Gil’Adan walked into the Crimson Goddess a bit earlier than their appointment required. He took a moment to examine the large two floored tavern which had long ago been a temple to a now forgotten god. Here and there it still looked like a place of worship with its large domed roof, alcoves for shrines, and of course the large red statue of a goddess in the center of the chamber. Due to its history, quite a lot of superstitious towns folk avoided the place. Gil’Adan heard the door open behind and turned to see Ragnar step inside. “Afternoon, friend.”
Ragnar nodded, ever the silent type, then stopped mid motion. A ghost with a large stain of blood on his side just drifted out from the wall. The translucent figure smiled and spread his arms wide, “Welcome to the Crimson Goddess. My name is Norman or Norman the Red if you so please.. Grab a table and kick your feet up, I’ll be with you soon.” The ghost drifted away to gather drinks from deserted table. Ragnar had reactively placed his hand on his dagger, but now was not so sure if a blade would help if it came to that. The rogue and sorcerer made their way to a table and sat down, content to listen to the cheerful tunes of the bard playing the room.
After a few cheerful yet disturbing songs from the half-elf bard, Danziker strolled into the Crimson Goddess with a bit less of his usual swagger. He stopped in front of the crimson goddess, grabbed a pinch of salt from a nearby table and threw it over his shoulder. He tapped his hat in three different places and spun around before bowing to the goddess. Only after he was done with his peculiar little ritual did he turn and find his two companions. The old pirate plopped down and pulled a flagon of grog toward him, “Business as usual, eh mates?”
The bard on the floor above picked up her guitar and began a rousing round of The Golden Blade. The mood in the tavern picked up as everyone enjoyed the heroic tale of the Golden Blade’s exploits. When the song ended, the adventurers turned back to their drinks only to find a gnome woman with an eye patch sitting at their table. “Wonderful song about a wonderful man. Tell me, what do you know of The Golden Blade?” Danziker smiled to himself, knowing full well that this was the legendary thief Brita Halfhand who had retired a few years back.
Regaining his composure, Gl’Adan slowly explained to his table the tale of The Golden Blade. “He’s a legend. At a young age he won his freedom from the gladiator pits. From there, he used his skills to go on adventures throughout the land, often at the Emperor’s personal request. Two years ago he disappeared on an expedition to the Magma Keeps.” Ragnar nodded in agreement – Every half-orc knew the of the Golden Blade as a paragon of achievement for half-orc kind.
“Indeed, he is quite the legend.” Brita tossed a coin to a passing server from a pouch at her belt. Danziker chuckled, noting the pouch belonged to Ragnar. He liked Brita’s style. “All legends start with some truth though. The Golden Blade is why we’re here tonight. The Prince has discovered where he is, and he wants you to fetch him for me. You’ll find him aboard the Kraken just off shore in the straits between here and Glitterhagen.”
Ragnar cursed, “You want us to break into a heavily guarded prison barge in the sea and rescue a high profile inmate? Are you mad?” He had heard stories of the prison barge, none of them good. It was a private prison, so most of the inhabitants were significant enemies of someone in power.
“How you accomplish this is your problem, but you will meet me at the docks in two days with the Golden Blade. That, or your task goes unfinished and your debt unresolved. Any Questions? I didn’t think so..” Brita stood up and curtly made her way through the crowd and out the door.
The three adventurers knew that the Kraken was sea born so they reasoned they should consult a contact they had used in the past. With Krogar out of town on a mission for the Prince, Danziker offered to reach out to Master Merryweather. A handful of coins refreshed his memory when the half-elf seemed reluctant. Several handfuls more got Danziker the location of the dock where the Kraken would be refreshing its supplies tomorrow and its course over the next week. With Master Merryweather happily counting his coins, Danziker made his way to the Dark Jester to meet up with GIl’Adan and Ragnar. They had hoped to uncover any information about the Kraken that they could.
