Recap: The night of Cal the 27th began to fill with mists from all sides, as the crow's nest reported, "Ship astern," and then, "Mist rising!" Captain Fourth and his senior crew knew what this meant -- a ghost ship was following them. He informed the party that if the ghost ship's intent was to kill them, then there was nothing the crew could do. He also said that, if it came down to it, the party was expendable -- down to the very last man -- to save his crew. If he had to put them all on a longboat, and leave them, then he would.
The party understood, and Captain Fourth let them stay aboard, only after Jena's continued volunteering to do so, herself -- and promise to take the Spin Stone to the bottom of the sea with her, if that was what it took to save the Skate and her crew.
Nathamra used her ring of winds to keep the area around the ship clear of the fog, and to keep the sails full, but there was no sign of the ghost ship as it cut its faerie fire lights. Beyond the effect of Nathamra's ring, however, the fog was thick and impenetrable. Meanwhile, a creature composed only of two sea-blue eyeballs and a vaguely humanoid shape terrorized the crew, sometimes hypnotizing them into attacking one another, and at other times simply turning their minds into mush. Great evil reigned on the ship, and the forward hold held rats the size of terriers.
From out of the fog, the ghost ship would advance at lightning speed, and blast the rudder and stern with cold, withering fire. Above the cold ballistae bolts would come shortbow arrows coated with a nasty venom. Then the ghost ship would run off, into the fog.
As the captain went down under the withering fire, and men were shattered into ice cubes by the chilled ballistae bolts of the ghost ship, the crew began to slowly panic. They seemed doomed. The party, however, was determined to survive. Xzax and Seamus led the crew towards salvation, however -- Seamus with a stirring song from his bagpipes, and Xzax with calm and determined force of will. Volleys of fiery arrows soon joined Xzax's and Gunju's, as the ghost ship made pass after pass against the stern. It was Xzax, and not the Skate's man-at-arms, that ordered tables brought up from below to shield each skipper at the wheel. It was Xzax, and not the First Mate, Nathamra, that ordered tacking motions to keep the ghost ship off-guard. Whether successful of not, the tacking motions also helped give the crew a sense of hope -- especially as Lucian fired bolt after bolt after bolt of magic missile into the ghost ship with each pass. Massive blue bolts nearly two feet long and a foot wide that caroomed over the water at wild angles to hit the ship. N'Kara's own faerie fires continued to light the ghost ship up within the fog, giving the archers and Lucian notice that she was about to attack.
Meanwhile, Jena, and the two clerics of the ship, Cormyr and Nathamra, worked below-decks to ferret out the evil that kept terrorizing the crew. Nathamra enchanted over half-a-dozen of the ballistae bolts, so that they glowed faintly with power -- and could damage even the ghost ship, if only the ballistae could fire.
Above decks, Xzax ordered one of the forward, swivelling ballistae to be unbolted, and reset to the stern for a shot at the ghost ship.
Before the ballistae could be moved entirely, though, the ghost ship moved to engage in a drag-down, all-or-nothing fight. Skeletal archers on her deck raked the Skate with withering fire, even as the cold, deadly ballistae of the ghost ship destroyed the Skate's rudder.
Below decks, Jena and Seamus were attacked by a horde of terrier-sized rats. Barely escaping with their lives, they sealed the lower decks, even as the eye-ball spectre attacked, and tomanths were sent below decks to deal with the rats. Thick mist billowed up from within the lower holds themselves, and the situation below-decks looked grim.
Above decks, N'Kara's entangles slowed the skeletal crew, even as Lucian's magic missiles blasted out chunks of the hull at the water line. The ship finally went down, and the crew above-decks rejoiced -- even as the few below-decks cried out in fear.
Jynx, hoping to aid in the battle below-decks, was literally petrified. His stone form was the first to fall victim to the undead medusa that coalesced within the Skate. Shots were fired, and even Nathamra's most powerful spell only slowed the awful creature down. Seamus, taking up one of the ballista bolts as a shortspear, attacked the medusa at close range even as Xzax's arrows plowed into it, again and again. A second ballista bolt from Seamus found the bard turned to stone, and the medusa pinned. It was then that Lucian's spells finally splattered the creature into mist, and it disappeared.
