The fighting on the deck of the Majestic Gryphon was dying down. Mister Lagraa had just sent a poor sod over the gunwale, causing Trucco to make a mental note to strongly consider and then reconsider again crossing her in the future. Torlan, on the poop deck, surveyed the unconscious sailors he’d barreled through, while Ruskel on the quarterdeck with Daina began to separate the surrendered sailors from their dropped weapons.
The thing on Daina’s face was still glowing.
Torlan asked what they should do now, and in looking for answers, came to the forward edge of the poop deck overlooking Ruskel and Daina and saw the blue stamp near her eye. His jaw dropped.
“By the gods, it’s a Dragonmark!!”
Daina scolded him, but Ruskel confirmed the dwarf’s analysis as he busied himself by checking the surrendered sailors for hidden weapons. There was still a boarding action going on, after all, manifesting Dragonmark or no.
What the former skyknight didn’t see then, was, coming up through the smoke on the starboard side, three more armed sailors from the Gryphon’s crew. But as they began to emerge onto the quarterdeck with weapons raised, knives hailed down on them from the rigging above! Trucco, on watch from ropes overhead, got the drop on the new assailants, and each of his knives found their marks. One, two, three sailors crumpled to the deck atop one another, groaning from the pains of the losing melee. The shifter dropped from the rigging finally to land in a graceful three-point stance beside Ruskel and Daina as Torlan joined them from the poop deck.
Daina ordered Trucco to stand down, saying these men had surrendered. Mistaking her order for the three that had just been coming up the stairs, he remarked that it was a little too late before that, before noticing something strange.
“Daina, look out!” Trucco suddenly cried. “You have a jellyfish on your face!” Daina went to stop him, but the shifter’s hand was too fast, and he smacked Daina right across the face where her mark was glowing.
At this point, Daina could do nothing but laugh at the absurdity of it all.
The last of the fighting was brought to a close when Prince Mika Rockface herself returned to the main deck with a severed head in her hands, ominously looked to and fro at the assembled sailors and captives, and tossed the head to the ground at her feet. Howls of victory and triumph erupted from the Storm Reaver’s crew.
But on the quarterdeck, where our heroes stood side-by-side, it was silent.
The sun was already low in the sky as the survivors of the Majestic Gryphon were disarmed and escorted to the Storm Reaver’s bilge, where Trucco and Ruskel had found themselves waking up barely over two weeks earlier. Torlan was approached by Riaris Krine, the gunner, and told that, due to his participation in boarding action, he wouldn’t be keel-hauled as was the initial plan for his sentencing. Instead, he was to be given a mere six lashes at Bloody Hour, with the captain’s unspoken thanks.
Cargo transfer began from the captured ship to the Storm Reaver. Back slaps and cheerful whoops were exchanged between the pirates as crates and people were transferred from ship to ship. The process carried late into the evening, when the grog casks were opened to flow freely. Singing and merriment filled all but the lowest, most forlorn decks of the Storm Reaver.
Before the festivities really kicked off, Torlan and Trucco found themselves conspiring amidst the commotion. Torlan wanted to know if Scourge indeed had sent his sycophants to kill him down in the bilge and perhaps make it look like an unfortunate accident. Trucco simply didn’t like Scourge and wanted dirt. Torlan proposed enlisting Conchobhar’s help, as the two of them were now quite conspicuous.
The scurrilous pair found the playboy gnome on the gun deck a couple cups of grog in already, retelling the story of his fight on the Gryphon, perhaps with advantages, though the fresh wound he bore over his forehead looked real enough. Torlan told Conchobhar that he’d cast a spell with his bardic music over some members of the boarding party, Conchobhar included, and maybe he could repay the favor in turn…
“Well?! Out with it then!” snapped Conchobhar, slamming his mug on the table.
Torlan laid it out plainly: he wanted Conchobhar to find out if indeed Scourge had sent forces into the bilge to kill him. Conchobhar laughed at Torlan and said he’s not going to talk to Scourge, because that would be silly. You don’t go to the lion’s den to check its teeth–you talk to the cubs first! Torlan threw up his arms and said he didn’t give a bilge rat’s ass how it gets done; he just needed to know.
Conchobhar assured them he could find out.
Festivities were in full swing across both ships when Ruskel approached Sandara Quinn on the exterior main deck of the Storm Reaver. He expressed his surprise that she wasn’t busier, patching up hurt and all.
