- “Dirty”, the dapper bosun.
- “Big Tuna” Heketoro, plus-sized warrior.
- “Mad” Mags, rope expert and capable swimmer.
- Mo’, able seaman with a can-do attitude.
- “Papa” Sean Geaux, quartermaster and man of reason.
- Raphael, cabin boy.
Captain Courvoisier emerged from his quarters after several hours. He took Papa aside to ask a technical question. Would it be possible, he asked, for Papa to use his profane magical gifts to silence a man for a time? In effect, to take a man’s tongue?
Papa allowed as how such a thing might be done, but he would need a few things: five chickens, one red rock, and one blue rock. Oh, and a bottle of rum. Intrigued, the captain gave orders to collect these things. Those of the crew not required for sailing took part in a mad scavenger hunt. The rum was no problem, of course, and there were enough live chickens on board, but locating two specific rocks proved challenging. Raphael found one, stuck in the heel of his boot, while Dirty was able to coerce the crew into locating the other. Papa performed his ritual, and presented the captain with a pouch of powder.
Captain Courvoisier took the pouch and returned to his quarters. Several minutes later, he emerged. Several of the PCs observed him tucking a wriggling bag into a pocket. Raphael spoke up, questioning what the captain had, there? The captain responded with a glare, making out as if he hadn’t heard the question. “What’s a cabin boy doing lounging around on deck?” he shouted, and ordered the boy aloft. “Make sure he doesn’t kill himself,” he ordered Mo’, an expert in the rigging.
Raphael demonstrated that he’s not only no sailor, he’s no climber, either. He was nimble enough to keep from falling, but had trouble making any progress. Finally, Papa called him over and performed a quick ritual to give him a bit of help. With this assistance, the boy was able to make it to the crow’s nest alive.
Again taking the quartermaster aside, Captain Courvoisier announced his intention to embark upon a voyage to the Miskito Coast. The captain didn’t give any details, but did agree that it would be prudent to keep some spare room in the hold in case of taking on cargo. The two calculated that it would take perhaps ten days to get there, plus another ten days back, with an allowance for ten days there, meaning they would need to take on provisions. Therefore, they would make for Port Royal.
(The voyage to the Miskito Coast was to remain privileged information, but Big Tuna overheard the conversation from his place of hiding from labor, in Papa’s galley.)
The crew was much in favor of some time in port, and so everyone turned with a will towards making good speed. The weather was fine, and everything was going smoothly. Then, Dirty decided that he would do a little ritual to help things along, to make the ropes work a little more cooperatively.
Sadly, he botched it. The boat’s lines came to violent life, bucking and heaving as if they resented being tied down. Mo’ and Raphael were barely able to keep their perch. Mags was not so lucky. She was thrown free and pitched into the ocean. Being able to swim, she quickly came back to the surface and began looking for a way to climb aboard. Big Tuna grabbed a loose rope, quickly wrestled it into cooperation, and jumped in the water after here. Mags didn’t wait to be rescued. She planted a boot squarely in the big man’s face, using him as a foothold to get started climbing up the rope. After some spluttering, he followed.
Papa didn’t know who had caused the havoc or why, but he knew the effects of bad magic when he saw it. He cautiously moved to correct the problem, reaching out with a spell of communication, trying to make contact with the angry spirits in a bid to soothe them. This did not work out at all. The spirits were offending by the ritual. The weather had been clear, but now swirling storm clouds began to form. The wind began to pick up.
Raphael had had enough of all this. He slid down the mast to the deck and went to the quarterdeck, where the captain was standing. Most of the other PCs converged there, as well.
Dirty announced his theory that the spirits would only be placated with blood. He suggested that they should choose a random member of the crew to act as a sacrifice. Papa objected strongly to this course of action.
As they argued, a crew member called out, pointing towards a sail on the horizon. Big Tuna pulled out his spyglass for a closer examination. He observed two masts, and sails decorated by huge red crosses. A Spanish warship!
At this news, the argument expanded. Some of the PCs wanted to attack, while others wanted to flee while flight was still possible. The balance of the discussion shifted, as different crew members changed their minds.
Finally, two decisive actions ended the arguments.
First, Mo’ dropped out of the rigging, brained a passing seaman with his boarding ax, and hacked off the man’s head while everyone nearby was still stunned. Holding up the bloody head, he shouted to the skies, saying that if any spirits wanted a sacrifice, they were welcome to this one. He then handed the head off to Papa.
Second, the captain weighed in on the fight-or-run question, pointing out that there wouldn’t likely be much profit in a battle. The crew agreed, better to run off to find richer targets.
Sadly, it looked like the Spanish ship was somewhat faster than La Fille Joile. The PCs cooked up a scheme to slow them down.
