Last time, cursed Captain Rennaud and the affable crew of the Bird of Prey escaped another encounter with the Keoish privateer Lydia's Light. Well, most of them did. Here is our protagonists:
Victor Emmitt Hammond (rogue, present!)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, present!)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, present!)
Brother Pickles "of the Jar" (cleric, M.I.A.)
and Henri Morgan (rogue, M.I.A.)
A day out of range of Narisban and assured of not being followed, Osprem's Kiss and the Bird of Prey stopped by a small islet in the Olman chain to allow carpenter Nasty Nestor to do some quick repairs. In the meantime roll call was done to see what casulties had fallen both crews. The Kiss had lost five eunuchs sailors and one of the priestesses of Osprem, fiery Sister Ella survived but lost her left hand during the battle. The Bird not only lost Brother Pickles and Henri Morgan, captured by the privateers, olman deckhand Jack Tar and "Morbid" Jacob Fargloom were killed during combat. Old Billy Palsy however proved tougher than nails, only losing an ear from a whizzing crossbow bolt. The captured Knight of the Watch, Sir Aris Westford was searched and thrown into the small brig with soon-to-be randomed Captain "Ironclaw" McGrath. Sir Aris begged to talk to Rennaud but was rebuffed.
Then there was Lord Ronaldo Key. He had been duped back in Fort Blackwell into taking a silver charm from the knight as a token of protection should he fall into Keoish hands. Little did he know, the object was used to track his whereabouts, placing the blame for the encounter squarely on him. Confronted about the incident in front of the officers of both ships, he pleaded innocence and claimed that he tried to give the privateers bad information about Captain Rennaud. Unsure of what to do with Count Tydan's noble proxy, a vote was taken and it was decided that Lord Key should be marooned on the tiny tropical islet nearby. Weeping at his sentence, his spyglass and all his moeny was taken from him, while members of the crew gave him other tokens before he was set ashore. The Owl necklace was hung back around his neck, he was given a broken knife by Cuahto, a magic wand with hardly any charges on it, a jug of rum, a cannon ball, an empty atomizer bottle and a 100 gold admirals from Victor Hammond (for future considerations). On the rowboat ride, Araxo assured his cousin who had been nothing but a bully all their lives, that he would send a ship to pick him up as soon as possible. Standing on the beach, Lord Key watched the two ships fade over the horizon and into the sunset.
Meanwhile back in Narisban, on the highly damaged Lydia's Light, ostentatiously dressed Captain Rynn with shoulder bandaged, stood in his room with an assisting priestess, Sister Aurora of Lydia and interrogated a captured Brother Pickles. He proved to know nothing useful to the knowledgeable captain who frustratingly pointed at a sea chart, while the kind priestess who had tended Pickles' wounds could not coax any better responses from the "touched" man. Mr. Morgan however was healed after near death then flogged back to the edge again, then thrown in a brig next to Pickles without so much a question asked.
Two days out of port, the two sister ships sailed south off most nautical charts from the Densac Gulf and into the lawless waters of the Vohoun Ocean towards an archipalego aptly named the Pirate Isles. Each day, Sir Aris asked to meet with the captain and each day he got no reply. Instead the captive knight had to put up with the jovial old pirate McGrath who only teased and bragged about his impending release at his home port of Scuttlecove. McGrath had learned all about the "Blackguard's" quest for a magical healing well from W.B. McGarnagle before he was forced off the Bird, and now he was only glad to spout it back to the morose knight who had little to say. The existence of a knight of the Watch in the same cell as him only reinforced McGrath's belief that Rennaud was hiding a buried treasure of the order. Each day the brig was also visited by Araxo Tydan and Cuahto. The deadly olman striker spoke taunts in his native language to the knight who was oblivious to all but his tone of voice, while Araxo spent much time talking to the cooperative captain. At one point a day before they were to arrive in the Pirate Isles, Araxo gave McGrath a rolled up scrap map of where his cousin was marooned in exchange for future considerations. McGrath turned his back and hid the paper, the knight overhearing all said nothing except to ask when the captain would see him.
Lydia's Light was back in service, sailing south where the sails of the two fleeing ships had last been sighted. Arriving at a small isle, Captain Rynn gave Henri a chance to speak and found the man would talk if paid enough. The captain curled his lips and swore the pirate's hands would never stain the king's gold. Henri was put in line with three others, two sailor and a hired woodworker from Fort Blackwell. All four had their crimes read by an officer; Henri for piracy, the two navy men for cowardice in battle and the other for excessive drunkeness during engagement. They all were sentenced to be marooned on the jungle island before them. Henri was given his pistol with enough for one shot, and a coil of rope "should he find a tall, strong tree." Brother Pickles was spared due to his being a cleric of the sea gods and through the grace of sister Aurora's counsel to the captain. Pickles silently watched on as Henri was rowed to shore amid crashing waves; what ever went on in the simple cleric's head was anyone's guess...
Hundreds of miles away, Captain Rennaud called his staff together in his chambers, and had his men bring up Sir Aris. It seemed, on the eve of a most important hostage exchange, he was ready to hear what the his former pursuer had to say...
(to be continued)