Day 184 11PM The officers got the ship in order – most of the dead had already flung themselves into the sea, to the waiting tentacles of the monstrous jellyfish that waited there. Assured that all was in good standing, the ship and the crew settled in for the evening.
Day 185 9AM “Sail ho!” shouted Juba from the crow’s nest. A caravel from the north was headed southwest. Captain Damiano wasted no time, telling Knuckles to lay in an intercept course. Temujin used his glass to see a skeleton crew aboard the caravel, named the Free Willi. The captain appeared to be in an argument with his officers, but they heaved to as the Splash came close.
An angry older man came to the rail and blustered out that this was the third time he’d been robbed since leaving Drenchport. The bellicose captain, was Joe Sharkey and he was heading towards Beachcomber on Bag Island. One day out of Drenchport, his ship had been set upon by Captain Theranos of the bring, Three Reasons to Live. "She took my full stock of iron ore, minerals and hemp. At the moment her sails were on the horizon, my protection took off. I hired a damn fool mage who disappeared the moment she arrived. He even left his familiar alive,” said Joe pointing to a tern resting high up on the mast. “Then came Captain Jemma Redclaw of the brig, the Last Strike. Seeing I had nothing to sell, she took my arsenal, stores and men!” Left me with all you see here, just enough men to man our ship and get us home and barely enough biscuit to feed us!”
Despite Captain Sharkey’s protests, the party came aboard and inspected his ship and indeed, he had little else. The thought was to take his ship, but Dwag pushed that if the captain was entertaining he could keep his ship – wherein Captain Sharkey danced a crappy little jig, with little rhythm or dignity remaining, and Captain Damiano stated that he could indeed keep his ship.
When asked, Captain Sharkey stated that his ‘mage’ was one Lon Ezeel that he hired out of Drenchport. Dwag pulled up his crossbow and fired at the tern, striking it, it fell behind the sail, and didn’t hit the deck. The party looked and found no sight of it at all. Nico summoned Brujah, and had him skulk the byways of the ship, which it did gladly, and after a bit it reported in that the tern was resting, invisilbly, on a port hole of the starboard side berth deck. The party talked and determined what they would do, and then the babau gave a cry that it was fleeing, flying straight away from the ship, he could still see it – but by the time the party got to the rail, and with no means themselves to see invisible things, it was gone!
Day 185 10PM True to form to the previous two evenings, a stale air crept across the sea and a thick fog enveloped the Splash. Waves picked up around the Splash and in the distance – the sour tolling of the bell resounded across the sea. The party prepared themselves.
Nico summoned his babau, Brujah, and sent him into the berth deck below – and moments later, a dozen shadows moved through the hull of the ship attacking Brujah and the crew. While aware of the terror of the crew below decks, the party steeled themselves on the main deck and held firm – and coming on fast from out of the fog, the Deathknell slammed headfirst into the Splash sending some of the party and the crew sprawling upon the deck. At impact, the rank smell of death managed from the old whaling vessel and swarms of bot flies boiled over onto the deck of the Splash, stinging and biting the party.
Temujin and Mittens attacked the rotting sailors aboard the Deathknell with fire and lightning spells, but their enemies stood firm. Dwag and Damiano slowly moved up, but stayed fast aboard the Splash. Then, the Splash rocked again and the air was filled with a wretched odor. An undead crimson whale, in a state of decay had ascended to ram the Splash from below, rocking the ship about – Nico was thrown into the sea. Despite the rank scent in the air, the party kept their composure and rallied on.
Yacine made it to the main deck, and began singing a song to inspire confidence in the party and the crew.
Up in the yardarm of the Deathknell, there was a stranger to the party, one of Pilk’s defenders no doubt. He had a pistol in his hand and took careful aim, and ‘crack!’ as he fired true at Dwag. Repeatedly, he took careful aim and continued to shoot at Dwag. Having enough of this one-sided fight, Dwag and Damiano jumped aboard the Deathknell, and as they did, they were greeted by the deathly welcoming grins of the undead sailors, swinging cutlasses.
Nico quickly quickly flew from the sea and summoned a duo of orcas, and sent them after the undead whale. Mittens and Temujn continued to suppress the botflies, and rain spells upon the undead. Father Pyrlig moved up with Dwag and Damiano to soften the undead up, with the righteous energy of Gozeh.
