Skull and Shackles

From Hells Heart

It has been ten years since the pirate companions been together again. Many of the companions have gone their separate ways, having accomplished many great deeds within the Shackles during their time together. They are now pirate lords, rulers of their dominion, and feared across the ocean lanes. They are legend.

But one of these legends was betrayed by their own, and now they walk the executioner’s block. It is time for the companions to reunite and save one of their own within the infernal heart of Cheliax’s capital.

And while pirate companions fight for the survival of their own, a dread prophecy of the past rears its ugly head to unleash hell upon the world. Only the pirate lords hold the key to defeating this ancient evil. But will they reunite the pieces of eight and form the Silver Sword? Or will paranoia, ambition, and old grudges tear them apart?

35 Wasps & Flowers & Secrets

Session Thirty Five

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, we catch up with Seaborn Mary and the crew of the Indep. Mary has been attempting to influence the pirate lords with her political ideals while also warning them of the dangers of a incoming invasion from the Githyanki. But many of the pirate lords refuse to see her or are not swayed by her dire warnings, including the current Hurricane King. Yet Tessa Fairwind is impressed with Mary’s beliefs. The pirate lord of Motaku Isle offers the former captain of the Black Rose a job in gathering evidence on the Chelish spy network within the Shackles. Mary just needs to join up with her other agents. Tessa gives Mary a map that will help her track the whereabouts of Jask, who is currently aboard the Femme Fatal.

We then return back to the present, where Wynter has been investigating a number of problems that the Femme Fatal officers have yet to look into. Chief among these problems is the mystery of the corpse they acquired from the Brine Banshee. Quade orders Jask and Doc to look into the mystery, as they’re the best qualified healers among the crew. Doc is able to determine that the body was infested with some sort of parasite, and that the creature had crawled out of the body, which resulted in the head being destroyed. Jask reasons that it is probably another Intellect Devourer, the same sort of creature that the companions encountered on Smuggler Shiv. He suspects that the Devourers are after the pieces of Eight for some reason. The Brine Banshee was manipulated by the Intellect Devourers in a similar situation as the Jenivere.

With the mystery solved, the pirates are distracted by the arrival of the Indep. Mary quickly draws everyone attention once she and her first mate arrivals upon shore.

Meanwhile Wynter decides to investigate Mo, suspecting that she is a trouble maker that has been turning the crew against the officers of the Femme Fatal. She finds evidence that this is true when she speaks with Gelik and learns that Mo manipulated the bard into taking up the bottle again. When Wynter attempts to hunt down Mo, she learns that Mo had already left the island some time after the Femme Fatal made port. Bertok and Wynter conclude that the only place that Mo could run to next is Tempest Cay.

Wynter updates Quade that she is going after Mo and then teleports to the stormy isle.

Mary is reacquainted with many members of the crew, including Tidus. Tidus learns to his horror that he is decaying. Instead of seeking Mary’s help, he turns to other sources to find a means to preserve his flesh to prevent rot. Quade begrudgingly accepts Mary’s company after Jask explains that Mary has been sent by Fairwind to join them in their quest. After consulting with the remaining officers, Quade decides it is time to return to Bag Island and pick up the girls.

Tidus gets to take out the Crimson Maelstrom, with Quade and De’de acting as guests aboard the undead triton’s ship. Mary comes along with her own ship, the Indep, and the two ships are unmolested in pirate waters as they sail to Bag Island.

Two days into the trip to Bag Island, Agasta startles everyone on board with a frighten scream and draws the companions to the captain’s cabin. They find the high cleric of the House of Stolen Kisses looking back upon them within Agasta’s mirror, Dindreann. The high cleric has used a spell in order to speak directly with Quade thru the nearest mirror. Quade updates Dindreann on their progress, which pleases and troubles the high cleric of the Savored Sting. She informs Quade that she will be sending an agent of the House of Stolen Kisses with them, a elf woman known as Yves. Yves is to retrieve the Golden Vespal once Quade succeeds in finding the relic and she is to act as witness when Quade punishes the infidels that dare attack the Church of Calistria. Yves then demonstrates using a spell-like ability to teleport to the Crimson Maelstrom’s cabin. Dindreann wishes the group luck and ends the mirror communication spell.

Yves proves to be haughty and demanding, much to Tidus’s annoyance.

Once reaching Beachcomber, the Indep parks her ship out in the bay while the Crimson Maelstrom finds port at one of the town’s piers. The group meets up with Sasha, Aerys, and Grok, who have been waiting for them at the docks. The girls share the following information they managed to gather: that Peppery Longshanks is a powerful illusionist, no one really knows what he looks like, that his name is merely an alias, and that many of the halfings and half orcs in Bag Island view the halfling wizard as a hero of the people, and he is considered an enemy of the Free Captains. The girls even found a former member of his crew, a half orc woman missing her left hand and known as the Barrister. They also know where the Barrister often frequents.

Quade decides to instead make a trip to the Temple of the Hidden Name, to finish one side mission before pursuing another. Knowing that the priests of Norborger would only speak with two of the companions, Quade and Mary leave to meet with the halfling priest known as Silk. Once night fall arrives, Silk appears out of the shadows and greets the pirate captains within the warehouse of their first encounter. Quade share the whereabouts of where the Brine Banshee fell, but only briefly talks about the steering wheel. Silk tries to press for more information but Quade refuses to give any further. Unsatisfied with Quade’s answer, Silk then shares that the companions can find a water naga named Sarliss at the Slithering Coast. The naga knows of a Chelish agent that has been operating along the coast. He gives Quade directions on how to find Sarliss. Not wishing to wait around any longer, Quade and Mary then leave with the information they acquired.

The group then moves on to the Hairfoot District, which is primarily made up of halflings. They find the Clerk’s Cloister, a little tavern that carters to clerks, lawyers, and folk that have business with the town’s government. They learn that many of the booths are protected with zones of silence. The group approaches the bar where they speak with the Cloister’s barkeep, a half orc named Belnost. After their attempt at bribery fails to get Belnost to speak about the Barrister, Mary and Quade suspect that the half orc may be protecting the girl. Tidus and Yves offer to intimidate the bartender, but Mary decides to use diplomacy to win the half orc over.

The half orc reveals that the Barrister works for the Bellflower network, an secret society dedicated to the downfall of slavery. The organization’s reach extends far beyond the Imperial borders of Cheliax, with agents operating heavily in the Shackles to welcome refugees arriving from Cheliax. This has become a point of political contention in the Shackles – while Free Captains generally support freedom, they still practice slavery. The pirate lords of Motaku Island and Bag Island have been calling for a end to the practice, but are out numbered by the other pirate lords. The Barrister is a member of a proactive cell of Bellflowers that targets slaver owners in the Shackles, and goes after what hurts them most: their money. Hopefully by hurting them financially, this will change the politics of certain pirate lords dependent upon the slave trade.

Quade then informs Belnost that he wants an audience with the Barrister, but the half orc barkeep doesn’t know when she will arrive as she is due to arrive either tonight or sometime tomorrow. Quade leaves behind his bribe to the half orc and the group decides to retire for the night.

