Monday, January 30, 2017

Swampy Moral Ground

     After a brief and uneventful trip back to the missionary camp, where they find Sorsha's hideout ransacked but otherwise no sign of her death or Sariah's presence, they return to the Hometree with plenty of time to help the Woag clear out the rest of the mining operation and begin to set their home in order.

     The Blackwolf arrives on the following day, bringing the Woag chieftain, King Duwalabwa,  back to the Hometree. The exchange is quick and the crew barely has time to receive his thanks before being loaded aboard the ship. It is at this point that Luther announces his decision to stay with the Woags. During the quick passage back to the crossroads outside of Miach, the Baron hands over the late Bishop Doyle's holy symbol and clerical rings of office, once more expressing his regret at the unnecessary death. He also gives Captain Calder the contract for the Delivery pickup from Torellan, and lastly, the twenty thousand gold retainer of services.

     Dropped off discreetly outside of town, the crew makes their way through the gates and toward the nearest inn, eager to bathe and scrub away the mud. blood and grime of a week in frozen hell. On their walk, they can't help but notice the unrest of the rural citizenry of Miach. A large gathering of angry fishermen and dock workers are gathered around a warehouse, loudly complaining about lost wages and unfulfilled contracts. A drunkard is tossed out of a dockside tavern, slurringly complaining of his penniless state. Inside the Inn, business is lackluster and mainly consists of a few silent patrons drinking alone or in small groups. The hostess gladly takes their coin and points them toward the bath house in the back.

    Newly clothed and back aboard the Maven, the officers divvy the gold, paying the crew their wages and shares, restocking the larder and rum and seeing to the needs of the ship. Falco is officially offered and accepts a position aboard the Maven as Assistant Weapons Officer, taking Grimm's portion of the shares.

     In the morning, Calder, Harrick, Cawyn and Falco make their way to Captain Scrim's Arcanicraft dock. They find the Dinari in the process of packing for a somewhat permanent looking trip. Putting aside the implied break of contract, they get a ride to Mudton Flats to pick up Sharpe and Grail. Unfortunately, the simple retrieval of crew gets complicated by Gerald Longstaff's questions, and Cawyn's less than convincing, evasive answers.

     The Camp leader asks questions about the murk and the weather. When Cawyn comfirms his fears by admitting to an arcanist influence, then backpedals, Gerald's suspicions flare. Meanwhile a pair of rogues that have been watching Sharpe are paying too much attention to the conversation. The Crew is forced to admit the dangers, but remain vague on details.

    Gerald pleads with the crew to return with him to Miach and speak with the Town Governor of what they know, in hopes of gaing Imperial aid. When he's made aware of the possible spies, he gathers some help and heads off to find them.

    Things are getting uncomfortable for the crew now. On one side are the unknown agents who are most probably in the employ of Broke and Starborn. On the other side is Gerald Longstaff, worried for the fate of his camp, his family and his workers. After a covert meeting with one of the two rogues, they agree to a "distraction" that will allow them to leave without Longstaff. When the cries of "Fire!" are heard on the north end of town, the crew makes their break, returning to Miach with a confused Captain Scrim.

     They return once more to the Maven. After judging that they have at least a day before anyone from Mudton Flats can reach Miach, they decide to wait until midnight for a mechanical messenger Calder sent out to Sariah's house.

     When it doesn't show, they set sail. Rejoining the crew of the Maven, they have made the decision to risk the wyverns of the murk just long enough to find Mistress Greenleaf's home, before saying at least a temporary farewell to the Marfach Murk and it's squishy moral grounds.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

You Win Some, You Negotiate Some

      Bwub is able to aid Harrick to the surface and the group fights their way across the docks and up the winding stair. In the treehouses of the Woag, they continue their battle with the Draci, slowing gaining ground with magic, blade and daring rope work. When they finally face the Draci chieftain, Korgall, it is with the aid of the Great Gwah.