Sandara reminded Rus that she’s not officially a medic, though Ruskel countered that she’s helped out a lot in that regard, and that it seemed strange to send someone as valuable as her to a crew over in boarding action. But then he revealed that the real reason he wanted to check up on her. As a fisherman’s daughter, he reckoned this might have been her first encounter with fighting on this scale.
Sandara puffed up, perhaps pridefully. “Lhazaar is a dangerous place! It’s not the first time I’ve seen something like this. …Though, I never imagined myself sailing with pirates.”
“Oh, that’s–that’s good!” Rus replied, unable to mask his surprise at being caught in an assumption. “Piracy is…it’s bad, and people shouldn’t aspire to that life!”
Sandara chuckled. “I’m sure half the Principalities would disagree with your assessment.”
Ruskel felt himself turning pale. He stammered out a line about how, where he is from, that’s uncommon. But with no way to recover his graces from the embarassing exchange, Rus fumbled his farewells and walked on, woefully reminded how the values of these people differed so greatly from the expectations he’d espoused as a Cyran Skyknight.
…And how far from home he truly was.
Trucco somehow found Owlbear amidst the revelry. The massive mountain of a man had been integral in moving the larger cargo from ship to ship. “CAT FRIEND!” Owlbear cried when he saw Trucco, wrapping the shifter up in a hug that lifted him off his feet. The two caught up quickly and traded stories as best they could of their fighting on the Gryphon.
Meanwhile, Daina was feeling the grog go to her cheeks and forehead. Torlan approached her, his beard in his cup, wet. He was three (four? several?) drinks in and his cheeks were already quite rosy. Daina smiled at him, flipping his beard out of the cup.
“Oh, thank you!” the dwarf shouted, musing about the wonder of a nice, wet beard from drink and asking if Daina had ever had that pleasure. Daina pointed out that that isn’t a “problem” humans face, to which Torlan replied that they’ll work on getting some hair on her chin yet!
“…How drunk are you right now?” she wondered.
“I’m a pretty good listener, aren’t I?” Torlan responded, with a slight sway mismatching the rock of the ship that better answered the question.
Oh, the face Daina made, before clapping her godfather on the shoulder and saying, “Let’s have a song, shall we?”
“Oh! Shall I improvise?” Torlan perked up. “I was thinking up something about Stormbeard and the new Sir Wizard!”
“The new Sir Wizard!” Torlan repeated, referring to Ruskel after having seen the skynight’s evocation powers. Though, after Daina’s pensive look, he frowned, “Ah…It still needs some work.”
Torlan and Daina returned to the galley, Torlan launching into a tale instead about an independent Dwarven ship that was constantly giving the slip to the Five Nations and likening it to the freedom and spirit of the Lhazaar peoples.
“Join me in the chorus, Daina, it goes something like this!” Torlan went into it…but the words kept evading him. The song was supposed to be about freedom, but as he recalled it, the tale was about a free ship’s assimilation into the Cyran navy. That wouldn’t do. Torlan had to stop to rethink the lyrics. He emptied his tankard and found another. He started again. He stopped again…no, the lyrics still weren’t right. He drained the next tankard. He tried to go into the chorus, but his spirit was flagging, as was the mood in the room.
…The room which had begun spinning.
Torlan ultimately yielded his consciousness to the table before him.
Daina stepped forward to try to cover for her godfather’s collapse, but it was barely enough to salvage the hour. Whoops and hollers went up all around as Rosie Cusswell took to the clearing that passed for a stage…
It was who knows what hour at this point. Through the scattered cloud cover, the Ring of Siberys was hanging resplendent. 8 moons stood crescent, one full, the rest at least visible, and still a field full of stars twinkled beyond them. Daina found Ruskel towards the bow of the Gryphon, looking out over the ocean. He stood alone, holding an empty cup like it was an obligation to keep it visible lest he get the lash.
“You’re pretty good in a melee,” Daina offered on her approach, so as to not startle him. “Wasn’t expecting that from a flyer. So, cheers!”
Ruskel mentioned that he’d been trained in Close-Quarters Combat as part of his skyknight training.
Daina asked about the Wall of Fire that sprang up next to the Gryphon’s dinghy, which Ruskel confirmed was also him, though he surmised he wouldn’t be able to use that spell again for some time, without elaborating why. That same spell that saved her husband five years earlier had prevented the Gryphon’s sailors from taking the lifeboat and fleeing.
From the same person, no less.
“Why didn’t you let them go?” Daina asked, pointedly. “We didn’t have any quarrel with them.”
The skyknight icily replied. “Captain’s orders. She said stop them from leaving.” He checked his cup. Still empty. “I stopped them from leaving.”