Quade and Yves remain behind, watching the Cloister while De’de and Tidus return to the ship. Unaware by the others, Mary sends her cohort, Alisha, a cleric of Milani, to find the local safe house of Milani to gain more information about the Bellflowers and Peppery Longshanks. She also passes on a message to Longshanks: to fake his death and assume a new identity. As Quade and Yves continue to stakeout the Cloister, Quade soon learns that Yves isn’t a elf. She is an outsider servitor of Calistria known as a Vendenopterixes, an agent of Punishment. Quade also suspects that he may have known Yves in a previous life as a former lover. Once they realize that the Barrister won’t arrive that night, Quade and Yves return to the Crimson Maelstrom.

The next day, the group moves on to stake out the Cloister and wait for the arrival of the Barrister. They are rewarded for their patience when the half orc woman arrives sometime before dinner. While De’de and Tidus guard the door, Mary and Quade move to meet with the Barrister. Quade demands the return of the Golden Vespal. Instead, the Barrister gives him a red rose; the symbol of Milani. Mary then demands to know why Longshanks attacked the Calistrians, which the half orc explains that the House of Stolen Kisses is involved in the sex trade. As long as the Calistrians continue to support slavery within the Shackles, the Calistrians will be the enemies of the Bellflowers. When Quade asks for the whereabouts of Peppery Longshanks, the Barrister explains that Longshanks is dead, a victim from a heart attack. Unconvinced by the Barrister’s story, Quade demands to know where the body is located. The Barrister claims she is doesn’t know. Mary casts a zone of truth on the half orc cleric of Milani, and agrees that she is telling the truth.

Unhappy with this exchange, Yves decides to get information her way. She attempts to influence the half orc’s mind with one of her spell-like abilities and use dominate person. The session ends with the half orc managing to resist the spell effects and is immediately outraged, creating a tense cliffhanger.

34 Reavers of the Fever Sea

Session Thirty Four

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the officers of the Femme Fatal begin to look over their plunder that they received from the bowels of the Brine Banshee’s wrecked depths and even give a portion to the crew. Captain Quade mends and reviews the damaged journals and logs of various officers of the Brine Banshee, learning that Captain Xiribal Jalhazar ordered his ship to change course under the advisement of his first mate, Vargus Brack. Many of the officers believed the elf captain to be mad in his attempt to search for the fallen Wave Reaper, the flag ship of Glick Hyde, the second Hurricane King. Wynter, De’de, and Quade conclude that Jalhazar was after a piece of eight.

Wynter’s psychopomp companions begin to grumble about the presence of Tidus’s undead shark minions, arguing over the ethics of using them or destroying the abominations. They leave the final decision to Wynter who decides to destroy the undead sharks once they’re no longer towing the Brine Banshee plunder.

Quade then interrogates his sea devil prisoner, Haarka, in the ship’s brig. He learns from the sea devil that Tidus is the half brother of the Krakenfiend and that the kraken has placed a bounty on Tidus’s head. Quade seeks an audience with the Krakenfiend’s people and frees Haarka. The sea devil agrees to pass on the sylvan captain’s message to his lord and dives back into the Fever Sea.

Time passes and the Femme Fatal travels closer to home.

Wynter is then approached by the ship chaplain, Jask, who questions Wynter about Jaspin Hinsin’s death. He shares that one of the crew came to him in confidence and wanted him to call upon his divine abilities to seek answers about Hinsin’s death. Jask was disturbed at what he discovered from his divinations and came to Wynter to learn about the circumstances that led to Hinsin’s death. After at first bluffing the priest, Wynter decides to tell the truth and admits that she murdered him. She also explains the reason why she murdered the Magpie Princess’s bard and blames him along with Lanteri for the kidnapping of Augusta Smythee. She then demands to know the identity of the crewmate that suspects her of murder. Jask decides to take the matter up with Captain Quade.

After listening to both Wynter and Jask, Quade defends Wynter, stating that Hinsin would have been executed anyways. Quade then demands the identity of the crew mate that is creating conflict among his crew. Jask refuses to give up the information as that would break the crew’s trust in him and his duty as the ship chaplain. Wynter agrees with Jask, much to Quade’s annoyance.

De’de is then approached by a group led by Magic Mike. The half orc suspects that Tidus is a undead creature and asks De’de if this is true or not. De’de at first bluntly tells the truth, but then begins to backtrack and claim that he doesn’t know. Spurred on by De’de response, the group decides to test Tidus by using a vial of holy water owned by Knuckles. Using the telepathic bond set up by Wynter and Dalvika, De’de warns Quade about the confrontation.

Quade quickly intercepts the group before they can confront Tidus, and calls a meeting of all hands on deck. The sylvan captain then reveals the truth that Tidus is an undead creature. Many of the crew is shocked to learn this. Magic Mike is visibly angry that the captain kept this as a secret and tries to convince Quade to get rid of Tidus. Quade denies Mike’s request and then offers everyone the opportunity to leave if they wish once they return back to home port, but he will not tolerate conflict among his crew. After his speech, many of the crew return back to their duties but with troubled minds.

Among the crew, Quade was shocked to learn that Gelik is drinking again. He calls the bard to his quarters and attempts to punish him by forcing the gnome to drink more liquor. He even calls in Jask to assist him, eventually rendering the gnome unconscious after the harsh experience. The sylvan captain puts Gelik to bed and then returns to his duties.

Owlbear decides that after all the drama he witnessed aboard the ship, he would like to leave with his share of the plunder. Tidus offers Owlbear a place among his crew, which the former ship surgeon refuses. De’de then escorts Owlbear back to Blackblood Cay with a psionic teleport effect. That is when Knuckles, the ship’s lookout, announces that he spots a ship on the horizon. He notes to Wynter that he recognized the ship back at Port Peril and saw it again back at Beachcomber. Wynter suspects the ship has been following them ever since they left the pirate capital. De’de returns just as the Femme Fatal is then drawn into a naval battle with the Screaming Reaver.

Tidus and Quade attempts to board the ship while De’de and Wynter unleash their spells and hexes upon the enemy ship. The Reaver’s ship mage unleashes fireball after fireball upon the Femme Fatal along with a rain of catapult stones. Tidus and his undead sharks manage to destroy the Reaver’s rudder, causing the pilot of the Reaver to lose control of her wheel. Once Tidus and Quade climb aboard the main deck, the Reaver’s Captain Dark unleashes a frightening display of her capabilities. Tidus is unaffected by the intimidation while Quade is sent running back to the Femme Fatal. Wynter manages to eliminate the Reaver’s ship mage with a phantasmal killer and knock out the Reaver’s ship chaplain with a hex. De’de eliminates a large number of Reavers with his psionic blasts. But in the end, it was Tidus that turns the tide of battle as he rips Captain Dark apart before her crew with his talons. One of the officers of the Screaming Reaver then calls for parley and offers the surrender of the Screaming Reaver. The Femme Fatal wins the day.

Disarming the crew of the enemy ship, Quade then orders everyone aboard the Screaming Reaver to be hanged. He spares two members of the crew, but maims them and sends them out to spread word of what he plans to do to his enemies if they dare to face him. His own crew is shocked by his cruel behavior.

