.”

Amella Amella laughs. “Sure. Talk a teenaged boy out o’ being infatuated wi’ a pretty girl. Best y’ could do is get ’im to leave ’er alone.”

Heinrick “Or at least tire him out so bad he doesn’t have the energy to chase her. Not that it’s easy at that age, let me tell you.”

Katrina “You’d probably know better then I would. Night.” Kat heads below decks with a parting smile.

Heinrick “Thorn, keep a good watch.” He claps the hollow on the shoulder. Heinrick follows Kat, heading for his bunk.

Heinrick The next day, Heinrick looks for Mari after she’s woken up.

DM And he finds her.

Heinrick “Hey, Mari. Did you ever cast that speaking spell to find the Nixie?”

Mari “No, I didn’t. All the excitement… I’ll cast it right now… I was going to use it to contact Amella, but she found us first last night…”

Heinrick “Great. I’ll wait.” He leans up against a wall or rail near her.

Mari “Lavinia, this is Mari. Please send word that the Nixie survived the storm. The Sea Wyvern is just fine. Also, Heinrick loves you very much.”

Heinrick He nods and smiles slightly in thanks.

Mari Mari’s eyes glow momentarily. “They’re ok. Liamae was struck by lightning, but survived. Tolin’s still down. And….” Mari trails off, looking sort of disturbed.

Heinrick “What? And what?”

Mari “Lavinia…”

Heinrick “What is it?!”

Mari “She loves you too.” Mari grins mercilessly. “Which is GROSS.”

Heinrick “You are a cruel woman, Maribesana.”

Mari “Just think how lucky you are to be my friend, Heinrick. Anyways, they got blown off course and are headed around the Isle on the western side.”

Heinrick Impulsively, he hugs her quickly. “I know.” He lets her go, and steps back. “Thanks, Mari.”

Mari Mari brushes her shoulders off in mock exaggeration. “Whatever, you big lug.”

Heinrick Heinrick takes a deep breath, as a tension he hadn’t realized he’d felt for the past few days evaporates. “I need to get back to work. I’ll spread the word around.”

The next time he has a break in his duties, Heinrick climbs the crow’s nest. “How’s the air up here, Tavey?”

Tavey “Fresh, Sir Heinrick! Wow! I can’t believe you’re up here!”

Heinrick “I thought I should check out the view at least once.”

Tavey “Well it is your ship, right? Er, at least, I thought I heard that it was.”

Heinrick “Technically. And you can drop the sir, I’m no knight or anything.” He looks around at the open waters for a moment before speaking again. “What have you thought about the voyage, Tavey? This your first time at sea?”

Tavey “Oh no, sir, er… Heinrick. I’ve been t’ sea a bunch. This’s probably my fifth time on the open ocean,” he says, puffing out his chest a bit.

Heinrick “Well, you’re an old salt, then. Only my second long voyage. Were all your trips as exciting as this one?”

Tavey Tavey gives Heinrick an incredulous look. “You must be kidding, sir, this voyage has been absolutely crazy. I’ve seen pirates before, and a giant octopus, but nothing like this! Journey’s End! A dragon! That’s storybook stuff, sir!”

Heinrick Heinrick grins slightly. “That’s about what I thought. Otherwise, I don’t know if anybody would take up sailing as a career. Still, there’s a fair amount of danger in any voyage, am I right?”

Tavey “Well, you probably know as much about sailing as I do, sir….” Tavey trails off. “I mean, with storms, and pirates and giant sea creatures… it can be pretty exciting, but that’s dangerous too, I s’pose.”

Heinrick He nods. “Yeah. Now, there’s not much I can do about storms, but I was wondering, Tavey, if you might like to be a little better prepared for the pirates and beasts you might meet on your next voyage.”

Tavey Tavey slumps a little bit. “Don’t think I’m good enough to fight off pirates yet? Neither does the cap’n.”

Heinrick “No need to look down about it, Tavey. If you’ve never had a proper teacher, well, nobody can rightly expect you to be able to fight a seasoned warrior, can they? That’s where I come in. How’d you like me to give you some lessons in swordplay before we make landfall?”

Tavey “Woah, seriously, sir? That would be AWESOME! I saw you teaching Miss Lirith, and she’s pretty cool herself…”

Heinrick “Yes she is; she gave me a pretty good match. Now if you’re serious, we’ll start the next time you’re relieved from watch, and then a lesson at dawn every day left in the voyage.”

Tavey “Oh I’m serious, Mister Heinrick sir, you bet I am!”

Heinrick “All right. I’ll help you find a weapon sized for you, then we’ll get started.”

Katrina If asked about procuring a weapon, Kat offers up her old masterwork rapier.

Amella As Heinrick climbs down, Amella calls him over. “If yer gonna train th’ boy, ‘e can ’ave one ’o th’ magic blades tha’ we took offa th’ scum I’ve got in my room. Make sure y’ teach ‘im not t’ lose it, o’ cut ’is own ’ead off.”

Heinrick “I’m sure he’ll be grateful for it, Cap’n.”

Amella “T’ you, maybe. You give it to ‘im and don’t say a word tha’ I ‘ad anything t’ do with it.”

Heinrick When Tavey comes down, Heinrick gives him the blade, and starts showing him the bare basics of how to hold it and move with it. He uses the first lesson to get an idea of the kid’s skill and strength as they stand; he does indeed not mention that Amella was the source of the weapon.

He warns Tavey against relying too much on a weapon’s magic, in place of his own skill, and stresses the importance of daily practice and exercise, no matter how good he ever gets.

Tavey Tavey is an enthusiastic student and takes Heinrick’s lessons very seriously.

DM A week passes after the ship has left Journey’s End. As the sun dawns, the day is overcast and grim.

Katrina notices something off the starboard bow: land. The ragged, jungle-choked peaks of the Isle of Dread loom on the horizon.

Isle of Dread photo IsleofDreadScenery.jpg

Katrina Up on the deck Katrina remarks to whoever happens to be on hand, “Land off the starboard bow!”

DM The sight of land brings a cheer from the crew and passengers. Consultation with the sea charts and Skald confirms it – the Sea Wyvern has nearly reached her goal. All that remains is to sail down the eastern coast to Farshore.

Unfortunately, you know that shit ain’t going to happen. By the time morning becomes noon, fate has unleashed something else in store for the journey. The rain begins pouring down in sheets, and within a few hours, a second storm is in full force. This one is much more powerful than the original, not quite a hurricane but close.

Amella Amella struggles at the helm as the waves crash one after another over the ship.

DM A bolt of lightning strikes the crow’s nest, sending a large piece of rigging crashing down onto Amella, knocking her forcefully to the deck. The wheel spins freely, without any hand to steady her.

Heinrick Heinrick stares at her, then up at the rigging, praying she’s all right, and Tavey wasn’t there when it happened. He struggles against the wind to reach the wheel…

Katrina Katrina likewise makes for the wheel as best she can in the driving rain, howling wind, and crashing waves. She virtually screams to Heinrick over the sound of the sea, “Get Amella! I’ll grab the wheel.”

Heinrick He nods, and alters direction for the captain.

DM While Katrina manages to struggle against the wind up to the wheel, Heinrick is blown off his feet by the gale, tumbling towards the rail. He manages to catch himself by the barest of margins, preventing himself from being flung bodily off the entire vessel.

Heinrick He continues to struggle towards the fallen Amella.

Lirith Lirith screams, as she is similarly blown off her feet, flying back.

Katrina Kat digs out her wand of web as she fights to control the ship.

DM Kat struggles with the wheel, as the wind whips the ship around… she knows that there is no way they can maintain their course without Amella at the helm, but hopes that she can prevent the ship from washing or rolling.

Lirith Lirith screams one final time as she flies off the ship, disappearing into the storm.

KatrinaLIRITH!” Katrina yells.

Heinrick Heinrick looks after her in disbelief. He then grits his teeth and tries to move to help the captain.

DM Heinrick slips once again on the wet boards, stumbling backwards.

Blumpkin Blumpkin catches him and steadies him. “Blumper help little friend!”

Heinrick “Thanks, Blumper! We gotta get to the captain!” He shouts over the wind, and points to the fallen Amella.

DM Blumpkin and Heinrick struggle once more against the wind.

Mari Mari rushes up the stairs. “What in the fuck’s going on!?”

Heinrick Heinrick ignores her, and struggles across the deck.

DM With Blumpkin’s help, Heinrick manages to make it over to Amella.

Katrina “Captain’s down, Lirith’s gone!” Kat yells as she tries to keep the ship from washing or rolling.

Mari Mari rushes over to Katrina. “What do you mean, Lirith’s gone?” she shouts.

Katrina “She was blown off the ship when the captain went down before I could get to the wheel!” Kat yells back into her ear.

Mari Mari’s eyes fly open. “Which side!?” she screams at Kat.

Katrina Kat nods her head in the appropriate direction.

Mari “I love you, Katrina.” Mari flings her arms around Kat’s neck, kisses her cheek and rushes towards the port, diving off the side.

Katrina “Wha… WAIT!” Kat yells in disbelief as the priestess dives off the ship.


Heinrick Heinrick tries to free Amella from the debris.

DM Heinrick is unable to shift the debris off Amella at first, but redoubling his efforts, he pulls the captain free.

Blumpkin “What we do with her?” Blumpkin asks.

Heinrick “Get her belowdecks!” He points to the stairs down.

Blumpkin Blumpkin picks Amella up in his powerful arms and strides easily across the windy deck to take Amella below.

Heinrick Heinrick watches a moment to make sure he’s all right, then goes to help Kat with the wheel.

Tainthorn Tainthorn struggles up the steps, blinking the sleep out of his eyes. “Skald’s on the way!”

Skald Several minutes later, Skald struggles up himself. He lashes himself to the deck and begins taking the sail down.

DM A gust of wind blows Heinrick from the deck, but Kat manages to grasp his wrist, slowing him, but the big man is too much for her to hold. He grabs at the rails one last time and then plunges over the rails himself, into the roiling waters. Heinrick splashes into the water, unable to stay afloat, drifting ten feet away from the Sea Wyvern as she moves through the storm.

Heinrick He tries to struggle towards the surface…

DM And does so, swimming with powerful strokes towards the ship.

Katrina Kat does her best to keep the ship from pulling away from Heinrick any further.

DM Between Heinrick’s and Kat’s efforts, Heinrick manages to reach the ship. He does not however, manage to climb up the sheer side of the ship. Kat suspects that lowering a rope might aid his efforts.

Katrina She calls out to Skald to do so as she fights to keep the ship under control at the wheel.

Skald Skald unfortunately cannot move against the wind.

Tainthorn Tainthorn tries to aid him, but is flung back against the rail, catching himself just in time.

DM Heinrick still cannot climb the ship’s hull without aid. His head dips under the water with his struggles. Skald and Tainthorn are helpless to get to the ship’s side and lower a rope for Heinrick.

Katrina Katrina concentrates for a moment as she holds the wheel and a massive snake appears by the edge of the ship, its tail dipping into the water near Heinrick while it wraps its upper body around the railing.

Heinrick Heinrick barely has time to think ‘what the hell,’ before instinctively grabbing it.

DM In a few powerful movements, he manages to climb back onto the ship using the strange ladder.

Heinrick He stares at the snake confusedly, then pats it on the head before heading for the wheel.

DM The hours pass by, and as the sun sets, a tremendous lurch strikes the ship and the sound of splintering wood fills the air. The ship comes to a sudden stop.

Masher Suddenly a huge eel-like fish explodes from the water, landing on the deck. It lashes out, looking for a meal.

This wormlike fish measures nearly thirty feet from tip to tail. Its face is a terrible circular maw of grinding teeth, with two beady eyes peering out from the crown of its head. Large spines rise from its sinuous back, shuddering and rattling with menace.

Katrina “Watch out, it’s poisonous and its spines can stab you!”

Heinrick Heinrick draws his sword, and climbs up the tilted deck towards the stairs, and moves down them towards the creature, stopping at what he hopes is out of its reach.

Tainthorn The newly-named Tainthorn, however, bellows and charges it, sword high.

Masher The creature snaps at Tainthorn, missing him with its maw, but the man is stuck with a spine in his chest as he swings his blade down on the eel-like beast. (10 damage) Poison flares, but he shrugs it off.

Katrina Katrina fires two blasts of flame at the monster.

DM The flames lance out, causing the creature’s flesh to sizzle.

Skald Skald produces his bow and fires a shot of his own.

DM Skald’s shot is lost in the dark.

Masher The creature roars and bites at Heinrick, who manages to avoid the creature’s massive teeth by the most slender of margins, despite his high ground.

Heinrick Heinrick makes a controlled slide down the deck, and slashes the fish as he comes to a stop.

DM His blade glances off the powerful eel’s scaly hide, even as its spines glance off his armor.

Tainthorn The husk strikes at the creature as Heinrick draws its attention.

DM His blade stabs into the roasting flesh of the creature, drawing thick red blood.

Masher The creature’s spines stab into Tainthorn’s chest again, this time discoloring the wound terribly. (11 damage, 2 Con)

Katrina & Skald Kat sends a second pair of rays at the monster while Skald fires two arrows.

DM The mage’s flame roars and Skald’s arrow strikes the creature in the head. It roars, bleeding terribly and retreats, smashing its massive tail against the ship as it does.

Heinrick tears a bloody gash in the creature as it tries to escape, but catches a spine underneath his armpit as he does so. (10 damage) The fish shudders to a halt on the reef below.

Amella “What’s all this racket?” Amella has her traditional scowl on her face, although it is tempered by pain, as she limps up the steps to the deck. “Nav, you ran my ship into a reef?”

Heinrick “And killed a masher.”

Katrina Katrina’s shoulders slump. “There wasn’t anyone else…”

Heinrick “Mari jumped overboard to get Lirith, and we haven’t seen either one since.”

Amella “None o’ tha’, Nav, y’ done good. Now if someone could help me up t’ th’ wheel, maybe I can dislodge ‘er afore we run into another one o’ those things? Unless y’ want t’ keep at it, Nav.”

Katrina “It’s all yours.”

Heinrick Heinrick heads back towards the wheel with Amella.

Amella Amella takes the wheel with a wince.

Heinrick “You okay, Captain?”

DM Even as Heinrick speaks, a lightning bolt lances down from the heavens, striking him in the hilt of his gigantic sword. (13 elec damage)

Heinrick “GGnnnn!”

Amella Amella’s eyes fly open. “Number Two!”


Heinrick He weaves for a moment, then shakes himself. “I’m okay, I’m okay.” Except for a twitching of an eyebrow and one hand, he does seem fine.

Amella “What do they feed you at tha’ home o’ yours, Number Two?”

Katrina “You were just struck by lightning…”

Heinrick “If Liamae can take it, so can I.”

Katrina Kat wait for Mari’s snide comment that never comes.

DM Amella finally manages to free the ship from the reef, and her skill at the wheel is apparent, as the wounded vessel avoids any washes or rolls. However, the Wyvern is holed in several places.

Amella “Git everyone bailing! Now!” Amella yells.

Katrina Kat heads below. “Everyone grab a bucket or this tub’s going down with all of us in it!”

Passengers The passengers, bruised and battered from the rolling of the ship, groan, but head to do as Kat asks.

Avner “Thunderstrike!” Avner exclaims. “She can’t be kept in the hold, she’ll drown!”

DM Lightning continues to flash overhead.

Heinrick “If we don’t bail the ship, we’ll all drown, Avner,” Heinrick muttered to himself, hearing the conversation below. Heinrick grabs a bucket and heads down to help bail.

Avner Avner rushes panicked, to try and save his horse. The water is already three feet deep in the hold.

Urol Urol moves to help the noble, while the other passengers begin bailing.

Avner Once the horse is safely on the middle deck, Avner returns to help bail, sullenly working a bucket.

Heinrick Heinrick bails.

DM The night grows darker as the Sea Wyvern limps along, crippled. It is obvious that it will not reach Farshore… you will be lucky to reach any shore. The closest stretch of land beckons 25 miles away… a narrow strip of beach along a thick wall of jungle might afford somewhere safe to land.

The storm continues throughout the night, although the winds abate a bit. Still, the tattered ship seems in danger of sinking at any second. The lightning periodically lights up the primeval vista before you. Suddenly, the ship lurches again, throwing everyone to the deck. The Wyvern tilts crazily to the side, lurches one last time and rolls. The cold dark sea rushes up to meet you and in a cacophonous roar of wave and ruin, all goes dark…

Shipwrecked! What will become of our party, True Believers? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XXIII

DM We left our heroes trapped in Journey’s End, under a deadly nighttime assault of strange seaweed monsters. Battered and beaten, the sunrise heralded relief. What fate lies in store for our brave adventurers? Will they be the first to escape the dreaded Journey’s End sargasso? Read on, True Believers, and find out!

Heinrick’s cursory search of the ship turns up 4 potions of cure moderate and 2 cure serious wounds. The hollow procures three more potions of cure moderate wounds for the pile. Selene already has added her salve.

Heinrick Heinrick distributes the potions to the most wounded, then collapses in a shady corner of the deck for a three-hour nap.

Katrina Katrina carries Mari to her room, puts her to bed, then finds a spot to sleep in the room herself.

Heinrick Upon waking, Heinrick tries to rouse Brother Quintal first, then speaks to the captain, letting the others rest while he does those.

DM Brother Quintal does not rouse. Amella looks haggard as Heinrick approaches.

Heinrick “You look about as bad as I feel, Captain.”

Amella “Goin’ on 24 hours up and at ‘em, Number Two. What’s the sitrep?”

Heinrick “All the injured are stable, and everyone’s closing in on as much shut-eye as we can afford to give them. Kat and Mari… Nav and Number One are below, resting to get their spells back. And we need to start sealing the cracks in the hull, so those things can’t get inside again.”

Amella Amella nods dully. “All right. I’m goin t’ get about four hours o’ rack. Get me up then. Get everyone working, and I want a plan o’ engagement fer when these fuckers come back fer us.”

Heinrick “Right. I’ll get the tar started boiling…” He moves to rouse the other non-casters, and begin the preparations for the siege.

Strange Man A strange man with blond hair stretches his arms, lets out a yawn and strolls up the stairs to the upper deck as Heinrick is about to head down.

Aurion photo Aurion.jpg

Heinrick Heinrick stops and looks at the man. “It may just be that I haven’t slept, but… have you been on board since we set sail?”

Strange Man The man laughs loudly. “Just stopped by for the night, actually. Was going to be headed on this morning. You got any honest work a man can do for his breakfast around here?”

Heinrick “You stopped by… what the hell? Moving on to where? This entire place is infested with those plant monsters. Who are you?”

Aurion “I needed a rest and this seemed as good a place as any to bunk down. My name is Aurion. And yours, my good man?”

Heinrick Heinrick blinks and shakes his head in surprise. “Heinrick Gilantheril. At the moment, second mate of the Sea Wyvern. Where did you say you were coming from, Aurion?”

Aurion The man’s smile grows slightly. “I didn’t, actually, but I’m from the far north.” He looks around. “What passes for food in these parts?”

Heinrick “Hardtack and salt meat, mostly. And if you were serious about working, we could use a hand getting ready for nightfall. And after it.”

Aurion Aurion’s face screws up. “Ah, well, I suppose roast pig and bull would be too much to expect, eh? I was planning on heading off before sunset, actually. What do you need to get done before night? You are being… most mysterious, Heinrick Gilantheril. Is something the matter?”

Heinrick “You mean you honestly don’t know? The plant monsters, man. We need to seal up every crack on the ship, so they can’t squeeze inside, and then somehow fight them off. Which we just barely managed last night, at full strength.”

Aurion “I just woke up, good sir. I didn’t see any plant monsters before going to bed, I’m afraid. Sealing up cracks in the hull though? Sounds like fun.”

Heinrick “You… you slept through that entire battle? You have to be putting me on.”

Aurion Aurion grins. “You travel as much as I do, you learn to sleep through just about anything. You ever come by Himinborg, you’ll learn to sleep through a real battle, or you’ll learn to live tired.”

Heinrick “So, you’ve just been… walking across the weed, for how long?”

Aurion Aurion’s face grows puzzled. “Walking across the weed? No, no, my friend. I arrived here by other means.” His voice drops to a low whisper. “Magic.” He holds out a coin. “This right here is a key. Lets you use certain doors, if you know what to look for. But you did mention help, yes? Let’s get breakfast going and get to work, my good man! We can talk over a good meal. Who’s the cook around here?”

Heinrick Heinrick’s face closes up slightly at the description of the coin. “Hmm. The last person to come on this ship by magic wasn’t exactly friendly. Dropped out of the sky, and damn near killed me, in fact. And I don’t pretend to understand what you mean about doors; all I know about magic is what I’ve seen used on me. We’ll take your help, and gratefully, just… know this ship is on edge.” He gestures Aurion to follow him as he goes to wake Damri, and the others.

Aurion Aurion does so. Upon stepping down into the passenger quarters, with the bloody men and women, he lets out a gasp. “Gods, man, how can you carry on a conversation while people are down here in this state? Why… why have they not been attended to?” His eyes are wide.

Heinrick “This is after attending to them.”

Aurion “Have you no one to lay hands on them?”

Heinrick “We used up every last healing potion on the ship just to keep those who were slipping away stable, and our only priestess was one of them.”

Aurion Aurion blinks and looks closer at Heinrick. “You too, man… the sleep must have been in my eyes for me to miss it… you are as bad off as the rest of them!”

Heinrick “Yeah. Like I said, not a fun night. You see all that sargasso weed out there?”

Aurion Aurion shakes his head. “No, I’ve not yet looked off the ship.”

Heinrick “Well, take a peek. As soon as the sun goes down, parts of it come to life, climb aboard, and start killing everything they find. That’s why we need to seal the ship up; they actually slipped between the boards of the hull to get inside.”

Aurion Aurion holds his hand out to Heinrick. “Take my hand, man.”

Heinrick Heinrick looks at him oddly, then shrugs and does so.

Aurion The man’s grasp matches Heinrick’s own in power. Suddenly, Aurion’s hand turns warm and a soft light begins glowing from the men’s clasped hands. (6 hp healed the first round)

Heinrick Heinrick’s eyes go wide, and he is surprised enough to let it continue for a moment.

DM The glow continues, and Heinrick’s wounds begin to close slowly. (6 healing)

Heinrick Heinrick breaks off the handshake, and looks at his wounds wonderingly, then back at Aurion. “How much of that can you do?”

Aurion Aurion raises his eyebrows. “Much.”

Heinrick Heinrick puts a hand on the other man’s shoulder. “I take back anything suspicious I said about you. You are a godsend, and you’re about to become the most popular man on this ship, Aurion.”

Aurion Aurion chuckles. “No god sent me, Heinrick. I’m just passing through. But now I can see I’m needed for a bit more than patching your ship’s cracks. Who did you say was in charge of making breakfast?”

Heinrick “Don’t worry about me; do as much as you can for everyone else, first. Especially get the dwarf, Heldin, conscious. He may have some healing power himself. The cook is Damri, I’ll wake him. He’ll be glad to see you, too; his sister was hurt, and badly.” Heinrick begins waking the other crew and passengers who are capable of waking, explaining as much as he can of their strange visitor, and displaying his healed wounds as proof.

Aurion Aurion moves over towards Damri first. “One can only do so much on an empty stomach after all!” He lays hands on Damri, closing the man’s hurts before moving over to his unconscious sister. In short order, the entire passenger cabin is on their feet, most in good condition.

Aurion at Work

Aurion As Aurion moves to the crew, he pauses at the women’s cabin. Grinning at Heinrick, he pushes the door open. “My, what stunning women! Too beautiful to be covered in bruises!” Laying a hand on both of their chests, he channels his light and energy into their bodies.

Heinrick “You might not want to…” Heinrick tries to stop him before he takes the liberty with Mari, but is too slow.

Mari Mari rolls off her side of the bed and comes up in a crouch. A stream of icy cold water blasts Aurion right in the face, causing him to splutter. Catching sight of Heinrick, she scowls. “What the hell is going on, Heiny?”

Katrina Kat’s eyes open rather suddenly and her left hand snakes out from under her to grab the hand on her. “You know, that’s a good question, Mari.”

Heinrick “Kat, Mari, this is Aurion. He popped in by magic sometime in the night, and says he slept through the fight. Now, he’s earning his keep by going around healing everyone. And yes, I’m well aware of how insane that sounds. But, well… take a look at everyone outside.”

Mari Mari narrows her eyes.

Aurion Aurion smiles sheepishly, wiping the water out of his beard. “Ah… you are welcome, my dears?”

Katrina Kat lets his hand go and moves to sit up. “How long have we been out?”

Aurion Aurion grins. “I don’t know about you, Gorgeous, but I slept like a log. Probably eight, nine hours.”

Heinrick “A little over four hours. The captain just now went to bed. Figured I’d let her get some shut eye before I surprised her.”

Katrina “Four hours…” Kat mutters as she runs a hand across her scalp – and is noticeably surprised to find it lacking the lumps it had before she went to bed.

Heinrick “Aurion, meet Katrina Islaran, our navigator and wizard; and Maribesana, first mate and priestess.”

Katrina She looks over what other exposed skin she has and looks back up at Aurion. “Well. Um. Thank you, Aurion, even if your method was somewhat, uh, impolite.”

Aurion Aurion bows low. “Forgive me my presumptuous actions, fair ladies. I was overtaken by your beauty and couldn’t stand to let you go bruised another minute. If you’ll pardon me, for but a minute…” Aurion sticks his hand in the top bunk, causing Lirith to squeal.

Lirith “Oh my gawd, what is going on?!”

Katrina “Our guest Aurion is taking his life in his hands.”

Lirith Lirith hops down, looking better than when she went to bed. “He grabbed my ass!”

Katrina Kat glares. “Is that really necessary?”

Mari Mari snarls. “All right, Heiny, you and your pet pervert get the fuck out of here and let us ladies clean up. We’ll be out in a bit.” She clenches her fist, watery power flowing through it, begging to be released.

Aurion Aurion shrugs. “Terribly sorry, my dear, I couldn’t tell what I was touching from under the blankets.”

Heinrick “Yeah, I think we’d better leave before you do more damage than you cure…” Heinrick grabs Aurion’s shoulder and tugs him out of the room, closing it behind them.

Mari Mari turns to Kat. “Are you ok, Kat?”

Katrina “More ok then I was when I went to bed. He may be a pervert, but I can’t really deny that he did something unless you were healing me in your sleep.”

Mari Mari shakes her head. “Nope. Besmara gave me all she will until twilight. It must have been him. Bastard.”

Lirith Lirith smiles. “Was I the only one who thought he was kind of cute?”

Katrina Kat scowls. “Yes.”

Mari Mari laughs. “Unless Heiny did too, you’re all alone.”

Katrina “Looked like things got pretty nasty down here last night while Heinrick and I were busy up on deck,” Kat says to Mari.

Mari Mari grimaces. “It went real bad, Kat. The guys we picked up from the Widowmaker fought real good, but it was nearly a slaughter. Everyone did what they could, but I couldn’t be healing and killing the damn things at the same time.”

Katrina “Mostly the same on the deck…” Kat nods.

Mari “We need to get the passengers some place safe, where these things can’t come at them.”

Lirith Lirith speaks up. “What about the front hold where we’re holding the prisoners?”

Katrina Kat shakes her head. “No, they were able to get in there somehow. I didn’t check, but I believe both the prisoners are dead.” She doesn’t seem particularly bothered by the fact.

Mari “….we didn’t check?” Mari’s eyes go wide. “No one checked on them?”

Katrina “As soon as the sun chased those things off I headed down here to make sure everyone was all right. You were busy laying against the wall making this horrid gurgling sound. Everyone else was similarly badly off. I brought you in here, gave you my last potion, and at Heinrick’s suggestion hit the sack… I’m almost completely out of magic until I get a few more hours of rest and get a chance to look at my spellbook.”

Mari “What if they got away, Kat?” Mari’s voice is worried. “It isn’t just some random sailor here… it is Fargus Ironfoot!”

Katrina “They were bound. I have trouble imagining them getting free while being beaten to death by plant monsters – but you can check if you’d like…” She pauses for a moment. “Beaten to death while tied up… that’s something of a fitting end for Fargus if he is gone,” she adds thoughtfully.

Mari “I hope you’re right, Kat. It would be a fitting end to the little monster.”

Katrina “Hum. I guess I’ll get something to eat with the rest then come back and see if I can’t get a few more ours of shuteye. I don’t want to imagine going through another night of that without any magic…”

Mari Mari pauses and cocks her head. “Do… do you notice anything about that, Kat?”

Katrina “Well… it’s weird. Four hours shouldn’t be enough to prepare my mind or body to hold a new set of spells… but if I didn’t know better, I’d think I could right now.”

Mari Mari nods. “Same here. Once Besmara wakes her lazy ass up… I think I could get her blessings now, rather than needing to sleep more.”

Katrina Kat slips out of the bed and starts dressing. “Am I the only one who is thinking that guy is good to be true? We’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, worse then that, on this hell island, and a man magically shows up at dawn to heal our wounds?”

Mari Mari sets her jaw. “Not even a little, Kat. I wouldn’t trust him if he had been someone on the boat with us feeling me up in the morning. Shows up out of nowhere? Sounds like a trick. Makes me nervous.”

Katrina “Maybe he’ll share something about himself during breakfast.” Kat finishes dressing and heads for the door.

Aurion Aurion turns to Heinrick. “Well, that was fun! You didn’t mention you had such stunning women on board! Where to next?”

Heinrick “Next, food. Then, we need to get to work. I have to haul a couple of pots up from the hold to boil the tar to seal up the cracks.” Heinrick heads down for the hold, wincing slightly at his far-from-fully-healed wounds as he goes.

Aurion “Food! Bread and meat and ale! Let us recover our strength, my good man!” Aurion slaps Heinrick on the shoulder. (12 hp)

Heinrick “You go ahead, I’ll be right up. Want to get this started before I eat.”

DM Heinrick locates the desired pots in the hold.

Heinrick Heinrick carries the pots back up to deck, then heads hurryingly for what’s left of breakfast by that time.

Damri Eggs, bacon, sausages and toasted bread are all being served up by Damri who shrugs as Heinrick came up. “I guess I didn’t realize we had all this in the stores,” he says, apologetically.

Heinrick “No problem. We need a good meal after that night of hell.” He sits down and tucks in.

Damri “You want some milk?” Damri asks with a befuddled expression on his face.

Heinrick His mouth full, Heinrick nods eagerly. Swallowing half the bite, he mumbles, “I almost don’t care if it’s spoiled.”

Damri Damri shakes his head and pours Heinrick a cup. “It… it isn’t. It is practically fresh drawn.”

Heinrick Heinrick stops chewing for a moment, then consciously chooses not to think about that.

Aurion Aurion is busy chewing, but talks with his mouth full anyways. “So, Heinrick, are those women single? Or unhappily taken?”

Heinrick “That… is a complicated question. Lirith is single, I’m sure. Kat might have a bit of a thing for somebody on another ship we just got separated from. Mari… well. I won’t say you have NO chance at all, even with the unwelcome grab, but, I’ve only seen her take interest in other girls.”

Aurion Aurion lets out a low moan. “No! That’s for ugly wenches, not beautiful women!” He drains his mug and slams it down. “My good alfen, a full cup to toast the senseless waste of a beautiful woman!”

Damri Damri gives Heinrick a meaningful glance and fills Aurion’s cup.

Aurion Aurion lifts the mug, tears in his eyes and sniffles before drowning the entire mug in a single gulp. “Ah. So you said the other two were single, eh? How do you think they feel about polygamy?” His face is completely clear of the sadness that filled it only moments ago.

Heinrick Heinrick hides a smile behind his own mug, though not very well. “No idea. You’ll have to ask them. I’d ask Kat from a distance, were I you. I might have found out for you, but it’s no secret I’m kind of off the market myself. And like I said… I won’t say she’s exclusively into women. Just all that I know about for sure. And if she asks, you DID NOT hear that from me.”

Aurion Aurion wolfs down another omelet and nods. “So you’re saying there is a chance that I might be able to give them all babies before I have to move on? That’s good news.”

Heinrick “I said no such thing, friend. Won’t be time for it today, at the least.”

Aurion Aurion grins. “There’s always time for THAT, my good man.”

Katrina “Time for what?” Kat asks as she walks and collects a plate.

Heinrick Heinrick gives a tiny shake of his head to Aurion.

Aurion “Time for parenting, Lady Katrina,” Aurion responds to her. “One can never be too busy to be a parent.”

Heinrick Heinrick again hides a grin by devouring more food.

Katrina Kat looks thoughtful as she adds small piles of everything to her plate, commenting, “I didn’t realize we had all this,” seemingly off hand, before sitting down and responding, “I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate – if you have children certainly you should find time, but I can think of plenty of people who wouldn’t have the time to raise children.”

Aurion “That is true only until they have children, my stunning lady. Once one has children, one must devote themselves to the task.”

Katrina “Obviously I’m speaking to – of – people that haven’t or won’t have children. On principle I agree though that as a parent you have an obligation to devote yourself to your children.”

Heinrick That last comment brings Heinrick a grimace of pain, though he tries to suppress it.

Aurion “What is wrong, Heinrick? Something… amiss?” Aurion asks concernedly.

Heinrick “It’s… two long stories, and neither one wholly mine to tell.”

Aurion “Well, perhaps someday we’ll get a chance to sit down and swap tales. In Himinborg, if you ever make it up that far north.”

Katrina “I don’t think that’s entirely the same thing, Heinrick,” Kat adds somberly. “Himinborg… it hosts some contest for warriors, doesn’t it?”

Aurion “Oh yes, daily, my fair lady. It is truly magnificent… I do hope you get the chance to visit me there sometime.”

Katrina “Perhaps someday, Aurion – I’d like to travel more freely someday – preferably not by ship. I think this entire trip has been enough to sour me to sea travel.”

Heinrick “Hmmmm.” He nods at both of them, then shakes off the black mood. “Anyway, we should get started with that tar. I’m stuffed; best meal I’ve had in weeks, in fact. I think you’ve finally outdone the spider-steaks, Damri.”

Damri Damri scowls. “I only wish I could claim credit… something funny is going on here.”

Katrina “What do you mean, Damri?”

Damri “Milk, Lady Islaran. We have fresh milk. And eggs. And meats. We didn’t before, I’m sure of it, but there they were.”

Aurion Aurion plays a coin over his knuckles and smiles. “Well, I’m afraid it seems I have to be going sooner than I thought. Apologies, my new friends. If you ever are in Himinborg, do look me up, please?” He flips the coin to Katrina.

Katrina Kat sets down her fork and looks to be about to say something when he flips the coin to her. She closes her mouth and catches it instead. “Where are you going to go? We’re on a sargasso in the middle of the ocean…”

Heinrick “You’re leaving already? You’ve hardly gotten here.”

Aurion Aurion grins. “Where else, you luscious thing? On adventure. It’s the only place worth going.” He winks lewdly at Kat, pats Heinrick on the shoulder. “Afraid so, good man. You’ll find your passenger quarters a bit safer should the delectable Katrina scan it with her magic. Give my regards to Maribesana and Lirith, I apologize for not being able to give them the fullness I so wanted to.” He stands up on the rail.

Heinrick “See you in Himinborg, Aurion.” Heinrick nods and watches curiously for this door he talked about.

Aurion Aurion nods to Heinrick, pulls a second coin from his pouch and flips it into the air, where it catches the sun’s light, flashing once, twice, thrice, before falling back… and landing on the deck. Aurion has vanished.

Katrina Kat can’t seem to find words to respond to his response or departure. She watches the spot he departed from for a moment, and returns to her meal.

Damri “Syrup?” Damri asks with a flat look on his face.

Katrina “Yes please.”

Heinrick “Yep. I guess he did use magic. And yeah, hit me.”

Damri The elven chef pours syrup over a stack of pancakes and pushes them over to Katrina.

Katrina She tears into the fresh food, pausing only after several bites. “I don’t know who he was, or even what he was, and honestly right now I don’t care. Be he from Heaven or Hell, he may have just given us a chance to see through another night, and I don’t feel the need to question.”

Heinrick “Amen to that.”

Damri “What did he mean by the passenger quarters being safer, Lady Islaran?” Damri asks.

Katrina “I’ll check as soon as I finish eating.” She continues to tear into the food.

Heinrick Heinrick eats until his stomach aches, then heads back down to the hold to start bringing up the tar, and building a safe place to boil it on the deck.

Katrina A couple minutes later she’s finished. She heads below decks to examine the passenger cabin with detect magic.

DM Upon finishing their food, the two realize they are at full strength. Not only that, but they feel better than being at full strength.

Katrina Kat pockets the coin he gave her and heads below to check out the cabin. After checking out the wardings put in place in the passenger cabin, Kat goes to see if she really can prepare spells – then does so if possible.

DM Katrina’s spells prepare normally.

Heinrick Heinrick starts getting the stuffed crew to work instead of falling asleep. After two more hours, he’ll go and wake the captain.

Amella Well before even thirty minutes, let alone two hours, the captain bursts out of her door, fuming. “Who th’ hell did it?”

Heinrick “…Captain? Did what?”

Amella Amella thrusts a crumpled piece of paper at Heinrick. “Explain this to me, Number Two!”

Amella's Map photo Mapped.jpg

Heinrick Heinrick looks at it for a moment, then sighs. Very deeply, preparing himself for a lambasting.

Amella “I’m not some godsdamned shrinking violet tha’ I can’t deal wi’ a few realities o’ th’ sea life, but if a girl can’t even go t’ sleep without some limpdicked peeping Tom comin’ after her… what th’ hell, Number Two?”

Heinrick “First of all, let me say I know this is going to sound crazy. But, you can ask Kat and Mari if you don’t believe me.”

Amella Amella sniffs. “Bacon? Who th’ hell is cooking bacon on my ship?”

Heinrick “We had a visitor, Captain. A helpful one, against all expectations. He says he showed up in the middle of the night and slept through the fight, but I never saw him until he seemed to show up out of nowhere this morning. Gave his name as Aurion, and said that he’d arrived by magic; that he left the same way backs him up.”

“I was going to show him to you when I woke you up, but he just left about half an hour ago. Before doing that, he healed everyone’s hurts from last night, conjured a feast that healed what he hadn’t already, put some kind of protection on the passenger quarters, and apparently left us a map. He was a bit reckless with the ladies, though; he healed Kat and Mari by grabbing their chests.”

“I’m a little surprised he survived that, but I’ll be honest. I wasn’t feeling good about our chances of surviving this night before Aurion showed up, and now I believe we can make it out. Pervert or not, I’d say anyone aboard who gets out of this place alive owes it to him.”

Amella Amella’s gaze could stab Heinrick’s heart out of his chest. “And this map? What do you think it implies, Number Two?” Her voice is very cold and quiet.

Heinrick Heinrick meets her gaze without flinching. “It implies he knew a lot more of this place than he was telling us, Captain. And it implies to me the direction we need to go to stab the heart of this murderous weed.” He waves a hand to show that ‘this place’ means Journey’s End, and nothing else but.

