Black Sails over Leudendorf
The old man, Caleb Solomon—or rather, “Carthy”—confirmed that his family had given a magical sextant to Sea Lord Cromey. In exchange, his family had been expunged from the records of Leudendorf’s history, and the sea god himself had placed a sheltering hand over the Carthys. But if a cult of Yarash is now active in Leudendorf, then events are coming to a head. And if the portal to Yarashad opens every 150 years, as Lucien suspects, then the moment of truth is just days away. But Sea Lord Cromey kept the magical sextant. Aside from the fact that Leudendorf is a notorious pirate town, there is the fact that the Sea Lord’s throne has sat empty for years since the fall of Sea Lord Drac.
If the sextant is still within the city, it could be virtually anywhere…
Human Druid Barbarian
October 6, 740
Act I, Scene VIII: Recollections of the Past
The heroes regroup at the Scholar’s Quill in the late afternoon. It is nearly six in the evening, with twilight fast approaching.
Time is running out.
As they begin to discuss where they should begin their search for the sextant, one of them notices that Lucien—who had not gone to Carthy’s house with them—is carrying a small bronze urn. Kethem whispers a prayer in elfin for Flint, whom he assumes is within the urn.
As the discussion carries on, Orlan suggests that the sextant might be on display in the hall of the Captains’ Council. This seems unlikely, though, when Kari asks about. Lucien explains that the sextant, a vessel for the power of Yarash, would be unmistakable. And it would most likely thrum with magical power. Any who beheld it would know without a doubt that it was not a mundane device.
The adventurers turn their attention from Carthy and the Full Fathom Five to Sea Lord Cromey, who received the sextant and stowed it away in the town. Romany recalls the heraldic device of Sea Lord Cromey. This is a remarkable accomplishment, as Cromey’s only accomplishment was defeating the Full Fathom Five, and his next largest undertaking was removing references to the Full Fathom Five from history. So, most scholars believe that Cromey did nothing of worth as Sea Lord, because he removed his greatest victory from history.
The adventurers begin to discuss the possibility that Cromey was buried with the sextant, so that the world would forget it as they would him. At length, Romany recalls the fate of Cromey: Cromey died at sea. His ship was lost in a storm.
Further, there are also no memorials to Cromey in the city. He is not known for any great successes. His family lands were most likely reduced or lost over the last century and a half. The family fell from prominence and has not been heard of in many years.
“You don’t get human humor.”
“I’ve never found humans to be anything but…humorous.”
Act I, Scene IX: Town Like a Closed Book
Eager for information that may have eluded them thus far, the adventurers split up and canvas the town.
Romany and Rook go to a museum as night begins to fall. They pose as parents looking for information on Sea Lord Cromey to help their child, whose tutor has assigned a report. Andrei, the curator, takes kindly to the pair and escorts them to the resources on Sea Lord Cromey despite the late hour. There are very few volumes that reference Leudendorf’s second Sea Lord, but Andrei proves to be a resource himself.
Romany and Rook learn, specifically, that Cromey died in 594. The book has a number of details, including a fanciful tale of an elfin navy out of Darkon. Such tales seem to be fabrications created by scholars in an attempt to fill in the gaps created when Cromey removed the Full Fathom Five from history books. The curator relates that, if the original document might have been retained, it would in the Captains’ Council headquarters.
When the two adventurers mention the Full Fathom Five, Andrei gasps. He speaks conspiratorially of the Full Fathom and how they were expunged, warning both his guests that—in Cromey’s day—just mentioning the Full Fathom Five could be a punishable offense. Knowledge of their return would not be taken lightly by the Captain’s Council.
Thanking Andrei for his help, Romany and Rook leave the museum. They depart the Old City in favor of the Merchant’s District. There, they wander the early morning shadows, looking for any sign of Cromey’s symbol over one of the large, wealthy homes. At length, down street that has been paved over and in a darkness unlit by street lamps, they stumble across the ruined home of Cromey.
It stands as if haunted on the edge of Leudendorf. Several windows have been broken, and tattered curtains flutter in the breeze. Not bothering to gather the others, Romany and Rook slip inside. Leaves and dust have gathered inside the broken windows, but most windows remain intact. Ancient furniture has been draped in dusty cloths. The interior has gone untouched all these long years. Even golden chandeliers and silver candlesticks remain where the last Cromey left them. The house is all but silent; the only sound is the ticking of a stout grandfather clock.