The Femme Fatal finally arrives home and many of the crew is happy to have shore leave. Tidus seeks out his soon to be bride, Augusta, back at his villa. De’de senses a presence waiting for him in the harbor and goes out to investigate it. Wynter and Quade hear that there is a recruiter from the Indep, Mary’s ship, attempting to spread bad word about the sylvan captain and poach his followers. They meet one of Mary’s handmaidens, a woman known as Alisha, who shows respect and contempt to the fey captain. After a harsh exchange of words, Quade sends Alisha away with an escort of his men to kick her off the island. Alisha offers Wynter a chance to join Mary, but the Varisian witch refuses again.

Tidus meets up with his beloved Augusta. The young woman is recovered from her trauma and is ready to reclaim Blackblood Cay back from Commandant Bonedeuce. She requires the aid of her father’s captains, but needs evidence that Bonedeuce was responsible for her father’s death in order to win them over. She doesn’t want Quade and the others involved, but Tidus argues against this. Augusta is eventually convinced that she may need the others and then sends Tidus to summon Quade.

Back at the harbor, De’de meets with Sefina, a ceratioidi emissary of Queen Sloopdilmonpolop. Sefina arrived to retrieve the Queen in Exile’s egg that was stolen by Tidus. She even offers to pay the pirates’ ransom. De’de asks the aquatic emissary to wait while he attempts to alert Quade of the presence of the ceratioidi. Quade and Wynter is also alerted of the presence of a tax collector from the brine dragon Kelizar, Scags Rotgram, is on the island. Quade sends Wynter to deal with the tax collector, and orders Tidus to hand over the egg. Tidus explains that the egg has already hatched and imprinted upon him.

Wynter pays Scags the tithe to the brine dragon and sends him away while Quade mends bridges with the Coral Kingdom’s emissary and hands over the Queen’s child. The emissary gives Quade the location of where the Queen In Exile is located, back at Tymora’s Hold, the dominion of the tritons, if he seeks an audience with the Queen in Exile.

Once finished dealing with the foreign emissaries, Quade arrives at Augusta’s villa. The two share tea while Tidus watches on silently, going over Augusta’s plans. Quade plans to deal with the Commandant after he finds the Chelish spies. He learns from Augusta that Bonedeuce will more than likely enter the Free Captains’ Regatta. She then explains that Tidus must enter the race with his own ship and beat Bonedeuce, in order to win her father’s captains trust. This is her backup plan if Quade and Tidus can’t find evidence of Bonedeuce’s hand in murdering her father. Quade agrees and then leaves. Once the sylvan captain is gone, Augusta tells Tidus that he must defeat Quade also in the race and earn his place as a pirate lord among the Free Captains.

33 The Brine Banshee

Session Thirty Three

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, Dalvika is left in charge of the Femme Fatal while Tidus leads a scouting party made up of Captain Quade, De’de, and Wynter into the watery depths in search of the wreck of the Brine Banshee. De’de and Wynter prepare for the trip by calling upon their magical talents to weave elaborate defenses and counter measures that they believe they may encounter in the cold depths below. Once satisfied with their preparations, Wynter tows Quade along while the rest of the group swim down to the sea floor. Stony outcrops rise out of the sandy sea floor, and small sea plants grow in scattered clusters. Locating the Brine Banshee is relatively easy. The shipwreck lies on its side on the ocean floor. Only half the ship is visible, however; the Brine Banshee’s bow section rests next to a rift in the ocean floor.

De’de and Wynter noticed the wreck’s angle, with its prow pointed away from the fissure, suggesting that the ship split in two when she sank, and the vessel’s stern section dropped into the murky depths of the underwater trench. Quade is aware the rift is the location of Vargus Brack’s corpse. The group decides to explore the bow of the ship for plunder.

Tidus takes point and he is supported by De’de. Quade and Wynter takes up the rear guard. While searching room to room, the group manages to avoid the angry haunt of dead sailors within the cargo hold. The rear guard notice that they have attracted a large number of great white sharks that seem to be roaming around in the area. Quade keeps a wary eye on the sharks while Wynter assists De’de and Tidus in securing some of the plunder they acquired from the cabins. Quade manages to notice a sneaking merman that was trying to ambush him. As he attacks the merman stalker, Quade comes to realize that the aquatic humanoid is an undead lacedon and so are the great white sharks. Tidus is able to end the combat quickly by taking command of the undead.

After some debate the companions decide to spare the undead and use the creatures as pack mules to carry their plunder. They then move on with their undead slaves and dive deeper into the rift, where the water grows colder and the pressure becomes nearly unbearable. Wynter and De’de seem the worse affected by the cold, but manage to come up with a defensive ward that protects them against the cold depths. At the bottom of the chasm, the rift’s walls narrow and slope inwards, forming a ravine of pitch-black freezing water. The floor drops away at the northwest end into a vast sinkhole that continues even deeper underwater.

They are surprised to find that the ravine contains not one ship wreck but several others. Wynter deduces that there could be a sea monster nearby, while only Tidus seems to hear an eerie whale song that makes him feel comfortable. The Brine Banshee’s stern rests upright at the bottom of the rift, wedged against a shelf of dark rock. As the group draws closer to the sunken ship, a pack of lacedons emerge and move in to attack. Tidus takes command of a few lacedons and orders his undead shark minions to attack the rest. De’de quickly ends the conflict with a masterful display of his violent psionic talent. Pleased with their work, they move on to explore the ship.

Upon the poop deck they find an elven corpse lashed to the wheel. As they move in closer, the corpse animates and curses the pirates in elven. “Begone foul undead! You won’t eat my corpse this day!” The crypt thing then teleports De’de and Quade several hundreds of feet away, leaving Tidus and Wynter to deal with Captain Xiribal Jalhazar. Wynter realizes that Jalhazar is defending him against the lacedons and decides to use a diplomatic approach. She orders Tidus away while she calms the undead captain down, explaining that the group is here to learn the secret of the Brine Banshee’s speed. The witch manages to calm Jalhazar down and promises to take his corpse back to his people on Kepre Dua. Jalhazar then reveals the secret to Wynter that the secret of the Brine Banshee’s speed is the ship’s enchanted steering wheel. The undead elf captain seems to return back to torpor as Wynter adds his corpse and the wheel to her bag of holding. De’de and Quade eventually return, noticing more lacedons gathering. They ignore the problem and decide to explore the rest of the ship.

The group begin to move from room to room, putting down an angry ghoulish octopus and bagging up more plunder that they find. They eventually find the headless corpse of Vargus Brack, left alone by the lacedons. Quade decides to collect the corpse. When the group arrive in the cargo hold, they’re surprised to find the shattered petrified salt remains of Glick Hyde, the second Hurricane King. Wynter and De’de are excited about the discovery, while Quade recalls old memories of Turpin Irons’ betrayal by his back-stabbing first mate. De’de’s psionic ward that senses hostile intent suddenly picks up a malicious presence. The salty remains of Glick Hyde were reassembling into something vaguely humanoid. The creature curses Quade and demands the return of its piece of silver. The sylvan captain responds with a thundering spell strike and easily dispatches the undead monster. But De’de still senses the presence of something hostile in the area. Wynter’s enchanted senses is able to perceive the invisible spirit of Glick Hyde and realize that the undead creature is a Dybbuk. She sees that Hyde is currently stunned after Quade destroyed his corpse and decides to aid the others by pointing out where the creature is located while casting a defensive ward. Tidus attempts to strike down the unseen spirit, missing it. Quade follows up with another spell strike and critically strikes down the ghost. As Hyde’s spirit is destroyed like his petrified remains, falling apart piece by piece, he mistakes Quade for Turpin Irons and attempts to beg for his former captain’s mercy.

