Skull and Shackles

Lord Arronax Endymion

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The party prepared for their first meeting of the pirate council. It was set to take place in a month’s time. Also of note was the fact that Harghast’s year of marriage to Agasta was drawing to a close. He had to choose whether to continue the arrangement or let it end so he could be with Sandara.

The party returned Sefina’s shawl and forgave her. Sefina was grateful for their mercy and promised to patrol the bay as thanks. Dovahkiin teleported to his adoptive parent’s home and brought them to live at the castle. The party also placed an order for more siege engines. The time of the council approached and the party appointed Paarthunax and Baines stewards of the island in their absence.

The Nightmare went to Port Peril and the party took their well-earned seats at the table. Abundant high quality food and drink were served and also considered a major reason for the pirates’ attendance. The Hurricane King sat upon an ostentatious throne and at the other end sat an empty seat for the use of Besmara, goddess of pirates should she ever decide to attend. The other pirate lords sat around the table. Had the party not done so well at the trials some or all of them would be sitting at the ‘kids’ table.’ Harghast asked about Sandara and found she had become captain of the Queen Bes’s Own and a squadron of supporting ships. Apparently she had done very well in the short time she was away.

The first issue of the day was raised. The Shackles extorts money from Sargava in return for liberating them from Cheliax. Normally they would have to wait, but some said the party should be given their full share right away. Fortunately, through Gork’s surprisingly effective intimidation and the party’s level of disrepute the measure passed.

Next, Cerise suggested a measure to take funds from the defense budget and redirect them to build giant statues of the Hurricane King in every port. This was a horribly impractical and wasteful idea, but opposing the King was an obviously dangerous political move. Initially only the party (who count as one vote) and The Master of the Gales opposed the measure. Through significant expenditure of political capital and various means of persuasion the party just managed to stop this terrible idea from passing, but most likely made an enemy of the King.

The third issue was Avimar trying to gain salvage rights to Olo. On Olo was the black tower and a rumored epic magical sword. The party stopped him.

The forth issue was raised by Hardluck Massey for the absent Captain Harrigan. He wanted someone named Scags Rotgram declared an outlaw for preying on unauthorized Sargavan ships. The party looked into the situation. Scags was Harrigan’s old first mate who had parted on poor terms and Harrigan most likely was simply trying to exact revenge. After discovering this the party successfully blocked the measure.

The last issue of the day was raised by Tessa. She was presenting the findings on Chelish spies the party had gathered for her. Arronax Endymion immediately rose from his chair and demanded that an investigation be held. Rumors abounded of Arronax being a collaborator with Cheliax. He had been a Chelish admiral before becoming a pirate and his town, Hell Harbor, resembled Cheliax in culture and was often called, although not to his face, Little Cheliax. The evidence the party had found also pointed to him. The King was against investigating so he could keep the money for himself and make self-aggrandizing statues. The party got the investigation approved. The King was furious (again), the food was running out, and the pirates were tired of politics so the dozens of remaining issues were dropped and the meeting was adjourned.

The party returned to the Nightmare. Aboard was a note from Tessa clutched in the beak of a silver messenger raven. It said:"My friends! It pains me to darken your accomplishments, but I feel I must. Despite your triumphs of late, there remain those who do not accept you as deserving of the prize you have been awarded. If you expect to keep your isle, you’ll need to fight for it. Even as I pen this warning, know that your old nemesis Barnabas Harrigan is bolstering his own fleet, funded through his recent spate of successes raiding the Chelish shipping lanes.

And he will come for you as soon as he is ready.

War is coming to the Shackles, whether Bonefist wants to admit it or not. We have a traitor, or perhaps traitors, in our midst, and when the Chelish navy sails south, it will divide us through our own greed and betrayal if we are not ready.

I intend to survive this war—and to do so, I need all the help I can get. I hope to see you survive as well, but to do that, you must gather a fleet. In time, I will join my resources to yours, but for the immediate future I must retain a low profile—I fear I have drawn too much attention to my plans already. Hire mercenaries if you must, but seek out friends and allies if you can—they will serve better than those bought with coin. Bolstering your infamy can only help as well—some of the topics that came up in the council meeting seemed to me good places to start. Looting the Black Tower and recovering the sword Aiger’s Kiss from within would certainly increase your fame, and if you can track down Scags Rotgram… well, an old mate of Harrigan’s could be an invaluable ally, especially if he knows something about Harrigan’s weaknesses!

Until I contact you again, keep the silver raven figurine as proof of my word. Sell it off if you wish…after that party you threw at your fortress, I suspect you might need the spare coin to help pay for the fleet you’ll soon need!"

The party had two options for raising a fleet, mercenaries or trusted allies. Mercenaries would be very expensive and not very loyal. Among allies, there were Pierce Jerrel and his six longships, Sandara and her 5 warships and Pegsworthy with his 5 sailing ships.

Harghast’s marriage expired and he had to make the decision. With the parties support, he ended the political marriage with Agasta and they parted amicably. Among Agasta’s forces, Sergeant McCleagh seemed quietly overjoyed.

The party decided first to meet with Sandara and ask her about joining forces. Sandara and the party set up a meeting in Hell Harbor. The Nightmare sailed over and the meeting was held in an inn. After greetings and congratulations on her impressively rapid progress Sandara asked why the party had wanted to visit her. Before anyone could speak Dovahkiin bluntly stated “Because Harghast likes you.”

