Alturiak 13th, 1491
As the rising sun sparkled across the murmuring seas, Skye and Gardell woke up aboard the moored Remorhaz. They informed Salty-Tip of they choice to find another ship to take them on to Aurilsberg and asked him to return to Palebank and pass on news to Elro of their progress thus far. Salty in return informed them that the priest Arndel had been released. Skye and Gardell shrugged at this news; the whole episode still baffled them. Neither understood why Arndel had rummaged through Stroma’s belongings.
Skye left Gardell to catch up with Stroma whilst he visited each of the temples that Salty Tip had mentioned. He didn’t fully understand the difference between each deity, but offered the same prayer at each temple, fervent and earnest, hoping they would perceive his good intention and bless his party with a safe journey and success in their mission to save the villagers of Palebank and help stem the flow of this disease.
After a hearty breakfast in the Auril’s temple. Stroma thanked the Priestess and then headed back to the markets. Stroma disregarded Skye’s absence when she found Gardell. Immediately she marched past the dwarf and signalled him to follow her.
“Stroma needs some fancy garbs. If I’m paying for you two to join me onboard this ‘Auril’s Pleasure’ then we must play the part. You’re going to need some appropriate clothing.”
Gardell opened his mouth to object, but reconsidered, instead taking a large bite of a fish sandwich and silently following Stroma through the market. After a short walk through the bustling street the pair were able to find a stall selling a range of clothes. Stroma looked through the wares whilst commanding the shop owner to sort out Gardell with new servant clothes. She described height and build to commission the same attire for Skye. The owner dashed about trying keep up with the druid, detailing what he could in his note pad. Stroma flounced around the room picking off items from the shelves and tossing them away dismissively if she deemed them unworthy.
Eventually Stroma settled on an outfit for herself. An ostentatious fur hat which hid her dreadlocks; an elegant dress in thick woollen cloth and a muff to protect her fingers from the cold. She opted for some large blackout sunglass which covered most of her face. Looking at herself in the mirror she gave an aloof and then stern expression. She had achieved the perfect aesthetic balance of regal wealth and entitlement. She was ready.
“Yes, we must have all these packed immediately” cried Stroma dramatically. She was trying out a new accent as part of her disguise, and although it was distinctly different from her natural voice it was also entirely unusual, guaranteeing her to stand out in a crowd. “Gardell, you bring these to our meeting place with Skye” she commanded, tossing a handful of gold at the shopkeeper while she spun round and strutted out of the hut in a swoosh of layered fabrics.
Gardell growled beneath his breath and stayed with the shopkeeper until the payment had been resolved and the packing was sorted. He headed back to the city square loaded with the new clothes. Stroma stood waiting for him tapping her foot impatiently. It was even later when Skye finally caught up with them both smiling pleased with himself for praying at each of the temples.
Stroma scowled “You took your time; just get into these.” she said throwing servant clothes in his face. Skye looked down at the clothes in confusion and then at Gardell. Gardell’s hair had been made neat and slicked back. He wore a long shirt with covered up his usually exposed chest hair. He brushed dust from his Kilt and gave a half smile and thumbs up to Skye. Skye smiled and got into the clothes.
The shirt was a little too loose and the trousers weren’t quite long enough. When he bent his knees; it was a little tight, but he knew he could pass as a servant.
Stroma approached the kiosk and was met by a busty member of the hospitality staff who outlined the various packages on offer for the pleasure cruise to Ice Peak Island.
“I am Lady Crystal Chandelier, and these are my man servants” said Stroma in her new breathy lisp.
Gardell scowled at this introduction and crossed his arms, seemingly unaware of how Skye had promptly and obediently straightened up and lowered his eyes to the ground in deference. Stroma upgraded herself to a luxury suite and purchased single cabin rooms for Gardell and Skye.
They were led onboard and Skye continued to gape dumbstruck at his surroundings. Gardell was distracted by some of the seamen loading to luggage to the lower quarters of the ship. Stroma however was hyper alert to her surroundings in that moment and could hear a rowdy disagreement further down the ship.
“Is everything alright over there?” she asked with an arched eyebrow visible above her sunglasses.
The steward gave a nervous laugh. “You need not mind about that disturbance ma’am. It’s being dealt with.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want a kerfuffle on board” replied Stroma, tipping the edge of her glasses down her nose and administering a piercing glare at the steward.
“We…welcome aboard ma’am” stammered the timid creature and ushered the party onto the deck.
As they approached the entrance of the deck, a rough looking sailor called up at the ship from the dock below.
“Is there a Lady Stroma around? A couple of servants are asking for an audience?”
Gardell and Skye looked at each other confused. Stroma turned around.
“Yes!” she gasped. “I mean, I am Crystal Chandelier but some may know me by that name?”
The sailor turned around, puzzled. “Sorry ma’am, they appear to have disappeared; I can’t see them anymore” he uttered, before walking away sheepishly.
“Who knows you Stroma?” asked Gardell.
“How are you going to be both Lady Stroma and Lady Crystal Chandelier?” asked Skye worriedly.
“It’s okay boys, I have a plan.” And Stroma walked straight onto the deck without looking back.
The deck was spacious, with a large, curved couch in the centre next to a fire pit, a grand bar in the shape of a horseshoe at one end and a dancefloor with a seating area at the other. In the distance they could see a staircase which led to the upper deck. They placed their baggage in the centre of the floor and took stock of their surroundings.
Stroma noticed another busty member of the hospitality. A waitress with a nametag that said ‘Julie’ greeting groups of passengers and offering them shots from the enormous tray she was carrying.
