Thursday, July 6, 2017

Slavery in Life, Slavery in Death

Campaign: Krevborna Open Table Google Hangouts (5e D&D)

- Kylic, half-elf life domain cleric
- Marek, human battlemaster fighter
- Kaffshyth, human champion fighter
- Elaria, wood elf ranger
- Erasmus, tiefling barbarian
- Wilem, human paladin

Objectives: Discover how Captain Oleg Sigismund came to own the Elegy, how the slaves aboard were acquired, where the Elegy departed to, who bought the Elegy’s slaves, and proof that the Elegy had a cargo of slaves.

Events: The party was hired by the fearsome pirate captain Vanessa Redmayne to investigate the rumors that a rival captain, Oleg Sigismund, had been transporting slaves contrary to the pirates' agreement against trafficking in human lives.

Marek learned from one of his farmer friends that the nearest place where slavery was permitted was the Stalanfore Plantation to the south of Krevborna. Marek also visited Nikolai Rodescu, who confirmed that there were not enough missing persons reported in Piskaro to make up a load of slaves. He also informed Marek that the Pietra Donna Sangino, the fiendish painter who had barely escaped death at Marek's hands, had reappeared in Piskaro and was making inquiries about Marek and his cohorts.

Elaria soke with the "sea witch" Andullah, who claimed that she could smell the fear of the slaves while the Elegy was in port. She also told the party of a recurring vision she had of a tall, pale man with dark hair who was connected in some way with the slaves--he was likely their purchaser. Before the party left her house, Andullah warned Marek, Erasmus, Wilem, and Elaria that the sister of Bonnie Maedra, a witch they had slain in an earlier adventure, was approaching Piskaro with vengeance on her mind.

Wilem consulted an old salty dog he knew down at the docks. The elder seafarer explained that the rumor was that Oleg Sigismund purchased the Elegy for far less than its worth. A visit to the Custom's Office at the wharf turned up Arimus Weld, a truculent officer who was willing to show the party the deed of sale for the Elegy, should they grease his palm properly. Short on both money and persuasiveness, Kylic stepped in and made the officer very cooperative with a well-placed spell. The deed of sale revealed that the Elegy was formerly named the Inheritor, and that the ship's prior owner was the Honorable Harkovian Shipping Company.

It seemed that the Inheritor had been illegally used to transport a cargo of slaves from the Stalanfore sugarcane plantation to Piskaro, where the ship was renamed and sold to Oleg Sigismund, who was then tasked with transporting the slaves to a place unknown at the behest of a mysterious purchaser.

The party next approached The Pearl, a brothel known to be frequented by Sigismund. Explaining the nature of their inquiry, the party found the brothel's proprietors--the resplendent Eva and Louis Beverlay--sympathetic to their cause. Even whoremongers shudder at the thought of slavery. They brought forth Sigismund's preferred girl, Belle, with instructs that she should be very forthcoming. She told them that Sigismund talks in his sleep, and that he had inadvertently revealed the location of the small island where he docked when he wanted to remain undiscovered. She was sure he had sailed for this island with the Elegy and its awful cargo.

Vanessa Redmayne was pleased with the information the party had dredged up, but she still desired proof that Sigismund was trafficking in human souls--if she had solid evidence, she could make a move against him and Piskaro's other pirate captains would not stand in the way. To that end, she offered up a ship from her fleet to take the party to Sigismund's secret island to gather that evidence. The ship anchored out of sight of Sigismund's isle, and the party rowed to the island in a longboat. The party opted to attempt to land at the far end of the island instead of the more easily-accessible stretch of beach; unfortunately, this dragged their boat across rough rocks--it was only through the timely magical mending provided by Kylic that the boat made it to shore in one piece. However, it was too badly damaged to make a return journey; the party would have to find another way off the island.

An opportunity immediately presented itself: the Elegy was docked at a wooden structure built at the far end of the island. The isle was dominated by a large cave with obvious entrances at either end of the island. Elaria scouted the perimeter of the island. Hidden within a copse of trees, she spied upon a number of pirates busily moving crates and casks from the beach to inside the cave's mouth. She noted that one of the pirates was standing away from his compatriots; he appeared dejected for some reason.

The party waited until this pirate was further away from his fellows, then signaled for his attention so they might parlay. He did not raise an alarm; rather, he explained that his name was Pryce and that he could no longer conscience the actions of his crewmates. He could not stomach slavery, and he certainly couldn't abide the use they were being put to: the slaves had been taken to this island so that they might be drowned and then reanimated as the walking dead by two fallen priests employed by the slaves' buyer. Pryce also told the party that there was a "man" aboard the ship in tarnished armor who made him feel sick with fear.

A plan was hatched: Pryce would lure the pirates out onto the beach with a tale of casks of brandy washed ashore and the party would ambush them. (A good tale concocted by Kaffshyth.) The pirates were drawn out of the cave by the lie, but Pryce's nervousness spoiled the ambush. A brutal battle on the beach ensued, with the party ultimately taking down the Elegy's pilot, a massive bruiser, and two marauders. The ambush may have failed but at least the pirates were kept from ringing the brass bell that stood at the cave's mouth that would alerted the rest of the crew slumbering within that the island was under siege. The party crept to where the remainder of the crew was sleeping within the cave, and quickly put them to the sword before they could mount much resistance.

The pirate's meager belongings were duly rifled, and the party decided to explore the cave chamber to the north. Inside was a tidepool, upon which was floating a number of discarded garments--this was clearly where the slaves had been stripped and drowned. Strangely, a woman whose long, dark hair spread out along the water like a cloak stood up to her waist in the water, idly playing with its ripples.

Wilem spoke to her long enough to determine that she was the vengeful spirit of a drowned slave, then attacked. The woman's hair had a life of its own--striking out as if it were made of razors and entangling the limbs of those who stood against her. The apparition was joined by two other ghostly forms--the spirits of slaves who animated their former garments and attacked with hellish fury. Both Wilem and Erasmus were taken to death's door by the woman's claws and monstrous hair, but both were saved by the intervention of their comrades. After a nearly-disastrous fight, the "woman" lay on the floor of the cave, her body decaying with unnatural rapidity.

After this harrowing experience, the party decided to catch their breath and recuperate in this unwholesome and damned place. As yet unexplored: the chamber in which the living slaves are still held captive. As yet unencountered: the corrupt priests, the man in the tarnished armor. As yet undealt with: a cargo hold full of the living dead. As yet unprocured: a way off the island.

The Spoils:
XP - 722 xp each.