Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago

Part IV - Assassins

A dagger in the dark and an ambush on the sea

The crew decides to rename the Tatterdemalion to the Siren’s Song, and to give her an even coat of paint. They also go to the proper offices on the island to get the ship authenticated and paperwork drawn up to show their ownership, aided by Von Margensburg. The painting takes the rest of the day, and with the ship born anew into something looking quite respectable, they turn in for the night.

Ignatious awakens to see men in dark garb rifling through the crew’s belongings. He gives a shout of warning and punches the intruder nearest to him in the face. In the mad scramble to act, three of the assassins are cut down with their blades still sheathed and one is struck by a spell Niara’s, causing him to burst into uncontrollable laughter. The remaining two assassins strike with poisoned daggers, injuring Wu and Jack.
The battle is over nearly as soon as it’s started, with four of the six dead, one unconscious, and the last surrendering and dropping his blade. Disarming them, Jack recognizes their tattoos and knows that they are assassins in the employ of house Terlago.
Questioning the assassin proves difficult, until Rothlek transforms and threatens to eat the uncooperative assassin. He reveals that they were under orders from Adir, to see if they had any evidence. Evidence of what he will not say. The crew decides to kill the assassins and send their poison back to Adir with a note saying that they know what he is afraid they do and he had best not try anything again.

They begin to set sail immediatly, as the sun rises. As they are working, a well-dressed half-elf with a sinister sort of sleazyness about him walks up their gangplank and asks to speak to them. He says that he is a seller of piracy insurance, and for the low price of 1000 gold every time the ship makes port, he can guarantee that they will not be attacked by pirates. If they don’t, he adds rather nastily, he feels just sure that something bad will happen to them. They ask him about how he can guarantee that and he says the Belit, the Queen of the Coast, is his employer, and she will personally provide secure sailing for anyone who pays her fee. Rothlek and Jack have heard of Belit before, and Von Margensburg fills in the rest of the crew; she is a pirate captain with a well-armed flagship and a small armada at her command. She appeared only recently and has been ruthlessly efficient with her pirating. She has a supernatural ability to have her ship travel great distances in a short time, and is known for attacking three different places, each a week’s travel distant, all on the same day.

Even faced with this, the crew decides to tell the pirate that out of respect for the pirate queen he can leave unharmed but unpaid. He says they will regret this, but leaves none the less.
The crew then sails out before Adir can send more assassins, heading to the larger island of Como for supplies and to drop off Von Margensburg at the Navy Command Center there. He writes them a letter to give to the authorities at Kingsport. It is a recommendation that they receive Letters of Marque, the official license of privateers.

The two-day trip is uneventful, and Como is a bustling market island, with many shops and taverns. The crew unloads it’s Navy friends and begins the process of resupplying and finding new crew. They decide that hiring eight sailors and one navigator is the best course of action.
With the help of Wu and Von Margensburg, they find their crew.
Roza, the female half-orc, rather forcefully insists that she be on their crew, and after quizzing her on her qualifications they can find no reason to refuse. After interviewing for a day, they also hire on Young Thom, Tobias Bridge, Pugcrash Willobottom, Long Jaques, Pardel Rivero and Roche Brower. As they are closing up for the day, a young human woman by the name of Susan also signs up, answering all the interview questions perfectly.

Without a reliable navigator, the crew stays on Como another day. They manage to hire on Redlegs Greaves, an older half-elf with many years of sailing experience, to be their pilot. They almost lose him, however, when Niara mentions that Belit threatened them, but the crew is able to convince him that it probably wasn’t really the notorious pirate but a low-life trying to shake down an inexperienced crew.

Travelling from Como up the coast, the Siren’s Song makes good time toward Kingsport. But on the sixth day of their voyage, the trip is interrupted by a massive trireme appearing by magic from a whirlpool. Redlegs calls out that he recognizes the flag, it’s a ship of Belit’s fleet. As jack shouts that they should have taken the deal, Niara tries to run up a flag of parley. The trireme ignores the parley request and rams the Siren’s Song, it’s iron prow smashing through the hull and badly damaging the ship, Both ships are now locked together, and the crew sees the enemy captain standing on the prow of the ship. It’s a male half-elf, not the Queen of the Coast herself. Niara shouts to him that they don’t have the money, and he replies that he is not interested in that and shoots at her. The bullet only grazes her, but she makes a dramatic show and falls backward into the water, her undine powers healing the shallow wound on contact with the water.
The battle is joined, the crew rushing up the sloped prow of the trireme to battle the pirates. The captain fires reloads his heavy-bore musket as they approach, and a pirate sorcerer steps up to the prow to fire a bolt of acid at Bingo, wounding the halfling a bit. The ship’s first mate calls out inspiring words, helping his fellow pirates to combat the crew.
The battle goes poorly for the pirates, with the enlarged Ignatious carving his way through the pirates with ease. He reaches the bard however, to be met with a spell that makes him believe that the pirate is his closest friend. With the captain and ship’s caster slain, the pirate bard rushes toward the hatches to the below-decks, as the party hears a ferocious bellow.
From the hold appears a hulking, hideous figure, and ogre, swinging a gory cleaver and injuring several of the heroes before he is shot fatally by Jack.

With the pirates on the deck slain, the heroes go cautiously below-decks, to find that the trireme is crewed by slaves. They unchain the poor souls from the oars and discuss what to do.
Exploring the ship, they find in the captains quarters many logs and coded letters that may prove useful. They also discover, to their horror, that there are no food supplies on the ship. The ogre had been using slaves as food for the whole crew.
This also poses a problem for them, as they now have 180 freed slaves and food for only 16. They have a tense discussion and decide that they will return to Como, sharing their food with the slaves at quarter-rations. This gets them back, hungry but not starving.

They are rewarded handsomely for the capture of the trireme, and they decide that some of the money should go to the freed slaves.
Newly rich, the party resupplies and rests, ready to begin their voyage to Kingsport in the morning…
TO BE CONTINUED!

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