I wrote this rather detailed summary before I had given the question of what format I wanted to use much thought. I decided to leave it like it is. Future summaries of sessions will not be nearly as intricate as this one.
Once, humanity ruled the world. Lead by the legendary Sorcerer-King Hurumar, the then-young species united under a single banner to drive the ancient races out of their homelands, as they laid claim to the continent that would henceforth be known as Hurumar.
After ages of Human dominion, the Sorceror-King’s bloodline thinned and His empire fell into decline. The diaspora of the older races returned to what were once their homelands to re-establish the ancient order as it was before the rise of humanity. Whole stretches of the once great empire were reclaimed by nature; entire cities swallowed by jungle, overgrown with vines, or buried in sand or snow. Only a small fringe kingdom now remains, a mocking reminder of an age long gone, a glory lost.
Now the wheels of fortune spin once again as the new status quo is still in flux. In the west, smaller kingdoms are expanding as they lay claim to more and more land; to the west, the New Wilderness continues to encroach on civilization, swallowing roads and cities whole.
It is precisely this chaos that attracts adventurers of every ilk from across the world. Whether it be for fame, fortune or some other, personal reason, exceptional people are drawn to conflict like moths to the flame, and one particularly crafty dragonborn by the name of Whitehorn has made his fortune hoarding these people, uniting them under the banner of a mercenary company named after himself.
Four such exceptional people are on their way to the continent of adventure, having applied to the position of independent operative. A rickety caravel carries them across the Kragsfel Sea to Kragsport, where Whitehorn awaits their arrival. The journey will prove to be quite eventful in and of itself.
Meet Little Ice and Ingvar Sunbrooke, two best friends from frozen lands. Little Ice is a small snow tabaxi, with all white fur but for a little black spot by his eye. Energetic and cheerful, this curious kitty always carries a tome with him and spends hours reading (or pretending to) when he’s not getting into trouble. His pal Ingvar is an imposing human from a clan of vikings who never seems to to take off his well-polished armor. This cleric of a frigid war god has an extreme distaste for filth.
These two enterprising fellows decided to work for their cross, foregoing the luxury of a cabin with a bed to work on deck instead, sleeping with the crew in hammocks. Little Ice’s nimbleness makes him a natural climber; Ingvar’s keen animosity to filth makes him a most meticulous deckswabber.
One other chap who works for his cross is Benjamin Dawnsurge, a hulking aasimar with a sunny disposition who has a fondness for telling tall tales. His strength certainly comes in handy pulling various ropes and weighing the heavy anchor.
The final of the four bonded by fate is one Seamus macArdan, a mysterious, barefooted, bearded human in fine robes, wielding a wooden staff. Fond of comfort, he has bought a passenger’s ticket and enjoys the luxury of a cabin with an actual bed. He spends his ample free time peering into the ocean and meditating.
These four are our actors; the ship, the stage. What will our greenhorned sailors encounter on the unruly Kragsfel Sea?
The first time the whole crew and all her passengers are together is during the first night’s meal. The dining cabin is horribly cramped; the table only has enough seats for the captain, the first mate and the paying passengers; the crew has to eat standing. The food itself is a gray, undefinable goop that smells like it has already been eaten once and hurled up by a dog. A rabid dog. With pneumonia.
Before anyone can dig in, the captain – a nasty-looking, busty half-orc woman with an eye-patch – raises her glass and taps it with her hook, calling everyone’s attention.
“Allrrrright, welcome aboard tha Maiden’s Virtue,” the captain says, stressing every r. “Me name be Babette Riptide, and I be yer captain for this ‘ere voyage. I hope yer enjoying tha free supper tha’ was included in tha prize of yer tickets?”
Hearing this, a plump, middle-aged halfling woman picks up her spoon to stuff some gruel in her mouth. She coughs; her eyes tear up; but still, she manage to squeeze out a polite “Aye, a lovely meal, thank ye cap’n”.