At the Splash, Brujah fought on to the last man…shadow, and slew it. But some of the fallen sailors, stood up, shadows in their right and attacked the babau and eventually slew it. But this granted enough time for the sailors aboard the Splash to raid the weapons crates for magical weapons and cut down their mates who had transformed into the undead.
The party closed in on the stern of the ancient whaling vessel. The undead gunfighter, Pistol Pete took shots of opportunity between Dwag, Mittens and Damiano. As Damiano closed in on Captain Pilk, a greater shadow moved through the decking and attacked him from behind while Pilk attacked from the front, and Pistol Pete fired down from the yardarm. With Pilk occupied, Temujin moved up and with a prybar started wrenching the brass bell from the post it was mounted to. Mittens was being attacked by two undead sailors, and Damiano was furiously defending himself from his three attackers – Pilk kept trying to draw out Damiano’s breath, to no avail. About the two ships, Nico’s whales slew the undead crimson whale, it’s body breaking up, and sinking to the bottom of the sea.
As Temujin continued to leverage the prybar he saw Dwag coming in fast, whirling his falchion about and slamming it repeatedly into the bell until it was sundered.
The tolling of the bell stopped. Captain Pilk stopped attacking Damiano, as his undead crew turned and looked to him with their hateful, dead eyes. Mittens’ assailants moved towards Pilk, as did the greater shadow. Pistol Pete slid down the mast upon a rope and landed directly behind the captain, his pistol clicking as it was reloaded and readied. Pistol Pete unloaded his guns into Pilk as the shadow struck, and the sailors too – the ship quaked and started to give way. Nico looked into the hold to see red baleful eyes gleaming back down at him among a hold full of bones. He gathered up the few valuables scattered about and headed towards the Splash. As Pilk collapsed, screaming, under the attack of his own crew, his attackers bodies decayed and fell to the deck. Dwag scooped up the two pistols as Temujin grabbed the broken bell, and the party returned to their ship.
Reaching the safety of the Splash, Captain Damiano gave orders to Knuckles to go hard astern and pull free from the wreckage of the Deathknell.
The history of Jeremiah Pilk
Captain Jeremiah Pilk took the whaler Belle Dame to sea from the port of Magnimar in 4631 AR. The Belle Dame could take a whale in far waters, skin it, render its blubber in the tryworks, and store its meat, all without seeing land for weeks at a time. Such was Captain Pilk’s success that he became known as “Whalebone” among Magnimarian seafarers after the rumor that all he left of his prey were the picked-clean bones, and his ship became known simply as the Bell for Pilk’s habit of sounding the ship’s bell with a furor every time he caught sight of a whale’s spout.
Whalebone Pilk’s success proved to be his own undoing on his last voyage. For 2 weeks, pickings were frustratingly slim on the Steaming Sea, until a pod of bowhead whales was finally sighted off the shoulder of Hermea, heading south. Pilk nearly beat his knuckles bloody that night striking the ship’s bell, but the pod always stayed elusively ahead of the Belle Dame. For days, the pursuit led ever south and west into the Arcadian Ocean—almost as if the whales were luring the ship onward. Home fell farther behind, and supplies dwindled, until some of the starving crew decided to mutiny. Pilk had the ringleader tied to the mast and ordered the mate to give him lashes for as long as Pilk rang the ship’s bell. The mate’s arm grew tired before Pilk’s did, but by then the mutinous sailor was dead from the beating. To keep the rest in line, Pilk had the mutineer skinned and rendered in a try-pot and his cleaned skull nailed to the mainmast as a warning.
The ship continued on until the 23rd day, when a dense fog rolled in. An indistinct shape loomed large in the water ahead and the mate ordered the helmsman to steer hard to port to avoid collision, but Pilk countermanded the order and began ringing the bell, ordering the men to the harpoons. When the huge bull bowhead came out of the fog, it rammed the ship, breaching the hull. Pilk cursed the whales and cursed his men and continued to ring the ship’s bell as the foundering ship slowly slipped beneath the waves with all hands aboard, 2,000 miles from home.
For dragging his crew to their deaths far from home, Pilk has been cursed to endure an undead existence until he has taken the skulls of 1,000 victims, 50 for each of his dead crew. When the last skull was taken, the crew would turn on Pilk and render his fat into oil, nailing his skull to the mainmast as the Deathknell sinks to its final repose upon the ocean floor.
[end of session 64]