Deep in the bilge of the Storm Reaver, Daina desperately tried to staunch the flow of blood from Torlan’s shredded leg as the hatch in the ceiling popped open and a familiar voice called out to them. “What’s going on down there? I heard some screaming!” Dismissing Sandara Quinn’s concerns, Torlan insisted he was fine as Daina enlisted Rus to help her haul the old dwarf out of the filthy water in spite of a steady stream of indignant protests from the latter. Sandara paled a little to see the extent of Torlan’s wound, and as Daina obeyed her godfather’s instructions to keep his leg propped up, the fisherwoman who had revealed herself to Trucco as commanding the healing powers of Arawai began to gather up some of the water surrounding them to apply to the wound. Finding a common ground at last, Torlan bluntly refused to allow Sandara to douse him in the murky, filthy seawater — hadn’t she ever heard of the Bilge Rot? — while Daina snapped at her to keep it away from him. Sandara insisted that she could bless the water, and that they all needed friends, as Torlan declared that the price of her friendship was too high. Cursing their stubbornness the whole way, Sandara began climbing up the ladder to go find some clean water and insisting Torlan not follow her. Did he really want to go back to Master Scourge without knowing the job was done?
Sandara returned with a bowl of fresh water, complaining again about Torlan’s stubbornness, and as she prayed over the water it began to glow with a subtle light. As she scooped it onto his leg, the bleeding stopped and his flesh began to knit back together, though she ran out of water before the wound could close entirely. Sitting back and marveling at the healing, Torlan questioned what she wanted in return. She’d healed Daina, she’d healed Trucco, and now she’d healed him — was she seeking to rack up favours? Sandara stared at him in disbelief. She insisted that she was simply looking to gain friends. The night before Torlan and the others had been brought aboard, Master Scourge had made a pass at her, and she’d slapped him. She was on his shit list, and she was terrified. Torlan shrugged and agreed that if all she wanted was a friend, he’d be happy to accommodate her, but still didn’t understand that she seemed to want nothing more. Daina backed Torlan up once again. Sandara had been nothing but helpful and solicitous towards them. What was her goal?
Still incredulous, Sandara desperately reminded them that the officers of the Storm Reaver took joy in nothing other than stealing, reaving, and inflicting pain on others. All she wanted was to survive, and not be stabbed in the back, and she didn’t see herself able to do that without allies to call on. Torlan rumbled that that sounded fair enough, and Daina’s expression softened a little as she replied that she would rather not see anyone stabbed in the back aside from Master Scourge, Mister Lagraa, and the Captain. As Sandara let out a small laugh and turned to return to her own duties, Daina told her that if she ever found herself in trouble, to seek her out in the galley as Rus commented that Sandara was doing a very swift trade in racking up favours.
As the other woman disappeared up the hatch, Daina mused that Rus was one to talk about racking up favours — the previous night, she’d promised to owe him and Trucco if they ever helped her get Torlan out of trouble, and she hadn’t been expecting that chit to be cashed so soon. She wondered when he might call on her, and he simply shrugged and replied that he hoped it would be a while before he needed to.
Speaking of Trucco, the opportunistic rogue had peeled off from the others while they argued with Sandara, having spotted a large crate along the side of the wall above the waterline. Easily prying it open, he quickly pocketed the small purse he found within before the others could notice, then helped himself to a cutlass and held up a prize that he announced would have been useful ten minutes earlier: a boiled leather chestpiece. Daina insisted on helping Torlan strap it on while he tested the heft of a bulky mace, and then accepted the morningstar Trucco had also found for herself. With Fishguts’ spear in her other hand, Daina began to follow Rus along the length of the hull to see if any more rats emerged from the murky water, all the while exhorting Torlan to stay behind and keep his wound dry. Silently ignoring her fussing, Torlan fell in line behind the two soldiers and offered Rus the harpoon he’d been carrying. Though armed with nothing but a small knife, Rus said he’d be fine, eliciting a shrug from the old dwarf.