“Bunty, Miffy, take my things.” said Stroma to her companions. “I believe we should retire to our cabins and discuss our time here. But first maybe first a drink? You there, Busty Lady!”
“Free shots ma’am to settle you in? It’s Fire Whisky and it will warm your cockles.” Julie gave a broad smile.
“Why yes, I believe we will.” Stroma took three shots from the tray.
Turning around, she downed the first shot whilst holding the other two between her fingers. A feeling of giddiness instantly swept through her, and room began to lilt blithely from side to side. Gardell reached up to take one of the shots from Stroma but her hand moved beyond his reach. She twirled around and smiled at her man-servants; her cheeks were a little flushed.
“Cheer’s boys!” She gave them an exaggerated wink and downed the next.
Gardell snorted out a breath in disgust. Stroma smacked her lips for a second and then looked absently at the empty shot. She rocked to one side, her eyes rolled up to the back of her head and she fell backwards. Skye dashed to grab her before she fell to the floor whilst Gardell reached out and caught the last shot before a drop left the glass.
Gardell smiled and winked at Skye, downing the drink.
Skye looked up at his friend wholly unsurprised and smirked. He then raised a healing hand to Stroma’s forehead, hoping to bring her back.
“She’s completely out. This stuff must be strong.”
“Oh yeah, that’s a bugger.” Gardell was looking distinctly glassy eyed.
Skye pinched Gardell’s shoulder gently and released a little healing power to his friend. Gardell had a moment of euphoria and said with a slur “I love yous” which made Skye’s ears turn a little pink at this.
Together Skye and Gardell carried Stroma over to the curved seat and positioned her body with her sunglasses over her face. A little drool trickled out of the side of her mouth.
Skye left Gardell to watch over Stroma while he went to explore more of the ship.
Skye had made his way to the upper deck, where he could hear a steady flow of conversation. Three Drow wearing expensive ski gear were talking together, animatedly. Skye felt a tightness inside, a conflict between his desire to get to know them and an impulse to run away from them entirely.
Three women dashed over to the three Drow. “Hi! Oh my days, you guys are like well fit. My names Shirley, nice to meet ya. You’s all coming on this cruise then?”
One of the Drow stood up a little taller. “Yar, yar. Nice to meet you the names Brad and this is Warden and Laverne.”
“Oh my days, really?! That’s so interesting! Oh wow,” exclaimed Shirley. “Well people think I’m like really clever…” continue Shirley as continued to introduce herself and her friends followed by a burst of collective laughter.
Skye noticed that Boraz, the gnome who had spat at him the night before, was walking up the gang plank. A large floating chest followed behind him. Boraz shook his head in disgust as he looked around the room. As Boraz boarded the two exchanged eye contact, a pointed vicious stare came from the gnome making no illusion of his feeling towards Skye before he descended the stairs to the cabin quarters.
Meanwhile, two different companions were sat in complete darkness. Deilen, a Half-Elf, could make out the shape of his human friend Koko. They were inside a box they had managed to hide in on the dock moments earlier and there they sat, quietly listening to the movement of sailors loading various items onto the ship.
“I can’t see anything” breathed Koko in a coarse whisper.
After a few moments, the hold, at least that is where they assumed the crate they had smuggled themselves into had been placed, fell silent again. A few moments more and Deilen called upon his druidic skills to cast a flame with his hands. Koko’s face lit up in the light and she grinned at him like this was the most amazing thing she had ever seen.
“I think I bruised by butt, wanna see?’’ chirped Koko.
She twisted her body around in the confined space and pulled her pants down slightly to show off her red rear. Deilen winced, slightly more perplexed than offended by his recently acquired companion.
“So, we’ve set sail then?” she said as she stretched slowly.
“Shh, I’m listening.” Deilen strained to hear anything outside their small enclosure his pointed pale ears twitching as he strained to hear. “Sounds like no one is about. I’m pretty sure we’re alone now. Hold on…”
He focused on his index and middle finger and watched the tips glow with a powerful heat. He raised his hand to the side of the box, pushing his fingers against the wood, which began to smoulder immediately. After a few seconds, he pulled his hand back, revealing two holes he had burned in the side of the box.
They both took turns to look out of the smoking peepholes. No one appeared to be about. They could see they were in the ship’s cargo hold, surrounded by clusters of luggage.
“I think the coast is clear.”
Koko drew her quarterstaff and used it to push the lid of the box upwards and then shoved it at an angle, flipping it away and down to the ground.
Deilen shook his hands to remove the flame and the room went dark.
“Hey!” complained Koko.
“Sorry hold on.” Deilen clambered out and looked around the space with his dark vision. It appeared safe.
“We’re good” he said, restoring the flame.
Koko used her quarterstaff to pole-vault out of the box, landing with a forward roll on the ground next to her ally.
“Shh!” Deilen exclaimed. “Look we can’t get caught on here they’ll throw us overboard. We need a disguise or something. There must be some staff gear down here. Maybe we can pass as engineers or crew or something?” Deilen began to explore the room.
“I gotch you,” replied Koko with a slap to his shoulder. “One sec.”
She pulled out a tankard of beer and downed the lot, burped loudly and wiped her mouth with her arm. Deilen glared at her but received no response as the monk started to rummage around absently.
As Skye surveyed the throng of drunken passengers, he realised with a pit in his stomach that he had two more days of this to go. He drew his attention back to his friends, placing his healing hands on them once again but despite his efforts, Gardell was still very rosy in the cheeks, and Stroma remained completely unconscious.