Quade gives none.

Pleased that the fight didn’t cost them that much of their resources, the group moves on. They’re surprised once again as hordes of lacedons emerge from the wrecks and move to swarm the group. Wynter was prepared for this scenario. She orders Tidus to flee with his shark minions while she prepares a defensive ward that will keep the undead out. This gives Quade and De’de time to unleash magic and psionic mayhem upon the approaching undead. All that is left after their onslaught is the remains of scores of twitching destroyed undead. Tidus returns back with his shark slaves, a few of his minions not having survived the destructive area attacks in time. The pirates collect their plunder and begin to strap down the undead sharks when Tidus realizes that he no longer hears the whale song.

That is when Wynter realizes that they’re in the lair of the Great White Ghoul Whale.

The undead whale emerges from the sinkhole, angry that its undead minions have been destroyed. It unleashes a devastating sonic attack that injures half the group. But Tidus moves forward to distract it and brings down his own series of ravaging attacks. De’de blasts it with another psionic onslaught, while Wynter places a vexing curse upon it, and the undead whale still lives. It nearly bites Tidus in half, but Quade moves in to finish off the weaken undead whale with another spellstrike. Tidus is furious that his opponent was stolen from him, much to the amusement of the other companions.

Wynter realizes that the sink hole may be a direct route down into the aquatic Under Dark and advises the other companions to keep clear of it. With victory in hand, the pirates loot the rest of the wrecks and then goad their undead shark mules to the surface with their booty. They return successfully to the Femme Fatal with their mission completed.

32 Owlbear

Session Thirty Two

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the Femme Fatal settles into a familiar hidden cove a mile away from the port town of Ollo, the capital of Shark Island. Captain Quade leaves Dalvika behind in charge of the ship while the officers head out in disguises to scout the city for information on the mystery of the Brine Banshee. They head to the disturbing Varisian drinking hole known as the Violated Troll. The place gets its name from its most popular form of entertainment, which consists of a wretched troll on display on a small stage in the center of the room. The troll is stitched by thick coils of rusty wire to an iron framework of spiked bars over a large bloodstained grill in the floor. Visitors to the tavern are welcome to do what they will to the imprisoned troll, either with their own equipment or using the torture instruments thoughtfully provided on a nearby tray. The troll’s regeneration keeps him from dying, but his mind has long since been destroyed by a robe of powerlessness. The troll has been an attraction here for nearly ten years and has long since been driven hopelessly insane by the ordeal. The companions intimidate their way to gain a meeting with the Sczarni crime boss, Madame Ivanja. The Varisian woman is surprised to see that Captain Quade is willing to reveal his true identity when Governor Bonedeuce has placed a bounty on their heads. Quade attempts to flirt with the Varisian woman while attempting acquire information about the Brine Banshee. Ivanja requests the group to stay for the night while she and her people go and collect the information.

While the group lingers within the tavern to determine what to do next, another familiar face appears; the Inn keeper of the Rusty Shunt, Lars. Lars happened to be talking with a friend at the tavern when he noticed Quade revealing his true identity to the Varisians. Lars explains that the group should leave and not trust the Sczarni. The Varisian gangsters are willing to help the pirates and betrayal them for their own mutual benefit. The group asks Lars what he knows about the Brine Banshee, which rewards the group with a clue. He tells the pirates that the Brine Banshee’s former surgeon lives in Blackblood Cay operating a hospice, Jamie Hartshorn. Judging on what they should do next, the group decides to leave Ollo before the Varisians could betray them. Lars thanks the group for saving the lives of the people of Ollo against the threat of Porphyry House.

De’de teleports the companions to Blackblood Cay’s temple of Cayden Cailean. The acolytes of the temple are shocked to find strangers emerging from the broom closet but once they recognize the pirates, they quickly usher the group to see the temple’s high priestess, Duwella Morin. Morin cautions the group that the Dragoons have taken control of the port town and is spreading slanderous lies about the pirates. They also have rounded up many of the Tulita in town, fearing that the natives are allies of Sorrinash. Tidus shares that Agasta Smythee is alive and announces to the group that she is his fiancé. Happy to hear that she is alive, Morin explains that the captains of Smythee’s fleet will side with Agasta if they can uncover evidence of Bonedeuce’s murder of Simeon Smythee. The group muses over the option of simply murdering the Governor, but Morin cautions that won’t win the captains to their side. Wynter brings up that her observations on Bonedeuce’s activities reveals that the Governor plans to challenge Sorrinash’s rule of Shark Island. De’de believes the group can exploit this resource. Morin welcomes the group and offers the temple as a sanctuary while they’re in Blackblood Cay.

Quade inquire about Jamie Hartshorn, and is directed by Morin to investigate the Fallen from Grace tavern. Jamie is known as Owlbear among the locals and is a regular pit fighter at the tavern. Wynter recalls that she hexed Owlbear when the group first won the race set up by Varossa Lanteri. Ever since that incident, Owlbear has been losing many fighting bouts and fallen into deep depression. When the group journeys to the Fallen From Grace tavern, they vandalize a statue of Bonedeuce along the way. But once they arrived at the tavern, they quickly learn that the tavern is undergoing reconstruction and is under new management. Renamed the Duchess’s Cup, after the previous owner of the tavern, the new owner is Merrill Pegsworthy, captain of the Strix.
The group finds Owlbear in a drunken state, mourning the loss of another fight. He is at first reluctant to speak with the pirates but after being sobered up due to magic from Wynter and De’de, he soon comes to his senses. Once convinced by Quade that he should be helping them, Owlbear reveals that he might know how to find the missing Brine Banshee. In exchange, they need to bring him along and give him a share of the plunder they find. Quade agrees and Owlbear takes the group to his abandoned hospice. Along the way, the group notices something new to the town; crucified prisoners. This angers De’de, Wynter, and Quade who plan to do something about Bonedeuce as they recognize a few of the prisoners as former allies that once sheltered them. The group arrives at Owlbear’s hospice where he produces a leg bone that once belonged to Vargus Brack, an officer aboard the Brine Banshee.

“This tibia previously belonged to Vargus Brack, one of my old shipmates. Vargus was grateful to be rid of it – he’d have died of gangrene if I hadn’t amputated his leg. It’s a good thing I kept it as a specimen, since he was an officer aboard the Brine Banshee when she last sailed. Vargus and I were good friends – he came to visit me the last time the Brine Banshee was in town, as he always did when he was in port. He mentioned in passing the course the Brine Banshee would be taking, and said he wouldn’t be back for some time. The Brine Banshee had an abundance of riches aboard her, and together I believe we can salvage them. Are you interested?”

Quade takes up the leg bone and immediately is aware of the location of Vargus Brack’s corpse. Writing down his findings, he passes the information on to De’de, the Femme Fatal’s navigator. Owlbear is relieved that the group doesn’t need to steal the ring of the iron skull from Aeron Chambers, the former harbor master. Wynter believes that the group should check up on Aeron Chambers, as he was rewarded with the Blushing Bride when he left Blackblood Cay. With the information of the corpse’s location, De’de teleports the group along with Owlbear back to their ship.