The two make their way to the sitting room. There, the clock stands, counting endless hours since the last Cromey departed the Lands of Mist. Over the hearth is a portrait obscured by decades of dust. Romany investigates the portrait, revealing the face of Sea Lord Cromey. “Sea Lord Albus Cromey” has been engraved upon a bronze plaque set in the reverse of the portrait.
Rook’s search of the oddly functional clock proves fruitless, but he is not convinced. It seems there must be something in the house they have worked so hard to find. Romany intones a divination that allows her to check for secret portals and passages. With magic she finds that Rook’s intuitions were correct. On the bottom of the panel her brother searched is a trapdoor, cleverly triggered by a pair of widely separated buttons. In the cavity revealed is a slip of paper with a single code written upon it:
The code means nothing to either Romany or Rook, but they feel as though they have come one step closer to the sextant, and defeating the cult of Yarash.
Before they leave the house, Romany asks her brother to cut the portrait of Sea Lord Cromey free. She wants to take the Sea Lord on their journey to Yarashad. He has earned it.
Kari spends this time at the Temple of Knowledge. She is interested in finding a map that shows the Old City as it stood during Cromey’s day. Orlan goes with her, intending to explore at least one government building in the form of a rat. Together, they hope to determine what buildings existed in Cromey’s day—thus narrowing the list of where Cromey could have placed the sextant. They meet with a Revered Scholar, who grants them access to an Accepted Scholar named Stefan.
Kari’s enthusiasm and beauty—and her grace as a muse—elicit excitement in Stefan, who offers to take Kari, and by extension Orlan, to the Ancient Cartography Vault. Though he seems to be taking a risk in doing so, he puts his trust in Kari to maintain her discretion. The opportunity to speak of such ancient lore is too great a lure to the priest of the God of Knowledge. Stefan takes his visitors into the deepest histories.
In addition to the buildings that existed 150 years ago, Kari and Orlan take note that the Sea Lord’s Palace and Captain’s Council headquarters both grew steadily following the reign of the original Drac. Each successive Sea Lord—and each more prominent Council—took pride in elaborating upon their place in the town.
They also learn a fair amount of history. For instance, Drac’s successor, Cromey, was in the Privateer’s Seat. He was elevated to Sea Lord to placate two warring factions within Leudendorf. First, there were the Captains’ Counselors, who wanted to ensure their continued power and presence in town politics. But there were also the rugged folk of Leudendorf, who believed in a pirate’s right to roam the world and be unshackled by organized government. Replacing Drac led to a critical moment in the town’s history. The Council chose wisely. Cromey was a Counselor, but as the holder of the Privateer’s Seat, he was also the most accessible Counselor to the pirates who called the city home. When he became Sea Lord, both groups felt they had promoted one of their own.
As far as the Sea Lord’s background, Stefan says that Cromey may have been from Mordent, or he may have been born and raised here in the spot that is modern-day Leudendorf.
Kari thanks Stefan with the same fervor with which she greeted him. Then she remembers to thanks the Revered Scholar at the desk. She donates gold in the offering box on the Revered Scholar’s desk on the way out.
While the others are investigating the Old City and Merchant District, Ketham and Tianna go to the Docks. They are looking for cultists of Yarash disguised as mountain-man workers, based off the illusion masking the cultists who attacked the temple of the Sea God. If the cult routinely moves in the disguise of mountain men, then the last-shift boats returning the men to the Docks from their shift at the Lighthouse could be the best chance of picking up their trail.
Ketham and Tianna know that the lighthouse workers return through the Eastern District each night. With work ending for the day, the elves plan to run along the rooftops, scanning the crowd for workers who separate from the others.
They follow a small group that moves north while the rest either move south and east for their Drac’s End hovels or stay on the Docks for a drink. Ketham and Tianna make it only a short distance, though. In their care to remain unseen, they lose their quarry in the press of bodies.
Still hoping to pick up the trail, they walk the Docks. It is Friday night, and they stumble upon “The One Ring.” It is a fighting ring, surrounded by men, including some who are clearly the mountain men they had been following earlier. A dwarven ringmaster works the crowd, and the men chant the name of the current champion, a giant named Ragnar.
Ketham finds a man who seems to be working himself up to take Ragnar’s challenge. The elf pushes the man into the ring, and the crowd roars with approval—no one noticing the help the elf has given him. The mountain man proves no match for Ragnar, who brutally punishes him for his temerity.