Amella Amella snarls, tears the map in half and hands Heinrick one piece. “Gimme the sitrep, Number Two. Minus all the fancy magic man shit.”

 photo Mapped2.jpg

“What are we going t’ do when they come back? And if we’re all so fantastic, are we going t’ go out and find th’ Dark Heart today or wait until after t’night?”

Heinrick “I’ve gotten the tar started boiling, and everyone’s fed and rested, at full strength or better. We can keep the plants from sliding right through the hull this time. That alone, should mean we’ll have an easier time holding out than last night.”

Katrina Kat comes back up from below decks. She sees Amella awake and heads toward her and Heinrick. “I thought you were getting some shuteye, Captain.”

Amella Amella glares. “So’d I, until someone decided to check down south.”

Heinrick “As for going after the Heart… hard to say. We’ve lost near half the day already, but we won’t be this ready again.”

Katrina “Going after the heart now would be all well and good – we’re as strong as we’re ever going to be, but we still don’t know where it is. Wandering around until nightfall isn’t ideal. Down south, Captain?”

Amella Amella gives Katrina’s crotch a meaningful stare, still fuming.

Katrina Awareness dawns on Kat. “He didn’t…”

Heinrick “Yes, we do.” He leaves the ‘yes he did’ unspoken.

Katrina “Since when?”

Heinrick Heinrick shows her the map.

Katrina She looks at it for a moment. “We should go – now.”

Mari “Harriet’s dead. Ironfoot’s body isn’t in the hold.” Mari saunters up, finishing a slice of bacon. “He might have still bought the farm though, there was a huge blood smear leading over to the hull, where two of the boards have been kicked out.”

Heinrick “We’ll keep an eye out for a murderous-halfling-shaped lump of weed on our way, then. Are you ready to go, Mari? We’ve got a lead on the Heart now.”

Mari “And I found this,” she says, tossing a small wand to Kat. “Ready…? I’m out of actual magic until twilight, but I can channel. And I can fight.”

Katrina Kat examines the wand for a moment. “In the hold near where he was being held?”

Mari Mari nods. “Yep. That do what I think it does?”

Katrina “Potentially, if he was patient enough, yes he could have used it to escape his bounds.”

Mari “Ah. I was thinking he lit them on fire. Eh.”

Katrina “I don’t really want to know where he hid it.”

Mari Mari laughs. “Give it a sniff, Kat, you know you want to.” To Heinrick she replies, “I’ll grab my gear and then let’s get moving. Assuming… the ship can hold out for the night?”

Heinrick “Once we get the sides coated in tar, it will.”

Katrina “The passenger cabin was secured magically – a sanctuary effect. Not sure how long it will last. Hopefully it won’t have to.”

Mari Mari raises her eyebrows. “Courtesy of Private Perv? I’ll inform the men, so they don’t go in there to fight.”

Katrina “Yes, courtesy of Private Perv – who is apparently more of a perv then we knew. Regardless, if we go hopefully we can kill this things heart before it attacks the ship. Post a watch on deck until night fall, then fall back below decks if we aren’t back by then. If we don’t make it back by nightfall of tomorrow night… I think you’ll know what happened. And keep an eye out for Fargus – if he made it out odds are he won’t wander too far.”

Heinrick “Put the best fighters at the door, and rotate them out as they get weary of holding the weeds off. Anyone with a spear, get it ready.”

Katrina The three set off.

DM Hours go by as the three march across the sargasso, its strange surface reducing them to a slow yet steady pace. Suddenly, reaching the area marked on the map, a forest of kelp rises above the sargasso. Lodged within is the wreck of a caravel called the Thunderer. As you approach, a buzzing rumbles across your minds, not words so much as a mental beacon.

Katrina “This looks… feels.. like the place.”

Heinrick “Ya think?”

Katrina “Lead the way, Heinrick?”

Mari Mari looks back across the sargasso. “Besmara’s snatch… look at that.”

Katrina Kat looks back.

Heinrick “Do I want to look back?”

DM Looking back across the sargasso, you see the horrors rise up en mass, hundreds or thousands strong. Slowly they shamble towards you, moaning their incessant ‘outsiders’ the entire time.

Katrina “It doesn’t matter. We all knew that if we didn’t finish or work here, today, before nightfall there wouldn’t be a return trip.”

Heinrick “Yeah, well, I plan on returning anyway. Come on, make for that ship. We need to get the high ground.”

DM The kelp forest beckons, one could climb up onto the deck from there. The ship is sunk in the mire, only ten feet remain above the surface.

Katrina Kat starts to climb.

Heinrick Heinrick grabs hold of a vine, and boosts the women up.

DM He boosts them the fuck up. Unlike the other wrecks, the original skeletons of the crew remain aboard, soggy bones mingled with broken chests, weapons and rigging. The wreck itself is nearly sunken into the weed. The lower decks are accessible from above, but are located below the level of the weed surface. Along the walls, fronds and feelers of seaweed protrude and twitch.

Heinrick Once all three are aboard, Heinrick passes a bottle of red rum to each of the others. “Drink up, ladies.”

Mari Mari swigs hers down.

Katrina Kat does the same.

Mari “Drinking on the job just isn’t right, Heiny… did you bring us here to save everyone or have your way with us?”

Katrina "Both I think. Save the world – erm, ship – and then get the girls. That’s the fantasy, right?’

Heinrick “Like I’d have had to come all this way for that if I were really trying,” he fires back as he belts down his own bottle.

Katrina “Let’s go.”

Mari “Lead the way, big guy.”

Heinrick “Right. Kat, can you summon something to watch our backs?”

Katrina “Nothing that would last long enough to make a difference.”

Heinrick He heads for the stairs downward.

Katrina Kat follows.

Heinrick …and goes down them.

Mari Mari brings up the rear, cutlass ready. Down the stairs, the heroes find more of the same… rotting bodies, with fronds of seaweed everywhere, waving.

Katrina “Mari, you know more about ships then me, where do you think the entrance to the hold would be on a ship like this?”

Heinrick “You think something this ship was carrying became the heart? I was expecting it to be… I don’t know, natural.”

Mari “Honestly Kat, probably to the west of here… the captain’s room would be ahead, to the east, so the hold would be the other way. Although… this ship is old, Kat. Real old. Best I’ve heard, Heiny, Journey’s End grew from its first victim.”

Heinrick “West first, then. Quickly.”

Katrina “Possibly – it may have been something on board that captured the ship and created the sagasso – some far off monster. Or the ship might have been the first victim. This is at the heart of this thing according to the map, and sunken as it is it leads me to believe the bottom of the ship is probably rotted out – and holding this thing’s source.”

Heinrick Heinrick shoves open the door to the west.

DM The door leads to a passage that winds back into the room they came from.

Katrina “Because that design makes sense…” Kat shakes her head. “Maybe the north west door?”

Heinrick Heinrick opens the northwestern door.

DM The room is spacious, but grown over with seaweed. It may have once held bunks or a mess, but no furniture remains behind to tell the tale.

DM Two doors, one to the north and one to the south lie closed.

Heinrick He quickly steps over the gunk, and opens both doors.

Horrors As he opens the northern door, the sight of a green shambling monster greets him. “Outsiders….” it slurs as it punches him in the face. (9 damage) Its two mates wave their hands and the fronds within the room spring to terrible life.

Mari “What’s going on?” Mari tries to see around Kat.

Katrina “Plant monsters – what else?” Kat fills the monster she can see with magic missiles as it attacks Heinrick, and steps out of the way so Mari can join the fight.

Horror It punches her in the face as she casts. (7 damage) A tendril of seaweed whips around her leg from the massive plant creature as well. (11 damage and grappled) The missile fizzles as she’s yanked off balance.

Mari “Hey!” Mari leaps forward, hacking at the tendril that holds Kat tight. “Let her go!”

DM The blade cuts in, and the moisture evaporates out of the plant’s wound, but the vine does not release its prisoner.

Heinrick Heinrick draws his blade, and strikes at the monster that attacked him in the same motion.

DM He cuts the thing nearly in half, but its pieces continue swinging at him. Black plant blood leaks out onto the deck.

Horrors The monster shuffles to the side and waves its arms, causing another weed monster to animate. Its mate pushes against the ship’s wall, flowing through it and lurching towards Mari. The remaining one tries to strike Heinrick, but fails completely. Mari’s attacker stumbles and she manages to ward off its blow.

The weed monster next to her lashes out, trying to wrap around her neck, but she cuts through the tendrils. The one holding Katrina meanwhile sends out even more tendrils, wrapping her even tighter, crushing her ribs. (8 damage and pinned)

Katrina Kat gives up fighting the monster or casting a spell, pinned as she is, and instead taps into the robe she wears to call up the apes that have served her so well in the past.

DM Two noble animals answer her call.

Ape One tears into the apparent vine horror before her with its claws and teeth.

DM Black blood sprays in the air as the ape rends its prey.

Ape The second ape stands ready to attack the first of the plant monsters that comes within its reach – or to move to whichever space opens up in order to attack.

DM The ape sniffs and howls as it scents the evil in the creature’s blood.

Mari Mari hacks at the grappled creature, easily striking it. The creature shrivels up and collapses as her blade touches it, causing the plants that trap Katrina to fall inanimate as well. Mari’s second blow cuts into the mass of animated seaweed next to her, causing it to shrivel where her blade slices through.

Ape The ape steps past its master and over the decaying plants to claw at the mass of seaweed the priestess attacked, howling a challenge despite the blow it receives as it charges.

DM The creature’s tendrils lash at the ape, wounding it. (13 damage)

Ape Its fist smashes into the seaweed and it tears some of the vines apart, roaring its fury.

Heinrick Heinrick angles his blade between the wall and the monster in front of him to hit its brother, then strikes his assailant on the return swing.

DM Although his first slash cuts through the monster in front of him, the second ricochets off the door. Then, as if some fundamental rule of reality had been violated, the adamantine blade cuts through the doorway like a hot knife through butter, tearing the wounded seaweed monster apart.

Horrors The remaining creature pounds ineffectually on Heinrick’s armor, while its animated mass grapples ineffectually at Mari.

Apes Kat’s apes pound on the seaweed monster while she pulls herself free of the last of the inanimate seaweed strands.

DM The apes tear the seaweed mass completely apart, rending it asunder for their mistress.

Mari Mari summons a chilling blast of water that forms into an icicle which lashes out to impale the remaining creature.

DM It touches the frosty missile as if in confusion.

Horror “Outsiders…. outsiders….” it moans, while waiting for Heinrick to chop off its head.

Heinrick Heinrick obliges the creature.

DM The creature’s body comes apart in a mess of black blood and seaweed as Heinrick’s swing severs its head.

Mari “C’mon, those monkeys might stick around for a bit if we hurry, eh?” Mari calls as she heads up the northern passage towards the prow.

Katrina Kat orders the apes to take the lead in Celestial down the passage. “Let’s move – the apes will only be here for another thirty seconds.” she adds in common.

Heinrick “Right.”

Apes The apes shove open the next set of doors with their meaty fists.

Heinrick Heinrick lets the apes lead, taking rearguard.

DM Another open room, full of rotting timbers and waving fronds.

Katrina She sends them on to the next set of doors with a few more words of Celestial

Mari “This doesn’t make any sense to me,” Mari remarks, frustrated. “We should be able to get to the prow from here…”

Katrina “Heinrick… that big shiny blade of yours cut through the door like butter. How about trying that wall.” She points to the western wall."

Heinrick “Could probably kick through it, it’s rotted so bad. But we don’t have time to test it.”

Horrors Even as Kat points, a vine creature flows through the wall in front of them, moaning. “Ouuuuttttssssiiiidddderrrrrrs….”

Apes The apes come roaring back into the room and claw at the vine horror even as Kat produces her rapier and stabs at it.

Horrors The creature’s seaweed nature makes it hard for Kat to get a solid strike on it, but one of the apes smashes it viciously across its ‘face’. It continues to moan, blood leaking from its head. As it strikes the fronds in the room, a low cry is heard from deep below and the entire ship seems to shift in response.

DM Katrina and Mari are knocked off of their feet by the shifting. Two more horrors emerge from the walls.

Heinrick “I think we might need some more backup, Kat!”

DM Predictably, the seaweed within the room animates and begins lashing towards the heroes. The original horror pounds at the ape that originally hurt it, but is unable to land a good hit on the beast.

Mari Mari climbs to her feet and lashes at the original monster with her blade. It cuts deep, the vines parting as the blade sucks them dry of their moisture.

Apes Kat’s apes turn their attention to the new vine horrors.

DM They batter the new arrivals, tearing into them with fist and maw.

Katrina Kat – instead of climbing to her feet surrounded – opts to fire a volley of magic missiles into the first vine horror.

DM Her magic missiles punch inside the creature with little noticeable effect. It then collapses in on itself, sending a spray of dusted seaweed across the floor.

Heinrick The half-elf strikes at the horror next to him, cleaving into it with a heavy, overhanded chop.

DM The blow cuts the creature entire in twain, the halves falling to either side. The ape hoots in appreciation.

Heinrick After cleaving the vine-thing, he tucks and rolls through the melee to reach the other one.

DM He nimbly evades even the possibility of a counter attack.

Mari Mari launches a flurry of slashes at the creature, blistering its hide where her blade slices through.

DM As the horror lurches clumsily at Heinrick, Katrina’s ape reaches out and plucks its head off, causing the creature to collapse entirely. He hoots in appreciation and tosses the head to his companion. The animated mass of seaweed collapses as its maker dies.

Katrina The other smiles and Kat murmurs a word of thanks as she climbs to her feet and the apes vanish back to their home plane.

DM The apes vanish, but our heroes are still surrounded by danger at every turn, True Believers! Will they triumph? Will they fail? Will they see Aurion again? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XXII
The Rage

DM When last we left our heroes, they had come upon a wreck a few hundred meters away from their own beleaguered Sea Wyvern. The Rage lies ominously quiet, leaning to the side. What does fate have in store for our heroes, True Believers? Read on and find out!

An Eerie Calm

One mast has snapped at the base, forming a slippery vine covered ladder up to the deck.

Katrina “I know the common courtesy is ladies first, Heinrick, but I trust you’ll understand if I decline in this case?” Katrina jokes as they approach the wreck.

Heinrick “Sure thing.” Heinrick puts a hand on the vines, tugging to test their strength before putting his weight on them.

DM The vines give way, but the mast seems sturdy enough.

Heinrick Heinrick climbs up the mast.

DM Heinrick nimbly runs across the slippery vines, swiftly making it to the top of the deck.

Katrina “How’s it look?” Kat calls up.

DM The timbers of the Rage’s deck are rotting and squelch nastily underfoot as you board. Ship beams have been ruptured by the vines, which cling to every surface. A swath of dried blood is smeared ominously across the deck, as if someone had been dragged after suffering horrific wounds.

Heinrick “The vines are breaking it up, but the deck should hold. There’s a bloodstain, but hard to tell how old it is.”

Katrina Kat carefully scampers up the mast after Heinrick.

Heinrick He offers her a hand the last few feet, without taking his attention off the deck.

DM She slips halfway, tumbling back onto the sargasso’s spongy surface.

Katrina “Ow.”

DM The fronds swirl around her, as if trying to hold her down.

Katrina She attempts to climb to her feet.

Heinrick “Hang on.” Heinrick moves back down to help her up.

DM She stands up easily… the frond’s ‘attack’ must have been the work of an overactive imagination.

Heinrick Still, Heinrick gives her a hand going back up the mast.

Katrina She brushes herself off. “Well, that was embarrassing.” She starts to climb back up again with Heinrick’s assistance.

DM The two make it without further mishap to the deck. It is wreathed in slippery seaweed and swaths of what appear to be thick green mucus. Although almost everything has been smashed, the remains of three dozen burnt torches and an upturned cauldron that seems to have recently been filled with oil are still visible. A rapier blade snapped off at the hilt lies embedded in the deck wall. Some hastily stacked boxes appear to have been assembled as a makeshift fortification.

Heinrick “There was a battle here, no question. Looks like those children Amella told us about are real. I have a feeling we’ll find out which side won…”

Katrina Kat looks around for any indication that the ship suffered a fire. “Maybe. It’s entirely possible that they were attacked by another ship.”

Heinrick “We’re not that lucky.”

Katrina “Or rather the crew of another ship. Stuck out here long enough, you run out of supplies, get desperate. Raid the new ship that gets caught.”

DM Kat scrapes away some of the vines, sure enough, underneath the wood is charred.

Heinrick “Hmm. Either way, I’d bet you money that whatever did it is still around, and still

Katrina “Check here.” She motions to the burned wood. “You really think plant monsters would work to put out a fire on the ship? Yet obviously something did – the ship isn’t burned to the water line.”

Heinrick “Maybe they don’t like their meat cooked? Or maybe something else put it out, or the fire started some other way.”

Katrina “Possible, I’m not ruling out plant monsters just yet – I’ve seen enough not to doubt their existence somewhere and this is as good a place as any for them – but the most likely answer is usually the least complicated.”

Heinrick Heinrick shrugs. “Either way, we won’t learn anything just standing around. Doesn’t look like there’s anything left up here, so we’ll need to go below.”

Katrina “Why can’t anyone ever make things easy,” Kat laments with a trace of humor.

Heinrick “Where would the fun in that be…” Heinrick heads for the hatch below, keeping a
hand near his sword.

Katrina “Feel free to lead on.”

Heinrick He stops for a moment before going down, pausing to pull a potion from his pack and drink it.

Katrina Kat catches him as he pauses.

Heinrick Heinrick looks back at her. “Yeah?”

Katrina “Hold on a second. Just because you’ve got elf eyes that can see in the dark doesn’t mean I can.” She casts light on several articles of his clothing and his sword, then draws her rapier and casts light on it. “There we go. Onward, Lamp.”

Heinrick “Gee, thanks for making me the most obvious target,” he says with a sardonic grin. He draws his sword, and heads down.

Katrina “You wouldn’t want them to go after me, would you?” Kat asks innocently as she follows him down.

DM The doors from the deck above have been barred with timbers, but to no avail, as they lay smashed herein along with a broken ballista. Although once the ship had even lower decks, they have been completely filled with weed and hold nothing of interest. Only the captain’s cabin ahead lies unconquered by the choking vines.

Heinrick Heinrick slowly moves towards it, eyes peeled.

Katrina Kat follows, looking around carefully.

DM Beyond the crew room lies the captain’s cabin. A large hole is in the floor, through which the green of the sargasso can be seen.

Katrina “Heinrick, hold on a second.”

Heinrick Heinrick steps around the hole, testing each patch of deck before trusting it with his weight. He stops when Katrina speaks.

DM The floorboards twist and buckle, sending the journal into the sargasso five feet below. The water begins to lap at the book.

Katrina “Damn everything!” Kat mutters as the journal falls.

Heinrick “Shit. Hang on, I’ll get it. If you have a fly spell, now’s the time.”

Katrina “Faster would be better. Ink and water don’t get along.”

Heinrick “I’m going.” He sheathes his sword, and climbs down.

DM As he lands on the spongy surface, a vine lashes out towards him. The water continues to lap at the journal.

Katrina Kat notices the vine and two beams of flame leap from her hand at the vine. She calls out to Heinrick, “Heinrick, get the journal and get out! There’s something alive in there!”

Vines One of the vines bursts entirely into flames as her magic lances out. The other two lash at the half elf invading their territory. One fails to connect, but the other bites painfully into his neck. (12 damage) The bulky warrior manages to keep it from wrapping completely around him however.

Heinrick “Gah! Things have a bite!”

DM The water continues to lap at the book.

Katrina Magical missiles streak from Kat’s good hand into the vine that hit Heinrick. “Just get the book and get out.”

DM The missile burst upon the massive vine, causing sap to leak from the wounds. It shakes back and forth, injured but not destroyed.

Heinrick Heinrick drops to the ‘ground’ and dashes over to the book, relying on armor and reflexes to protect him from the vines.

Vines Once again Heinrick is subjected to a thorny lash, this time wrapping around his torso. (8 damage) It holds him fast, squeezing him painfully.

Heinrick The warrior struggles to break free of the vine’s grasp.

Vines He cannot break the vine’s stranglehold on him. The vine squeezes him tighter, crushing the air from his lungs. (13 damage) The other lashes at Kat from her place up on the deck, but misses catching the agile woman off guard.

Katrina “Dammit,” Kat curses. Trusting Heinrick to took after himself for a moment she uses her magic to pluck the journal from the pit.

DM The book drips as she brings it from the water, depositing it in her hand.

Heinrick Heinrick continues to wrench against the vine’s grip.

DM His efforts are to no avail.

Vines The creature continues to try to crush Heinrick’s life, but the warrior flexes against the grip this time, preventing further damage to him. The second creature lashes at Katrina, tearing at her thigh (13 damage), but it fails to establish a grip on her.

Katrina Kat, having secured the book, returns to blasting the creature holding Heinrick. Another set of magic missiles fly into the monster.

DM Both creatures are now wounded, the black sap staining the sargasso floor.

Heinrick Giving up trying to break free the hard way, Heinrick digs a hand into the vine’s wound and tries to rip out something important.

DM His hand is slashed by the thorns as he attempts. Angered, he grabs the vine in his hands and nearly tears it in half.

Vine The vine remains wrapped tightly around him and lashes out. Tightening around his chest and stomach, the thorns bite savagely deep into his skin. (16 damage)

Heinrick Heinrick lets a grunt of pain escape as his breath is squeezed out.

Katrina Kat sends a searing dart of acid at the vine.

Vines Katrina is knocked off her feet as the creature’s attacks entangle her legs. (8 damage) It drags her towards it.

DM The acid eats away at the damaged creature entangling Heinrick, and it falls limply into the water.

Heinrick With a growl of anger, Heinrick draws his blade and slashes at the vine holding Kat.

DM He cuts it neatly in half, the two pieces dropping onto the sargasso floor bed.

Katrina Kat wiggles free of the slimy vines and climbs to her feet. “You ok?” she calls down to Heinrick.

Heinrick “I’ll live. You? And that spell better be something you can only do once a day, or something.”

Katrina “Cuts and bruises.” She begins dabbing the journal on her shirt to dry it of any water. “Sort of. I can either do it once per day, or any other spell I know.”

Heinrick “Handy. Kinda wish you’d done it before I almost became plant food, but good to know.” He climbs back up.

Katrina “Figured you’d prefer a fireball if we ran into other plants. I’d give you a hand up, but…” She gestures to their difference in size. “I’d probably end up getting pulled in with you.”

Heinrick “S’all right.” Heinrick clambers up, gets out another potion and drinks it. “I’m actually starting to run low on those.”

Katrina “Hopefully Mari can patch you up better when we get back to the ship. Forgive me for doubting your plant monster theory.”

Heinrick He drains another one before answering. “Well, the stranded cannibal thing was nice, too. You got the book, right?”

Katrina “I never said anything about cannibals… but now that you mention it, yummm. Heinrick. Tastes like chicken.” She holds up the book to show him. “If it’s all the same, I’d rather return to the ship before sitting down to check it out.”

Heinrick “Sure. Let’s make sure there’s nothing else around here, though… any magic you can see?”

Katrina “Hum…” She pauses to cast the spell and sweep over the cabin, then the muck filled other room.

DM Nothing magical lies anywhere in the ship.

Katrina “No magic. Not much of anything. Where’d all the bodies go, I wonder…”

Heinrick “All right. Let’s go, then. I’m more worried about adding two more to the total.”

Katrina “I suppose the question is rather academic compared to that concern…” She follows him back to the deck and towards the Sea Wyvern.

Heinrick Heinrick leads the way, keeping his sword out, and a hand near his potion belt.

Amella Amella greets the pair as they return. “What ye find out?”

Katrina “Plant monsters.”

Heinrick “And a book.”

Katrina “That Heinrick had to wrestle the plant monsters over.”

Amella Amella scowls. “Is it a magic book? Can it get us out o’ here?”

Katrina “Journal from the ship. Maybe the captain’s log. I doubt it can get us out itself, but it might give us an idea of where the other group failed, and give us somewhere to proceed ourselves. I take it by the comment the cutting and burning isn’t working out?”

Amella “Th’ boys are making no more than a few feet o’ progress an hour, n’ the blades are dullin’ ‘gainst th’ weed. It’s like th’ damn stuff’s growin’ back even as we cut away at ’er.”

Heinrick “I’ll get down there and help with it, then. A magic sword should have a better chance at resisting it.”

Katrina “Might be best to save the blades. If the Rage is any indication there’ll be a better use for them before long. And I thought your magic sword got broken?”

Heinrick “Ah. This one’s so sharp, I forget it isn’t.”

Amella “Even Avner’s fancy blade ain’t doin’ too well, Heinrick. I’d just as soon as get them up
’ere afore the sun goes down.”

Heinrick “Hmm. His is made of the same stuff as this one.”

Katrina “I’ll be aboard looking into the journal somewhere quiet.”

Amella “All right, Nav. Make sure y’ let me know what y’ find out. Number Two, if y’ don’t mind, get everyone up on deck. I want t’ get everyone fed n’ rested fer tomorrow.”

Heinrick “Aye, Cap.” Heinrick heads back down onto the weed.

Katrina “But Captain, I’m a wizardess.”

Amella Amella gives Kat a blank stare. “Yer point, Nav?”

Katrina “It’s against union rules for a wizard or wizardess to share information,” she jokes as she sets to climbing a rope onto the ship.

Amella Amella’s only response is a baleful stare.

Katrina Kat laughs as she climbs aboard the Sea Wyvern, heads below, and cracks the journal, hoping it wasn’t too badly damaged by the water.

The Journal

As Kat reads through the journal, the parts that weren’t water logged, she finds the journal chronicles the tale of a monk named Anhelm and his journey along the southern coast of the Amedio to visit the natives of the Isle of Zxuxal. The document tells of a fierce storm that drove the Rage far out to sea, but it is the entries on the last few pages that are of the greatest interest.

Anhelm's final words photo LetterfromtheLostDays.jpg

Katrina Kat returns to the deck not long after, looking for Amella and Heinrick.

DM In the intervening hour, Heinrick has gathered the passengers and crew back to the ship.

Heinrick Heinrick has just finished herding everyone back onto the deck, and is trying to stay as far from Avner as possible.

DM Damri has dinner cooking, and everyone is eating. A uncharacteristic silence has fallen over the normally boisterous group.

Katrina Kat approaches Amella. “I’ve finished with the meaningful portions of the journal, Captain.” She leans closer and lowers her voice. “It might be better to discuss the information privately with the senior crew members.”

Amella Amella nods. “Skald, make sure everyone’s fed and in th’ racks early. Number One n’ Two, see me in my quarters in five. You too, Nav.”

Katrina “And to post a watch,” she mutters.

Heinrick Heinrick nods. “Skald, good luck dealing with Meravanchi; I’d do it, but I don’t think either me or Kat could speak to him right now without violence.”

Skald Skald just shrugs enigmatically. “I don’t think I’ll be having too much trouble out of him.”

Heinrick “Oh? Too tired to be his usual bitchy self?”

Skald Skald chuckles. “If he’s lucky.”

Heinrick “Heh. Pissed everyone else off that bad, did he? With any luck, it’ll take him down a peg or two, seeing that I’m not the only one who won’t lick his boots.”

Skald Skald raises his eyebrow. “I’ve got a way with assholes, Heinrick. Worked around them my whole life. Trust me on this one… you’re better off not knowing. Plausible deniability and all that.”

Heinrick “I’ll take your word for it, my friend. Get ’em in bed, and get some rest.”

Skald Skald nods and moves off.

Heinrick Heinrick goes to the meeting in Amella’s cabin.

Katrina Kat lingers on the deck for a moment, putting together a quick meal for herself from the leftovers. She then heads for the cabin. As the others enter and close the door Kat begins, “I’ve gone through the journal of the Rage. It’s not good. The majority of isn’t particularly meaningful – it talks about a storm that drove the ship out to sea – but the last few pages tell the story of the crew and passengers once they were stranded in the Sargasso.”

“Their attempts to cut through the weeds were as ineffective as our own, but that wasn’t the true horror they faced. Once night fell – not the first night but the second – they started suffering attacks by whatever monsters inhabit this muck. Eventually some decided to set off to explore the muck. They had to turn back before long, but found when they did the ship was overrun and the crew was missing.”

“That night they found out what happened to the crew. Whatever stalks this land apparently uses human beings as almost host bodies. All but one of the explorers also met their end. The journal ends with the note that destroying the black heart of this land – the so called mother of these horrors – would destroy the brood.”

“It also notes interesting what I can only assume is the heart of the land – an area where the terrain changes and becomes a virtual forest.”

Amella Amella nods. “Aye, tha’s th’ tale, anyways. We kin hope it’s got a grain o’ truth t’ it.” She looks at the three solemnly. “I think th’ three o’ ye are goin’ t’ have t’ find th’ heart. One o’ us has t’ stay wit’ th’ ship. I’d go m’self, but les’ be truthful, I ain’t as much use in a fight as th’ three o’ ye.”

Heinrick Heinrick nods. “And you’re better at keeping the crew under control, Cap. We should set out first thing in the morning, and keep a full watch tonight.”

Amella “Y’ ought t’ start out at first light tomorrow… make sure y’ turn back wi’ enough time t’ make it back afore nightfall. I don’t want y’ out there in th’ dark.”

Heinrick “No more than I want to be out. But, if we can’t reach the heart in half a day’s walk…”

Katrina “About that, Captain. The monk who wrote the journal left to explore in the afternoon and didn’t reach the near heart until the next afternoon. My suggestion would be to leave at dawn, but even if we do and if we travel light, we still won’t reach the center of this hell until after dark.”

Amella Amella purses her lips. “I don’t like th’ thought o’ it. Ye explore out as far as ye can in half a day’s march first, when we ‘ave some idea which way is center, ye’ can go all th’ way.”

Heinrick “I don’t suppose either of you have any magic that could speed the trip?”

Katrina “Not enough to make a difference.”

Mari Mari shakes her head in agreement with Kat. “Sorry, Heiny.”

Katrina “My suggestion would be to leave at dawn and travel as far as we can, hoping to find another wreck where we can hold up for the night. Going out and turning back just sticks us here another night. Either way, it’s going to be a multi-day trip.”

Amella “Yes, Nav, it does stick you here another night. Tha’s purposeful.”

Heinrick “That says something kind of scary about how smart this ‘mother’ might be, Captain.”

Katrina “Perhaps I wasn’t clear – the other ship – apparently with a full passenger complement of monks – was overrun in three nights. The longer we spend on this, the worse our odds are.”

Amella “You were plenty clear, Nav. ‘N what chance do y’ think this ship ’as with mighty Avner as our guardian angel?”

Katrina “Either way, the ship is going to be deprived of us for a night.”

Amella “Better a single night than two o’ more as y’ stumble around lost on this ocean blight.”

Katrina “I’d sooner do it without subjecting us to another night of wearing us down. If I don’t get a full night’s sleep I can’t replenish my spells.”

Heinrick “If we can get to the heart and destroy it before the third night, it shouldn’t matter.”

Amella “What makes y’ think tha’, Heinrick?”

Heinrick “One night stuck while we rest; another while we move. If we can kill the heart the day after that, you won’t have to worry about the third night, which is when the Rage was overrun. We will need Kat and Mari’s magic both at full strength for the trip, though. And I don’t want to be a baby about it, but I could use eight hours myself. Those vines did a number on me, and I’ve still got open wounds from the fight with the Widowmaker.”

Amella Amella blinks. “What makes y’ think tha’ a ship stocked with monks is somehow th’ standard t’ measure ‘ow long a ship can hold out fer? They had monks, we ’ave Blumpkin n’ Avner th’ Mighty. Maybe wi’ th’ three o’ ye we could stand a chance.”

Heinrick “Not all monks are as tough as Quintal, I don’t think. I think you can hold off a night without us.”

Katrina “Cap’n, no matter how we do it the ship will be deprived the three of us a night.”

Amella “Kat, I ain’t convinced o’ tha’ at’tal. This man might o’ stumbled around aimlessly like a damn fool, jus’ like yer tryin’ t’ do. Maybe if’n he were bein more purposeful, he’d a made it in a day ‘n not returned t’ a dead ship. How far kin ye hike in an hour? Three miles? Five?”

Heinrick “But, we don’t know exactly where the heart is either, Cap.”

Amella Amella sighs. “Tha’s why I’m tellin’ ye to make shorter trips til ye’ve got a better idea o’ th’ layout.”

Heinrick “And if we can’t find it anywhere in a half-day’s walk, Cap?”

Katrina “Maybe three miles in two hours – so about twelve miles a day. Six miles in any direction before turning back. In this muck, that is.”

Amella Amella scowls. “I’ll think about it t’night. Get t’ bed wit’ ye, so ye kin rest up fer tomorrow.”

Katrina “Ultimately it’s your call, Captain. You want us to come back, we’ll come back. We need to post a strong watch for the night. I’d suggest Jerard and Quintal.”

Amella “Quintal is unconscious, Nav. Jerard n’ Lirith are on duty, under Mari… I’m goin’ t’ put
Skald in ’er place so she can rest up fer yer journey.”

Katrina “All right. I’m going to crash then, early morning tomorrow and all.”

Mari Mari grins. “Want to sleep in my bed, Kat?”

Heinrick “Yeah, I’ll be turning in too. Mari, if you have any healing left, I could probably use it
now, so you’ll be full up tomorrow.”

Mari “What about you, Kat? You both need some?”

Katrina Kat rocks her head from side to side for a moment at Mari’s first question, trying to decide if she’d rather share a bed or put up with Avner, before answering, “Sure. And I’m a little beat up. They didn’t nearly strangle me like Heinrick, but the damn things packed one hell of a punch and I did crack my head on the floor when it dragged me off my feet. I could swear I heard his ribs crack.”

Heinrick “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

Mari Mari grasps her holy symbol and concentrates. Momentarily, the familiar cool mist washes over the two adventurers. (16 healing) She focuses again and the mist intensifies. (31 healing) “How you feel now?”

Heinrick “Aahhhh… way better. Thanks, Mari. I should be good to go in the morning.”

Mari Mari grins devilishly. “So should I.”

Heinrick “Try to let Kat get a little bit of sleep,” he says with the same expression.

Katrina Kat scowls.

Amella Amella scowls as well. “If yer quite done, get yer asses out o’ my quarters n’ t’ bed.”

Heinrick “Aye aye.” Heinrick nods to the three women, and heads for his cabin.

Katrina Kat follows Heinrick out.

Mari Mari brings up the rear after a saucy salute to Amella.

Katrina “Keep an eye out. Things could get rough tonight,” Kat says to Lirith as she heads below.

DM The sun is setting as you leave the captain’s quarters. Shapes stir in the distant green, as the last light of day fades and the mist rises once again, horrors begin to rise from the weeds.

Mari “What the hell?” Mari mutters.

DM The fog cuts at your vision, but you can see seaweed creatures shuffling towards you. They whisper to you, calling over and over again. “Outsiders…outsiders…outsiders…”

The Children of the Mother

Children of the Mother photo ChildrenoftheMother.jpg

Katrina “Nine Hells…” Kat curses as she comes to a stop.

Heinrick “Captain? That thing I said about being okay for a night? I may need to take that back.”

Amella “What’s tha’, Number Two?” Amella calls from her cabin.

Katrina Kat responds – as she usually does when armies of seaweed monsters attack – with a fireball into their midst. It roars in the night, answering Amella’s question.

DM The flames roar over the horrors, causing them to shriek, but their advance is unhalted.

Horrors “Outsiders…..”

Skald Skald fires two arrows at one of the monsters not caught in the fireball.

Mari Mari glares at the monsters shambling out of the fireball and hums a low note. Bolts of lightning crash down, blowing two of the monsters into cinders.

Horrors The horrors shamble towards the ship, undaunted. In response to their movement, the sargasso begins to come alive. Some of the vines begin to creep towards the ship. Two of the horrors begin to try and climb the ship walls.

Heinrick & Lirith Heinrick and Lirith each dig out a potion and gulp it down.

Jerard Jerard draws his bow, and fires an arrow at the one Skald already shot.

Katrina Kat lobs another fireball into the masses.

DM The explosion rocks through the creatures, sending more of them crumbling to dust and ash.

Skald Skald fires two more arrows into his target.

DM The arrows strike, but fail to do any noticeable harm to the creature.

Amella “Ay, what’s this? Give ’em hell, boys!” Amella screams as she rushes out of her cabin, cutlass brandished.

Amella Mari’s eyes are glazed over, crackling with power as she continues to hum. Two more bolts of electricity blast the two climbing creatures into dust.

Katrina “That’s new.”

Mari Mari turns her head and winks one of her crackling eyes, sending sparks flying across the deck.

Horrors Some of the creatures manage to scale the deck, lashing out at the crew fighting bravely. Lirith is struck (6 damage), as is Skald. (9 damage) Mari and Heinrick manage to defend themselves, but one sneaking up behind Kat lands a solid blow on the mage. (7 damage) The non-climbing creatures seem to… disappear into the ship itself. Moments later screams are heard below deck.

Lirith Lirith waits for an opening, as Heinrick hacks away at the nearest creature…

DM His blow sends the creature flying off the deck, its body coming apart as it arcs over onto the sargasso.

Heinrick He then follows through with a killing cut to the creature hounding Katrina.

Jerard Jerard maneuvers down slightly, letting go of his bow and drawing his sword as he moves. He strikes at the plant creature now between him and Lirith, giving her the opening she needed.

DM His attack bites deep into the creature, even as hers sticks in the creature’s arm without noticeably harming it.

Katrina Kat rushes through a haste spell while trying to keep away from the plant monsters’ swinging limbs. She gets through the spell, steps so her back is to Mari’s, and draws her blade.

Skald Skald drops his bow and draws his blade, swinging at the vine horror before him twice.

DM His flurry of attacks sends a spray of black blood across the deck.

Amella Amella calls more encouragement to the crew and moves to menace the closest vine horror.

Mari Mari slashes at the creature before her, her cutlass causing the plant creature to shrivel and wilt as the magical blade consumes the water within the horror.

DM More screams come from below, as well as shouts. From the forecastle, where the pirate prisoners are being kept, come truly terrible shrieks of pain and agony.

Heinrick “Someone get below decks! They’re being slaughtered!”

Horrors Lirith is pounded viciously by the creatures surrounding her. Her jaw shatters under the assault. Mari is slugged across the face by the creature threatening her as well. It moans. “Outsiders…..”

Lirith Lirith falls beneath their stinking fists.

Heinrick Heinrick moves towards her, and cuts at the vine that brought her down.

DM As the monster collapses under his assault, the crawling seaweed off the side of the ship collapses lifeless.

Jerard Jerard keeps up his attack on the one he and Lirith were fighting.

DM His first attacks fail to penetrate the creature’s pulpy flesh, but finally, his blade bites feebly into the creature’s shoulder.

