Previous session, our aspirant-mercenaries found themselves aboard the Maiden’s Virtue, a vessel taking them to Kragsport, where Whitehorn awaited their applications. There was trouble brewing below deck, however, as the half-orc captain of the ship, Babette, was holding a beautiful mermaid hostage. Her mother, the vicious Sea Bitch, attacked the Maiden’s Virtue in the hope of liberating her. With a little help from our heroes, the Sea Bitch managed to secure her progeny and drag her rival Babette into the depths, promoting First Mate Dermot Ironbrow to the rank of captain.
Captain Dermot Ironbrow had a protocol to follow. First order of business after a mutiny: Inspect the brig for any unlawfully incarcerated prisoners. As it so happens, one Halfling gentleman by the name of Eldon Thorngage had been jailed by Babette for the worst possible reasons; at least, according to himself; so of course he was set free.
Second order of business: Check the former captain’s cabin. Eldon immediately proved his resourcefulness by picking the lock, allowing our heroes and Dermot entry into Babette’s lair. There they found on the floor dozens of pages from the captain’s log, torn out in haste. Little Ice immediately gathered up the papers and retreated to the crow’s nest to study them.
Arranging the pages in the correct order, he learned that the mermaid had somehow driven the captain insane with her singing. Babette had hired a bard to put the song to sheet music and Little Ice remembered one of the sailors – the best-dressed one – had been playing the accordion the whole journey.
After some pushing, the accordionist confessed to conspiring with the captain. Little Ice warned him that the music was probably magical and could drive the listener mad; shaking in his fashionable boots, the terrified bard willingly handed his transcripts over to the tabaxi, glad to be rid of the possibly cursed notes.
Little Ice took the sheet music with him to study, but not being able to read notes himself he had no way to discern whether the patterns of sound held some magical secret. As a last resort he opened his mind to his Dark Patron. An irrational hatred surged over the poor tabaxi, compelling him to destroy the sheet music at all costs. Benjamin and Eldron, however, did not think this was a good idea. They took the sheet music from Little Ice and decided to study it themselves.
Benjamin, being somewhat of a musician himself, played the song on his violin. Just before he could finish, he slumped down and hit the floor, vast asleep. This managed to pique Eldron’s interest, as magical music that puts folks to sleep was sure to have many wonderful applications. Little Ice agreed, and jumped the two in an attempt to secure the pages for himself. When persuasion failed, he tried physical force; when that proved insufficient, he nudged the Halfling with some inconspicuous magic. Eldron, sensing the Tabaxi’s attempts at magically influencing his his mind, got suspicious and he and Benjamin decided to restrain Little Ice until whatever had come over it would wear off.
The Patron’s grip on his lackey loosened and Little Ice regained control over his mind. He apologized, but did not seem entirely remorseful; he still wanted those notes. They stayed with Eldon, though, who wisely transcribed the music for his own personal use, pocketing both copies.
The following day was marred by a distinct lack of breakfast. When our hungry heroes investigated, they found the ship’s temporary cook, gastronomer extraordinaire Lily Petaltoes, petrified in her own kitchen. Our heroes searched the lower deck, where they found the ship’s cow turned to stone. It turns out that Lily’s two cockatrices had somehow gotten loose together with their newborn chicks, and the father, rushing to his family’s aid, attacked our crew. Benjamin’s legs were petrified up to his shins; Seamus was completely turned to stone.
When the foul beast was felled, a shrill cry rang through the ships. Benjamin had just slain a father of five, with a mother hungry for vengeance. The group managed to overpower the rest of the family without killing anyone, and Ingvar, who had found a cockatrice tail feather-duster among the Petaltoes’ luggage, brushed the petrified victim’s skin, returning life to them. Tonight they would dine on supple cockatrice flesh, courtesy of the dead daddy.
When the final day of the Maiden’s Virtue‘s journey dawned, our five heroes each found an envelop in their belongings. It declared that a talent scout of the Whitehorn Company had been on board all along, quietly watching them deal with the ship’s crises and judging their performance. If they could guess the identity of this mystery recruiter, they would win a little reward.
Of course, nobody could guess that the humble and quiet dish-washer was in fact a high-ranking employee of the Whitehorn Company. She introduced herself as Violet, Two-Star Mercenary, and told our five heroes that she would recommend they be hired as a single unit, as she had deemed their particular skills and personalities compatible. They themselves disagreed, but did not have much of a choice if they wanted to work for Whitehorn.
Enter Kragsport. Most notable landmarks: A giant statue of Emperor Hurumar whose eyes functioned as the lighthouse; a giant factory; a big white castle and a vast labyrinth at the edge of town.
The Whitehorn Company was situated in the White Keep, which was easy enough to find. They were lead straight into the heart of the castle, where Whitehorn waited for them. Whitehorn was a giant blue dragonborn, who sat behind a giant mahogany desk, with a giant pile of treasure behind him. He told his new employees the basics of his how his company worked.
