Thursday, December 17, 2015

Beyond the Shore: Session 8

Marvel at the beauty the great sea provides
Unite against the sick power which ensnares us
Teach the evils that we don’t serve darkness 
Indulge in the sweet luxuries we've been deprived
Night is when we strike, then take flight in the morn
Yawn when it’s all over and set sail on our new life

-- Grant Horst

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As the wreckage of the "Promessa de Man" faded into the distance, the remaining crew members of the Red Sadness began to gather on deck, their faces a mixture of shock, confusion, and relief. Thaduk sent his uncle belowdecks to raid the stores of plum wine to celebrate. The Sot soon came up carrying enough cases of wine for everyone on the ship to be double-fisting bottles. Our heroes, meanwhile, began debating which of them would be in charge. Caddis eventually declared himself Captain, naming Rummy as first mate, Thaduk as bosun, and Leopold as sailing master.

As Caddis stepped up to start barking his first orders as Captain, Riaris Krine very politely tapped him on the shoulder and insisted that, as the highest ranking officer aboard, and the most experienced sailor, and the most capable of kicking his ass, if she didn't like him so much, she should probably be captain herself. With some quick tongue-wagging, Caddis convinced Riaris that the Red Sadness should be governed democratically with some nudging from Leopold who quoted the wild theories of Thomas Hobbes and sections of the Magna Carta (at least, those which had not long since been abolished by Emperor Prospero. Caddis said that he would serve as "Interim Captain" to keep the ship running, until such time as arrangements could be made for a fair, closed-ballot election of the new permanent captain and a council of elected representatives for the crew. These promises, however empty, mollified the still charmed Master Gunner--though she made a point of very loudly announcing the promise of elections to the rest of the crew as well.

With that problem out of the way (at least until Caddis' spell wore off and Riaris realized that she had been duped), the new officers crowded around the wheel to discuss where to head next. Henrye butted in asking why, now that they had control of the ship, they would go anywhere but "home". Leopold, expert navigator that he was, pointed out that home was more than five hundred leagues away, and their ship was understaffed. He suggested they head to the nearest major port, the Spanish Port Havannah on the isle of Efate, and hire more crew, though even that was a good 130 leagues away, with the next closest, the penal colony of Brisbane, nearly twice that distance.

Fishguts wandered up, well into his second bottle of plum wine, but not yet completely wasted and gave the new "Captain" a friendly, sweaty hug. "Ah, boy, you done well!" he said, then pointed out that through the portholes by the galley he saw the captain sink into the ocean...which meant that he was definitely coming back, and likely would be very angry with them. Fishguts suggested that they get the Sadness "squibbed"--rechristened and refitted to change its sails and outline and make it harder to recognize. He pointed out that there was a small, hidden port on the island of Nouvelle Calédonie, not twenty leagues distant, where an old friend of his named "Rickety Hake" provided just such services...

The new officers all agreed that Fishgut's plan was the best and Leopold set a course for the hidden cove. Thaduk and Rummy then went down to the captain's cabin to look for loot, figuring that "squibbing" services would not come cheap. Rummy pulled out his picks and went to work on the door, only to report that the lock was "impossible" and there were at least two traps on it. Thaduk shrugged, walked a couple paces to the side, and punched a hole in the wall. A few tugs later and there was a door-sized hole right into the captain's treasure room, where they found several thousand pounds worth of coins, gems, fine plate, and other easily liquidated loot.

Rummy crawled through the hole and took a look at the door that would have lead from the captain's cabin into the storage room. From the inside, he was easily able to disarm the trap that was set on it by removing the five poisoned darts that would have shot at someone opening it, then jimmied the lock open. The cabin was very nicely furnished, but had no weapons nor portable valuables, other than the captain's collection of nautical charts which were spread out on the bed.

Up on the poop deck, Caddis and Leopold discussed what to do with Riaris, since they were running out of time on Caddis' charm spell. Finally Caddis, very politely, asked Riaris to take one of the pairs of manacles from her belt and put them on herself, and that he would do likewise, as a sign to the crew that the officers would not be leading be force and threats. She bought it, passed Caddis a pair of manacles, and cuffed herself, loosely. Caddis did the same. She then took the other two sets down to Thaduk and Rummy. Rummy slipped a pair on Thaduk, again loosely, then managed to get his hands on Riaris' manacles to click them shut. Then...

Rummy grabbed the guns from her belt...and shot her at point-blank range. Thaduk grabbed her by the manacles and hoisted her off the ground. Adriana jumped in, grabbed the unfasted irons off of Thaduk's wrists and clapped them on her ankles. Then Leopold laid a belaying pin along the back of her head, knocking her out cold. Caddis knelt down and implanted a few thoughts in her head, ensuring that when she woke up she would realize that she could not possibly succeed in challenging his captaincy and that she never really liked Captain Herrera and maybe she'd be better off serving as Master Gunner under Caddis.

They had just starting debating where, or how, or whether to lock her up for the time being when a cry of "Ship Ahoy!", came from Caulky Taroon, who had been sulking in the crows nest. The new officers looked around at their crew. With the master gunner unconscious, the Sot passed out drunk, and Caddis unwilling to order his sister into a battle, that left only nine people on the ship, plus the five of them. The other ship was already close enough that they could see its colors, the flag of a slaver of the Dutch West India company...



