Felsmon awakes; it is quiet and dark. But pausing, he wonders, is that noise above, like creaking wood? And why does his head feel like Barrick looks most mornings? Moving to rub his head Felsmon’s arm stops mid-reach, halted by a sturdy length of chain. Sitting up as his eyes adjust to the gloom, he sees that the party is all there, sleeping more closely than ever before. Tugging the chain quickly shows that everyone is chained together, and to the walls. Felsmon’s brief exploration wakes the rest of the group, one by one, each adventurer waking with the same puzzled pained expression.
It does not take the group long to realize they are on a ship, the wooden cell and the rocking motion easily giving it away. Seeing no guards within sight on the other side of the lone-gated wall, they waste no time healing themselves. Tira begins picking the locks of their chains, her own dropping off like she was restrained with silk ties. But before she can undo the rest of the locks a guard appears, striding toward the cell. The guard buys the group’s attempt at feigning unconsciousness and enters the cell. Erik quickly grabs the guard with his legs in a scissor hold and flips the guard down on his back. Before the guard can even get out a shout, Z’alden moves in and easily kills the restrained lackey.
Free from bondage the party begins to search their surroundings. Obviously in the cargo hold of a ship, they find Erik’s pouch of holding, then the rest of their supplies, minus the coin. Erik finds a small secret door in the hull. Wary of being suddenly flooded, a vote of hands decides to open the door. Instead of water, light pours in through the hatch. Peering out they discover they are above land instead of water, and more surprising that they are 200 staff lengths above.
Heading up the ladder, Erik listens, then Barrick peeks above. Other than boots, nothing can be easily discerned on the top deck. Barging upward they find that their prison is not the only air ship around, there is a second ship, on fire, tied to theirs. It does not take long to figure out the situation. The party is trapped on a flying pirate ship, currently in the process of attacking a flying merchant ship. Most of the pirates, living and nonliving, were on the other ship, moving to transfer stolen items back.
Taking quick action, Felsmon runs along the rail line, cutting the grappling ropes as the rest of the party begins the attack of the pirate captors. Felsmon cuts the last grappling rope and the ships begin to lurch independently. Seeing the pirate captain left on the flaming merchant ship the party smiles, their odds of winning the battle improved. But the joy is short lived at best; the captain pulls out a grappling hook with a short piece of rope and throws it over. Magically the rope lengthens and the pirate is able to swing easily back to his ship, the ship on which the adventurers are fighting.
Seeing pirate skeletons trying to return and join the fray, Tira creates a swirl of space, forcing a couple skeletons out over open space, where they fell to their doom, skull jaws silently moving in protest. Erik uses the diversion to teleport aft, grabbing the steering bar. Straining, Erik is able to crash the pirate ship into the merchant ship, killing two pirates in the process. Erik smiles at his ingenuity, but the joy is short lived as the fire from the dying merchant ship jumps and sets the pirate ship aflame.
Despite the slowing magical aura surrounding the pirates, Z’alden wades in closer and attacks, killing two more villainous pirates. Turning to check out his comrades, Z’alden is disheartened to see Barrick attacking Felsmon. Recognizing the domination Z’alden moves to help his friend.
Tira kills the only pirate directly attacking her and tries to head aft to help Erik. But from seemingly out of nowhere, an elemental tentacle lashes out and knocks Tira over. Before Z’alden can render aid, Barrick turns and attacks the hand that would heal him. Expecting it, Z’alden nimbly sidesteps Barrick’s swing; taps Barrick on the shoulder and the glaze dissipates from Barrick’s eyes.
The battle rages back and forth as the fire rages along the port decking. Felsmon grabs the captain only to be bitten in return. The pirate controller is knocked overboard, but invokes a spell and flies easily back on deck. Suddenly the elemental that was ensorcelled into the ship breaks free and attacks the controller. The tide of the battle is turned! Erik gives up trying to control the burning sinking ship and, from behind, delivers a fatal blow to the pirate Captain. The original helmsman is all that is left of the pirates, but he went overboard and flew away before the party could give him a proper fate.
