CASTING OFF ~
With the Ferals defeated Ricter and Marlow decide the best way to clean up the mess is to idly drop the bodies off the docks into the void. Some of the other sailors and merchants in the vicinity cheer, others go about their business as if nothing has happened. Usually the thought is: keep your head down and mind your business. The heroes have forsaken such nonsense and made a spectacle of the situation. Jarek watches from the Chance wanting no part of the activity.
A young lad arrives in a huff just as the heroes are about to depart. Apparently he is a courier delivering a note to “Master Jarek.” The sealed note (from the Birchstaff brothers) says the following:
“Heroes of the Chance~
You will meet Gareth at his shop in the Roseport Market Garden. Roseport is the only place on Heartland where non-elves are welcome— to be found elsewhere brings a swift death.
May the Lady of the Winds fill your sails and your endeavor be a safe one. Remember the code and destroy this letter once it has been read."
- Marlow and Ricter question Jarek on the note which he reluctantly shares. Finicky wizards….
WE WILL ROCK YOU!!
Three uneventful weeks into the journey the heroes suddenly find themselves navigating through a dense rock field. Captain Marlow avoids most of the giant debris with only a few rocks bouncing off the ship’s hull. Despite this rock field going as far as the eye can see Jarek notices slight movement off the starboard side and quickly bellows a warning. This floating speck amidst a sea of stone turns out to be a pirate ship in waiting. Using cover behind a massive rock the raider’s ship seemingly attacks unsuspecting travellers caught up in the rock field.
Marlow screams battle stations while trying to outrun the pursuers. Jarek and Ricter man the cannon on the starboard side in case the chase becomes an attack. The pirate ship navigates through the rock field seemingly as well as Captain Marlow— slightly gaining on them by the second.
A fierce battle ensues as the two airships clash in the rockfield. Each exchanging fire while also navigating through the dense scape of floating debris. A crushing blow from The Chance’s cannon wreaks havoc on the pirate’s skysloop. The pirates return fire with blows from their ballistae which strike home doing considerable damage.
Close enough to see the white’s of their eye’s the heroes notice the skysloop’s crew as a group of short, reedy humanoids lead by a human lieutenant and their stout captain. The pirates think of boarding the heroes skiff but are met by Jarek’s icy bolts which knock the pirate captain away from his helm causing the skysloop to spin out of control knocking most of their crew prone…..
Marlow then brings The Chance around for a shot from the his ship’s ballistae since loading the cannon would take too long during this critical time. Manned by a tethered Ricter a shot is sent off but the it bounced off the pirate’s hull causing no damage.
With the skysloop finally under the guidance of a battle-weary pirate crew member their vessel soon gains altitude to get a better tactical advantage over The Chance squashing all attempts to board their unsuspecting victim’s and now just wanting revenge. Another volley of ballistae bolts from above by the pirate’s vessel seemingly causes the final blow that would destroy the heroes ship. The Chance spins out of control and is about to forever descend into the void when an act of sheer luck coupled with Marlow’s determination and years of captaining sky ships causes a successful last-ditch effort to guide the tailspin onto a gigantic floating rock, halting their plummet.
With the battle not yet over the pirates soon turn about their crippled skysloop to rain down a final volley of ballistae bolts upon their helpless victims. Caught up in his bloodthirst the inexperienced crewmember piloting the raider ship fails to spot a giant mass of stone hurtling towards his sloop. Just as the command to fire is about to be bellowed a silent scream takes it’s place as a calamitous impact from the stone breaks the pirate ship in two, killing most of it’s inhabitants onboard and plunging one poor soul into the void—- only that particularly fortuneless dolt is held in place by loft oil and stays floating amongst the rock field.
OF ALL THE HAIRBRAINED IDEAS….
The heroes have a plan. Not a good one albeit, but a plan nonetheless. Tethered to the ship by a rope Ricter volunteers himself to climb atop a ballistae bolt which will be fired from The Chance towards the direction of the floating pirate. If he can reach him, Ricter will grapple with the pirate, overcome him and the two will be hauled back to the stranded vessel. The thought by all is if they can rescue the pirate information may be gleemed. If not, at least they have a captive to help repair their damaged ship.
- Ready, Aim, Fire! Timing the spin of the anchored ship with the loft of the floating victim, a dwarf-ridden bolt sails through the void towards it’s destination. Unfortunately, the bolt is headed straight towards an aimless rock that is crossing the bolt’s trajectory. Unable to negotiate the obstacle, Ricter collides with the rock and is knocked unconscious. Jarek and Marlow haul the limp dwarf back onto the ship while the pirate is left to bask in the glow of the void.
- After several days, Ricter regains conscious and recovers from his wounds. He begins to work on their damaged skiff just enough to deem it able to leave the rock and sail towards Heartland. Jarek studies the floating rock their have crashed on and takes a soil sample. The crew sets sail for Heartland.