Papa used his magic to call a friendly swordfish to the surface. The crew dug up an extra-large grenade, which Dirty enchanted to enable to float. Papa also drew a seagull on the side of the bomb, so it wouldn’t look suspicious. Mags tied up a rope harness so the fish could drag the bomb along behind it. The plan was to have the fish carry the bomb to the Spanish ship, with a long fuse burning, and then leave it behind, attached to the ship’s hull.
Everything with the plan went perfectly, up to the point where it went horribly and completely wrong. (GM Note: This would be, I think, the third triple-six of the night. The dice were not kind.) Once armed, the swordfish took off, swimming powerfully… in a big arc that brought it around, full circle, to aim at the PC’s boat! Big Tuna threw a harpoon at the swordfish, but it dodged out of the way. Just as it was closing in on the boat, Dirty leaned out over the water and fatally shot it.
Having had enough of magic for a while, the PCs depended on mundane discipline and sharp shiphandling for their escape. It took the rest of the day, until long after dark, but they finally lost the Spanish ship.
As soon as they were out of obvious danger, the drinking started. Captain Courvoisier called Raphael over and ordered him to go collect food and rum. Especially rum. And as long as he was about it, he should take a meal to the prisoner, too.
Raphael followed orders, but then got caught up in choosing a bottle to stash for himself. Eventually, the captain got tired of waiting, and sent Mags below to hurry him up. When she found the boy lingering over the spirits, she put a boot to his behind and told him to hurry up. Heated words were exchanged. Mags smacked him, once, when his words became too heated. Intimidation rolls were made, going both ways. In the end, Raphael ran away, shouting “You’re not my mom!” behind him.
After finishing his delivery to the quarterdeck, Raphael took some food to the now-mute prisoner, in the captain’s quarters. While there, he snooped around a bit, examining the captain’s small library and some charts that were out. He tried to figure out what the charts might mean, but lack of navigational skills made this impossible.
In time, they came to Port Royal. Most of the crew was eager to get ashore, sweeping aside the suggestion that shore leave should be cancelled.
Papa went to purchase provisions for the upcoming voyage. While he was there, he heard a voice in the distance that sounded like the captain’s, telling him to buy more rum. Seeing sense in this, Papa did as he was ordered.
When Dirty stepped onto the beach, his signature enchantment activated, leaving him cleaned and starched. He went into town to visit a gunsmith, hoping to improve his armory. Along the way, he noticed a beautiful, obviously-wealthy young woman waiting outside. He paused to flirt, exchanging a series of meaningful glances and lifted eyebrows. Just as he was about to open his mouth (and speak, and ruin it all, no doubt), he felt a tap at his shoulder. He turned to meet an older, obviously-wealth gentleman, clearly irritated, holding a pair of gloves in his hand.
Well, Dirty knew how to play that game – he had always wanted to be in a real, live duel, like the fancy folk have in Paris! He backhanded the gentleman, not bothering to remove his hand from his glove.
After recovering, the gentleman said that he agreed to Dirty’s challenge. They would meet at dawn, on the beach, and fight to the death with rapiers. (This was where the player remembered that the challenged, not the challenger, gets choice of weapons.) With that, he gathered up his companion and left.
Word spread, and the next morning, there was a bit of a crowd on the beach. Dirty was there, passed out on the sand, snoring, when the unnamed gentleman found him. The gentleman nudged Dirty with his boot, then turned to take a step back, moving to draw his rapier.
Meanwhile, Dirty opened one eye, pulled his primed pistol from where he had held it under his arm, and shot the man in the vitals, from behind. The gentleman fell, dead.
While the PCs gathered around to shake Dirty’s hand (and pick the dead man’s pockets), there came a commotion from up the beach. As the pirates turned to see what was the matter, they saw several apparently-drowned sailors standing up from the water and striding up on the beach, cutlasses drawn.
The PCs’ response was mixed. Some went on the offensive, while others weren’t so eager to engage. Mo’ threw a bystander in front of himself as a human shield, then took a look around to get an idea of the wider situation. He saw that there were actually dozens of the drowned sailors coming ashore, all up and down the beach. He could also see that several ships in the harbor seemed to be having troubles, as well. There were screams of fear and sounds of ragged gunfire.
Even as they put down the nearby sailors, the pirates began a retreat. Mo’ wanted to head inland, seeing that the uncanny creatures were coming from the ocean, while the others moved towards the nearby longboat. When someone on La Fille Joile started firing the cannons to give them cover (“Yay, Gabby!” the players shout) he changed his mind and joined the group. They got the NPC crew members rowing, with Papa providing inspirational music on the balafon.
Everyone made it back to the boat, where the captain gave orders to take the boat out of the harbor, away from the menace of the sailors. As the crew turned their eyes towards the harbor’s mouth…
… they saw, in the distance, sails bearing a red cross….
Cool Point: Earned by Dirty, for his unconventional dueling style.
The moral of the story, according to the players: “Magic never solves anything!”