Picking up back on Moil Colony, Xax preaches the Sanguine gospel and answers questions. Xax admits during questioning that Sanguine has no home world. Zyn offers to help copy the scroll, practically memorizing it in the process. Bron, the cook and innkeep, is very interested in Sanguine’s teachings. Captain Tenth requests a plate of Bron’s finest meal before considering giving him a berth on board.
Mal and Angus spend some time exploring the local countryside (what there is of a barren, rainswept rock.) Their guide goes with them and mentions the location of a few caves. Borrowing a longboat from Captain Tenth, the three head into the flooded cave, finding only a mysterious glowing light under the water. Mal drops a pot tied to a rope into the water. Something takes the pot and drags it away from the boat, and between that and Angus trying to reel the rope in, the boat is dragged further into the cave before whatever snatched the pot bit the end of the rope off. Panicked, the guide drops an oar. Having lost the pot and one oar, Mal and Angus exit the cave and follow a couple of deck hands up to the inn in town after returning the longboat.
The last metalworker left a while back, so upon learning that Mal and Angus are metal smiths, Zyn is recruited to help negotiate a fair price for fixing a pile of junk and broken metal items (being good with numbers and all.) Some of the items are offered in place of money until the store keepers can sell some of the repaired items, easily a week’s work.
To help immerse the locals in the ways of Sanguine, Xax creates a holy symbol of Sanguine and gives it to a woman who seems best suited to become the spiritual leader of the community. Afterward, he makes many holy symbols for the villagers (just under fifty people).
Tenth hires the cook on the spot, all the items are fixed, the town carves and presents two oars to the ship (the extra being a spare.) With new provisions and crew, the ship departs.
One particular evening after being underway for a few days, Mal begins dreaming of being awakened in his home by his younger sister again. When she asks who the woman is next to him in his bed, Mal turns to find Zyn asleep there (and just as naked as him under the blanket covering them both.) Zyn awakens groggily to Mal peeking at her beneath the blanket. Both surprised and feeling vulnerable, Zyn pulls the blanket off Mal to cover herself before trying unsuccessfully to kick Mal out of the bed. Zyn screams out for Xax hoping that the illithid might hear her, but no answer comes.
Mal seems convinced this is merely a dream, but Zyn begins asking questions about where the ship has gone. Dressing quickly (with Zyn looking on in revenge), Mal finds himself at home with his sister tattling on him to his parents. The dream starts taking on nightmarish qualities as “mom” presents a breakfast of raw severed scavenger head (still nipping at anyone nearby, no less.) Zyn catches up with Mal, dressed poorly in what clothes of his she could find, still adamant that somehow the dream is hers, not Mal’s.
After Mal’s relatives stage a bizarre exit to let things settle between him and Zyn, both decide to follow a moment later. Outside the cottage is a gray landscape and overcast skies. The doorway both Mal and Zyn exited moments earlier is nothing more than the frame of a long-ago burned down structure. The skeletal remains of five people are strewn about the barren yard, and a clearly marked path suggests where more discovers may lie.
As both Mal and Zyn begin to walk the path, noises behind them create the impression of being followed, but nothing is there whenever they look. Further down the path is Angus, also out of sorts, as well as Captain Tenth, each with the unshakable feeling of being followed. When the deckhands start to appear as well, everyone collectively attempts to wait out whatever keeps creeping up behind them, all waiting until the last moment when everyone turns to confront it.
Everyone wakes with the same thought: there’s something behind us. Everyone, captain included, push their way into the chart room where Xax was meditating and Hanos was helming. Xax immediately goes to the geode hidden beneath the helm, doing his best to hide it once he realizes Zyn was in the room. Quickly focusing on the spirits within, he consults his brothers who confirm the message in a collective dream: there’s something behind us.
From the stern castle, the captain and crew pile to the rail until someone finally spots a dark shape against the sky; another ship just out of the gravity well of the Black Drake. Xax links to a mind in the darkness and challenges it, only to receive a threatening reply. On Mal’s suggestion, a sand barrel is used as catapult shot and is hurled at the craft, making a direct hit. The dark craft lurches forward in response and quickly alongside. A half dozen skeletons begin lashing the pitch-painted hammership to the Drake the moment they are close enough, then more skeletal warriors begin to board.
Using his contact with the creature on board, Xax dominates the mind and instructs it to slay their helmsman. While Mal, Angus, and the deckhands start bashing in bones, Xax afterward turns a number of the undead creatures back toward their ship. Possibly in response to both attacks, a banshee-like woman appears and leaps from the hammership to the aft deck to land in front of Xax. Assuming her to be a powerful undead creature, Mal and Angus attack her from behind while Xax holds her attention, quickly dispatching her. The remaining skeletons suddenly retreat.
Captain Tenth, surmising this to be a vampire ship, suggests letting it go without further incident, but Mal recognizes that the black paint was actually very flammable pitch. Hurling a lit flask of oil at the hull, the hammership erupts into flames as it falls away. The Black Drake stays close as the ship of the dead burns down, then searches it to find a lifejammer helm, a silver necklace, a signet ring, and a dagger, all of which survive the fire. Two skeletons are found fused together in an embrace, as well as the impaled body of the poor soul killed at the helm.
Next: Where to find a retired yet knowledgeable giff…
Session XP: 2525 per player (before applicable 10% bonuses)