Black Sails over Leudendorf
A Gnome in Leudendorf
A frightened gnome left the adventurers with a scrollcase, fifty gold kroner, and an offer of a hundred fifty more if they meet him at the Rusty Hook in an hour. What had started out as a quiet day with nothing to do was about to transform into a tempest…
Human Druid Barbarian
October 5, 740
Act I, Scene I: Blood on the Docks (resolution)
The adventurers gather together in the street a couple blocks from where the mysterious gnome escaped Romany’s grasp and vanished. They consider the scrollcase, and the map it seems to contain, but think twice about looking at it here. Ketham separates from his companions while they briefly discuss where to regroup and determine what they should do next.
“You could always go to my shop.”
-Dragomir “Dray” Vanev
“Do you have beer?”
“Not on tap…”
-Dragomir “Dray” Vanev
Set on the Blind Potter’s shop, the adventurers move along streets. Ketham continues to trail them, watching for a tail that might come from any of the enemies they might have made this morning. Tianna separates from the others as well, promising to return after resolving some personal business elsewhere in town.
But the adventurers do not go much farther before they encounter an ally to fill the void of Tianna’s departure. This fellow arrives with a bit more bluster than the bladesinger’s departure. An elm tree erupts from the cobbled street of a nearby alley. The tree splits open as if hewn by a massive, unseen ax. A wild-maned man, Orlan MacShane, emerges. He is followed by a mountain lion and then a horse. With a word, the man calms the lion, though it is quite clearly still a wild, nervous animal.
Stunned by the man’s dramatic arrival, Orlan introduces himself after a few muttered statements, and the question, “When am I?” The adventurers help Orlan weather his disorientation. He explains that he was a druid of Ehlonna on the Night of Hewn Elms—an event that Gabriella recognizes as a vital epoch to druids, rangers and crypt rangers, though none of the others do. Orlan goes on to explain that when Father Nature, Sylvanus, slew Mother Nature, Ehlonna, Orlan was drawn through the ages for the first time. Now he travels from place to place, even era to era. He says the last place he recalls is Karina, where a creature was recently found underground. Draya, hailing from the south, knows of the Beast of Karina, a threat at the heart of the town’s annual Carnival for generations now.
After the spectacle of Orlan’s arrival has passed, the adventurers return to their discussion of the morning’s plan, interrupted twice now. First, by the panicked gnome, and then by the druid’s arrival. They continue on for Draya’s shop, and Orlan is permitted to come along.
“You, as the new questionable guy, don’t get a say in breakfast.”
“I thought he was going to pay.”
-Dragomir “Dray” Vanev
A few minutes later they reach their destination at last. The Blind Potter’s shop is remarkably neat and clean, and carefully organized with kiln, clay and items arranged on display shelves. All of the displayed items are worked in an angelic, winged motif. Draya dismisses the worker who minded the shop in his absence.
Orlan leaves his mountain lion at the shop, though he asks for directions to a nearby butcher shop. He says that the lion will leave the city after nightfall, but for now he would like to keep the beast well-fed and in the relative peace of the shop. Orlan departs to get some meat.
Romany hurries to a nearby eatery to buy some pancakes. On her way back, Ketham meets with her, appalled by the “creature” the others found while he observed from the opposite end of the alley. The archer returns to the shop with Romany, though he does not help her with the packages of food she carries. Conversation continues to revolve around the gnome’s scrollcase as Romany delivers breakfast.
“Totally not sure what your kind eats, so you’re getting pancakes.”
-Romany Grey to Ketham
“I have some fruit here.”
“Oh, thank you.”
As the adventurers eat in Orlan’s absence, they discuss whether they can trust the druid. Though Kari is at first more reluctant than the others, having gotten a distrustful read on the man when he first arrived, the group consensus is that his story is too bizarre to be fabricated.
At Rook’s request, Gabriella produces the treasure map before Orlan returns. At a glimpse, Rook recognizes that it is a chart to Yarashad, a place where “the sands are made of gold” and “the flowers are made of pearls.”