Katrina Kat slips around Amella and stabs at the vine horror attacking Mari.

DM The vines clinging to the side of the ship lash out at Kat as she moves. (13 damage)

Katrina “Mari, Lirith!” Kat calls out as she engages the horror.

Skald Skald swings twice more at the vine horror before him.

DM Skald’s flurry of attacks, aided by magic, cut into the horror, chipping away at it.

Mari “What?” Mari turns her head to see the unconscious woman warrior and curses.

Aemlla Amella calls out more support and like Kat stabs at the vine horror attacking Mari.

DM Amella’s rapier pokes into the seaweed creature, causing it to twitch slightly.

Mari Mari lunges away from it, tucking into a roll that carries her past the massive coil of sea weed climbing up the deck. Clutching her holy symbol, she calls out to Besmara, the healing mist washing over the party. (14 healing)

Horrors Two of the horrors lash at Skald, who manages to fight them off easily. The third turns its head to look at Heinrick. If the warrior didn’t know any better, he would swear the creature grinned maliciously. It brings its fists down on Lirith’s prone body mercilessly. (12 damage)

Lirith Lirith regains consciousness just in time to feel the full pain of their attacks, and sink back into darkness.

Horrors “Outsiders…….” The massive weed creature clambers all the way onto the deck, lashing out at Amella, and missing the captain. The final creature pounds Katrina and Amella with its fists. (9 damage Kat, 10 damage Amella)

Heinrick Heinrick moves to stand protectively over Lirith’s fallen form, and swings his sword in a wide arc, slashing at all three creatures nearby.

DM While the fog keeps the warrior from striking his second target, the other two are disintegrated as the adamantine dragon blade cleaves through them.

Jerard Jerard attacks the one Heinrick missed.

DM And surprisingly manages to drive it back fiercely, hacking at it like he was cutting down a tree.

Katrina Kat rolls behind the vine horror and stabs at it.

DM Her roll is interrupted by a vicious attack (10 damage), and her attack is interrupted by her own ineptitude.

Amella Amella takes advantage of the opening provided by it’s attack on Kat to swing twice.

DM Amella’s backstab buries itself in the creature’s body and she tears it free, causing the creature to collapse as she does so. The second vine creature collapses as Amella kills the force animating it.

Skald Skald tries to take advantage of Jerards’s flanking.

DM Skald’s attack drives the creature backwards, with no place to go.

Mari Mari’s eyes flash and another bolt of lightning blasts the creature to dust. She goes to her knees and lays hands on Lirith, restoring the woman to consciousness. (25 healing) “Besmara’s puckered butthole, how many of these things are there?”

Katrina Kat barely stops to recover her breath after the vicious blow to the ribs a moment before. She gasps out, “Below decks.”

Horrors Even as Mari turns to go down the stairs, more moans come from the mist. “Outsiders……”

Heinrick As she does, Heinrick squeezes past her, and drops onto the stairs leading below.

Selene Selene appears at the stairs. “First Mate, come quickly… Alandra’s been injured.”

Heinrick Heinrick doesn’t bother asking her who else is hurt, knowing she wouldn’t even have bothered thinking of the humans. He just runs past her.

Katrina “Oh come on,” Kat mutters, looking out at the other vine horrors approaching.

Mari Mari follows Heinrick.

Avner The two of them find three crushed vine horrors and an angry Avner with his sword out, dripping in black blood. “Nice to see you could make it,” the noble snarls bitterly.

Horrors Meanwhile, the horrors outside shuffle towards the ship.

Mari “No time, who’s hurt?” Mari snaps.

Heinrick “Good work, Avner. These the only three down here? I was expecting a dozen or so, like above decks. And the rest on their way.”

DM While all of the passengers bear bruises, Alandra is the worst for the wear. She’s bleeding badly and unconscious. Damri leans over her worriedly.

Heinrick Heinrick flourishes his sword, slinging a bit of the blood onto Avner as he rushes back up to meet the approaching enemy.

Horrors Up on the deck, three horrors shuffle towards the ship.

Katrina Kat lobs a bolt of acid toward the nearest horror.

Amella Amella draws a pistol and takes aim at the same monster.

DM Even as Amella’s pistol and Kat’s acid blast the approaching horror, the screams from the forecastle cut off suddenly. Vines appear along the door and two horrors emerge through.

Horrors The horrors on the ship attack. One cannot help but notice the blood, not black but red, dripping off of their fists. While Lirith manages to avoid their attacks, Jerard is not as lucky. One grabs his ankles and drags him down off the forecastle, banging his head savagely on the way down. (18 damage) Meanwhile, the horrors approaching reach the ship. Two begin to climb, while the other merges into the ship’s wall.

Heinrick “Mari! Incoming!” Heinrick shouts a warning down the stairs, while rushing to meet the ones that attacked Jerard and Lirith.

Mari “Damn it, they’re coming through the walls down here too!”

DM Mari’s response is cut off by a flurry of cursing. The sound of flesh being struck, hard, reaches the half-elf’s keen ears.

Jerard Jerard regains his feet, and strikes back.

Heinrick Heinrick bats his first foe against the wall with his blade, barreling into its twin.

Jerard Jerard’s hollow swings blindly in the fog, nearly taking Heinrick’s head off.

Lirith Lirith darts back from the horrors.

DM And so the battle raged for hours. The Sea Wyvern’s crew fought bravely, but the children of the sargasso kept coming relentlessly. Finally, the sun rose across the sky, burning away the hateful fog and causing the horrors to collapse back into the sargasso that had spawned them. What does fate have in store for our brave adventurers, True Believers? Will they reach the dark heart of Journey’s End? Or will this be their end like it has been for so many? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XXI
Journey's End!

*DM * When last we left our heroes, they were being attacked by the dreaded Widowmaker. Brother Quintal in a heroic sacrifice, launched his body at a ballista bolt that would have surely cracked the hull. The bolt carried him far from the battle, into the sea, while his comrades on the ship all fought bravely for their very lives. The pirates now all lie dead save three who have surrendered. What fate lies ahead of our brave heroes? Read on, True Believers, and find out!

Heinrick Heinrick looks at the halfling, who just stabbed him in the gut an instant before surrendering. “Captain? You’re not going to take this little flea at his word, are you?”

Fargus Fargus scowls at Heinrick. “Lil’ flea be I? Ye’ll see, mate.”

Amella “Knock ‘im out, Heinrick, ’n tie ’im up. We might get some infermation out o’ ‘im tha’ we might be needin’.”

Heinrick The half-elf looks like he’s about to disobey. He scowls, and his knuckles turn white on his hilt. He swings at Fargus… with the flat of his sword.

Fargus The halfling tries to duck, but is caught full in the head by the massive slab of metal. He is lifted off the deck, spun around fully three times in the air, and smashes to the deck in a heap.

Heinrick Heinrick picks him up by the back of his shirt, and throws him onto the Sea Wyvern before jumping over.

Demon Ape Kat’s ape looks down, then tears at the wounded unconscious pirate it’s standing on.

DM The ape smashes the back of the pirate’s head in.

Amella Amella snaps at her. “Nav, if ye can’t control yer magic monkey, send it back t’ Hell o’ wherever ye plucked it from. We’re not butchers and we live by a code on th’ sea. A code these scum ignore.”

Katrina She hastily dismisses the ape seconds later.

Amella “Someone get th’ boat and get tha’ damn brother afore he freezes t’ death in th’ sea. Crazed fool. Woulda thought him ’n you were brothers, Heinrick.”

Mari Mari begins tending to the wounds of the crew and passengers.

Heinrick “I’ll go after him,” Heinrick says, despite the bleeding gash in his stomach.

Mari Mari slaps her hand on his shoulder, channeling cool refreshing waves of energy into his body. “Be careful, Heiny.”

Heinrick “Thanks, Mari.”

Lirith Lirith, having also been healed by Mari, gives the two a weak smile. “Heh. Need someone to help, Heinrick? I’ll go with.”

Heinrick “Sure, Lirith. Hop in the boat.”

Lirith Lirith climbs in, a little less spry than her usual self.

Avner “Splendidly done, Sara, Renald,” Avner crows in a loud voice. “We gave those villains what for!”

Heinrick He gives Avner a disgusted look, then grudgingly nods. He’s right, even if not about including himself in the accolade.

Katrina “Maybe you’d splendidly like to take care of the two that are still on their feet, then?” Kat asks as she goes to tie up Fargus.

Avner “Capital idea, Katrina. Renald, take this young lady here into custody.”

Renald Renald moves toward the brash young lady that had been fighting until moments ago. “Miss, surrender, in the name of the Meravanchis.”

Harriet The woman smirks, but offers no resistance.

Katrina Kat ties up Fargus.

Heinrick Heinrick rows out in the direction of the ballista bolt’s flight, wincing slightly as every stroke pulls at his partly-healed abdominals.

Lirith “Are you going to be ok, big guy?” Lirith asks with a concerned look on her face.

Heinrick “Eventually. That oar packed a punch, and getting gut-stabbed is never fun, but I’ll recover.”

Katrina Done with Fargus, Kat hops nimbly over to the Widowmaker and the remaining pirate. “Is there anyone else on board?”

Pirate The man shakes his head nervously.

Katrina “No one? Are you sure?”

Pirate The man gives a panicked look at the Sea Wyvern, where Fargus Ironfoot has been tied up and shakes his head again, refusing to speak.

Katrina “You’re lying to me. I’m going to ask you again, then I’m going to bring back my ape to play with you. Is there anyone else on board?”

Pirate The man looks up at the tremor in her voice and clamps his jaw tight.

Katrina Kat’s face twists in disgust. “You aren’t worth it.” She hits the man twice with her magically enhanced speed before it fades.

Pirate The pirate struck by Kat staggers back, holding his jaw. “Argh! Bitch, I surrendered!”

Katrina “Then you lied to me.”

Pirate “Ow, gods, ye stupid bitch, ow!” The pirate spits out a mouth of blood. “They’re below, a’ight?”

Katrina “Who are they. How many are there?”

Pirate “Fuck, hell if I know. Prolly less than went down there. I jus’ work ’ere, lady.”

Katrina “Wasn’t that easier then lying to me?”

Pirate “Lady, when Fargus gets out, ’e’ll kill you, ‘n me fer helpin’. I’m jus’ lookin’ out fer me.”

Katrina “He isn’t going out of anything, don’t worry about that.”

Pirate The pirate just gives her a flat look.

Katrina Kat ties up the pirate as well.

Pirate “Get hungry?” the man asks her.

Katrina She gives him a blank look.

Pirate “Yer ‘and. Looks like ye ate ’alf o’ it!”

Katrina Her face twists into something between anger and shame as she finishes tying up the pirate more roughly then before. She bashes the pirate’s head into the deck a few times to knock him unconscious when she’s finished binding him.

DM In about half an hour, Heinrick and Lirith draw up on Brother Quintal, who has been treading water and is turning blue.

Heinrick Heinrick reaches out a hand to pull Quintal into the boat.

DM The man collapses immediately, unconscious from exhaustive effort, wounds and cold.

Heinrick “Quintal! Lirith, you know any first aid?” Heinrick tries to guess the severity of Quintal’s condition.

Lirith Lirith shakes her head. “No, sorry, Heinrick.”

Heinrick “I think he’ll be okay till we get back to the ship, at least. Want to grab an oar? Rather not stay out longer than we have to.”

Lirith Lirith helps Heinrick row back to the Sea Wyvern.

Heinrick Heinrick heaves Quintal aboard.

Avner Avner sniffs. “Couldn’t get to him in time, eh? A shame. We’ll hold a service for him though. He deserves it after he performed his duty to me… er… us, so admirably.”

Heinrick “He’s not dead, Avner. Just needs rest and a warm bed. Didn’t even pass out until we got him in the boat.”

Avner “Oh, really? Well, I suppose you better get him down stairs then. Do you need some help moving him?”

Heinrick Heinrick is surprised at the offer for a second, then realizes the noble has no intention of helping himself. “Thanks kindly, but no, I’ve got it. Looks like Renald and Sara have enough to do right now.”

Avner “Huh! Indeed they do. Even a broken waterclock, twice a day, I suppose.” Avner moves downstairs himself.

Katrina “Heinrick!” Kat again nimbly jumps between the ships. “One of them said there were more in the hold.”

Heinrick “I’ll be there as soon as I’ve got Quintal seen to, Kat.”

Mari Mari looks up in concern. “Do they need my help?”

Katrina “I haven’t checked yet. He also mentioned that Fargus is something of an escape artist – he didn’t seem convinced that any bonds would hold him.”

Mari “Maybe we ought to chop off the little runt’s legs then, Kat?” Mari smiles. “That’ll keep him from running away!”

Katrina “I was thinking his hands, it would keep him from knifing any more of us,” Kat says savagely.

Heinrick Heinrick carries the monk downstairs, and puts him in his bunk.

DM He sees Avner lounging in his own bunk as he does so.

Heinrick Resisting the urge to give Meravanchi a dirty look, he tries to get Quintal as comfortable as possible, then heads back to the deck.

Mari Mari rubs her back self consciously as Kat says so. “Yeah, tell me about it.”

Katrina “Are you all right?” Kat asks with concern.

Mari Mari waves it away. “I will be, once we get a chance to breathe. I’m nearly out of prayers though.”

Heinrick Heinrick rejoins the two at that point. “And you’re running out saved more lives than just mine; I’d wager almost everybody on this ship owes you their life after that fight, Mari.”

Mari Mari twists her lips into a wry smirk. “I’ll settle for them giving me a stiff drink.”

Katrina “Heinrick, apparently there are more people on the ship. The pirate didn’t specify but he did imply they were prisoners. Want to check it out?”

Heinrick “Of course.”

Mari “I’m coming with you too, Kat,” Mari says. “You shouldn’t… have to go through that by yourself again… if it is like last time.”

Katrina Kat nods. “Let me warn the captain about Fargus, then we’ll go.” She approaches Amella. “Captain, the other pirate seemed convinced Fargus would get free of his bonds given any time. Might be a good idea to render justice sooner then later – and post a guard on him to make sure he doesn’t wiggle free until then.”

Amella “Justice will find th’ bastard soon ‘nough, Nav, I promise. But I’m t’ be ‘earin’ ’is story first, no doubt. Ye know there is a bounty on ’is head, alive, fer a hunnerd tousand gold?”

Katrina “Bounty doesn’t do a dead man or woman any good, and I’m wary of trying to hold him for months, Captain.”

Amella Amella smiles. “I’ll keep it in mind, Nav.”

Katrina “Heinrick, Mari, and I are going to go check out the hold of the Widowmaker – one of the pirates seemed to indicate they had prisoners below.”

Amella Amella looks up in concern. “Good thinkin’, Nav. Make a certain there ain’t no surprises fer us over there too.”

Katrina “That’s the plan.” Kat heads back to Mari and Heinrick. “Ready?”

Heinrick Heinrick nods.

Mari “Sure, let’s get moving. Every minute counts.”

Katrina Kat heads over.

Heinrick Heinrick follows closely. “When we’re done here, Mari, could you take a look at Quintal? He’s breathing, and his pulse was strong, but he was a shade of blue you’d not think a man that dark could turn.”

Mari “Sure, Heiny, I will. Don’t want him dying on us.”

Heinrick “Thanks.” He nods to her, while his eyes scan about the ship, one hand on his sword.

Katrina Kat decides to check what would be the captain’s cabin on the Sea Wyvern first.

DM The wardroom is rather gaudy, with grim trophies littering the tables. Skulls, flesh maps, and brown stains all tell a gruesome tale.

Heinrick “Think the captain will object to burning this thing down to the waterline? Or would that just leave a stain on the ocean?”

Katrina “I don’t know.” Kat swallows and moves on to the next room, trying to maintain her composure. Under her breath she mutters, “Monsters.”

Mari Mari crinkles her nose. “It might, but I’d say it is worth it. This… these people are animals… eh, were animals.”

Heinrick “I don’t know of any animal that fouls its own nest like this. I like Kat’s word better.”

Mari “Huh. Good point. Monsters does fit better.”

DM The next room is the master cabin. Of particular note is a large chest in the far corner. A bloody arm lies reaching out from under the bed. Its fingers have been cut off and its hand seems to have been pierced several times with a blade.

Heinrick “Gods…”

Katrina “Oh gods.” Kat looks away for a moment. “Heinrick, would you please see if that is attached to anything.”

Heinrick Heinrick enters the room, and looks under the bed.

DM The arm is attached to the body of an unclothed young woman. She has been dead for some time, as her face is partially rotted away. Given the amount of blood on her body, it seems she met with a terrible end.

Heinrick Heinrick grimaces.

Katrina “Heinrick?”

Heinrick He tries to arrange her in a more respectful position. “Yes. It’s attached.”

DM As he shifts her, he can see that she was stabbed repeatedly in nonvital areas of the back.

Heinrick “Whoever did this died too quick.”

Katrina Kat grimaces. “Let’s move on. There might still be someone left to save.”

Heinrick He nods, and rises, following her.

Katrina She picks her way past the corpses of the pirates carefully to the other end of the ship.

DM Underneath the forecastle is the main crew’s quarters, full of cramped bunks, dirty laundry and smelling of cheap rum.

Katrina Kat looks around to make sure there isn’t anyone left then moves on to the stairs leading to the hold. “We can pick it over, if we can stomach it, later.”

Mari Mari nods her agreement and follows.

Heinrick “Yeah.”

DM The lower deck is packed with various cargo and loot, much of it presumably stolen. The cargo is packed to the ceiling, leaving little room for maneuvering.

Katrina Kat moves toward the back of the ship and the four rooms there. She checks each in turn, starting with the top then the bottom, left to right.

DM The first door is stuck.

Heinrick “Let me try it.”

Katrina Kat moves aside.

Heinrick “I wonder how many people they’ve killed to steal all this,” Heinrick mutters as he sets himself to bash the door. He slams his shoulder into it over the doorknob.

DM The man splinters the door and the frame into kindling, revealing a messy officer room strewn about with bones.

Voice From below, a faint voice mutters, “Wat do ye tink thar up t’ up thar?” Whatever response the voice got, if any, is too faint to distinguish.

Katrina “Gods above… why would you keep these,” Kat says of the bone piles.

Heinrick “I don’t think I want to… did you hear that?”

Mari Mari nods and whispers, “I think someone is alive below… in the lower hold. Do you think they are… dangerous?”

Heinrick Heinrick nods, and puts a finger to his lips, indicating quiet. He creeps over to the stairs.

Katrina Kat whispers, “Sounds like we’ve got people alive below, though I’m hesitant to head down there without clearing the upper levels. The last thing we need is to get pinched from above and below.” She follows Heinrick carefully.

Heinrick “Check the other doors,” he whispers.

Katrina Kat checks the other doors.

DM Two of the other doors are stuck as well. The fourth is open, but reveals only an office, with paperweights, a stuffed mermaid, chests and a tall cabinet.

Katrina “Want to check below or these doors, Heinrick?” Kat whispers.

Heinrick He jerks his head down the stairs.

Katrina “Lead on,” she whispers.

Heinrick He carefully heads downward, testing each stair for noise before putting his full weight on it.

DM Below, a sorry sight awaits. A dwarf stands protectively in front of an unconscious man, flanked by two humans, a male and female. All of them are naked and wretched. They have been malnourished and mistreated.

Prisoner Woman “Wait a second. You aren’t part of the crew,” the woman accuses Heinrick, her blackened eyes still fierce.

Heinrick “No. The Widowmaker bit off more than it could chew when it attacked us. You were prisoners?”

Prisoner Woman The woman holds a maimed arm in front of her breasts, attempting some modesty. “Yeah, we are. Are we new prisoners now?” Her demeanor is suspicious.

Heinrick “No. The pirates are either dead or captured. You’re all free as of now, and welcome aboard the Sea Wyvern. I’m Heinrick Gilantheril, second mate of the Wyvern; this is Maribesana, first mate, and Katrina, first navigator.”

Prisoner Woman The woman’s face softens as Heinrick turns on the charm, and tears begin to form in her eyes. “You mean… we’re rescued?”

Heinrick He nods, lowering his hand from his blade.

Katrina Kat breaths a sigh of relief. “Are there any others?”

Prisoner Dwarf The dwarf closes one eye and looks at Kat. “Aye. There be two others o’ us, o’er thar ahind tha’ door. But’m ‘frad yer too late t’ be o’ any help t’ them.”

Heinrick He stops after that. “Oh. I’m sorry. How long have you guys been here? Did they attack your ship too?” He offers his cloak to the woman, so she doesn’t have to rely on her rags for covering, then goes to the door the dwarf indicates.

Prisoner Man The conscious man speaks up. “We don’t know how long we’ve been here! Years, maybe? We don’t get food or water that often… only Heldin can even really see down here most of the time… we might have been here for years!” He seems to be highly distraught, near a breakdown, as he continues repeating ‘years’ over and over again.

Katrina “It’s over now. Come on up on the deck, I’m sure the fresh air will do you some good.”

Heinrick “All right,” Heinrick says gently. “Let’s get you up into the light.”

Prisoner Man “Naked? So you can all see my shame?”

Katrina Kat offers him her cloak.

Prisoner Man He wraps it tightly around him and rocks back and forth.

Katrina “I’m sure we can find some spare clothing on the Sea Wyvern.”

Heinrick “And as far as I’m concerned, you guys are the rightful owners of everything aboard this ship. There must be some clothes that aren’t caked in filth.”

Katrina “You never answered his question, what ship did you all get yanked off of?”

Prisoner Man “Years…” the man whispers.

Prisoner Woman The woman speaks up. “We didn’t get yanked off a ship, we boarded this one hoping for passage.”

Katrina “I’m sorry. What about your friend.” She indicates the man that hasn’t yet spoke. “Is he…” she trails off. She addresses her question to the seemingly more lucid woman.

Prisoner Dwarf “‘E succumbed t’ fever days ago. We don’t know if ’e’ll come out o’ it. The Soulfather ‘as not seen fit t’ bless me wit’ th’ bility t’ heal ’im,” the dwarf interjects before the woman can respond.

Katrina Kat looks at Mari. “We have a priestess… can you do anything for him?”

Mari Mari shoots Kat a look and shakes her head. “I don’t have anything for sickness or hunger right now, only hurt.”

Katrina “Well, we can do something about the later back on the Wyvern. Let’s at least get you out of this hole.”

Heinrick “Right. The living come first.” Heinrick carries the unconscious man.

Prisoners The ragged band of prisoners makes their way into the sunlight, blinking and wincing.

Prisoner Woman “How are we going to get over there?” the woman asks.

Heinrick “Hmmm… Kat, unless you have a spell for it, I’ll pull up some planks to make a bridge.”

Katrina “I could make you larger and you could carry them over, but I don’t have a spell specifically for that purpose.”

Blumpkin “Throw the dolly! I catch!” Blumpkin waves happily from the Sea Wyvern.

Heinrick “I don’t think they’re ready for throwing, Blumpkin, thanks anyway!”

Mari “Nice crew your lady love picked out for us, Heiny,” Mari mutters.

Heinrick “We’ll get them across… don’t suppose you know if there’s any spare sailcloth, Number One? Might be safer than a plank.”

Mari Mari points at the sails on the Widowmaker. “Seems like plenty of cloth, Heiny.”

Katrina Kat starts cutting down the sail.

Heinrick Heinrick gently sets the sick man down, and helps her in pulling the sails down to make a cloth bridge.

DM Mari aids and soon they have a makeshift bridge. The former prisoners stagger across to the deck of the Wyvern.

Heinrick “Where to put him…”

Mari “Get him down in one of the beds, Heiny.”

Heinrick “With Avner? Hasn’t he suffered enough? He can have my bunk.” Heinrick carries the man belowdeck, and puts him in his own bed.

Mari Mari laughs. “Just get him into a bed, Heiny, I’ll pray over him tomorrow.”

Amella Amella’s eyes are concerned over the new additions, but she addresses Kat and Heinrick. “Give yer cap’n a sitrep, will ya?”

Katrina “The pirates’ prisoners. The gods only know how long they were kept in the hold of the ship. We couldn’t leave them down there.”

Amella “Anyone else ‘live on th’ filthy disgrace t’ th’ word ‘ship’? Anything worth takin’?”

Heinrick Heinrick lets her start, then comes back up and joins in after he gets the man in place. “There were at least three more, dead. Widowmaker is stuffed to the gills, though it may be a job telling the worthwhile stuff apart from the junk. I’d think the prisoners have a right to whatever they want of it, as well, Cap’n.”

Katrina “We didn’t get a full search. Thought it better to bring them back over first, get them some food and clothing. We’ll go back and check shortly. The hold is full of swag, the Gods know how many had to die for them to get it.”

Amella Amella purses her lips. “All right. Get our people in order, strip the ship down wi’ as much as we can take, ‘n get those kids taken care o’. I don’t want t’ be held back more than a day. We’re runnin’ low on supplies. In fact, food n’ water would be better than gold n’ shinies when it comes t’ grabbin’.”

Heinrick “Right.”

Katrina “If you’ll get them settled in I’ll sort through the pirates’ gear, see what’s worth keeping,” Kat says to Heinrick.

Heinrick “All right. I’ll get a work party together to go through the Widowmaker.” Heinrick starts rounding people up to help secure the sail-bridge better, then loot the pirate ship. “Hey Jerard, Blumpkin! Gimme a hand over here! Damri, c’mon, we need to know if the food on this crate’s edible.”

DM The men jump to carry out Heinrick’s orders.

Heinrick Once the work is underway, Heinrick will find the lucid prisoners. “Is there anything in particular you all would like me to get off the pirate ship?”

Heinrick leads a work party onto the pirate vessel, to strip it of everything of value that can be taken and stuffed aboard the Sea Wyvern. He puts Damri to work inspecting the pirates’ food and water supplies, while Jerard, Blumpkin, and Heinrick himself handle the heavy lifting. Any personal belongings of the prisoners, or any items they specifically request, he takes extra care with and gives to them. Any and all corpses that are not pirates he personally carries over one at a time, to be given respectful burial.

DM The pirate ship is full of grisly scenes that would be better suited for a slaughter house.

In one of the officer’s cabins, a woman has been used as target practice for close distance throwing daggers, axes and archery. Her body is riddled with the projectiles. Her severed feet are found, in a jar full of some odd liquid, possibly for preserving the flesh.

In the previously opened room scattered about with bones, it becomes apparent that they are crude musical instruments. Skulls and leg bones form drums, while a shoulder blade and arm bone are strung with some form of gut or sinew to make a gory lute. Poorly spelled and obscene orcish phrases cover the walls, written in what seems to be blood or feces. Everything is foul smelling.

The final officer cabin contains chunks of lead and crucibles for melting it, jaw breakers, flensing knives, thumb screws and wires. A pirate hat, hand hook, eyepatch, stuffed parrot and peg leg are heaped in a pile beside the bed, which is sheeted and blanketed with tanned skins unlikely to be of animal origin.

Within the captain’s bedroom, a chest is located. Within it are various halfling sized pieces of clothing and jewelry as well as some odd stones.

A masterwork ship’s compass is housed in a tall wooden cabinet in the navigation room. Damri identifies roughly two tons of acceptable food and drink supplies. The cargo hold is full of chests, most of which are full of mundane items, although a few are laden with coins and jewels. Some hold horrifying surprises in the form of small children’s corpses, broken savagely or starved. A cache is found containing multiple wicked blades and other weapons, as well as various armor.

In the lower hold, the corpses of two middle aged men are found. Vicious wounds from a spiked lash of some sort scar the first’s neck, having torn open his throat, while the other has been stabbed directly through the heart by a sword or some other straight blade. Unlike the corpses found above, these men seemed to have suffered a swift death. Their bodies are covered with a mess of old healed scars, suggesting they were men of war.

Katrina Kat disarms the dead pirates and puts anything of value together before giving it a cursory magical identification. Anything she can’t identify immediately is set aside for later that day or the next. Anything of high quality that Heinrick brings back from the ship she also checks for magic, after completing her own search of the captain’s cabin (after Heinrick removes the body) looking for the ship’s log or and any hidden compartments where she might have stashed things.

She hastily returns the scroll containing the vile spell to the Widowmaker, expressing her disgust with it to Heinrick and specifying she wants it burned if they decided to burn the ship on the whole.

Heinrick After carrying the last of the bodies over to the Wyvern, Heinrick removes his chain mail and dives into the sea. Despite the pain of salt water in his barely-closed wounds, he spends several minutes in the water, scrubbing his face and hands before climbing back aboard. “That ship is the second-filthiest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m going to feel dirty for days. I don’t know how anybody could live in that.” He shakes his head, marveling at both the prisoners’ luck and tenacity, and the inhuman depths to which their captors had sunk.

Shuddering, he walks back onto the Widowmaker’s deck, to continue unloading the less grotesque goods. When Katrina brings him the scroll, he puts it back where it was found.

DM Kat, frustrated in her attempts to locate the ship’s log decides to examine the recording stones.

Stone 1: A small halfling woman bearing a resemblance to Fargus screams in the window of a house ablaze. The flames eventually claim her, the house crumbling around her. The recording turns to face a halfling male, pudgy and balding. “Sorry about your mam, Fargus, but you should have known better than to cross the Syndicate. Don’t show your face in Scuttlecove again.”

Stone 2: A tall shadowy figure stands with his back to Fargus. “So… ye intend t’ take on th’ Syndicate? And ye expect me t’ give ye a ship?” The man’s voice is powerful and low.
Fargus’ answer comes slowly; the halfling’s voice trembles. “Y-yes, Cap’n Wyther.”
“Cold Cap’n Wyther t’ ye, scum. Ye’ll serve un’er Cap’n Jenkleworthy. Ye do well, ye’ll have yer ship.”
“Thank you, sir.” Fargus turns and leaves.

Stone 3: A female captain offers her ship’s surrender to Fargus and is bound. After a search of her vessel, Fargus screams at her regarding the lack of plunder. As she apologizes, he begins to kick her, repeatedly. Her body slumps to the deck as blood runs over the wood. A hand claps Fargus on the shoulder. “Stumbletoes, eh? From now on, Ironfoot is more like it!”

Stone 4: The same shadowy figure from stone 2 stands with his back to Fargus. “Scuttlebutt has it tha’ Cap’n Jenkleworthy was los’ o’erboard. Mighty fortuitous coincidence, ye think?” Fargus remains silent. “Yer cap’n o’ th’ Widowmaker now, Ironfoot. No doubt ye’ll meet the same sorry end yer own cap’n did. Welcome t’ th’ Crimson Fleet.”

Stone 5: Surrendered prisoners are rounded up and placed on a lifeboat. “Am I not merciful?” Fargus sneers at the frightened mob. As the Widowmaker leaves the lifeboat behind, Fargus gestures and a volley of flaming crossbow bolts flies out, setting the tiny boat ablaze. The screams can be heard long after the boat and fire are no longer visible through the stone.

Stone 6: Fargus Ironfoot and Morgan Bauman appraise each other guardedly. The woman speaks. “Finn’s got a hunnerd tousand gold on yer ‘ead alive, Ironfoot, why should I risk me life ’n limb t’ run wi’ yer wanted arse, argh? Matter o’ fact, what makes ye sure I’ll not collect th’ bounty meself right ’ere ’n now?” She glares directly at the stone and a throwing axe flies from her hand. The scene tilts upwards and goes red.

DM Katrina has just finished watching six scenes recorded in Fargus’ stones with Mari. Meanwhile, Heinrick is schlepping.

Katrina “Little monster.”

Mari “He’s utterly repulsive, Kat. I wish Heiny had split him in half.”

Katrina “We can fix that.”

Mari Mari nods. “The cap’n’ll see to it that he doesn’t leave this ship alive… or her officers will,” she mutters.

Katrina She bites her lower lip. “There are a couple things I want to ask though. I wasn’t able to find a ship’s log. It may be in the chest I found, but it needs a command word to open it and I don’t know what it is.”

Mari “Can’t you jimmy the damn thing open?”

Heinrick Heinrick has finished his impromptu bath, and is moving heavy stuff between the ships with the aid of Jerard and Blumpkin.

DM A job that has finally come to a close, thanks to their day long hard work.

Katrina “I’ve never run into a lock I couldn’t crack given some time, but this was one of them, and the thing is as solid as a rock – or more so. I don’t even think Heinrick could break it open without destroying it completely using his sword. He can do it if it comes to that though.”

Mari “You don’t have magic for that?”

Katrina “Why would I track down and record a spell – at significant expense, I should add – when I’ve never been unable to pick a lock I’ve found? No. There is a spell for it, but I don’t know it.”

Mari Mari shrugs. “What do you want from the log anyways?”

Katrina “Same thing I wanted with the nameplates from the ships in the harbor after the hydra. Someone should know where those ships have gone.”

Mari Mari smiles. “Someone DID tell you where we are going, right?”

Katrina “You do realize I plan on going back to Sasserine when I can, right?” Kat smiles back. “As much as I love far-off colonies in the middle of nowhere on deadly monster-infested islands…”

Mari Mari rolls her eyes. “Well, Lady Vanderboren did say she was going to establish trade with Sasserine from Farshore. You can hitch your ride back then.”

Katrina “One could hope. Another long sea journey – just what I want after this one…” She sighs. “There’s got to be a better way.”

Mari “Isn’t there magic for that,” Mari teases.

Katrina “You know, for a priestess you seem to have a lot of faith in mortal magics.”

Mari Mari laughs. “Faith would be the wrong word. It works, I’ve seen it work. I’m not going to turn it down just because Besmara didn’t pull it out of her pussy for me.”

Katrina “Darn her for not providing everything! So unhelpful…” Kat laughs.

Mari “But then, I suppose I could tell someone in Sasserine now, if you had someone in mind…”

Katrina “Really?”

Heinrick Heinrick sets down the last of the heavy crates in the hold, and wipes his forehead as he climbs back up to the deck. “Good job, guys,” he tells the others.

Blumpkin “Blumper thirsty!” Blumpkin responds to Heinrick.

Heinrick “Let’s get you something to drink then. I think we could all use a drink, Blumpkin.” They proceed to the galley.

Blumpkin Blumpkin tromps happily after Heinrick, while the hollow moves after the two in silence.

Mari “Naw, I’m just fucking with you, Kat. Of course really. Would I say I could do something I couldn’t?”

Katrina “Just… surprised. That magic is pretty far beyond me, at least at that distance… could you send it to anyone?” Her eyes light up. “Could you send a message to Lavinia, see if she and the Blue Nixie are all right?”

Mari “Yeah, I could… I almost forgot about that with the fight and all…”

Katrina “We’ve been rather busy.” She looks away for a minute then digs in a pocket, producing a signet ring. “This is the other reason I want a peek at their logs – or into the halfling’s head.” She sets it down on the table.

Mari “What is it?”

Katrina “The crest on it belongs to my family.”

Mari Mari raises her eyebrow. “Something important, I assume? Or common?”

Katrina “It would be unusual for someone not of my family to be carrying it.”

Mari “Does… does it say who in your family it belonged to? It… it isn’t like, your mother’s or something, is it?” Mari asks, her eyes full of concern.

Katrina Kat seems to hesitate for a second before answering, her tone somewhere between sad and ashamed. “No, that’s one person I can be sure it didn’t belong to. She wouldn’t have one in the first place… she was… is a commoner, not a member of the house.” She pauses for a minute. “Still, I’d like to know which of my cousins, aunts, or uncles he murdered. I’m not sure how we’re going to get him to talk though.”

Damri Damri looks up as Heinrick and the boys come in. “Need something to eat, Heinrick? I can whip something up for you guys.”

Heinrick “Hey, Damri. We need water, or something stronger, after moving all that stuff from the pirate ships.”

Damri “Rum and tonic sound good, or maybe some warmed and spiced mead? I can’t believe you aren’t hungrier. The new guy here is eating like a… well, like a human, to be honest, no offense.” Damri nods towards the former prisoner, who is devouring a hunk of beef.

Heinrick “Now that you mention it, I could do with some food, too. Rum sounds good. And the poor guy’s probably been starved half to death.”

Damri Damri smiles at Heinrick. “Given him and Blumpkin, alongside your own appetite, I’m guessing it is a human thing. And a dominant trait at that.”

Heinrick “Heh. Could be; my guess is just because of size. I’ve seen some dwarves that could really pack it away, too.”

Damri Damri quickly serves up some rum and puts food on. The smell of beef, bacon and potatoes quickly fills the gallery.

Dwarven Prisoner “Did I hear someone disparaging the noble stomach of a dwarf?” The dwarven man slowly shuffles into the gallery and gets a seat, which he lands in rather heavily.

Heinrick “Not at all, friend. Just letting Damri here know it wasn’t humans that are gluttons, but elves who eat like birds.” He winks at the cook to show no offense is meant.

Damri “We like to taste all of the food, Heinrick. Something you no doubt would have learned had you the proper upbringing,” Damri sniffs, eyes twinkling. The elf quickly sets a plate in front of the dwarf as well, serving him a mug of frothy mead.

Heinrick Heinrick doesn’t deign to respond to that, looking back at the dwarf. “Glad to see you up and around. You’re… Heldin, right?”

Heldin “Well now, tha’s a wee bit different,” the dwarf remarks, having quaffed the mug in one draught. He wipes his face off. “Nowathen, might I have th’ pleasure o’ some proper introductions? I assume yer the leader o’ this vessel. I be Heldin, as ye have stated, but I’m having a bit of trouble keeping yer own name me own.”

Heinrick “Heinrick Gilantheril, second mate – and technically owner – of the Sea Wyvern. A pleasure, Heldin.” He holds his hand across the table. “You haven’t met the cap’n yet, but the blond lady with me when I rescued you is the first mate, Marisbesana. This is Jerard Matthias, Damri, and Blumpkin.”

Heldin Heldin nods at all of men in turn. “Well, tha’ boy o’er there be Borris. E’s had a bit o’ a rough time, I’m afraid.” Heldin taps the side of his head slightly. “N’ I’m the humble servant o’ Moradin. Brother o’ Torag, ‘n father o’ us all.” He drains the second mug Damri has poured him and amends his statement. “O’ all us dwarves, that be.”

Heinrick “Of course.” Heinrick nods, and lifts his own mug before draining it. “You’re a priest then?”

Heldin “I be a learnin’ such. Though I hold meself above none, th’ All Father loves us all.”

Heinrick Heinrick nods to the dwarf.

Heldin “When are ye layin’ our folk t’ rest, Heinrick?” Heldrin asks, finishing off a third mug in between bites of meat.

Heinrick “I’m not certain; probably tomorrow. First Mate Mari’s also our priestess, so she’ll be the one to ask. I’ll ask her for you next time I see her.”

Heldin “Th’ wee lass is a priestess? Thas comfortin ta hear. Praps she kin aid me in me own walk.”

Heinrick “Maybe. She’s a bit… unconventional.”

Jerard “She’s fucking terrifying,” the hollow speaks up.

Heldin Heldrin gives Heinrick a quizzative glance.