Daina told Rus about how she decidedly wasn’t a Deneith because she refused to blindly follow orders. She knew a lot about people “just following orders”. Sometimes orders were bad, and shouldn’t be followed.
“I saved those people’s lives!” Rus suddenly whirled on Daina. “How’s a dinghy like that going to get away from an operational Cloudreaver ship? No sails, just oar power. Huh? That main cannon would’ve been on them before they got halfway out its range! They woulda been shark food! I did anyone trying to flee a favor!”
The Reaver and the Gryphon, lashed together, rose and fell with the waves, at a pace not unlike breathing. Waves lapped noisily at their hulls. “…You’re right,” Daina finally acquiesced. “I can’t argue with that.”
She reached for more words beneath the moons. “I didn’t come here to scold you,” she reached. Here was a fellow Cyran, another war veteran, standing mere feet from her. And yet at that moment, it seemed Ruskel couldn’t have been farther away. She looked at the bottom of her own empty cup. “Just…it’s been a hell of a day.”
“I’d drink to that, but…” the skyknight drawled, displaying his empty tankard. “You have a good night, Miss Daina.” And then he turned his back to her to stare out at the ocean by himself some more.
“It’s just Daina,” she chuckled, looking back to him from the stairs on her return to the Storm Reaver.
Back on the Cloudreaver flagship, people were getting drunk and sloppy. Trucco had, during his time in the rigging, seen that the Captain’s cabin was right below the poop deck, with an exterior balcony on the stern. While the Captain would already have recorded and stowed the best loot, and thus would notice it missing, maybe there was some juicy information he could get access to! And what better time than now, when all were in their cups and merry?
The shifter clung to the hull of the ship and climbed around the side. He tensed, waiting for the ship to fall off a wave just right, and leapt…landing flawlessly on the balcony! And who would lock a door no one has access to? No one!
He’d just begun to open the balcony door when the other door, the one coming in from the deck, began to open as well! Startled, Trucco pushed himself from the door just as the Storm Reaver sank on the tail end of another swell, and, unbalanced, over the balcony went the shifter, and down he fell into the sea with an unceremonious “bloop!”
Fortunately for him, the two ships weren’t under any sail. It costed him nothing but his own embarrassment to climb back onto the deck of the Storm Reaver.
Clandestine information would have to wait for another night.
The 7th of Olarune passed through morning and afternoon with more celebration. In the evening, Torlan received the promised six lashes at Bloody Hour for the reduced sentence of his triple murder. Afterwards, Conchobhar pulled him aside and said that he suspected–but couldn’t confirm–that Scourge had indeed sent his lackeys down to kill the dwarf. Furthermore, the rumor mill had it that Prince Mika Rockface intended to give Mister Lagraa the captaincy of the Majestic Gryphon, and split the Storm Reaver’s crew…tomorrow morning.
Torlan immediately gathered the other Mourners–Daina, Trucco, and Ruskel. They wondered if they’re going to be split between the ships’ crews, and if so, how would they try to reunite and all get on the same vessel when the ships parted? Daina began to hatch a plan, but Trucco suggested they wait to see what fate offered them. Regardless, everyone seemed committed to staying together.
Torlan and Ruskel turned in early for the night. Daina found Fishguts in the galley. She thanked the cook and said she’d try to leverage what power she had to get him assigned to the Gryphon. Fishguts howled with laughter and told Daina that she overestimated how much power and pull she had. They talked late into the night.
Trucco found Owlbear back in his chained up position in the hold. The shifter had to conspire quietly, for Owlbear was shackled very near the door leading to where the officers gathered. Trucco tried to illustrate with words a plan to the burly but very simple man while he set about picking the locks to the shackles binding him, and to his credit, Owlbear tried his darndest to comprehend it. Trucco explained that, if there’s any commotion or smell of fire, he’s to get off the shift.
“Owlbear!” said Owlbear. It sounded like an affirmation. “Stay here, guard door! If fire, Owlbear fight!”
It would have to do.
The 8th of Olarune began. The Cloudreavers and their newly-press ganged crew were joined by the survivors of the Majestic Gryphon. Conchobhar’s tip had been correct–on the Captain’s orders, Mister Lagraa was being given the Gryphon, with orders to sail to Port Krez. The Storm Reaver had other business, and would reunite with them soon. Master Scourge would join Lagraa as First Mate. While normally shares would be distributed at shore, the extenuating circumstance of splitting the crew to a second ship demanded their being doled out now.