Anticipating the gnome’s demand that the chart be returned, Rook makes a crude copy of the chart. Rook cannot read the text, but Kari fills in the gaps. As the adventurers discuss the legends of Yarahad and Hell’s Triangle—terms with which Draya and Romany also prove at least marginally familiar—Orlan returns from the butcher’s shop.
Proving their decision to trust the druid, the adventurers continue their discussion. The next revelation comes when Rook asks to study the map one more time. He is familiar with the Sea of Sorrows, at least as much as any sailor. He knows the general location of Hell’s Triangle. He says that there are no islands that match this formation around Hell’s Triangle—or anywhere else for that matter.
Ketham says that, perhaps, the island of Yarashad is through the Triangle.
Rook then adds to Kari’s reading of the fine print at the bottom of the chart, “Safe transit housed in [illegible], the gift of noble Carthy.” She has repeated safe transit, puzzling at the phrase with Ketham. Rook says that, perhaps, the sextant drawn on the chart at the same place represents a physical sextant that could provide safe travel through the Triangle.
Act I, Scene II: Baumann and Buche
Settled on the fact that the strange gnome must know more that could prove valuable to them, the adventurers decide to meet up with him at the Rusty Nail. As before Ketham moves separately, leading the way by about a block and watching for threats or tails.
On the way to the Rusty Nail, just past the Old City gates, a young newsboy shouts that “Wild men” are “on the march.” Also, “Are your ladies safe?” For one silver kroner, Gabriella buys a paper. The anchorite hands the paper to Kari upon confirming that it is written in Lamordian. Kari scans the headlines as the adventurers cover the remaining distance to the Rusty Nail. Gabriella is most interested in news of Libertyville burning. She says that, if the gnome’s issues are not pressing, then she may need to go there to help, first.
Ketham awaits at the tavern door. While he waited these last ten minutes he saw neither the gnome nor any of the sea dogs enter.
The Rusty Nail was built from an old warehouse, with a rickety second floor built above the taproom on creaking beams. A protesting wooden ladder provides entry to the rooms above. Rough-and-tumble sailors, mountain-man laborers, and idle day laborers sit about swilling and playing at cards. The adventurers split up, taking different positions to wait for the gnome’s arrival.
Ketham joins a card game, winning a sizable pot of ten silver kroner.
Nearby, Romany also plays cards. The rugged barflies eagerly accept her request to join their game. She plays masterfully, choosing to win meagerly and lose affordably. She steers the game and the conversation to her advantage, trying to glean new information about the Docks this morning, and also of anyone who has braved Hell’s Triangle. She learns that the last group who set sail for the Triangle were a band of adventurers who earned themselves some notoriety standing up against the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign. They came to feel that they were unstoppable after Drac’s fall, so they sailed off to find Yarashad. “Never came back, just like all the rest.”
Rook positions himself at the end of the bar. There, he stands along the path of the wait staff, flashing them smiles as they make their way by. The lasses return his smiles, and speak comfortably around him. They’re very busy today. Also, the sea dogs are smellier than usual and drinking heavily. It seems that a group off the Kraken’s Claw got waylaid by some new crew this morning. One of the dogs took an ax to the shoulder blade. The general theme seems to be, “I wouldn’t want to be the man that started that fight”—a message that causes Rook to blanch a bit.
On the subject of Morgan Baumann, Rook learns that she is a bloodthirsty pirate. She is a vampire, and none who see her ship outside of Leudendorf’s waters are likely to make it home to speak of their misfortune. Baumann is a fierce, deadly pirate whose very presence fills travelers with dread. Her first mate, Shantar Froese, is an elf and only a bit less fearsome than his captain.
Rook is also in position to watch Kari when she approaches the barmaid. Any familiar with the Docks know that the Rusty Nail is owned and run by a man named Wine, but today there is a weary barmaid taking order and filling mugs. Kari orders a tray of Kolters for her companions—Gabriella and Orlan have walked the Blind Potter to a table—and then asks whether the barmaid has noticed a gnome in the place today. Kari is prepared to offer a bribe, but she never has to produce the coins. The moment the question is asked, the barmaid replies, “He said he wouldn’t have any visitors, but you’re the second group to come looking for him.”