The Femme Fatal sets sail to open ocean, close to the Eye of Abednego and south of Mediogalti Island. Along the way to their destination, they are attacked by sea devils but manage to overcome the marauding raiders of the deep. They capture the raid’s huntmaster, a four armed sea devil known as Haarka, and place him in the ship’s hold.

Once they reach their destination, they anchor their ship eighty miles away from their intended location and prepare to dive into the stormy sea, to find the remains of the Brine Banshee.

31 Spies Like Us

Session Thirty One

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the newly aligned Free Captains are preparing for their next voyage into the Fever Sea. They hire the athletic halfling Rosie Cuswell to be their new cook and are reunited with their former quartermaster, Mo. Mo shares a lucrative tip on where the Chelixian treasure ship, the Emperor’s Hand, next stop will be in the Fever Run. In two months’ time, the ship will arrive in the port of Ilizmagorti. Realizing that they are low on funds, the officers agree to take on Mo as an passenger and offer her a share of the plunder. This gives the pirates five months to prepare for the upcoming race and two months to prepare for the raid on the Emperor’s Hand.

De’de and Grok happen to notice the Port Peril militia pulling a female Tulita corpse out of the water. Not recognizing Nefti Unwesha, they decide to move on and return back to the Femme Fatal.

The Femme Fatal leaves behind the pirate capital and De’de navigates the journey to Motaku Island, deciding to take the dangerous route through the Dahak straits. As their ship crosses the waters south of Dahak’s Teeth, they come across the Tian pirates of Shenchu Bay. Knowing that the Tian pirates would demand to inspect their ship and call for a toll to cross their waters, Wynter disguises the Femme Fatal with a hex. Unable to pierce her well-crafted illusion and impressed by Quade’s smooth diplomacy, the pirates only demand a small toll. Afterwards, the Femme Fatal encounter no further dangers as they cross the straits and finally arrive at their destination at Motaku Island, the port city of Quent.

In the city of Quent, the officers of the Femme Fatal accompany their captain as he seeks an audience with the mistress of the House of Stolen Whispers in the city’s red light district. Mistress Dindreann confirms that the House of Stolen Kisses has leads on information regarding the activities of Chelish spies in the Shackles, as many people share their secrets with the temple’s sacred prostitutes in the heat of passion. But these secrets are shared in confidence, and the temple cannot simply give them away for free. If Quade were to perform a service for the temple, however, they could expect such knowledge as payment.

After some refreshments and more flirting, the changeling high priestess shares that a ship owned by the temple, the Lady’s Sting, recently went missing. Divinations have revealed that the ship was attacked by a group of pirates who deliberately lure ships into danger so that they can salvage the cargoes of the resulting wrecked ships. Piracy is a fact of life in the Shackles, of course, but the Lady’s Sting was carrying a relic sacred to the faith – a gold-plated wasp statue known as the Golden Vespal. The temple seeks revenge on these wreckers who would dare attack one of the faith’s holy vessels, as well as the return of the Golden Vespal, but they have so far been unable to locate the wreckers that attacked the Lady’s Sting. If the Femme Fatal pirates can find the wreckers, enact the goddess’s revenge upon them, and recover the Golden Vespal, Dindreann will give them a lead on the spies they are seeking. Quade agrees to the request after consulting with his officers, confident that the crew can overcome the challenge.

Pleased with their answer, Dindreann invites the entire crew of the Femme Fatal to enjoy the comforts of the temple of Calistria. The high priestess herself entertains Quade, while De’de is tormented by a babbling companion, and Wynter uses her male companion as a study aid in her arcane studies. After a night of revelry, Dindreann is pleased with Quade’s performance and behavior and offers to share a secret regarding any member of his crew as a reward. He decides to learn Mo’s secret. The high priestess whispers against the sylvan captain’s ear and informs him that Mo was seen in the company of the pirate lord Sorrinash at Fort Hazard. Suspecting that Mo may be in the employ of the pirate lord of Shark Island, Wynter and Quade begin to speculate that the Emperor’s Hand raid may be a trap.

The officers decides to review the Lady’s Sting navigation charts to determine where to go next. They know that the Lady’s Sting was last seen in the port town of Arena, and never arrived in the elven port of Alendruan Harbor. With the little knowledge they managed to gather and using these clues, the officers decide to head off to Widowmaker’s Island. Seeing as Bag Island is on the way to Widowmaker’s Island, they decide to hit their second objective and head to the small halfling town of Beachcomber.

When the Femme Fatal arrives in the town of Beachcomber, Dalvika, De’de, and Wynter is sent ahead to gather information on the whereabouts of the Temple of the Hidden Name. Unfortunately, the group isn’t very subtle and struggle in their attempts to gather information on the hidden temple to the god of secrets. They overcome a few orc toughs that attempt to silence them, but eventually manage to find a lead to a cleric of Norborger that is willing to see them. They arrive in the town’s Lurker District where they meet a disguised halfling called Silk. Wynter bluntly explains that the group is searching for information on Chelish spies operating in the Shackles, information that she shared with nearly half the inhabitants of the Dock District.

Silk is happy to share such information and states that the Reaper of Reputation knows much that is hidden, but that secrets always have a price. He goes on to explain that the Temple of the Hidden Name deals in information, using secrets as currency. To learn one of the temple’s secrets, a client must pay with another secret of equal value. Fortunately, there is information that the temple wants.

Silk tells the group that a famous ship called the Brine Banshee mysteriously disappeared several months ago. The Brine Banshee was said to have been one of the fastest ships in the Shackles, with unparalleled handling for a vessel its size, which many believed were the result of several potent spells woven into the ship. If the Femme Fatal pirates can find what happened to the Brine Banshee, and discover the secret of its unprecedented speed and maneuverability, they can trade this knowledge for the information they seek.

The trio recall tales of the ill-fated Brine Banshee, which disappeared west of Shark Island after leaving the port of Ollo. What happened after remains a mystery.

Wynter then asks Silk about the wreckers operating in the Shackles that attacked the Lady’s Sting. The cleric of Norborger replied that it is no secret that many such groups operate in the Shackles, but he has knowledge of one crew that claimed to have successfully attacked a Calistrian vessel. The trio pays the halfling cleric in gold and learns that the wreckers operate southeast of the Rampore Isles. They also learn that the orc wreckers are led by a halfling wizard named Peppery Longshanks who specializes in attacking slavers and has ties with the Andoran government. This puzzles the officers as they suspect that the House of Stolen Whispers may have some ties with the slave trade.

Returning back to their ship and informed of this news, Quade is still determined to capture the wreckers, while Wynter would rather speak with the leader of the wreckers. The Femme Fatal, still disguised, heads north to the southern waters of the Rampore Isles where the wreckers operate. Spending a few days searching for the wreckers, the disguised Femme Fatal catches the attention of Vudrani pirates of the Rampore Isles. The Vudrani pirates send a raven messenger to the deck of the Femme Fatal, who invites the crew to Bedu Hanji’s court, the pirate lord of the Rampore Isles. Wynter bluntly explains to the raven that they’re after Peppery Longshanks and De’de angrily refuses the offer. The familiar then returns back to its ship and the Vudrani pirates leave the Femme Fatal to return to their hunt.