Captain Babette flashes a gap-toothed grin. “Glad ta hear it. Now, it not be all dinner parties aboard tha Maiden. Thar be rules, and I tend ta enforce them. Strictly. Rule number one: On this ‘ere boat, me word be law. There be no higher authority than yer cap’n. Forget about yer kings or gods; ye listen ta me now. Rule number two: No one sneaks around at night; ye stay in yer cabin and ye especially don’t wander around tha upper deck. Ye don’t want tha sea harpies to get ye. Tha’ be all. Any questions?”
The cabin turns silent. The sailors know better than to ask questions and most passengers seem to have picked up on this vibe, except for Little Ice, who brazenly raises his paw.
“What are Sea Harpies?”
Truth be told, no one apart from the crew had ever heard about Sea Harpies before, either, but they weren’t stupid enough to ask. Babette narrows her one eye – the other being covered by an eye-patch – and approaches the feline. “Ye don’t want ta know, lad,” she says threateningly, “all ye need to know is that, if one spots ye on me deck, they’ll be swoopin’ ye up fer snacks.”
“Aye,” a sailor says, “it happened to me cousin once.”
“Sea harpies,” says another distantly. “The scourge of the salts.”
“Ye all have yer orders,” the captain says, “Off with ye.”
Benjamin Dawnsurge has the first night-shift. He sentries with conviction, keeping his eyes at the sky, looking for the aforementioned sea harpies. If any show up, they’d have to content with his broadsword. Good luck picking this hulking bulk of armor up and carrying it off to your nest. Ha!
He tries to converse with the captain, who is behind the wheel, but the salt-grizzled half-orc keeps a silent vigil. “Sea harpies,” is the only thing she’ll say.
Below-deck, Seamus macArdan discovers that he is sharing his cabin with an impeccably dressed sailor. Unlike most salty lubbers on deck, this half-elf charmer has a sailor’s uniform with not a single blemish on it .The shanty singer spends the evening playing the accordion; and. rather than to ask his neighbor to pipe down so he can get some shut-eye, Seamus instead joins the jam, whipping out a wooden flute.
Before long there is a knock on the door. The halfling woman from before enters the cabin. Seamus figures she must be over a hundreds years old, well into adulthood for a halfling. She wears her graying hazel hair in a neat bun and is adorned in a modest, yet tasteful dress. Two younger halflings accompany her: A surly fellow with black bangs covering one of his eyes, and a chipper fair-headed maiden of about the same age.
“I don’t want to be a bother,” says the older halfling, “but do you think you could keep it down just a notch? We’re trying to sleep.”
Seamus approaches the woman and smiles. “Now, what is this? I thought you halflings were renowned for your revelry. I have never known one to pass up on a party. Come! Let us be merry! The night is still young.”
The older halfling woman fumbled with her dress for a moment. “Oh, I dunno…Well, I suppose…? Jade, m’boy! Fetch the elven wine!”
“It’s Jaden, mom,” scoffs the surly son, “gosh. Jade is a girl’s name.”
The sound or revelry resounds throughout the whole boat; it’s only a small caravel, so when anyone gets loud, everyone hears it. The sailors, many of whom had already been already drinking, stumble out of their hammocks and swagger their way over to where the party is, inviting Little Ice and Ingvar, who had been failing to fall asleep, to come with them. The tabaxi seems eager, but his human friend has a more cautious nature. The cat goes alone.
Benjamin Dawnsurge, however, is still on deck, and to get to the festivities, which are being held in the passenger’s quarters below-decks, the partying party will have to sneak past him. The aasimar is ever vigilant about enforcing the rules; when the captain says nobody is supposed to be sneaking around at night, you can bet your kaboose that nobody will be sneaking around; at least, not on his watch.
Many a drunken sailor is stopped and shoved back in their cabin by Benjamin, but ultimately some escape his grasp, including the stealthy white cat. Dawnsurge wants to warn the captain of this insurgence, but when he looks up he sees that Babette has vanished; at her wheel stands the first mate, the black-bearded Ironbrow. The dwarf spots the rowdy sailors swaggering onward, smiles, shakes his head and lets them have their party. Seeing this, Benjamin holds his position, not bothering to give chase now that the party-goers had the blessing of the first mate.