Kari presses, and learns that the gnome is upstairs. Four sea dogs came in about thirty minutes ago. The five of them are upstairs in the gnome’s room right now. When the barmaid mentions that one of the sea dogs had a bandaged shoulder, Kari’s expression tells Rook all he needs to know. Draya and Romany also read the conversation and the adventurers are soon moving to the frail ladder that leads to the second story.
Gabriella stays below, not wanting to risk the ladder in her plate armor. She serves as guard, waiting for anyone who might try to escape the adventurers upstairs.
Ketham asks a passing barmaid where the back stairs are, and he dashes through the crowd to flank the sea dogs.
The others climb to the second story. Romany and Draya reach the door first. Rook and Orlan are with them, while Kari lags behind a bit to intone a spell of ESP. She uses the spell to scan the thoughts of the men within the room, both before, during and through most of the interrogation that will follow.
From that hall, the adventurers hear the gnome pleading with the sea dogs, who make it clear that they are going to beat what they want to know out of the little fellow. The adventurers spring an ambush on the sea dogs, storming inside while Ketham drops from the crawlspace overhead. In just a few short minutes the four sea dogs have been defeated again. Two of them recognize Draya as the blind man who bested them earlier on the Docks. Their outrage is muted by their second sound defeat in just a couple short hours.
The four sea dogs are thoroughly interrogated, as is the gnome, who is revealed to be named Flint. Using her ESP, Kari produces the name of “Lucien,” a tool that gets the sea dogs talking because they assume the adventurers know more than they do. They are kept talking by Romany’s cruel use of threats and intimidation, first promising to dismember the leader of the sea dogs if he does not cooperate, then offering to have her anchorite friend heal the man if he does. Soundly defeated twice in one day, convinced of the truth behind Romany’s threats, the sea dog begins to speak.
He remains convinced that Morgan Baumann will be the end of the adventurers, but he reveals what he must:
· Baumann’s ship, the Kraken’s Claw, is in port, but the captain is not there.
· Baumann and most of the Claw’s crew took Lucien ashore after they arrived in Leudendorf.
· The sea dogs and their captain are at Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe. To get to the back room, say to the front man, “I’d like to see your exotic reading room, please.”
· Lucien is still alive, because he knows of a map to Yarashad, and he can decipher it after the sea dogs retrieve it.
Ketham tells the men to leave Leudendorf, heading inland. He promises to follow the men, though they will not see him. If they turn back, he will take all their lives. Cowed, the sea dogs agree to the adventurer’s terms, though the leader demands that Romany make good on asking her friend to heal his ruined arm.
Gabriella climbs the ladder. She kneels by the sea dog’s side and prayers for healing, knitting torn muscle and fractured bone.
The sea dogs depart.
Flint speaks to the adventurers next, though his interest at first is solely to ensure that his map is not damaged. After that he speaks a bit about Lucien. He explains that Lucien is a mousy Dementlieuese scholar from Port-a-Lucine. The man is obsessed with pirates and the lore of the Sea of Sorrows. Flint came across the map a few months back, but he could not make sense of it. He knew that his friend Lucien could, though. So he contact Lucien and was quite surprised when Lucien responded that he would travel north to Leudendorf to see the map in person.
When word arrived that Lucien’s ship, the Wasser Madchen, had run afoul of the Kraken’s Claw, Flint feared the worst. But to his surprise, Flint disembarked from the Kraken’s Claw with Baumann and most of her sea dogs. Lucien had clearly been interrogated, but he still lived. Flint’s not sure what he would have done next, because soon after he found himself being chased by four sea dogs…and the adventurers are personally aware of what happened after that.
It seems that the next step is to find Lucien at Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe. Draya, Rook and Romany are all able to provide a little more insight into the true nature of the Book Shoppe. It is actually a front for the drug den known as the Smoking Dragon. With the passphrase provided by the sea dog, they should be able to get into the underbelly of the place, and from there find Lucien.