As they continued to explore, Daina’s foot bumped into something solid and heavy, and a massive rat leapt out of the water at her as Sandara had predicted. Ready for action, Daina bashed the rat’s head in with her new morningstar and handed the corpse to Trucco. Bristling, the feline shifter asked if he was expected to carry the rat because he was a cat. “No,” the Deneith veteran replied, “it’s because you pick up everything in sight, so you might as well carry this.” Still miffed, Trucco protested that he only picked up things that had value, to which Daina retorted that proof they’d killed the rats had the value of keeping them alive. Sighing, still on edge after Torlan’s close call and knowing that she had been too short with Sandara and now Trucco, her voice grew more gentle as she told the rogue that not everyone was out to get him — not her and the others, anyways. Trucco took the corpse from her in uncharacteristic silence, and they continued forward towards the bow of the ship.
Pressing forward, Rus came across his own prize in the water: a small handaxe that somehow had not been rusted or otherwise harmed by the filthy saltwater. Torlan wondered aloud what had become of the owners of all the weapons they’d found in the bilge as Rus hopped up on top of a crate, lantern in hand, to examine the axe more closely. Still focused on finishing the job, Daina happened upon some large sacks perched above the waterline. Grain spilled out of large holes in each bag, and having spent her first sixteen years on a farm, Daina quickly surmised that the rats had eaten the bags from the inside out — that was how they’d wound up on board the Storm Reaver. Shaking her head in disgust and loudly wondering who would store grain in a ship’s bilge, she found herself suddenly remembering Fishguts warning from earlier. The unusually sober cook had made an ominous comment about Daina being in Mister Lagraa’s sights, and anxious to return to him, she exhorted the others to pick up the pace..and then forced the issue herself. Scooping up a handful of grain, she tossed it over the surface of the water as she caught Rus out of the corner of her eye, bent over and fishing something out of the depths. Turning towards him, thinking he’d found another rat, Daina felt something wet and heavy strike her back and saw Rus shove his dagger into his belt and take his new axe in hand. He sent it flying past her head, and his aim was true. The weapon sliced the rat clean in two, miraculously leaving Daina unharmed in the process, and it kept going until it lodged into the opposite side of the hull. Surprised and embarrassed at being so badly caught off guard, Daina’s eyes widened and she stammered a little as she complimented Rus on his skillful throw. As she thanked him and noted that she was now in his debt twice over, the former skyknight retrieved his axe from where it was stuck in the wall, casually remarking that it seemed to be a lucky weapon now and that he reckoned he’d be keeping it. Rolling his eyes, Torlan called out to the two youngsters to get a room, earning him a scandalized cry from his goddaughter and no comment from Rus as he shooed them along to continue in their hunt.
Though it was a cold, northern winter on the upper decks, the bilge was hot and stuffy, and the four new allies were keen to finish their business and leave. After another half-hour had passed, they felt confident that they’d killed all the rats. On the way back up to Master Scourge, Daina passed by Sandara Quinn and offered her a vial of clear liquid bearing the sign of the Sovereign Host that she’d found down in the bilge. Sandara agreed that she could make use of it, and accepted the peace offering.
The remainder of the day passed uneventfully, though Trucco had six lashes waiting for him at the Bloody Hour thanks to having pushed his luck talking back to Master Scourge earlier that morning. Though it stung, getting lashed was now a familiar enough situation for Trucco that he hardly felt the whip anymore. The night’s grog was passed out, dinner was served down in the galley, and Torlan entertained the crown once again as he’d promised the quartermaster Cutthroat Grok that he would. The half-orc expressed her appreciation for the performance, and sitting with her was one of the few humans on board, a man every called Crimson Cog. Cog was generally ill-tempered, but he listened to Torlan intently, and was eager to speak with the old dwarf when he approached to chat with Grok. He asked if Torlan would tell another story the following night and, lowering his voice, told the talespinner that he had some special liquor hidden away, and would be happy to share it with Torlan after he was done fulfilling his obligation to Grok. He happily declared that as long as the tales stayed dark and bloody, Torlan would have a fan.