LIMPING TOWARDS OUR DESTINATION
Approaching the Heartland docks of Roseport the heroes are intercepted by an Oakthorn patrol. After asking the purpose for the heroes visit (“we’re merchants with cloth to sell”) the captain asks if he and some of his men can board The Chance to inspect the cargo. With keen negotiating skills Jarek convinces the Oakthorn captain to only glance over their shipping records and simply allow them to enter the port. The captain allows passage but inquires why the heroes and their ship are so battered. Jarek offers a vague tale of what occured. The captain explains that pirates, quite possible from the same rock field, attacked one of their galleon’s a few months back and the only Oakthorn’s sailor who survived came back telling tales of a pirate crew consisting of smallish men.
- The heroes dock in Roseport and are greeted by a swarm of activity. There is a heavy Oakthorn militia presence to oversee all who enter and leave the port. Wildling slaves can be seen scurrying to and from doing their master’s bidding.
- The trio seek out the shipyard manager and inquire about repairs. While negotiating with Ricter and Jarek the manager sets a price for lumber, glues, nails, saws, fabrics, along with 4 wildling slaves to help aid in the repair at a cost of 1,400c. Ricter determines the repairs should take no longer than a week. He will be on hand to help and supervise. The group then inquire about an inn where they can clean up and rest. They are told of the Falcon & the Child, a lively establishment for weary merchants and well-to-do clients that is just past the grove. The heroes walk through a seemingly endless 40-foot wide path lined by giant oaks. The oaks, being so large and majestic, create a canopy of leaves that blocks mostly all of the voidlight shining from above. After several moments of travel the path opens up into a bustling market district— shoppers and children roam the streets as more wildlings scurry about delivering messages and carrying heavy loads for their masters—-all under the watchful eye of the Oakthorn guard. The heroes soon find the Falcon & The Child inn. After very little small talk the heroes each secure lodging from the Krell, the innkeep for a week (including breakfast and dinner each day and one hot bath.) at 8 c. per day.
- They are shown to their perspective rooms by his wife Lydia. Feather beds and silken sheets are a much-needed luxury after sailing for weeks and only sleeping upon the palette beds aboard The Chance. While bathing their clothes are cleaned, mended and left on hooks back in their rooms. After a fine meal of roast meats, fresh steamed vegetables and many flagons of ale the heroes inquire the innkeep on the whereabouts of the merchant Gareth.
TRANSACTION – HAVE WILDLINGS, WILL TRAVEL
Jarek, Marlow and Ricter discover Gareth’s shop and enter. A ring from the door’s chime alerts a middle-aged elf behind the counter that he has customers. This non-descript merchant looks up from paperwork, greets the trio and begins his sales pitch. Jarek counters the pitch with small talk and uses the “code.” A change of expression falls on Gareth’s face as he rushes to lock the front door and pull the blinds. He tells the party that he expected them weeks ago and had lost hope in the shipment. Jarek explains their adventures during their journey to Heartland.
- Gareth, very pleased that the weapons are still available and are in safe keeping aboard _The Chance _ ,makes arrangements to collect the crates the next day. He informs them that he will assess their value and give them the quote in a sealed letter, along with a token, to take back to the Birchstaff brothers in Gateway. He also offers them another job: Gareth needs the party to deliver a group of recently rescued Wildlings to Timber, a large commune on Canopy, an island to the east of the Runoff Falls. If the Wildlings are delivered successfully Gareth will pay the heroes double the worth of the recently delivered weapons. Interested in the proposition, the heroes say they must mull over the offer before deciding. Gareth understands and bids them farewell and says he will talk with them again the next day when collecting the shipment down at their ship. Before they leave the trio buy several Wound Seal potions from Gareth.
- With some of the day left to explore, Jarek and Marlow seek out a merchant who can tell them the origin of the dirt collected from the floating rock they crashed their ship upon. They find such a store and enter….For a meager fee the storekeep loads the dirt into his waysphere and details what he’s discovered: The dirt comes from an island many leagues east of Heartland called Paak-Taan. He also tells of several archeological expeditions that took place upon the islands catacombs that were said to have contained riches and historical artifacts beyond belief. Messages sent by couriers between the archeologists and Heartland detail several tremors that shook the island in the past year, occurring more frequently in the past months. The last message he knows of was received last month. None have been delivered since.
- The next day the heroes all return to the chance to meet up with Gareth. The merchant comes shortly soon thereafter with a few Wildlings in tow to help with the shipment. Although Gareth treats the Wildlings with indifference in public once he is below deck on The Chance, the heroes notice Gareth treating the humanoid animals with compassion and as equals.
- The party recognizes that items in their rooms have been moved and altered (Jarek’s Journal) while they’ve been away. Jarek’s journal had entries crossed out that dated back months ago. Jarek asked the innkeep Krell if anyone had been in their room “cleaning” but Krell assured them that no one is permitted in the room’s without a guest’s consent. Jarek also cornered a Wildling slave that works at the Falcon & The Child to ask if he had seen anything. The wildling confided that he had heard noises coming from behind the closed door of Jarek’s room but never saw anyone go in or leave. The party is perplexed as to what could be causing these disturbances.