While the adventurers make their way to Rudolph’s, Ketham again takes a different path. He finds the Kraken’s Claw, on the last slip before Scurvytown. There is no ship in the adjoining slip. Ketham observes for a moment. The Claw is sleek, with two masts. The gangplank is retracted, and the deck is patrolled by two pairs of sea dogs. Before leaving to rejoin the others, Ketham pays a boy to watch the ship, and to run ahead with a warning should anyone leave the ship in the direction of Rudolph’s Exotic Bookstore.
Act I, Scene III: Baumann’s Prize
The others reach Dreaming Street without difficulty. Between Rook and Romany, the location is easily located. What follows, though, is an involved discussion of how to proceed. Aside from the sheer number of the adventurers, they must also contend with their fully armored anchorite companion.
“Why don’t you give us a hundred-count and then follow us in ‘to stop us.’”
-Rook to Gabriella
“Yeah…Guys, don’t go in there. Turn to the Mists! Or, whatever you people say.”
- Romany Grey
A number of options are discussed. Gabriella is reluctant to doff her armor, explaining that her faith guides her to go fully armored or wholly unarmored. When armored, the symbols of her deity are even more strongly presented than when she wears a plain robe and her holy symbol about her neck.
“Have you seen my shield?”
-Gabriella Fidanza to Draya the Blind Potter
The plan settles over Orlan leading the way. As a druid, he is able to take the form of a small creature—a coral snake—and slip into the storefront through a mouse hole. He will return in just a few minutes to share what he finds beyond. Before he leaves, Orlan mentions that he has an item that can teleport the adventurers a random number of miles away. That way, if the going gets rough, they can get away. The item offers but a single use, and the direction is random. So, it could feasibly send them miles onto the Sea of Sorrows, stranding them on an island or atoll.
After Ketham returns, Orlan changes shape and enters the store.
He returns with a description of a storefront lined with shelves and weathered books. The back wall is covered by a thick carpet. An old man sits by the light of a candelabra, reading an ancient tome. Behind the wall covering, an opening leads to a back corridor, but there Orlan is stopped. An iron door with a sliding window snugly fills the passage.
Forearmed as best they can be, the adventurers plan to enter the bookstore. Gabriella will peruse the shelves, while the others come inside behaving as if they are more interested in the drug den. Gabriella finds that the man in the storefront is surprisingly likable. A scholar, the old fellow simply wants time to study his rare texts. When he sees the anchorite in his store, his heart goes out to her. He guides to toward the Temple of Knowledge, where she could find countless volumes in her native Eastern Mordentish. The old man genuinely seeks to help his fellow scholar find the books that will serve her best.
Rook and Romany enter next, disguised by Kari and behaving as if strung out. Orlan accompanies them in Rook’s pants in the form of a bat.
When these two ask for the “exotic reading room,” the old man Blaine Henry looks askance at Gabriella. With a disdainful sigh, Henry indicates the space behind the wall hanging and tells them the password is “Drac.”
The man stationed behind the iron door lets Rook and Romany through, though he confiscates one of Rook’s pistols and other weapons before opening the door.
Ketham and Kari guide Draya, who appears half-drugged already, into the shop next. Blaine Henry gives them the password, as well, and these three make their way to the iron door. At first, it seems that they will relinquish their weapons, as well, but then Ketham, Draya and Kari first distract, then incapacitate the door guard. This allows them to return to the storefront and take control of the shop, and then invite Gabriella to accompany them.
Before they join Romany, Rook and Orlan in the Smoking Dragon, Kari turns Gabriella invisible with a subtle incantation.
Then they enter the hazy drug den. A blind overseer takes orders at a barred window manned by a pair of gnome dealers. The ironbound door leading deeper into the Smoking Dragon is guarded by a warrior woman with flaming red hair. She wears back-and-breast and bears a massive two-handed sword to put the Highlanders of Nova Vaasa to the test.