Heinrick “Woman’s got a temper on her, no question. And a word of advice; don’t call her miss, ma’am, or pretty much anything but Marisbesana or Mari.”

Heldin “Ah, I see. Tha’s not a problem, then. Us dwarves be very respectful o’ a lass’s name.”

Heinrick “You’ll probably get along fine with Mari, then.”

Meanwhile, back below deck…

Female Prisoner The door suddenly opens to Mari’s room and the female prisoner stands in the doorway. “Oh… I’m sorry. I was looking for the head.”

Katrina “No problem. How are you?”

Female Prisoner “Feeling better, ma’am, thank you. Iryl still isn’t up yet though. A priestess was supposed to see to him, since Heldin can’t, but I can’t find her around nowhere.”

Katrina Kat avoids looking over at Mari. “I’m sorry, it’s been something of a busy day trying to get the Sea Wyvern back in order, sorting through what we can of the Widowmaker, deciding what to do with the pirates we captured. We’ll try to get someone to see to him as soon as possible – my word on it. Where is he now?”

Female Prisoner The woman bows a bit. “Oh, no worries, ma’am, I could find her myself, no doubt. Iryl isn’t exactly… well, he’s a bit of a nancy boy, ma’am. I jus’ can’t tell if he fainted days ago from hunger or shock. That’s all. He’s been in the passenger rooms. We had to move him away from some… well, some jerk is tossing orders all round down there.”

Katrina Kat grits her teeth. “Avner.”

Female Prisoner “Right, ma’am, that’s his name! ’M sorry I dint member it afore.”

Mari Mari’s jaw is clenched as tight as Kat’s. “One of these days he’s going to step in the wrong place at the wrong time…”

Katrina “He’s only worth the trouble of remembering because of the trouble he causes if you don’t. Speak not of it.” Kat waves off the apology. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name…”

Horrace “Horrace, ma’am.”

Katrina “I’m sorry you had such a rough time of it with the pirates, and I’m sorry for those you lost. We’ve got a funeral planned for them once we deal with the remaining pirates.”

Horrace Horrace nods. “My pops… I was named after ‘im. He’s one of the dead.”

Katrina “I’m sorry, Horrace.”

Horrace “Me too,” she mumbles.

Katrina “At least you’re alive, and your companions.”

Horrace “My pops is dead, so’s Uncle Walter, ‘n my man ain’t right in the head no more. I don’t see alive as bein anything I want right now.”

Katrina Kat flinches. “Nothing I can say will make what happened any better or bring back the fallen, I wish that it could, but as long as you’re alive you can do something. You can make your life better. You can fix it, right wrongs, live. We were attacked by another ship not long ago. Their prisoners were all dead. Starved to death. I dare say that they would happily trade places with any of us. I try to remember that each morning.”

Horrace “They took everything from me, ma’am. I got nothing left. My man wouln’t even want me no more if he weren’t crazy, after what the men did to me n’ Genniva.” Horrace blinks back tears.

Katrina “You have your life. You have the ability to create something from yourself. You survived what they did to you, don’t let them haunt you even in death. Fate deals us all cruel hands, I’m sorry that yours was cruel as it was thus far, but it’s not over yet. Don’t let them take it from you,” Kat responses as gently as she can.

Horrace Horrace angrily wipes her nose, sniffing hard. “Yeah, you’re right, ma’am. No doubt the two prettiest women in the world know all about hardship and suffering and not having a single soul left to talk to about it. I’m sorry. My pops taught me better’n that, n’ I’ll not trouble you with my girlish ways again.” Horrace rushes out of the room.

Katrina “That went… poorly,” Kat frowns.

Mari Mari laughs. “She’s hurt. I’m sure I don’t know of ANY other women who have been unreasonable after experiencing intense loss.”

Katrina “That wasn’t it.”

Mari “Well, maybe you should be giving out more hugs then, Kat. And less profound statements.”

Katrina “You’re going to need a better pickup line than that, Mari.”

Mari Mari’s smile is dazzling. “There’s magic for that.”

Katrina “Just don’t start with ‘this is where the magic happens’,” Kat laughs. “I’ll get Heinrick to talk to her, or somebody. Maybe Lirith would get along with her. I don’t think I’m the right one to talk to her.”

Mari “Well, I’m going to go ‘check’ on Iryl. Maybe I’ll get a chance to gut Avner in the process.”

Katrina “Maybe I should come along?” Kat pockets the signet ring.

Mari “I’d not complain about the company. If things do go wrong with Avner, at least your nobility might convince him to shut his fucking pig mouth.”

Katrina Kat manages to keep from laughing but a smile creeps across her face at Avner’s description. “Lead on.”

DM Heinrick and the boys finish their dinner, while Borris continues to eat at an alarming pace, matched only by Heldrin’s drinking.

Heinrick “C’mon, Heldin. I’ll introduce you and Borris around, and check on your hurt friends.”

Heldin Heldrin pauses with his sixth mug half way to his lips. “Eh, sure, that be a fine plan.” He quaffs the mug and hops up. “Borris, les go, boy.”

Borris The man shakes his head roughly, continuing to eat.

Heldin Heldrin shrugs and makes to follow Heinrick.

Heinrick Heinrick leads the dwarf up on deck, and shows him around the ship, making introductions as they run into other members of the crew. He keeps an eye out for the captain especially.

DM The captain is at the wheel, the wind blowing her blonde hair back.

Heinrick From a good distance away, Heinrick tells Heldin, “That’s the captain; her tongue’s sharper than her sword, but she knows her business damn well.”

Heldin Heldin nods solemnly. “Sounds like a fine lass, to be sure. We be in good hands if one such as yerself speaks so highly o’ her.”

Heinrick He nods, accepting the compliment with a slightly embarrassed smile as he approaches her. “Cap’n! We’ve finished stripping the Widowmaker. This is Heldin, one of their prisoners. Heldin, Captain Amella.”

Heldin Heldin extends a hand towards Amella, who shakes it heartily.

Amella “Good to see ya on yer feet. If we got everything done, Number Two, are we ready t’ get moving on? We bought some time wit’ those supplies, but I’m not wantin’ t’ starve t’ death just afore we reach th’ colony.”

Heinrick “Ready to go whenever you are, Cap’n. Just need to decide what’s to be done with that hulk,” he says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder towards the pirate vessel. “I’d just as soon burn it to the waterline, but I figure Heldin and his friends should have some say.”

Heldin “It ain’t being our ship, Heinrick,” Heldin puts in. “N’ I’m wit ye on th’ burn it t’ th’ waterline. Th’ horrors tha appened there ain’t t’ be laid t’ rest any a time soon.”

Amella Amella nods. “Burn it then. If th’ Nav wants t’ do it wit ‘er magic, she can, otherwise ye’n Skald can get it wit arrows.”

Heinrick “Will do.”

DM Mari and Kat make their way to the passenger quarters. Avner is sleeping on his bunk, Sara and Renald watching over him. An unconscious man lies in the bottom bunk farthest from Avner. His features are immediately familiar to Katrina.

Katrina Kat bites her lower lip – as she’s prone to do while thinking. “He’s an Islaran,” she whispers to Mari after a moment.

Mari “The ring is… his?” Mari whispers back. “Who is he? Your cousin? Your aunt?”

Katrina “The ring’s his, unless they’ve run into another Islaran. I’m not exactly sure who he is, but there’s no mistaking the resemblance. Probably a distant cousin.”

Mari Mari nods thoughtfully. “He’s almost pretty enough to… nah.” She grins as she runs her hands over him, probing for hurts and symptoms. “I can probably get him on his feet by tomorrow. He doesn’t look too bad off. He’s dehydrated and suffering from a fever, but he ought to pull through.”

Katrina Kat stands by as Mari does her examination, nodding when she finishes.

Mari “We good to go then, Kat, or do you wanna stay here with him?” Mari questions.

Katrina Kat takes a second before responding, obviously thinking, “No, it seems odd to sit over someone I don’t know – and I can do more good somewhere else. Thanks, Mari.” She heads for the door.

MariALRIGHT, KAT, WE’LL SEE TO HIM LATER THEN,” Mari calls after her, tromping out and bumping into Avner’s bunk as she leaves.

Katrina Kat manages to restrain her laughter until the door is closed behind them.

Mari Mari giggles as Avner jerks awake behind her, scowling.

Katrina “Wrong… and yet so right,” Kat says on her way to the deck.

Mari “Very wrong, your majesty,” Mari ribs as she follows Kat. “Awfully immature and boorish of me.”

Heinrick Heinrick looks around for Katrina, and spots her and Mari coming up from below. He heads over towards them.

Katrina “Remind me not to piss you off more than I do normally. Such acts, as boorish and low brow as they are, are troublesome.” Kat puts on her best haughty voice for the second statement.

Mari “Oh, I take sleep VERY seriously. That’s why that prick isn’t going to get any around me.” Mari looks unashamed of her bad behavior.

Katrina “So I’ve heard,” Kat says as she emerges onto the deck, sees Heinrick with Amella, and decides to walk over to see what’s up.

Heinrick “Hey Kat, Mari; you remember Heldin?”

Mari “You’re looking a bit better, Heldin,” Mari responds, shaking the dwarf’s hand.

Katrina “Hard to forget, it was only a few hours ago,” Kat replies. “May I say you look better for it.”

Heinrick “Heldin, navigator Katrina Islaran, and first mate Marisbesana.”

Katrina Kat yawns. “I’m sorry, please don’t take it as an affront to the quality of the company. It’s been a long day.”

Heinrick “For all of us, yeah.”

Heldin “Nice t’ be meetin’ ye lasses. I hear tha’ ye be a priestess, Maribesana? And ye, Katrina… are ye related t’ our boy Iryl Islaran?”

Katrina “I think so, Heldin, though I’ll have to speak to him to be sure how. I suspect it’s a distant relation.”

Heinrick “Really? Small world, then. Some of you guys must be from Sasserine, I guess?”

Heldin “Naw, o’er than th’ Islaran lad. Horrace and Borris were born there. Th’ fort was close connected wit th’ city o’ Sasserine though, bein tha’ most o’ th’ ships that passed athrough were headed to o’ from.”

Katrina “The fort?”

Heldin “We be from Fort Greenrock, las… er, Katrina.”

Heinrick Heinrick’s eyes go wide. “Greenrock? You mean you guys actually survived that massacre? We just found a trampled black spot on the ground when we stopped there to resupply.”

Katrina “I don’t know if I should call you lucky or not then, Heldin, you should know though that the fort is gone. Reptites from what we could tell.”

Heldin Heldin shudders. “Weren’t the reptites. Somethin from th’ deep rose up outa th’ waters ‘n wiped out th’ entire place. Reptites helped us get away. Although, considerin’ where we escaped to, it weren’t no mercy.”

Katrina “Wow. That’s… wow.”

Heinrick “Daaaammmmn…” Heinrick stretches the word out in a low voice.

Heldin “Close, Heinrick. Dagon.” Heldin says the word in a low, fearful voice.

Heinrick “What’s a dagon?”

Katrina “Erm… do you mean dragon?”

Heldin “Wish I did, lass. Dagon is th’ false god o’ th’ deep. His unholy children live at th’ bottom o’ th’ sea, but e’ery so of’en, they rise up, take man, dwarf and elf alike, ’n sate their carnal appetites on ’em.”

Katrina “That’s… vile.”

Heldin “Then what’s born looks like somethin’ natural, but in its heart lurks th’ truth o’ its nature. Given time, it changes, becomin’ a deep one.”

Heinrick “Ewwww….” Heinrick shudders. “Reminds me of Lorb-lorb…”

Katrina “Who?”

Mari “His bullywug girlfriend,” Mari responds.

Heinrick “Long and unpleasant story. Short version is a bullywug pervert.”

Katrina “Affairs with bullywugs now, Heinrick? Is there no depth you won’t sink to?” Kat teases.

Heinrick Heinrick gives Kat a pained look. “It was… not a good a memory. I still can’t believe Arien and Lavinia let those nasty frogs leave alive.”

Katrina “I’m sorry.” Kat seems embarrassed by her joke.

Heinrick “Ah, it’s all right. It’s over.”

Heldin Heldin just stares at the three.

Heinrick “Anyway, speaking of over, we’re finished unloading the Widowmaker. Kat, if you’ve got any fireballs left after the fight, feel to light it up.”

Katrina “I think I’m going to turn in for the night.”

Mari “Guess that’s a no, Heinrick,” Mari laughs at the half-elf.

Katrina “Oh… um… I’m actually fresh out of fireballs at the moment.”

Heinrick “All right. Me and Skald will put some fire arrows into it, then.”

Katrina “I’ll yawn trust you all to do it right. I’ll see you in the morning.” Kat heads below deck for her bed.

Heinrick “Get some rest.”

Mari “Kat, my bed’s empty for the night… if you want it,” Mari calls after the mage.

Katrina Kat heads for Mari’s bed.

Heinrick “Mari, before I forget; Heldin was wondering if you’d checked on his friends yet?”

Mari “I’ve met Horrace, looked after Iryl, but I haven’t had the chance to go over the guy who was with you. Or you either, Heldin,” Mari responds.

Heldin “I be all right, lass,” Heldin humphs. “I just wannae be a certain tha th others are all right.”

Heinrick “Borris is still walking, but I’d hesitate to call him all right. Is Iryl going to be okay?”

Mari “We’ll see after my shift tonight, but he should be all right. He’s dehydrated with a fever. I should be able to get it taken care of once I pray.”

Heinrick “All right. See you then. I’m going to torch that floating slaughterhouse, then hit the rack.”

Mari “All right, you manly man. Take care. Have fun sleeping on the floor.”

Heinrick “Heldin, glad to have a chance to talk with you; I’m on day shift usually, so I’ll see you around.”

Heldin “Aye, lad. I’ll be gettin off t’ bed meself, I think.”

Heinrick Heinrick collects his bow and Skald, then makes some crude fire arrows, and they shoot the ship until it catches.

DM The Widowmaker goes up in flames as the Sea Wyvern sails on into the night. As the ship sails on, a thick and oppressive fog arises.

As the gray dawn breaks, burning fitfully through the morning fog to light the sea, something seems strange about the waters below. They seem almost solid, as if the sea had formed some strange sort of skin. The air seems dead as well, and the sails hang limp, heavy with moisture from the receding fog.

Finally, the mist begins to clear, and what is unveiled is not the gently rolling vista of the sea but a wet green field of weed. The swath of dirty green stretches flatly in all directions. To the stern, it extends for perhaps a half mile, beyond which lie the open waters of the mocking sea. In all other directions, the weed extends to the horizon. Trapped within its vice are dozens of other long dead ships, their hulls protruding from the Sargasso at odd angles, masts askew, sails hanging in tatters. One such ship lies mired only six hundred feet to the port, and it seems to be in better shape than the others.

Perhaps most unnerving, however, is neither the sight nor smell of so much sun-baked seaweed. It is the unnatural stillness, for the thick choking green has robbed the Sea Wyvern even of the strangely comforting sound of water lapping against her hull. It is not a healthy quiet. It is the silence of a graveyard.

Mari “Fuck me,” Mari groans. Her voice echoes out strangely across the vast sea of green.

Katrina Kat rolls out of Mari’s bed, feeling greatly refreshed by a night’s sleep without snoring, ranting, or smelling roommates.

Heinrick Heinrick likewise awakens not long after, and comes out on the deck. He stops, surprised at the bizarre vista.

Katrina Kat emerges from the room better then an hour later – her mind full of spells – onto the deck. “What the…”

DM Mari and Amella are talking heatedly near the wheel.

Katrina Kat heads over to where they are arguing.

Heinrick Heinrick is listening in, as he finishes his exercises. He’s been pacing around the ship, looking down at the weed, seeking any break in the sea of it.

Amella “Journey’s End, Mari!”

Mari “I know, I screwed up, all right? I didn’t see it through the fog… we cut sails, but I didn’t… I didn’t know this was out there or we would have dropped anchor.”

Katrina “Correct me if I’m wrong, Captain, but isn’t our journey’s end supposed to be at the Isle of Dread, not the Isle of Seaweed?”

Heinrick “What is this stuff?”

Katrina “It’s a sargasso, Heinrick, though this is… huge compared to most.”

Mari “Journey’s End, Kat,” Mari corrects. “It is a living island that appears from the mists after storms. Sailors say it has a black soul that fuels the hunger of children rumored to live within its green embrace.”

Katrina “Well… that’s… problematic.”

Amella “Journey’s End is one o’ th’ sea’s more terrible blights, and can crush ships in its grip. Its children are awful creatures formed o’ th’ weed itself n’ are said t’ rise by night t’ slake their hunger upon any their green mother has caught in ’er grasp.” Amella finishes the tale.

Heinrick “Damn. If that tale’s true, we’re in for a fight come sunset. And not one of the easy ones, either.”

Katrina Kat looks out. “That’s a long way to open water, Captain…”

Heinrick “I’m going to guess these weeds won’t burn; that’d be too easy.”

Amella “Damn it, Number Two, I don’t care if it is too easy. Unless y’ got a better idea, we start cuttin n’ burnin. But I’m open t’ suggestion.”

Katrina “Of course it would, and it would be difficult to ensure the fire didn’t get to the ship.”

Heinrick "Hmmm… maybe we could make a firebreak somehow. Clear it out by hand a little way from the ship, then burn the rest of it?

Katrina “Worth a shot, but if it was that easy you’d think there wouldn’t be so many other ships dead here.”

Heinrick Heinrick shrugs. “Like the captain says, we can’t just sit here and wait to get eaten by weed monsters.”

Mari Mari stifles a yawn. “I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ve been up for two days now, and if monsters do attack, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little prayer on our side.”

Heinrick Heinrick nods.

Mari Mari goes off to bed.

Heinrick “I’ll get the rest of the day shift together and start trying to cut it away from the hull. Maybe the passengers will be willing to help…”

Amella Amella glares at Heinrick. “Number Two, if they ain’t willing to help, they ain’t welcome on th’ ship ‘n can find somethin’ else t’ do wit’ their time.”

Heinrick “I’ll pass that on, Captain.” He heads below decks to roust any of the crew or passengers that aren’t up.

Katrina Kat’s gaze turns to the ship only a few hundred feet away. “I wonder… it would take time for this thing to kill a ship. Maybe the ship’s log from another ship would hold something of interest? At the very least a record of other attempts that failed to free ships. Could save us some time.”

Amella Amella nods at what Kat says. “Might be somethin’ t’ tha’, Nav. Who is goin’ t’ go over ’n check it out?”

Katrina “I’ll go. Given the choice I’d take Heinrick with me if you can spare him.”

Amella “Absolutely, Nav. This diggin’ and burnin’ will take us weeks to clear, even if we ain’t interrupted in th’ work. Anything tha’ can speed up th’ escape is good by me.”

Katrina “I’ll get my stuff and get him.”

Heinrick Below decks, after waking the crew, Heinrick looks in on the passengers. He starts shaking them awake, beginning with Avner.

Anver “Wha! Get your filthy hands off me, cur!”

Passenbers The passengers grumble and complain about getting woken up so early.

Heinrick After everyone’s awake, he announces: “Sorry to get you all up so early, I know yesterday was a nightmare. But we’ve got another crisis on our hands. The ship’s stuck in a huge expanse of sargasso weed, and we’re not getting out of it without everyone’s help. In the captain’s own words, anyone not willing to help isn’t welcome on her ship, and I don’t think the mire is thick enough for you to walk back to Sasserine.”

Avner “Absolutely outrageous, you commonborn filth. What could this ‘help’ possibly entail?”

Heinrick “Cutting and burning the seaweed holding the ship away from the hull, Meravanchi. And as before, I’m not speaking to you as a man who’d like to toss you overboard by the throat, but giving you an order as the second officer of this ship. We require all hands to get moving again before the food and water run out. If you don’t like it, I’ll be happy to pass your complaints on to Captain Amella. But she’s not quite as patient and forgiving as I am.”

Passengers Avner tries to convince the passengers to unify in their defiance, but his words fall on nearly deaf ears. Some of the passengers grumble about it, but all of them save Avner, Sara and Renald file out to begin their work.

Avner Avner smiles coldly at Heinrick. “You’ll pay for this, filth. I’ll make sure you do.” He moves out of the room, his servants following closely behind.

Katrina Kat stands in front of him. “Pay for what?”

Avner “Pay for being an ass to his betters, Katrina.”

Heinrick Heinrick puts a hand on his shoulder as he passes, stopping him. “I warned you once, Avner; I’ll take your insults to me, because I know what they mean; nothing. But you are walking on very thin ice with everyone whose opinion means anything on this ship.”

Avner “Unhand me, scum. One day we will be back in civilization, and you will be taken to task for what you’ve done here.”

Heinrick “Still thinking actions only have consequences for commoners, I see.” Heinrick removes his hand with a smile. “I’d have thought after our little… discussion, after the party, you might have had second thoughts about that.”

Avner “You are a common brute, Heinrick, while I am noble. In civilization, your ability to hit me with those hams will mean very little. While my ability and legal right to actually marry your so-called woman will mean… possibly your entire little world.”

Katrina “Avner.” Kat’s voice is very cold.

Heinrick Heinrick barely manages to stop himself from reaching for his sword. “Say one more word about her, Meravanchi, and you won’t make it back to civilization. That is the last warning you’re going to get.”

Avner “Oh, by all means, Heinrick, kill me. Hit me again. Filth. Scum. Lowborn. Get mad, get angry, but the fact remains that Lady Vanderboren is not going to be married to a cur. Because that, is the law, Heinrick. In civilization.”

Katrina “Yes, we all know how well that worked out for her father and mother.”

Avner Avner’s lip curls into a sneer as he addresses Katrina. “The difference between a nobleman and a lady, Katrina. Surely even your patched upbringing covered the role of the sexes in this world?”

Heinrick “Oh, I’m not going to murder you, Avner. I’ll do something worse. I’ll make sure everyone sees you for the pig you really are.”

Avner “The fact that you can even consider your better a pig when you are nothing more than a hairless ape, Heinrick, will be your downfall. And I’ll be there to put my boot on your neck when it comes.”

Heinrick “Heh. That might have hurt somebody; if it had been a man saying it at all. Come on, Kat; we’ve wasted enough time on this fool.” He brushes past Avner and heads for the deck.

Katrina Kat fumes, but finally gets control of herself and follows Heinrick. “You’re coming with me to investigate that other ship.”

Heinrick “Sounds good. I’d rather not give him any more chances to snipe at me where anyone can hear it; no telling what I’d do if he pushed me. And we need a chance to talk, anyway. Is that weed thick enough to walk on? I have a couple of potions that let you walk on water, but I wouldn’t want to try a boat in it.”

Katrina “Let’s find out.” Kat climbs down the side of the ship onto the seaweed.

Heinrick Heinrick climbs after her, ready to grab her if she slips under.

DM The heavy mat supports her weight without breaking through.

Katrina “Solid enough for me. Not sure about your ogre ass.”

Heinrick “Wouldn’t say that if you’d ever actually seen an ogre.” Heinrick drops down and tests his weight.

Katrina “Maybe.”

Heinrick “I know for a fact my ass is much better than theirs.”

Katrina “I’ll take your word for it.”

DM The surface is spongy and sinks slightly under footfalls. Squishy sucking sounds come as you walk across it. The entire atmosphere is damp, and the wetness sinks into your boots.

Katrina “Ewww. Well, might as well get going, isn’t that long of a walk.” Kat sets off.

Heinrick On the way over, Heinrick thinks for a few minutes about how to broach a subject. “Kat, this is going to sound weird, but I’m actually kind of glad you showed up just now. It was a perfect lead-in to something I wanted to ask you.”

Katrina “Yes?”

Heinrick “You were right; I shouldn’t have hauled off on Avner last time. It only made him even more determined to stay all high and mighty. At the same time, he badly needs to be taken down a few pegs, and just beating him doesn’t seem to do the trick.”

Katrina “Yes?”

Heinrick “I talked to Lavinia about this the night before the storm, but now, I don’t think I can wait until we find the Nixie again and get stopped to give him his comeuppance. How much do you know about Sasserine’s code duello?”

Katrina “Um… honestly not that much, Heinrick…”

Heinrick “S’all right. I looked it up before I left there, mainly out of curiosity. If a commoner challenges a noble to a duel, the noble can back down with no consequences; but backing down from another noble’s challenge means a fairly big loss of face. And a noble can always name a commoner to fight as a champion in her stead. And I have a feeling that losing face in front of other nobles would hurt Avner worse than any amount of bruises. Best part is, it’s all within the laws he’s so fond of abusing.”

Katrina “You want me to issue a challenge to him so you can duel him. What’s to keep him from making you beat up Renald?”

Heinrick “Hopefully, the notion he’d be fighting you. Right up until he showed up, and stood across from me instead.”

Katrina “In that case he’d probably appoint Sara or someone else and claim it was honor that kept him from fighting a woman.”

Heinrick “There’s also the fact that if he did name a champion, you’d call him out as a coward in public, every single day. Before, and after we get to the colony.”

Katrina “There isn’t any loss of face in naming a champion, and he’d argue it was improper for him to fight a commoner – or a lady. While I can appreciate your solution, the rules are set up to favor him.”

Heinrick “Hmm. Then we get him to challenge one of us.”

Katrina “Which he won’t do…”

Heinrick “Publicly insult him until it’d be a worse loss of face not to fight.”

Katrina “He’s a coward, not an idiot. He knows either of us could destroy him.”

Heinrick “Me, maybe. He still wouldn’t take a challenge from you seriously, I’d bet. There has to be a way to get him in a way he can’t weasel out of…”

Katrina “His entire power is built around using the system. Trying to use it against him is ironic but unlikely to succeed.”

Heinrick “There has to be a way. Just killing him wouldn’t prove anything.”

Katrina “You could always feed him his balls.”

Heinrick “Heh. I doubt he’d even notice the loss. And he could still get me arrested after we’re off the ship. Much as it galls me to say it, I’d rather he wiggle off the hook than that; not for myself, but because it would reflect badly on Lavinia.”

Katrina “I almost killed him. I wanted to kill him.”

Heinrick He looks at her, worriedly. “When?”

Katrina “In the hall. I almost cut his throat ear to ear.” Kat looks ashamed.

Heinrick “Well. That would have been… bad. For everyone, probably.” Heinrick moves a bit closer, and puts a hand on her shoulder. “Kat. We only just got you back. Don’t start slipping away again.”

Katrina “I think the worst part is half of what he said is true.”

Heinrick “Which half? The part about me being a hairless ape, or that rot about women being weaker than men?”

Katrina “The crap about me, mostly. About how the laws are set up. About my upbringing.”

Heinrick “What, that you weren’t raised in a mansion? You think that’s a bad thing, after knowing him?”

Katrina “So you heard that.”

Heinrick “Well, coming from Avner, what else could it mean? I was standing right next to him.”

Katrina “I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

Heinrick “If you don’t want to talk about it, I’m not making you. If that’s the case, though, and you don’t want to because you think it’ll make me think less of you, well… you don’t know me very well.” He smiles to soften the last part.

Katrina “My mother was little better than a whore. When another noble house found out I existed and who my father was, they made a public issue of it, forcing the Islarans to take me in.”

Heinrick Heinrick listens to her story, saying nothing until it’s clear she’s finished.

Katrina “I’m playing noble. He’s right. I’m playing noble.”

Heinrick Heinrick is silent for a minute, pondering. When he finally speaks, it is with uncommon solemnity for him. His voice is quiet, and controlled, with none of the usual cocksure bantering tone. “That… depends on your definition of noble. Kat, I’m going to let you in on a secret I’ve figured out. I don’t claim to be the sharpest arrow in the quiver, so I’m surprised nobody else has thought of it. But after a few months of observation of various members of the upper crust, I’m pretty sure it’s the truth.”

“People forget the word ‘noble’ has two meanings. One means you were born with a title, money, and a name that people recognize. The other describes someone with a good heart, a strong mind, and a willingness to look at what needs to be done, and damn well do it. And the one has nothing at all to do with the other; I’ve met exactly two people who fit both. One of them is walking beside me over a mass of disgusting seaweed to investigate a wrecked ship in the middle of gods-know-where.”

“Avner Meravanchi may be a noble. But he wouldn’t have the first clue what nobility means if it bit him on his pampered ass.”

Katrina “Thanks, Heinrick.”

Heinrick “It’s nothing; I just can’t get over this bad habit I’ve got of calling it like I see it.”

Katrina She laughs a bit. “Bad habit.”

Heinrick He nods. “Yep. I can only conclude my parents were trying to make my life as difficult as possible, in the name of raising a decent half-human being.”

Katrina “Well, apparently they succeeded. You’re one of the few whole decent any beings I’ve known.”

Heinrick Heinrick shrugs, uncharacteristically embarrassed. He forgets it as he looks up at their destination…

DM Heinrick and Katrina’s conversation trails off as they approach the wreck. It is strangled with weeds and vines, almost as if immense green claws hold the ship in their grasp. In many places the caravel, a ship hauntingly similar to the Sea Wyvern, has been torn apart by the vegetation’s rampant growth. A plate near the stern gives the vessel’s name – Rage.

And so it ends, True Believers! What awaits Kat and Heinrick in the Rage? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XX
Fargus Ironfoot and Morgan Bauman!

DM When last we left our heroes, they had just survived a vicious storm, which separated them from their lovely employer, Lavinia Vanderboren. Now, alone in the ocean, a pirate ship bears down on them from the east. Will they survive or be sent to the bottom of the sea? Read on and find out, True Believers!

Katrina Kat gulps. “I’ll get Mari.”

Heinrick “This just keeps getting better. Not just Mari, Kat. We’ve got to rouse every hand that hold a sword.”

Amella Amella peers at the approaching vessel. “Looks like… th’ Widowmaker! An’ us wi’ half a crew! Fuck! To yer battle stations!”

Katrina Kat races down below and knocks on Mari’s door.

Heinrick Heinrick follows her, and heads for the passenger quarters, throwing the door open.

Mari A tired and scowling Mari answers the door, her face softening when she sees it is Kat. “Wasgoinon?”

Katrina “Ship coming at us flying the skull and crossbones. The Widowmaker. Captain wants all the remaining crew on deck. You…” Kat pauses and looks away somewhat nervously. “You might need this.” She produces the wooden holy symbol. “I know it’s not a replacement for your old one,” she rambles on nervously, “I was going to try to do some detail work on it but apparently I’ve run out of time, so…”

Mari Mari’s eyes go wide. “Seriously? For… me?” She hugs Kat tightly. “I’ll be right up, soon as I get some clothes on!”

Katrina “Erm. Yep.” Kat heads back to the deck, blushing.

Heinrick Heinrick looks around the room, gazing at everyone levelly, even Avner. “There’s a pirate ship bearing down on us. Captain called it the Widowmaker. Everyone without a weapon, find one, and get ready to fight for your lives.”

Avner “What? Surely you are joking, man!” Avner exclaims.

Heinrick Heinrick looks him square in the eye. “Do I look like I’m joking, Master Meravanchi?”

Lirith Lirith jumps to her feet, fetching her falchion. “I’m with you, Heiny!”

Heinrick “Good. Everyone else, get moving. This isn’t a joke, and the second officer of this ship is telling you we need every hand that can fight, or very likely we are all going to die. Even those of us with more centuries ahead than behind,” Heinrick says, glancing briefly at Selene.

Selene Avner rolls his eyes, but is cut off as Selene shoves him rudely aside. “Out of my way, human. You can die like a dog down here if you wish. Even this half-human has some measure of courage flowing through his veins. Guess half a heart is better than none.”

Alandra Alandra quivers but follows after Selene, smiling weakly at Heinrick.

Avner Avner grudgingly nods at his servants, and fetches his sword.

Heinrick “I’ll take that in the spirit by which it was intended.” He nods at them as they pass. He then heads and knocks on the room he shares with what’s left of Jerard.

Jerard The hollow answers the door with sleep in his eyes.

Heinrick “Get your armor on, Jerard. We’ve got pirates coming up on us.”

Jerard Jerard’s eyes go wide. “Whoa! All right. I’ll be right up.”

Heinrick “Let me help you. That ironmongery takes forever to get on by yourself.”

Katrina Back on the deck Kat walks up to Amella. “Ship needs its captain.”

Amella Amella nods tightly at Kat. “True ’nough, Nav. What about it?”

Katrina “Just making sure you know it, Cap’n. We’re stuck in the middle of the ocean with a damaged ship. Last thing we need is to lose you – no matter the reason.”

Amella Amella looks at Kat. “I’m not lookin’ ta lose a single member o’ this crew o’ passenger list, Nav. Don’t you ferget it.”

Katrina “Shortstone Badgewell was on the Widowmaker according to the latest information I have.”

Amella “I know, Nav. I know. And if’n I can cut tha’ cur in half, I will. But th’ ship comes first.”

Katrina “Just making sure, ma’am.”

Heinrick Heinrick and Jerard finish armoring up, then come on deck, and distribute their spare weapons to anyone who’s unarmed. Heinrick’s shortbow goes to Damri, and Jerard’s longbow to Alandra.

Elven Siblings The two accept the weapons solemnly.

Heinrick Heinrick hands Renald his dagger. “It’s magical; use it well, and it’s yours.”

Jerard Jerard’s husk, blushing slightly, offers his kukri to Sara.

Blumpkin Blumpkin graps a piece of the railing, and rips it off, swinging it about a few times for practice, grinning like a child on his birthday.

Urol Urol finds his rarely-used staff, and waves a wand over it, muttering, then stands around wringing his hands and checking on Miss Crazzle every other second.

Heinrick Heinrick glares at his new sword, cursing the damn dragon again for breaking the one that felt like an extension of his hands, then moves to man the ballista.

Katrina Kat approaches Heinrick, downing a potion as she does. “How would you feel about being a bit bigger? It would make you a larger target, but would increase your strength and probably your reach.”

Heinrick “Sounds good… make it harder to maneuver on a crowded deck, though. Wait until I get a shot off with the ballista, then hit me. And can you do that speed one, too?”

Katrina Kat shakes her head. “Doesn’t last very long. I’d rather wait until it becomes necessary. The last time the Widowmaker hit a ship it had support – two other ships. Consider the speed an ace in the hole.”

Heinrick “Right… it might help keep some people alive who wouldn’t make it otherwise, though.”

Katrina “If you think that would be best, I can cast it when they pull up alongside…”

Heinrick “Hmm… you’re the mage, it’s your call.”

Katrina “I’ll… see what my fireballs do. Here.” She slips him a potion of heroism.

Heinrick “Thanks.” Heinrick makes sure the skin-thickening potion he’s been saving since
Sasserine is in easy reach, as well, then, on second thought, he shrugs, drinks them both down, and takes aim.

DM Heinrick’s ballista bolt splashes in the water yards away from the approaching ship. A “yo ho!” goes up from the pirate vessel.

Heinrick Heinrick gives them the finger, then picks up his awkward new sword.

Katrina As the Widowmaker approaches Kat tosses a pair of fireballs at it.

Morgan After Katrina’s first fireball blasts the deck, a shout goes up in a raspy woman’s voice. “Argh, ye curs! Take cover!”

DM The pirates take up defensive positions alongside the ship, as the second fireball streaks in. Screams of rage and the smell of burning flesh come from the Widowmaker. Some pirates lay dead from the blasts, others rock back and forth, clearly shellshocked.

Heinrick Heinrick takes aim and fires another ballista bolt.

DM Heinrick’s second ballista bolt tears into the Widowmaker’s hull and then the ships come together in a splintering crash! Battle is joined!

Heinrick “Keep blasting, Kat! I can only hit one at a time, make me big when you’re out of booms!”

Selene Selene nods across the decks to the elf pirate, idly twirling her daggers.

Katrina Kat takes a short breath, fear building in her breast, but stands her ground.

Heinrick Heinrick looks over to her. “You can do this, Kat. It’s just another battle, and it’s your chance to get justice – or at least revenge – for those women. Make ’em proud!” Heinrick raises his blade as he waits for the pirates to come.

Badgewell Badgewell shouts at his men, who swing across the deck to the Sea Wyvern. “Argh, kill ’em, me mateys!” He pulls a pistol and fires it at Jerard, who manages to avoid the attack.

Pirates His men attack Selene (4 damage), Mari and Renald (8 damage). “Shoot ’em, loot ’em and poot ’em!”

Katrina “I’ll bloody murder you,” Kat whispers.

Amella Amella is less reserved, yelling loudly “Send th’ scum t’ th’ bottom o’ th’ sea!”

Heinrick “Stand your ground, everyone! Show them what it means to attack the Sea Wyvern!”

Morgan Morgan Bauman screams bloody murder at her men, even the dead one.

Pirates They leap to the attack. Two of them attack Urol, who avoids the attacks with the devil’s luck. Another one is foiled by Mari’s blade and the last misses Selene.

Morgan Morgan curses. “Damn yer ineptitude!” She aims at Skald and Amella, hurling two axes across the sea to strike both of them. (6 Skald, 3 Amella)

Peg Leg Pete Peg Leg Pete grins as he charges in and orders his men to the attack. Unfortunately they all lie dead on the Widowmaker. He catches Selene in the back with his cutlass. (22 damage) “Yo ho!”

Selene She screams in unbelieving pain that a human could strike her.

Skald Skald retaliates at Morgan, firing a pair of arrows at her.

Lirith Lirith advances on Peg Leg Pete and swings at him.

Morgan One arrow catches Morgan in her arm and she curses. “I’ll have yer hide fer that, elf!”

Skald “Elf?” Skald looks at her curiously.

Morgan “Shantar, skin this bastard’s pointy ears for me, Love!”

Jerard The empty husk of Jerard swings over the railing down onto the deck, and hacks
at the pirate in front of him.

Pirates Hack ‘em Harriet lets out a whoop as she leads her surviving men into battle. One hangs back, seemingly stunned. She avoids Lirith and Selene’s blows easily and slashes at Lirith. (8 damage) Her man attacks Lirith as well, but misses as the red haired tomboy brings her blade down to block just as Heinrick showed her.

Karl Karl the Kraken hefts a cannon ball in his hands, flexes and hefts it at Heinrick. Flat footed, the half-elf cannot get out of its way in time. (20 damage) The orc laughs and hefts his real weapon, a massive oar. His muscles creak as he flexes it behind his back. The long powerful oar looks like it could strike from far away.

Heinrick Heinrick flinches, but shakes off the hit, and glares back at him, flourishing his own oversized blade.

Urol The stinky gnome scholar darts out of the enemy’s reach, rears back, and hocks a slightly glowing loogie at his eyes.

DM The pirate catches the spit right between his eyes and yells, trying to wipe the snotty attack off, but only smearing it further in.

Katrina Kat, against her better instincts, listens to Heinrick and digs out a scroll, calls up the arcane power held within it, and smites the pirates with another fireball.

DM The fireball explodes, catching the Widowmaker’s deck once again. Morgan in particular seems hit hard, screaming as she tries to bat out the flames enveloping her. More of the Widowmaker’s crew falls to the deck, charred corpses littering the terrain.