By the time Little Ice arrives the party in Seamus’ cabin has spread out to encompass pretty much all of the lower deck. Sailors are guzzling foul-smelling brew while the halfling woman shares her fine elven wine with Seamus. She introduced herself as Lily Petaltoes, a cook traveling with her son, Jade, and his fiancé, Hannah.
“I am looking to open my own restaurant in Kragsport, you see,” Lily tells her drinking buddy, “the boys should have already finished building it by now.”
“As a restaurateur by trade,” replies Seamus, “what is your professional opinion on this tonight’s supper?”
Lily does her best to maintain her polite smile, but can’t suppress a visible cringe. “I’d call it…hearty.”
“Come on now, no need to be humble. I bet you could do much better. Why don’t you take over cooking for this journey, for the sake of all of us?”
“O, no, I wouldn’t want to impose…”
“Nonsense! Everybody will be better for it. Let’s have a chat with the chef tomorrow.”
“Alright then! Yes! Why not!”
Meanwhile, Little Ice, who had been failing to sing along with some obscure verse of What shall we do with the drunken sailor, has gotten into a heated argument.
“I’m telling ye, there be only twenty-two verses!”
“Nonsense! Me pappy taught me at least thirty-six! Are ye callin’ me pappy a liar?!”
“Fellows, fellows!” Little Ice intervenes, “Can’t we come to some compromise? How about…” Little Ice tries to do some quick math, and comes to: “Twenty-eight?”
“Blasphemy! There be only three true verses!” spits a rather stern purist. “Any more than that is apocryphal!”
“Come now, don’t be unreasonable,” says Little Ice, “these guys-”
“THAR. BE. ONLY. THREE,” bellows the pirate as he socks Little Ice in the face. His knuckles connect, finding their way to the poor feline’s cheek, sending him flying. Little Ice lands on his feet, curves his back and hisses. He lunges towards the sailor with claws drawn, but the drunken brawler dodges with a simple sidestep. The sailor takes another swig from his drink, stumbles towards his opponent and smashes the bottle on the tabaxi’s head, dousing his fur in spirits and glass.
The sailors, who have little respect for the lowly landlubbers whose inexperience they have to tolerate above deck, gather around the two combatants to cheer their guy on. Here, below-deck, the true pecking order could be established, by way of cracking knuckle and broken bottle.
Seamus, however, doesn’t feel like fighting – he feels like partying and a brawl is not his idea of a good time, especially not in his cabin. “Fellows!” he says, calling their attention, “If you must fight, do so outside – do not frighten the civilians with your battle.”
“Aye, take it outside!” yells one of the sailors as they start herding the duelists outside into the hallway were there was more space.
Little Ice, his pristine white fur now stained red, snarls as soon as his adversary turns his back on him. Calling on some eldritch power, he hurls a bolt of blue magical energy at the sailor; it hits him square in the shoulders, sending him tumbling forwards. As soon as he regains his balance, the sailor curses and charges at the tabaxi, knocking him out cold with a swift blow to the temple.
The triumphant sailor gives the unconscious cat one last kick for luck and turns his eldritch-marred face to the crowd, reveling in their cheers. Benjamin, who had been listening to the festivities below him escalate, finally decides that enough is enough and stomps his way downstairs. Upon seeing the kitty out cold, he calls upon his deity to spare the young one from dying and boldly steps in front of him, planting his broadsword into the ground. “That’s enough! This one is finished; and so are you. You are up way past your curfew – return to your cabins this instant!”
Although the aasimar’s voice is powerful, it does not manage to stifle the jeering crowd. These sailors do not accept Benjamin’s authority. Who does this landlubber think he is, ordering them around on their own ship, especially after this show of dominance?
Meanwhile, Ingvar, who had heard the unmistakable yelp of his cornered friend, had rushed to the lower deck right behind Benjamin. Although the blood grosses him out, he swoops down and heals his reckless friend as he has done so many times before. As soon the tabaxi comes to, Ingvar scratches his pal behind the ear in a familiar gesture. Though Little Ice often finds this humiliating, this time he welcomes it, letting out a careful purr. These two need no words to come to an understanding.