During the fight, Tianna continues to observe the small band of laborers they had followed to the One Ring. When one of the men breaks off from the others, she cloaks herself in invisibility and follows him to a pock-marked, unwashed fellow who keeps several pouches of dust under his cloak. The mountain man returns to his companions, shows them the pouch, and the group of them wander off as the fight against Ragnar reaches its logical conclusion.
Ketham slips some gold into the badly beaten mountain man’s purse.
Act I, Scene X: The Sextant
The adventurers reunite at the Scholar’s Quill around 2:00 am. Though the hour is late, and they are once again nearing a state of fatigue, they have gathered a number of pieces to the puzzle before them. Together, they hope to form a clearer picture of what is happening, and how they can find their way to defeating the cult of Yarash and discovering Yarashad.
“Next week, you need to check out the One Ring.”
-Ketham to Orlan McShane
Romany and Rook reveal the code that they found in the grandfather clock’s long-closed secret compartment.
Gabriella mentions that it looks like a sort of code. She remarks on the catalog at the Temple of Knowledge, though that particular index did not use letters and numbers the way Cromey’s note does.
Draya searches his many fragmented memories over his many lives as a deva. He recalls seeing organization indexes that have letters and numbers, particularly in government documents. He suggests the Hall of Records, though he admits that going to the Hall of Records in Leudendorf would be doomed to failure, considering the tight timeline they face.
Kari agrees with Draya. She says that the Hall of Records does not use indexing of that sort. However, she can think of a place that does. While she performed her lineage searches in the Hall of Records, she came across a misplaced document from the Captains’ Councils archives. The number-letter combination links an item in the archives to its physical location in the archives.
Cromey’s code, it seems, may very well indicate the exact place in the archives where the sextant was stowed.
It is late and time is fleeting. While the others travel to the Captains’ Council Headquarters, Romany, Rook and Kari return to the Cromey estate to further investigate the clock. There, Kari uses a divination to study the magical nature of the clock, which has worked with no one to wind it over the course of many decades. She learns that the clock is indeed magical, and that it bears alteration magicks that not only keep it sturdy but also to keep it moving.
Somewhat disappointed that the clock’s secret is merely that the Sea Lord was given an enchanted clock as a gift during his tenure, the adventurers begin their way back from the estate after another search confirms that nothing else remains hidden in the estate.
Ketham, Orlan, Draya, Gabriella and Tianna go to the Captains’ Council headquarters. Draya takes up a position near a fountain, where he meditates. Gabriella stands nearby. When patrols—and the guards at the headquarters’ entrance—see the two of them, their recognition that Gabriella is an anchorite keeps them from ordering them to move along.
The elves make their way to a nearby alley, and from there to a nearby rooftop. From there Ketham fires an arrow with a line across to the roof of the headquarters building. Using his bow, he slides across the rope and clambers to the roof. Tianna follows, sliding along the line with her cloak. The two make their way to the skylight overlooking the main atrium, and Ketham begins to work free the window casement, in case Orlan needs an escape route when he emerges from his search for the sextant.
Orlan enters the headquarters building in the form of a rat. He makes his way to the atrium, scurrying along and making himself very small in the shadows when guards or cleaning staff move by. In the atrium he uses his knowledge of the old footprint of the headquarters building and a posted map to determine the best place to go. He must wait, though, as a man sweeps the floor of the atrium over the course of over an hour.
Orlan takes human form, intending to intone a prayer that will warp the wood of the locked door he needs to pass to reach the archives. When Tianna sees Orlan scamper away from the locked door as a rat, she realizes that he cannot get through the door that bars his way. From the skylight overhead, she utters a simple incantation that unlocks and slightly opens the door.
Taking the shape of a lizard, Orlan races through the door and enters the archives. Though he cannot read, the druid is able to compare the letter “I” to the plaques on the doors to the archive chambers. He finds two that bear the letter “I.” They are adjacent, and he resumes human form again.
Now he utters his prayer to warp the wood of the doors, managing to free both locked portals with the same dweomer.
He searches the space behind the first, and then the second, comparing the digits following the letter “I” until he detects a pattern. The pattern is broken when the archive shelves go directly from I-193 to I-195.
Orlan investigates further, and he reveals a secret compartment with no apparent means of opening. Dreading the repercussions but unwilling to turn back now, Orlan uses his hand ax to wedge the locked panel and wrench it open. The compartment he exposes holds a burlap pouch. And in that burlap pouch is an ornate sextant engraved with mystic runes and literally thrumming with power.
Orlan has found the sextant.