Katrina Kat seems torn between self-satisfaction and disgust.

Fargus The villainous halfling curls his lip, having avoided the blast entirely. “More loot for us!” he yells. Two daggers fly from the halfling’s hands, aimed at Amella’s throat. One misses, but the other strikes the captain’s thigh. (10 damage)

Pirates His men follow him. A pistol goes off, missing Jerard again. Another swings at Jerard, before collapsing from his wounds.

Makak Makak pulls his pistol and fires at Heinrick, catching the flat-footed warrior in his shoulder. (13 damage plus 3 bleed per round).

Jim Jim holds back.

Shantar As does Shantar.

Amella “Push th’ scum off my ship, feed ‘em t’ th’ fishes!” Amella calls out as she moves around to engage the closest pirate.

Jerard The soulless warrior swings over the railing down onto the main deck. He hacks at the pirate in front of him.

Pirate “Ouch,” says the pirate.

Renald & Sara Renard and Sara both charge the closest pirates with their short blades as Avner shouts encouragement to them.

DM Sara manages to stab her mark in the back, but Renald is foiled by Hack ’em’s defense.

Avner “That’s right, give it to them, Sara! Ho! Better luck next time, Renard!”

Damri & Alandra The elven twins each take a step back; Damri fires his bow at Peg-leg Pete, while Alandra takes a defensive position.

Selene Selene slashes at the same pirate Jerard cut, while dancing around to reduce the angles of attack.

DM Damri’s arrows strike true, but Selene misses her mark, the human dodging her.

Mari Mari clutches the symbol Kat carved her and screams out, “Besmara, you slut! Give us some help!” A cool mist washes over the ship. (15 healing)

Heinrick Heinrick steps up to engage the orc who smacked him.

Karl The orc smashes down on Heinrick’s head with his huge oar. “Kraken SMASH!” The
blow is staggeringly powerful. (44 damage)

Badgewell Badgewell tries to take advantage to stab Heinrick, but misses, his blade bouncing off the warrior’s hardened skin.

Heinrick Heinrick blinks a couple of times, shakes his head, and strikes back.

Karl His attack is deflected by the orc’s oar. Foul breath blows in his face as the orc laughs. “You’ll have to do better than that to beat the Kraken!” The orc begins to spin his oar over his head, faster and faster.

Blumpkin “Blumpkin smash too!” The hulking man-child brings his length of ship’s rail down on the nearest pirate.

DM The blow cracks over the pirate’s head, staggering the man, who swears as his head begins to bleed profusely.

Badgewell Badgewell slips away from the hulking warriors, pulling a second pistol from his belt. He aims at Amella and fires, missing her by a breath.

Pirates One leaps across to attack Kat. “Die, bitch!” He misses sorely.

Katrina “After you,” Kat mutters.

Pirates The second attacks Selene, cutting into her. (5 damage) The third tries to attack Mari, but finds her rapier in his gut instead. “Gurk,” he chokes out as his stomach leaks over her blade.

Morgan Morgan chucks two more axes at Skald, catching him once. (7 damage)

Pirates Her man catches Mari with a nasty overhand, while the other screams about the spittle in his eyes.

Peg Leg Pete Pete slashes Renald across the chest. (6 damage) “Yeargh, take tha’ ye dog!”

Skald Skald fires two more arrows at Morgan.

Morgan Morgan catches the arrows in her leg, and rips them free. “Argh, ye cut off me leg ‘n I’ll put a peg on ’er!” she screams in glee.

Lirith Lirith goes after Peg Leg.

Peg Leg Pete Pete grunts as Lirith cuts him. “Slut!”

Avner “Ha! Don’t want to fight me, do you!” Avner boasts as he swipes poorly at Hack ’em.

Pirates Lirith is attacked by one of Harriet’s men, as is Selene. While the elven huntress deflects the attack, Lirith is not as quick, and catches the cut across her gut. (6 damage)

Harriet Harriet meanwhile, dodges past Alandra and manages to avoid Avner’s attack, coming around to stab Amella in the back. (16 damage, 3 bleeding per round)

Karl “Time to die, elfy!” Karl roars in Heinrick’s face. The oar spins faster and then lashes out, cracking down at Heinrick’s body and bounces off the half-elf’s magically toughened skin.

Urol The gnome steps back, and calls upon wind and rain… and lets out a belch that rises above the din of battle, and seems to coalesce around him.

Avner “What the deuce?” Avner asks of the burp fog.

Katrina Kat steps away from her attacker and hastes herself, Heinrick, Jerard, Blumpkin, and Selene. “Make it count,” she calls out as she draws her rapier.

Pirates Fargus’ man attacks Jerard, who easily dodges the blow.

Fargus Fargus jumps onto the Wyvern and slips his blade into Mari’s back.

Mari The priestess screams in agony. “Ahhhhh! Bitch!”

Jim Jim moves and fires his pistol at Mari, missing her.

Makak Makak leaps behind Heinrick, catching the man’s blade in his chest as he does so.
Wincing, he manages to stab at the half-elf all the same, but fails to connect.

Shantar Shantar draws his bow, and takes aim at the wounded priestess. Three arrows strike Mari and she plunges face first to the deck, bleeding profusely out of her back.

Katrina “Mari!” Kat shouts in anguish as she watches the priestess fall from her position on forecastle.

Pirates Shantar’s man attacks Heinrick, managing to connect with the man by the utmost luck. (13 damage, 1 bleed damage)

Amella Amella turns and stabs the man behind her, continuing to call out encouragement to the crew.

DM Her attack fails, but the crew is rallied all the same.

Jerard Jerard tries to hack his way through to clear a space around Heinrick.

DM The pirate staggers under the blows, his lifeforce spilling on the deck. He seems as if the barest stress might topple him entirely.

Selene The elven huntress continues her dance of steel, deflecting attacks and striking out at the pirates around her.

DM Her first strike takes a pirate across the throat, sending him plummeting to the ground. The next flurry catches his mate in the gut, the chest and the arm, causing the man to cry out.

Alandra & Damri The elven siblings step back, putting one foot each on the rail, and fire in unison at the pirate Jerard wounded.

DM The arrows punch through the man’s throat and he tumbles to the deck.

Renor Renor twitches as they move, but only drools on himself.

Avner Avner steps to his left into the fog and lets out a girlish scream when he sees the halfling next to him.

Renald & Sara Meanwhile his servants continue to attack their former targets bravely.

DM Sara sticks her blade into the pirate’s back shoulder and the man snarls at her.

Heinrick “Let’s see who needs to do better now, fugly.” Heinrick swings his massive blade with impossible speed.

DN The orc tries to block Heinrick’s attacks with his oar, but the blade chops right through his weapon… and then his arms. He shrieks in agony as his bloody stubs spurt gore all over
Heinrick’s grim face and topples backwards into the sea. An amulet around his neck snags on the railing as he falls.

Blumpkin Blumpkin steps over the body of a fallen pirate, and brings his club down on another’s head.

Katrina twice I hope

DM Katrina says to the stars, who punch her in the throat for her audacity.

DM The pirate staggers, his eyes crossed and blood leaking from his ears. Then his fucking brain explodes from forgotten damage and sprays the surrounding deck with ichor.

Blumpkin “Hee haw!” the brute laughs.

Pirates Badgewell’s man slips up next to Kat and stabs her in the gut. (12 damage) “Heh! Makak, should I rape this one and then kill her or the other way around?”

Katrina “How about I make you eat your balls instead?” Kat snarls, though her attention isn’t on the man.

Pirates The second of Badgewell’s men slashes Renald in the face. (3 damage) The third and last leaps to cut Jerard (8 damage), wounding the warrior.

Morgan Morgan bounds across the ship towards the man who cut down the Kraken.

Pirates Her men attack, the first at Amella and the next at Lirith. While the captain easily swats away her attacker, Lirith’s stumbles, leaving himself open to counter attack.

Lirith Lirith chops off his head, howling in joy.

Peg Leg Pete Pete sees the big man bearing down on him and turns to attack Blumpkin. He cuts the big man in his thigh, laughing maniacally as he does so. (6 damage)

Blumpkin Blumpkin screams and starts to cry.

Lirith Lirith looks back at the downed priestess and twists to her left, leaving herself exposed to only one pirate and she pours a healing potion down the blond woman’s throat.

DM She catches a cut across her back as she does so. (5 damage)

Mari Mari sits up grogily. “Whuthfuk?”

Lirith “Ya owe me one!” She smiles before her expression twists in pain as the pirate knifes her in the back. “Hey! Didn’t you see what I did to your buddy!” she boasts as she turns to face him.

Skald Skald curses the fog that blocks his vision as he waits for it to clear and get a clear shot. “Get rid of the mist, gnome, I can’t shoot things with it up here!”

Urol “I can’t! The spell is self-sustaining after it’s cast! I was only trying to help!”

Hack ’em Harriet Hearing the man’s cry, Harriet slashes at the ranger with her cutlass. The rum-fueled blade cuts deep. (10 damage)

Pirate “I did see what ye did to him, slut!” The pirate slashes at Lirith again, but she catches it
on her blade this time, ready for the attack.

Urol Urol cautiously moves around, and pokes his head out of the mist. Upon seeing the battlefield, he plucks something his nose, and flings it at a pirate, where it flashes into bright light.

DM The man howls as the booger hits his face. Dumb luck prevents Harriet from taking his head off, as he launches another snot rocket at one of the pirates.

Katrina Kat jumps over the railing off the forecastle and over Renor entirely, landing in an easy roll, all the while muttering, “Don’t be dead,” plaintively. She races across the ship in an instant, pausing just before she reaches Mari. Her face is red with rage and stricken with fear when she skids to a halt and sees the woman on her back, but seemingly lucid.

Surprised, she mutters the words to a spell with inhuman speed and a savage ferocity. It calls to the dark pits of the cosmos, bringing forth a beast resembling an ape to both block the archer’s line of sight and maul the halfing trying to knife Mari.

Demon Ape The beast howls in rage as it savages the halfing with claws and teeth.

DM The ape’s fists pound the little halfling, who staggers under the assault.

Katrina “I’ll fucking kill you!” she howls at the halfing, angrier then anyone’s ever seen her.

Heinrick Did Kat just swear? Don’t think I’ve heard that before, Heinrick thinks.

Fargus “Ye’ll ne’er take me alive!” Fargus screams.

Katrina “I don’t want to take you alive,” Kat snarls back.

Fargus He slashes at Sara (8 damage) and the ape (7 damage), even as he runs between the ape’s legs back to his ship.

Jim Jim is stunned by the appearance of a large demon monkey, but he dutifully swipes at it. The blade punches deep into the creature’s neck. (13 damage)

Makak Makak misses Heinrick again, cursing. “Gods damn ye, elf!”

Heinrick “Half-elf, and damn proud of it.”

Shantar’s Man Shantar’s remaining man strikes at Heinrick, but he too fails to hit the armored man.

Shantar Shantar, however, draws bead on the giant and releases three arrows, all of which bounce off the armored flesh.

Amella Amella continues to call out encouragement and she slips out of her flanked position and tries to stab Harriet.

DM Her foe avoids the blow.

Jerard Jerard stabs at Makak’s legs through the railing.

Malak The half-orc howls in pain as Jerard’s blade cuts off his knee cap.

Damri & Alandra The siblings aim their arrows at the one-legged man.

DM They miss poorly.

Avner Avner slinks backward toward his now quiet corner.

Sara & Renald His servants continue to fight bravely, teaming up on one pirate.

DM Sara stabs the dazed man in the gut.

Heinrick The giant half-elf strikes at the orc who discounted half his blood.

DM He chops the half orc in half, ironically discounting Makak’s human blood as well. He spins around, taking the heads of two more pirates as he goes.

Heinrick “It’s not Grandpa’s work, but I could get used to this blade after all.”

Blumpkin Still blubbering, Blumpkin smashes his club at the bad man who stuck him.

Pete Pete laughs as the clumsy brute misses him.

Blumpkin “You is meany!”

Mari Mari struggles to her feet, clutches her holy symbol and waves of cool mist radiate out over the Sea Wyvern’s members. (20 healing) She tumbles back, towards Peg Leg Pete.

Badgewell Badgewell sneaks past the giant ape to stab Lirith in the back. (24 damage) “Hee hee hee!” the little sociopath laughs as her blood sprays him.

Pirates His man rushes in, striking Jerard in the arm (6 damage). The other paws franticly at the snot dripping down his face.

Morgan Morgan moves up to flank Jerard, her blade flashing. “Die, ye bitch o’ th’ beach!” The blade cuts in deep, sending gore that is seemingly absorbed into the blade. Jerard’s skin cracks and blisters around the wound. (37 damage, 5 dessication damage)

Jerard “What did caAAAAAH!”

Pirate Morgan’s man slips behind the massive ape and runs his blade through the creature. (9 damage)

Pete Pete dodges around Damri and Selene, his blade extended for the wounded man. Selene misses her chance to hit him, but Pete’s attack bounces off Jerard’s armor regardless. “Squid balls!” the man yells in frustration.

Jerard The husk looks at him with mad eyes. “Do squid have balls? Have you ever cut one to find out?”

Lirith Lirith swings at the man in front of her.

Pirate The blade cuts deep into the man’s shoulder, and he screams as gore sprays his and her face. “I’ll kill ye for this, bitch!”

Lirith She then sidesteps out of her flanked position.

Skald Skald drops his bow and draws his scimitar, swinging at the bilge rat in front of him.

DM The man’s parry is clumsy, and Skald’s blade rakes his arm in punishment.

Pirates Hack ‘em Harriet’s man follows Lirith, but his attacks cannot pass through the woman’s defense. Clearly she has been taking Heinrick’s lessons to heart.

Harriet Meanwhile, Harriet grins and swings at Skald’s arm. “No more arrows for you, elf!” she snarls. She loses track of Skald in the mist, misses, and curses, “Argh! Damn ye!”

Skald “But I’m stabbing you now. Why are you worried about arrows?” the freakish man asks.

Urol The stinky gnome hurls another magically guided spitwad at a pirate. Then darts back to hide in the fog.

Pirate Yet another pirate shrieks in terror at the disgusting slimy snot dripping down his face.

Demon Ape Kat’s summoned ape goes crazy on Badgewell, clawing and biting him.

DM The beast shreds into the gnome who screams as he is mauled and flung back to the deck, his flesh tattered and bleeding.

Badgewell “Aiiiie! Kill the damn monkey!” he shrieks.

DM A wind picks up over the sea, whipping away the fog.

Katrina Kat steps past Avner, who continues to stand bravely in the corner, and calls up another summoned ape to savage Morgan.

Demon Ape The ape, blood splattering its jaws even as it emerges from the Lower Planes, sinks its fangs into Morgan’s body and batters her bloody.

Morgan She screams out under the assault as her face is crushed by the creature’s attack.

Fargus Fargus Ironfoot tumbles behind the first ape, stabbing it ruthlessly through the spinal cord, and dragging his blade up and out through its neck.

Demon Ape The demonic creature clutches its wound, roars and implodes.

Shantar Shantar steps towards the forecastle and draws bead on the summoner. Three arrows fly out, two striking true. (18 damage)

Katrina Kat cries out in pain.

Jim Jim follows the arrows in, catching Kat across the chest with a savage blow. (11 damage)

Shantar “Kill the witch,” Shantar orders in a calm and deadly voice.

Amella Amella catches sight of Badgewell and lets out a snarl. She races around the rail of the ship to get to him and stabs at him.

Fargus Fargus alone manages to strike at the captain as she blazes past, with a glancing blow on her side. (7 damage)

DM Amella’s rapier flashes out and catches Badgewell through his eye socket. The vicious little gnome slumps forward on the blade, impaling himself further.

Amella “Aye! That were fer me Heldram, ye stinking pile o’ piss! I’ll fucken kill ye a thousand times o’er ‘n it won’t be but th’ beginnin’, ye filthy, fucking gnome! Die!” Amella punctuates every cry with a vicious shake of her rapier, sending splashes of blood from Shortstone’s ruined head.

Jerard Jerard, seemingly losing his tenuous grip on sanity from the stress of battle, drops his shield, and takes his sword in a two-handed grip to launch of flurry of slashes at Peg Leg Pete.

Pete The blade strikes the scruffy pirate over and over, but other than the blood flowing freely from his wounds, Pete is unfazed. “Ye’ll give me a hook in th’ hand t’ go wi’ my peg leg!” he whoops.

Selene Selene, her wounds healed, takes a more offensive posture, her features alight with a cold fury at these humans who dared strike their better. Her knives flash at the nearest pirate.

DM The blades carve an elven symbol of spite into the pirate’s chest and he tumbles backwards, his lifeblood pumping onto the deck.

Damri & Alandra Damri and Alandra look for a target out of the melee to gain a clear shot, and aim at their murderous kinsman on the pirate vessel.

Shantar Shantar flashes them a cold smile as their arrows arc over his head.

Sara & Renald Sara and Renald again try to double team a wounded pirate.

Pirate Renald stabs his blade directly into the pirate’s chest. The pirate looks at the spreading red stain in his shirt and gapes. “Ye… ye… kilt me!” He sways back and forth, on the brink between life and death.

Avner Avner tries to get away from all the fire directed in his direction – at Kat, darting away bravely.

Mari Mari looks around, darts behind Morgan Baumann, and runs her rapier through the woman’s chest.

Morgan The pirate screams in bloody rage as Mari’s blade takes her life.

Mari “Say hi to the bitch for me,” Mari mutters as the woman’s corpse hits the deck.

Heinrick Heinrick’s powerful legs and magically-boosted speed effortlessly propel him onto the deck of the Widowmaker, where he runs across the ship and brings his blade down on Shantar. “That’s wizardess, fool.”

Shantar The elf slips away from the clumsy attack, eying Heinrick balefully. “A wizardess or a witch, makes no difference. The whore will die, as will you.”

Blumpkin Blumpkin cheerfully smashes at Peg Leg Pete.

DM His club smashes Pete’s brain out through his nose, spraying over Renor’s drooling body.

Blumpkin “Squishy!”

Pirates Badgewell and Morgan’s men, seeing their leader down, break ranks and try to flee back to the ship.

Fargus Fargus guts one of them as the coward passes.

Lirith Lirith slices at the pirate Jim with her falchion.

Jim He turns her blade on his. “Not this time, lassy.”

Skald Skald stabs at Hack Em Harriet.

Hack Em Harriet Harriet winces as the blade slices her flesh. “I’ll wear your ears afore we’re troo, elf!”

Skald “You keep calling me an elf…”

Hack Em Harriet True to her word, Harriet tries to collect Skald’s non-elven ears, with a vicious slash to his head. (18 damage)

Urol The gnome tries his loogie trick on Harriet.

Hack Em Harriet The ear hunting woman falls victim to the same trick, gasping as the booger filled snot covers her eyes.

Demon Ape Kat’s remaining ape lets out a roar and rumbles across the ship toward Jim, clawing at the pirate as he comes to a stop.

Jim The old salt easily evades the attack. “Ahoy! Bit bigger than ol’ Bela, ay, Fargus?”

Katrina Kat takes advantage of the apes attack to stab at Jim as well.

Jim He catches Kat’s blade in the back as he boasts, however. “Argh! Take down th’ witch, damn ye, Shantar!”

Fargus Fargus shifts over towards the ape and plunges his cutlass into the back of the creature’s head. (28 damage, 3 bleed damage) He then leans over, catching a glancing blow from the beast as he does so, and flings a dagger at the wounded Lirith. (5 damage)

Jim Jim gives out a laugh, shifts up and swings his blade in a massive arc, catching Sara (10 damage), Lirith (7 damage) and Kat (8 damage) in the swing. “Take that, ye bitches!”

Shantar Shantar dodges around Heinrick, putting the half-elf between him and Fargus. He drops his bow and draws a finely crafted blade from his belt as he does. “You’ll die here, halfblood.” The blade slashes across Heinrick’s wrist, cutting through the flesh like butter. (23 damage)

Amella Amella calls out support to everyone as she stabs at Jim.

Jim Her blade takes his eye, tracing a bloody arc in the air. “Argh, wench!”

Jerard “Heinrick!” Jerard shouts, and runs to jump between ships. He dashes across to put Shantar between him and the half-elf, though he leaves himself open as he does so…

Shantar Shantar’s blade slashes out at the hollow, catching him across the stomach. (15

Jerard The soulless man ignores the pain, and returns the blow.

Shantar Shantar winces as the attack slices his flesh, but he does not cry out.

Selene Selene takes a step forward, and casually cuts the throat of a fallen pirate.

Damri Damri puts an arrow in one of the other downed ones.

DM The elves both make clean kills.

Alandra Alandra arcs one over Amella’s head, into the moaning heap of pirate behind her.

Renald Renald stabs at the nearly dead pirate before him.

DM His blade catches the man under the chin and the villain tumbles to the deck.

Avner Avner steps around and bravely stabs at the same pirate as he lays bleeding on the deck.

DM The body twitches as the nobleman’s blade hits it.

Sara Sara lays bleeding on the deck.

Mari Mari closes her eyes and utters a prayer to her goddess. The healing mist washes over the crew, although some of the pirates take heart as well. (14 healing)

Heinrick Heinrick splits his attacks between the pirates on either side; two blows at Shantar, then one as an afterthought at Fargus as he steps back out of their flanking maneuver. “This is for calling my friend a whore! And this is for shooting her! And this is because you’re ugly!”

DM Shantar tries to bring his blade up to block the mighty cleaving arc that Heinrick draws with his blade, but it smashes both the attacking and blocking blade down into his face. The second attack finishes the gruesome work, cutting the elf in half. Fargus tries to dodge the third blade, but takes it savagely in his side, sending a pool of blood washing over the floor.

Blumpkin Blumpkin smashes the pirate laying down then seeing he missed, stops and smacks him again.

DM The second blow sends the pirate’s neck to an awkward angle.

Lirith Lirith kicks herself backward and climbs to her feet.

Skald Skald stabs at Hack ’em again.

Harriet Harriet laughs at the attack. “Jus like givin’ me a noo tatoo!”

Skald “And what about the snot in your face?”

Harriet Harriet wipes it off and licks it off her fingers. “Not so bad, once yer used to it.”

Urol “That, madam, is revolting!”

Bilge Rat The pirate that Renald slew gets to his feet shakily.

DM Three blades pincushion the pirate, Avner’s through the gut, Amella’s through the back and Sara’s across the throat. He sinks back down, quite dead this time.

Urol He pulls a pinch of powder from his belt pouch, and tosses it at her eyes, where it explodes.

Harriet Harriet glares at the gnome. “Doesn’t taste anywhere near as nice.”

Urol “Eep,” Urol replies, and skitters away from her.

Demon Ape Kat’s ape continues to claw and bite at the surrounded Jim.

DM The ape’s fists batter Jim into unconsciousness.

Katrina Kat stabs the man as he falls. Twice.

DM The blade slices open the man’s throat then pierces his heart.

Demon Ape The ape turns to regard the midget who stabbed him in the back with a savage grin, showing its bloody teeth.

Fargus The halfling scowls back at the creature he has nearly gutted in one go. He turns towards the big-bladed warrior and rams his blade to the hilt into Heinrick’s stomach. (20 damage) He then lets go of the blade and smiles sardonically. “I surrender.”

Heinrick Heinrick looks at him like he’s utterly insane.

Harriet Harriet’s eyes go wide, but she lets her blade drop to the ground and puts her hands in the air.

Heinrick Heinrick himself takes one hand off his sword to hold his guts in.

Katrina Kat looks at Amella. “Cap’n?”

DM And so our heroes have bested the vile crew of the Widowmaker! What will become of them? What gruesome discoveries await in the ship’s hold? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XIX

DM Welcome back, True Believers! When we left, our heroes were chatting with the two lady Ravens and Patamon, while awaiting Avner’s appearance upon deck. What does fate have in store for them? Read on and find out!

Heinrick While waiting, Heinrick asks, “How’s Tolin doing?”

Liamae Liamae gives a sad shake of her head. “He’s… really badly hurt. Hopefully he’ll recover, but he’s been out cold for the entire week so far.”

Heinrick “Damn… we have two clerics on this ship. I could ask Mari or Achris to go back with you guys and see if they could help?”

Liamae Liamae smiles. “That would be nice of you, Heinrick.”

Amella Amella calls down from the quarterdeck, “Send th’ spaz, not my Number One!”

Heinrick “Aye, Cap’n!”

Avner Meanwhile, in the passenger cabin, Avner gloats to Katrina. “That stupid common trash is going to get his now. Wench Vanderboren’s man is here, to hear my grievances against him.”

Katrina Kat is silent.

Avner “Sara! Bring me my boots!” Avner yells. “Renald, a better coat than this trashy thing.”

Katrina Kat looks around for a moment then gets up and heads toward the deck.

Avner “On second thought, Heinrick will likely be up there… it’s good enough for him. He doesn’t deserve to gaze on a REAL noble.”

Katrina Kat bites back a sob as she leaves the room and heads for the deck. A startlingly pale and thin – despite Heinrick’s best efforts – Kat tentatively steps onto the deck, shading her eyes from the sun.

Zani “Katrina!” Zani exclaims as she sees the woman emerge.

Katrina Kat seems taken back by Zani, her reply is uncharacteristically meek. “Zani.”

Heinrick “Kat! You’re up! Glad to see you in the sun again.”

Katrina “I couldn’t take listening to Avner anymore,” she replies to Heinrick.

Zani The elven woman saunters up to Kat. “High five?” She holds up her four fingered left hand, grinning macabrely.

Katrina Kat winces at Zani. “I’m… I’m sorry, Zani.”

Heinrick Heinrick tries, with only partial success to unclench his fists after that comment. “Avner? What did he say to you?”

Katrina “Nothing specifically at me, Heinrick, just his usual ranting about how Lavinia’s a whore and he’s the only real noble on this ship.”

Zani Zani laughs. “Don’t worry about i…” she cuts off as Kat mentions Lavinia. “What?”

Liamae A wind whips over the ship and Liamae’s hair begins to fly out behind her. “He called Lady Vanderboren what?!” Her eyes crackle with electricity.

Katrina “His exact words were speaking to Patamon – ‘Wench Vanderboren’s man.’ He seems to be under the impression that you’re going to chastise Heinrick.”

Quintal Quintal watches the conversation unfold with renewed interest.

Katrina “I just needed to get away from it.”

Patamon “Yade Ravens, stand down, boz of you.” Patamon could be discussing the price of ale for all the emotion in his voice. “Lady Islaran, I am sorry zat Master Merravanchi has disturbed you on my behalf. I merely intend to hear ze entire story and I shall render my yudgment aftervards.”

Katrina “It’s not your fault. If he wasn’t ranting because of you he’d be ranting about something else.”

Heinrick “Patamon. Would you mind terribly talking to Avner as while he treads water behind the ship?”

Patamon “Zat vould be a poor choice, Heinrick, my hearing is not as keen as it once vas.”

Heinrick “All right. I’ll let you finish with him, then keep my promise to Tolin to pitch the slime overboard.”

Patamon “Tsk, Heinrick. It is unbecoming of Lady Vanderboren’s man to act in such a boorish manner.”

Heinrick “More unbecoming that, oh, every word from his mouth about any woman whose pants he isn’t trying to get into?”

Patamon “I vould not hold yourself up to any man’s example, but to a standard zat is beyond zem.”

Quintal “I agree,” Quintal says suddenly. “There is no justice in repaying a verbal assault with a physical one. I believe Lady Katrina and Sir Heinrick chastised Miss Joliet for this very act.”

Patamon “Ze Brozer speaks visely, Heinrick. One who intends on becoming a noble, perhaps by marriage, cannot allow himself to be dragged into affairs born of heat and passion. Zat is for lesser men.”

Heinrick “All right. We’ll do it your way. One more chance for Mister Meravanchi.” Heinrick frowns slightly, crosses his arms, and leans against the railing to wait for Avner to show himself.

Katrina Kat looks down and away. “How… how is she?” she asks Patamon.

Patamon “Miss Yoliet is very good, Lady Islaran. One vould not suspect zat such horrible zings happened to her at all.”

Katrina Kat appears relieved by the news. “And Tolin?”

Jade Ravens Liamae shakes her head and Zani’s expression falls.

Liamae It is Liamae who responds. “He’s not doing very well at all. He’s unconscious, and when he wakes, he’s delirious. Heinrick said he’ll send a cleric over to help though… I just wish I had the power to help him.”

Katrina Kat’s face falls like a stricken bird in flight. “Is he going to be all right?” She looks at each of them in turn.

Jade Ravens They both shrug. “We… we don’t know.”

Heinrick “Achris will be able to tell, I’m sure. He’s… knowledgeable about obscure wounds and ailments.”

Katrina “I should never have… if I’d just…” Kat seems to be talking to herself more than the others. Tears start to roll down her cheeks.

Heinrick Heinrick’s expression softens from its Avner-induced scowl, and he goes to put an arm around her shoulders. “It’s all right, Kat. We’ll make sure he’s all right.”

Katrina She looks up at him. “He was trying to protect me.”

Zani Zani grins at Liamae. “Tolin has a new crush. Or at least did before that monster broke his back.”

Katrina Kat winces at the mention of Tolin’s injury.

Liamae “Stop it, you are upsetting her!” Liamae elbows her comrade in the ribs. “Lady Islaran, don’t worry so much. Kaskus set his back and that should heal if we can get him up. Which I’m sure this cleric of yours is up to.”

Katrina Kat lets out the breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “Yeah.” She doesn’t sound convinced.

Heinrick “He’s a good man, Kat. He’ll be fine, you’ll see.”

Renald Renald emerges from the lower deck. “Could you step aside, Lady Islaran,” he says to Kat with a bow. “Master Meravanchi is coming up quickly.”

Katrina Kat wipes at her tears. “Of course, Renald.” She steps aside.

Heinrick Heinrick steps back, making sure he’s between Kat and the stairs.

Avner Avner snaps his fingers and Renald goes to his hands and knees. Avner promptly sits down on his back. “Good that you are here, sir. I have long waited a chance to make the case against this incompetent fool that Lavinia has seen fit to saddle us with. I realize it is his little boat, but I fear that with him allowed to take part in a decision making process, our mission is doomed to failure.”

Heinrick Heinrick holds his tongue. He doesn’t even scowl. Much.

Katrina Kat looks away and toward the deck.

Quintal Quintal watches with keen interest.

Patamon Patamon gestures towards Avner. “Please, go on, Master Merravanchi. Vhat in particular has Heinrick done zat is so incompetent? Ve have had issues vith him and his friends before, so I am not unsympathetic to your plight.”

Jade Ravens Liamae and Zani are positively rigid with tension, their eyes locked on Patamon.

Avner “Well, first off, he doesn’t respect nobility. He doesn’t respect Lavinia, I heard him refer to her by her first name on far too many occasions. He is an absolute magnet for danger, he antagonized a dragon just yesterday, he led an expedition into Tamoachan that ended in the death of a crew member, his ridiculous friend harbors a demon inside him and all in all he’s a complete buffoon with no culture or class.”

Katrina Kat looks like she might say something for a moment but she stops and goes back to watching the ground.

Heinrick “Regarding the dragon, sirs… antagonized may not be the right word. For starters, I didn’t know he was a dragon until after the fight, as he was in human form at the time. Second, the dragon, Kelvartz, came here, specifically said he was looking for a fight against the best the ship could put up, and made it very clear that getting him to leave without a fight wasn’t an option. I prefer to think of it as taking the place of someone else, someone perhaps less experienced, who would have had to fight anyway.”

Quintal “Sir Heinrick speaks the truth,” Quintal adds.

Avner Avner sniffs and scoffs. “Perhaps if you had called upon me, I would have bested the beast, rather than merely angered it as you two clods chose to do.”

Heinrick “Perhaps we’ll have a chance to compare our swordsmanship skills at a later time. This isn’t the time nor place, I don’t think,” he says, nodding to Patamon.

Patamon Patamon’s face is devoid of expression.

Quintal “One moment. Lord Meravanchi, if you could indeed best the dragon, then we have nothing to fear of his retaliations, true?”

Avner Avner glares at the brother. “Simply because I can best the beast doesn’t mean that I can prevent it from burning our ship to the waterline in the night, you common cur.” He shakes his head at Patamon. “Commoners. They know nothing.”

Heinrick Heinrick’s polite smile is becoming more obviously forced, but he says nothing.

Avner “And worst of all, Heinrick speaks of Lavinia in a most vulgar manner. The ship’s men all hear his tales, and while I believe what Lavinia does is her own business, surely it shouldn’t be this ship’s business as well? He is undercutting her authority with his bragging bedroom tales.”

Katrina Kat’s mouth falls open.

Heinrick “That is a blatant lie! The only lips that such vulgarities have crossed were your own, Master Meravanchi. I admit it has become something of an open secret that I have feelings for our lady, but a gentleman does not kiss and tell, much less what this… noble has suggested.”

Patamon Patamon’s expression does not change, but he gets up, walking right up to Heinrick, who towers over him. “I zought so. Do you know vhat I do to zose who vould profane my lady’s honor?”

Heinrick Heinrick meets his gaze coolly. “The same thing I would do in your place, I imagine.”

Patamon “Vhich is vhy I am sorry about zis, Heinrick. I told you zat a noble man vill let lesser men do zat for him.”

Patamon jerks his rapier out with blinding speed. Lightning crackles along the blade. His arm cocks back and with the swiftness of a striking cobra, lunges forward, even as he twists his torso to the left.

Avner Avner screams in pain as the blade plunges into his belly, the lightning causing the smell of burnt flesh to waft into all who are gathered around’s nostrils.

Quintal Quintal leaps between the two of them. “Stop this now, Sir Patamon. There has been enough violence in recent days,” Quintal says in a calm voice.

Patamon Patamon is the picture of calm. “Certainly, Brozer Quintal. You are correct, and I forget myself and my company. I apologize and vill return to my ship.”

Quintal “Let us speak later, Sir Patamon,” Quintal requests.

Patamon Patamon looks curiously at Brother Quintal for a moment and then nods.

Heinrick Heinrick looks down at the stuck pig on the deck impassively. “Not quite what I was planning on, but I won’t hold it against you.”

Renald Renald tries to get up, but is tangled in Avner.

Sara Sara screams.

Heinrick Heinrick reaches down to help Renald to his feet.

Renald Renald slaps Heinrick’s hand away. “I don’t need your help!”

Katrina Kat stares in shock, then moves to Avner’s side. “Avner?” She tries to figure out how badly he’s hurt.

DM She has no clue, the blood doesn’t seem to be gushing out of his stomach like one would expect.

Quintal Quintal likewise gazes at Avner’s wound. Realizing the seriousness of the injury, he moves quickly to stabilize the snobby nobleman.

DM Quintal saves the man’s life.

Quintal “Lord Meravanchi will live.”

Katrina Kat looks back up at Patamon from her knees next to Avner, still shocked.

Patamon “More’s ze pity,” Patamon states flatly, before gesturing at the Jade Ravens. “Zani, please take me into custody upon our return to the Blue Nixie.”

Katrina “Wh… why? What did that accomplish?” Kat asks Patamon from on her knees in Avner’s blood.

Patamon Patamon looks at Katrina somewhat gently. “Nozing, Lady Islaran. It never does. But perhaps my sleep vill be less troubled tonight, as it has not been in years.”

Heinrick “I hope so, Patamon. I’d like to have a talk with you later, as well. Good luck, if you’ll need it.”

Katrina Kat seems to be trying to form a response but can’t think of anything to say. After a moment she looks away and toward Quintal. “Is it safe to move him?”

Quintal “Yes. He should be taken to his quarters to rest. He will recover in time.”

Nixie’s Crew Patamon, Liamae and Zani leave the ship for the Nixie.

Katrina “Renald, Sara… can you manage him?”

Sara & Renald The servants nod, but struggle as they lift their master.

Katrina Kat moves to help them.

DM The three transport Avner to the passenger quarters.

Quintal Wordlessly, Quintal walks to the bow of the ship and sits down cross-legged.

Katrina Kat returns to the deck, seemingly without noticing the blood on her hands and

Heinrick Heinrick goes to look for Achris.

DM Heinrick finds Achris.

Heinrick “Hey man. Tolin, over on the Nixie, needs a cleric; Kaskus hasn’t been able to
help him. Get your stuff together, I’ll take you over.”

Achris Achris looks up with what might be a startled expression on his face. “Hmm. Yes, presumably I could be of great use to him, true?”

Heinrick “That’s the plan.”

Achris “But!”

Heinrick “But what?”

Achris “I no longer possess my holy symbol. So I cannot help him.”

Heinrick “Seriously? You can’t do anything at all? I’ve seen Maribesana heal without hers on.”

Achris “The monster upon the island supposedly melted it. My spells are magic!”

Heinrick “…and?”

Achris “And so I must touch people to heal them.”

Heinrick “Okay… well, that’s better than nothing, isn’t it? Even if all you can do is figure out what’s keeping him from getting better, you’ll have helped.”

Achris “Yes. Because I serve the protector aspect of Nethys and not the destroyer aspect!”

Heinrick “Uhm… of course you do.”

Achris “I prefer casting my spells on people but they think I’m lazy.”

Heinrick “Yeah… say, are you sure you cured yourself of that mummy rot?”

Achris “Yes! The disease cannot spread by touch. I knew that, but did not tell you.”

Heinrick “That’s… that’s great, Achris. Now, how about getting your healing supplies, anything you might need, and going to do that protector-serving magic on Tolin?”

Achris “Magic! On Tolin, yes, presumably, of course. I shall get ready… with quickly!”

Heinrick “That’s… great, Achris. Thanks.”

Achris Achris crouches… and then moves off to do as Heinrick asked!

Heinrick Heinrick turns and heads back to the deck, pausing once to shake the befuddled
expression from his face.

Katrina After taking some time to compose herself, Kat approaches the captain. “Um. Captain?”

Amella Amella raises an eyebrow in Kat’s direction.

Katrina “I was wondering if I could break into the repair supplies for some wood and tools. Just a couple small pieces.”

Amella Amella purses her lips and gives a short nod.

Katrina “Thank you.” Kat turns to leave.

Amella “Get yerself better soon, Kat. I want my nav back.”

Katrina “Yes, Captain.”

Amella “Yes, thanks indeed.”

Katrina Kat heads down below decks to get what she needs. She considers heading back to her bunk but in the end decides to stay in the hold to work. She lights up several nearby items to provide enough light to work by and settles down.

Quintal Quintal has not moved from his position of meditation.

Heinrick Heinrick prepares the Wyvern’s rowboat to sail.

Quintal Quintal approaches Heinrick. “You are going to the other ship? I shall accompany you.”

Heinrick “Of course. I need to talk to Lavinia… oh, sorry, ‘Lady Vanderboren,’ about all this.”

Quintal Quintal almost smiles at the joke.