“Gardell, we really need to sort out Stroma, she’s completely out. I can’t help her?’ Nothing I’m doing is having an effect.”
“I can shock her if you like?’ replied Gardell with a jovial wink.
Skye looked mortified for a second but was genuinely considering the option.
Another waiter approached. “Can I offer you two gent’s a drink? It’s all on the house?”
“Don’t mind if I do,” said Gardell swiping a large glass.
“Gardell are you sure this is the right time?” Skye said this with a note of panic in his voice. Gardell smirked and threw the glass of liquid in Stroma’s face with a chuckle. She didn’t move.
Gardell shrugged. “Should I shock her now?”
“Yes,” replied Skye matter-of-factly as they both looked down at the drenched Elf splayed undignifiedly across the couch.
Gardell gave a wicked smile, flicked his wrist and wriggled his fingertips as if he was about to tickle her. His hand began to crackle but his concentration was broken as a man leapt out on to the stage. A floating band erupted with sound and the man dazzled the crowd.
“Welcome, welcome everybody!”
“Shiiiiitttt.” Gardell instantly recognised the man on stage.
He was wearing a large brimmed hat with three pluming ostrich feathers bouncing on top. His figure was tightly compressed by his waist coat, with the billowing sleeves of a silken shirt beneath. A long cloak appeared flowed in the wind behind him striking a heroic silhouette against the bright morning sky.
“Welcome to Auril’s Pleasure! Everyone, we are going to have a good time!” He gave a giant clap and leapt off the stage, circulating through the crowd that had drawn up around him.
“My name is Captain Orlay Orluv and this will be the trip of the lifetime! A trip to end all others!”
His feet tapped musically across the deck with a flourish. There were cheers of approval from the crowd. A line of waitresses in busty tops and muscled waiters carrying trays of drinks appeared on either side of Captain Orlay Orluv.
“We have two days set out for you, some drinking and dancing,” he continued, with a suggestive gyrate of his hips. There was an audible swoon in the background and a few enraptured cheers.
“And if we run out of food we can fish, all we need to do is Cast Da Nets!” He struck a pose and clicked a pair of castanets flamboyantly and the crowd erupted in laughter.
“Please no need to worry folks, we have plenty of food for you all to enjoy! Please everyone, come, enjoy your time aboard the Auril’s Pleasure and let us celebrate together with a toast!” He gave a twirl and his cape fanned out dramatically around him.
Everyone lifted a drink and cheered heartly with an air of celebration. They were on their way!
Below deck, Deilen looked dapper in his waiter’s garb, and he was trying to help Koko straight herself up to a matching standard. They could hear the music and voices chaotically chatting across of the din. Some Luskan, others from Waterdeep, accents from all over the realms.
“Sounds like a party up there!” Koko gave a broad and excited smile. “Maybe we should just join them?”
“Drinks! Excellent idea,” said Deilen with a clap, grabbing two empty trays from the crate. He balanced an assortment of bottles on each and handed a tray to Koko. “Remember we just need to find Stroma; she should be a tall Elf with Dreadlocks and probably some heavy eye makeup.”
Deilen looked down at Koko’s tray, which was now full of bottles. Koko wobbled the various drinks chiming against each other. He sighed and started removing them, leaving the tray with just one empty glass. He handed the tray back to Koko.
“Great, I just need a couple more drinks and I’ll be golden.” Koko gave a scan across the selection of booze and recognised one of the bottles.
“Hey this is Black Rook Wine! It’s primo, we make it at my Monastery!’ With a laugh, she pulled off the cork and took a swig. “Yeah, this is mellow, it goes down a treat. Chocolatey. Hmm nice a mix of pixie berry and dragon’s… juices.” Her body seemed to glow with restored inner balance.
“You’re good?” Deilen seemed a little concerned. Koko nodded in response. Deilen then poured out more wine into some of the empty glasses on the tray.
“Should we go toward the music or erm….I think over there is a kitchen?” wondered Deilen out loud but Koko had brushed past him and was already heading towards the music.
“Just remember we need to act like we’re staff.” Deilen whispered with urgency as he tried to keep up with Koko.
They approached the door to the main deck. Koko nodded and walked out with confidence.
The room was lively and chaotic. There were people dancing to the music which other groups chatting away frantically. There were some creatures slumped against the wall and others could be heard vomiting. The party was in full swing.
Nobody gave the slightly shabby looking female waiter any notice. Nor did they notice her handsome Half-Elf waiter colleague who was trying to give off an air of professionalism, topping up passengers’ glasses as he swept past them, edging closer to the centre of the room.
Deilen scouted the scene, searching for Stroma. He knew she was somewhere on this ship. He had a sensory overload though from the chaos whilst trying to keep is composure. He looked around trying to get a sense of the room and became quickly distracted by a group of Drow men in skiing outfits who were all in fits of laugher. A grumpy looking Gnome walk past looking particularly annoyed. A Luskan noble trying desperately to chat up one of the waitresses.
Koko made her way through the crowd and then spotted three creatures together. There was a drunken Dwarf in uniform next to a Half-Drow in similar attire who was looking uncomfortable trying to help position an unconscious Elven woman upright on a curved couch. Koko could see the Elf woman was completely unconscious dressed in a beautiful gown. One hand was still clutching a muff whilst the other was grazing the floor. The Half-Drow was trying to place large sunglasses back on her nose. It looked as though he had achieved to position her body in a balanced place until the Elf’s head snapped backwards and the glasses fell again. A steward made a pass by them and Koko was sure she saw the ladies servant raise the ladies arm to wave at the hospitality staff dismissively. In doing so he slightly dislodged her giant furry hat revealing a couple of her dreadlocks.