Riled up by the fighting, the sailors start bumping into each other, looking for a fight. The grog and the blood-lust mix together to form a concoction that easily reaches a boiling point. An all-out brawl seems inevitable, when captain Babette suddenly appears from below deck.
“What in tha Seven Hells be goin’ on ‘ere?! Back to yer cabins, ye scurvy dogs! A dozen lashes fer tha’ scoundrel that I see scurrying around ‘ere one minute from now! Tha’ goes for ye passengers as well! Back ta yer rooms!”
Aboard the Maiden’s Virtue, the captain’s word is absolute. The guilty sailors and passengers scurry back to their holes; Benjamin, too, turns to resume his post, but is arrested by Babbin.
“You. Who stared ta fight?”
“I did not see who started it, captain,” confesses Benjamin truthfully.
“Aye, aye; tha’s fair, but who were fightin’?”
“I do not know your crew well, captain, so I could no see which sailor was fighting, but I did see who he was fighting with: The tabaxi.”
“The cat, aye? Very well; resume yer post. Off with ye.”
The rest of the night is spent in solemn silence, with only the rummaging of rats and rolling of waves disturbing the quiet.
The second day dawns. Hungover sailors return to their work, as the sharp-dressed accordionist continues his routine above-deck. While Benjamin is allowed to sleep off his night-shift, the Captain has new orders for Little Ice and Ingvar. Little Ice is to man the Crow’s Nest., without food or drink, as punishment for his unruly brawling the night before; Ingvar is sent to the kitchens to help with the dishes.
Already bummed that he was split from his buddy, a sullen Ingvar moseys to the kitchens. He’s not looking forward to scrubbing yesterday’s pots, especially not knowing what was in them. He could only imagine the state the kitchen must be in.
His imagination is proven wanting as soon as he opens the door. A foul stench attacks his senses, penetrating his nose immediately, stinging his eyes and churning his stomach. He shuts the door, instantly, sealing the wicked odors in their prison. He is never getting back in there. Damn the dishes! He would just have to brave the captain’s ire.
Captain Babbette, however, is surprisingly mild. She smiles cunningly and holds up her one hand. “Aye, I understand – that’d be two gold pieces, lad.”
The full price of a ticket. That wily sea-fox! Ingvar reaches into his pouch and throws the gold pieces on the floor and storms off. At least he wouldn’t have to work for the rest of his journey.
The same couldn’t be said of Little Ice, Making his way to the top of the crow’s nest, he sees the barrelman he is supposed to relieve: A snoozing aarakocra with colorful feathers and a short, hooked beak. The whole barrel reeks of alcohol; there are empty bottles scattered all across the nest.
Little Ice awakens the roosting bird with a gentle nudge. The parrot-man wakes up with a shrill shriek, crying: “Squawk! Land ahoy! Weigh anchor! Abandon ship! Squawk!”
“Easy there, friend!” hushes Little Ice. “I’m here to relieve you.”
“Squawk? Whuzzah? You want a d-drink s-sonny boy?”
The barrelman hiccups and puts one wing around Little Ice’s shoulder, offering him his empty bottle.
“No thanks,” says Little Ice, thinking quickly. “You want to play a game?”
“Squawk! Sure! Polly loves games!”
“…your name is Polly?”
Polly shrugs. “Not really, but that’s what everyone keeps calling me.”
“Well, Polly, let’s play a game – let’s be absolutely quiet until either one of us sees something interesting, alright?”
“Squawk! You got it, chief!”
Polly resumes his vigil with conviction, while Little Ice takes out his book to read.
After having to have had to endure yet another disgusting meal, Seamus and Lily decide that they cannot afford to delay any further; they must intervene, now, before any other meals can be served from that hellish place. Shortly after Ingvar had visited the kitchens, the two defenders of good taste barge in, demanding to the speak to the chef. What they saw nearly caused poor miss Petaltoes to faint.