Though she loved hearing her old “uncle’s” stories, Daina had other things on her mind that evening. Finding Fishguts still remarkably sober, she asked him to elaborate on his earlier remark that Mister Lagraa had it out for her. He pointed out that Daina was human, not a Cloud Reaver, and had challenged the first mate in front of the entire crew. With Sandara Quinn’s desperation to make friends for her own survival fresh in her mind, Daina reminded Fishguts that it had taken three years for him to get help in the kitchen, and it would be a shame to lose it so soon. Taking her comment as a half-joking offense to his cooking skills, the tone of their conversation immediately shifted as they began to spar and banter back and forth in the familiar dwarven way that Daina was used to from Torlan. Chatting long into the night, she learned that old, drunken Fishguts had once been the chef at the Lobster’s Armour, a rather popular (and expensive) restaurant in Regalport. He insisted at first that he’d chosen to leave the job, leading Daina to suspect he’d been fired, but as they spoke he warmed up some more and eventually revealed that he’d left the Lobster’s Armour when he lost a bet — to Mika Rockface herself. He’d gambled with the Prince, using his own life as his stake, and he’d lost.
On the 22nd of Zarantyr, morning brought some darkening skies. Rising early as usual to help Fishguts, she found him slightly hungover but not drinking much, and once again he asked her to help him with the cooking. Master Scourge looked Rus up and down and growled that Sandara hadn’t done a sufficient job in the cargo hold the other day, and ordered him down to catch rats again. He ordered Torlan to swab the deck again, and sent Trucco up to the crow’s nest to be the lookout.
Down in the galley with Fishguts, Daina sought to continue their conversation from the previous night. She reminisced about places she’d eaten in Regalport, and asked him if there were any ways they could improve their lot on board the Storm Reaver through cooking. What the dwarf cooked for the crew was far different from what he cooked for the officers and separately for the captain, and through the conversation she could tell that Fishguts had lost his hope, which was probably why he drank so much. He seemed resigned to whatever the Dark Six might have for him on board, but he also seemed to have begun enjoying his conversations with Daina, giving thoughtful answers to her questions and growing more friendly. While Fishguts adeptly saw to his duties for once, he rejected all of Daina’s attempts to clean or organize the galley, and as she sorted he kept referencing a book that she investigated herself. The large tome was filled with rather incredible recipes and was probably worth quite a bit of money. She gathered that next time she had to cook, it would likely help her.
Up in the crow’s nest, Trucco was unable to get a better sense of what the Storm Reaver’s destination was. The captain and officers had kept that a closely held secret, and though the ship remained damaged from their failed assault on Tidewater Rock a little over a week earlier, speculation was rampant that the Prince was determined to not return home without a prize. Feeling a twinge in his sore back as he reached out to climb a rope, Trucco decided to take it easy. Excusing himself to go to the head, he went down to the quartermaster’s to speak with Cutthroat Grok for the first time after having cased her stores a couple of times before. As the incorrigible rogue jovially introduced himself and laid on the flattery, Grok snarled and asked if there was something he needed. Placing a small chunk of hematite on her counter, he offered it to the quartermaster in exchange for his daggers, confident of its worth while simultaneously ignorant to how much it was worth. Smirking, Grok accepted the far better end of the deal without a word, and turned away to open a wooden locker in which Trucco could see all of his things, along with a wand and some other equipment. Returning to the door, Grok tossed all five of Trucco’s daggers down on the counter and sent him on his way as Rus appeared behind him to take his place.
“Ain’t he an excitable one,” the skyknight drawled. Grok replied that Trucco liked to talk, and Rus agreed that she clearly wanted to get straight down to business. The ornery quartermaster clarified that Trucco liked to talk back, and imagined he’d make many more appearances at Bloody Hour. Changing the topic, he casually mentioned that Sandara Quinn had suggested that Grok was keeping one of Rus’ wands, and that Ms. Quinn might have mentioned that he needed that wand for certain “spiritual practices” that would ensure the ship kept functioning. Pausing with a long look, she asked what he meant by that. Declaring that he just wanted his wand back so that the Devourer – praise his watery deepness! – wouldn’t get involved, Grok quickly drew a symbol in the air to ward off evil and left to rummage around her locker…and returned with all of Rus’ gear. Insisting that he make sure the ship didn’t sink, but that if it did, he’d have her covered, Grok handed over the loot as Rus commended her for her devotion and left.
