The Raven Keep Campaign

The Pirates of Tsurlagol (Part IV)

When we’d last left our heroes, they had just sailed with all possible speed from the Earthspur to Alphar Isle in an attempt to thwart would-be pirate king Vurgrom the Mighty from wiping out the last of the throne’s contenders. As the adventurers’ ship rounded the island and Alphar Isle’s harbor came into view, stomachs dropped as they spied no fewer than ten ships arrayed against the island. Four were blockading the harbor mouth and the other six were sailing in to raid the small town above the bay.

Morn turned to the rest of his companions and asked “What do you think? Can we take ’em?”

Raven shrugged slightly under his cloak and replied “I can, but it’s going to take awhile”.

Captain Burl called down from his place at the wheel atop the sterncastle “Somebody better make up their mind as to what we be doin’ now that we be here ‘cause one o’ dem ships in the blockade be headin’ fer us!”

The four adventurers looked at each other for just a moment before reaching an unspoken agreement. They turned to the captain and said “We fight – just get us to land”.

Chronosaj reached into one of his many pouches and pulled forth a vellum sheet covered with arcane writings. He unrolled it and began speaking the words aloud … albeit with some difficulty and when finished flourished dramatically with one hand to point at the rapidly approaching ship … and nothing happened. “Damn scroll!” he shouted, “Wizard was probably drunk when he wrote this thing! Arrghh!”

Raven took up a place amidships and strung his bow. His keen elven eyes allowed him to see the four pirates at work manning the large fire projector at the front of the ship. He strung an arrow and fired once, twice, three times, four times, five…all five arrows raced through the air toward their targets. All found their marks. Three of the pirates went down with arrows in throats or eyes while the last staggered around with an arrow sticking out of his shoulder and another in his thigh.

Then something remarkable happened. Kuna, who had moved to the sterncastle where she would be higher up and better able to see the unfolding battle had dropped to her knees. She held the symbol of her god, Dumathoin in one hand and her massive hammer Skullsplitter in the other and was chanting. Her voice grew deeper until it seemed to echo up from the very halls under the mountain in which she was raised and thrust both of her arms out in front of her. Grumbling and growling, she curled her fingers as if getting a firm grip on the air in front of her and began to slowly pull her hands apart. A surprised gasp escaped Morn’s lips and he took a step back as the water directly in front of the pirate vessel parted … leaving a deep trench ten feet across and at least 70 feet long.

With no time to stop or alter course, the pirate ship drove directly into the pit of water and became stuck fast. Pirates began to panic as they looked up and realized that water was looming high above the edge of the deck. Several began to cut loose the liferafts while other climbed into the rigging to get above the waterline. Arrows and rifle fire were put to devastating effect on the pirate vessel’s aft weapon crews.

Kuna continued to chant and pointed one thick finger at the helmsman. A coherent sunbeam of radiant death, lanced from her outstretched finger to strike the side of the helmsman. Flesh blackened and burned under her magical assault, one ear as well as the pirate’s right eye boiled away and he dropped to the wooden deck, dragging himself in fiery agony to the bulwark where he could hide from the deadly beam of light.

The crew aboard one of the other blockading ships had seen the first vessel sink but not what had happened and had turned to investigate. Thinking that perhaps their ally had run across an unknown reef and sunk, the rescuers signalled for the other two ships in the blockade to follow and fill the gap in the defenses.

Within moments, arrows and bullets began slamming into the massed bodies of the pirates on the foc’sle and one after another fell. Chronosaj once again tried reading his scroll without effect and nearly threw it over the side in frustration. As the rescue ship crew was worn away by the outslaught of missle fire, lookouts aboard the other two ships realized that a battle was taking place. Captains issued orders and helmsmen turned wheels and the other two pirate ships turned to join the battle.

The captain of the adventurers’ ship turned the wheel sweeping alongside the second ship keeping it between the last two ships and itself. As the two ships ran alongside each other, everyone aboard both vessels could hear the two hulls grinding against each other. Morn, summoned his magic and leapt aboard the passing pirate ship, thinking his companions would be right behind him. He released his spell as his feet touched down on the deck and a wave of sound blasted out from his body, slamming into the four pirates manning the ship’s fire projector and knocking them aside. He turned to wait for his friends but the ships were moving too quickly and had passed each other before anyone had the chance to join him. Gulping slightly, he turned back to the pirates who were slowly staggering to their feet.

“Dragon?” he whispered…“now, might be a good time for you to take over….” Alhazmabad’s spirit surged forward, pushing Morn’s own soul into a small, dark corner of his mind. The dragon raised one of Morn’s hands and spoke an arcane phrase. A blast of freezing cold sprayed outwards from Morn’s outstretched hand and washed over the approaching pirates. The intense cold froze nearly all of the pirates solid, leaving only one who had been partially concealed by some of the ship’s rigging and cargo still alive.

