Pretenders

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Starships

Back at the meadery, while Kraken Knuckles spent their weeks sailing for the Open Hand flotilla, Margaret the smith grew tired of babysitting Bodi’ka’s 8 year old cousin, Helena, and sent her into Bolin’s care. Bo sits with her in the meadery’s library, reading aloud the teen fiction book Rough Cast, which he borrowed from the Wintergarde library. The book is about a tiefling on Storasta, who is attacked by a knight in black armor and flees the town with her best friend. As he realizes the book’s subject matter might be too dark for an 8 year old, Bo searches around the small village for another caregiver to leave Helena with, and drops her off at the temple of the Raven Queen, where the cleric there decides to teach her to use a spade to dig graves. Bodi’ka soon stops through the meadery on the way to Wintergarde, updating Bo on Kraken Knuckles’ sea journey to Storasta, and brings Helena back to Wintergarde to be cared for by Bodi’ka’s mother. When Bodi’ka journeys back to the duck-boat, Cirilli follows after him.

After the party speaks with Grave Manager Typhus, they begin to make their way towards the reliquary ship, Tritus-Leo-VI. On the way to the ropeline between the ships, the duck-egg begins to shake in Freeport’s pocket, so he takes it out and transforms it into a wagon, upon which a door appears and out steps Bolin.

Around the same time, Il’an grows tired of wandering the walking tour, and stumbles upon a conversation between two nobles from Storasta. He turns himself invisible to eavesdrop and follows them back out to the deck, and once they return to their ships, he makes himself visible again and commands the nearby guards to ferry him to Tritus for performing a magic trick for them. As the monks seem unimpressed, he casts fireworks into the air that start small fires on the deck, and as they continue to seem unimpressed, he pays them a goal to carry him across the ropelines while the monks put out the fires. He joins the rest of the party just as they begin to ascend a mast to travel by rope to Tritus.

The group mostly manages the ascent easily, as Il’an remembers he and Naeris can fly, Bodi’ka levitates up to the rope, and Freeport rides Pthalo up and across the rope. Bolin finds the climb difficult as a plate-armored dwarf, and when he finally meets the rest of the party at the other end of the rope, Freeport puts the levitation bracelet he received from Bodi’ka on Bolin’s wrist for making them wait.

Carry Me Home

The deck of Tritus doesn’t appear to be very populated, despite its size. The main structure on the deck appears to be a dark glass dome where it seems the helm likely lies. At the nearest end of the deck stands a goliath and a half elf standing between a desk and a door that appears to lead below deck.

Pthalo presents himself to the half elf, and finds that his name is on the list as needing to speak with assistant master Varnholdt below, but as he does not have a badge, the goliath will need to escort him, and the rest of the party will have to remain behind. Pthalo leaves with the goliath, and Naeris decides to lay down on the deck under a globe of darkness that she casts. Freeport attempts to convince the half elf to let the group join Pthalo, but as she seems more interested in proselytizing and handing out Open Hand pamphlets, Bo takes over and begins flirting with her, offering her one of his father’s carvings. She continues to avoid allowing any opportunity for the party to go below deck, so Bo wanders the deck and begins talking to the seagulls.

Down below, the goliath leads Pthalo into a sterile white floor lined with cubicles, and down a hallway. They pass a door labeled with the name “Master Morla, Head of Research and Development”, and continue on to a door to the office of Varnholdt, who was apparently the assistant to Pthalo’s master. Varnholdt has taken over the department of logistics in the absence of Pthalo’s master, and advises Pthalo that he has read all of Jetki Applebottom’s notes about Kraken Knuckles, and asks about the orb of dragons they were sent to retrieve and forgot about completely, and the strange scorpion orb that went missing with Pthalo’s master. Pthalo lies through his teeth and retreats, telling his goliath escort that Varnholdt asked him to speak with Master Morla. When Pthalo knocks on her door and opens it, Morla is interrupted in the middle of some kind of experiment involving pouring liquid from a vial, which sets off a chain reaction and explodes, sending smoke out of her office and into the hallway. Pthalo disappears into the smoke and descends into the ship’s belly through a grate in a nearby closet.

After nearly an hour, the goliath returns above-deck, without Pthalo. The party asks after their monk, and the goliath simply says that he was called into Master Morla’s office. Naeris, growing impatient, disguises herself magically as Pthalo, and tells the half elf that Varnholdt is waiting for the rest of the group. The half elf refuses to let the party pass without badges. Freeport and Naeris head to the opposite end of the ship, to another door with another pair of monks standing guard at another desk, and ask to be allowed below. The monks find Pthalo’s name on their list, and allows the disguised Naeris to pass, but won’t allow Freeport. Naeris tries to teleport below-deck with Freeport, but the spell fails and Naeris’ arm and stomach transform into iron. Naeris immediately falls over in pain, and agrees to be led below-deck without Freeport. Naeris manages to maintain her concentration on the disguise until they reach the hallway below, at which point she blacks out from the pain.

September

The real Pthalo finds himself in a bright room with some kind of pipe infrastructure pumping a pink liquid. He punches through one of the pipes, and the liquid sprays him, dousing his ioun stone and causing it to droop. He travels the length of the ship through the room and finds another series of grates, which he descends and finds several laboratories. He peers through the windows and finds a room where two people are using a staff to transform one of them into several animals, taking notes of the effect. In the window of a second room, he finds a group of people throwing various objects at a slab of some kind of black material. Back at the first room, Pthalo waits for one of the people to be transformed into something harmless, then breaks into the room and knocks out the one wielding the staff with a sleeping dart, then grabs the staff and a lab coat and stashes the staff in a hallway. He enters the second room and proclaims that the staff experiment went wrong and the staff disappeared, and he needs their help to search for it. Feeling a kinship with Pthalo’s obvious dedication to science, the people leave the second room to go search. Pthalo grabs all of their lab coats and goes down the hall to wave all of the coats in front of a panel next to a strange set of doors. One of the coats triggers something, causing the doors to open, and Pthalo steals himself into some kind of lift.

Naeris, no longer disguised, awakes to Master Morla peering over him. Morla scolds her, and hands over a note requesting the presence of the rest of Kraken Knuckles in her office. Naeris returns above-deck and presents the note to the half elf and goliath, and the goliath escorts the group down to the office hallway. As the group nears Master Morla’s office, two individuals exit another room at the far end of the hall. Freeport and Naeris duck into a nearby storage closet, but as the others are unsure of what action to take, and Il’an waves and calls to the strangers down the other end of the hall, saying he doesn’t know where he is and that he’s just an old man who has been kidnapped by strangers, one of the figures pulls a metal tube from his coat and points it down the hall, triggering some kind of effect that knocks Naeris and Bolin unconscious. Seeing a grate at the floor of the closet off-set from its place, Freeport ducks through it. Bodi’ka and Il’an drag their unconscious comrades to Morla’s office. Morla quickly slams the door shut behind them, wakes Naeris and Bo, then throws open a cabinet and opens a vent, telling them to crawl down below and to hurry up and find whatever it is the party came for. They slip into the vent just as Morla slams the cabinet closed again and the door to her office crashes open.

See Also