Skull and Shackles
The Blue Nixie
The pirate blade’s tip felt sharp and cold on my neck and I felt as if every breath, every heartbeat, and every thought stretched out as seconds became minutes. As I heard him say the words ‘Useless. Slit his throat and throw him overboard’, I regretted ever climbing aboard the stolen ship.
Only hours ago, Lavinia – my benefactor – had called on a group of people, some of them friends, other mere contacts, to help her out of a difficult situation. After the death of her parents, her brother had left her and her parents’ debtors were breathing down her neck. There was a small fortune waiting for her in the family vault, but her parents had lost one of the two keys and the other was stowed away on one of the ships she had inherited, the Blue Nixie. However, the ship was guarded by the Quartermaster and his guards, and Lavinia needed to pay a hefty fine to enter the ship. She had done so, but in her naivety, she had forgotten to ask proof of payment, and the guards’ leader, Solar Vark, had stolen the money. Out of her wit’s end, Lavinia saw no other plan as to hire some muscle to secure passage onto the ship and find the key to the family vault, one way or another.
The group consisted of Ilona Mosvani, a beautiful woman (of Varisian blood, a trait we shared), Isabella Whitemane, a local priest of Pharasma, and a paladin of Iomedae named Martin. Also attending the meeting were a young pirate, Caine McAllister, who persisted we call him ‘Bullet’ and a beautiful but rugged-looking woman named Kaya. As they entered the house, I greeted the first three as I had seen them often around the house, and I followed the party into the meeting room. Lavinia did not pay any notice to me, as I had hoped.
After Lavinia had explained her plight, the party did not hesitate to try and enter the Blue Nixie that very moment. I had to run into my room and get my gear (a leather vest, a sling, and a large stick I had been practicing with) before I followed them. I did not know any of them as good as I wished (although I had learned to trust Ilona, Martin, and Isabella) and wanted to make sure they did their job without stealing from Lavinia, as she needed every gold coin she could get. Bullet saw me after a few streets, however, and halted me, demanding at gunpoint why I was following them. I explained honestly, and I was allowed to tag along.
As we entered the Azure District docks, we immediately noticed the boat was not at her usual place, but had been put somewhat farther in the water, anchored at a fixed platform. While Ilona worked her magic graces on the two guards at the docks, I followed Bullet into the water and onto the ship. As I climbed on board, however, I almost bumped into one of the men working there and he called the alarm. I was able to convince him I was only looking for a place to sleep. Meanwhile, I could oversee the deck and noticed that these men were preparing this ship – Lavinia’s ship – to sail out. I did not notice Bullet anywhere, but felt somewhat safe thinking these men were too slow to harm me before I would be able to jump back into the water. But then they grabbed me and called Solar Vark, their leader, from his quarters. I heard him before I saw him, cursing at his henchmen for disturbing him and being incompetent fools. But it was the sight of him that made my earlier courage wash away. He was a towering man with broad shoulders, a mean look in his eye, and countless knives tucked into his leather armor. He asked me who I was, and what I was doing, while laying a knife on my throat and although he seemed to believe my lie, he ordered his men to kill me anyway. I started to tremble, unable to move.
Then a loud bang sounded, accompanied by a whiff of smoke from the deck near my position. A moment later, the sail from the main mast came tumbling down, parts of its rigging coming down as well and nearly hitting one of the working men on the deck. Two men started to shout and point at Bullet’s location – he had been spotted. Meanwhile, a third man, the one on the platform next to the Blue Nixie, claimed he saw a small boat – carrying the others – coming towards the ship. Confusion followed as Vark and his henchmen nearly started ignoring me, Bullet sprinted below-deck, and Martin started to shoot arrows at the men on board of the ship. I used the confusion to slip past Solar and cast a spell. From my hands, mist started to form and in an instant, the half of the deck was clouded by mist.
The mist obscured my vision as well as I had no control over it. Lucky for me, there was nearly no wind at the moment, so the fog stayed to obscure my position. I heard people stumbling around me, and I heard Bullet firing another two bullets before I decided I had to fight alongside him. I summoned a dog to attack a man near me and together we brought him down. Before I could tend to his wounds, however, Vark appeared from the mist before me, so I had to back away to avoid his wrath. I summoned another dog, and meanwhile I heard Bullet fighting another pirate behind me. I heard people screaming from further away and splashes of men entering the sea around the ship, and I heard a faint alluring song – no doubt, Ilona’s magic at work – that filled me with a strange sense of bravery. Martin made his way into the mists and helped us defeat Vark, but not before the knifer called out to his henchmen that they should burn the ship. After he fell, I let the mist vanish. Everyone had been defeated, but Isabella was nowhere to be seen. People started running down into the ship, and smoke started to rise from the cracks of the deck. I used a minor healing ritual to make sure Vark and the other man next to him would not bleed to death and then moved to the loading area where the smoke was coming out. I felt the heat from below and heard faint sounds of battle – battle and animal screams? I decided it would take too long to open the shutters above the loading dock, so I summoned gallons of water and poured it through its cracks and holes. It seemed effective enough to put the fires out.
After the fire was put out, the others started to question Vark. He said that he knew of no key but that the money he had stolen from Lavinia was in a small wooden box in his quarters. I went to look but I saw no box. I questioned him again, but he continued to claim the money was in there. He also confessed he was using the boat to smuggle exotic animals. After his confession, Bullet killed him with a shot from his firearm. I cut the ropes of the other guy and let him swim to safety. While I did, Isabella, Bullet, and Martin started to row back. I saw Bullet smile at me and that smile told me he had Lavinia’s stolen money. I swam after them and demanded he gave it back. As he did so reluctantly, he also told me that he intended to give it back himself. While I did not trust him completely, he had saved my life before, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
As we entered my house, I tried to sneak to my room before Lavinia noticed that I had went with them, but then I thought of the money I carried with me, so I turned around. We told her what happened, with the ‘minor’ change that I had not entered the boat. She was happy to see we had found the money that had been stolen from her, as well as the key to her family’s vault.