Undeniably, the days surrounding the final defeat of the island slavers had brought about many changes, from the fate of enslaved women, to the membership of the Prince’s agents. Both Zeph and Brendolm had been lost from the Group, the former forced to retire after being reincarnated into Halfling form, and the latter ordered to take up his role as lord of Tigden. The Gnome sorcerer Rarnok had gone from being a recently freed slave to an agent of the Prince overnight.
The Brolenese slaver Melnul Corguld and his consort Uziah would be returning their kidnapped victims under the watchful eyes of both Folikar Pateris of the Golden Alliance and Prince Sevlen. Women long missing from their families would finally be going home, with more to arrive in the coming days. Of particular note among those ladies rescued from the island, Taldred Sterond, Wulalta Plonnor and Regila Minel.
Katarday, Third of Replanting, 1044 Y.K.
Taking steps to avoid reprisals against their captured slave handlers by the newly liberated women, the Party made multiple trips to the “Audacious” before all were aboard and ready for departure. The prisoners were bound and placed into Captain Alon’s stateroom, after it was determined to be the most easily secured area of the ship. Relmir stood guard at the door, ensuring that no men left and no women entered.
With all preparations made, the “Audacious” got underway amidst a blanket of thick Voldor Bay fog-cover. The various Party members did their best to make themselves comfortable in the crowded confines of the galley and holds. On the top deck, a place normally reserved for the crew alone, numerous groupings of women attempted to hold their assorted conversations despite the ominous mist and the ogling from the crew.
For his part, Captain Alon made regular rounds, striving to keep his men focused on their tasks, instead of on their feminine guests. The nautical miles were marked with increased thickness of the Bay’s fog-cover, soon reaching a state considered unnatural by most. Visibility was reduced to abysmal levels, stirring concern amongst many of the passengers. Undeterred, the Captain pressed on, maintaining course and speed.
He explained that while it may initially seem like a risky proposition, keeping pace was in fact quite safe, as conditions would keep all but the most seasoned sailors at their respective docks. They had, as he stated, the entire Bay to themselves. Even as the words left his lips, a second ship; a cargo vesssel by the size of it, appeared in the fog and slammed perpendicular, into the starboard front quarter of the “Audacious”, rocking the ship nearly to the point of tipping.
The cargo-hauler, having also been traveling at full sail, burst through the smaller ship, completely sheering off the front quarter. Shrieks of fear and agony filled the air as the hauler, it’s bow now heavily damaged, drifted slowly into the fog, and disappeared from view. As the two parts of the “Audacious” began sinking, panic took hold of its passengers; women and sailors who had been thrown from the ship thrashed about in the water, struggling to stay afloat.
Rarnok and Stoat, located on the mid-deck of the severed front quarter, recovered quickly and sought to locate a suitable piece of timber or paneling to use as driftwood. A door was found, nearly torn off, and the Gnome sorcerer finished the job, calling out to Stoat to join him. Going into the water, the pair stumbled across Cosdrelita, injured but still capable of holding on. The trio managed to stay afloat, and stabilized themselves.
Acting quickly, Relmir opened the door for his prisoners to escape and hurried to the galley. He emptied barrels and began lashing them together, attempting to construct a makeshift raft. One injured woman, sobbing and in a fit, grappled him about the neck, holding on for dear life. As the “Audacious” continued to sink, the few life boats on board were lowered, filling immediately and providing handholds for other nearby swimmers.
Aboard the damaged hauler, the elven woman Ellanelle Arbordawn cursed the foolishness of the human captain. Having delivered his cargo in the northern town of Yolven, the man had taken on passengers for his return trip. His desire to arrive quickly and load up once again had caused the man to push his luck, sailing hard through the mist and praying to The Traveler for a safe arrival. Instead, the ship had sustained heavy damage.
Commandeering a dingey, Arbordawn lowered herself into the water and made her way backwards, toward the screams in the fog. Her small craft filled quickly, as wounded swimmers boarded or held onto the sides. Rarnok, Stoat and Cosdrelita were among those taken on, and introduced themselves. The cargo hauler, the “Frontier Legacy”, dispatched more boats, picking up stranded women and sailors alike. Shortly after, Relmir’s makeshift raft came into view.