Koko glanced over to her friend and caught Deilen’s eye. She nodded over in the direction of the passed-out Elf as she walked over to him.
‘She’s super glamorous, like a queen Elf or something. Not a bit like this Stroma you described but she does have dreadlocks. I saw a couple slip out from under that furry hat.’
Deilen looked at Koko doubtfully and then cast a narrowing eye over at the passed-out Elf. He saw the two manservants and noticed that the Dwarf appeared spectacularly drunk. Something wasn’t adding up why was a manservant as drunk as his Lady?
He walked over.
‘Can I offer you anything to drink?’ he said as politely as he could.
‘Sorry, no thank you. But actually, can you help? We need some water I think she’s had too much to drink?’ asked the leaner of the two manservants.
Deilen smiled picked up a large empty jug and held his fingers above it as he said ‘Aqua’. Water filled the vessel to the brim.
‘Say you’re pretty handy’ said the white haired Half-Drow as he looked at the waiter more closely this time.
The manservant then took the full jug of water and threw the whole thing over his mistress who was still passed out on the couch.
Stroma coughed up and with a gasp got a hold of herself. She looked around momentarily and tried to compose herself. The water had made some of the eye makeup smear down her face as she tried to blink and focus.
‘Stroma, are you ok?’ said Skye shaking his friend with concern.
‘Buffy- Bounty? Binty! Miffy- urgh. Take me to my cabin.’ she said as she tried to recover herself.
‘Did you say Stroma?’ asked Deilen pointedly to Skye.
Skye turned back at Deilen with concern and confusion. Stroma pushed Skye aside and stood upright facing Deilen.
‘Why, who wants to know?’ demanded Stroma suddenly cold and stern.
‘It is you isn’t it? I heard that you could have salty attitude.’ said Deilen coolly.
Gardell snorted with a laugh. Skye and Koko’s eyes flicked across at their individual friend’s expressions. They each noticed change in tension between the two.
‘You knew my father, you’re the druid Stroma, right? My name is Deilen.’
Stroma looked at Deilen for moment, recognising something in his expression.
‘Miffy, Bunty; Take me to my cabin this instant. You two come as well.’
Stroma turned around and heading down below deck. She walked straight to her cabin room and then ripped off the furry hat to reveal her wild silvery dreadlocks. The others came into the room and filled up the space.
Gardell leapt straight on to her bed testing out its springs. Skye noted the sizable space with slight awe. The room was most elegant he had seen yet. Koko leaned against one wall and scanned the room for more booze. She didn’t see any immediately, so she filled up her own glass on her tray. Deilen stood near Stroma his pulse beating in his ears, his fingers were gripping his tray tightly with nerves.
He watched her as she stripped off her clothes to reveal all her tattoo and rune stones. She stood completely naked, Skye’s eyes shot up to the ceiling whilst Gardell and Koko admired her full physique. Deilen kept firm eye contact with Stroma.
Skye closed the door to the cabin in case of onlooking passengers who came by. As soon as the door was closed Stroma attacked Deilen with a roundhouse kick and hit him directly on the nose. Deilen’s tray went flying, glass scattered everywhere. The force of the kick sent him flying backwards. Stroma used the element of surprise to attack at him and straddle him. Her naked form shaking on top of the startled Deilen. She pinned him to the floor with her knife to his throat.
Koko dashed at Stroma; she threw her tray into the air her full glass of wine still on top. She knocked Stroma off Deilen following the movement through, arm out stretched and caught the tray; full wine glass landing without spilling a drop.
‘Ta da!’ said Koko unironically.
Gardell roared with laughter completely entertained by the move. The dwarf was taken by surprise by the events unfolding in front of him but was still very drunk and thoroughly enjoying the commotion. Skye however watched the movement with a technical eye. This waitress must have considerable athletic skill to both strike Stroma and have time to catch the wine glass.
Stroma, outraged, stretched out her hand and tried to cast Entangle. Nothing happened though and then she realised with irritation that she had not prepared her usual move. She cursed at the top of her lungs!
Gardell snapped to at this and could see his friend’s frustration. He realised they might need to defuse the situation or experience a similar situation to their very first encounter together in Palebank. With a drunken wobble he tried to find his focus as he outstretched his hand and felt that familiar tug of power burst forth from him. Webbing erupted forth covering everyone in the cabin room. Thick ropey goo covered them all in hot strands of his sudden ejaculation. Koko, closest to the blast, became completed stuck by the sticky threads against the cabin wall.
‘Can we, all just calm down a sec.’ said Gardell with a moment of clarity. His eyes were still puffy and red, he held his hands outward to everyone, but they seemed to falter with a drunken sway.
‘Fuck sake Stroma there was no need for this.’ said Deilen swiping off a layer of webbing to the floor. It hit with a wet smack. ‘I’m from the circle in Neverwinter wood, I’m on your side. No wonder they kicked you out!’ He said under his breath.
Gardell burst out laughing and Skye’s jaw dropped.
‘No one kicked me out, I left!’ retaliated Stroma swiping off some webbing from her breast.
‘Look we just need to chill out for a second and talk this out.’ said Deilen as he focused on his hands again. A flame appeared from his hands and he placed it where cream coloured goo covered Koko. The webbing immediately burst into flames igniting all the connecting webs in the room, as though it was igniting a trail of gasoline. Everyone screamed out in pain and collapsed across the room rolling the fires out.