The damage was severe, however. Jena was on death's door, poison coursing through her veins. The undead medusa had obviously wanted Jena -- and perhaps the Spin Stone she carried -- at all costs, even that of her own health. Jynx's friend and companion, Ariko Ayno, was gone -- consumed by the suddenly-departed dire rats.
No one believed the creature truly defeated.
Nearly twenty souls were laid to rest at sea the next evening -- the second of the Freeze -- after hurried repairs were made.
Wary and confused, the crew was solemn and determined to finish their mission. Jena and the others slowly healed up -- and suddenly the statuesque nature of Seamus and Jynx was let loose. Apparently, the undead medusa's effects were not permanent, perhaps because of her undead status.
When next the dawn appeared, it brought with it joy and hope. Captain Fourth and the crew determined the general location of the Green Maiden, and set out to find her, based off of Nathamra's scrying and the Spin Stone.
On the way, though, a powerful storm caught the vessel. Seamus, Xzax, and Captain Fourth stayed above decks, lashed to the aft deck, to keep the bow pointed into the waves so that the ship would not roll over and be destroyed. Plowing through the fifty-foot waves behind them, was the ghost ship, sometimes emerging from beneath the waves, and at other times running along their surface. The ghost ship followed for perhaps half a mark in the darkness of the storm, and the flashes of lightning, even as rain soaked everyone, and waves poured over the deck. And then the ghost ship flared to full light with its faerie fire, sails full of light and the dead -- and headed off into the storm.
When the storm was over, the crew found Jena turned to stone -- the Spin Stone torn from her arm.
Even with the Spin Stone gone, Nathamra and Captain Fourth thought they could get the Skate into the general area of the Green Maiden -- if Lucian's familiar, Alora, would be able to help them scout for it. Xzax, thinking ferociously, managed to find a way to enhance his own dragon-like wings -- and aided to the search for the wrecked ship.
In the midst of the Aboriac Sea, Alora finally spotted the broken vessel lying on her side.
With a longboat crewed by Lucian, Seamus, and a dozen burly men, they went to explore the wrecked ship, while Xzax searched the shallow waters from above for any sign of the diamond map pendant.
Deep in the holds of the broken ship, where sunlight glinted through in small shafts, Lucian used detect magic to find the pendant. Unfortunately, it was guarded by the ghost of the crewman that had taken it. The ghost forced Seamus to run, having nearly destroyed his mind with its horrible visage. Lucian, perhaps strengthened against it by his draconic blood, stood ready to battle his invisible foe -- even as Xzax flew in to aid him.
The ghost was unprepared for Xzax's speed as he used his wings beneath the water to reach the map pendant, and only Xzax's inhuman eyes could have seen the clear diamond in dark waters at such speeds. Xzax took flight, aiming to escape back to the Skate with all haste, even as the ghost pursued in broad daylight, frightening the crew of the longboat and the crew of the Skate.
Nathamra had other ideas. In Olorin's name, she turned the creature, forcing it to flee her, even as it sought the map pendant that had cost it it's soul.
The evening of Dacal the 2nd found them sailing slowly away from the wreckage of the Green Maiden. Though Captain Fourth said they were low on provisions, and needed major repairs, Xzax had a different destination in mind than nearby Sandar. The Samite Hills were only five days to the north -- and Xzax had family there.
XP Awarded: 1,700 (total to date is 7,350)
DM's Notes: Brandy and Mac's house seems to be our base of operations, as we played there, again. It's also easier on them, with the rug rats being theirs. We had wonderful steaks, chicken, and barbeque, along with some little extras, and junk food all night long. Brandy's Mac (Philly-Mac, as we sometimes have to differentiate between Harry-Mac and him) loves to grill, so we let him. The girls had to run out together, and do who-knows-what while the rest of us guys ate, but it was a good time to have an all-guy talk.
The lights were turned off, and we played solely by candle-light. This lended to a tense night, as the battle ensued with the ghost ship. Fred jumped, at one point, when Mac's computer made a 'knocking' noise to indicate new mail. I had a sound file I'd made to help with the mood, but that was much less effective than I'd planned. The group as a whole, though, thought that the atmosphere was good, scary, and almost the death of their characters.
Admittedly, a vampire medusa is too much for them to handle, but it and the allip showed the party that the undead were nothing to trifle with -- and that they desperately needed a cleric. The Seyer al Galanus is not enough, and I think it's beginning to sink in.