      Near the end, Korgall cries out in premature victory as the sound of engines can be heard in the sky above. Unfortunately for the Draci, whatever aid might be winging it's way toward them is too late to help. Blades sink into the brute and he dies with the last of his guards about him.

     Now the party has time to register and source the growing sound. From his perch in the branches, Falco is able to make out the massive shape of a Storm Galleon. Correction: THE Storm Galleon that blew his ship into the aether! When Calder and the others get a look, they can see it is the same ship that hounded them on the moors south of Kaergot. It's not the best news they've had all day.

      In addition to this development, they look down to see that some of the Draci remaining below have set fire to the Oilhouse. There's little time for railing against their luck. Action is called for! Falco grabs up one of the Ice-throwers and sets about trying to douse the fires below. Cawyn frees the woag imprisoned in the treehouses above and the Great Gwah levers itself over the railing and jumps in one huge, elemental belly flop, extinguishing the flames.

      With their leader dead and the Great Gwah on the scene, the remaining Draci make themselves scarce.  As the remaining Woags are set free, rifles are loaded and the party prepares with some trepidation to repel boarders, a loading platform is lowered from the descending ship. Aboard appears to be a single red-coated figure waving a white flag of truce and gripping desperately at the chains. This comes as a bit of a surprise to the heroes.

Wary of ambush, but willing to play this one out, they find that the old man; one Baron Bartholamus Broke of Starborn Industries, is offering a temporary six candle truce. Since no one was really looking forward to facing the full might of the sixty gun warship, they decide to accept.

Leaving Luther and McFall with the Woags, the rest of the crew boards the Blackwolf and is lead through the impressive vessel. Along the route they see dozens upon dozens of Skeletal Cogs working the guns and performing various sailor's functions. There are several heavy war cogs as well, and many scruffy looking pirates, of various races, all eyeing the party with curiosity and suspicion. 

When they are all seated around an oak table in the officer's mess, the Baron, with his Kuldan brute in coattails at his back, lays out his proposal. He claims all the previous hostilities were for the most part due to a simple lack of communications. He claims that the Captain of the Blackwolf is a partner of Starborn Industries. That they are currently involved in a mining and manufacturing enterprise in the Marfach Murk.

When Calder explains their purpose here, Broke confirms that Bishop Doyle was attacked by the Draci, who are nominally under the command of the Captain - or as the Draci know him, General Shard. Unfortunately, the Bishop is dead. He offers them the Bishop's personal possessions and a generous contract as a retainer of Starborn Industries. One year for twenty thousand gold and a first mission to Manawyn worth ten thousand.

When the group asks about the details of their operation, Broke tells them that they have built a pyromite factory in the ice of Ven-Mura Meer, at the heart of the murk. The cold is due to a random rift to Ruafa Manos that they have been trying to stabilize. He goes on to explain that the Fommish government is unaware of their presence, and he sees no reason to pay taxes for the use of otherwise undesirable and unclaimed land.

     Of the Woag and their Hometree, Broke explains that what he does for the tribesmen is actually in their best interest, though they don't realize it. He explains that he is teaching them the value of the Spring they reside over, giving them a means to survive the changing conditions of the swamp and move forward into the modern era of Aeranos as educated members of society. The crew smile and nod.

     After further discussion, he agrees to give them back their freedom and their Chieftain, who they have hostage at the Factory, as part of the deal. Captain Shard is not happy, but accepts the news at Broke's urging.

     When finished, the Maven has decided to hire on to Starborn Industries payroll. They agree to wait at the Hometree while the Blackwolf retrieves the Bishop's belongings and the Woag Chieftain. From there they will be transported to a location near Miach, where they can return to their ship.

     Not discussed were the fate of Sorsha Eledwyn, the heroic bard at the mission camp, or Sariah Greenleaf. Nor was their mention of the deal made with The Bloodroot. And a point of note to the crew was an unexplained, momentary break in Broke's diplomatic composure when Calder used the name "Shard" when speaking of the Kaaj captain.

     As the Blackwolf powers away the crew makes plan for a quick canoe ride back to the mission camp, with plans on returning before their new allies do.