For their securing of the Gryphon’s quarterdeck, two Potions of Health were given to the Mourners, as well as a Potion of Invisibility, which Ruskel took and secured away. Each were doled out 225 galifars after all of their rewards.
Master Scourge stepped forward to name the members of the Majestic Gryphon’s new crew. All four of our heroes are named, as well as a handful of their newfound friends among the Storm Reaver. Fishguts, Owlbear, Conchobar, Sandara Quinn, Aretta, Rosie Cusswell, all included.
They were given ten minutes to get their gear before the ships were to be parted. In the process of moving their gear over to the other ship, Daina met eyes with a sailor from the Gryphon named Unnao, whom she recognized from Port Verge; they both frequented a bar called the Silver Eel.
Mister Lagraa informed Daina that Fishguts would be manning the galley alone; they don’t have enough crew for a cook’s mate. She herself was to join the swabs. Aretta was named Gunner, Patch “Salty” Kolkrinun was named bosun, Slippery Syl was named Quartermaster. Fishguts was to be confined to the galley. Displeased with Mika Rockface’s slacking discipline, Mister Lagraa announced that all crimes were to be punished with the cat-o-nine. All crew would be working double duty due to low crew numbers. Going on the deck at night without express permission would be punished. No grog was to be rationed in the evenings. At all.
Mister Lagraa stood in front of Torlan, but looked to Daina, “And while this is a new ship…murder is still not to be tolerated. To ensure compliance…” she slapped a manacle on Torlan’s wrist and ordered him to walk to the main mast. Torlan felt the shackle shrink around his arm, and a magical compulsion washed over him to walk to the mast.
Magical, he thinks to himself. But how to tell the others?
“You’re going to just leave him chained there all day while we’re shorthanded?” Daina called after them.
Mister Lagraa turned back to Daina, smiling wickedly. “That’ll be three lashes from the cat at Bloody Hour for talking back to the Captain. Now get to work, all of you!”
The ropes binding the two ships were released, and the Majestic Gryphon rocked hard to starboard as her sails unfurled, beginning her journey towards Port Krez…
Behind the Scenes
- Question of the Week: Where is the one place in the world you want to visit before you die? What is the reason for that place? Sharn came up more than once, because of course it did. The Face of Mror was mentioned, and you can guess who might want to go there. Ruskel was the odd one out, with no stomach for tourism–he wants to get back to Metrol. Oh that tragedian!
- We have a saying at our table: Fishing for Critical Failures. And boy did Michael carry that standard this week, where he threw benny after benny at Torlan’s Performance roll during celebrations only to wind up with the dreaded snake eyes! He had a success, you see, but he wanted to get a raise. Sometimes we be like that. Sometimes we think just a success..? Nah! Unfortunately, not only did he drop most of his bennies, but it came with one of the two critical fails of the night, which of course you cannot spend a benny to reroll!
- Remember last week, when Ernesto blew all his bennies joker-fishing, even going so far as to play the adventure card Betrayed! to get even more bennies (at a steep cost), and yet no joker ever came? Well, Phil never shuffled the deck, so Round 1 of the combat carrying over into this session, here comes the joker he’d been hoping for! He turned the joker’s +2 on all trait/damage rolls into a 3-action turn that let Trucco single-handedly wipe out the adds before anyone else had a chance to act! I’ll let you decide whether or not you think it was worth it! But you can’t deny it looked cool.
- Much like the dramatic task to save Giffer Tibbs episodes earlier, though, Ernesto’s luck was all over the place, as it was a Notice roll during Trucco’s sneak action that gave our table the second critical fail of the night. That one wasn’t fished for. Just kinda…hopped up in his lap, like, “Hello!”
- Elly decided to subtly alter the story at the cost of one benny so one of the Gryphon‘s sailors and her had something of a shared connection. Where will she go with this, who knows? Maybe we’ll find out in the next episode!
- Daina’s performance confidence was a result of the Epiphany Adventure Card, granting her a d6 in any skill of her choosing for the remainder of the session. This is something I’ve really been enjoying about Savage Worlds–getting the right adventure card can sometimes shape the direction I take a character, in unique ways that I hadn’t even planned for. It can even have an effect on their attitude in really cool synergistic ways. Remember when Ruskel lied to the Quartermaster about being a worshipper of the Devourer? I would never have attempted that had I not been dealt the Ace! Adventure Card at the start of that session. I’ve noticed that when I get cards with direct mechanical benefits for combat specifically, I’m often “looking” for a fight, or certainly Ruskel wakes up ready for one!