Given their recent experience with being press-ganged, and the high percentage of orcs in the group, the new officers of the Red Sadness had some oddly progressive ideas regarding slavery. If they could take the ship, they could free the slaves and likely significantly bolster the size of their crew. Leopold spun the wheel with panache and set them on a pursuit course while Thaduk gave a terrifyingly inspirational speech to the small crew, reminding them that no number of slavers could be as dangerous or frightening as him.

Even with as small of a crew as they had, with Leopold at the helm their ship was the faster and they soon gained on the slaver. The target was a small brig, immaculately clean, sporting a fresh coat of paint, and bearing the name "Ginger Belle" in bright gold lettering (oddly in English, despite flying Dutch colors). As they neared, they could see that the other ship had no cannons (not that they could use their own with Riaris out of commission), but did have a full compliment of crew, easily twice their numbers.

Caddis rummaged through the captain's locker and pulled out his collection of flags. Finding a matching Dutch merchant ensign, he went up on deck and suggested that they hail the other ship and pretend to be buying slaves. They ran up the flag and their hail was returned by the captains of the Ginger Belle, two rather flamboyantly dressed girls.

Rummy and Caddis disappeared into the Captain's Quarters, coming back disguised as women themselves. They slowed and pulled alongside the Ginger Belle and a boarding plank was laid along the rails, holding the two ships together so they could talk. The co-captains of the other ship came off as simultaneously heartless with regards to their cargo, and completely ditzy otherwise, classic Carolina-colony belles. They paraded up their merchandise, five dark-skinned orcs, much cleaner and better looking than any orcs our heroes had ever seen, but with nowhere near the musculature they were used to seeing.

A series of questioned asked of the slaves showed that they were reasonably intelligent, but also all mutes. Caddis asked if there were any more they could look at. "No," the blond captain replied, "We only deal in the finest household slaves, no rough workers. Quality not quantity." It soon became clear that the girls were charging a full hundred guineas a head for their slaves, and could easily make more money on these five than on an entire galley packed with the common variety.

Finally getting fed up with the southern pleasantries and talk of human chattel, Caddis changed his disguise to look like Captain Herrera, while Thaduk picked up a barrel and looked threatening and Adriana run up Herrera's pirate flag. The effect was successful, as the Ginger Belle's crew scattered, wetting themselves. The girls however, seemed more or less non-plussed, almost cheerfully offering themselves up as hostages, promising that their father would pay any ransom, and suggesting that it might be fun to be captured by such an infamous pirate.

Captain Caddis might have taken the easy deal, had not one of the girls clearly-not-too-clever guards audibly pointed out that they had the Red Sadness's crew substantially out-numbered. Rummy casually shot the loud-mouth in the kneecap while Adriana pointed out the fine "health-plan", read as, "not killing you", and shares in the plunder they would offer to any of the crewmen who would come over to their ship. Caddis added that they were taking not only the slaves, but the ship as well, and suggested that the crew should kill their own captains.

Another sailor, well armed and heavily armored, stepped up to the girls and asked with a note of irony "Permission to stab you in the back captains?" At which point, of course, blades were drawn and battle was joined. The armored guard leapt the rail and stabbed Caddis, while the red head cut clean through the barrel of one of the pistols Rummy was holding, destroying it. The blond just started...dancing. Luckily the rest of their crew seemed disinclined to engage in melee with such "notorious" pirates.

Rummy and Adriana pulled swords and ganged up on the red-head while Caddis back-peddled, trying to keep the guard at bay with his claws. Leopold struck up an inspirational tune and shouted for reinforcements. Tilly, Sandara, and Henrye rushed to their aid. Henrye rushed a bit too far and toppled right into the water. Tilly started drunkenly pummeling the blond bimbo whose dancing Leopold could barely take his eyes off of.

Another clever twist of the red-head's dagger sent Adriana's greatsword over the edge into the water. Henrye, flailing and barely keeping himself afloat, at least managed to grab the sword before it disappeared to the bottom of the ocean, though the added weight only made it harder for him to swim. Pulling her gunblade, Adriana and Rummy stabbed and shot the girl repeatedly, taking her down, then helped Sandara and Caddis finish off the guard. Then the blond finally went down to dozens of glancing blows and grazing strikes after the seven of them surrounded her.

Adriana jumped across to the other ship and demanded the crew's surrender, which they readily did, then declared herself "Admiral" of the two understaffed ships. Caddis freed the five slaves and ordered Sandara and a couple others of the crew to take two girls below decks, patch them up enough to ensure they wouldn't die, then chain them up in the bilges.

They fished Henrye out. Then they tied the Ginger Belle off so they could tow it to a port for sale (or possible refitting depending on how serious Adriana was about requesting letters of reprisal from her grandfather and running a small fleet of privateers), and set sail for the coast of New Caledonia and "Rickety's Squibs".

They now had a crew, two ships, and some valuable hostages.

Not a bad first day of piracy at all.