In a foolhardy attempt to capture the attention of the wreckers, Wynter uses her magic to flag a message that their ship seeks to speak with Peppery Longshanks. Once the officers realize that this plan didn’t work, Quade orders his crew to search the islets one by one in an attempt to find the wrecker’s hidden base. They succeed in finding the hidden base, but find no signs of the wreckers. They also find the wrecked remains of the Lady’s Sting and a few other ships. Wynter believes the group may be facing a powerful illusionist. Sasha and Aerys is able to determine that there are only four wreckers and that they probably teleported away. De’de and Wynter speculates that Longshanks probably escaped back to Bag Island. Aerys requests to be left behind on Bag Island, as she was once a professional bounty hunter, she may be able to find the wreckers within the halfling community. Quade orders Sasha and Cut-Throat Grok to go along with the half elf tracker, and De’de to teleport the trio onto Bag Island. Once they find Longshanks, they are to communicate their findings back to the officers as they were bestowed with a telepathic bond thanks to Wynter and Dalvika.

Once De’de returns back to the Femme Fatal, Quade orders his navigator to set a course to Shark Island.

30 City of Peril

Session Thirty

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, four months have passed since the events of the End of Eternity. During this time, the Femme Fatale pirates have started a new colony on the Island of Empty Eyes and many members of the crew are seeing to their own personal downtime. De’de and Wynter oversee much of the town’s construction and perform little side projects of item creation, Gage conducts studies into the arcane, and Tidus seems to loiter about, creeping out the newcomers with his profane aura. No one is sure what the blue goblin Dalvika is up to and the party’s on again and off again ally, Mary, is somewhere off at sea.

The colony on the island is mostly made up of followers of Quade who have arrived for various reasons. But during the downtime period, the colony has drawn the attention of the drudic order known as the Stormkindlers, the Cult of the Eye, and have been dealing with the aquatic menace of the incutilis.

Upon the end of the fourth month, the party’s downtime is interrupted when Quade decides to take the Femme Fatal and his crew to the capital, Port Peril. At the pirate capital of the Shackles, Quade sends out a messenger carrying a chest of gold to buy an audience with the Hurricane King in a petition to join the Free Captains. The next morning, Kerdak Bonefist’s first mate Tsadok Goldtooth publicly meets the Femme Fatal officers at the docks. Tsadok arrives with an entourage of cronies, and many spectators gather to see the entertainment as well. Tsadok starts with introductions, declaring he’s there as the Hurricane King’s formal representative. He plays to the crowd as he explains the situation. It’s unusual for a new, successful, but relatively unknown ship to request a letter of marque without the sponsorship of a recognized Free Captain. In this case, the Pirate Code requires the ship’s captain and officers to undergo “Testing” to determine whether they’re worthy of becoming Free Captains themselves. While this Testing is often merely a formality, Bonefist has sent Tsadok to make a show of it.

Tsadok is callous and rude to the Femme Fatal officers, making jokes at their expense and hinting that they’re just playing at being pirates. Some among the crowd laugh at his gibes, but others scowl or remain silent, hinting that many aren’t fond of Tsadok. Quade is just as quick with his responses and mocks the half orc and the proceedings with an air of disinterest.

Tsadok’s first test is to see whether the pirates are passable sailors, not just “fancy jackets” who found themselves in command of a pirate crew. The ship used for this challenge is the Stingray, a brig with two tall square-rigged masts. One of the Femme Fatal officers must swiftly climb to the top of the Stingray’s foremast and complete the tricky task of unfurling and setting the sail from the top yard without assistance, before one of Tsadok’s crew does the same on the mizzenmast. Magic is illegal, and the contestants must unfurl the sails themselves. Tidus volunteers for this challenge, but is surprised to learn that his challenger is an ape man known as Powderpot. The officers of the Femme Fatal begin to worry that the deck is stacked against them as Powderpot easily climbs up the mizzenmast and mocks Tidus as the lumbering armored champion of Besmara attempts to reach the top spar.

Mary happens to also be in the crowd, and she reminds the other companions that this is a pirate contest. So they should think like pirates.

Once they reach the top, Quade creates a distraction by flinging gold into the crowd while De’de and Wynter assists Tidus with their magic. Tidus nearly falls off twice when Powderpot flings a bag of monkey offal at him and when someone sneakily had cut the forestay boom free, causing the boom to slam into the foremast. But thanks to De’de and Wynter, their combined magic is able to throw Powderpot from the ship’s top rail and send the ape man sprawling down into the harbor. Tidus prevails in the challenge.

Shocked that the Femme Fatal Pirates had passed the first test, Tsadok then announces the second challenge to be a game of chance. Quade volunteers to take up the challenge. Everyone returns back to the Femme Fatal where Tsadok’s men clears the deck of everyone, except for the half orc first mate, the card dealer, and Quade. The card game is Bastard’s Fool. Bastard’s Fool is a popular game on pirate ships, and is played using a deck cobbled together from several partial decks. Even a down-on-his-luck sailor who doesn’t even have a full deck of cards can play Bastard’s Fool, as each player brings whatever cards she has, and combines them with other players’ cards to create a new deck. Bastard’s Fool is a bluffing game similar to poker, but Tsadok adds an additional “Port Peril” rule to the game: the winner of each hand must drink a ration cup of Gutburn rum.

The game begins with everyone paying the minimum buy in of one platinum and then collecting their cards. But Quade goes all in without even picking up his cards. This unnerves Tsadok, as the half orc wasn’t excepting this tactic so early in the challenge. Bertok manages to perch himself in the rigging and look down to notice that the half orc had drew a full house. With tension rising and Quade refusing to look at his cards, Tsadok sneers and matches the bet, revealing his cards and draws a cheer from the crowd. But everyone is shocked to find that Quade drew a high royal flush. Tsadok grudgingly congratulates Quade and tries to retrieve his own coins, stating that it was just a friendly game for show, not for real stakes. But after some words between the two, Tsadok relents and lets Quade keep the winnings. Quade prevails in the second test.

In the final test, a pirate needs to be able to fight, so Tsadok’s third challenge tests the group’ combat abilities. All of the officers of the Femme Fatal prepare for battle stations as Tsadok’s men pushes in a cart containing a covered cage. When the covers are pulled back, everyone in the large crowd is shocked to find that it is the legendary ogre gladiator of Port Peril, Fishpork. The ogre had retired undefeated but came out of retirement to act on the Hurricane King’s behalf to challenge the Femme Fatal Pirates.

When battle begins, Quade scorches the ogre with a lighting attack but barely dents the creature’s massive flesh. It is Wynter who prevails in the challenge as she quickly appears before the ogre and defeats him with a slumbering hex. Fishpork falls and everyone in the crowd, including Tsadok, is shocked at the sudden turn of events.

Once the Testing is concluded, Tsadok has a quiet discussion with the Femme Fatal pirates, acting with false magnanimity, heartily thanking them for being “good sorts.” Tsadok then steps in front of the crowd and proclaims the Femme Fatal pirates are indeed deserving of becoming Free Pirates of the Shackles, which receives boisterous cheers from the crowd. Tsadok further announces that Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist himself will grant the pirates their letter of marque this very evening. This announcement receives significantly less applause.