As the pirate entered the Dark Jester, he saw a tipsy Gil’Adan falling prey to the charms of Revka the Bartender and Ragnar speaking with two Forgeborn near the fireplace. The pirate winked at Revka then walked over to his Half-Orc companion. After the two rogues caught each other up on their progress, Ragnar spoke “The forgeborn tell me that the Kraken is guarded by a formidable platoon of constructs, all armed to the teeth. And they’re strong enough to crush your skull with just one hand.” The forgeborn nodded in agreement.
Danziker winked at his fellow Rogue, “Constructs, eh? Constructs usually have a maker, and Bella the Mad is the most well-known crafter of constructs in town. I’d wager me hat that she was the one that made them.”
Gil’Adan slid into a nearby chair, eyes hazy from the overly strong Drink Revka had served him. “The lovely Revka just informed me that Bella the Mad’s workshop burned down.” Revka winked over at Gil’Adan and the half-elf grabbed his head to stop it from spinning. “Apparently the whole street of Thornleech lane disappeared last Middenmass Eve and came back with Bella’s workshop burnt to the ground and the butcher shop missing. Nobody’s been able to find her Codex but it’s said to detail all of her creations.”
Danziker clapped his hands together which made Gil’Adan winced, “Right, we find the Codex and the way to get around the constructs. The Golden Blade is as good as free.” Together, the three of them exited the pub but not before Danziker winked at Revka and tossed her a coin.
Every inhabitant of Thornleech Lane avoided eye contact when they showed up. The air tingled with some residue of magic and there was a conspicuous empty lot where the Butcher’s Shop had been standing right next to the burnt husk of Bella’s workshop. Ragnar kicked aside some of the rubble and watched as soot and dust billowed outward. “Seems we aren’t the first ones to look through this wreck. Spread out, see if there’s something that was missed.”
As Danziker rummaged around in the burnt rubble, Gil’Adan investigated a large desk. When the half-elf opened one of the drawers, he failed the hear the click of a trap and yelled as a poison dart impaled his hand. Ragnar scowled, “Careful, it seems Bella was found of traps.” The half-orc rogue noticed a bookshelf full of burnt books but one stood unburnt and only covered in soot. He brushed the soot off and pulled the book forward. A series of gears whirled in the wall and the shelf slid back to reveal a secret door leading down a long flight of stairs into darkness. A belt hung on a peg on the wall filled with several potions with easy to access flaps. Ragnar snatched it and put it on before carefully making his way down, Danziker and Gil’Adan following behind.
They were about halfway down when they heard the whine of gears in the walls. They each responded quickly, bracing themselves against the close walls seconds before the stairs collapsed into a ramp. If they would have slide downward, they found a pit full of razor sharp spikes waiting. beyond the pit they found a small circular room full of various work tables, materials, and books. The center work table had a deactivated golem surrounded by a fiery blast mark, his hand outstretched holding a bloody robe. Gil’Adan made his way to the robes and noticed the fine craftsmanship indicating elven work. He slipped them out of the golem’s grasp but failed to see the blade trap swing out from the table, slicing his thigh.
Ragnar scowled again, “Why not let the professionals handle this?” The two rogues gingerly made their way around the room, finding countless traps and triggers ranging from bolt throwers, hidden blade arms, flame jets, and collapsing ceiling tiles. When they were making their third pass through the room, Ragnar found a hidden button on the central work table. Pressing it, a hidden drawer slid open revealing a complex rune covered book. The Half-Orc quickly snatched the Codex and slammed the door shut before a hidden jet started to spew out poisonous gas. Eager to be rid of the trapped room, the three adventurers made it back up the stairs and on to Thornleech Lane. “We have the Codex. We know how to find the ship. We need an exit strategy.”
Danziker smiled confidently, “I’ve got ya covered mate. Gents, its time you meet an old friend of mine.” The old pirate led them to the Slimy Barnacle, a particularly seedy tavern near the warehouse district. When Danziker entered, everyone in the run down joint waved or raised their glass to him. He tipped his hat and ushered his companions to the kitchens in the back. A gnome wearing a ridiculously large and tattered pirate hat was standing on a stool spooning several barnacles into a slimy green concoction on the stove. Danziker opened his arms wide, “Bergo, me ol’ buddy. How’s the Barnacle treating ya today?”