The kitchen is a war-zone. Nobody bothered to properly fasten anything, which means that the slightest sway of the boat sends the ingredients and spices flying; leaving smudges, stains, puddles, heaps and many more identifiable smears all over the floor and walls. Sharp cutlery is left unattended, ready to ambush the unsuspecting; there is still a pot left on the lit stove, its liquid long having since evaporated, leaving only a charred bottom. Lily tries to suppress a sob. It’s all too much.
The suspected culprit – the ship’s cook – is a fat, unruly pig-man whose girth is just barely contained by a way too tightly wound apron. He’s asleep.
Seamus carefully approaches the creature and pokes him with his staff. The chef awakens, his snout snorting fiercely. “Whuzzah? Where am I?”
“You’re in the…kitchen, if you want to call it that,” says Seamus.
“Oh. Right – snort – the caboose. I’m the cook.”
“About that…would you mind not being the cook?”
“Let me introduce you to my friend, Lily Petaltoes. She is a restaurateur. She would like to assume your post for the remainder of this voyage.”
“She’s not hogging me pay,” squeels the hog-chef, rising from his slumber. “I need me pay. Who’re you to barge in ‘ere and take me job?”
“O, I don’t need the money,” Lily is quick to add, “I’ll do it for free. Gladly!”
“…will I still get payed?”
“We’ll see to that,” says Seamus. “now, be a good man and be on your merry way.”
“Hah! Whatever, suckers – free gold!”
The chef exits, leaving Seamus and Lily to deal with the culinary armageddon inside.
“I’ll see what I can salvage,” says Lily, surveying the wasteland, “but odds are I’ll have to use me own ingredients. Most of this has spoiled. We’ll have to clean up first.”
“I will leave you to it, then,” says a satisfied Seamus.
An uneventful day turns into an uneventful night. Lily, her son and his fiance have worked tirelessly to clean up the kitchen and cook up a decent supper and the results show. The whole crew – sans Little Ice, who is still stuck in the crow’s nest – is treated to a feast worthy of a halfling wedding. Gone is the uninspired gray goop; the well-polished dishes are now laden with the juiciest chicken any of the passengers have ever tasted, garnished with fresh herbs and supported with colorful vegetables and fruits. Spirits are lifted, stubborn hangovers miraculous cured and it is decided that Lily Petaltoes remain the ships chef for the rest of the voyage.
Back in the crow’s nest, a hungry kitty, now left alone while his parrot friend feasts on delicious meat, scans the horizon. With his extra pair of eyes gone he can no longer allow himself time to read, although he wasn’t getting most of it, anyway. Luckily, his feline peepers allow him to peer sharply even in the darkest of nights. He thinks sees far-off shapes swimming in the distance, but thinks nothing of it. Probably just dolphins.
Luckily, Little Ice does not have to starve, as his pal Ingvar sneaks up some supper. They spend most of the night up there together, chatting.
After enjoying an exquisite dinner, Seamus asks permission from the captain to spent the night above deck, under the stars. The sly racketeer agrees, scheduling him in for a night-shift, leaving him and her first-mate to tend the deck. Seamus doesn’t mind. He enjoys the gentle twinkle of the stars overhead, the gentle breeze in his hair and the waves crashing against the bow.
Yet, as he stares into the dark waters and opens his heart to the elements, he is filled with a sense of unease not his own. The waters are restless; the currents too strong for this usually tame sea. He swears he can see what looks like a dolphin underneath the surface – which is not strange in and of itself, if not for the fact that this shape freezes and swiftly swims the other way as soon as Seamus spots it. Dolphins are not known to be shy creatures; they have playful spirits and are more likely to approach a human than to swim away when one makes eye contact. Troubling, indeed, but not worth bothering to the first mate with.
After a few hours, Ingvar leaves his friend to his duties and goes to sleep. Seamus, too, after asking the first mate’s leave, goes below deck, getting relieved by one of the sailors. The sun rises in the east, as the boat continues sailing north, towards Kragsport.