Realizing that deception has carried them as far as it can, the adventurers take advantage of their environment to turn the tables on the guards. They stir up the drug-addled patrons of the Smoking Dragon, panicking those who are not too dazed to react. When the two guards react, Rook, Romany and Orlan reveal their presence to strike from behind. Though the Dragon’s guards are formidable, they are woefully outnumbered and caught off guard. Before long, both have been overcome, and the adventurers are slashing pouches and exploring deeper into the Dragon.
Orlan overcomes the first, ironbound door by turning all of the iron bindings to rust. He pushes through easily, but then he finds himself stymied by the iron, barred and locked door to the gnomes’ drug lab. Rook lends a hand—and a magical ring that shrieks with the cry of an eagle—and even that door comes down after a moment’s effort. The gnomes are horrified, and surrender at once.
Around them are easily 10,000 gold coins worth of abyss dust and other drugs. Though most of the adventurers turn their nose up at such odious drugs, Orlan fills a pouch with the stuff. Romany, also, is excited by its presence.
When Kari finds a recipe for abyss dust in another room, she quietly pockets it, not sure she wants to reveal its presence to her longtime companion. The search of pouches and bunks turns up several hundred coins—mostly gold and silver—as well as no less than four potions labeled in Lamordian. Two are “neutralize poison,” one is “healing,” and the fourth is “prowess.”
No exit presents itself from the back rooms of the Smoking Dragon. Rook threatens the gnome drugmakers, and the two of them reluctantly guide the adventurers to the secret door that leads to the master’s chamber below. Again, the bound guards warn the adventurers that Baumann will be the end of them if they don’t turn back now.
Dauntless, the adventurers prepare to descend to the floor below the Smoking Dragon. Before they do, though, they evacuate all of the patrons, including the defeated guards and even the dozen or so patrons who are completely unconscious. Ketham says that it is too likely that this place will be on fire when the adventurers make their exit.
“Who’s going to burn this place down? Us?”
Prepared to take the battle into the bowels of the Smoking Dragon, Gabriella leads the way to open the door beyond the secret door. A stairwell descends to a stone-walled basement with an earthen floor.
Ketham takes the lead, spotting a secret door in the far corner, an a collection of crates and barrels and sacks. The archer leads the way into the dimly lit room, triggering an ambush led by none other than Morgan Baumann’s first mate, Shantar Froese. Froese orchestrates and attack by sixteen sea dogs, who spring with cocked and loaded pistols from barrels and more varied weapons from a pair of side doors.
The adventurers meet the ambush from the center and push outward, undeterred. The sea dogs are fierce but ultimately cannot stand against the greater skill and determination of the intruders from above.
Ketham, Draya, Rook and Gabriella take the brunt of the assault while their companions lend aid.
Kari utters a spell of the third circle that slows the movements of a full quarter of the attacking sea dogs. Already outclassed in single combat, these men are horrified by the ramifications of this dweomer. Romany joins the fray from the steps, hurling poisoned knives at the faces of sea dogs attempting to reach her allies. And Orlan joins the fray after a moment to utter an abjuration that wreathes his body in flames. The druid charges through the battle, apparently on fire, brandishing his massive tree-trunk club at men who had just a moment earlier been able to rain bolts and bullets upon the adventurers with impunity.
The reaction to the ambush is so fierce, and so capable, that the sea dogs break morale after just a few minutes. With Shantar Froese bleeding out on the earthen floor, five sea dogs dash for a pair of secret doors behind the steps—not the same door that Ketham spotted earlier. These men flee down another flight of steps, leaving the door open behind them. Each nurses wounds, including some with poisoned wounds delivered to the face by Romany Grey.
The adventurers stop at the top of these new steps. Partly because they have suffered some wounds that must be tended. Partly because of the other secret door that they have yet to investigate. But also in part because of the terrain below this level. The earth and stone walls seem to break into the ruins of a subterranean lair that predates Leudendorf. The tan and ochre stone walls are of a rough masonry, adorned with serpentine imagery that several of the adventurers recognize easily as proof of the ancient Valossan empire. Beneath the Smoking Dragon is a Valossan ruin. And somewhere within, Morgan Baumann.
Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe
The Smoking Dragon (Below)
Valossan Ruins (Deeper Below)