Following the capture of Israna, Content Not Found: monk-rogue and Rend by the Dread Pirate Eliah Stormbrace, Dirkle and Maiara managed to escape Shackleton. They commandeered a worn out, patchy, leaking rowboat that took them just far enough to bring word to the rest of the Stormcatcher‘s crew. Naturally, they were treated with a measure of suspicion and incredulity, but were eventually convinced of the truth behind Dirkle’s tale of kidnap and ransom. They were still wary of the strange, wolfish newcomer was standing in the corner, measuring them all with her lupine eyes.
Alain, concerned about his first mate, decided that immediate action was required and had Rune and Rion plot a “safe” course to the ancient ruins of Varsa Baalim. Unfortunately, Rune was thrown off a little by the realisation that their destination was but a short distance from Calrossie, the original site of Rune’s encounter with Stormbrace and the undead.
The journey, which should have taken approximately 10 days was extended by poor plotting to 5 days. Rune only realised that they were instead a week off course as they were sailing directly into the teeth of a storm, which Rion had not seen coming. Acting quickly, they managed to get the ship turned around in an attempt to outrun the storm, but lost two crewmen ( Redshirts) while doing so. Maiara’s unusual control of the winds and Rion’s prior experience with motivating a crew managed to win out, and they soon left the storm behind them. After following a new course, avoiding a strange ship with a black flag, the Stormcatcher finally pulled into Baalim Bay one month after setting out. The crew lost some morale, but the addition of a skilled ship’s cook had maintained everyone’s spirits.
During the intervening time, everyone on the ship had plenty of opportunities to interact. Owing to their common friend (Aramond) Rune and Nymira became fast friends, much to the chagrin of Desini. Also during this time, there were two more deaths on the ship: one had overdosed on herbs prescribed by Nymira to an entirely different crew member, and one from apparent suicide, explained by a note he left in his bunk. The death tally is now 4.
All of these deaths could actually be laid at the feet of the Gehennas onboard the ship, who have a powerful need to cause death, motivated by the small print on their blood oath with Mephistopheles. Desini, cutting through the social intrigue on the ship like a polite shark through a swimming pool, had manipulated three of these crewmen into providing the deaths she so needed, and expertly covered her tracks. Rune, on the other hand had accidentally caused the death of only one by not securing a safety line and has recently started exsanguination (unpleasant bleeding from orifices), despite his belief that he was still protected from the negative aspects of his blood curse.
Captain Al, always the people person, attempted to assuage the fears of the crew with a rousing speech. Misjudging their temperament spectacularly, he instead caused widespread discontent and did irreparable damage to their morale.
Sullenly bringing the ship into the bay, the crew were greeted with a vast volcanic island, wrapped in thick tropical growth, studded with the exterior ruins of a once grand complex and surrounded by colonies of Skinwings and Chuul who had made the upper caldera and shoals their home respectively. The crew was part way through regaling each other with tales of Kelleron, the Goliath Ranger who flew his tamed skinwing in an aerial battle with a dragon when they noticed a strange hut standing on stilts in the bay, constructed out of a wrecked ship and the site of a desperate plight of an elderly man who was beset on all sides by Demons.
Throwing their arms into the air at the old man’s plight, the crew went below decks to discuss their next move, while the demons also threw the old man’s arms into the air (followed by several other body parts). Dirkle, who had surreptitiously managed to plant a homing device on Israna, declared that they had 2-3 days before Stormbrace arrived with an expectation that they would trade the Sword of Tyr with him in exchange for their compatriots.
After much arguing, the party settled on an away team of Alain, Rune, Rion and Maiara; leaving Nymira in charge. Impressed by her friendly and helpful personality, Al put Desini in co-charge of the ship while they were away. Rune is happy with this arrangement because he remembered that it was his birthday, so he is now expecting a surprise party.
After deciding to try the front door first or otherwise seek ingress through the underwater caves, the crew of the Stormcatcher settle down for the night, in preparation for the exploratory expedition tomorrow.