‘Don’t, do that, again!’ wheezed Gardell with smoky breath.
There was a moments pause whilst they all checked themselves over. Deilen spoke first.
‘I’m sorry guys I didn’t mean for that to happen. I hoped to defuse the situation. We should just sit here and talk this through with a drink.
Deilen picked up one of the unbroken bottles from the floor and collected a few shot glasses.
‘Sorry Koko.’ he said and poured her another shot, she smiled meekly and knocked it back and looked much more relaxed immediately after.
He poured another for Gardell, Stroma and himself one and offered one to Skye who politely declined.
‘Right-to fresh starts’ Deilen said, raised his glass to the others and swallowed the contents.
Deilen hit the floor, unconscious. Stroma rolled her eyes and went to her luggage to pull on some underwear. Koko looked down at her collapsed partner.
‘Can’t hold his booze. Look you guys have a real fiery energy. We’re all creatures here, we should just hug it out you know?’ she said with a casual shrug.
‘I don’t think we’re at the hugging stage yet darling’ Stroma said and tied her hair back.
‘Look I don’t really know what is going on but Deilen is a sound guy and he’s helped me out a lot the short time we’ve been together. He’s been searching for you though Stroma and well, I’m happy to be here with you cool people.’ Koko looked around the room encouragingly oblivious to the girls enthusiasm.
‘Stroma, why does he know you?’ said Skye as he approached the unconscious Deilen and placed his hands on his forehead.
Stroma shrugged in reply. Skye accepted her response and concentrated his healing hands on restoring his patience’s health. He was beginning to understand why his Master’s had always recommended to be abstinent against alcohol and he was now glad for his training. He placed a cushion under Deilen head and placed him in the recovery position. He gave a small smile to Koko. She nodded in thanks and sat next to her unconscious friend.
Gardell looked around at the state of the cabin.
‘We’ve wrecked this room, maybe should straighten it out while we wait for him to recover. He’s completely out like you were. If we sort this out before we get caught, we can rest up and hopefully he’ll come round. Maybe then you two can talk instead of kicking each other’s ass?’
They nodded in agreement and quietly started to fix up the room. As they made the room look as reasonable as possible in the quiet, they heard a steady rhythmic sound coming through the walls. There was a small moan that broke in with the sound.
Alturiak 14th, 1491
Skye was fast asleep with the book still on his lap. He felt someone nudging the bottom of his leg. He woke up and looked down at the gnome Borwas a blade glowing in his hand.
Skye lashed out with a kick. He jumped up on the bed and landed a powerful series of blows.
‘What do you want from me?’ shrieked Skye. ‘First time we meet you spit at me and now you’re sneaking into my room without warning. What do you want from?’
‘Stupid drow. You all under attack.’ said Borwas pointing at the door to the corridor.
Skye wasn’t sure if he was too sleepy to realise what he had said but the only person attacking him was this invasive and obnoxious gnome.
‘You come to a Pirate town; you are travelling on a Pirate ship.’ Said the gnome flatly ‘Stupid.’
Then it all dawned on Skye.
‘Shitballs, the drink, that’s why they’ve got everyone so fucked up, this isn’t a party. It’s going to be a nightmare.’ he said slouching back in bed. He was stupid, Borwas was right. How could he go along with what was happening around him without questioning it?
‘I’m sorry.’ said Skye and put his palm on the gnome fresh wound he had caused. The meek amount of his healing energy was lent into the gnome, though they could both tell his heart wasn’t motivated to help him.
‘They come to kill all passed-out. Rob them. Borwas protect masters…interests.’ said Borwas puffing out his chest.
‘Oh yeah and what can you even do for us? Can you even fight?’ said Skye petulantly.
‘Shh, waste time, hear them now. Go wake friends.’ scolded Borwas.
Skye knew he was had wronged the gnome who had just saved them. Still Skye resented the way the vicious little midget did it. Skye grabbed a bell from his bag and he violently rang it as he ran down the hall to Stroma’s room.
‘Get up, get up, get up! We’re under attack this whole place is a con! We’re on a pirate ship, they tried to get us drunk so they can kill us and loot us!’ the monk cried as he burst into the room.
Koko immediately snapped out of her mediative state.
‘Don’t worry, I got this.’ she sprang up off the floor and slapped Deilen on the shoulder rousing him and the pair ran out of the room. Gardell and Stroma took longer to come to their senses and just blinked at Skye.
‘Well? Come on?!’ cried Skye and the two got to their feet.
Gardell made it first to the corridor and saw Borwas crouched behind a corner as Captain Orluv with two other pirates stalked up the corridor.
‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ shouted Borwas as he stepped out into the hallway.
Wisps of magic left the gnomes fingers and swirled around the closets pirate. The swirling mist flowed about the three pirates, a brief chuckle bursting forth from their lips but the Captain waved his hand through the smoke dismissively, as though he recognised the attack and was unimpressed. The three men glanced at the source and were ready to fight.
‘We better power up.’ said Stroma as her flesh began to harden with irregular fissures and cracks its colouring turning from pale to brown.
Gardell barged past her and ran to catch up with Deilen and Koko. Whilst Skye rummaged in his bag for his oil flask and tinderbox and followed behind.
‘Oh, it’s the hot stuff from last night,’ said the Captain as he saw Gardell tear down the corridor towards him. ‘I’m afraid that you being awake is ruining our plans. I’m going to have to put you all back to sleep’
Gardell smirked and went straight for an attack but his hand just glowed and let the merest drip of acid to drop from his fingertips. He was still come around from the booze.
