Black Sails over Leudendorf

Hell’s Triangle

 

 

October 9th is the date the portal will open at the heart of Hell’s Triangle.

The adventurers set out as midnight brings October 8th into existence.  Captain Caladon of the Sea Lion pushes his crew, knowing that covering the distance to the most desolate reaches of the Sea of Sorrows is a grim undertaking in under forty-eight hours.  But, even if they arrive in time, does anything await them aside from a grisly doom?  Storm clouds darken the horizon, both literal and figurative.  The adventurers have found Lucien, Old Man Carthy, and the magical sextant.  But is there hope in their future?  Or will they come to envy the ashes in the polished urn Lucien clutches to his breast?

 

 

 

Ketham

Romany

Grey

Sakari

Curtis

Orlan

MacShane

Dragomir

Draya

Vanev

Gabriella

Fidanza

Rook

(Jonathan

“Johnny”

Grey)

 

Elfin Archer

Human Gypsy

Human Witch

Human Druid Barbarian

Deva Blademaster

Human Anchorite

Human Highwayman

 

 

 

AND

 

Tianna

Elfin Bladesinger

 

 

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October 8, 740

Act I, Scene XVII: The Voyage Begins

Less than forty-eight hours remain to reach Hell’s Triangle.  Using one of the cultists’ rowboats, the adventurers row from Libertyville to the waiting Sea Lion, where Captain Caladon and his crew await.  As they are brought aboard, spattered with the blood of Billy Bones and his cabal, one of the sailors, “Old Griz,” utters an old chantey:

 

Come in the night

Grimly bedight

With the mark of Kord upon them

Grim tidings betide

And will yet deride

Sinister portents inside them.

 

It will not be the last omen or rhyme that Old Griz speaks during the adventurers’ time aboard the Sea Lion.

Caladon wastes no time.  He speaks to Rook preferentially, but his favor extends to those Rook calls companion.  The ship has to set sail immediately if they are to have any chance of reaching Hell’s Triangle by the date Caladon was given.  Worse, Caladon says, if that portal isn’t open till midnight of that day, then they have virtually no chance of reaching the portal in time.  The adventurers nod their understanding.  Still carrying the extra rowboat, the Sea Lion begins its voyage out of the Lands of Mist.

 


 

 

Crew of the Sea Lion

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Johan - First Mate (Lamordian)

* Easy going, plays a flute, keeps a flask of fine brandy at all times.

* Aways grooming his rich red-brown mustaches, wears his beard in a braid.

Wields: Longsword and Dagger

 

 

 

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Teodor (Lamordian)

* Was a scholar in the Temple of Knowledge in Leudendorf.

* Owes a debt to Caladon and constantly proving his dedication.

 

Ignatius (Born at sea)

* Born at sea, only comfortable on the waves.

* Aggressively violent, Caladon has him reigned in but needs to cut him loose from time to time.

 

Petar (Barovian)

* Lantern-jawed with misshapen nose.

* Once a servant to a Barovian noble, but fled the domain under confused circumstances when his old master died in a house fire.

 

 

 

    

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Lazare (Dementlieuese)

* Always telling bad jokes.

* Once a shepherd in the southern plains of Dementlieu.

* Accused of stealing while in Port-a-Lucine for supplies.  Fled to sea.   

Hamlyn “Old Griz(Mordentish)

* Always seeing omens at sea.

* Former member of the Mordentish navy.

* When he retired he signed on with Caladon because he had come to respect the man so much.

Bart (Richemulan)

* Always looking for a game of cards or dice.

* Pit fighter in Pont-a-Museau.

* Ran up a gambling debt, so a Renier bet against him and set him up to die.  He won and had to flee the domain.

 

 

                               

Act I, Scene XVIII: Pirate-Infested Waters

The adventurers know that they will need some sleep before they reach their destination, but the waters surrounding Leudendorf right now are infested with bloodthirsty pirates.  It’s the Lawgiver’s Eye, Captain Caladon explains.  The Lawgiver has been glaring down through the blood-red moon for weeks now, and the Lands of Mist are beginning to crumple under his scrutiny.  While some cower in fear when their sins become known, others react by lashing out.  The lords of the coastal domains are not the sort to cower.

There are reports of black-sailed ships out of Martira Bay in the region.  Some say that Azalin Rex is determined to take his pound of flesh over the support the city promised Vlad Drakov over his most recent failed invasion of Darkon.  Though the Sea Lord who made that promise is long in his grave, the Iron Crown—possibly spurred by the Eye of Bane in the sky—is not sated.  Leudendorf may need to learn a lesson in blood about the cost of working alongside Darkon’s enemies.

