The Voyage of The Várka

Session 002 - Mutiny on The Várka

from the journals of Ignatius Calmwater:

We had just finished off the second group of cultists when we heard calls for Seraph behind us. A human (in the clerical garb of Shelyn) and an angry-looking halfling in a shirt of animal hides and platinum coins ran down the road towards us. They did not appear threatening, though the snarling halfling did little to assuage my battle-tuned senses (I had always heard that halflings were such a happy folk).

As they approached, Seraph informed us that these were the other two bodyguards she had hired for the journey. After they day we had been having, I was more than pleased to receive some reinforcements.

No sooner had the two caught up with us, another pair of cultists appeared, as if they were stepping out of our surrounding environment. These were more skilled than any of the others we had faced thus far. It was good to see that we now rated more than mere shock troops. While obviously of superior stock, they were found wanting. This group of strangers I had found myself with was proving quite formidable.

Behind us, the lava flow had reached the far side of the city; while, below us, the docks swarmed with those seeking to escape the coming doom. If we did not hurry, there would be no vessels left and we would be stuck between the unforgiving sea and a tide of molten stone. Formidable as the group may be, we could not stand against such power.

We reached the docks without incident and found what was perhaps the last vessel (The At Least It Floats) with available berth for us. The blackguard captain (called Ajambo), wanted 400 gold per passenger! It has been a long time since I have seen such blatant privateering and I would have struck him down for his crimes, but the ensuing battle would have cost us dearly in lives and time. We paid his blood money and took our places on the ship.

It was heart-breaking to leave so many behind. The scene will be seared into my heart as long as I live.

As we reached deeper waters, a strange cloud formation descended upon the ship and, as it cleared, revealed a djinn! I am not very familiar with the creatures, but I have heard that they wield incredibly powerful magics… even great enough to grant wishes to certain individuals.

This particular djinn seemed to have business with Captain Ajambo. Apparently Ajambo had run out on some deal he had made with the djinn. The fool had likely tried to barter for wishes or power, and found himself on the more disadvantageous side of the bargain.

The djinn proposed a riddle contest. For every riddle Ajambo missed, a crew member would be taken away. At this, Ajambo relaxed and the writing on the wall became very clear… despite the 400 gold he had taken from each of us, the villain planned to use us to cover his losses as well.

Yet again these new companions proved formidable, this time with sharp minds instead of strong arms. We answered the djinn’s riddles, but he decided not to leave entirely empty handed. In a rush of wind, he took up the captain and left the ship with us.

We thought to turn back to see if we could save any more from the docks, but I deemed the risk too great. I could not, in good conscience, risk the lives of all aboard this vessel for the off-chance that we could save a few more. It was also at this time that we noticed the pursuing ship. It was black and bore the insignia of The Eye of Thoth.

I began shouting orders and, fortunately, the crew took them. We would try to outrun the pursuit, but I had little hopes it would be possible. Thus far, the cultists had proven very resourceful and it would like come down to a fight. Still, any extra time we could manage to help prepare would be helpful.

Aaaaggg and I began to check the cargo, seeing if there was anything we could dump overboard to lighten out load. We found a great deal of wine and devilgrass. Brother Alfonso (the cleric of Shelyn) took a couple bottles of wine (I presume for some religious sacrament of his order) and the rest went into the sea.

Next, I went below decks and discovered a score of slaves chained up. I find the custom of slavery to be somewhat distasteful and would never claim to own a free-thinking being myself, but it is not an unlawful practice. As I had no time to investigate the legality of their enslavement and I did not wish them underfoot in our crisis, I left them as I had found them. They were safer where they were.

Back on the main deck, we reported what we had discovered below. I should have been paying closer attention to the reactions, but my mind was what I believed to be a more immediate threat.

While Alfonso, Aaaaggg, and I stood on the aft of the ship, attempting to determine how much time we likely had; we heard a commotion break out below deck. Alfonso volunteered to investigate, so Aaaaggg and I returned to planning our defense.

Within moments, Alfonso screams could be heard just below decks and we raced to his aid. The slaves had been released and had apparently decided to kill their way to freedom. Alfonso held the bottom of the blood-streaked stairs leading to the main deck, but many slaves were managing to push passed him. Aaaaggg, the crew, and I formed a second line of defense; holding the slaves below deck and attempting to push them back. Auni and Anafa (the angry, little halfling) were somewhere below decks and beyond my vision.

Having no desire to kill the slaves, I struck with the flat of my blade again and again. It was a mercy, but it was likely that any slaves that survived this would be hanged later.

It was a bloody affair, but the attempted mutiny was quelled. We lost several crew and a majority of the slaves in the process . Rather than spending time preparing for an assault from The Eye of Thoth, we had lost roughly 30 lives and those surviving were now more fatigued and suffering from wounds.

A call from the aft of the ship told us that a raiding party was speeding our way. We patched ourselves up as quickly as we could and raced aft to face the next wave of trouble.

Humanoid shapes sped through the water with the ease of great fish and, within moment, cultists were scaling up the aft bulkhead of the ship. We did our best to repel them, but they managed to climb aboard and yet another battle began.

It was a hard fight. We were exhausted and spent; but, once again, we managed to prevail. More crew had been lost and I had even nearly been knocked unconscious during the fray; but the last of the assailants was driven back off our ship.

The black ship seemed to be giving up its pursuit, but we were not out of danger yet. “Storm ahead,” came the call and any dreams of rest vanished in an instant.

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