He places the relic in a pouch and then he assumes the form of a bird, the only shape still available to him after taking the form of a mammal and a lizard already. Orlan flies into the atrium, then responds to Ketham’s subtle call, sweeping upward through the small opening along the edge of the pane of glass. Guards hear the bird, but by the time they investigate, Ketham has replaced the glass and all three of the adventurers on the roof are on their way to the ground.
October 7, 740
Act I, Scene XI: A Captain and a Complication
It is just after dawn when they all meet again at the Scholar’s Quill.
Orlan, Tianna and Gabriella rest; they need sleep to regain their spells and prayers. With time running so short, they need to take every opportunity to ready themselves.
When he wakes, Orlan finds a long-term stable for his horse. The cat he hopes to bring with him on the voyage to Yarashad.
The others go about the town, pushing the bounds of their stamina. Draya stays behind at the Quill. He guards Lucien while the scholar spends the morning studying the sextant.
Rook, Romany and Kari go looking for a captain to take the adventurers into Hell’s Triangle. Rook has heard of Captain Caladon and the Sea Lion, a reputable man. Several others have heard of Caladon and his ship, and always in a favorable light. En route, Romany buys the captain a bottle of good whiskey. She buys one for her brother, as well, as his request.
They find the Sea Lion, and Rook’s good name gets them a private meeting with Caladon aboard the ship. Rook is forthright with Caladon, and Kari produces Flint’s map. Caladon listens to what they say, trusting all three of them but particularly convinced that Romany speaks the truth. His price is not small, though. They negotiate 1,000 gold kroner for the journey out and back, whether they find anything on the Sea of Sorrows or not.
Hoping to convince the captain further, Rook asks Caladon to come to the Scholar’s Quill to meet the scholar who will provide the key to navigating Hell’s Triangle. Caladon agrees. He will come to meet Lucien at lunch time.
When the hour arrives, Captain Caladon proves good to his word. Rook steps into the room where the scholar is working, interrupting Lucien. The interruption is welcome, though. Lucien admits that he is at a loss. He says that there is a word of command that someone must speak. Lucien does not know the word, even though he is certain that it’s right there before him in the lore and the runes engraved upon the sextant.
When they learn of the difficulty, Tianna and Kari separately suggest that the adventurers should go back to Carthy—a notion that Ketham seconds. Orlan warns that it could be dangerous to reveal to Carthy that they have the sextant, but Rook says that the group is already in peril. Before they can go any farther, though, Rook introduces Lucien to Captain Caladon. Caladon appreciates the meeting, but he appreciates more that Rook is honest regarding the shortcoming they have experienced.
Caladon says that they can make the journey to Hell’s Triangle as long as they leave before midnight. He will have the Sea Lion ready for departure. If the adventurers find what they need, they have a ship to take them onto the Sea of Sorrows.
After the captain leaves, the conversation goes on to a discussion of whom Carthy might be. Lord Carthy might need to go with the adventurers. He might be interested in doing so to satisfy his curiosity regarding Black Jenny’s fate. Orlan recalls what he heard when he stayed behind in Carthy’s room after the adventurers’ meeting with the man. He had looked up at the painting of Black Jenny Ramsey and asked, “Can you be alive?”
Rook also points out that—if this is the Ezekiel Carthy—then this man was a member of the Full Fathom Five. If the Five were defeated because they lost the sextant, then returning with both Carthy and the sextant would reunite the Five, and it could potentially make them as powerful as they wanted to be 150 years ago. This gives the others some pause, but it does not quash their desire to make the journey to Yarashad, or to stop the cult of Yarash.
They resolve to return to the cul-de-sac where Caleb Solomon—Lord Carthy—dwells.
Before they leave Kari asks Lucien about the urn he carries. Lucien explains that he had Flint’s remains cremated yesterday morning while some of the party was at the temple of the sea god and the others were still studying their prayers and spellbooks. He intends to carry Flint’s remains with him until they reach Yarashad, and he will scatter his friend’s ashes across the beaches, whether they are gold or mere sand.
With Lucien, the adventurers travel to the estate of Caleb Solomon.
Act I, Scene XII: The Chase
Around 1:30 pm the adventurers arrive at Carthy’s home. Kari is the first to verbalize the fact that Harrimast’s protective “net” is no longer palpable around the perimeter. The guards at the gate are not to be seen.
Tianna casts her knock spell to unlock the gate.