Other coastal powers are also in evidence.  There are ships flying the colors of Mordent and Lamordia, and also the many pirate vessels that call no port home.  The Sea of Sorrows around Leudendorf is a dangerous place, and while the danger is not great farther out to sea, the Sea Lion must ply deadly waters to get beyond the warring vessels.

They almost make it out without a fight.

But the Fang, captained by the Nova Vaasan pirate Clayton “Red Wolf” Sargossa, spots the Sea Lion and attempts to come alongside her.  Lucien quickly recounts what he knows of the Fang and her crew, which is ample.  The little scholar of all things “piratical” speaks of a Nova Vaasan highlander who walked from the eastern edge of the Core to the western shores in the days before the Nocturnal Sea existed.  With him traveled a legion of men, loyal to the grave.  He has a dwarven first mate, “Stumpy Hookhand,” and an invoker “One-Eyed Pete.”  The Fang is not known to carry cannons, but a wave of barbarians swinging aboard the Sea Lion is threat enough to put Caladon’s crew and his passengers alike to work. To make matters worse, the Fang is rumored to have an enchanted figurehead that shelters it from magical attacks, such as the fireball spell that Tianna has mentioned using on several occasions.

The Fang comes into bow range, and Ketham begins to exchange fire with the highland crossbowmen.  Rook begins to open fire with his musket, as well, proving to be a crack shot at impossible ranges.  Though the Fang returns fire, the enemy is able to inflict little damage in comparison to what it sustains.  Johan, Caladon’s first mate, begins to play his flute, and Cari and Romany dance with a pair of crewmen.

When a boarding action seems imminent, Draya reveals to several crewmembers that he can see quite well, and that he is indeed skilled with his staff.  This exchange opens the door to later camaraderie between the “Blind Potter” and Caladon’s sea dogs—particularly Lazare—relationships that only continue to grow stronger.

With Bart at the wheel, sheltered by Gabriella, Rook and others, the Sea Lion begins to pull ahead of the Fang.  One-Eyed Pete calls up a strong wind by means of his magic, but the Sea Lion stays strong.  Gradually, the distance between the two ships slims.  One-Eyed Pete, badly injured now, hurls a blast of lightning at Ketham where he hangs among the rigging, intent upon bringing down at least one of Caladon’s defenders, but the blast fails to either kill the elf or cripple the sails.

When Gabriella calls up the Mists to thwart their pursuers, the Fang nearly loses the race completely.  Soon, the Red Wolf’s crew would wish they had.

In the form of an albatross, Orlan flies to the deck of the Fang.  Having imbibed a potion of fire breathing, the druid unleashes the full gout of its enchanted fluid upon Sargossa’s crew, burning most of them to death and badly injuring others.  The Red Wolf himself draws a composite bow and begins pelting Orlan with arrows.  The druid escapes under a deadly rain of wooden shafts, and in his wake lies the Fang, her crew depleted and her sails all but burned to ashes from Ketham’s flaming arrows.  The Red Wolf bellows in rage, shaking impotent fists after the adventurers. 

 

 

Act I, Scene XIX: A Sighting

The adventurers are not troubled by another ship on their way out of Leudendorf’s waters; however, Ketham remains vigilant for a ship he feels certain will be following them.  In the distance, he sees it: The Kraken’s Claw, the ship of Morgan Baumann, is on their trail.

 

 

Act I, Scene XX: The Storm of Storms

Time passes, and the adventurers catch a little rest. 

As the second day draws on, though, a call from the crow’s nest brings dire news.  A storm covers the entire western horizon.  There is no avoiding it, and it looks to be a monster.  The crew and passengers of the Sea Lion have plenty of warning, and they take ample precautions.  Lines are tied, unnecessary personnel retreat below decks, hatches are battened and so forth.  The skies turn dark and ominous.  The winds pick up tremendously.  Thunder rattles the decks and lightning lights up the skies.  Then the seas turn rough and the rains come, bringing the storm in earnest.

The endless swaying of the boat threatens those unfamiliar with the Sea of Sorrows with seasickness.  Kari succumbs, retreating to the heart of the ships where Old Man Carthy and Lucien reside.  With her are Draya and Romany.  Lucien, who always suffers seasickness on a voyage, finally accepts some of the crew’s “cure” for seasickness.  He is soon sleeping soundly on a cot.

