Back aboard the Black Drake underway towards her next port, Zyn finishes recopying her spellbook and updates Hanos’s book as well; their contract is complete. Hanos continues to work on a new spell when not helming or sleeping.
After bringing the Drake around close to a star, Captain Tenth says a few words to commit the body of Mr. Gorus to the sky he loved. Shortly afterward, the found lifejammer helm is tossed overboard as well.
The deckhands (Mr. Mourim, Bossun Tessar, deckhand Tallek, and helmsman Drannon) have a theory about defeating the “vampires,” that Sanguine’s power permeates the ship and blesses all their weapons against the unbelieving. Tallek, very superstitious, blames Zyn for bringing bad luck upon the ship in the first place (being a female and all.) When questioned about this by Angus, Telleck takes the opportunity to explain how sailors carry on without female company in the sky through the selective use of a very special barrel (?!) The crew also feels that they should be allowed ashore first on the next port, to be fair. Tallek also seeks out Xax and ask if there’s anything he can do to make his teeth better (he’s lost a few to rot). Xax heals what he can but cannot regrow the missing teeth until his powers mature further.
Ignoring the crew, Zyn asks the captain for a turn on the helm rotation. He sends her to Xax, an act that also prompts her to ask what Xax has stashed under the helm (a portable altar?) Taking a chance, Xax leads Zyn into the chartroom and helps her achieve a meditative state. The act enables both to meet with Xax’s brothers and tell Sanguine’s story. Zyn listens, accepts, and pledges her loyalty. Xax also adds that if she ever leaves, he’ll personally rip the knowledge from her mind before she gets very far.
Hanos attempts to determine what magic possess the items discovered from the vampire ship: a ring with a kangaroo signet image, a powerful dagger, and a slim silver chain necklace. Hanos claims the (+4) dagger for himself. When Hanos is unable to identify the true nature of the silver necklace, the necklace malfunctions on Mal, who immediately identifies it as a necklace of strangulation. Angus tries out the ring and confirms a suspected power of jumping. The captain is given all but the dagger for safe keeping below.
The captain asks Zyn for her best possible speed, but when it seems too quick, he tests her abilities. Zyn is showing signs of being a prodigy helmsman, she is put through maneuvers that suggest she might be able to run the ship single-handedly. Tenth confronts Zyn then confides in the Last Born what she may be, and all involved decide to push her to see how far she can go (and there may be a raise in it for her thanks to Xax). She kept her exemplary pace up for 24 hours, then started to weaken while still pushing ahead for another 12 hours at normal speed before almost passing out. Xax took the helm while Mal put Zyn to bed and stayed to watch over her.
Days pass, and the ship clears the next corridor and into the next sphere. Soon after, Nightfall comes into sight, a habitable moon shrouded in perpetual darkness by a gas giant that blots out the sun.
Tenth starts assembling a plan between Xax, Zyn, and himself to infiltrate a card game hosted by the giff he needs to speak to. The rest of the crew will go ashore in two shifts, the Last Born on the last rotation in keeping with the crew’s request. Tallek says he will make good on arranging Angus appropriate company for the evening. Zyn is asked to accompany the captain to his quarters.
After the ship sets down in harbor and anchors out, Tenth appears dressed to the nines. Emerging less enthusiastically is Zyn in a red dress that no one dares ask about it being in the captain’s stateroom. The first boat leaves with Hanos, Mal, and Angus left on board to tend the ship. Mel (the drake residing in the crow’s nest) sets out for a little shore leave himself.
The plan: Zyn helps Tenth count cards with Xax mindlinking them, giving his already considerable gambling skill a boost. Xax finds a comfortable alleyway on the cobblestone streets outside the giff’s considerable fortress-like home. Interrupted only by a street urchin and a watchman over the course of six hours, Tenth wins his game and favor to meet with his old friend. Zyn, wearing the captain’s coat over her dress, meets Xax outside to travel back to the ship.
Halfway back to the longboat, Xax feels a needle impale his back. Telling Zyn immediately that he might be poisoned, she asks the illithid what she should do. A moment after, three nasty looking street urchins appear, this time looking more like rabid vermin than abandoned children. Zyn tries to guide Xax back toward the giff’s mansion when a fog appears in their path. A wizened old gentleman with a long walking stick and a short black cloak steps forth, joined by ten more ankle-biters massing behind him.
“So,” the gentleman says. “You are the fearless vampire hunters, are you?”
Meanwhile, “prettyboy” Drannon (already sick) and Bron both accompany Tessar backon the longboat to the anchored-out Drake. Mal, Angus, and Hanos take their leave and make their way to a favorite brothel of the crew and captain: “Miriam’s.” As promised, Angus is presented with a fetching… well, ogre lass who takes to him kindly. Both Hanos and Mal find company as well, right until Xax’s voice screams out in their minds for help.
Back on the streets, Xax attempts to stall the gentleman by asking “What’s a vampire?” The gentleman smiles and claims to be exactly that before unleashing a psionic blast at Xax; the man claiming to be a vampire is also a psionicist? Worse yet, the poison is targeting Xax’s mind like a fire, and Zyn has her hands full with the ankle-biters. Taking a lesson from Hanos, Zyn causes one of the creatures to sleep as Xax dominates another to attack its brother, giving Zyn the chance to step up and stand with Xax against their challenger. Zyn manages to burn the vampire with a spell while Xax turns the rest of the undead ankle-biters away, but the vampire still defeats Xax in a mental attack, gaining one of three connections he needs to defeat the illithid at his own game.
Finally arriving to help, Angus leaps through the fog from overhead and cleaves the vampire in two from behind, yet the weapon strikes nothing but ground; the vampire is unharmed. Mal also takesa swipe while the vampire’s back was turned but misses completely; Hanos new lightning spell also proves ineffective. “Is this your best?” the vampire muses, causing Angus to vanish with a dismissing wave of his hand.
“No,” Xax answers the gentleman vampire’s question, pointing toward Mal. “He’s the hero!”
The vampire turns to find Mal at the ready with the Pick of Larnagish at the ready. Whispering for Sanguine’s blessing (and having no idea if it would have any additional effect), the dwarf buries the business end of the weapon into the vampire’s chest, then pulls it out with enough force to swing around and impale his back as well. With a look of shock amidst arcane bursts of light coming from his chest cavity, the self-proclaimed vampire turns to mist and dissolves into nothingness. The fog in the street fades away as Angus reappears with a look of confusion.
Not waiting around to see if anything else attacks them, the group falls back the the giff’s mansion to tell Captain Tenth what has happened. Tenth introduces Captain Sterl of the High Giff Command, a retiree and local businessman of Nightfall. Upon hearing the description of the “vampire,” Sterl surmises it is the local lord himself they met in the streets and, having hurt him, will make things difficult for the giff unless reparations are made. Sterl dispatches servants to Miriam’s to check on the remaining crew. The servants return to tell a sad tale; Mr. Mourim, Bossun Tessar, and deckhand Tallek were all found dead and covered with bite marks.
Next: If revenge is a dish best served cold, who takes home the leftovers?
Session XP: 3113 per player (before applicable 10% bonuses)