The gnome turned and laughed aloud, “Hah! Danziker, you old sea dog. While the Barnacle puts coin in me pocket, I still yearn for the open sea again.” Bergo hopped off the stool, still brandishing the long spoon as if it were a scepter. “Tell me true Captain, what brings you to me berth?”
Danziker looked to his allies, “The lot of us be needing a pick-up of sorts tomorrow in the straits. A simple ferry job – Four people.” Danziker tipped his hat back and leaned down to the gnome to whisper conspiratorially, “Know any capable sea dogs we can trust?”
Gil’Adan interjected, “Let’s just say we want to avoid any imperial entanglements.”
Bergo nodded, “Ye be in luck, captain. Your old first mate is in the front, funny he didn’t see you first. Hasan was his name, eh?” Danziker balked, he didn’t know any of his crew had gotten out of prison. He had thought he was the only one to escape Imperial clutches. “Just released from prison he is. Found himself working for Captain Longlock aboard the Brazen Maiden. Betting he can put a good word in for you.” Danziker nodded and gave his thanks to Bergo. As they went back into the front, Danziker saw Hasan hiding in a corner booth minding his drink.
“Hasan, you ol’ scoundrel!” Danziker put on his smarmiest grin, uncertain how his old first mate would react. “When did you get out? Or did you give them ol’ imperials the slip?”
Hasan scowled, “Was hoping you wouldn’t see me. They only wanted you, Captain, not the crew. Seems they got us all anyway.” His scowl deepened and he added, “No thanks to you.”
Danziker put his hand on his chest, “Ya wound me, Hasan. You saw that armada, we was doomed.” Hasan reluctantly nodded and took another swig of his drink. “Listen mate, let me make it up to ya. Got a job lined up and I’ll cut you in on a fair share of the take. Assuming you can get me a boat in time.” Hasan’s interest was piqued. Danziker explained they needed a pick-up from the Kraken at midnight the next evening, and they’d pay a hundred gold pieces per crew member and three times that for him and his captain. Hasan also added the stipulation that all damages to the Brazen Maiden would be their responsibility, then shook hands to seal the deal. Satisfied, the three adventurers exited the Slimy Barnacle to make individual preparations for tomorrow night.
The afternoon sun was just starting to set over the water as they made their way to the private dock where the Kraken was berthed. Ragnar pointed out that only two live crew members seemed to be manning the ship: A captain and quartermaster. The captain stayed aboard in his cabin toward the rear of the ship pouring over logs. Below on the docks, the halfling quartermaster directed several worker constructs as they loaded crates aboard the ship.
Gil’Adan noticed the anchor not far off from the docks and suggested they use that to get aboard, but will need a distraction. “Distractions are a gift of mine, mate,” Danziker smiled and took a healthy swig of grog from his hip flask. Reeking of booze, he stumbled over to the quartermaster. “Oy! Pipsqueak! What’re you doing with me boat?!” As the quartermaster and Danziker argued, Gil’Adan and Ragar stealthily swam over to the anchor and climbed aboard. Once his companions had boarded, the pirate ended the conversation and walked back up the dock. He waited until the quartermaster retreated back aboard before discreetly diving into the water and catching the anchor as it was being pulled upward. The pirate made his way up to Gil’Adan and Ragnar who were hiding behind a collection of crates.
The Kraken was a stout barge, not made for the open waters of the Midland Sea, but entirely safe within the straits between Shadow Port and Glitterhagen. Even still, the movement of the waves shook the great vessel back and forth. When Shadow Port was far in the distance on the horizon, Danziker breathed a sigh of relief, “Ah, this is where I was made to be. Smell of the sea on the air, the dancing sway of the waters below ye. Bliss, I tell ya.”