Heinrick “Hang on a moment.” Heinrick heads for the hold. “Kat? Brother Quintal and I are going to the Nixie. Do you want to come, or are you busy?”

Katrina Kat puts down her half-carved piece of wood. She seems torn on an answer but eventually gets up. “Yes.”

Heinrick Heinrick smiles. “Great. The air will do you some good. I’m sure they’ll be glad to know you’re up, too.”

Katrina She manages a weak smile as she follows Heinrick up.

Heinrick As usual, Heinrick takes the oars.

Quintal Quintal climbs into the boat.

Katrina Kat carefully climbs into the boat – a task made more difficult by the fact that she’s trying to do it one handed.

DM The journey to the Nixie is uneventful although the seas are a bit rougher than normal. They are greeted by Kaskus and Liamae.

Kaskus “Hey, good t’ see ya!” Kaskus is jovial.

Quintal Quintal nods at the greeting.

Heinrick “Hey, Kaskus! Liamae, hi again. Permission to come aboard?”

Kaskus “Permission granted,” Kaskus replies almost as an afterthought.

Quintal Quintal climbs aboard quickly.

Heinrick Heinrick lets the others go up first, discretely keeping an eye on Kat as she climbs.

Liamae “Patamon’s confined to quarters… Lady Vanderboren is down there with him,” Liamae responds to the unasked question.

Katrina Kat stands around rather stiffly.

Heinrick “Can we see them?”

Kaskus Kaskus nods. “Yeah. Patamon said t’ be expectin’ yas.”

Heinrick “Thanks.”

Katrina Kat follows Heinrick.

Quintal Quintal follows Kat.

Heinrick Heinrick goes to Patamon’s quarters. He knocks.

DM They come shortly to Patamon’s quarters, where the red haired major domo stands at attention. Lavinia and Joliet are there as well, sitting on a small couch.

Lavinia At the knock, Lavinia looks up with a smile. “Heinrick! Katrina! And… Brother Quintal, I believe.”

Joliet Joliet beams. “Hi guys!”

Katrina “Jo.” Kat bobs her head. “Lavinia.”

Patamon Patamon nods stiffly to the group.

Joliet “You guys are so stuffy. Kat, sit down with us!” Joliet pats a small space on the couch.

Katrina Kat moves and sits beside Jo.

Heinrick “Hello, my lady. Hi Jo, Patamon. So… where do things stand?”

Lavinia Lavinia shakes her head with a rueful smile. “Avner… causes me more problems than I thought possible. Now I’m harboring two people who have assaulted a noble.”

Heinrick “If I’d heard what he said about you firsthand instead of from Kat, it’d have been three.”

Lavinia Lavinia gives a wry smile. “You did assault a noble, Heinrick, or did you forget? I’m just not harboring you.”

Heinrick Heinrick steps into the room and closes the door. “I do have an idea about how to approach the situation to prevent any more… incidents, but we’ll save that for a bit. What’s happened over here?”

Lavinia “What do you mean?” Lavinia asks.

Heinrick “How has everyone on the Nixie reacted to it?”

Joliet “Reacted to what? We heard you and Brother Quintal fought a real life dragon, which was kind of exciting.”

Heinrick “It… kinda was, in hindsight, but not quite what I meant.”

Lavinia “Only myself and the Ravens know about Patamon. The dragon story, on the other hand… most of the ship is rather impressed. I know I am.”

Heinrick “Heh. Well, I didn’t know he was a dragon at the time. Hell of a punch, though.”

Lavinia “So are you actually stronger than a dragon, Heinrick?”

Heinrick “I’d… like to be able to say that. Truth is, I managed to get in a few good hits before he broke my sword and knocked me flat.”

Joliet “What about you, Kat? Did you help fight the dragon too?”

Katrina “No, Jo.”

Heinrick “I don’t know what happened to force him back into his own shape and leave.”

Lavinia Lavinia gets a worried look on her face. “I love you, Heinrick, but you need to be careful.”

Heinrick “People keep saying that. Again, I didn’t know he was a dragon at the time, just… a flying guy with a big sword.”

Lavinia Lavinia gives Heinrick a very dry look. “And that is a reason not to be careful? ‘Oh, I thought it was just a huge flying guy.’ I swear, you have more balls than brains.”

Joliet Joliet stifles laughter at Lavinia’s remark.

Heinrick Heinrick just grins in return.

Katrina Kat fights a smirk.

Patamon Patamon continues standing at attention.

Katrina “I’d like to see Tolin, if possible.”

Lavinia “Of course, Kat. He’s in and out of it, but we’re keeping him in the crewmen’s quarters.”

Joliet “I’ll show you where he is!” Joliet stands up and takes Kat by her good arm. “Come on!”

Katrina Kat follows Joliet.

Heinrick Given that they aren’t alone, Heinrick clears his throat. "I’ve asked Achris to come over and take a look at him, see if he can do anything more for him.

Lavinia Lavinia arches her eyebrow. “I’d feel better about Maribesana tending to him… or really anyone other than that… man. But I’m sure it will be ok.” She smiles.

Heinrick “Yeah… me too, frankly. But it was captain’s orders.”

Lavinia “Brother Quintal, what brings you to the ship?”

Quintal “I would speak with Sir Patamon, Lady Vanderboren. By your leave, of course.”

Lavinia “Ah, my prisoner?” Lavinia rolls her eyes. “Certainly, Brother. Heinrick, if you would be so kind as to escort me to my quarters, I will allow the good Brother counsel with the prisoner.”

Heinrick “Certainly, Milady.” He grins again, slightly, and offers her his arm. “Brother, I’ll see you later. Patamon… thanks.”

Patamon Patamon’s lips draw even tighter.

Quintal Quintal bows respectfully to Lavinia as they leave.

DM Kat and Joliet find Tolin in the crew’s quarters, he is tossing and mumbling in his bed.

Zani Zani stands over him, wetting his forehead with a cloth.

Katrina Kat looks at him and moves close to Tolin. “Oh, Tolin… I’m sorry.”

Tolin At the sound of her voice, Tolin jerks and his eyes fly open. “Katrina! Must save you!”

Katrina Kat catches Tolin as he jerks. “Tolin, it’s ok, I’m ok.”

Tolin Tolin’s eyes are wild, it is clear he is somewhere far from here. “Katrina. How are you here? You are in danger!”

Katrina “You’re on the Blue Nixie, Tolin, the demon’s gone. The danger is gone. I’m safe, you saved me.”

Tolin “It’s in the woods, Katrina. Gods, you are beautiful. They’ll take that from you, Katrina. They’ll try to take your beauty. I won’t let them! I’ll die for you, Katrina.”

Katrina “This is what he’s been like?”

Zani Zani shakes her head. “He’s usually restless… delusions come and go though.”

Katrina Kat nods as Zani explains.

Tolin Tolin jerks out, catching Kat by her left hand. “Run Kat! Run! It comes in the night!”

Katrina Kat jumps as he grabs her, then lays her other hand on his. “There’s no need to run, Tolin.” Her voice is very calm, soothing almost.

Tolin Tolin relaxes, and his breathing returns to normal. “Katrina….” He squeezes her hand. “We’ll make it through this.”

Katrina “You will at least,” Kat whispers. She squeezes Tolin’s hand back and makes for the door quickly. She heads to the deck to wait for the others.

Quintal When Lavinia and Heinrick are gone, Quintal closes the door behind them and sits down on the floor, his eyes locked on Patamon.

Patamon “Come to chastise me now, Brozer?”

Quintal Quintal motions for Patamon to sit.

Patamon Patamon brings his chin up, still in the position of attention. “My lady vill not punish me. I must do it myself. I vill not sit down and relax vhile I have yet to atone.”

Quintal “Can man pass judgment upon himself?”

Patamon Patamon thinks over Quintal’s words for a moment. “A man who does not judge himself is one of poor character. I have done wrong.”

Quintal “You know this, yet you did it regardless. Why degrade yourself?”

Patamon “Because the man has vronged my lady for too long. And ozers around her. I vould razer degrade myself zan allow better men to give in to zat temptation.”

Quintal “Do you believe Lord Meravanchi deserves death?”

Patamon “He deserves pain. Ze pain he puts ozers zrough.”

Quintal “Yet you still feel guilty?”

Patamon “I do not like being a lesser man, Brozer.”

Quintal “Yet by your own words, you passed righteous judgment upon the least of men. Why the contradiction?”

Patamon Patamon sighs and sits down, emulating Brother Quintal’s pose. “I do not vish to give in to my passions. Particularly my violent ones. It is yust… Lady Vanderboren vill allow zis blackguard to vrong her. But it is not my place to pass judgment upon a noble. Zat is for ze courts. Not one such as I.”

Quintal “Courts do not hear cases of a cruel tongue. You cannot let this pass, yet you do not wish to give into passion and rage. Once, I too was mired in such a predicament.”

Patamon “Vhat did you do, Brozer?”

Quintal “I slew many evil men to protect the lives of two innocents. I did not do it out of anger, nor disgust. I ignored how I felt, and chose to do what I knew was right.”

Patamon Patamon nods. “But how can I know vhat is right?”

Quintal “You already know, Sir Patamon.”

Patamon “But I do not! Zat is it! I vish to kill zis man, but it vill cause more problems for my lady zan it vill solve. And yet I cannot bear to see him get avay vith his vile actions! I am torn, Brozer, between vhat is right for me and vhat is right for my lady! Zat is vhy I am ashamed. I chose my own desires over zose of my lady.”

Quintal “You need not kill him to bring him to justice.”

Patamon “But vhat justice vill touch zis nobleman? I zink failure at life vould be good enough for him, if he didn’t get to see my lady and cause her furzer trouble.”

Quintal “I cannot tell you that, because it is not my place. I am not here to chastise you, nor tell you what path to take. But you are a man of integrity, and I believe that, with time and careful thought, you will know the right path to take. And if this path leads to Lord Meravanchi’s end, I will not stop you a second time.”

Patamon Patamon blinks. “Master Meravanchi. Lord Meravanchi is his fazer, and some of his uncles. Avner Meravanchi is no lord until his fazer dies.” He says nothing else to Quintal, his face impassive.

Quintal Quintal blinks himself. “I did not know that.”

Patamon Patamon sits in silence, legs crossed. A peaceful expression comes over his face.

Quintal “Regardless, your path is your own, Sir Patamon. I wish only to see that you walk down it with your dignity intact.”

Patamon “Zank you, Brozer Quintal. I vill.”

Quintal Quintal stands up, bows, and leaves, all rather suddenly.

Heinrick Meanwhile, in Lavinia’s quarters… “Love, I have an idea about how to put Avner into his place, without getting anyone else locked up.”

Lavinia Lavinia snuggles against Heinrick’s chest. “Must you bring that vile man to our lovebed, Heinrick? What is this plan of yours?”

Heinrick “Well, I would have done it sooner, but I didn’t think either of us wanted to wait. Before we left Sasserine, I remember reading about the Code Duello… it doesn’t allow a commoner to challenge a noble… but a commoner can serve as a champion for one noble in her quarrel with another.”

Lavinia Lavinia nods. “True.”

Heinrick “And gods know, he’s given you and Kat both ample reason to call him out. If you did, we’d win either way; either I get to humiliate him on the field, or he loses face for backing down.”

Lavinia Lavinia pauses for a long time before continuing, in a small voice. “Heinrick, do you know Avner and I’s history?”

Heinrick “He… told me some things. I chose not to believe all of it, and you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to. Just what we’ve heard with my our ears is plenty.”

Lavinia Lavinia sighs. “It isn’t right not to tell you, Heinrick. I’ve been putting it off because I just… I can’t bear the thought of you looking on me with loathing. But I can’t have you love a lie.” Lavinia goes on to tell Heinrick, in tears, about her engagement to Avner, her sleeping with him and getting left at the altar for her cousin, and about Vanthus and the love potion prank gone terribly wrong.

Heinrick Heinrick listens to her story in silence, his heart aching at the pain it costs her to
tell him this. When she’s finished, he squeezes her to him and kisses her tears away. “Lavinia, my love. No matter what’s in your past, you are my heart. You’re not the first to be taken in by a smooth-tongued snake, nor the last, and your trust in others does you credit. And the other part was magic; you did what was right when your will was your own, and that’s all that counts. I don’t blame you for what Avner and Vanthus did, any more than I blame anyone but those demons for the atrocities at the party.”

Lavinia Lavinia sniffles and hugs Heinrick tightly. “Oh thank you, Heinrick. My love… my life. You are better to me than I deserve.”

Heinrick Heinrick kisses Lavinia again. “How could I do any less, for you love? You’ve completed me, given me something, someone, to fight for, to stand for, to live for.”

Lavinia “Mmm, come here and work a little more of that elven poetry on me,” Lavinia purrs, pulling Heinrick to her.

Heinrick “As my lady wishes,” he replies with his usual grin.

DM Once Heinrick and Lavinia emerge from her quarters, the group rejoins and leaves the Nixie for the Wyvern. They arrive back without any mishaps.

Quintal “Sir Heinrick, perhaps the healer should have accompanied us? We should send him now.”

Heinrick “He wasn’t ready, or he would have. I’ll go find him…” he sighs.

Amella Amella calls out, “Send Mera and th’ wonder twins over with ‘im. Th’ Nixie’s cap’n was concernt tha’ ‘is mast were leanin’ ‘n I promised tha’ I’d send a helpin’ hand.”

Heinrick “Will do, Cap’n.” Heinrick hunts them down, and rounds them up.

Achris Achris stumbles up to the deck carrying his things! “Presumably I have everything. I am ready to go… or am I?”

Katrina “This is who we’re sending to help Tolin?” Kat whispers to Heinrick angrily.

Heinrick “Amella wouldn’t let Mari go, or I’d have sent her,” he whispers back. “Besides, he… he’s more competent than he sounds. Usually.” To Achris, he replies, “Good to hear it, Achris. Jaxr, Yestl, and Mera will be going with you.”

Achris “Right. I am a mercenary! Does that put me in charge?”

Heinrick “…no. Jaxr’s in charge.”

Achris “Ok. I will hang back from fights then.”

Heinrick “There shouldn’t be any fights, man. You’re just going over there to help heal Tolin, that’s it.”

Achris Achris gets in the boat!

Jaxr “We’ll keep ’im honest, Boss,” Jaxr says.

Yestl “You owe us, Boss. Big time. I want a raise.” Yestl mock scowls at Heinrick.

Heinrick Heinrick leans in close to the three crewmen. “It’s not honesty I’m worried about. Keep a close eye on him if you can, please. And I’ll put in a good word with the captain for you, Yestl.”

Mera Mera rolls her eyes affectionately at Heinrick. “The things we do…”

Heinrick “If she doesn’t give you a raise, I’ll pay you one out of my own pocket, how’s that? Besides, it’ll only be a few hours; if he needs to stay longer than you, the Ravens can bring him back.”

DM The three get into the boat next to Achris and Yestl begins rowing them over the choppy sea towards the Nixie. In the evening, the wind whips into a frenzy, and by night, the ships are caught in a full fledged storm. The severe winds buffet the ship, tossing it like a matchbox on the waves. The ship is large enough to weather the storm well. The next morning, the skies remain cloudy but the wind dies down once again.

The Blue Nixie is nowhere in sight on the horizon.

As a tarnished silver lining to that cloud, Amella was able to keep the ship on course throughout the night.

Katrina “Jaxr… Tolin… Lavinia…” Kat stands on the deck and looks around for the Nixie forlornly.

Quintal Quintal finishes his morning meditations and comes out on deck, spotting Kat.

Heinrick “How are we going to find them? I pray the gods they didn’t get too far off course.”

Quintal “And what of our course, Sir Heinrick?”

Heinrick “Amella’s kept us straight… the plan was to sail on to Farshore and meet up there. Though it tears my guts to go on without her.”

Amella Amella scowls. “Damn it! We’ve lost ‘alf our bloody crew now. I shouldn’ta sent ’em.”

Quintal “Captain Amella, I may be of some use.”

Katrina “Do we have enough to continue?”

Amella Amella nods at Brother Quintal. “And Skald can pull ‘is weight on the ship too, not jus’ navigatin’. Along wit’ tha’ Lirith gal, we should be able t’ get by.”

Heinrick “I can put in a longer shift, if need be.”

Amella “Naw, Number Two, we’ll keep you on days, Mari on nights. Skald n’ th’ good brother’ll pull day shift, Lirith can pull night.”

Heinrick “I wonder… Mari’s a sea-priestess, you think she might be able to do anything in the way of finding the Nixie?”

Amella Amella shrugs. “You ask ’er, Heinrick.”

Quintal Quintal nods.

Heinrick “I will. I’m not waiting until Farshore to know what happened to her.”

Tavey Amella nods even as a cry goes up from Tavey. “Ho! A ship! To the east!”

DM Silhouetted by the rising sun, a ship makes its way towards the Wyvern… flying a black flag with skull and crossbones.

And so it ends for our heroes, True Believers! Separated from their allies, limping along from the storm and about to be sacked by pirates. Will they triumph? Find out in two weeks, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XVIII
Brother Quintal

DM We last left our heroes after a chilling encouter with the Prince of the Powers of Pazunia. They sail on, towards the Isle of Dread, where Lavinia’s parents have founded a fledgling colony. Only a month separates them from their goal. What will become of them? Read on, True Believers, and find out!

Quintal Brother Quintal sits on his bed, meditating on the recent events. Peace is hard to find this morning.

Heinrick Heinrick will be going into the passenger cabin to check on Kat about noon, but other than that, he’s going about his second mately duties.

DM The following day is brisk, the sea wind whipping over the deck. An unnatural chill hugs the waters.

Quintal After centering himself, Quintal ventures on deck, choosing not to sit around the unconscious Avner and the emotionally crippled Katrina.

Heinrick “Cold this morning… doesn’t seem right for this climate,” Heinrick says to anyone who happens to be in earshot. “Reminds me of that weird-ass rain of snakes.” He looks around for the captain.

Amella Who stands at the wheel, where she often does in the morning.

Heinrick Heinrick approaches Amella. “I get the feeling something… odd’s going to happen, Cap’n. This chill reminds me of the last time we had unnatural weather on the voyage.”

Amella Amella nods. “Number Two, yer makin’ me fuckin’ proud. We’ll beat th’ lubber out o’ ya if it’s th’ las’ thing we do!”

Heinrick “Why Captain Amella, I believe that might almost be interpreted as a compliment.”

Amella “Ye can interpret it anyway ye want, Number Two. It gets yer head too big fer ya and I’ll toss ya in th’ sea until it shrinks down.” The captain is smiling.

Heinrick “Noted, Captain. I’ll be on the lookout until then; don’t see any point alarming anyone else until we know for sure it’s trouble, though.”

Quintal Suddenly, Quintal leaps to where Heinrick and Amella are standing, and speaks to them for what may very well be the first time ever. “Captain Amella, I spotted something in the water about a hundred yards off the port. An enormous figure moving beneath the waves, and a single eye larger than a man blinking.”

Amella Amella’s mouth drops open and her face goes a little pale. “Number Two, take th’ wheel!” She rushes over to the port side and looks out over the waves.

Heinrick “Well, I’d qualify that as trouble. Thanks… Quintal, right?” Heinrick says as he grabs the wheel.

Quintal Quintal nods at Heinrick, then follows Amella, pointing out where he saw the thing.

Amella Amella scowls. “I don’t see it. But tha’ don’t mean it ain’t there. Tavey! What th’ fuck are ya doin’ tha’ a fuckin’ sea monter’s snuck up on us while yer pissin’ around?”

Tavey “Sorry, ma’am,” comes back a very meek reply.

Amella Amella moves back to the wheel. “Permission t’ take th’ wheel, Number Two?”

Heinrick “Of course, Cap’n.” Heinrick relinquishes the wheel to her.

Amella “It’s permission granted, Number Two,” Amella replies with a swat to Heinrick’s backside.

Heinrick “Sorry, Captain; guess there’s a little bit of the lubber left in me after all.”

Quintal Quintal stares intentionally out to sea, scanning for the beast.

Heinrick Heinrick lends his eyes to the search.

Quintal Quintal peers intently into the waters, viewing the dark shape retreat further into the depths. “It is going deeper…” he says quietly.

Heinrick “I still don’t see it.”

Quintal “I do not believe it is a threat, Sir Heinrick. Merely very large.”

Heinrick “How large are we talking? Something big enough could capsize the boat just by being clumsy.”

Quintal “Likely. The only part of it that broke the surface was a single eye, as large as an ogre.”

Heinrick “Damn… hope you’re right, then. My sword’d be like a pinprick to something like that.”

Quintal “A single needle blinds men and giants alike.”

Heinrick “Suppose it does at that… but a man or a giant generally swats things that poke him.”

Quintal “This is true, but how many flies have you successfully swatted?”

Heinrick “More than a few. Actually caught one without squishing it once, just to see if I could. Anyway, it’s gone now, and I hope it stays down there.” Heinrick goes about his duties again, taking a moment to knock on Katrina’s door and try again to talk sense into her. Later, Heinrick looks around for Brother Quintal again. “I meant to ask you, Brother; what was your take on what happened back at the village?”

Quintal Brother Quintal looks at Heinrick for a moment before answering. “My ‘take’?”

Heinrick “You seem like a wise man; how do you make sense of something like that?”

Quintal “Miss Joliet was burdened by her misdeed, and no doubt she felt it necessary to redeem herself. She is a passionate young woman, but her passions for her friends proved her undoing that day. I do not know how she called upon the winged horror, but it was a poor choice in my estimate. But she values you and the others above herself, so I do not doubt she believes she made the right choice.”

Heinrick “Mmm. I don’t know how she’s dealing with it. In my book the horror she has to live with now far outweighs any mistake she made. I’m more worried about Katrina, though; Lady Islaran. She’s hardly gotten out of bed since we came back to the ship. Didn’t even want to get her wound cleaned.”

Quintal “Perhaps we should see to the wound, then. It would not do for an infection to spread. She may well lose the entire arm along with the finger. Or did Miss Maribesana already see to it?”

Heinrick “I asked Mari to go look at her. She wouldn’t talk about what they said, and Kat wouldn’t let me see the hand after that.”

Quintal “No doubt she feels guilty about what took place, and it will not be easy for her to move on. None of us, I feel, will soon forget it.”

Heinrick “That’s what she was saying. I don’t think it should be forgotten, but it does need to be moved past. Anyway, I should be getting back to work. Thanks, Brother Quintal.”

Quintal Quintal bows slightly.

DM Three days later, the fourth morning after leaving Renkrue, Amella’s cursing rises to a loud point even for her.

Amella “Gods damn th’ slutted son o’ a shitfaced seadragon and th’ sloppy slit tha’ shot ’im out! Nav!”

Quintal Quintal raises an eyebrow at the commotion, then continues his morning meditation.

Skald Skald rushes up to Amella. “Yes, Cap’n?”

Amella “We’re in th’ Pearl Current, sweethearts, so look lively!”

Skald Skald gulps and rushes off to the charts, hoping to keep the Sea Wyvern on course.

Quintal Finished with exercising his spirit, Quintal heads to the deck to exercise his body.

DM As the days pass in the Pearl Current, it becomes clear to Quintal upon the third day that the expedition is lost. He notices Skald on deck that day, looking incredibly frustrated.

Quintal Quintal gives Skald a knowing nod.

Skald Skald grimaces. “Yes? What can I help you with?”

Quintal “We are lost, are we not?”

Skald “Uh… no. No we aren’t… we are just a bit off course. Nothing that can’t be handled.”

Quintal “Ah. My mistake.” Quintal returns to his exercises

Skald Skald looks glum, but returns to his charts. On the following day, he has a relieved look on his face.

Heinrick Heinrick is just finishing his own morning workout as Quintal begins his, but doesn’t comment on the brief conversation. Since he’s at the other end of the ship.

Skald Three more days go by, as the ship struggles through the swift current. A week after Amella’s outburst, Skald has a look of pure exaltation on his face. “We did it! We’re through the Pearl!”

Heinrick “Well done, Skald.”

Skald The elven man lets out a shaky breath. “Thanks. Didn’t think we were going to make it through there for a while.”

Quintal As part of his exercises, Quintal jumps ten feet into the air from a standing start.

Heinrick Seeing Skald has things well in hand, Heinrick wanders towards where Quintal is exercising. “Now that’s a nice trick.”

Quintal “I have honed my body to exceed its limitations, but I have much greater hurdles to overcome than simply leaping into the air… pardon the pun.”

Heinrick “Heh. I won’t tell if you won’t. Still impressive. What kinds of hurdles are those?”

Quintal “Mine is the path of perfection. In ages past there were men who achieved such mastery of their bodies that neither disease, poison, magic, or even inevitable aging could touch them.”

Heinrick “Sounds a lot like magic itself, to me. And here all my training’s done has made me better at hitting things harder.”

Quintal “But you find your own path rewarding, do you not? Otherwise you would not travel it.”

Heinrick “Well yeah, of course. It’s what I’m best at, what I enjoy… I don’t know what I’d do with myself without fighting and training to fight.”

Quintal “Then step forward, and never look back. It is true that I may discover things you can never know, but likewise you will discover knowledge that I can never possess. No one can walk every path. Certainly, there are tales of red-garbed maniacs who do so, but they are obviously no more real than a man’s womb.”

Heinrick “Now there’s a delightful mental image for you… but you are right about it. Maybe we could spar sometime, and give each other a hand our respective paths.”

Quintal “Perhaps.” Quintal suddenly turns to the sky. “What is that?” He also points to it.

Heinrick “What’s what?” Heinrick peers upwards, scanning the sky.

DM They notice a red shape in the sky, descending rapidly towards the deck of the ship.

Heinrick “What in the blazes… Captain! We might be having company!”

Quintal One of Quintal’s hands forms into a fist as he slowly shifts into a fighting stance.

DM Striking the deck like a meteor, a massive armored red haired man in armor lands, bending one knee as he strikes. A blade even larger than Heinrick’s is at his back.

 photo Kelvartz_zps39b8404b.jpg

Heinrick Heinrick puts a hand on his sword’s hilt, but stands his ground. “Pardon me for being blunt, but who are you, and what are you doing on our ship?”

Armored Man The man replies in a low voice. “Looking for trouble. Someone said there was a good fight to be had here.”

Heinrick “Depends on what you’re fighting over.”

Quintal “And who is this someone?”

Armored Man The man smiles. “Just some old cranky bitch I know. I fight for joy. Either I take yours and make it my own, or you take mine.” He grips his blade in one hand and swings it casually a few times. Then smiles wildly. “How about it? My strength versus yours?”

Heinrick Heinrick considers it for a moment, then grins slightly. “Fine. Terms of the duel?”

Armored Man “Your best two, or three or four, against me. I will attempt to kill you all. You attempt to kill me. Should any of you say ‘yield’, you can be spared my blade.”

Heinrick “Very gracious of you. Likewise on the yielding, of course.” Heinrick gives Quintal a questioning look.

Armored Man “Those who yield to me shall be considered my subjects, as I am a king among men.”

Quintal Quintal nods. “Let us begin.”

Heinrick “I’ve already got a boss, and she’s a lot better-looking than you. Guess I’ll just have to make sure you’re the one yielding, then.” He draws his blade with a flourish. “Ready when you are, sparky.” At an invisible signal, Heinrick steps forward, and swings at the stranger twice.

DM Heinrick’s blade traces a double arc, ringing off the man’s armored shoulder the first time, but stopping cold against his opponent’s gauntleted fist the second.

Armored Man The man laughs. “Ho! Not bad for a pup, but Kelvartz knows no equal!” Holding his sword on his shoulder, he punches Heinrick directly in the face. (12 damage)

Quintal Quintal flips and tumbles past Kelvartz and lands where Renor is tied up, then punches at the enemy.

DM Quintal’s hand snaps out, catching Kelvartz on the chest. The man glances down and smiles cruelly.

Renor Renor’s head rolls to the side and his tongue hangs out, drooling.

Heinrick Heinrick rears back and swings again, noting the man’s confidence in his armor and maintaining some care in his attacks.

DM Heinrick’s blade arcs out wide, and is easily deflected by the man’s own sword, notching it. His backstroke manages to catch the warrior on the thigh, biting deep, although the armored figure does not flinch. A low chuckle comes from his chest.

Heinrick “You’re not bad yourself. No seven-headed hydra, but not bad.”

Kelvartz He kicks backwards into Heinrick’s gut (14 damage) and catches Quintal with a roundhouse punch to the side of the head. (15 damage) “You compare the Master of the Flaming Fist to a hydra, boy? Ho, ho! Should I defeat you, I shall claim your tongue as payment for your insolence!” His massive blade does not waver from its position perched on his shoulder, held casually by his left hand.

Crew The fray has caught the attention of the crew, who gather, cheering Heinrick and Quintal on.

Quintal Quintal taps into his inner power, unleashing three lightning fast kicks, the first aimed to stun the foe.

Kelvartz Although his first kick catches the man squarely between the thighs, he merely squares his jaw in response. “Not bad, naked man.” The other two attacks go wide.

Quintal “I have confidence in myself. You can have confidence in your armor.”

Heinrick Heinrick repeats his attacks, this time gambling with putting his full power behind them.

Kelvartz His attacks are batted aside by Kelvartz, who doesn’t even bother to turn to face his attacker. “And I thought I had a fight on my hands.” He savagely headbutts Quintal in the face, then follows up with a punch to the chest. (24 damage) “Where is your confidence now, naked man?”

Quintal “You’ve yet to wound my spirit.” Quintal answers with another flurry and stun.

DM The monk lowers his body sharply and rises with a knee into Kelvartz’s groin. A swallow and grimace crosses the man’s expression.

Kelvartz “All right… no more screwing around. You die now.”

Quintal “Are you no longer enjoying yourself, sir?”

Kelvartz “My time is extensive, but valuable, man. I have been distracted too long. Know that I will at least make your death swift and painless.”

Heinrick “Sorry, no plans on dying today. Especially not just to amuse a bastard like you.” Heinrick strikes out at him, while assuming a protective stance.

DM The two attacks cleave into Kelvartz, who has still been facing Quintal to this point. The man is driven almost to his knees under the assault.

Kelvartz He spins, his eyes glowing in anger, glowering down at Heinrick. He snorts, smoke blowing from his nostrils. He lowers his massive blade off of his shoulder and smiles at Heinrick. The blade flashes out twice, catching Heinrick across the forehead and stabbing him through the chest. (74 damage)

As the half-elven warrior pitches forward, the man’s third stroke catches his blade, shearing through the mighty weapon crafted by his grandfather like butter. The blade drops in two pieces. Kelvartz then reverses his grip and plunges it backwards into Quintal. (27 damage)

The warrior then drops his blade on the deck of the ship. His body begins shaking. “Arggghh… damn you!” He tears at his armor, trying to get it off.

Heinrick Heinrick’s left hand goes to his chest to hold the wound, while his right clutches the ruined hilt of his weapon; the latter seems to pain him more, judging from his horrified stare at it.

Quintal “You asked for this.” Quintal does not pause in his ki-powered stunning assault

DM The strikes do little to harm the warrior, although he glares murderously at Quintal.

Heinrick “M… my sword…” coughs up a little blood “You broke my sword…” He stares at the hilt for a moment, then takes his hand off his wound, and lunges for the stranger with the broken shard of his weapon. “YOU BROKE MY SWORD!”

DM His attack bounces off the man’s chest, and Heinrick sinks back, fading fast.

Kelvartz Kelvartz shakes his head back and forth in agony, roaring in anger. “AAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!” His hand lashes out at Quintal, grabing the man by the chest in his fingers, which have grown into claws. (18 damage) “Taste the flames!”

The blood dripping down Kelvartz’s arm explodes into a blaze, which washes over Quintal. Kelvartz then stumbles back, his armor finally falling to the deck. He looks to the heavens and screams in rage, his body exploding outwards and his flesh falling away, revealing his true form.

 photo Kelvartz_zpspiyuzhkr.jpg

Heinrick “Wh th ’ell?” Heinrick mutters blearily from the deck.

Kelvartz A massive, bleeding, burning red dragon stretches its wings upon the deck. “You… will pay for this insult. Later.” He leaps into the air and wings shakily off.

Quintal Quintal watches the beast escape, then calmly announces. “Someone tend to Heinrick.”

Jaxr Jaxr rushes for the stairs, yelling for Mari.

Heinrick “Ugh… potions… belt…”

Quintal Quintal moves over to where Heinrick lays and attempts to stabilize his condition. “You’ll live to see another day, Sir Heinrick.”

Heinrick “Ugh… thanks.”

Quintal Quintal nods.

Crew Mari and Jaxr come rushing up within a few minutes, a blurry eyed Mari laying her hands on Heinrick, channeling healing energies into him. The passengers who gathered around for the fight are speechless in awe of the two men.

Heinrick “Ah… thanks, Mari. You all right, Quintal?”

Quintal Despite himself, Quintal suddenly stumbles slightly, and clutches at his chest. “Perhaps not.”

Mari “Damn my broken holy symbol,” Mari mutters, moving to the monk to lay her hands on him as well.

DM Suddenly, Quintal’s hands and feet burst into flames.

Quintal He stares in awe at this development.

Quintal photo Quintal.jpg

Heinrick “Well… that’s new,” Heinrick says from his seat on the deck.

Mari “Whoa, shit!” Mari says, jerking back.

Quintal Quintal focuses a bit, to see if he can will the flames away and back again. And does so. “Fascinating. It appears our adversary has left me a parting gift. And perhaps one for you as well.” Quintal points to the shredded armor and sword left behind.

Heinrick “Hmm. It’d be… poetic. But I never really cared for poetry.” Heinrick picks up the shards of his sword from the deck, and looks at them dejectedly. “This was the last blade my grandfather ever forged. He came out of retirement to make for me when I decided to leave home.”

Quintal “It can be reforged. But in the meantime, it would be best not to disarm yourself for the sake of family honor. Your grandfather would be happier knowing that you survived than the blade.”

Heinrick “Suppose you’re right,” he says grumblingly. “I have a dagger, but I wouldn’t want to depend on my knife-fighting.”

Jerard “Oh, Heinrick, no!” Jerard’s hollow emerges from the lower decks. “I… I still know how to work steel like the real me did… this can be fixed.”

Heinrick He carefully picks up every piece of the piece of his blade, and is about to tuck them away when he hears Jerard. “Really? That’d be great, Jer!”

Jerard Jerard’s hollow flinches at the name but smiles, one of the first. “Yeah. We can fix it, either at the next stop or once we get to the colony.”

Heinrick “Sorry. And thanks. I guess I can stand using the dragon’s blade until then. Couldn’t pay me enough to put on that armor, until a wizard I trust goes over it with a fine-tooth comb, though. Not after the way he tore it off.”

Mari Mari looks at the wounded men. “Are you going to be all right, or should I expend all of Besmara’s blessings on you?”

Quintal “We will meet him again. Master of the Flaming Fist… I shall claim this title.”

Mari “Dumbass Heiny, fighting with a damn dragon.”

Heinrick “I didn’t know he was a dragon, all right. And… can you get them back without your symbol? If not, I’ll live.”

Avner A condescending voice from behind the combatants and cleric sniffs. “Hmmph. You’ve probably called down that beast’s wrath on us all now. Doomed everyone.”

Quintal Coming back to reality, Quintal looks over to where the voice is coming from.

Heinrick Heinrick, recognizing the voice, closes his eyes and sighs deeply. “Avner, I am really not in the mood for you right now.”

Avner The look on Avner’s face matches the dripping disdain in his voice. “No doubt, you are rarely in the mood to take responsibility for your actions, Heinrick. But you’ve endangered us all with your rash behavior.”

Heinrick “He didn’t show himself for a dragon until after we beat him, you overbred twit. And that is quite possibly the biggest case of the pot calling the kettle black I’ve ever heard.”

Quintal “Beasts can only be beasts,” Quintal replies cryptically.

Avner Avner simply sniffs again and walks away from the battered men.

Heinrick Heinrick picks up Kelvartz’s sword, and gives it a cautious practice swing to test the balance. He never once looked at Avner while the other was talking to him.

DM The blade is heavy, heavier than Heinrick expected. The blade is dull black, but the hilt is still red hot. It is roughly half a foot longer than his own massive blade.

Heinrick “Damn. This thing’s as tall I am.” He sets it down, and shakes his hands. “Hilt’s red hot, and the balance is weird. Gonna take some getting used to. Pretty well made stuff, though… I wonder if they’re magical. Mari, can you tell?”

Mari Mari shakes her head. “Not today, anyways.”

Quintal “Indeed. Adamantine can make for a highly potent weapon.”

Heinrick “Yeah…. and mithril is even pricier stuff. Well, if nothing else, this is one more thing I might be able to use to get Kat to respond to something.”

Mari Mari’s gaze closes at the mention of her friend. “Hopefuly.”

DM The following morning, Patamon hails the ship in the rowboat. With him are Zani and Liamae of the Jade Ravens.

Heinrick Heinrick waves them up.

DM The three climb aboard, Patamon bowing deeply, the girls smiling their greetings.

Heinrick “Hey, Patamon, Limae. Zani, how’s the hand?”

Patamon “Heinrick, I come to tell you zat Miss Yoliet is doing ok, and to give you zis, courtesy of ze Lady Vanderboren.”

Zani Zani smiles weakly. “Heh… it hasn’t thrown my aim off. Aches like a bitch though.”

Heinrick “Good to hear, on both counts.”

Patamon Patamon hands Heinrick a bound manuscript.

Heinrick Heinrick accepts it, and looks for a title.

DM “The Journal of Larissa Vanderboren”

Heinrick “Her mother’s?”

Patamon “Yes. Zis is a copy…. she vanted you to have it so zat if anyzing vas to happen, you vould be able to carry on her work… I believe ze… happenings upon Renkrue have caused her to become somewhat… concerned.”

Heinrick “Mm. I understand. Give our lady my thanks, and my promise that I’ll hold it in trust. Though I pray I never have to use it in such a way.”

Liamae Liamae speaks up. “Yesterday, we saw a shooting star fall near your ship… were any of you witness to that?”

Heinrick “Yeah. Only it wasn’t a star. Long story. Actually not that long, but telling it would probably make me sound insane.”

Zani Zani laughs. “Most of what you and your little friends do sounds insane, Heinrick, what’s the difference here?”

Liamae Liamae smiles coyly. “Seriously… to listen to Lavinia talk, you are the bravest people alive, but to watch you… you’re definitely the craziest.”

Heinrick “All right. The shooting star was, apparently, a red dragon who gets his kicks by going around in human form, and challenging people to fights to the death. He broke my sword, and kicked me and Quintal around pretty good before we drove him off in a screaming fit.”

Patamon Patamon blinks.

Zani Zani coughs.

Heinrick “And I’ll accept the brave part, but I deny any responsibility for the craziness.”

Liamae Liamae’s eyes open wide. “Um….”

Heinrick “And of course, Avner’s being a whiny little bitch about the entire thing. And I told you it’d sound crazy.”

