Last time, the crew of the Bird of Prey, split in two directions pulled off a daring hostage exchange for the sage Lockard Meek in the pirate town of Scuttlecove, while another group made a no less impressive escape from marooning on an island. Both groups however are to find out fate has more in store for them before their quest for the Well of All Heals can be completed. Here are our protagonists:
Victor Emmitt Hammond (rogue, promotion!)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, still first mate)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, promotion!)
Brother Pickles (cleric, saved!)
and Henri Morgan (rogue, saved, for now)
Adrift on a raft for many days, Henri, Pickles and two other marooned sailors were plucked out of the sea by the crew of the privateer Lydia's Light, the same ship that had set them upon the island in the first place. Henri who carried the silver owl charm he found on Lord Key's body, had contemplated posing as the noble but the presence of Brother Pickles was too much of a give away. Ensign Whitecliff and Harrowmire, though haggard in appearance still wore their tattered uniforms and immediately begged Captain Rynn to re-enlist them after telling their survival story to a gathering of amused shipmates. The captain reluctantly gave them a "third chance" as the gods seemed to deliver the touched cleric of the sea god back from seas where he had vanished overboard weeks ago. Sister Aurora of Lydia was overjoyed that Pickles had been rescued and Henri was given a chance to work his way back to a safe port by presenting Lord Key's bag of 100 gold pieces to the captain for passage. Rynn agreed to their offer, but only after he had caught their former ship the Bird of Prey, and he hoped their final destination would be his home port of Gradsul where he boasted there would be a huge gallows to follow. Henri and Pickles did not like the sound of that.
Captain Rynn had been circling the Olman Isles and Lof Bosok hopelessly in search of the Bird of Prey. Since Key had been marooned by his own countrymen after discovering the owl necklace, that meant the Bird had been in that area and might double back to Narisban. They obviously would have to use more difficult means to divine this time, by homing in on Sir Aris Westford. Sister Aurora's divinations cryptically pointed them back to the same isle that Key, Henri and the others had been marooned on. Their arrival at this ill-fated islet would prove to be critical, as not one but three ships already arrived there before them...
Several days earlier, the Bird of Prey and Osprem's Kiss had successfully set out of the Pirate Isles at full sail, with Lockard Meek onboard at last. There was no sign of pursuit from the Crimson Fleet. As the old sage got updated by his colleague the botanist Olfon Trebus, the quartermaster Skullbreaker aided an ailing Captain Rennaud to his chambers to lay down. The captain had not been touched during the tense hostage exchange hours before. The curse of weakness had worsened the closer to Rennaud got to his goal. That night, under cover of darkness the two ships met to discuss their next destination of Narisban for resupply, while the sage was appraised of their quest. Lockard gazed at his old map for the first time in two decades and fretted that it would take him a while to decipher his own code and calculate the next occurance of the Well of All Heals. He explained the Well is what scholars call a Fading Land, a demiplane that sometimes overlaps Oerth and in this case often in different places. He postulated that at least they were in the right latitudes for the Well's current millennial cycle.
Rennaud and his close friend Captain Jet Cassidy conferred about his weakened state and need of healing care. That is when Rennaud announced he was turning over the captaincy of the Bird so that he could move over to Osprem's Kiss to finish his quest. In a stirring show of confidence, instead of gaining promotion-first mate Araxo Tydan, threw his vote for captain behind the bosun Victor Hammond. Victor had more experience at sea and had proven his mettle time and again. The rest of the ship agreed with Araxo and cheers went up as Captain Hammond was promoted by Rennaud. The surly but battle hardened marine Snorri Snorrson replaced Vic as bosun. There was more moves to be made however. Rennaud's loyal friend, Skullbreaker vowed to stay alongside him on Osprem's Kiss and both sages had to come along to study the map. With Skullbreaker's departure, Cuahto was named new quartermaster in charge of discipline and the armory. Furthermore, the captive yet complicit knight Sir Aris Westford was to be left on the Bird for the crews still didn't trust him to be near Rennaud. For the rest of the Bird of Prey and their new officers, Rennaud lastly offered to let the men out of their oaths to serve him on his quest for the Well. He did point out however that the healing waters he sought was not just for him, that if true, the Well could even regrow young Charlie Duffle's arm, Captain Cassidy's ring finger or Sasha Dirk's pierced heart. The Well might also cure Billy Palsy's shakes, Vic's sickly body and perhaps even mental ailments like Brother Pickles' addled brain. There was no need to convince any further as Captain Hammond vowed they would all stay the course.
The next day as they raised sails north for Narisban, fate again intervened as a strong storm separated the two ships. The larger carrack Osprem's Kiss fought through the gale and remained on course while the smaller caravel Bird of Prey was helplessly tossed westward toward the Amedio coast. After minor repairs to the rigging, Captain Hammond recharted their course for Narisban with the goal to stop by the small islet and check on Araxo's poor cousin, Lord Ronaldo Key...