The small fleet of flotsam and life boats maneuvered its way to the “Legacy”, but was waved off as they approached. A shipman informed those below that the hauler was still taking on water, and the forward damage would need to be repaired before the captain would add additional weight onto the ship. Angrily, Stoat slipped out of the dingey and stealthily climbed his way on board the damaged cargo ship.
After nearly an hour of rotating seats in the boats to conserve energy, the refugees of the “Audacious” were permitted to board. Hilg and Maldus tended to injuries briefly before demanding the whereabouts of the captain. A crewman gave his position as below decks, at the scene of the damage, and the pair moved with purpose, taking “Architect” Norforn with them. The other Party members remained on deck, taking a head-count of the survivors.
A full quarter of the rescued women had been lost, as well as one third of the “Audacious” crew. Captain Alon, by way of a scrying from Dokari was found to be below the water, evidently having “gone down” with his ship and perished. The prisoners had all been lost, as Relmir, in his haste to construct a raft, had forgotten to undo their bonds. Crew from the “Legacy” began to direct refugees off the deck, moving wounded to a makeshift infirmary in the vessel’s galley.
Locating the “Legacy’s” captain at last, Maldus and Hilg held a sidebar with the man as Norforn joined the repair efforts. The cleric of Selandi demanded the ship be sailed to Cosolen as soon as possible, brandishing his Commission Papers with the Prince’s seal. The captain reluctantly agreed, and left to see to other matters. Norforn offered an estimate of nearly an hour before the ship would be ready to make the voyage.
With a timetable established, the Party regrouped on the main deck, and Ellanelle Arbordawn was officially introduced to all. As a pupil of the Druid Nilu, the elf learned that she had something of a shared history with Hilg, albeit indirectly. The two exchanged witty banter momentarily before a strange sound stopped them both up short. A cry of pain originated from somewhere over the water, the Group scoured the Bay’s surface, but could see no one.
Another cry was heard, different than the first. Then another, and another… A chorus of pain and agony slowly formed and emanated from above and from all sides as the fog-cover seemed to draw itself tightly around the boat. The Party unsheathed weapons and bid Arbordawn fight alongside them just before a host of black wispy spirits emerged and attacked!
Engaging from all sides, the undead spirits groped at the Group with their tendril-like arms, feeding on the minds of their victims. They emitted lamented cries and maddened jibbering as they floated about, their incorporeal nature making them quite resilient to the Party’s corporeal weaponry. Keeping himself hidden, Stoat loosed arrows at the entities while the others of his company battled as best they could.
As the battle progressed, the Party learned that only spells or weapons enchanted with magic could hope to harm the creatures. Both Rarnok and Ellanelle, lacking magically augmented weapons could do little but busy their spirits, steadily becoming drained. Hilg moved about the ship in his wild shape form, staying one step ahead of the undead that stalked him. Stoat continued his attacks, drawing the focused attention of an entity.
Cosdrelita soon fell unconscious, being drained into a comatose state by two of the creatures. She was joined by Relmir, who had fought valiantly but simply could not do enough damage before succumbing to the corrupted touch of the wispy undead. Stoat and Hilg continued their respective dances of avoidance while Ellanelle attempted to slay the fiends with her magical mask. Slowly but assuredly, the Party was losing the fight.
With no physical injuries to treat, Maldus turned his holy power against the spirits instead. His healing spells burned the creatures like fire, their undead state making them particularly vulnerable to the touch of mercy. Those still conscious did what damage they could, whilst the cleric felled the entities with his curative powers. As the last of the undead dissipated into nothingness, the dense fog faded, a sign the Party took to mean the danger had passed.
Fireday, Fourth of Replanting, 1044 Y.K.
Following their arrival to the capital, Maldus performed restoration spells for both Relmir and Cosdrelita, bringing them back to consciousness. Ellanelle paid a visit to Welitryn Harrobalaea, known to be an associate of Nilu. The others reported to Prince Sevlen, informing His Highness of their success at the island complex, and the tragedy that took place upon the waters of the Bay. Sevlen offered his congratulations and bid the Party rest a few days before continuing.
Having succeeded in his oath to return Regila home, Rarnok insisted on delivering her to Brendolm personally, and called upon the services of Roth and his wagon for the trip. Relmir offered to accompany the group, eager to see his friend once again, and inform him of their exploits. Estimating the round trip to Tigden and back as being four days, the remainder of the Party contemplated how they would spend their brief respite.