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.