‘Oh dear.’ chuckled the pirate captain ‘Brewers droop?’
The two pirates made a charge Gardell managed to doge their attacks. One was however able to stab Borwas causing him to hiss angrily and stagger back.
Koko slipped her way through to the nearest and thrust her quarter staff to hit a pirate in the crotch. The pirate buckled in on himself in pain and her second attack flew over his head.
Deilen took aim between the two pirates and cast Entangle at Captain Orluv. Vines and thorns exploded out from under the floorboards of hallway and criss-crossed in the hall. The vines concentrated at Captain’s Orluv’s limbs and quickly restrained him in place. His muscles bulged as he tried to resist the plants but they coiled around him preventing him from attacking further. The other two pirates leapt out of the way.
Skye and Stroma couldn’t find a clear root to strike a blow in the narrow corridor and watched as Gardell used his Burning Hands to grab the first pirate by the arms. The vilain shrieked in terror as his limbs started to burn away, a molten flame started consuming his whole body frying him to dust.
Captain Orluv ripped off some the binding vines from one arm and set about trying to free his other hand
‘Get these Bastards!’ he yelled to his shipmate.
The pirate leapt forward only to stop in mid attack. He looked down at the pain in his torso and saw that Borwas has impaled him with his long sword. The vicious gnome dragged the blade across his stomach and the pirate let out a feeble wheeze as his tried to retrieve own intestines as they fell to the floor in a steaming wet heap.
Koko leapt over Borwas and aimed her staff an at the captain but she didn’t notice the guts and skidded across the floor. Deilen rushed up behind her and cast Shillelagh, his quarterstaff landing a charged bolt into Captain Orluv’s jaw. He barely flinched with the impact and growled
‘You’ll need to try harder than that little boy!’ Captain Orluv grabbed Deilen by the throat and threw him backwards.
Captain Orluv was not paying attention though to Stroma who sneaked up closer to him and leapt out from the shadow clubbing him across the jaw from the other side with her own quarter staff.
‘Now that’s more like it!’ roared Orluv spitting blood.
Gardell skidded along the blood and punched Orluv in the stomach with his burning hands.
The captain staggered back then swung back at Stroma before he turned to glower at Gardell
‘And only last night you were teasing me dancing about and flashing that cock! I thought we shared something?!’ he mocked as he slashed at the dwarf with his sword.
Skye, further down the corridor packed with fighting gave up on his plan with the Oil flask and pulled out a dagger instead. He held for a glimpse of a gap and tried to throw the blade at Orluv’s head but, the attack too difficult, clipped past the Captain’s merely grazing his cheek finding purchase in the wall behind him.
‘You will have to try harder than that Drow!’
Deilen tried to use the opening to attack Captain Orluv, he swung out a strike with his quarterstaff, but the Captain was too quick and caught the staff in his hand. Orluv drew his second sword the curved blade glowing like powerful moonshine. He jabbed it into Deilen’s side and shoved the half-elfs torn body to the floor.
Borwas leapt up to the corridor side and ducked through the various limbs of the crowded assault. He ran up the stairs, throwing his tiny frame over the banister and leapt from this higher position to strike down at Orluv with a dagger which glowed with the same light as Orluv’s long sword.
Skye saw that Deilen was bleeding out on the floor and tried to grab him out of the way. The half-elf’s body was too heavy to move away quickly; Orluv’s speed was fierce, and he lashed out at Skye but the monk dodged away just in time.
Stroma used the distraction to connect a powerful Shillelagh strike across Orluv’s back. Gardell followed this with another charge with his burning hands but the Captain twirled his cloak to fan out the flames.
Gardell’s rage erupted, and he drew deep on the magics he held within. A surge of power flaired through his body and his fists flamed brighter than they ever had before. His eyes were alight with mystical energy as he repeatedly punched Orluv.
The moment shocked Orluv as he staggered back to protect himself from the flames. He tried to slash out with his long sword, but the fiery chaos caused him to hit the banister instead. Orluv tried to pull the sword from the wood; with a forceful tug the blade was released, and he staggered back. Koko used the opportunity to skid directly below Orluv and punch him in the balls. Orluv screamed wildly but Koko used all her might to grab at his junk and rip the Pirate’s manhood from his body. Blood sprayed from his crotch and he howled in agony. He collapsed on the floor pitifully.
‘Not the Gonad’s’ he whined.
Blood flooded the floor. The party watched the wailing Orluv bleed out and die whilst Skye managed to stabilise Deilen before he bled out as well.
‘You’re going to be okay.’ Skye said with a smile and Deilen nodded.
Deilen took out a potion from his pocket and drank. Skye was relieved having no supplies left himself. He pulled him up and saw that Gardell and Stroma were already looking through the dead men’s belongings.
Stroma picked up Orluv’s golden bandanna and the hat with the Ostrich feathers. She and wiped of the blood to admire the shape. Gardell took of Orluv’s cape and noticed that it still bellowed as though air was coming off it. He pocketed the thief’s tools and admired the moon touched sword. Deilen reached over and pulled out to two daggers whilst Koko and Skye leaned against the hall and watched them fight over the spoils from the battle.
Stroma found a pouch with something spicy smelling coming from inside. Deilen was comparing a leather armour against his own and Gardell was looking at some rope. At some point a set of three keys was dropped from the belongings and landed in the middle of the bloody floor. Gardell, Stroma and Deilen all looked down at them. Deilen reached out to the set of keys and Stroma immediately kicked his hand out of the way. She cast charmed person on to Deilen. Fuchsia scents wafting over him.