Carthy, for his part, sits perfectly erect, barely seeming to sway with the motions of the ship.  It is as if he is in his own world, barely aware of the disaster threatening to take the Sea Lion.  His only action is to place a quietly reassuring hand upon Kari’s shoulder.  She takes solace in this gesture, warming to the old captain, but he says little and remains lost in his reverie.

He has barely spoken since telling Ketham that it would not matter if Black Jenny Ramsey still lives beyond the Triangle.

As the storm rages outside, Captain Caladon is washed overboard.  The heroes react swiftly, throwing ropes and trying desperately to get the captain back on board.  Orlan leaps into the water in the form of a large fish, hoping to help, and he remains in the sea for the remainder of the storm, struggling mightily against the storm but resolute in his efforts to help anyone else who falls into the sea.

Caladon is brought aboard, but is unconscious.  Rook takes the wheel, piloting the Sea Lion through the storm.

Draya stands ready to receive injured crew, but he is surprised when the person handed down the stairs is the captain himself.  The group within the ship take Caladon to a cot.  Just then, they find another threat upon them.  The pounding of the waves and the rocking of the ship causes leaks in the hull.  The ship takes on water at an alarming rate.  They must stop the leaks, or the ship will surely sink.  Romany and Draya throw their full effort into patching the leaks, keeping the boat afloat while the others continue to pilot it.

There is more than enough to keep the rest busy.  Though the crew battened down the hatches and tied down the sails, one of the knots comes loose.  The mainsail is now partially open, and the storm threatens to rip it apart.  Ketham is the fastest and ablest climber; he reacts swiftly, climbing the mast, racing out on the yardarm, and working to tie down the sail. 

The storm tosses the Sea Lion about mercilessly, but after what feels like an eternity to all aboard the craft, light is spotted in the distance.  They have weathered the storm!  Rook pilots them to calm waters, and the adventurers are able to look back on the storm as it recedes to the east.

 

Ezekiel Carthy Speaks:

Ketham and the others meet below-decks with Captain Carthy.  While still resigned, the old man speaks to the adventurers of the Full Fathom Five.  His knowledge of them is personal, feeding the adventurers’ firm belief that the old man is not the descendant of the pirate captain but actually the man himself. 

Of the Full Fathom Five, Carthy shares:

 

Daen Danud: (DAYN Dah-NUHD) was a bloodthirsty fighter and a malicious sadist.  Of all the Full Fathom Five members, Daen most enjoyed sacrificing prisoners to Yarash.  In fact, he often presented their deity with live offerings on his own time, the screams of the people he tortured could be heard throughout his ship for days; usually, his victims lapsed into insanity before death released them.

    At the time of Leudendorf’s founding, Daen allied himself with Captain Francisco because he believed  the leader to be weaker than his counterpart, Drac, which allowed Daen greater freedom to pursue his passions.  Unfortunately for Daen, Drac exploited Francisco’s weakness and tricked the captain, thereby dooming Francisco’s fleet. 

 

 

Zoltan Zaska: In life, Zoltan Zaska was a dashing, roguish ladies’ man, and some even called him “Harrimast Beneath the Heavens.”  In some ways, he was the embodiment of the venerable sea god.  He could be cold as a cutlass in battle and in thievery, but he loved adventure, the thrill of the chase, and the clink and glitter of gold.  In short, he was a romantic.  It didn’t hurt that he was strikingly handsome and a clotheshorse.  He went into battle dressed immaculately and always with a gleaming grin, even as he drove his blade through an opponent.  And after a fight, he showed his female captives considerably warmer attention than his male ones.

    For all his picaresque loves, his heart belonged to Black Jenny Ramsey (a beautiful and…charming…pirate lass).  Not only was Jenny exceptionally toothsome and just as fiery as Zoltan himself, but she also fed his rapacious ego.  Only Jenny, he thought, understood his exceptionality as a buccaneer.  In fact, how could he love a woman who didn’t understand the attention-starved corsair at his core?  She had a flaw, though.  She flirted.  She couldn’t keep from making eyes at…my ancestor.

    When newly founded Leudendorf raises a navy, Zoltan joined it on a lark, thinking it an opportunity to wear a finely tailored uniform and a chance to tweak…tweak grim old Carthy.  But soon enough, Zoltan’s jolly plans went to hell—literally.  When Drac betrayed Leudendorf’s fleet, the naval captains faced a watery grave.  Clinging to the ruined foredeck of his sinking ship, Zoltan cried out to any who would listen, and Yarash answered.