Gabriella heads to the gatehouse while the others dash for the manor house. Gabriella finds the two gate guards not just slain but ritually sacrificed in the same manner as Flint. Epithets and exhortations cover the gatehouse walls in the men’s blood. The now-familiar symbol of a skull surmounted by five stars in a semi-circle is foremost among the gory artwork.
The adventurers exploration shows that Carthy’s house is in shambles. The portraits—Jenny Ramsey and “Victory Assured” were both taken from the sitting room. Upstairs, the master bedroom is spattered with blood. Carthy was taken, but he did not leave without taking a price in flesh.
Stuck into a cut in one bedroom wall is a piece of black cloth, similar to the black cloaks worn by the cultists the adventurers have faced across Leudendorf.
Draya and Kari stay in the entry with Lucien while the others search for clues. From her vantage, Kari hears a thud against one outside wall. When she investigates, she spots a pair of unwashed, tattooed cultists scaling the outer wall. She alerts who friends, and soon they become aware of two others climbing the opposite wall of the manor. Two more charge through the front door moments after the battle is joined.
When it becomes apparent that the cultists are being routed, the leader—who sits outside the gate in a sleek black carriage—orders his driver to carry him to safety. Safety is not waiting for him, though. Tianna gives chase, catching the cart in time to leap onto its back and climb to the roof. As she reaches the roof, the leader throws open a hatch and emerges. He is a broad-shouldered fellow with five stars tattooed in a semi-circle around and above his face. He brings a heavy crossbow with him, but never gets the opportunity to bring it to bear. Tianna is much closer than the man expected, and she neatly severs his head with a single blow from her elfin katana.
Orlan utters a prayer that warps the wood of the coach’s tires, bringing the vehicle to a screeching halt.
The driver takes to his feet, dashing into the Merchant District.
Kari swoops over her companions, both invisible and flying. She tells them to get Lucien back to the Scholar’s Quill. She will follow this man to his lair, and then return to get them up to speed. Her companions comply, largely because the Watch is on its way. Rook uses his knowledge of the town to get his friends away from Carthy’s estate without encountering the Watch, and then guides them safely back to the Scholar’s Quill without bringing any additional attention to them.
Alone, Kari follows the last free cultist of Yarash to the Warehouse District. From there she follows him to a small, single-masted boat that carries him into Leudendof Harbor. She begins to grow nervous when the boat passes the Lighthouse and enters the Sea of Sorrows, but she has already seen that there are no supplies for a long journey. Moments later she realizes where the ship is bound. The cultist is fleeing to Libertyville on the Isle of Agony, the place that has been burning for days now. It was the subject of a letter in the “Leudendorf For Um” column in the adventurers’ copy of The Shipping News.
Act I, Scene XIII: The Interrogation
At 6:00 pm everyone has reunited at the Scholar’s Quill. There are six hours remaining to find the cultists, rescue Carthy, determine how the sextant must be used, and then get aboard the Sea Lion bound for Hell’s Triangle.
There is no time to waste.
Kari reports that Cromey is most likely being held in Libertyville.
Then she sets to interrogating the one cultist who neither perished nor fled the battle at the Carthy estate. Ketham leaves the man to Romany and Kari, trusting to the two of them to get information better than any of the other adventurers. Ketham’s intuition proves correct.
Kari slips the man a truth drug in the guise of some water for his thirst. Before long, the man is speaking of Libertyville and the cultists stationed there. He speaks of tunnels under the ruined town, and their leader, a vile cur named Billy Bones. Billy Bones is a priest—the most powerful in Leudendorf—and a deadly, evil man. There are traps, caverns, barracks, forces of cultists, and even a deadly ooze waiting in a seldom-used offshoot from the main passage.
By the time the man falls into a drugged stupor, the adventurers are jubilant with their victory. Billy Bones will not know what hit him.
Act I, Scene XIV: Final Arrangements
Rook sends a runner to Captain Caladon, bearing the message to weigh anchor near the Isle of Agony outside of Libertyville.
Then he seeks out a small that will carry the adventurers to the Isle of Agony. When the captain learns of the anchorite among them, he agrees, assuming this to be a humanitarian mission. All the same, the man will not sit around and wait for the adventurers to return. He will drop them off, and the adventurers will need to find passage off the Isle among the boats that remain in the burning settlement.
They set out with Lucien, bound north and west into the setting sun. They will not return to Leudendorf until they have faced the cult of Yarash and explored the depths of Hell’s Triangle. Any sane man would say they were leaving civilization for the last time.