‘You’re going to give me those keys.’ she said with her arms outstretched.
‘You just kicked me.’ said Deilen looking at Stroma almost mockingly.
Koko braced herself this looked like it was about to go down like it did before. Skye just sighed. Well used to her colleague by now and a little resigned to the inevitable. So he sat down to watch.
‘You have the hat and Gardell has the sword. I’m taking those keys.’ said Deilen firmly.
‘No, I saw them first, they belong to me.’ replied Stroma matching Deilen’s tone.
Deilen reached down towards the keys and Stromas eyes narrowed. She went to attack but Deilen was too quick and cast Shelliagh with his quarter staff and as he rose from the floor cracked Stroma in the ribs. Koko leapt to Deilen’s side, ready to defend her friend.
‘Last chance bitch.’ said Deilen.
There was a brief pause between them before Stroma was about to strike again. Everyone was blasted backwards.
The hallway rattled. Gardell stood before them all knocked to their arses by his Thunderwave. Finally, silence.
‘Thank Fuck! Keep it down. Some of us are trying to have some fun ere!’ came a muffled voice from one of the cabins before sound of rhythmic squeaks could but heard to resume.
Koko looked badly hurt by the blast and Deilen placed a healing hand on her shoulder. She rotated the sore joint back and forth.
‘Thank you Deilen, you’re the best!’ She said smiling at him innocently.
Gardell picked up the keys from the floor and held them out in front of him.
‘How about we all just go to bed and talk about these in the morning?’ He said jangling the keys on their hoop.
‘No, no, no.’ said Stroma and got up off the floor grabbing for the keys.
Koko intervened and held up her hands block Stroma’s path, Koko held her ground showing signs of surrendering to the druid.
‘Guys, guys, guys!’ said Koko sweetly ‘We just kicked some serious ass together. Let’s not get bent out of shape over a set of keys. We’d make a kick ass team if we worked together! So, let’s not fight and instead use these keys together as a team.’
‘Fine, okay.’ said Gardell and then raised his hand up. ‘I’m not going to shock her hands off yet.’
Stroma and Koko looked at each other for a second, unsure who he was referring too.
Stroma eyed up Deilen, he didn’t react, instead they just stared at each other something of a kindred spirit passing between each other.
‘I know a bitch.’ said Stroma pointedly at Deilen and then walked over to Skye who was still sat on the floor.
‘You’re the only one who didn’t attack me. I trust you Skye.’ and dropped the keys in his lap.
‘Thank you, Stroma.’ he said with a mixture of surprise and pride. ‘I’ll keep them safe until we all know more.’
More squeaking could be heard from the neighbouring room and Skye realised he recognised the moans of Brad and Lavern a couple they had seen meet for the first time earlier that night. The party looked at each other uneasily as the muffled sounds continued.
‘Everyone is still off their faces from the booze. Maybe we should investigate Captain Orluv’s room and see what is in there?’ asked Gardell unperturbed.
‘We don’t know how many of the crew were involved in all this.’ said Deilen waving his hands at the bloody bodies on the floor.
‘Yeah, the crew staff on this is huge, there are loading boxes full of uniforms there must be heaps of staff on here?’ added Koko.
‘Maybe not everyone was involved with this then?’ said Skye looking at the bodies.
Koko smiled and spoke. ‘Well why don’t we go up and find out what’s going on then. Everyone thinks we’re staff anyway?’ she said stepping up and twirling in her uniform fairly ignorant of how dishevelled and covered in blood she was.
Skye looked down at himself in bed things and looked over at Stroma who was still covered in bark.
‘Yeah, maybe we should change?’ said Gardell who was still in the same clothes he had been in all day. ‘and we better depose of these bodies before anyone else finds out what we’ve done.’
The party changed clothes went up to the main deck. There were pools of vomit and broken glass on board, but everything was quiet. They guessed there were six or more crew still awake and working on the top deck. The moon was high, and the sea was relatively still, they could see snowy peaks in the distance.
‘Right, what are we doing?’ asked Gardell.
‘We just want to get into Orluv’s cabin for now right before everyone wakes up and realises, he’s dead?’ said Koko.
There were nods in agreement.
‘Right then leave it to me.’ Koko said and walked straight up to the top deck before anyone else had a chance to question her plan.
She walked directly over to the man holding the wheel of the ship.
‘You new love? Not seen you’re face before?’ he said as Koko approached him smiling brightly.
‘Oh yeah, hey how’s it going? Yeah, I just got hired at Luskan.’ she replied coolly.
‘What’s been going on down there? I’ve heard a load of noises going on.’
‘Oh, nothing to worry about just some drunken shit flaring up, it’s all calmed down now. Say, you have a really important job hear making sure everyone stays safe.’ said Koko swiftly changing the subject.
‘Some say that sure.’ said the man puffing his chest out a little.
‘Well, it’s nice to meet ya, I’m Koko, what’s your name?’ she asked sweetly.
‘I’m Jeremy, the night navigator. You’re one of the prettier lasses on board aint ya.’ he said moving his hand down to lightly squeeze her behind. ‘I need to keep my eyes on the job mind.’
‘Say, I’m just getting myself drink’ said Koko ‘You want anything while I’m down there?’
‘Yeah, alright a draft of rum would be good thanks.’ he smiled.
‘I was supposed to meet the Captain in his cabin later as well. Do you know where that is?’
‘Where do you normally find the Captain’s quarters!’ he stated incredulously. ‘Stupid tart’
Koko looked at him confused and the man pointed directly below them.