Patamon Patamon’s voice goes very still. “Perhaps I should speak vith him, zen? Regarding ze dragon?”

Heinrick “We already had words, thanks. But if you’ve got something else to discuss with Master Meravenchi, please, don’t let me stand in your way. I’d even give you a hand reasoning with him, if you like.”

Jade Ravens The girls look at each other concernedly.

Patamon Patamon smiles broadly at Heinrick. “By all means, Heinrick, call Master Meravanchi up on deck, so zat I may hear his concerns about you and ze dragon.”

Liamae Liamae’s eyes catch Heinrick’s and she shakes her head imperceptibly.

Heinrick “It was nothing worth hearing, honestly. Just finding a way to blame me for not backing down from a bully’s challenge. Something about putting the whole ship in danger through an act of foolishness, or the like. I really do think he was the only one who missed the irony there.”

Patamon Patamon’s face looks grave. “Heinrick, zese are serious charges, if brought by a noble on your ship. Maybe I do need to hear Master Meravanchi.”

Heinrick “If you wish.”

Zani Zani coughs nervously.

Heinrick Heinrick heads below to find Meravanchi.

Quintal Quintal continues to watch impassively from a small distance.

Avner Avner is lounging on his bed, Sara and Renald standing nearby.

Heinrick “Avner. Someone from the Nixie would like to speak with you. He’s terribly interested in hearing your concerns about yesterday’s events.”

Avner Avner waves his hand. “Away with you, Heinrick, I don’t have any time for your common foolishness today, I’m quite busy.”

Heinrick “Really? I thought you’d have jumped at a chance to air your grievances with me to the personal valet of the expedition’s leader.”

Avner Avner looks up, interest flickering across his face. “Oh, really? Someone of minor importance? Why did you say so? Have him wait a half an hour and I’ll get around to seeing him.”

Heinrick “If you’re willing to risk his being called away by duty before then, sure.” Heinrick turns to head back up.

Patamon Patamon is waiting patiently, a smile on his face.

Heinrick “When Master Meravanchi heard that, I quote, ‘someone of minor importance’, wished to see him he said, again I quote, ‘wait half an hour and he’ll get around to seeing you’. End quote.” Heinrick’s voice and posture fairly drip with amazed scorn at the noble’s arrogance. “Unless you’d prefer I drag him back up?”

Patamon Patamon accepts the response in stride. “Vell certainly, of course he has zings to be doing. Zank you, Heinrick, for letting him know I am here. Ladies, ve have time to socialize, do ve not?”

Jade Ravens The female Ravens nod, worried expressions on their faces.

Heinrick “Oh, I’m sorry, I meant, ask him a bit more urgently?”

Patamon “So, tell me, vhere is zis Quintal who fought vith a dragon alongside you?”

Heinrick “Right here. Patamon, Brother Quintal. Brother, this is Patamon, Lady Vanderboren’s majordomo.”

Quintal Quintal bows.

DM Patamon smiles and bows back, while Liamae looks over the muscular man appraisingly.

And thus our heroes enter the final leg of their journey, True Believers! What further role has Quintal to play in future events? What shall become of Heinrick once Patamon hears Avner’s grievances? And shall Kat ever recover from her funk? Find out next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XVII - Intermission
Pazuzu Aftermath

Katrina The day after the village, Kat doesn’t emerge from the passenger cabin or even leave her bunk.

Heinrick Heinrick notes Katrina’s absence at breakfast, but doesn’t get truly worried until half the day has gone by without her coming out of her cabin. During a quiet moment, he knocks on her door. “Kat? It’s Heinrick. How you doing?”

Katrina Heinrick doesn’t get an answer from Kat.

Heinrick He knocks again; after a minute with no reply, he slowly opens the door and looks in.

Katrina Kat’s curled up in her bunk in the same bloodstained clothing as the night before, staring at the bunk above hers.

Heinrick Heinrick slowly walks to her bunk and sits on the floor beside her. Gently, he says, “You going to stay there all day?”

Katrina As he gets closer Heinrick can see that her eyes are red and puffy from crying, and her face is streaked with tears. Her wounded hand partially covered by her other hand, almost cradled, is still inflamed and smothered in dried blood – apparently untreated at all from the night before. She turns her head to face him as he settles down beside her. “Why wouldn’t I? It’s not like anyone wants or needs me.” Her voice is utterly given over to despair, much like last night, but different. Last night there was fear, now there is almost a sense of disgust.

Heinrick “Now what kind of thing is that to say? Completely leaving aside the issue that you’re my friend, you’re this ship’s best navigator. Yeah, I know there’s Skald, but let’s be honest, he’s there to back you up, not do the whole job himself. Second, you need to get that hand looked at; if you’d told me you couldn’t get up because you were too weak from blood loss, I’d have bought it.”

Seeing his attempts to be flip falling flat, Heinrick takes a more serious tone. “Look, Kat… I know last night was terrible. I know I’m not at fault for any of it, but I still felt like crap just for not being able to do anything to stop it… your hand, Jerard, Jo… gods.” He pauses, and tries to repress a shudder. “But you can’t let it drag you down like this. The only way it’ll stop haunting you is if you get up, and move on from it. Now, either you get up, get your wound cleaned, and eat something, or I sit here until Amella comes to chew us both out for malingering.”

Katrina “It was my fault, Heinrick. The entire thing was my fault. Zani, Tolin, Jo, Mari. None of it would have happened if I hadn’t been so stupid. For the third time in a month my stupidity nearly got everyone around killed. You’re better off with me down here. Don’t worry about me.”

Heinrick “Your fault? So, you’re the one responsible for Jerard’s body getting possessed, and you taught demons how to screw with peoples’ minds, then? Because as far as I can tell, Crimson and Pa… Big Birdbrain were the only ones to blame for last night. And you’re going to have to walk me through those other two as well.”

Katrina Kat breaks into a low, slow, sad sob almost like a snicker accompanied by several tears. When she stops she responds, “You don’t understand. I should have known, should have realized who she was, should have just given her what she wanted.” She’s on the verge of tears again.

Heinrick “Kat, gods…” Heinrick’s voice is gentle, but shocked at the depths of her self-recriminations. “There was no way you could have known about that demon bitch. You can’t know everything, and nobody thinks you’re a failure for being omniscient. And giving her what she wanted… hell no. That wasn’t an option, and even if it was, it would have been on me.”

Katrina “Yes there was,” Kat continues to sob. “The second he said her name I knew who she was. I should have realized it before, I was just too stupid, arrogant to piece it together. The only reason no one hates me yet is they don’t know. No omniscience was required, only a bit of care.”

Heinrick “Still, Kat; if you’d known who she was, giving in still wouldn’t have been any more of a good solution. Standing up to a demon isn’t stupidity, it’s bravery. We were all f… in deep crap the second she showed up, and nothing any of us did could have changed that. I don’t blame you at all, and nobody else who was there will, either. And you are one of the least stupid people I’ve ever met, by a long shot. You’re the first navigator on this ship, a job nobody else could do. You’re the only one who knew anything about what was going on last night, or back with Tusa.”

Katrina “Bravery… no, that was arrogance. I thought we could take her, or bluff and badger her into backing off. Bravery wouldn’t have stood by while Tolin got crushed, Zani got maimed, and Jo…” she trails off. “If there was any bravery to be found in me I wouldn’t have been reduced to a terrified crying mess. Bravery is willingness to face your death… I’m not brave. I’m a coward, a coward that keeps putting others in harm’s way.”

Heinrick Heinrick sits for a moment after that, then asks softly and with utter seriousness. “Do you think I’m a coward, Kat? I did even less than you did.”

Katrina “You aren’t expected deal with those things. You don’t hold a position of authority and responsibility, and you aren’t a wizard for gods’ sakes. I’m a fucking conjurer. There was no way you could have known, but I’m supposed to know these things. I’m educated, I’ve been taught half my life to deal with these things… and every time all I’ve done is fail miserably, put others’ lives in danger, and hide like a coward.” She lets that thought hang for a moment before adding, “and even if you were, you didn’t bring her wrath down on us and set the entire thing in motion. You did nothing wrong, I did…. I did everything wrong.”

Heinrick “I… I… have you even been paying attention? I’m the second mate on this ship; hells, I own the damn ship, since I’m the one who brought it back from Kraken’s Cove. I am Lavinia, Lady Vanderboren’s personal retainer and protector, leaving aside the fact that I’m also her lover. As far as I can see, that makes the safety of everyone on both of these ships my responsibility to one degree or another. And honestly, if anyone who wasn’t a friend, a girl, and as messed up as you are right now had said that I couldn’t handle my job because I’m not a wizard or a noble, I would have decked them.”

“So you were the only wizard there, the only one who recognized her name. Kat, that means precisely squat, when you consider that each and every person present was well aware that we were completely out of our league, even before Birdbrain showed up. Trust me, you wouldn’t have been telling us anything we didn’t already know.”

“It. Was. Not. Your. Fault. Nobody whose opinion matters would put any blame on you for that night.”

Katrina As he chastises Kat Heinrick can almost see her shrink, cringing almost like she expects him to hit her. She tries for a moment to interrupt him, “Heinrick, I wasn’t…” but trails off as he continues to speak. If it was possible she looks even worse then before. When he finishes her voice is seemingly given over to despair, but no longer trying to convince him.

“I didn’t just know, Heinrick, I could have stopped it. Zani could have walked away unhurt, Tolin could have walked away period, and Joliet….” once again she’s unable to even comment on the sorceress’s fate. “All I had to do was swallow my pride. No matter what fate would have awaited me it wouldn’t have been worse then what happened.”

Heinrick Heinrick sighs, and his tone changes, showing remorse for losing his cool. “It would have been exactly as bad, Kat. Yeah, Tolin and Zani might have gotten off without getting hurt; but they again, maybe not. Are demons really known for keeping their promises? The main difference I can see is that you’d have been the one violated instead of Jo. For all I know, being Jerard’s body could have meant you’d be…” He trails off, no more able than she was to go into detail about the horror of that night.

“No, Kat. There was no good way out, no matter what any of us did. I’m kicking myself for doing nothing, even though I know nothing I did could have helped. It would have been just as horrible if you’d given in, or me, or Lavinia, anyone else. We couldn’t help it… all we can do is move past it.” His tone turns from gentle to pleading. “Don’t see that every minute you spend in here, letting yourself die by inches, is another victory for those monsters?”

Katrina “What do you want me to do, Heinrick. I can’t go up there and face everyone.”

Heinrick Heinrick’s voice is gentle, but implacable. “That’s exactly what you have to do, Kat. Sooner or later, you have to. You can’t spend your whole life in this bed. You have to get your wound treated, you have to eat, you have to see that nobody hates you or blames you. You don’t have to do it right now, but you have to do it.”

He stands up, puts a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently to show his support. He leans down, kissing her forehead, like a one would a child or younger sibling who’s had a nightmare. “I’ll ask Mari to come and take a look at your hand. And I’ll come back tomorrow.” He leaves, quietly closing the door behind him.

Mari Mari enters the room. “Hey Kat, how’s the finger?” Her voice is quiet but steady.

Katrina “What finger,” comes Kat’s quiet and bitter response.

Mari Mari moves over and sits down by Kat, placing her hand on the mage’s knee. “Sorry. The hand, then. What’s left of it.”

Katrina Kat looks down at her hand. “It hurts. I’ll be all right.” She looks back toward Mari. “How’s the neck? I thought you were dead when he grabbed you.”

Mari She looks at Kat’s left hand and holds out her own. “Let me take care of you, Kat. I don’t want you to lose your entire hand or arm from some disease because it isn’t treated and cleaned right. My neck isn’t getting better like it should be and I did clean it out, once I came to.” Mari rubs her throat unconsciously, which still bears four red scratches from the demon prince’s talons and begins answering her friend’s question.

“I… I don’t remember much of it, Kat. I was so drunk; this air has really been getting to me. I just remember trying to move and then… Heinrick catching me. And that… thing, was doing something inside my head. It hurt, a lot. Like he was fishing around for every horrible memory I had.” She laughs bleakly. “He said he wanted to be my friend, but I don’t ever want a friend like that.” Her right hand squeezes Kat’s thigh affectionately. “I’ve already got all the friends I need.”

Katrina Kat tentatively lays her wounded hand in Mari’s. “I’m…” she swallows and looks away for a moment. When she looks back she seems almost afraid to meet Mari’s gaze. “I’m sorry. That’s what demons do. All they know is destruction and pain.”

Mari Mari smiles apologetically. “Sorry… you probably don’t want to be touched, but my holy symbol is… gone. I can’t do the distant thing.” Healing energy flows into Kat’s hand, it feels like warm water spreading up her entire arm. Mari puts her other hand on top of Kat’s, and brings it up to her lips where she kisses it gently. When she lets go, the blood and grime are gone. Kat’s hand is hale, if not whole.

Mari looks at Kat with a tired expression. “Demons hurt people, yeah. I know. I’m going to kill them for what they did to you, if I have to take Besmara’s own pistol to do it with.” Her boasts lack the familiar energy of norm, as well as the typical jovial undertones.

Katrina “It’s nothing you did.” Kat looks at her hand with a mixture of sadness and curiosity. “And it’s not even something they did, not that I can blame them for. They do what they do. It was my fault it got that far. I’m sorry you had to go through what you did.” She moves her hand experimentally before withdrawing it and hiding it under her other. “Thank you, Mari.” Her voice is largely unchanged, still filled with sorrow and guilt.

Mari “I don’t know about your fault, Kat. Heinrick said you blamed yourself for that bitch inside Jerard, but from where I was slumped, it was Joliet who called that oversized kenku down on us. Stupid little spaz. Blame that little brainless twit. People need to be held responsible for what they did as much as if not more so than what they didn’t do, Kat.”

Mari reaches into her shirt and draws forth her holy symbol. The presence of the demon prince has ruined it, causing it to melt and run like wax instead of iron. The skull and crossbones are barely distinguishable. “Here, Kat. I want you to have this. It… doesn’t do me any good like this, and we’re still going to be the mates that sack Besmara’s ship, so…” She trails off and repeats herself. “I want you to have it. It would make me feel better… and maybe it will make you feel better too.”

Katrina Kat bites back the urge to comment on Mari’s first words as the priestess offers her the ruined holy symbol. She meets Mari’s eyes for the first time since they started talking and sits up. She takes it with her right hand – her left hand has vanished under her leg – and looks at it carefully. “Thank you, Mari. I don’t deserve friends you like and Heinrick.” On the verge of tears, she puts the symbol in her lap and reaches forward to embrace Mari.

Mari Mari returns the embrace fiercely. “Sometimes we have to suffer things we don’t deserve, Kat. You’ll just have to bear with the big lug and I until you can get away. Til then you’re stuck with us.”

Katrina “There isn’t anyone right now I’d rather be stuck with. You all are all I have.” Kat sniffles a bit, fighting tears. “Why would I want to get away from you.”

Mari Mari gives a short, choked laugh. “Everyone else has. Only a matter of time, I suppose.” She reluctantly pulls away from Kat and looks sadly at her friend. “Are you going to be… well, none of us will ever be ‘all right’ anymore. But will you deal? I’ve already spoken with the cap’n about things… Skald’s handling the navigation for now, although we want you back once you can handle it.”

Katrina “I don’t know. Maybe. I’ve become everything I hate. An incompetent, pushy, coward,” Kat confesses. “I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. I guess I should be glad I didn’t get anyone killed this time.”

Mari “Anything to be thankful for, Kat.” Mari makes to leave, but turns back, catching Kat’s head between her hands. She gives the woman a kiss on the forehead. “I’m thankful every day for you.” She looks into Kat’s eyes. “Free yourself, Kat. And love yourself again. We love you… there’s no reason you shouldn’t too.”

Katrina Kat watches Mari go.

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XVII

DM When last we left our heroes, Jerard’s body had been inhabited by a mysterious being who called herself Crimson. She claimed to be torturing Jerard’s soul in the Abyss and then cut off half of Katrina’s hand even as the beautiful mage flung mystic missiles at her. What will become of our heroes, True Believers? Read on and find out!

The magic missiles fly from Kat’s ruined hand to impact against Jerard’s body. They vanish a scant inch away, although blood trickles down from where the wound would be.

Crimson Jerard’s head throws back and Crimson laughs. “Oh ho! Not quite, dearie!”

Katrina Kat stares at her mangled hand in shock.

Crimson Kat hears a voice in her head. Oh, so sad… poor little girlie. Give it up and kill yourself now.

Katrina “You wish! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” Kat yells at the demon Jerard.

Crimson Crimson shrieks hysterically.

Joliet Joliet looks on in horror. “What… what’s going on! Why? Stop it!”

Crimson “Why, I didn’t get my way. So now… I’ll kill you all.”

Joliet “Oh no you won’t! Pazuzu, Pazuzu, Pazuzu!”

DM The air grows very still as Joliet’s words echo throughout the night, continuing to sound over the waters.

A brisk wind picks up in the area.

A black void appears to the left of Lavinia and Joliet, ten feet in height.

Joliet Joliet smiles sheepishly. ">I’m not entirely sure you want to be my friend, Joliet.~

Joliet That’s not true! But how many are we talking here? And who? And why, exactly?

Pazuzu Because friends help each other, Joliet. Now I’m going to show you what it means to be my friend. Pazuzu smiles and lets Joliet and Lavinia go. He strides over towards Tolin and Katrina, towering over the large man. “Step aside,” the demon orders Tolin.

Tolin “Lady Islaran, get back. I wi..wi… will hold him off. Go!” Tolin’s voice trembles.

Katrina Kat clings to him in terror for a moment as she tries to get control of her fear. After several seconds she finally manages to get some control of herself. She pushes him away, not hard but forcefully. “Don… don’t, To-Tolin. This isn’t your fault.” She continues to hold her maimed hand close while her other hangs by her side.

Pazuzu Pazuzu snatches up the man by his shirt and holds him several feet off the ground.

KatrinaLET HIM GO!” Kat is breathless, her chest heaving in terror as she sucks in breath after breath.

Joliet No, not him! He doesn’t deserve… Avner! Kill Avner instead!

Pazuzu “Why, Katrina? What does this man mean to you? In fact, what does this man mean to anyone? You know, that’s what he’s thinking right now. Also he’s wondering if I really can crack his skull like an egg.”

Katrina “I mean. I mean. I mean. You don’t want him. This has nothing to do with him.” Kat seems to be almost negotiating.

Pazuzu “I am here and I want new friends, Katrina. It has everything to do with everyone.”

Katrina Kat has no answer to that. She simply stands before the demon lord with a pleading look in her eyes.

Pazuzu Pazuzu reaches for Katrina.

Tolin Tolin, who has managed to keep a grip on his sword, plunges it into Pazuzu’s shoulder, burying it to the hilt. “I said stay away from her!”

Pazuzu Pazuzu laughs, flinging Tolin away and drawing the blade out of his body, where the wound closes immediately.

DM Tolin’s body strikes the ground with a bonewrenching crash, and he lies very still.

Katrina “NO!” Separate looks of terror, anguish, and sorrow cross her face in the space of a moment.

Lavinia “Tolin!” Lavinia cries out and rushes to the fallen man.

Joliet Tolin, you retard! Joliet exclaims in her mind.

Pazuzu Pazuzu turns back towards Katrina, ignoring the fallen Jade Raven. “Give me your hand, Katrina.”

Heinrick Heinrick takes a step towards them, desperately trying to think of anything he can say or do to stop this insanity.

Katrina Kat looks on at Tolin’s crumpled body. She looks ready to refuse for a second but closes her eyes, looks at her hand once more, then extends her right hand terrifiedly toward the demon lord.

Pazuzu “I don’t want that hand, Katrina, I want your good hand.”

Katrina She slowly retracts her unwounded hand and even more tentatively extends her maimed one.

Pazuzu Pazuzu grasps it, digging his talon into the wound. “Ah. Such beauty. Crimson is quite the artist.”

Katrina “Aghhh!” She winces and cries out in pain. She starts breathing rapidly, trying to block it out.

Chief “No, no!” The chief yells something at Pazuzu and suddenly is cut off as the demon waves a hand at him. It appeared as if he’d intended to stop the demon from hurting Katrina. Now he’s grasping his throat and falling to his knees.

Pazuzu Pazuzu laughs at what he reads in Kat’s mind. “Idiots. A good word for them, Katrina.” He lets her go suddenly and seizes Zani who is standing nearby. “Shall we see if I’m as good of an artist as Crimson?” Pazuzu slyly looks at Katrina as he draws a claw along Zani’s hand.

Katrina She quickly withdraws her hand and tries to stop the bleeding with her other hand held to it. “No.”

Pazuzu “No, what?”

Katrina “Don’t hurt her.” Kat sounds defeated. She’s pleading.

Pazuzu Pazuzu shrugs. “You didn’t say the magic word.” He tears Zani’s finger off and tosses it casually to Katrina.

Zani Zani screams.

Katrina Kat closes her eyes and falls to her knees, weeping still.

Pazuzu Pazuzu extends his wings and leaps into the air, softly gliding down towards Mari.

Heinrick “Please!” Heinrick bursts out. “Please, just tell us what you want!”

Pazuzu Pazuzu turns one eye towards Heinrick. “What I want? I was simply enjoying myself. Why… is this woman important to you?” He runs a claw through Mari’s hair, while the drunken priestess struggles to clear her head.

Heinrick “She’s my friend. And where I come from, you don’t say you want to be friends with people, and then start hurting everyone around them.”

Joliet Was this… was this my destiny after all? To doom everyone around me? And if it is… should it bother me?

Pazuzu Greatness is your destiny, Joliet.

Joliet Power? Glory? Power like yours?

Pazuzu Greatness, Joliet. Greatness is beyond power or glory.

Joliet But what does it mean? What is the greatness?

Pazuzu Greatness is about being beyond, Joliet. More than you were meant to be. More than others could ever become.

Joliet Greatness doesn’t come without sacrifice though, does it? Nothing is free.

Pazuzu I knew there was a reason we would be friends, Joliet.

Joliet Then… let’s play.

Pazuzu Let’s.

Joliet “Lavinia,” Joliet says aloud. “I really am sorry. I would have loved nothing more than to live happily ever after as your sister. It would have been just like a fairy tale, a happy ending for the slave girl. But it looks like Destiny has other plans.” She offers a sad smile in Lavinia’s direction, and then walks to approach Pazuzu.

Pazuzu “And where do you come from, Heinrick?” Pazuzu says softly.

Lavinia Lavinia looks at Jo. “Jo, no, please… there has to be another way.”

Pazuzu Pazuzu gives Heinrick a smile. “Katrina thinks you shouldn’t tell me where you come from or I’ll kill them. I think if you don’t, I’ll kill everyone here. But honestly, I’m not sure which one of us to believe… after all, I’m a demon!”

Heinrick “I was thinking the same thing, myself, actually. And that’s no kind of a choice at all. So I’m going to ask you again; what do you want from us to go away, and take that bitch in my friend’s body with you? Back where you came from, that is, not to murder everyone we’ve ever met.”

Pazuzu “Heinrick, I realize you are probably a tough guy where you come from, so I’m going to make this simple on you. Answer my question, right now, or I’ll tear this woman’s head off like I tore off that elf’s fingers. Then we can talk business.”

Joliet Don’t be too hard on him, he’s not used to real friendship.

Pazuzu Real friendship hurts, Joliet. I intend to hurt him until he has nothing left in his heart but friendship.

Joliet Ok, but that’s not the game I invited you over to play. Does Crimson think she is safe?

Pazuzu What kind of friend would ask a man to kill his own daughter?

Joliet Fair enough. Let’s just take her with us, then.

Pazuzu Would you ask me to kill your own sister?

Joliet No.

Pazuzu Should we bring your sister with us?

Joliet I think she likes it better with Heinrick.

Pazuzu Oh, so they are special to each other?

Joliet Everyone likes Lavinia, but Heinrick likes her the most. And she likes Heinrick the most.

Pazuzu Why does she like Heinrick the most?

Joliet Truthfully, I don’t understand it. Sure he’s strong and handsome, but lots of guys are. But they sleep together, so I guess that is that.

Mari Mari groans and slaps at Pazuzu’s arm.

Heinrick “Home. That’s the name. Dead serious. Probably a couple dozen places just like it, not that finding just the right one would matter to you, as long as you got to destroy someone’s life, right?”

Pazuzu Pazuzu smiles, grabs Mari around the neck and flings her into the air, hundreds of feet. “Are you man enough to catch her, Heinrick?”

Katrina Kat looks up in horror.

Heinrick Heinrick tries to do just that, probably futilely given the distance.

DM As he leaps forward, he realizes he can fly.

Heinrick He rushes to catch Mari, without really noticing the flight until after the fact.

DM He easily catches up with the woman’s trajectory and pulls her from the air into his arms.

Heinrick And returns to the earth, his face going white under the tan. With a bit of disgusted green.

Pazuzu Ah. Joliet, I have it.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Pazuzu coughs, and ants appear on the men and island girls who have been entertaining them. The shocked silence erupts into chaotic rushing and swatting. “Joliet, bring your sister to me,” Pazuzu orders.

Joliet Joliet sighs a little, but does not disobey. She walks over to where Lavinia is.

Lavinia “Joliet… are you ok?” Lavinia asks.

Joliet “Probably not,” she replies with a smile. She takes Lavinia by the hand and tries to lead her to Pazuzu.

Lavinia Lavinia walks with Joliet to stand before Pazuzu, giving Joliet’s hand a comforting squeeze.

Heinrick Heinrick reaches the ground, and gently sets Mari down. “Jo, what are you doing?”

Pazuzu “Crimson, stand up and face your father.”

Crimson Jerard’s body jerks to its feet and moves over in front of Pazuzu.

Pazuzu “Katrina, bring that fool Tolin over here. And yes, moving him will hurt a great deal. Be swift.”

Katrina Kat struggles to get up and makes her way to Tolin’s crumpled form. “Are you ok, Tolin?” she whispers.

Tolin The man is bleeding heavily and senseless. He does not respond.

Katrina She tries to pull him to his feet while slipping a healing potion from her belt to give him.

DM The healing potion rushes out of her hand of its own accord, breaking on the bridge of Tolin’s nose.

Pazuzu Pazuzu smiles. “You didn’t say the magic word.”

Katrina “Please,” she practically begs.

Pazuzu “Of course, Katrina. Heal him. After all, I’m not a monster. But get him over here… my patience is running out.”

Katrina She digs another potion out and tries to give it to him as she half-drags him toward Pazuzu.

Pazuzu Pazuzu chuckles. “You would… disagree with me, Heinrick? After I helped you save young Mari there?”

Heinrick Heinrick clenches his fists, but says nothing.

Pazuzu “Now, my non-friends, Joliet has called upon me to be her friend. Lavinia, I understand you are friends with Heinrick… is that true?”

Lavinia Lavinia glances at Heinrick and nods tightly.

Pazuzu “Heinrick… what are your feelings towards Lavinia? Is she your friend?”

Heinrick Heinrick gives a jerking nod.

Pazuzu Pazuzu gives an expression of disgust. “Well, Jo and I are going to be friends, right now, exactly the same way you and Lavinia are.”

Joliet “Wait what?”

Pazuzu “I’ve looked into your hearts. Katrina is filled with fear and loathing for her beautiful hand. Lavinia mourns the loss of a child taken by a demon. Heinrick is confused as to the fate of his friend with Crimson here.”

Katrina Kat looks down at her hand when Pazuzu mentions it.

Pazuzu “I could make both of them beautiful, Katrina.”

Katrina Kat slips her mangled (left) hand into her pocket, trying to hide it.

Heinrick “Looks like I was right. You wouldn’t have any idea what love means. Or ‘friend’, for that matter.”

Pazuzu “Show me, then, Heinrick. Do you love Katrina? Are you her friend?”

Heinrick “What do you mean?”

Pazuzu “You think you are so superior to a demon because you have friendship. And love. Will you show me your love for Katrina? She wants her hand made whole and ugly. Will you give your hand so that Katrina’s may be restored?”

Heinrick “Not that it would put a stop to your sick little games, but…” is as far as he gets before the two women break in.

Lavinia Lavinia cries out. “No! Take my hand if you must, but leave Heinrick alone!”

Katrina “Neither of you are trading your hands for me.”

Pazuzu Pazuzu turns to Lavinia. “To Heinrick, his hand is a great deal. It holds his clumsy weapon, it strokes you with such care… to you, a hand is not as great. Not as important. Would you trade your pretty face for Katrina’s hand?”

Lavinia Lavinia glances at Katrina. “She’s my friend, demon.”

Katrina “No one is trading any body parts for my hand, Pazuzu.”

Pazuzu “Their friendship may not give them the choice, Katrina. What would you give in order to spare them this suffering?”

Katrina Kat sheds a final pair of tears and stops crying. “My life? Is that what you want?”

Pazuzu Pazuzu gasps in disbelief. “Never! What would I do with such a tiny and frankly pathetic little insignificant thing?”

Katrina “I’m sure you’d find a way to amuse yourself.”

Pazuzu Pazuzu laughs cruelly. “Your life is of no import to me, Katrina. It has no trade value. So, I will be concluding my bargain with Joliet, my new friend here, and taking my wayward daughter with me. No one else wishes to be my friend? Then come, Joliet. All of you shall bear witness to my great friendship with Joliet, here and now.” Pazuzu shrinks in stature until he is merely seven feet tall. “Should you turn your heads away from this glorious act, even for a moment, I shall scour this entire island of all life.”

Joliet Wait what?

Pazuzu I will take my daughter away from here, but you will bear me another child, Joliet. And when you have done so, I will take you away to greatness.

Joliet So I will be a mother, then.

Pazuzu You will be. Will you love our child?

Joliet How could I not?

Pazuzu Make yourself ready for me, Joliet. Here.

Joliet “It’s all right, you guys. Don’t worry about me.” Joliet shrugs in the way she often does, and starts undressing.

Heinrick Heinrick’s fists clench so hard, his fingernails actually draw blood from his palms, and struggles to keep from throwing up.

Pazuzu Pazuzu draws Joliet into his embrace, floating three feet in the air. She feels a burning heat enter her and fill her entire body. A wind rushes through her mind as the demon prince touches it telepathically. She gasps as images too horrible to mention rush through her mind, horrible yet wonderful and exhilarating images. Pazuzu thrusts into her, smiling cruelly as he meets the gaze of those gathered around the unholy union.

He meets Katrina’s gaze as Joliet shrieks in pain or ecstasy, and he holds up his hand. His last finger falls to the ground and crawls towards her, only to turn into a centipede and scurry away.

He looks upon Lavinia and draws his talon across his face, cutting it open. Lavinia’s expression remains impassive until Pazuzu causes Joliet to scream, louder and louder. The noblewoman’s face crumples into tears.

He looks upon Heinrick, flexing his arm muscles mockingly. He then grabs Joliet by her shoulders with both arms to thrust even harder into her, causing the young sorceress to scream out.

The unholy coupling goes on for what seems like hours, Pazuzu and Joliet entwined and floating around. Eventually, Joliet is begging Pazuzu for more, which the demon prince provides with relish. When the end comes, it is swift and brutal, her breath escaping in short panting gasps. Pazuzu finishes, his blasphemous seed filling her. He sets her to the ground, gently, tenderly. Blood flows from her ears, her nostrils, her eyes and mouth. Her hair has turned completely white, and the softness of her skin appears to be no more.

Pazuzu stands. “Let no one here bring harm to this bearer of my child. To my… friend. Should you do so, or should harm befall her that you do nothing to prevent, I shall return to destroy you all.” His four wings extend, and the demon prince leaps into the air. “And now… I have a day to spend on the Coil, thanks to you all. Goodbye.” The demon prince explodes into a swarm of locusts and is gone.

Heinrick Heinrick looks at Jerard's body briefly, then rushes over to Jo and Lavinia, trembling for the first time in his adult life, with fear, disgust, and helpless rage.

Katrina Kat goes down to her knees and gathers up Joliet's battered body. She's weeping and whispering appologies to her.

Joliet Joliet stares blankly into the sky.

Lavinia Lavinia strokes the woman's whitened hair. ">s left of him) get to work, while he staggers to his bunk.

DM After Heinrick wakes the captain and informs her that Lavinia expects them to make way immediately, the ship is roused and put to work. Within an hour, it is ready to set off. After giving notice to the Blue Nixie, the Sea Wyvern follows her out into the open sea, leaving Renkrue behind them.

And so a new day dawns for our heroes, True Believers! Will the horrors of this night ever fade from their memories? Or will they carry the scars with them for all time? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

The Sea Wyvern's Wake XVI

DM When last we left our heroes, Heinrick had gut punched Avner, after the nobleman had been the victim of attempted murder. Katrina tried to prevail upon her companions better natures, but it seems as if they lack such. What will become of our terrific trio? Read on, True Believers, and find out!

Katrina “You should probably get him down to his bed.” Kat addresses Avner’s servants.

Heinrick “Now that this is taken care of, we should be getting back. Sara, Renald, I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to head back to the party after you put him away.”

Katrina Kat gives Heinrick a glare.

Renald & Sara The servants take their fallen master down below deck.

Joliet “Well, I don’t know about you two, but I feel a lot better!”

Katrina “I’m glad you’re so happy about your attempted murder.”

Joliet “Will you stop calling it that?”

Katrina “I’m sorry you don’t like it being called what it was.”

Heinrick “Well, technically he could have died…”

Joliet “I don’t think so. Only the good die young. Not sure how true that saying is, though…”

Katrina Kat glares at Joliet and leaves to go back to the village.

Joliet After Kat leaves. “What is her problem, anyways? Must be a noble thing.”

Heinrick “I don’t think the saying applies to magic missiles…”

Mari “S’what I wanna ask you, Jo Jo,” Mari slurs from her position on the deck. “Whas yer problem?”

Heinrick “And there’s a law about attacking people who aren’t trying to kill you at that moment… anyway, you going back to the party?”

Joliet “Oh!” Joliet seems a bit surprised at Mari still being right there. “Um, actually, I’m going to talk to Mari for a bit.”

Katrina Kat looks for Lavinia.

DM Lavinia and Tolin are talking with the chief, who seems quite happy.

Katrina Kat approaches them.

Tolin Tolin nods his head as she draws near. “Lady Islaran.”

Lavinia Lavinia raises her eyebrows questioningly at Kat, a hopeful smile on her face.

Katrina “Tolin,” Kat gives him a lesser nod, “forgive me, I don’t think I ever caught your last name.” She nods to Lavinia. “Lady Vanderboren.” She shakes her head at Lavinia’s hopeful expression. “It appears you were able to smooth things over here.”

Tolin “Kientai, Lady Islaran. Tolin Kientai, at your service, now and always.” Tolin offers a bow to Kat.

Katrina “Mr. Kientai.” Kat offers him another nod. “When you have a moment, Lady Vanderboren.”

Lavinia Lavinia smiles. “The chief seems more than satisfied, both that Avner will not cause more problems and that young Ana’d’s honor has been upheld.” She smiles at the men. “Would you gentlemen excuse me and Lady Islaran for a moment? Girl talk.”

Tolin & Chief The two men move away.

Katrina Kat waits for the others to leave and addresses Lavinia seriously. “Is there any way you can take Avner on the Nixie?”

Lavinia Lavinia blinks. “No, Kat, I don’t think there is. Why would you need me to?” She looks positively distraught.

Katrina “Joliet snapped and tried to kill him, then when I was trying to restrain her Heinrick decided to beat him unconscious. Oh, and he felt the need to address the first mate as a witch, whore, slut, and number of other names.”

Lavinia Lavinia gasps. “Heinrick would never say such things!”

Katrina “No, not Heinrick, Avner.”

Lavinia “Oh. That makes more sense. Katrina, did you say Joliet attempted to murder him? I… I don’t know if we can take him on our ship.” Her lower lip starts to tremble. “Th..the people on my ship would kill him quicker than Heinrick would… they know our history. Gods, this was such a horrible idea.”

Katrina “Avner felt the need to insult the first mate, Joliet, myself, and yourself. Then Joliet tried to kill him, then, admittedly because Avner doesn’t know when to shut his mouth, Heinrick was incited to violence. I don’t think I need to repeat Avner’s words to give you an idea of his tone and intent in speaking of you.”

Katrina “Your history. Well, I guess that explains a few things.”

Lavinia Lavinia sighs. “Kat, please don’t spread this around, but Avner and I were betrothed years ago. I thought he honestly loved me, and I was a young girl… very naive. We… well, we made love, before the marriage. And he never showed at the altar. Later we found that he was off… with my cousin from Cauldron.”

Katrina “I’m sorry. I’ll be discreet about it.”

Lavinia “Well, the Jade Ravens know, so does Patamon. And when the Meravanchis were the only ones who would finance the voyage, Patamon swore that he’d kill Avner if they were in close quarters. He barely has controlled himself the few times their paths have crossed.”

Katrina “I suppose that explains the tension when he’s come over to the Sea Wyvern.”

Lavinia “I was hoping… that Heinrick would be able to keep the brute in line. He’s so strong… so impressive, that I figured Avner would listen to him. Or at least be cowed into behaving well.”

Katrina “He might have done it today. He had Avner on his knees begging him not to hit him in his face and pissing himself. I think he’s been trying to be polite to him until now.”

Lavinia Lavinia’s eyes go wide and she smiles. “Miss Islaran, I did not think you capable of such rough language.”

Katrina “I can be plenty rough, Lady Vanderboren, when it suits me.”

Lavinia Lavinia’s eyes twinkle. “Well, all the same, Avner wetting himself might be good for a laugh, but his uncle is at the colony already… I really don’t want that family making more trouble for us. Which I suppose would have entailed turning down the money, but there was no one else.” Lavinia looks frustrated.

Katrina “His uncle was the captain of the ship that left me stranded in that jungle. If he wants to start trouble I’ve got more than enough trouble to come for him.”

Heinrick “Okay… just don’t do anything but talk, all right? I really didn’t mean she was going to do anything to you.”

Joliet “I know, I know. That’s what I have to talk about.”

Mari “Why’re you all talkin like I’m not here…?”

Heinrick “Okay. I’ll… see you both later then.” He nods to Joliet and Mari, and heads back towards the village.

Joliet “Habit, I guess. Anywho, Mari, I think I need to apologize to you.”

Mari “Whyzat, Jo Jo? Cause yer a crazy girl who likes boys?”

Joliet “Well, maybe, but I don’t think so. No, because I thought you were… um… trying to… attack me… with sex.”

Mari Mari bursts out laughing, which turns to a choking cough. “Attack you with sexxx? Thas stooopid.”

Joliet “Um… yeah, I guess it was… sorry.”

Mari Mari snorts. “Whaever, Jo Jo. You don hafta do any pologizin. Sorry if ya thought I’d hurt you. I’d be real gentle, I promise.”

Joliet “Well, I think that’s the least of my problems now, Mari. Kat is probably going to go tell Lavinia everything and get me kicked off the ship or something.”

Joliet “Mari, do you think attacking Avner after what he said was all right?”