 

 

Moab Cys’Varion: Moab was born into a noble family of drow—the black-skinned elves of Arak—deep within the bowels of the earth.  They lived in a great city, and he enjoyed a life of privilege and decadence.  When he was very young, his father took him along to witness his first torture.  The drow toyed with their human captives, and as Moab watched, his father raped and killed the human women, while their men watched. Moab found the experience exhilarating; it shaped his attitudes towards other races for the rest of his life.

    As he grew to adulthood, Moab longed to prove himself.  Although his family had always been inclined toward magic, he preferred the ways of the warrior.  He convinced his father to hire the best arms master to train him.  For a year, he studied the ways of war, and he became a very capable fighter.  Eager to test his new skills in combat, Moab joined a drow raiding party headed for the surface.

    At first, the raids were very successful.  The drow came upon the weak, pink-fleshed humans at night and crushed them in surprise raids.  They collected plenty of booty and enjoyed flaying and crucifying humans.  But, as often happens, this did not last long.  Soon enough, the Magarch of the northern domain dispatched a force of elite troops and lured the drow into a trap.  Attacked during the day, with no escape route, the Margarch’s men slaughtered the drow and captured Moab to face trial and execution for his deeds.  While in prison, a slave dealer, intrigued by Moab’s jet-blacked skin and exotic features, took an interst in the drow.  Before the guards could execute Moab, the dealer paid for the drow’s safe escape.  He then took Moab to the city of Leudendorf, moving him one step closer to his fate.

    Moab never imagined a place like Leudendorf existed.  He had spent most of his life deep underground surrounded by stone and darkness.  After one look at the Mist-shrouded sea and the ships in the harbor, he fell in love with the city and the sea, where he knew he was destined to make a name for himself.  Unfortunately, a slaver bought Moab to fight in secret, underground gladiatorial rings for the local crime boss.  Although he longed to escape, he was watched too carefully.  In the ring, he proved himself to be an excellent fighter, and soon had a successful career in the pits.  Ironcially, that is how he finally freed himself.

    One night, after an especially brutal battle in the arena, a man Moab had seen many times before in the crowd approached him.  The man was a ship captain, and he made Moab an intriguing offer.  He would buy his freedom if Moab would serve in Leudendorf’s navy under Captain Francisco.  Moab agreed immediately, quenching his thirst for freedom.

    It was a strange chain of events that placed Moab at the infamous battle in which Captain Drac betrayed Captain Francisco for the rulership of Leudendorf.  As his ship was destroyed and was about to drown, Moab made a pact with the demigod Yarash.  He and his four companions, Black Jenny Ramsey, Daen Danud, Ezekiel Carthy and Zoltan Zaska, struck a terrible bargain.  In exchange for their lives, they vowed to serve Yarash and spread his terrible gospel throughout the world.

 

 

Black Jenny Ramsey: Aside from the comments above when describing Zoltan Zaska, Old Carthy refuses to say anything more about Jenny Ramsey.  He soon falls silent again, retreating into his reverie, contemplating what is to come.

 

 

Act I, Scene XXI: Death Fog

Once stock is taken of the ship and her people, attention turns to their position at sea.  The storm tossed the Sea Lion about, and there was little chance to stay on course amid the waves and wind.  But fortune smiles upon the adventurers.  From the crow’s nest, Ketham and Teodorus spot a hazy patch to the northwest.  It is Hell’s Triangle, and not precisely where Flint’s map indicated it would be.  The storm knocked the Sea Lion off course, and onto course for the triangle’s actual location!

As the Sea Lion makes its way to the shiftless fog that hovers before them, Ketham looks the other way.  Again, he expects to sea Captain Baumann’s ship, and again he is not disappointed.  As the fog of Hell’s Triangle engulfs the Sea Lion, the bow of the Kraken’s Claw emerges from the distant storm.

The center of Hell’s Triangle is ringed with a perpetually thick fog.  It is so dense that it is difficult for the crew and passengers of the Sea Lion to see their own hands in front of their faces.  In this area, the water is very still and there is only a slight breeze, so the ship moves very slowly.  Every sound is magnified in the stillness.  The ropes rubbing against the mast, the creaking of the ship boards, and the lapping of water against the ship’s hull combine to become both annoying and creepy. 