She walked back to the party and told them Captain Orluv’s lodgings were behind the horseshoe bar. They walked over to the room and found that when they turned the door it opened.
The Captain’s room had a circular bed in the centre and stain glass windows behind. There was a desk in the corner and some bookshelves. Skye looked over the books immediately and tossed a book he thought Fidgit would like. Gardell nodded and scanned the rest of the books and took ten from the shelves.
Koko looked at the map on the desk she could tell it was their charted course and they were on the coast of Faerun. She rummaged around the desk and draws and found it full of charts and quills.
They investigated the whole room but couldn’t find anything of any consequence.
‘What do we do? Everyone is going to wake up soon and there’s no captain.’ asked Deilen to the party.
‘Maybe I could just put my sunglasses on him, and we leave him here to rot? They might just think he’s passed out drunk himself.’ said Stroma looking at the Captain’s bed.
‘Someone would notice he’s dead too quickly. Then we’d be in trouble.’ said Gardell.
‘Koko do you know any spells?’ asked Deilen hopefully.
‘No, but I do have this kickass quarterstaff.’ she said beaming.
‘Gardell, couldn’t you disguise yourself to become Orluv?’ asked Skye remembering that Gardell had previously turned himself into a pile of bat shit.
‘Aye, no. No. Unfortunately, not. I can only keep a handle on a certain number of spells at a time and I let that one go.’ he said looking down at the floor with disappointment.
‘Well, that was stupid.’ said Stroma dismissively.
‘Well do you have anything useful? Maybe something of Orluv could help us?’ retorted Gardell. Stroma considered this and then cast detect magic in the room. She could tell that the cloak Orluv had worn was magical and the feathers on the hat. She couldn’t determine what the power was though.
‘No, I don’t think he has anything of use to us.’ she said after some consideration.
‘Well then,’ Gardell said not knowing what his next move should be.
‘What if we don’t do anything?’ said Koko ideally drumming her fingers on the desk.
‘There are three bodies lying in the hall of the lower deck someone is going to notice if they haven’t already.’ said Gardell.
‘And there are all those witnesses who popped their head out of their rooms.’ added Skye.
‘But none of them seemed to mind enough to make a complaint.’ said Stroma.
‘Yeah, because their all pissed on this toxic shit.’ said Deilen holding up a bottle.
‘Well, maybe we should just keep the party going until we complete the trip?’ suggested Koko.
‘What just keep supplying everyone with drink until they get to port?’ said Gardell.
‘Sure? Why not?’ asked Koko lightly.
So, it was then decided that the adventurers would work together to keep the passengers supplied with as much booze as possible. It turned out to not be too challenging for them either. Gardell used his Acid burn to depose of the bodies flinging what little remained overboard. Deilen tried to fix as many of the breakages as he could by casting mending on a couple of broken items in the hall. The others went door to door and supplied each cabin with ample booze to keep them entertained.
Koko approach Borwas’s door and offered him some booze. He opened the door with a swollen eye.
‘Would you like some free booze?’ she asked kindly.
Borwas rolled his eyes.
‘Fuck off!’ cried the gnome as he slammed the door.
‘You’re welcome.’ Koko chimmed.
They managed to serve most of the passengers. They all welcomed the free refreshments and carried on the party in their individual rooms.
The party took their own short rest and when they woke up, they headed to the dining hall and ate some breakfast. There was a mixture of reactions, some leered at them with smouldering anger, other kept their distance with either distain or fear.
The majority overall heard there was some small kafuffle which was quickly dealt with. The remaining knew that this cruise would not be receiving a five-star review but had a good time overall.
The staff however appeared professional and unaffected. There was whispering and gossip. Jeremy the night navigator appeared to be cock-a-hoop and walked around the ship smiling, chatting with the passengers good humouredly. He appeared to stand with a new sense of confidence and wore what looked to be a new hat. Gardell spoke with one of the seamen in private and learnt that overall, the impression was the Captain was either dead or missing and Jeremy was now in charge.
The second day of the journey passed in mainly a blur, everyone kept their distance from each other to not arouse suspicion and passengers continued to drink. As they continued north the main thing the passengers and crew all noted was the increasing cold as they drew closer to their next destination.
Things Skye learnt.
· Alcohol should be effectively considered a poison and 2 shot of fire whisky can knock out Stroma.
· Stroma can be uptight about her finances but can splash out for the right setting.
· Stroma’s personality can also change in the right company.
· Gardell is getting more action than was first realised.
· You can get posh Drows as well as deceitful ones.
· You can get clothes that bellow just for affect.
· Stroma may or may not have been kicked out of an Elven-Circle and for some reason Deilen is interested in getting to know the team.
· Deilen wants to learn more about his father, maybe he doesn’t know much about his family either?
· Koko clearly has some monk style skill but also drinks!?
· Never trust a pirate ship and always be wary especially near a pirate city.
· Boraz has a floating chest.
· Boraz is watching the party and making sure they secure something for his master, but for whatever reason isn’t willing to come out and get it himself.
· Creatures that sneak into your bed at night don’t always want to kill you, but they properly should just knock on the door to enter.
· Drunk and horny people will continue to be happy as long as they have enough to sustain themselves.
· They have three keys and three quills which hold secrets.
· Stroma trusts Skye! Gardell loves Skye!
· Skye has made two new friends.
· Trying to keep a track of what magic everyone has is tricky and confusing and seem to abandon them at random.
· If you wear the right clothes and talk with confidence you can get away with anything.