As the third ship closed in on the adventurer’s vessel, Kuna released the spell holding back the water from the first ship and the sea came crashing back in. The rushing waves swept bodies, blood and cargo clear of the deck. Slowly, the ship righted itself and bobbed back to the surfcace. The remaining crewmembers decided that they had taken enough chances with their lives and turned tail to flee.

Kuna strode forward along the deck as the third ship drew near to the third pirate and with both hands, hurled her hammer with all of the might her enchanted gauntlets could give her. The hammer twirled end over end between the two ships and crashed into the resevoir of volatile chemicals feeding the fire projector. The barrel caved in, spewing its contents everywhere. As the droplets mixed with the air, they ignited. Fire rapidly engulfed the front of the ship and sailors began to scream and run. Many leapt over the side into the water below and began swimming toward Alphar Isle.

Back on the ship Morn had boarded and savoring the taste of his freedom, Alhazmabad turned to watch the final blockading pirate ship turn away and begin to flee the battle. He smiled and pointed one finger at the fleeing ship. A thin green beam lanced away through the ship’s hull, sheared off the base of the mast and blasted cleanly out the other side of the ship. Severed from its base, the mast toppled, ripping sails and snapping rigging as it fell. A large section of deck splintered away and pirates were thrown to and fro as the ship capsized and sank beneath the waves. Turning to see that the ship he’d boarded was just drifting, the dragon in Morn’s body called upon his magic and teleported back to his party’s ship.

Raven strode to the bow and peered toward the beach. He could see that the six ships had made landfall and were disgorging their cargo of pirates. Reaching down to adjust the lacing of his boots, he quietly whispered an arcane word and leapt over the side. The soles of his boots touched the water and he began to run, racing across the choppy surface of the bay toward the beach as quickly as he could.

Chronosaj tried once more to read his pilfered scroll without effect and began to stomp and curse. Alhazmabad held out one hand to the warrior-thief and said “Give it to me”. He spoke a brief arcane phrase and his eyes glowed briefly. He then held the scroll up and began to read the words inscribed upon the parchment. He pointed toward the closest ship and a pea-sized dot of fire erupted from his hand and drifted lazily toward the nearest pirate vessel. The tiny ball reached the vulnerable fuel resevoir and exploded, igniting the chemicals and turning the ship into so much fiery kindling.

Raven reached the sandy shore and drew his swords. The closest group of sailors were marching toward the trail leading up to the small town atop the low bluff. Dressed in loose togas and sandals, bearing large shields and armed with wickedly tipped spears, the men he charged looked to be a very professional, disciplined group. They turned to confront him and he began to fight. He sliced through spear shafts and stabbed through shields with his enchanted blades. Man after man fell before him and soon he had to climb over the bodies of his slain foes.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, the dragon could feel his control of Morn’s body waning and placed a hand upon Chronosaj’s shoulder. He spoke one word and the two adventurers disappeared from the deck of the ship. At the exact same instant, they appeared on the beach.

Chronosaj began to climb the mooring line to one of Alphar Isle’s ships. Swinging himself over the bulwark, he readied his rifle and took aim. Alhazmabad unleashed a beam of disintegration at one of the toga-wearing pirates. The pirate dodged aside and rolled in the sand. He drew a bow from a quiver on his back and nocked an arrow. He drew back and released. The arrow sped through the air and slammed into the dragon’s human shoulder. Another arrow hit less than a moment later.

Chronosaj moved stealithly along the ship, sniping at foes aboard the nearby pirate vessel. Every bullet struck home, ending the life of one of the island’s attackers. Chronosaj backed up several steps and with a running leap, cleared the space between ships and landed lightly on his feet. He raced forward, drawing his scimitars as he went and took out the final pirate aboard the vessel.

The adventurers’ ship, with Kuna still aboard drove up onto the sandy beach and shuddered to a stop. The dwarven priest threw a line over the side and began to climb down. Several crewmembers joined her, carrying large mallets and thick wooden stakes. The sailors rushed onto the beach, searching for spots to plant the stakes while other crewmembers fed mooring lines out of the ship’s aft chocks.

Two more arrows slammed into Morn and he dropped to his knees on the beach. Gritting his teeth through the pain, he cast one last spell. His outline began to waver as he staggered to his feet. Raven raced across the open ground and jumped high. The archer spun to face him, swinging his bow like a club. Raven batted the weapon aside and thrust his blade cleanly through the archer’s chest.

All four adventurers ashore, they turned to survey the next closest group of pirates. Garbbed much more informally then the pirates lying dead on the beach, they called out to their leader who turned to see what the commotion was all about. Not even three feet tall and dressed in a heavy overcoat and large floppy hat, the small man called his group to a halt and prepared to fight.

- End (part IV) -

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