Back up to, scrubbing the deck, Torlan found himself working alongside an orc named Tamroth Scrimshaw. They spoke as they worked, and he learned that she carved little sea creatures in her spare time. He praised the quality of her work, and soon learned Tamroth was originally from Cliffscrape and had not been press-ganged. She’d been aboard for some time, and though she was not one of Lagraa or Scourge’s sycophants, she respected Prince Mika. As they chatted throughout the day, she became friendly enough and he asked if she’d ever tried carving a sea serpent. The form should be simple enough, and he’d heard the stories of them. She replied she had heard the stories, and was glad she’d never seen one in person, and leaned in close as she asked if he had. He replied yes, all Kolladrons had seen the great sea serpent of Mirror Lake. It was a terror of Lakehome, and though he’d never tangled with it, Kolladron had, and the tale had been passed down of a gargantuan serpent that harried dwarven vessels by inundating them with waterspouts and blows from its powerful tail. When it slept, it was so large that the curves of its body were sometimes mistaken for small islands, which meant certain doom for any ship that approached it. Green scales, glimmering in the full moons. He offered to assist her if she’d be willing to try carving a likeness of the creature, and she eagerly agreed.
Evening came, and for once, there was no Bloody Hour. As the evening grog was passed out, however, Torlan, Daina, Rus, and Trucco sensed a different kind of expectant excitement in the air. When the evening meal was done, the four of them found themselves swept along with a crush of sailors eagerly making their way back to the main deck. After a few moment, Mister Lagraa appeared, leading a large man covered in tar and feathers, who pumped his fists in the air as he loudly declared “Owlbear, strong!” Rus’ heart sank while beside him, Torlan wondered who the hell this guy was, and Mister Lagraa sneered at him and the others and asked if any of them would be brave enough to go toe to toe with Owlbear in a bare-knuckles fight. She announced that the prize was a hundred gold pieces, and Torlan eagerly stepped forward to defend the honour of the Kolladrons in spite of his still injured leg. As Daina and Rus watched in dismay, the scrappy old dwarf readied himself for a fight.
Behind the Scenes
- Question of the week: what haunts you the most from the Last War? Well, put three Cyrans and one dwarf who was alive long before the war even began in the same room swapping stories, and things got dark pretty fast. 😀
- For the first rat encounter, Daina drew a joker on initiative. Jokers give each player a bennie and allow the one who drew the card to choose when they want to act that round without having to make a contested roll for it, as well as a +2 to their rolls for that turn. We are using modified versions of Savage Pathfinder’s class edges, and Daina employed the Fighter’s “Martial Flexibility” feature to temporarily gain the First Strike edge, granting her a free attack on the rat for two attacks that turn at no penalty…which she didn’t wind up needing, but is still nice to have!
- There’s always talk in the Savage Worlds community about the risk/reward of using smaller die types. The risk, of course, increases your chance of a critical failure, and the reward increases your chance of an ace. Kevin has, so far, enjoyed the rewards of exploding d4s in particular. For the second rat encounter, Rus got three raises on his Notice roll on his first try to be able to act while Daina and the others were Surprised. He then went all out with a Wild Attack to throw his axe – which is another risk/reward maneuver as it granted a +2 to his rolls, but left him Vulnerable until the start of his next turn – met the target number of 4 for a thrown attack, fished for a raise, got another massive dice explosion, and then followed it up with 26 damage on a d6. Feel free to start wildly speculating on Torlan’s declaration that it’s time to get a room. 😉
- Speaking of Rus acing his rolls, Kevin played the Ace! adventure card on Cutthroat Grok to trick her into giving him his wand back. That card automatically grants a success with one raise on any trait “roll” (which you don’t actually roll for), and the end result was not only the return of Rus’ wand, but making him the first part member to regain all their gear. Praise his watery deepness!
- Owlbear’s first appearance was in week 3, when Rus discovered him chained up in the cargo hold. He’s only told Trucco about that encounter; this is Torlan and Daina’s first time laying eyes on Owlbear. For an ending in which none of us find ourselves in immediate mortal danger, the moral implications of what might come next make this one hell of a cliffhanger.