Sandara was amused and revealed she always had similar feelings for Harghast. After that event of immense emotional importance was out of the way Sandara asked if that was really the only reason the party had traveled out to meet her. The party then got down to business and it was agreed that she would join the fleet. And also Rosie Cusswell was there.

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A messenger entered the bar and approached the party. He introduced himself as the first mate of Arronax Endymion and said that Arronax wanted to meet with them on his ship. The party went to the meeting and Arronax said that he was the victim of slander. He said he was not a spy and that a local bardic troupe was deliberately spreading lies about him. He asked the party to “deal” with them discretely and with minimal collateral damage. The party agreed.

The first move was to send Dovahkiin and Gork to watch the show and scout out the theater. The show was a violent and disturbing one. It was tales of devils and the mortals who fell to their depredations. Arronax was implicitly among the foolish mortals. A crazed barbarian named Gorebeard tore apart the real summoned devils on stage.

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After the play, the party waited until 3am and then Zon snuck up to investigate. Zon crept up to the lock and picked it when a guard showed up. The guard demanded that Zon leave and Zon failed at intimidating him before leaving. Zon soon returned with Meeko in his pack. The dog smelled something invisible atop the roof. After much internal debate with a conscience that sounded like Valignat for some reason Zon fired at the invisible thing of unknown origin and intent. An innocent half-orc toddler rolled off the building with an arrow embedded in its forehead. Zon realized it was an illusion just as the guard showed up again. The guard sounded the alarm as Zon turned invisible and fled. The party returned soon and Zon saw no guards. Rather than go through the door it was decided that Dovahkiin should teleport the party in. Zon would have to find his own way and Valignat turned human to lower his mass for transport. With the plan in place, Dovahkiin teleported the party into the main theater.

They appeared in the middle of the buffed, prepared, and gathering enemy. There was Isawyn the opera singer from the play, Gorebeard, a merciless eryines, a babau assassin demon, two hell hounds, and a lowly goblin-like dretch. As the battle raged, Harghast heard a voice in his head saying “Arronax Endymion send his regards! Die fool!”

Various malevolent spells were thrown at the party but a set of great saving throws prevented potential disaster. A barbed devil joined the fray as the dragon transformed and immediately chomped the dretch. Dovahkiin Boneshattered the bard for some damage and Harghast healed while yelling “It’s a trap!” Outside Zon was trying to get in, but the door relocked itself.

Gork cut down the eryines and then engaged Gorebeard for an epic battle of the barbarians. Unfortunately, Gorebeard was quickly outmatched due to his terrible unarmed build and shortly thereafter blasted by Valignat and finished by Harghast.

A hidden foe shot Dovahkiin with a ring of the ram and knocked him down. The hell hounds tore into the fallen wizard. Valignat wounded the barbed devil and then Harghast killed it with a mighty divine blow from his holy sword. Zon finally flew in and was knocked to the ground. Isawyn whipped out her guitar and unleashed a tirade of heavy metal at Dovahkiin for damage before being shot dead by Zon as Valignat dismembered the hell hounds.

Dovahkiin rose and fired Disintegrate at the babau. It was shredded to near ashes before Gork smashed it soundly. A calm fell for a brief second and then a translucent tiefling appeared. It was Lady Nightshade, the third member of this wicked band.

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She cried “Lord Arronax Endymion curses you, may you die at his hand!” and then she disappeared. The party looted the building and found evidence that proved the bards were professional slanderers working for Cheliax to destroy Arronax’s reputation—or were they? Harghast remained unconvinced. Zon also figured out that the ‘guard’ outside was actually another illusion.

Arronax wanted the party to return to his mansion when the matter was settled. The party rested and then went to the meeting. Valignat wasn’t allowed inside the house in his natural form for some reason so he shifted to human. As is his job, Valignat did the talking. Harghast was still extremely suspicious of Arronax and so Valignat attempted to keep the proof by lying about it and informing Arronax the bards were dead. Arronax wasn’t satisfied. Valignat then admitted that the group had found “Something that might help” and presented Arronax with the proof. Confused, Arronax said “This looks like evidence. What are you doing? What is this?” The situation seemed about to collapse but then Valignat covered by quizzically asking “That’s evidence?” Somehow that worked.

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Arronax was relieved and promised his fleet would aid the party. The party went back to the ship. Lady Nightshade had fled into the planes, but the party chased her down over two weeks and finally captured her. Paarthunax read her mind for an interrogation. Paarthunax made a lion roar telepathically at lies and when she claimed she wasn’t a slanderer the contemplative said “She’s a terrible liar”. Valignat leaned in and said “Lord Arronax Eddymion sends his regards” and killed her. There was a brief commotion as Dovahkiin and Gork tried to stop the dragon and Harghast tripped the barbarian. But, when a large dragon sets his mind to something there’s not much anyone can do about it. A spray of gore left Dovahkiin and Gork stippled and frustrated.

The party discovered that Nightshade had been hired through an intermediary and recovered the Bard’s corpse to have Harghast speak with dead and learn who the contact was. He had to get past some evasive answers, but eventually learned that the contact was Caulky Taroon, the old cabin girl of Captain Harrigan. The bard’s corpse was stored so the spell could be cast again later as evidence against Harrigan. Fortunately, Dovahkiin still had a lock of Caulky’s hair and could scry on her at will. The first attempt was poorly timed and resulted in useless footage of Caulky sleeping. The next casting revealed her in the Captain’s cabin of the Wormwood. Harrigan was declaring that soon he would be at the Nightmare’s island.

The party then decided on their next move—the island of the black tower.

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RonW

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