Once again, Captain Babette is absent from breakfast and is nowhere to be seen. First Mate Ironbrow eats his food on deck, as he is yet to leave his post at the wheel. Lily’s cooking is once again exquisite, with the omelets in particular being popular among the sailors. No one on board had ever tastes eggs quite like these.
The sailors resume their posts, with Little Ice once again manning the crow’s nest and Benjamin minding the deck. Ingvar joins his friend up in the barrel and the two spy around to see if they can find the dark shapes Little Ice had mentioned seeing earlier, but they appear to have gone. The waters are quiet and empty. A little too quiet, perhaps; there is not even the sound of gulls screeching overhead; only the gentle rolling of the waves and creaking of the masts.
Supper is another feast courtesy of the gourmet chef Petaltoes. At the dinner table, sailors are starting to openly wonder where their captain is; she hasn’t been seen for almost a day now, which is quite the accomplishment on such a small ship. Since she and first mate Ironbrow are the only ones that can steer the ship, the hard-working dwarf has been putting in over-hours. Little Ice is starting to get worried. Ironbrow ensures the tabaxi that it’s OK, though; he’s got some special juice that keeps him going. He snaps open a leather case and takes out a small vial of bubbly red liquid. As soon as he downs the drink he visibly perks up.
“You want some, lad?”
Little Ice, ever the curious cat, is delighted to try something new. He takes the vial and drinks the shot in one sip. The potion is impossibly sweet and seems to bubble with energy; Little Ice feels instantly refreshed and ready to run a marathon. He loves the taste.
“Flamel Energy; keeps you going.” says Ironbrow.
And going, and going; with an abundance of energy and no outlet, Little Ice can’t sit still, let alone close his eyes and sleep. Even during the middle of the night, when the whole ship is vast asleep, Little Ice is still awake, rocking his hammock back and forth like a swing. His insomnia has his keen senses attuned to every single sound the ship makes, as he is forced to listen to it for hours; and when, sometime past midnight, he hears a faint singing below-deck, he instantly latches onto it. This is no sailor’s shanty; the singer is an obvious soprano, singing a thin, almost eerie sound. He leaps up and shakes Ingvar awake. At first, Ingvar doesn’t hear the music and is cranky at his friend for waking him for no reason; but when he concentrates, he too picks up on the singing. Begrudgingly, he agrees to sneak out – again – to investigate.
They encounter no opposition. First Mate Ironbrow – still behind the wheel – sees them, but pretends not to and lets them sneak off as they please. Their pursuit of the singing leads them all the way to the lowest deck, where one of the locked doors – the one leading to the precious cargo – has been left ajar. The singing is coming from just around the corner.
Little Ice and Ingvar quietly approach the open door and peek around. Instantly, they see the singer: A beautiful, red-headed mermaid in an over-sized fishbowl. Not only did they find the mysterious singer, but the missing captain, too: Babette is lying asleep on the floor.
As soon as the mermaid spots the newcomers, she starts to gesture for them to leave, pointing to the way they came from and urgently miming they close the door on their way out.
Little Ice mouths “Are you alright? Do you need help?” to which the mermaid answers with a hurried nod. Little Ice and Ingvar are hesitant, as they have no idea what’s going on, but ultimately decide to comply. As the door closes, the sound is completely muted.
Not sure what it is they saw, they head back to their hammocks. They decide to bring it up with Ironbrow first thing in the morning.
The fourth day dawns, seeming much like the third; First Mate Ironbrow is still behind the wheel, looking more fatigued than ever, and Captain Babette remains nowhere to be seen. When Little Ice and Ingvar bring up what they saw last night, Ironbrow instantly hushes them.
“You didn’t see anything,” he urges, “you understand?”
“Not a thing. I’m sorry, lad…just – get back to your post.”
Begrudgingly, Little Ice climbs back up the crow’s nest, accompanied by Ingvar. And it’s a good thing that he did; parrot-man Polly was still asleep and so did not see the large figure drawing closer behind the stern. There was no mistaking it – it was a ship, with sails furled, going much faster than their own. The shapes Little Ice had seen in the water earlier surrounded it, swimming in formation. The ship was flying a mermaid flag.
