The 7th full game session. Dean (Thic Duc), Larry (Michael), Todd (Phil), and new player Jennifer (Garmanarnar).
As we left the party, they were spending the night at the Fish Tail Inn, having sent to Rookroost for reinforcements and rooted out the rest of the enemy forces from the cave system. The town council met them at the inn the next morning, eager to hear their explanation for the death of Ned and Ed, the missing horse and cart, and whatever else had gone wrong. The council also came bearing rewards for the party's work in resolving the mystery of the haunted manor, and requested that the party retrieve the bodies and effects of Ned and Ed, to be returned to their families. (Kriselle's reward will be provided when she returns from Rookroost, where she has been seeking a bulk buyer for silk and brandy).
The party spent the rest of that day attempting to make plans and allowing Michael to commune with his deity. Michael communing was more successful than the making of plans.
The next day, Phil noticed his friend Garmanarnar eating fish stew and grumbling about it. He promptly recruited her for the assault on the pirate ship. Thus augmented, the party left Thic Duc to continue his self-study and returned to the manor, intending to spend the night keeping watch for signals from the ship. The bodies of Ned and Ed, along with the enemy crew, were hauled up to the surface by the road. Ned and Ed (only) were wrapped in silk as a burial shroud, to await transport back to their families.
Phil, Michael, and Garmanarnar stayed overnight at the manor to watch for the ship. The night passed mostly without incident, though around 3am they were awakened by strange scuffling and skittering noises. These were investigated, and determined to be giant ants retrieving the body of the weasel. The party felt that the better part of valor was to leave them to their prize.
In town, Thic Duc greeted the dawn, feeling newly enlightened. He was immediately inspired to act on something that had been nagging him during the previous day spent meditating: recruiting a skinner to part the giant weasel's valuable pelt from the beast. He trudged off towards the manor, muttering about how they say it's safe...
Shortly after that, the reinforcements from Rookroost arrived... in the form of Daphne, driving her Mystery Machine, with Fred in the back. Living and breathing. Also in the cart were Chesty the Marine Sargeant and his two subordinates Will and Tom Stoutly, who introduced themselves with impressive military bravado if somewhat informally. Fred explained that he had been "knocked unconscious" and woke up with the Dunwitch dwarf looking at him and conducting some sort of ceremony.
The rest of the day was spent making plans and ferrying men and ships back and forth between town and manor. The plan turned out to be: signal the ship that everything was normal, and send a rented fishing boat to approach the ship by stealth towards the seaward side, while the ship's landing party presumably investigated matters on shore. This would split the ship's forces and allow them to be defeated in detail.
Michael was sufficiently disconcerted by Fred's return from the dead to use a detect evil spell on the reinforcements. (Chesty and Fred were clean; Daphne and the Stoutlies had an aura of minor, selfish-type evil).
On the trip back to the manor with the rented fishing boat, the party spotted a rowboat pulled up along the shore at a seemingly random point. They returned to investigate it, and found evidence of a campsite for a single person. They surmised that the first mate, Sanbalot, spent the night there after escaping the party at the manor. Seeking to prevent further mischief they took his boat back to the manor, where they argued at length about what to do with it. (Garmanarnar settled the argument by punching a hole in the boat, rendering it significantly less seaworthy if not completely useless).
Michael took the opportunity to perform a burial ceremony for Ned and Ed. Fred assisted.
Finally, the plan was complete. The party bought additional supplies in town (mostly grappling hooks and spikes), noticing that a new weapons dealer had set up shop in the market, and returned to wait for dark and the ship's signal...
... which arrived around 10pm, after full dark. The signaling system they extracted from Larry the Pirate proved correct, and the party rushed from the signal room to their boat in the cove and set off immediately, with the marines handling the rowing and navigation. Before long they were a ways out to sea, with the two half-orcs watching the Sea Ghost via their infravision. They witnessed a boat being lowered from the side. The party chose to approach the mothership slowly and carefully, from the seaward side (just barely), and managed to come up alongside without being spotted.