A fog was rolling in just as the sun set and the stars emerged. With cover of darkness, the three made their way to the captain’s cabin. The stout dwarf was looking out to the horizon as Ragnar crept up behind him. The rogue made quick work with his blade, and the captain was on the floor moments later, his life draining out of him. Gil’Adan quickly poured through the records in the cabin, finally finding the prisoner manifest. “He’s two levels down, toward the rear of the ship. Under the name of Jont Urner, in cell eight.”
Evading the construct guards was easier than Gil’Adan thought. He could hear their thudding footsteps coming a mile away. Making it to the second floor was simple work and finding the door even easier. Ragnar and Danziker both darted forward, eager to display their skills at disposing of the lock. Danziker beat the half-orc to it and quickly went to work. In his haste, Danziker tripped the alarm and an unearthly wail ripped through the corridor. A weathered half-orc face peered through the bars, “About time the Prince sent someone. Aren’t you a little short for a construct?”
Gil’Adan swung the door open, “What? Oh! I’m Gil’Adan. I’m here to rescue you.” As Jont Umber exited his cell and stretched his arms, they all heard heavy footsteps. The remaining crew member accompanied a golem carrying an electrified mace at one end of the corridor, a large golem carrying a gigantic axe down the other. “We’ve been found, boys! Time to cut our way out!”
Jont retreated back into his cell, “This is quite the rescue!”
Gil’Adan ducked backward and began to gather arcane energy. As he backed up, the guard charged and clobbered the sorcerer in the head with a heavy mace. Danziker twisted through the tight corridor and brought his cutlass down through the surprised guard’s skull, dropping him instantly. As the shield-bearing golem engaged Danziker, Ragnar ducked backwards and disappeared into the shadows. Danziker nimbly backed away from the shield and mace swinging wildly at him but was greeted by a vicious downward slice from the other golem.
Gil’Adan saw the Axe welding golem bearing down on Danziker and quickly shouted out the power word he learned had learned from studying Bella’s codex. When the golem grinded to a halt, the sorcerer knew his chance had come. Letting the arcane energies pour through him he unleashed a massive arc of lightning ripping large chunks from the two golems. Staggered but still determined, the golems fought back with mace and axe. As the shield-bearer was about to deal a brutal blow to Danziker, Ragnar reappeared and drove his dagger into the golem’s exposed chest. The construct shuddered then collapsed backward.
A bone chilling war cry caught all of them off guard before they realized Jont Umber had just charged out and tackled the remaining construct. The Golden Blade grabbed the head of the golem and ripped it free of its socket. “Works done here. Get me off this ship.” With the two crewmen defeated and the guards easily detectable, the adventurers made their way back up to the Captain’s cabin. They had good cover here and could hide until the Brazen Maiden appeared. They didn’t have to wait long before the pirate ship appeared behind the Kraken. When Gil’Adan noticed several worker golems arming contraptions that looked a great deal like ship-board weapons, he ushered his companions to the Brazen Maiden quickly.
The ship was built for speed rather than combat or hauling, a sleek vessel with a single triangular mast. Gil’Adan and Ragnar leapt down onto the ship near the bow, supporting a weakened Jont Umber. It seemed time in prison took its toll on his strength. Danziker caught a rope on his way down and swung over near the helm where Hasan and Captain Longlock stood. “Oy there, the seas be kind to us tonight. Fate’s on our side.”
Hasan looked to his new captain, “No, fate belongs to us tonight. Hand over the Golden Blade.” As Longlock drew her glittering rapier, her crew followed suit. Danziker hollered a warning to his allies and drew his cutlass, happy to be clashing swords on the seas on the sea. As several scallywags crowded around him, knifes flashing outward, he deftly parried the blades aside. The old pirate let out a laugh and spun around, slicing his cutlass across the legs of three of his assailants, leaving them hobbled and screaming.