Mari “Woodeesay, Jo Jo?”

Joliet Joliet stares hard at Mari. “…how much have had to drink?”

Mari “Dunno, Jo Jo, I drink lika fish.”

Joliet “But fish only drink water.”

Mari “You know many fish, Jo Jo?”

Joliet “Just one.”

Mari “Well I know plenny. ’N they all drink lotsa booze.”

Heinrick Heinrick watches them move away, somewhat nervous about what Kat might be telling Lavinia. He approaches the others. “Hey, Tolin. Greetings, Chief.”

Chief The chief laughs and claps Heinrick on the back. “Ho ho! My boy! My meaty man! Ho ho! You sock it to him, yes!”

Tolin Tolin seems to wrestle with his emotions on his face, but sticks a hand out to Heinrick. “Thanks Heinrick. What you did was…good.”

Heinrick “I did indeed, Chief. Nothing that didn’t need doing very badly. I hope Lady Vanderboren wasn’t too upset by the unpleasantness?”

Heinrick Heinrick nods to Tolin and accepts his hand.

Chief The chief laughs. “The Queen is worried, but no worries with Meat Man, no? Queen worried we no trade more with you. But honor settled! Ho ho! Honor settled!”

Tolin Tolin grasps Heinrick’s hand with a firm grip. For once the anger that burns in his eyes is not directed at the muscular half-elf. “He had that coming. For a long time.”

Heinrick “Yeah. I had to settle honor with him again, in fact. After he said some very stupid things about several people. I’d like to have done more,” he tells the other two men.

Tolin Tolin nods. “Better you than me, Heinrick. I’ll gut him if he gives me half the chance. With a smile on my face. That… pig needs to be put down.”

Heinrick “No argument here, Tolin. I told the little weasel that if he didn’t start acting like a man instead of a rat, I’d call him out for a duel in front of the whole ship.”

Tolin Tolin gives a half laugh. “He’d probably turn you down. The pissant couldn’t swordfight Liamae, let alone a warrior.”

Heinrick Heinrick grins. “I figured. But, I win either way; either I get to kick his ass again, or everyone sees him for the coward he is.”

Tolin Tolin grimaces. “Everyone knows him for the coward he is. He’ll have no problem tucking his tail if it comes down to saving his worthless skin.”

Katrina “I can try to keep Heinrick and Joliet and Maribesana away from Avner – if I’m lucky Maribesana won’t even remember what happened tomorrow, she’s been into the bottle quite a bit already – but I can’t make any promises about his health, especially if he can’t keep his mouth shut. Honestly, I think Heinrick would have beaten him to death if I hadn’t stepped in.”

Lavinia Lavinia presses her lips together. “How did Jo try to kill Avner?”

Katrina “He’s been courting her in rather the same way you described him as courting you. I think she was rather shocked at his behavior when he snapped on her and showed his true colors. She also has some baggage. She’s a runaway slave and I don’t think she took his attempts to ‘buy’ a village girl very well. And then he began saying rather unkind things about her back at the ship she overheard.”

Lavinia Lavinia nods. “Well, it might have been justified. But we’ll have to take care of it. Is she likely to try to kill him again?”

Katrina “And then she snapped on him and fired a volley of magic missiles into his back, dropping him into the water unconscious. Heinrick was actually kind enough to fish him out and treat his wounds, and that’s when Avner started saying things about you and he, you and your brother, and you and several others if I heard correctly, though I was in the midst of wrestling Joliet to the ground.”

Lavinia Lavinia blinks. “Me… and my brother? What?”

Katrina “He made suggestions to the effect that you knew your brother in the same way he knew you.”

Lavinia Lavinia’s eyes go wide with horror. “He… he told you that?”

Katrina “I believe he described you as his seconds and your brother’s thirds to Heinrick. Right before Heinrick’s fist hit him.”

Lavinia Lavinia bursts into tears. “Oh, gods, that’s so… so foul. It isn’t what you think, Kat, you must think of me as some filthy slut,” she sobs out, bawling.

Katrina Kat does her best to hide her discomfort and grabs Lavinia, looking for somewhere to steer her where they can sit down.

Heinrick Heinrick grunts in response to Tolin’s comment about Avner. “Well then after I try that, I’ll humiliate him some other way… until he bad mouths another woman. Then, I’ll just chuck him overboard.”

Tolin Tolin grins. “Just make sure you send up a flare first, we wouldn’t want to accidentally turn around and pick him up, mistaking him for a real man overboard.”

Heinrick “Oh, you’ll be able to tell. Joliet will probably use him for target practice before he hits the water.”

Joliet “Well, anyways Mari, I can’t decide whether to kill him for good or not.”

Mari “Killhoo, Jo Jo?”

Joliet “Avner.”

Mari “Zatfukinprick? Yoonohesbeen tryin t’fuck Lirith girl and you?”

Joliet “Yeah. I found out about it all, and then I heard him say all these horrible things about me, and you, and you were there it only happened a few minutes ago.”

Mari “Thpricksedstuffboutme?”

Katrina “Told is a strong word. Accused might be more accurate, but I don’t think anyone believed it.”

Lavinia Lavinia sobs louder. “Oh gods, but it’s true… stupid prank. We..we used to be such good friends, we did everything together. But one time, we emptied some potions into the water supply… they were potions of..of… love. And… oh gods, I can’t even say it out loud.”

Katrina Kat sits Lavinia down and does her best to comfort her, holding her. “That’s absurd, Lavinia. You’re no more responsible for that than Avner would be if I spelled him to soil himself in the public square and rub it on his face.” She tries to get a laugh out of Lavinia.

Lavinia Lavinia’s face twists up through her tears. “That’s… nasty, Kat.”

Katrina “It’s about what he deserves for bringing that up.”

Lavinia “Vanthus told me that magic can’t make you do things you don’t want to do. But I didn’t want to do that, I really didn’t. But what if part of me inside is a horrible person? What if that part did want it?”

Katrina “Is Vanthus an accomplished wizard?”

Lavinia Lavinia shakes her head. “No, I don’t think so. He knows some stuff about magic, but I don’t think he can do any.”

Katrina “Then take the word of one. Magic can make you do anything it wants. What you want has nothing to do with it. You didn’t want to do it. Don’t think on the dark part of you inside that wants to do dark things, we all have that. What makes you a good person is not giving into it.”

Lavinia Lavinia’s voice drops to a whisper. “I think Vanthus gave into it. Later, he tried… tried to get us to do it again. Without the potion.”

Katrina “And you’re blaming yourself for it in any way?”

Lavinia Lavinia shakes her head. “I… I don’t know. I feel responsible. I didn’t tell on him, but I had to get away. So Mom sent me to finishing school, and Vanthus got sent to Uncle Kallum’s farm. We didn’t see each other for years, until Vanthus came back to Sasserine, after Uncle Kallum’s farm had a terrible fire.”

Katrina “You got slipped a potion by your brother and you’re blaming yourself? Lavinia, you’re being a little ridiculous.”

Lavinia Lavinia laughs. “Maybe. We put the potions in the water tower, though. We just thought it would spice up the celebration… I still can’t believe it went so horribly wrong.”

Katrina “You were a kid playing a prank. Kids do stupid things. Ask anyone who knew me as a kid and they’ll tell you all about it.”

Lavinia Lavinia sniffles and wipes her eyes. Impulsively she hugs Kat. “Tell me I’m not a terrible person, Kat.”

Tolin Tolin guffaws. “Heh heh. Serve that bastard right.” Suddenly he realizes he’s enjoying Heinrick’s company and composes himself. “Eh. Heh. Anyways, yeah. I… we all… appreciate what you did.”

Heinrick Heinrick smiles slightly. “My pleasure, Tolin; any time.”

Tolin Tolin looks askance and then leans in towards Heinrick. In a low tone that Heinrick’s elven blooded ears can barely pick up, Tolin growls, “Be good to her, Heinrick. She… she deserves the best. You better be that.”

Heinrick Heinrick looks him in the eye, and nods. “I know.”

Tolin Tolin nods. “Then..then we have an accord.”

Heinrick “An accord.” Heinrick holds out his hand again.

Tolin Tolin grasps it firmly.

Katrina “Nothing you’ve told me suggests in any way that you’re a terrible person, Lavinia. Now I can’t be certain you aren’t sneaking off to conduct dark rituals involving murder and the sacrifice of cattle in the dead of night, so I can’t say for sure, but I will tentatively pronounce you a decent human being.” Kat is slightly teasing, trying to lift Lavinia’s spirits.

Lavinia Lavinia laughs into Kat’s arms. “You really are a morbid little girl, Katrina Islaran. I’m… going to have to tell Heinrick, aren’t I? I don’t want him to look at me like filth.”

Katrina “I don’t see what it’s anyone’s business what you did when you were spelled. Master Meravanchi and I will be having a talk about just how much of no one’s business it is when he wakes up. I don’t think he’ll look at you as filth, I don’t think anything could make him do that, though it might make him kill your brother.”

Lavinia Lavinia’s eyes grow fierce. “Vanthus killed my parents, Kat. The only question will be whether Heinrick gets to do it or I do.”

Katrina “Then I don’t see an issue with telling him. It’s your choice, though, your secret. I’ll do what I can to make sure it’s yours to tell.” Her own eyes have a fierceness to them. “Let’s get back to the party before Heinrick comes after me for dragging you away.”

Lavinia Lavinia smiles through her tears. “Thank you so much, Kat. I… I haven’t had a friend since Kora died. So thank you. For being a friend.”

Katrina Kat wipes at her tears. “You’re welcome.”

Joliet Joliet shrugs and heads back to the party, scanning for anyone she recognizes.

DM Joliet sees Katrina and Lavinia off talking on the far end of the village, and Heinrick talking to the chief and Tolin some little distance away. The serving girls are still pampering the men, Lirith is getting drunk, Skald is nowhere to be seen and Urol is fishing around in the waters getting a chubby over new plants and animals that he discovers.

Joliet Joliet stands at a figurative crossroads, unsure of who to approach.

Joliet Seeing that Skald is nowhere in sight, Joliet sighs and heads back to where the ship is docked.

DM She sees that Mari has managed to crawl down the plank and is laying on her back in the water.

Joliet Joliet strips her feet completely naked and strolls into the water. “On second thought, I don’t feel like partying anymore.”

Mari “Party turnindull, Jo Jo?”

Joliet “I don’t think it was ever much fun to begin with. Least not for a girl.”

Mari “Ibegtadiffer, Jo Jo. I had a wonnerful time.”

Joliet “Well, lucky you then. I just don’t know.”

Mari “Sorrytahearthat, Jo Jo. Can you carry me back there? I’ve got smore drinkin to do.”

Joliet “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

Mari “Swhat? Noway, Jo Jo. There’s more to drink.”

Joliet “Ok.” Joliet tries her best to hoist her out of the water.

Mari Mari leans heavily on Jo and does her best to avoid being dragged.

Heinrick After an awkward moment following the hand clasp, Heinrick asks Tolin and the chief, “Anything happen here while I was taking out the trash?”

Chief The chief laughs. “Ho ho! Queen Vanderboren and I came to agreement, yes we did! You party harty!”

Heinrick “That’s great, Chief. I’m glad I was able to help smooth things out, especially by doing something I’d wanted to do anyway.”

Chief The chief ducks into a fighting position and throws shadow punches at Heinrick. “Ho ho! Big Meat Man fight Big Money Man!”

Heinrick “Fight’s too generous a word,” Heinrick says with a grin. “More like me beating him while Big Money Man pissed himself.”

Zani Zani saunters up and smacks Tolin on the ass. “What’s going on, boys? Sausage party?”

Chief The chief looks confused. “What is… sausage party? Sausage party… harty?”

Heinrick Heinrick manfully resists laughing.

Zani “So what’s the good word, tall ’n cocky?” Zani says, addressing Heinrick.

Heinrick “Oh, nothing much. Just gave our Mr. Meravanchi a long-overdue thrashing, then came back to enjoy the party.”

Zani Zani winks. “Yeah, I heard about that. Nice. You know that means the village girl whose honor you defended is married to you now, right?”

Heinrick Heinrick smirks. “Really? I wonder what Queen Vanderboren will think about that.” His tone makes it absolutely clear he’s joking.

Zani “Perhaps she’ll demand first rites,” Zani says, her eyes laughing.

Lavinia Lavinia heads with Kat to rejoin the rest of the party.

Katrina “So how far back do the Ravens go back with your family?”

Lavinia “Oh, gosh. Kaskus has been with us since I was born. Him and Dad were best of friends. Tolin and Liamae have known Vanthus and I since we were… seven? And I think we met Zani when we were around fourteen or so.”

Katrina “So you all go way back. I guess that explains some of the tension between Heinrick and Tolin then.”

Lavinia A wistful look comes over Lavinia’s face. “Poor Tolin. I’ve tried being so honest with him, but it is hard on him… especially since he chose to work for my family once he and Liamae formed the Jade Ravens.”

Katrina Kat nods. “I can’t imagine it was easy on you either being caught in the middle.”

Lavinia Lavinia smiles and rolls her eyes. “Tell me about it. I can’t believe I actually found and fell for a man with a bigger ego than Tolin. Still, he looks at me with those eyes and that smirk… I melt. And it is absolutely adorable when he is with me… it is like he can’t see anyone else. Like he’s all mine.”

Katrina “Those big eager farmboy eyes and that lolling grin?” Kat teases.

Lavinia Lavinia’s smile turns devilish. “Something big and eager, that’s for sure. Gods, those muscles… when he kisses me…” Lavinia shivers.

Katrina “Too much information, Lavinia,” Kat laughs.

Lavinia Lavinia smiles. “And what about you, Kat? A voyage with all those big strong men on the ship… any catch your fancy?”

Katrina “Well, there’s this big strong farmboy half-elf…”

Lavinia “You slut! Stop it!” Lavinia smacks Kat on the arm.

Katrina Kat snickers uncontrollably. “Like I could. He’s all for you. I’ve watched him turn down at least two women’s propositions without batting an eye.”

Lavinia Lavinia raises an eyebrow. “Seriously? Were they pretty girls?”

Katrina “Depends, thoughts on snake hair?”

Lavinia Lavinia makes a face. “No thanks. Unless he thought it was hot?”

Katrina “I don’t think so. Before she showed off her little vipers nest though I’d have called her attractive, if I wasn’t so busy quaking in my boots.”

Lavinia “Seriously, Kat? The woman was scary… before she turned her hair into snakes?”

Katrina “Have you ever been to one of those restaurants that actually let you pick out what animal you want slaughtered and served to you?”

Lavinia Lavinia nods. “A few times… although I don’t like it. I’d rather not see the poor thing.”

Katrina “I felt kind of like the chicken, except it was more like I marched into her dining room and presented myself.”

Lavinia Lavinia shudders. “I wonder if…. if she’s what destroyed Ft. Greenrock.”

Katrina “Her small talk was just her trying to decide if we were worth the cost of roasting and eating. Figuratively. I think. I felt like a bug being toyed with.”

Lavinia “What a terrible woman.”

Katrina “No, at least I don’t think so. We went ashore, found evidence that pointed to a reptite attack.”

Lavinia “Yes, Captain Venkalie said as much. Still, I’m glad we’re away from her.”

Katrina “That makes two of us.”

Joliet Arm in arm, the two head to wherever there is more to drink.

Liw Mari and Jo make their way over to where the guys are being pampered. Liw perks up as the two arrive. “Oh, good! Want some coconut ju-ju?” She holds out a cup of a white drink.

Joliet “Um… sure, I guess.” Joliet takes a drink.

DM The coconut juice is sweet, but makes Jo’s head swim for a moment. Despite the obviously high alcohol content, though, Jo seems to take it in stride.

Joliet “Woah… Mari, I think you’ll like this.”

Mari Mari takes the drink from Jo. “Wowow. Good shtuff.”

Mari Mari’s head lolls back. “Jo Jo, canyou gimme one’ve those girls to rub my back? Maybe the tall one takin’ care o’ that muscly man?” She indicates Yon’t, who is massaging Brother Quintal’s back.

Joliet “I’ll… try.” Joliet goes over. “Um, excuse me, but can we borrow her for a bit… uh… you know, I don’t know your name.”

Katrina “What about Patamon, what’s his story?”

Lavinia “He’s been part of the estate for years. He arrived when I was in finishing school, so I came home to find him.”

Katrina “And he’s just a bit protective of you.”

Lavinia “Yes. He blames himself for not being there to prevent my parent’s deaths. He swore an oath to defend me at all costs.”

Katrina “Good man. Loyal man. Not many of them around. You’ve got more then a couple around you, that’s more than most.”

Lavinia “Yes, I am lucky. Aren’t I, boys?” She throws an arm around both Tolin and Heinrick’s waists, as she cannot reach their shoulders.

Tolin Tolin stands up straight, stiff as a stick.

Heinrick Heinrick smiles, and brushes a hand against the small of her back, but doesn’t take it any farther than that in public. “Here I thought we were the lucky ones, for having such a beautiful boss.”

Tolin Tolin nods his head in agreement with Heinrick. “Our boss and her beautiful companion.”

Katrina “That’s very nice of you to say, Mr. Kientai.”

Lavinia “Kat was just telling me about how much you flirt with women, Heinrick.”

Heinrick “Was she? I don’t suppose she mentioned that one of them probably would have turned me to stone if not for flattery?” His tone is halfway between bantering and serious.

Katrina “What fun would that be, Heinrick? By omitting details I can make everything so much more awkward.”

Lavinia “Better turned to stone than turned dead, Mister Gilantheril.”

Katrina Kat’s smile is positively devilish. “Are you sure?”

Heinrick “Ah, but if I were stone, I might never again be able to admire your beauty, nor offer you my sword, milady.”

Lavinia “Oh listen to this flatterer. No wonder the snake woman didn’t eat you.”

Tolin Tolin stares at Katrina. “I ah… am..uh, glad you think it’s nice.”

Zani Zani laughs. “Fuck, Tolin, that’s smooth.”

Tolin “I ah… am..uh… is it nice, Lady Islaran?”

Katrina “I don’t think either option is particularly nice.”

Tolin Tolin’s eyes are filled with concern. “I ah..” he takes a breath. “I’m sure it must be an absolutely terrifying experience, Lady Islaran. You handle yourself with dignity and grace all the same, you are a credit to human strength of will everywhere.” He elbows Zani hard in the ribs. “That better, Elf?”

Zani Zani snaps her hand and a dagger appears in it from nowhere. “Does that strength of will apply to not screaming like a girl when I cut your cock off?”

Tolin Tolin smiles. “You’ll need a bigger knife.”

Katrina “I’d heard elves were into unusual foreplay…”

Zani Zani laughs. “I’ll breed with this one when the sun dies a terrible heat death. But he’s into guys anyways, so I don’t stand a chance.”

Tolin Tolin’s mouth drops open. “You dirty…”

Katrina “Really? So you’re lying then, Tolin, when you complement me? Or do you find me manly?”

Tolin “No, no, Lady Islaran, I mean every word. Even a gay man would find you beautiful, although my partner here is having some fun with me at my expense. Uh… because I’m not gay.”

Katrina “Zani, would you do that to him?”

Zani Zani laughs. “I’d cut his throat for half a gold, I’m more than happy to make him look like an ass in front of a pretty girl he likes.”

Tolin Tolin’s face goes beet red. “Damn it, Zan…”

Katrina “Got aspirations of your own then, Zani?”

Zani Zani smiles. “You want to dance, Lady Islaran?”

Katrina “Oh, but we lack a tune.”

Chief The Chief claps his hands. “Music makers can play louder!”

DM The music is played louder.

Katrina “Oh see, now he’s gone and gotten rid of my excuse. If you’re sure you can keep up.” Kat extends an arm toward Zani.

Zani Zani takes her hand, flashing a triumphant grin at Tolin.

Katrina Kat gives Tolin a plaintiff stare and rolls her eyes as Zani drags her away.

Heinrick Heinrick listens to the banter without commenting, just slowly putting his arm around Lavinia’s waist.

Lavinia Lavinia snuggles up against his body, her arms around him.

Tolin Tolin looks at Heinrick and Lavinia snuggling. “Heinrick… do you think… do you think that Lady Islaran would dance with a commoner? I can’t believe I acted like a buffoon in front of a noble like that… screwing around with Zani as if we were in a bar.”

Heinrick “I don’t think whether or not someone’s noble matters all that much to her, Tolin. She didn’t even know she was one for the first part of her life, you know.”

Tolin Tolin looks surprised. “Oh? She acts properly, though. Speaks. Not like other nobles I know.” He favors Lavinia with a wry look.

Heinrick “Oh, she can surprise you now and then. Certainly a bit of language doesn’t put her off.”

Tolin “Perhaps that is not a choice for her? After all, she is on… your ship. The one where the first mate insults her own goddess, and the captain doesn’t seem to have a line between cursing and greeting?”

Heinrick “Heh. Point. Still, I’m told she had some choice words of her own for that pirate captain we ran into.”

Tolin Tolin nods. “So, a definite maybe, huh?”

Quintal The muscular Quintal looks up. “My name is Quintal, Miss Johaberdash,” he replies in a quiet but powerful voice. “And I would be more than happy to lose her attentions for the time being… she was most insistent, however.”

Joliet “Ah, Quintal. Hi. Ok.” Joliet snaps her fingers at Yon’t, and points at Mari.

Yon’t Yon’t gives a slightly confused look and makes motions as if to rub shoulders.

Quintal & Yon’t Quintal smiles at Jo. “Allow me.” He speaks a few short Olman phrases and Yon’t smiles and nods, moving over towards Mari to work on the drunken woman’s back.

Joliet “Ah. Yeah. I don’t speak… that.”

Quintal “Olman, Miss Johaberdash. My mother’s tongue.”

Joliet “Oh. Well, now that you mention it, you do kinda resemble them. Or at least as much as I resemble Heinrick. Y’know, cuz we’re both half-elf half human. Pointy ears, mostly.”

Quintal Quintal raises an eyebrow. “You… resemble the largish half-elf over there? I am not sure that word means what you think it means.”

Joliet “Ok, maybe not.”

Quintal Quintal smiles. “Maybe not indeed. You are like a beautiful flower, and he is the oak. Although… I suspect there is more to the flower than first meets the eye.”

Joliet “You suspect correctly.” Joliet sighs and sits down.

Quintal Quintal cocks his head. “You seem to have much on your mind, Miss Johaberdash. Would you care to speak about it?”

Joliet “May as well, since it’ll all come out in the open soon enough. I found out what a disgusting pig of a man Avner really is, and I kinda snapped, and attacked him with a spell. Maybe I really wanted him to die, or maybe I just wanted to hurt him, I’m not so sure which. And afterwards, everyone just kind of walks away, like nothing happened. There are all over there right now having fun I guess. It’s like, I don’t really know what is coming next. Are they just going to pretend it didn’t happen? Are they going to get me by surprise and lock me up? Exile me here or something?”

Quintal Quintal nods. “Do you feel guilt at your actions? Satisfaction? Or bloodlust?”

Joliet “I don’t really feel bad about it, though I don’t like how everyone reacted to it. Mostly I just wanted to make Avner understand. Make him hurt like I hurt. But I’m pretty sure now he’s never going to feel bad about it, or apologize or anything. So I don’t know what to do now.”

Quintal Quintal’s face is impassive. “You must seize your own destiny, Miss Johaberdash. If you must atone for your actions, that is what you will do. If you face punishment, you should do so on your own terms, with your head high.”

Joliet Joliet’s eyes widen with realization. “Yes. I think you are right, Mr. Quintal. Thank you.” Joliet nods and walks towards Lavinia and Heinrick.

Zani Zani leads Kat on a furious pace around the square. “Don’t take what I say about Tolin too seriously, ok? I like to give him the business, help him take the edge off. He’s a little too serious sometimes.”

Katrina “Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t my first social outing that doesn’t involve frilly skirts, Zani. I just wanted to see how far either of you would take it.”

Zani Zani grins. “I’ve been to my share of frilly skirt affairs, Katrina.”

Katrina “Rather boring, aren’t they?”

Zani “Depends on the skirts, actually.”

Katrina “So maybe you weren’t completely joking.”

Zani “Katrina, I got into this life to get out of the stuffy one. And to my surprise, Tolin seems to wish he was part of that stuffy one. So I try not to let him take himself too seriously… frankly, if the upper class doesn’t like how you really are, they aren’t worth your effort.”

Katrina “It’s not always that easy or simple, though I can appreciate the sentiment.”

Zani Zani laughs. “Tell me about it! My father was the champ at trying to insist on a ‘proper life’ for his daughter. Not easy to get out at all.”

Katrina “Rebellious daughter?”

Zani Zani grins. “You have NO idea.”

Katrina “Not until you tell me.”

Zani “Oh, it is a long story, Katrina. A century and more. Suffice to say, Daddy got a wake up call in the form of a letter telling him goodbye. Eventually I found myself here, with the Ravens. They’ve been good for me. I think I’ve been good for them.”

Katrina “A century.” Kat whistles. “You look good for a hundred plus.”

Zani “Must be my elven magic,” Zani laughs. “So what’s going on with you? Do you ever talk to that weird guy that is friends with Heinrick?”

Katrina “Jerard? He keeps to himself mostly. Weird might be an understatement, though, I’ve caught him up on the deck in the middle of the night staring into the sea and muttering about keeping watch.”

Zani Zani’s eyes go wide. “Really? Did you know he tried to hit on me, back at the first river we stopped at? Er… no, I guess you wouldn’t. You weren’t with us then.”

Katrina “Well, if you’re into paranoid men who fear the night…”

Zani Zani nods knowingly. “Did you see him with the island girls? He’s just sitting there, all stiff and wide-eyed.”

Katrina “I’d rather not, I’ve got enough to worry about.”

Zani Zani laughs. “When he snaps, you’ll have plenty to worry about.”

Katrina “He’s Heinrick’s mess.”

Zani Zani flicks a glance over towards where Jerard is sitting. “Seriously though, Katrina, be careful.”

Katrina “I’ll keep an eye out.”

Katrina Kat finishes the dance a little winded. “I haven’t danced like that since I was seventeen.”

Zani Zani laughs. “Old woman can’t keep up?”

Katrina “Who’re you calling old?” Kat jumps into the next dance with her.

Tolin …and is cut off as Tolin steps in. “May I have this dance, Lady Islaran?”

Katrina Kat looks between the two for a moment. “Why of course, Mr. Kientai.”

Tolin Tolin sweeps Kat into the dance, holding her firmly and properly. “So… ah… how did you enjoy the dance with Zani, Lady Islaran?”

Katrina “It was an interesting experience, Tolin.”

Tolin “Interesting? I guess elven princesses might be,” Tolin replies.

Katrina “Princess? I didn’t get that part of the story out of her.”

Tolin Tolin smiles. “She’s modest… about that, anyways. Not anything else. Thinks people might prejudge her if they knew.”

Katrina “Runaway princess? Not a whole lot of those running around as mercenaries.”

Tolin Tolin shrugs. “She pulls her weight, she’s a good friend when she isn’t pulling the snooty elf act, and Liamae practically worships the ground she walks on… she’s like the sister Li never had. Although that does make them competitive at times.”

Katrina “Sisters are like that.”

Joliet “Lavinia,” Joliet calls out as she approaches.

Lavinia Lavinia smiles and turns to Jo. “Jo! I’m glad to see you are here. I was worried that that… pig had hurt you.”

Joliet “I’m… feeling better. So, what happens now? Heinrick and Kat said I broke rules.”

Lavinia Lavinia nods. “You did, Jo. You can’t… kill some people. Or try. Even if you should. I’m not sure what should happen to you, Jo. Would it be better if you and Avner were separated? Maybe if you were put on our ship?”

Joliet “That would probably make everyone more comfortable. And… I’m sorry if this ruins your expedition thing, but… I couldn’t just stand there and listen to it.”

Lavinia Lavinia breaks off from Heinrick’s embrace and goes over to hug Jo. “Trust me, Jo, I know exactly how you feel. He… he hurt me too.”

Joliet “Yeah, I heard those horrible lies he told about you.” Joliet hugs back.

Lavinia Lavinia chokes back a sob.

Joliet Joliet hugs her tightly for a few more seconds, then breaks it off and straightens her posture, holding her head high. “I… I’m not sorry about hurting him, but I won’t deny it or run from it. If you need to punish me, then do it.”

Lavinia Lavinia sniffles. “How could I punish you when am the one who needs to be punished?”

Joliet “Well, you’re not the one who almost killed Avner.”

Lavinia “Oh, Jo, I’ve done so much else. And you’ve been through so much… it isn’t fair. I don’t want to punish you. A nasty little part of me wants to reward you for what you did to that prick.”

Joliet “Well… I could stay here, I guess. Least until everyone forgets all about it. It’s kinda nice here.”

Lavinia Lavinia blinks. “Oh, no Jo, I don’t want you to feel like you have to go. You can come on the Nixie, and when we get to Farshore, you can live in my parents’ house.”

Joliet Joliet blinks in surprise. “Oh. Well, that would be nice too. I’ve never lived in a house before. I promise I’ll take good care of it and keep it clean.”

Lavinia Lavinia shakes her head. “As a member of the house, Jo. You don’t clean the house. We pay people to do that.”

Joliet “A member of… you mean, like a family member?”

Lavinia Lavinia nods. “I never had a sister. But I’d like one.”

Joliet Tears well up in Joliet’s eyes. “I’d… I’d like one too.” Joliet then hugs Lavinia again, bawling uncontrollably.

Lavinia Lavina holds Jo close, petting her hair and crying herself.

Conrad “Um, Heinrick, could I talk to you for a second?” It is Conrad Horst, with his arm around Ana’d.

Heinrick Heinrick looks worriedly at Joliet and Lavinia for a moment, then nods. “Sure, Conrad.” He excuses himself from the larger group to go with the ex-con.

Conrad “All right, this is going to sound crazy, but I want to stay here. There really isn’t anything for me in Farshore and Ana’d here… well, she’s been really nice to me. Everything I’ve been looking for in life… this place seems to have it. I appreciate you guys saving my life and all, and giving me a second chance… this is how I want to spend it. Here, for the rest of my life. Maybe… maybe I can teach them a little about Iomedae… for real.” He looks confident for one of the first times since his secret got out.

Heinrick Heinrick looks him in the eye for a moment, then Ana’d, then nods. “If that’s what you want, Conrad, I can’t see anyone standing in your way. I hope you find some peace here.” He sticks out his hand to shake.

Conrad Conrad takes the hand and shakes it heartily. “Thank you, Heinrick. If you ever come back this way, please stop in. I… I owe you my life. If I can ever repay that, I will.”

Heinrick “I will, Conrad. Make the best of your new start, my friend.”

Conrad Conrad and Ana’d rush off, holding hands, towards the chief, who has migrated away back towards the other massaging girls. He laughs and lets out a great “ho ho!” when they finish saying whatever it is that they say.

Heinrick Heinrick looks after them with a smile, then goes to rejoin the others. And then, not wanting to intrude on the emotional moment, he quietly backs away and goes to check on Jerard. “Jer? You all right, pal?”

Jerard Jerard is sitting stiffly with a horrible grin on his face, while the other men get massaged.
He looks at Heinrick and his grin fades. “Heinrick… I have some bad news.”

Jerard’s Lament

Heinrick Heinrick looks concerned. “What kind of bad news? Whatever it is, man, you can tell me. And you know I’ve got your back dealing with it.”

Jerard “Well Heinrick, it’s like this, see? Those things I keep seeing at night? I finally figured out what they are.”

Heinrick “What are they?”

Jerard “They’re me, Heinrick. They’re my voices. They keep trying to tell me. Trying to tell me what’s going on.”

Heinrick “Your voices? Jer, what are you talking about?”

Jerard “Ha ha ha! What’s going ON, Heinrick! Ha… ha… oh, it’s not funny, Heinrick. It isn’t very funny at all. But I have to laugh, you see… or I’ll cry. I’ll go crazy. Crazy!”

Heinrick “Okay… so tell me what’s going on, Jer,” Heinrick says slowly.

Jerard Jerard begins laughing hysterically, causing Tolin to stop dancing with Kat and look. “I’m a HOLLOW, Heinrick! I’m not me!”

Tolin Tolin whispers to Kat, “Lady Islaran, is your shipmate… ok?”

Katrina “No, no he hasn’t been ok so long as I’ve known him, but this might be the point where he snaps.”

Joliet Eventually Joliet’s crying runs out, as she overhears Jerard’s ranting. “Wait, um… is Jerard ok?”

Heinrick Heinrick’s look of worry is becoming full blown fear. “Hollow? Not you? Jer, I know you’ve changed, but you’re still the same guy I grew up with.”

Jerard “No, no, no, Heinrick! I’m not! I keep seeing those shadows, because they are where I really am! They are! I’m not here! I’m there!” His head jerks to the side and his body twitches.

Heinrick Heinrick kneels down beside where his friend is sitting. “Jerard, you’re scaring me, man. I want to help you with this, but I can’t even understand you. What do you mean, you’re there? Where is there?”

Jerard “It’s the music, you see. The music separated me from me. There is no music there. Never music there,” Jerard whispers. “I can’t hear the music there. Because they tore my ears off. That’s why I had a hard time hearing those voices. But they were there. In the dark. In the shadow.”

Heinrick “What music, Jer? Your ears are still there, I can see them. You’re not making sense, brother. How can I help you get through this?”

Jerard Jerard reaches out and grabs Heinrick, with a strength that the half-elf knows his friend did not possess. “Help me, Heinrick. Help me! There is nothing in here… I’m a hollow. But I want to be filled. Find me and fill me, Heinrick. My friend. My… brother. Don’t…” Jerard’s voice cuts off, and is replaced by a softer more feminine one. “My my my, the pussy’s out of the bag now, isn’t it?”

Heinrick Heinrick jerks back. “What the hell is going on? Jer… no… who are you?”

“Jerard” Jerard’s head rotates 180 degrees to look at Katrina. “Well, well. Managed to get out of that little tomb of stone, did we?” His head continues to rotate around and looks at Heinrick. “Mmm. You look good enough to eat.”

Heinrick “Who, or what are you? And what have you done to my friend?”

Jerard A forked tongue flicks out of Jerard’s mouth to lick his lips.

Katrina Kat shows some alarm and disentangles herself from Tolin.

Tolin Tolin reaches for his sword.

Katrina Kat, having left her sword on the ship, palms a dagger.

“Jerard” “Your friend is quite safe, you luscious thing. He tastes… so good. As for me, my name is Crimson.” Jerard’s body smiles.

Heinrick “Which doesn’t tell me squat. What are you, Crimson? Although I’m starting to guess. I don’t know how you got hold of Jerard, but you had better let him go, or I’ll find you and come for him, no matter what hell you’re hiding in.”

Crimson “I’m Jerard’s every desire made flesh. He begs for the whip. Every day. If I tell him he can’t have it, he cries. I can’t stand to see a man cry. So I whip him to ribbons, every day. And he dies in bliss. Every day. And then we make sweet love, his ruined husk and I, until he is restored and begs for the whip again….” A faint red halo glows around Jerard’s head.

Katrina Kat swallows.

Heinrick “You shut up right now, Crimson. And you release whatever hold you’ve got on him, or I’ll…” Heinrick can’t seem to think of a sufficiently dire threat.

Crimson Jerard’s body smiles. “Make love to this body, Heinrick, right here. And I’ll release him.” Jerard’s hands reach up to caress the halo.

Heinrick “And give my friend a whole new set of problems when he moves back in? I don’t think so. How about you let him go, or I’ll find a way to track you down into whatever pit you’ve got him in, free him myself, and end you.”

Crimson “Oh, would making love to a man’s body really be that bad for him and you? Give me your lover, then. Man and woman as it was meant to be. One coupling and I will leave him.”

Heinrick “What proof do I even have that you’d keep your word, and not just torment the three of us even more? Not that I’d even consider doing such a thing.”

Katrina “It’s not in the nature of any being like this to to keep it’s bargain, Heinrick.”

Heinrick “That’s what I thought. Chief! I don’t suppose your shaman could perform an exorcism for my friend here?”

Chief The chief looks in naked fear at the scene and shakes his head sadly. “No help Big Meat Man’s friend. Friend is lost.”

Crimson “I am Crimson Hellfire, mortal, and bound by any promise I make. And I shall not relinquish my prize without payment.”

Katrina “I don’t deal with fiends, bitch.”

Crimson Crimson smiles. “You were just dancing with one. Bitch. Hurry up, Heinrick, or any of you. Someone take this body carnally. I don’t have all day”

Katrina Kat looks at Tolin and Zani for only a moment. “Dancing isn’t dealing.”

Crimson “Neither is fucking then, slut. Get naked and bend over.”

Katrina “Get out of his body and release his soul.”

Heinrick “I should warn you. Not that anyone here is going to accept your demand, but even if they did and you kept your word, I’d hunt you down for it anyway. I’ve already got Vanthus to chase, and Kat’s crusade against the pirates. What’s one pathetic demon added to the list?”

Crimson “Once. I. Am. Fucked.” Jerard’s body stands up, the twisted neck rotates back to its natural position.

Katrina “That’s how you get in, isn’t it? That’s how you get a piece of us.”

Crimson His hands tear his shirt open. “Now. I am losing my patience.” The halo is glowing bright red now, pulsing.

Heinrick “And if we don’t? You keep torturing a man you’ve got no claim to?”

Crimson “Count on it.”

Katrina “No dice.”

Crimson “Quickly now. Yes or no. Do you risk me hurting you or whoever I make love to? Yes. Do you absolutely know that I will hurt him more if you do not?” Jerard’s body suddenly jerks and lets out a piercing scream that sounds nearly inhuman in its agony. “I promise.”

Katrina “The only reason you’d release him would be to get a hold on someone else. Losing one of us is more than enough.”

Crimson Crimson smiles. “Not really. Just a little corruption is enough to sate my pallet today. Or I’d have you kill someone to free him. Hurry up. No more funny answers. Yes, no. And may your g… g… g..reat things help you if you say no.”

Heinrick “Or put it this way. If you don’t let him go, right now, without your sick payment, I will hunt you down, and end your eternal, evil, existence.”

Katrina “I’m sorry, Heinrick. Your friend is gone. Any release she offers would be temporary at best.” Kat lifts her hands and fires a volley of magic missiles into Jerard’s body.

Heinrick “NO!”

Crimson Even as Kat moves to attack her, Crimson shrugs. “Suit yourself.” Jerard’s hands grasp the crimson halo and tugs it from his head. It continues to pull, until he is holding a glowing red whip in his hands. Jerard’s body cracks it towards Katrina, where it sears through her hand, severing her pinky finger. The whip curls around the digit and Crimson snaps it back to Jerard’s hand. The body grins, pops the finger in its mouth and swallows.

DM What villainy is this, True Believers?! Will Kat regain her finger? Will Jo and Lavinia be sisters for real? Will Heinrick make love to the body of his friend to save his soul? Find out next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!


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