Happy with the results of the tests, the officers of the Femme Fatal bade their crew to have shore leave in town. The officers then decide to spend their time at the Mermaid’s Bucket in Crimson Harbor, enjoying a round of drinks and feasting on fine food. Wynter notices a familiar face within the bar: Nefti Unwesha. The last time the adventuring pirates encountered the Mwangi spy, she was in Blackblood Cay and she had delivered a smuggled Augusta Smythee to the group. Wynter attempts to hold a conversation with the woman, but Nefti doesn’t seem to remember who Wynter is. When Wynter leaves to rejoin her companions, Nefti leaves the tavern. Bertok attempts to track her but loses her when the group realizes she probably left thru another route then the back door of the Mermaid’s Bucket.

Once evening comes around, a ferry is waiting for the Femme Fatal officers to escort them to Fort Hazard. When they arrive in Fort Hazard, the revelry is already in full swing: tables are laden with roast meat and flagons of ale, mead, and rum, and loud, drunken buccaneers swagger and stagger around the main hall. Tsadok greets the pirates and introduces them to his captain, the Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist. Bonefist is already deep in his cups and welcomes the group with a drunken slur. When his words are drowned out by the celebration, the Hurricane King is forced to use his pistol to shoot a shot in the air to shut everyone up. Once there is deathly silence, Bonefist congratulates the group for passing the tests but asks for a story on how they acquired their plunder.

Quade steps forward and begins to go over the group’s past exploits, including insulting Avimar Sorrinash, the Pirate Lord of Shark Island. When he begins to speak of the group’s encounter with the fey enchantress, Blue Hesmene, he is shocked to see that the fey woman is in the crowd and watching with a bemused smirk. The fey sorcerer is disguised as an elven maiden, but Quade manages somehow to recognize her. It is at this time when suddenly three hecklers begin to distract Quade. The other companions quickly subdue the hecklers with subtle magic and intimidation. Once Quade finishes his story, the crowd breaks into a roar of applause. Happy with the crowd’s reaction, the Hurricane King motions for his second in command to retrieve the letter of marque.

But the Hurricane King is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Avimar Sorrinash. The Pirate Lord protests against the idea of granting the Femme Fatal pirates membership into the Free Captains, claiming that they’re thieves and mutineers and enemies of the Shackles. Quade denounces Sorrinash, calling him a coward, a kidnapper, and bringing up the challenge that Sorrinash never answered. Sorrinash then agrees to answer the challenge, but under his terms. He accepts Quade’s challenge but seeks to face the Femme Fatal pirates in the upcoming annual Free Captains’ Regatta. The loser of the challenge will sacrifice their ship, their crew, and be banished from the Shackles. The crowd roars in approval and Quade accepts. The Master of Gales, watching from the sidelines takes this opportunity to interrupt both sides. “And so let it be known that I will step down as a contestant this year and will instead act as judge.” He then turns to regard Sorrinash and then Quade, “and if young Sorrinash would lose this competition, also let it be known that there will be a vacancy at the Pirate Lords’ table.” Not wishing to be out done, the Hurricane King then speaks up, “Let these bloody matters be put on hold until the race, and instead welcome our new brothers and sisters as Free Captains.” With another roar of approval, the pirates of Fort Hazard welcome the Femme Fatal pirates as Free Captains. Sorrinash leaves in disgust, followed by his supporters.

After a night of revelry and back in their own ship, Wynter is notified by Grok that there is a messenger from Tessa Fairwind waiting for the captain. Wynter awakens Quade from his slumber and the sylvan captain greets the disapproving female messenger. The group learns that they’re invited to Fairwind’s manor for dinner this evening, and they’re free to bring the other survivors of Smuggler’s Shiv with them. Intrigued by this news, the group decides to accept the messenger’s offer.

After a day of shopping in the city, the group then arrives at Fairwind Manor. They’re greeted by a Mwangi man who seems familiar with them. They’re shocked to learn that the man is none other than Jask, their old companion from Smuggler’s Shiv. Reunited with their old friend, he explains that he has been working for Tessa Fairwind and that the pirate lord seems interested in helping clearing his reputation. The group enters the manor and is welcomed by Tessa Fairwind. After a lovely feast, the pirate lord of Motaku gets down to business. She hires the group as independent contractors to investigate rumors of Chelish spys operating within the Shackles. In return, she offers to part with her family treasure, one of the pieces of Eight. The half elf has no problem with parting with the treasure as she has no designs for the Hurricane Crown. Quade attempts to flirt with her, but he is reluctant to join her fleet when offered the opportunity.

With a new mission, one step closer to collecting another piece of Eight, and reunited with an old friend, the Femme Fatal Pirates are launched upon a brand new adventure.

Tempest Rising


The time has come for the heroes to take their places as true legends within the Fever Sea. But doing so will require more than a ship, a scallywag crew, and a hold full of plunder – they’ll need to win the esteem of one of the pirate lords of the Shackles and defeat another pirate lord in the Free Captains’ Regatta, a grueling race along the fringes of the mighty hurricane called the Eye of Abendego.

The winners receive a fat prize purse, their own private island, a seat on the Pirate Council of the Shackles, and one of the pieces of Eight.

Will the adventurers triumph against fierce competitors, old rivals, and the treacherous winds and currents of the Eye?

Or will their ship be claimed by the storm, a doom that’s befallen so many before them?

29 Wedding Crashers

Session Twenty Nine

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the pirate companions have recovered from their journey against the Bleak House and now hold a vigil for their lost companion. Mary leads the group in honoring the fallen Hurricane King, Turpin Irons. After the ceremony, Quade and Tidus get into an argument over the spoils obtained from the Bleak House. But their argument is interrupted by the sudden power loss that Quade experiences as some outside force severs his tie to manipulate the mindscape. The group is confused and frustrated, arguing over what to do next. Wynter consults with Bertok, and following his suggestion, conducts another Communion with her patron. She learns that the forces of the Nine Hells have gained control over the mindscape and that it is only a matter of time before the mindscape and all its contents are absorbed into Hell. This is probably due to the fact that they left behind the bone devil emissary alive back in the Bleak House. Forced with no other choice, Wynter plans to perform the ritual that will release all the souls within the mindscape. But she still needs the critical spell component for the ritual, an expensive gemstone worth thousands of gold.

Inigo, Quade’s intelligent rapier, informs that he can help provide the necessary spell component with the gemstone on his pommel, but it would greatly weaken him. In exchange for this deed, he holds Quade to a sacred oath to atone for his sins against Waukeen the Merchant Friend: Quade must fulfill the original oath between Waukeen and Abadar dealing with the Silver Sword of Gith. Quade agrees to the divine geas and hands over Inigo’s gemstone to Wynter. Wynter performs the occult ritual and is successful in releasing the souls from the mindscape.

With the souls free from the mindscape, Quade finds himself with the lost souls attempting to join with the river of souls in the Astral. Before he becomes lost within the river of silver light, he is saved by the psychopomp Bertok and led back to join with the other pirate companions. De’de uses his psionic power to Astral Caravan the group back to the Prime Material Plane, hoping to arrive in a destination close to the night hag Lodhotha.