Toward the bow, Gil’Adan saw Ragnar twist away into the shadow again. The sorcerer cursed under his breath as he realized he was now the only target on this end of the ship. The brutish half-ogre first mage marched forward and crashed a large hammer into Gil’Adan’s side. The sorcerer struggled to stay standing as stars clouded his vision. He hastily cracked off a pulse of energy, but saw it flare out randomly to strike a buccaneer behind Danziker. The ogre laughed and raised his hammer to strike again. Ragnar stepped out of a shadow, stabbing his long knife into the Ogre’s exposed leg. The first mate screamed and swung his hammer at the rogue who ducked out of the way.
A flurry of steel flashed in front of Danziker’s face as Captain Longlock’s attacked. Danziker winced as he felt his blood trickle down the side of his face. He returned a blow to Longlock, dragging his sharp cutlass across her chest. Longlock hacked a rope leading up to the mast and let the weight whip her away and across the ship. Danziker spat off curses as she fled but turned to Hasan and ran the traitor through. Seeing the helm unmanned, Danziker grabbed hold of the wheel and parried the various attackers around him. This is where he belonged.
The half-ogre reeled back as an empowered lightning bolt tore open his chest. “You landlubbers are tougher than I thought!” The first mate drew two cutlasses and launched a frenzied assault at Ragnar. The Half-Orc rogue took his fair share of cuts but managed to disengage again. As he was about to retaliate, the ship shook under the volley of electrified ballista bolts hammering into the port side of the ship. The constructs had finally mustered the Kraken’s ballistas and opened fire. The remaining crew fell before the barrage but Ragnar weaved through the barrage to impale the first mate’s neck. As the half-ogre fell, Ragar and Gil’Adan had already started moving toward Longlocks.
Captain Longlocks knew the ship wouldn’t last long under a barrage and kicked a barrel to her oncoming attackers. With them distracted, she ran up to the helm. Another barrage racked the ship and she stumbled toward the wheel. When the barrage stopped, she found Danziker’s cutlass embedded deep in her chest, his other hand on the wheel. “I’ll be taking your ship off your hands, lassie. Thank you kindly for the pick-up.” Danziker shoved her off with his boot then twisted the wheel southward toward Shadow Port. Even heavily damaged, the Brazen Maiden was able to outdistance the Kraken’s barrage in no time.
With the ship taking on significant amount of water and whole planks falling off into the straight, Danziker brought the ship into the private port where they to meet Bella. As Ragnar dropped the anchor into the waters and the crippled shell of a ship bumped up against the wharf, they could see Bella striding up the gangplank. The gnome walked directly to Jont Umber and greeted him as an old friend would. She turned to the three adventurers, “The Prince sends his thanks for completing yet another task. It may be some time until your next job is arranged, but you are to keep your eyes and ears open. I’d also like to add my personal thanks in rescuing an old friend of mine.” Bella looped her arm through Jont’s, “I lost track of him in the Magma Keeps, happy to see his stubborn face again.” The gnome escorted the half orc off the wreck of a boat then turned back to toss a large sack of gold back to the adventurers. The two old friends walked off toward Shadow Port, the sun rising in the east.
Gil’Adan picked the sack up, “There’s enough in here to keep us for months. It seems the Prince is valuing our services more and more.”
Danziker smiled and looked at the damaged Brazen Maiden, “I could care less what the Prince thinks of us. Boys, I’ve finally got me a ship again!” The way the old pirate beamed, one would think he was looking at the finest ship that had ever graced the Midland Sea.
GM Note – With Danziker in our group and Shadow Port as the setting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a pirate themed fight somewhere in the adventure series. This adventure which was out to sea offered the perfect opportunity. It helped that for this adventure he got a 6 with the Prince of Shadows. I put together a group of pirates themed after rogue abilities, except for the First Mate who’s a nod to a WoW character in The Deadmines. To budget our time better I transformed Bella the Mad’s workshop into a straight trap room so we could have a more robust fight at the end. It went really well, and culminated in Danziker finally regaining a ship. If you would like to use the pirates in an adventure of your own, you can find them here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8318942/PIRATES%21.pdf .
Player Feedback – Great fun! Can’t wait until next week’s concluding episode!