Little Ice shouts to the first mate, who immediately pops below-deck to fetch the captain. Moments later, Babette finally shows herself for the first time in two days, rallying her men: “Look alive, ye scurvy dogs! All hands on deck!”
Everyone aboard the Maiden’s Virtue gathers: Lily Petaltoes with her son and his fiance; the impeccably dressed accordionist; the pig-cook and his dish-washer; Polly the parrot-man; Captain Babette and her first mate Ironbrow; Little Ice and Ingvar, Benjamin Dawnsurge and Seamus macArdan; they all watch the other ship draw closer. They can see the figure-head now: A menacing mermaid with its saber drawn, pointed right at them.
“Alrrright, I want ev’ry able-bodied fighter above tha deck,” shouts Babette. “The rest of ye, scurry down below and lock yer rooms. We’re about ta sail righ’ through some rough waters.”
The civilian passengers hurry below-deck, while Little Ice, Ingvar, Benjamin and Seamus stay with the crew. They move to the stern to watch the other ship draw closer. When it has nearly caught up to the Maiden, they see that what they thought had been the ship’s figurehead is actually its captain: A live merwoman, a vicious creature with scaled skin even above the waist and jagged, shark-like teeth, who shouts orders to the crew working behind her.
As the ships pass, the captains make eye-contact; Babette glares at the merwoman and the savage sea-creature returns the glare with equal if not greater hatred. Both captains yell: “Drop anchor!” and the ships halt next to one another. Everyone goes quiet as the mermaid pirates drop a plank to connect the two ships. A representative of the merwoman captain, a young half-elf woman, steps forward. Babette faces her.
“What do ye rotten pirates want?” says Babette, “Yer captain should know better than ta bother me.”
“Enough is enough, Babette,” says the half-elf pirate, “The jig is up. The Captain wants her daughter back.”
Little Ice and Ingvar make eye-contact. A merwoman’s daughter? A mermaid? Perhaps the one locked up in a fishbowl below-deck? The two friends sneak off unnoticed, and hurry below-decks to fetch the red-haided mermaid.
“First of all, tell yer Bitch of a captain that if she wants te speak ta me, she can do so ‘erself,” says a scornful Babette, “Second of all, tha only way she be gettin’ ‘er daughter back be in pieces. Tha’ can be arranged.”
“Enough with your bluffing,” scoffs the opposing negotiator, “Meredith can breathe underwater. Last time I checked, you and your crew can’t.”
“Aye? Ye goin’ ta risk hittin’ ‘er with yer little cannons, then?” taunts Babette, “Let’s see ye try.”
She turns to her crew. “Men! Man the cannons!”
“Aye aye, cap’n!”
“You’re making a big mistake, Babette” says the half-elf, “you’re out-manned and outgunned. We’ve got merfolk and we’re in open waters. You can’t win.”
“Well see aboot tha’” says a confident Babette as she smashes the boarding plank. “Weigh anchor! Ironbrow, hard ta starboard!”
“Aye aye, captain!”
Meanwhile, Little Ice and Ingvar arrive at the locked door in the lowest deck. It doesn’t budge, but that’s nothing a good shove from a viking won’t fix. Ingvar pushes the door off its hinges as the two barge in. The mermaid is still in her fishbowl as she looks at the two familiar intruders with fright in her eyes.
“You shouldn’t be in here! What if the captain sees you?”
“Forget about the captain,” says Little Ice, “it seems your mother has come to pick you up.”
“My mother? O no, that’s bad – you have to take me to the upper-deck right away! There’s no telling what she’ll do.”
Little Ice hesitates. “Well, she is asking for you. Do you want to go with her?”
The mermaid looks away and doesn’t respond. “Please, I have to get to the upper-deck right away.”
Unsure of her motives, but seeing no reason to deny her request, Little Ice and Ingvar help the mermaid out of her bowl and up the steps to the upper deck.
As the Maiden’s Virtue slowly starts to pull away from the pirate ship, the merwoman captain slithers from the bow to the starboard side and leaps like a dolphin onto her opponent’s deck. She yells to her crew: “No one else board.”