They were free to operate as they please while under the Whitehorn banner, as long as they gave 1/3 of their earnings to the Company and followed these simple guidelines: No looting, no pillaging, always finish a job you start and never be caught doing anything illicit while under the Company banner. Should they fail to meet Whitehorn’s modest expectations, they would not only be fired; they would be made an example of.
Furthermore, the Company used a simple star-rating to determine what resources its employees had access to. They would start out as one-star employees. If they proved their loyalty, they could be promoted to two-star or even three-star employees, increasing their privileges. To start out with, they would be granted a office and a place to stay in the barracks.
Our newly formed team of Mercenaries decided to check out the job-board for one-star employees to see if there was any work in town. They decided to check out a request from the dock-master first.
Ships had been mysteriously disappearing from the harbor at night and the only lead was from a local drunk, a ratfolk called Chipper, who told tall tales of a Giant swooping up ships and carrying them off to his castle in the sky. Our skeptic mercs didn’t buy it, but Little Ice and Ingvar decided to investigate the history of giants in Hurumar anyway. Eldon would scout out locations suitable for a stake-out; Benjamin would investigate the harbor for what ships were likely to get stolen; Seamus would ask the local animals if they saw anything.
The most peculiar ship by far was a Gnomish submarine. The hulking aasimar could barely fit inside and what he saw didn’t mean anything to him; the whole inside was filled with blinking lights, strange monitors, beeping sounds, all covered up with a library’s worth of sticky-notes. Benjamin never really learned what he saw, but he knew that it was quite rare, and probably worth taking.
Little Ice and Ingvar visited the Whitehorn Keep’s library, but they found nothing useful about giants, apart from the fact that they were thought to be extinct, wiped out in Emperor Hurumar’s time. Besides, the only kind of giant that fit Chipper’s description was the Cloud Giant from the fairy tale ‘Jack and the Bean-Stalk’. Asking who had last borrowed this book, they learned it was indeed Chipper, as they had expected all along; they decided that the rat must have used it to spin his tale.
Seamus first asked the seagulls if they had seen anything. To his surprise, they seemed to confirm the drunk’s tall tale; they had seen a giant swoop up ships and carry them off into the clouds. Seamus dismissed this – they were probably just parroting the drunk, as birds are wont to do – and decided to try his luck with a ship’s mouser instead.
The haughty cat did not just give away information freely, however; he demanded that Seamus bring him a rumored gnome-sized rat to hunt for sport. Realizing that the feline must mean the local drunk, Chipper, and knowing that a small domestic cat could not possibly pose an actual threat, Seamus agreed. The ratperson was easily led along with a bottle of gin.
Pleased with this prospective prey, the cat told his new druid friend that he had seen a dispatchment of mermaids swim into harbor one night, using some kind of giant fish to snag them a ship. Accepting this as a far more likely explanation than a shipnapping giant, the mercs prepared an ambush as Seamus let the cat chase poor Chipper off into the night.
As expected, a squad of eight mermaid pirates and a giant killer whale snuck into harbor that night to try and steal the sub. As our heroes were on the piers, high above the water, the mermaids could only chuck spears at them as they barraged the pirates with a flurry of ranged attacks. The killer whale was felled and the pirates chased off, their theft averted.
When studying the bodies of the fallen merfolk, Benjamin noticed that they were branded with the very same sigil they saw on the Sea Bitch’s flag: A mermaid posing on a rock. It seems they hadn’t seen the last of these merfolk pirates.
Our heroes decided to sell the Killer Whale’s body to Lily, who would no doubt pay a fair price for such exquisite meat. Benjamin and Eldon went visited the restaurateur to barter, but they found her engaged with a half-elf that had chained herself to a tree. Apparently, construction of Lily’s restaurant had been delayed due to this woman refusing to move. When Eldon picked the lock and Benjamin dragged her from the tree, a lumberjack swooped in to cut it down; but, amazingly, the tree defended itself, knocking the lumberjack away. The half-elf, awestruck, swore that this was a sign that Nature was ready to reclaim what was rightfully Hers; before long, this city would be overgrown.
A prize of 85 gold pieces was agreed upon for the killer whale, and Benjamin and Eldon decided that they would deal with the Half-Elf and her fighting tree some other day, as it was getting awfully late.
Meanwhile, Little Ice had been talking to the Gnomes, discussing their arsenal, showing great interest in the Giantification Ray in particular. Eager to test out their toys, the Gnomes agreed to enlarge one of Little Ice’s hairballs. The tabaxi had enough sense to lead the mad scientists to the beach, where, if anything went wrong, it wouldn’t do any damage. Little Ice placed his tiny hairball on the sand and the Gnomes tried to zap it, but ended up hitting a sandcastle instead. Since they had yet to figure out a way to switch it off, they had to smash the ray with a wrench; by the time it stopped firing the entire beach was swallowed by a giant sand castle, with walls as hard as concrete.
With a giant sand castle to explore and a boxing tree to domesticate, as well as plenty of jobs left to do, our heroes had their work cut out for them. Which problem will they tackle next time