They arrive back in the Fever Sea, dozens of miles away from their intended designation. Mary uses her tricorn’s magic to conjure a small ship to host the group. De’de is unconscious due to the strain of the planar travel, while Dalvika herself is weaken from the ordeal as well. Quade is suffering a sickness due to being so far away from his original body, his astral construct body slowly evaporating over time. Wynter contacts Cut Throat Grok, alerting the temporary captain of the Femme Fatale of their whereabouts. The group focuses on their next goal: finding the night hag Lodhotha. Wynter decides to scry on an easy target, Agasta Smythee. To her surprise, she learns that Agasta is being prepared for a wedding. A wedding to the lord of Shark Island, Avimar Sorrinash. Moving the scrying sensor, Wynter is able to look out the window and determine Agasta’s whereabouts is Beacon Island off the southern coast of Shark Island. She sees a large gathering of naval ships surrounding the island.

The group then comes up with a daring plan, setting on the idea to have Wynter possess Agasta Smythee with a magic jar spell. They hope that Wynter, posing as Agasta, can get close to Sorrinash and object to the wedding. This will give Tidus the opportunity to duel the Shark Lord and Quade the time to conduct a speech to sway the other pirate lords attending the wedding to their side.

Unfortunately, not all things occur as planned. Wynter temporarily possesses Tidus and then has her body and Quade enter inside Quade glove’s extradimensional pocket. They leave behind Dalvika, De’de, and Mary aboard Mary’s boat. Wynter operating Tidus’s body then teleports into the room where Agasta and her hand maidens are located. Wynter quickly disables Agasta with a slumber hex but isn’t able to quell the scream escaping from the frighten hand maidens. Wynter quickly releases Quade from the glove of storing and then possesses Agasta, while Tidus silences the hand maidens with intimidation. Quade senses that the night hag is near and somewhere above him. When more servants come to investigate the screaming, the pirates take those women as prisoners too. One of the prisoners, a woman named Audessa, calms the pirate companions down by claiming that she and her girls are slaves and will side with the group if they’re rescued from the werewolves. When Blood Moon guards come to investigate the screaming, Audessa is able to use her superior bluff skills to come up with a believable lie. The guards leave, leaving the PCs time to come up with a new plan.

They send Audessa out to lure the night hag Lodhotha, giving them time to hide in the closet and prepare for combat. When Lodhotha arrives with Sorrinash’s first mate, Riaris Krine, and a company of Blood Moon guards, the pirate companions attack by springing out of the closet! Wynter summons one of the Zodiac to deal with the Blood Moon guards, while Quade manages to dispatch the night hag with multiple critical strikes, and Tidus goes claw to claw with the werewolf bloodrager Riaris. The pirate companions manage to defeat their opponents, but one of the werewolf guards alerted the castle with a keen howl. Quade merges with Lodhotha’s fallen body, restored once more to true life. Knowing that their plan is ruined, Wynter pushes all the servant girls and Audessa into the glove of storing, along with Tidus and Quade. They leave behind a magic mouth calling card, challenging Sorrinash to a duel while they all teleport away back to Mary’s boat.

Collecting the rest of the companions, Wynter teleports everyone once more back aboard the Femme Fatal. Old friends are greeted once again as the pirates and the pirate officers of the Femme Fatal are reunited. Cut Throat Grok hands over a caged Irons, Quade’s ex-familiar. Wynter thanks Mary for her assistance, while Mary offers Wynter a place among her own crew in an attempt to sway the Varisian woman over. Quade welcomes Tidus back to the crew of the Femme Fatale. Meanwhile Mary and Wynter work together to lift the curse of lycanthropy from Agasta Smythee.

Restored once more to life, Quade assumes command of the Femme Fatale and gives the order to return home. Mary leaves the group to return back to her own ship, ending this chapter of the Skulls and Shackles.

28 The Bleak House

Session Twenty Eight

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the pirate companions decide to delve deeper into the dark forest and follow after the strange cat that has been haunting their dreams. They arrive in a small clearing within the dark forest, where they find a large gathering of felines surrounding a sleeping sasquatch. Mary and Tidus find the felines’ presence to be unsettling, while the other companions find the clearing to be welcoming. Wynter uses a hex to speak with the animals and soon learns that the felines have been waiting for the pirate companions for some time. Apparently centuries ago in another lifetime, Quade made an ally with a spirit of the wild known as the Cat Lord (the events of the Planescape adventure: Something Wild.) The felines are emissaries of the Cat Lord sent to help the pirate companions by providing a shelter within the Dark Forest. As long as the sasquatch sleeps, the undead spirits of the forest will stay away. The pirate companions do not question as to why there is a sasquatch sleeping in a clearing within the dark forest and instead decide to trust in the felines. After eight hours of blissful rest, Wynter convinces one of the felines to show the group the way to the heart of the Realm: The Bleak House.

Two hours of traveling through the forest and the pirates finally arrive at their destination. Their cat companion stays behind, in case if the pirates wish to return to the clearing.

Preparing their defenses for a potential fight, the group ventures forth but catch sight of a sobbing creature within the forest. Mary and Wynter attempts to communicate with the timid sylvan creature, but they are interrupted when Wynter’s shouts draws the attention of a band of wyverns from the Bleak House’s broken tower. The group drives the wyverns back, especially De’de and Mary’s magic. Once the dragons are defeated the group turns their attention back to the dim-witted fey creature. The creature introduces herself as Rigzarreth, and that she is on the island in search for her father, another past incarnation of Quade. Learning that her mother may very well be somewhere within the Bleak House, Quade suggests to bring Rigzarreth along with the group, but Mary is wary because Rigzarreth is a forlarren. It is only a matter of time before the fey creature will snap and attack the group.

Rigzarreth aids the group by pointing out that there is a trap at the front door. Mary disables the creeping doom trap and then sneaks forward to scout the great hall. Followed by the others, the pirates begin to explore the great hall until they are attacked a pair of witchfire sisters and their will-o’wisp minions. After defeating the witchfires and their conjured minions, the group continues on into the fort and begins to open doors. They face a number of challenges along the way: spectres, sahkil wasp monsters, a pukwudgie dirge bard called Abrogret, the sahkil nightmare lord called Olanna, and eventually Rigzarreth herself when she snaps and attempts to assassinate Wynter. Fortunately, Wynter is able to evade the attempt, but Turpin Irons is killed when Olanna redirects an attack from Quade against the former Hurricane King. They raid the Bleak House’s hidden rooms, such as Olanna’s secret shrine to Mahathallah, a whore queen of Hell, and Thaiyanthan’s treasure room where his clone is kept. They avoid speaking with the bone devil visitor from Stygia and instead march on to the final confrontation of the Bleak House, the Library.

The fight with the Prolonger is quick and dangerous. De’de dies from a finger of death spell, but is brought back to life with the assistance of Quade’s legendary blade. Mary ensures that the Prolonger can’t escape with dimensional anchors and spirit wards. But it was Wynter who saved the day when she casts a spell that severed her ties to the arcane arts. By rushing up to the Prolonger and using her enchantment’s presence to suppress the Prolonger’s own spells, it was enough for Quade to break through his father’s defenses to deliver the death blow that slew Thaiyanthan’s feeble old body. When the Prolonger attempted to possess the companions, Mary’s magic protected the group from the wizard’s last attempt to escape death.

The session ends with Quade becoming the master of the mindscape. He uses the magic of the mindscape to transport the group back to the astral construct replica of the Island of Empty Eyes, and conjures the Soul Anchor to the group’s presence.


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