“Tha’ cockiness is wha’ I hate aboot ye,” says Babette, unsheathing her saber. “Among other things. Boys, light ‘er up! Fire at will!”
The two captains begin their duel. Steel clashes against steel as the rattling of sabers sends sparks flying. They appear evenly matched, neither able to gain an upper-hand over the other.
Heeding the command from their captain, the Maiden‘s sailors fire her canons. One cannonball zooms across the opponent’s ship. The other shot stutters as a nervous sailor sets off the gunpowder prematurely, blowing up the canon and taking a big chunk of the hull with it.
Seamus mcArdan, who had been watching these events unfold from a safe distance, calmly strides port side and calls upon the spirits of the ocean to delay the opposing ship. Heeding the call of its druid, the seas respond by sending up snaking kelp to snatch her anchor is it is being weighed, but its reach falls just short. Seamus sends the emerald snake to swim towards the rudder instead and successfully clutters it up, rendering the ship unable to adjust her course. They have no choice but to sail straight ahead while the Maiden pulls away starboard side.
Benjamin, after having helped weigh the anchor, approaches the two fighting captain but stays his blade, as he does not deem it appropriate to intervene in a duel between what appear to be rivals. Intervention, as it turns out, comes from below as Little Ice and Ingvar rush up with the mermaid. As soon as Babette spots her, she screams: “Ye bloody idiots! Get ‘er back down! What do ye think yer doin’?!”
“Meredith!” yells the merwoman captain, “Get over here this instant! We’re leaving.”
Meredith hesitates, but ultimately slithers towards her mother. Captain Babette tries to snatch her, but is stopped by Benjamin.
“Now, captain, don’t you think it’s about time you explain this all?”
“Out of me way!” Babette screams in a shrill, panicked voice, “We musn’t let ‘er get away!”
“Stay away from my daughter.” The icy merwoman slithers forward and attempts to strike at Babette, but Benjamin positions himself between the two captains. “Ladies, please, there’s no need for further violence.”
The two opposing captains, now united in a common enemy, struggle to get free so they can have another go at each other, but Benjamin’s grip is iron.
By this time, Meredith has reached her mother and tries to reason with her. “Mother…please. I want to go home.”
Responding to this, the merwoman says: “Let me go and we leave.”
Benjamin looks at the mermaid girl to gauge whether she really does want to leave with this savage-looking sea beast. Meredith returns the gaze, looking at the aasimar with tears in her eyes. “Please,” she asks.
This distraction weakens Benjamin’s grip on Babette, and the sly captain wrestles loose and readies her blade. “Thank ye, lad; just hold ‘er down like tha’, tha’s real good…”
Benjamin lets go of the merwoman captain just in time to block Babette’s attack. The instant the merwoman is loose she grabs her daughter and jumps overboard. Babette dives after them, screaming desperately. Once both are in the water, it is an easy feat for the sea-monster to grab the half-orc and drag her underwater, into the depths.
Benjamin, remembering the girl’s watery eyes, grabs a rope and jumps after her, ready to swoop up the mermaiden to rescue her from her ugly mother’s clutches. Meredith sees this gesture, looks at the aasimar one more time and swims away towards the pirate ship. Her mother follows, taking the drowning Babette with her underwater.
First Mate Ironbrow had left the steering wheel in parrot-man Polly’s questionable care as he went below deck to deal with the explosion. With the help of the passengers – included Lily Petaltoes, her son and his fiance – the fire was brought under control and he could resume his post above-deck.
To his suprise, he finds the pirates – as well as his captain – are gone. Since Seamus ha cluttered the pirate’s rudder they had been unable to pursue the Maiden. They were in the clear, for now.
The druid explains the whole situation to Ironbrow. “I know you don’t want to go against your captain’s orders, sir, but I think we should-”
“Son, you’re talking to the captain right now,” says Ironbrow, “and I say we’ve seen enough excitement for today. Take her straight ahead, boys! Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Forced off-course through merfolk-infested waters with a hole in his ship, Ironbrow’s first voyage as captain would prove to be quite the challenge.