Thic Duc climbed the side of the ship like a castle wall, and hooked a grapple on the rail for the rest of the party to use before slipping over the rail and into the shadows. The rest of the party followed rapidly, leaving Tom Stoutly the marine in the boat. Daphne was also supposed to stay in the boat -- but when the party looked down to check on her, she had vanished!
It being too late to address the missing Daphne, the rest of the party begin a stealthy approach to positions where they could attack the enemy crew on deck by surprise. The two marines on board, Chesty and Will, took aim with their crossbows. Thic Duc held his javelins at the ready. They attacked simultaneously, surprising the crew of the Sea Ghost. Chesty's shot hit the sailor manning the tiller, knocking him back. Will, however, tripped as he was prepared to fire, and his crossbow bolt impaled his own foot, pinning it to the deck. The other attacks missed.
Rather than reload, Chesty swung into action, charging the sailor on the aft deck and beheading him with a single blow! The rest of the party gathered around the remaining sailor, who begged and pleaded for his life. His pleas fell on half-orc ears, however; Garmanarnar squished his chest with her huge warhammer.
The screaming had alerted the crew, however. Quick thinking from Chesty secured the deck hatch, locking the crew in the hold below for the moment. Thic Duc took a quick peak into the forward chamber on the ship, which turned out to be the crew quarters (both empty and thoroughly filthy), then stood guard over the deck hatch and poked at those trying to open the hatch with his spear.
Towards the rear of the ship, however, one of the officers was demanding to know what the hell was going on. The party tried to lure them outside, which took a lengthy exchange and a threat of plague, but finally succeeded. The man who emerged from his cabin -- barefoot and in robes -- quickly observed the situation.
The ambush the party planned did not go well. Michael tripped and fell flat on his face, nearly kissing the newcomer's feet, who immediately begin casting. The sleep spell affected everyone close to the wizard, which was most of the party. Only Thic Duc, who was hiding behind the mast, Chesty, who was above and behind the wizard and hadn't been seen, and Fred, who was at the back of the group. Chesty attacked from above, giving the wizard a nasty cut but not taking him out of the fight. The wizard responded with a magic missile that stagged him backwards. It was Thic Duc, stepping out from behind the mask to hurl a javelin, who ended the fight by impaling the wizard dead center with the thrown spear.
With the fight mostly over, Garmanarnar moved to assist Will Stoutly with his crossbow-bolt-in-foot problem. She ripped the bolt out of the deck (and his foot) with a single quick pull, and Will screamed again as he fell unconscious. Swiftly, however, Fred moved to his aid, laying his hands on the wound and saying "It was only a trick, Will." The wound healed.
Back at the deck hatch, the sailors were frantically trying to cut the knots holding the hatch closed. Thic Duc moved back to stand guard again, watching as four sailors frantically sought to escape the hold. Suddenly, a shape loomed out of the shadows and slit the throat of one of the sailors! The three remaining redoubled their efforts, and Thic Duc negotiated their surrender, then threw open the hatch to let them out. Two escaped, the other having vanished.
Thic Duc was about ready to close the hatch again when Daphne stolled into the light in the hold below and asked him to hold the door for her. She was covered in blood and holding a knife.
With the sailors subdued on the top deck (though ominous banging noises from below could be heard), the party explored further. They found the galley, galley stores, and two compartments of ship stores. The second door to the rear of the ship was locked, so they were left to explore the room from which the wizard had emerged. Garmanarnar went first, and tried to open the wizard's chest, banging and shaking it. This released a poison gas cloud that filled the room. She failed her save and fell into an unnatural slumber.
Determined to rescue her, Michael prepared to enter the room. He took a deep breath just outside the door, rushed inside... and collapsed, having taken a lungful of gas.
Thic Duc was next, trying to pull his friends out, but he demonstrated forethought and tied a rope around his waist before making the attempt. On his first trip, he was able to drag Garmanarnar out of the room, but on his second trip he collapsed. Chesty hauled him out by the rope, then took out a grappling hook and went fishing for clerics. For now, the gas keeps the room off limits.
So far there is no sign of the ship's boat returning, but the noises from below continue. Something is going on down there. And that is where we leave the party for today...
(To be continued...)