Falling rapidly, the party has a quick choice to make. Felsmon attempts to control the ship, but could only slow its descent a little. Z’alden decides to remain aboard, trying to bring the ship into a controlled tumble, hoping some parts of the magical ship might survive for salvage. The rest of the party dives over the edge of the ship, trusting that Barrick’s new, but untested featherfall enchantment will prove true.
Everyone survives, including Z’alden, but the elemental escapes the bonds that bound it to the ship. Not taking sides, the elemental goes after the party. Barrick somehow manages to jump on and ride a creature made of air, and it was enough. A few well-placed attacks and the elemental perished.
Wondering if they could finally rest, the group surveys the area and the burning wreckage, all sure that if anyone was close, the sight of a flaming falling ship could not be missed. Sure enough, almost immediately, across a nearby lake, boats could be see being launched and heading in their direction. Dusting ash and debris off, yet another decision must be made, hide or confront whomever it is that approaches.
Letter of Marque from King Kaius ir’Wynarn III
To: Captain Ree ir’Wynarn
Commander of the Airship Black Wind
Whereas His Sacred Majesty Kaius III, of Karrnoch, Defender of the Faith, Etc. Hath an Open and Declared War against the Nentir Vale and the Kengi, their Vassals and Subjects. And Forasmuch as you have made Application unto Me for Licence to Arm, Furnish and Equip the said Airship in Warlike manner, against His Majesties said Enemies, I do accordingly Impower and Commisionate you the said Ree ir’Wynarn, to be Captain or Commander of the said Airship Black Wind, Burthen Eighty Tuns or thereabouts: Hereby Authorizing you in and with the said Airship and Company to her belonging, to War, Fight, Take, Kill, Suppress and Destroy, any Pirates, Privateers, or other Subjects and Vassals of the Nentir Vale, or the Kengi, the Declared Enemies of the Crown of Karrnoch; Their Ships, Vessels and Goods, to take and make Prize of.
With this letter I do hereby Request all Lords and Commanders in Chief, of any of His Majesties Territories, to permit him the said Captain or Commander with his said Vessel, Men, and the Prizes that he may have taken, freely and quietly to pass and repass, without giving or suffering him to receive any Trouble or Hindrance, but on the contrary all Succour and Assistance needful. This Commission is to continue in Force for the Space of Six Moons next ensuing (if the War so long last) and not afterwards. Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms at Karrn the Thirteenth Day of the Dragon: The Seventh Year of His said Majesties Reign, 998 YK.
By His Excellencies Command,
Letter from King Kaius ir’Wynarn III to Captain Ree ir’Wynarn
Captain Ree ir’Wynarn
Airship Black Wind
I trust this missive finds you in excellent health and spirits. I have received your reports on the war against the Nentir and the Kengi. All seems well on those fronts.
Continue your raids as you see fit. Spare only the port of Fallcrest. You know the reasons. I write today with several requests. First, my collection of ancient sarcophagi seems sadly lacking. I have heard tell of a most exquisite specimen in the Tomb near the village of Nenlast. You will know of the one I speak. It is rumored to be made of obsidian, with a jade cover. Any other sarcophagi you find would be appreciated. The usual reward, with no questions asked.
Next, my nephew has been stirring up trouble again. Apparently the chains that bind one’s relatives are never strong enough. I hear that Dreadhold is lovely this time of year. Perhaps you could pay my dear nephew a visit, and reaffirm our concern for his well being.
Finally, do try to acquire another group of heroes. You know how I like to experiment, and that last batch did not age well at all. Most disappointing. You might try Fallcrest, as we have not heard from our contact there in quite a while.
I will expect you or your agents back at the Court no latter than two moons from now. Be punctual, as you know how I hate waiting for presents.
Given under my Hand etc. etc. the Seventh Day of the Rogue, 998 YK.