Lurking in this area is a pair of bat-like leeches, aberrations drawn here when the Triangle was created.  They call to one another, echoing cries that put the people of the Sea Lion on edge and scrambling to support one another.  When they strike, they deal telling wounds and then wrap their bodies around their prey to continue feeding, siphoning blood from the unfortunate soul’s body.

Ignatius, part of Caladon’s crew, is injured by the attack of one of these creatures, but the adventurers manage to rescue him and drive off both leeches.  And then they are at the center of Hell’s Triangle.

 

 

 

Act I, Scene XXII: Into the Maelstrom

The center of Hell’s Triangle is a one-mile diameter circle surrounded by a wall of impenetrable fog.  The sky is clearly visible, as it appears that the adventurers are in the eye of a storm.  The whirlpool lies at the center, drawing all things toward it.  The stars and moon hang brightly in the sky, the red Eye of Bane glaring down.  A swirling wind drives the Sea Lion along the current toward the Triangle’s center.

The whirlpool is a massive, swirling patch of water 100 feet across.  Lightning rises from its depths toward the cloudless sky.  An ear-shattering thunder booms occasionally, causing the hull to vibrate.  As the ship nears the whirlpool’s raging waters, the adventurers realize that the water will tear the ship apart if they cannot find some magical means to protect it.

As the ship closes on the whirlpool, Captain Carthy sighs heavily and asks Kari for the sextant she has been carrying in her small, enchanted pouch of holding.  She produces it, and Carthy regards the device grimly as he takes it in his hands.  Then he makes his way to forecastle, holds the sextant over his head, and utters a word in a tongue none of the adventurers recognizes.  In an instant, a golden sphere of force surrounds the Sea Lion in a protective bubble.  The lightning and waters rage around them, but the sphere keeps all within safe.

At this moment, a devil manifests.  Its flesh is drawn taut over a humanoid skeleton, but a bony, scorpion-like tail rises behind its back, darting overhead.  The creatures speaks as it arrives, sneering at Carthy and saying that old Sea Lord Cromey knew the old sea dog would break his oath eventually.  It has awaited Carthy’s return for 150 years.  It appears before the old man, towering over him, attacking savagely.

The adventurers move swiftly, but the devil proves resistant to their weapons—even their magical ones, which do not bear a divine blessing.  Ketham and Draya deliver wounds, and Carthy defends himself with the magical sabre that Rook gave him as they neared the whirlpool.  The death blow comes from above, delivered in the form of a pistol shot from Rook that tears the devil’s carcass nearly in twain, tossing it to one side. 

Carthy changes.  Above the storm’s din, he speaks his final words:

I die now, but not with regret.  You have given me a chance to pay for my past crimes, and I thank you for it.  I was one of the Full-Fathom Five.  I sailed with those vile brutes nearly two centuries ago.  We were once the finest captains who ever sailed the seas, and we served proudly in Leudendorf’s navy.  But Drac betrayed us and left us for dead; and to save our lives we traded out souls to Yarash.  The crimes we committed upon the seas I dare not speak.  They grew too great for me to bear, and I knew the Five must be stopped.

Yarash had five artifacts upon his person—five ancient holy tools Harrimast gave to him when he was his first mate and avenging angel.  I stole the artifact that gave him command of the seas—the sextant.  The Captains of Freeport drove the Five into Hell’s Triangle, where the vortex swallowed them.  But I fear they live still, those bloodthirsty brutes.  And I fear they have collected the rest of Yarash’s artifacts…which would make them unspeakably powerful.

Beware them, my courageous friends.  They are cunning and vicious beyond my power to describe.  But you must battle them all if you hope to return.  For the artifacts unlock Yarashad’s treasures.  You need them all to find the riches you seek.  But they hold secrets you can’t imagine…the dark powers of Yarash…and his Son…

Farewell, and may Harrimast put wind at your backs.  I ask one favor before I depart.  If you see Jenny Ramsey, tell her—tell her—

Carthy gasps for breath and his broken body lurches to the deck.  At the same moment, as if mimicking the old man’s fall, the Sea Lion slips through the whirlpool and falls from a great height.  With a tremendous splash that throws everyone to the deck, the ship lands upon a wide ocean.  Above them, the whirlpool disappears.  The adventurers look about to see a green ocean and a sky filled with unknown stars.  They have reached the other side of the whirlpool.

As the adventurers take in the sight, Ketham registers something else he saw as the Sea Lion began its descent.  Though there is no sign of it now, he glimpsed the Kraken’s Claw, also plummeting through the whirlpool, just after Caladon’s ship.