Let’s Make a Deal

Mal gathers his “war council” to declare battle against the devils; the entire crew (plus Corelleon) is present. With a thousand human women having already made their deals and already possibly damned, Corelleon suggest offering the contract holders a new deal while Sophie suggests challenging them to game. Xax counters with the loss of the women but hunting the demons down to encourage them to cut their losses. Mal suggests delivering the message that he’ll kill them all unless the devils break all contracts and leave immediately.

After Corelleon offers his input, he realizes the crew could certainly use his help and formally asks “Captain” Zyn to join the crew (while also hinting to keep Xax out of his business.) After Zyn accepts her father’s request, the suggestion is made that, to deliver the message or discover more of the devil’s plans, they’ll need to capture one of them. Corelleon notes that a dimensional anchor will keep the devil from escaping. After finding out where the next closest village is, Zyn flies Nia off in that direction with all possible speed.

Meanwhile, Xax has Aiden object read the original ritual provided to the Primers. When Aiden is asked who possessed the scroll before the Primers, Aiden suddenly looks very pale and says, “She’s here.” At that moment, a jagged sword is thrust through the top of the observation deck from the outside; while the sword thrust seemed sudden and threatening, no one was struck by it. Having practiced for such a contingency, Mal orders Celia to get him topside with a dimension door. On the weather deck, a female warrior with black feathered wings appears to be the sword’s wielder, armed also with an ornate long bow across her back. As the female recovers her sword, Mal attacks, forcing the creature to disappear.

Already sensing her from the innate evil she gives off, Mal knows she is still on board but now in the back of the ship. Xax and Sophie had only arrived on the weather deck before Celia disappeared with Mal again, this time finding the winged warrior in the cargo bay flanked by two “bearded” devils. Xax catches up again as Mal and Celia move to attack again. Xax adds to the intruders confusion by swapping Celia and Mal around a bit, but the damage suffered by the winged woman proves too great. Appearing genuinely surprised by the ferocity of the attack upon her, she surrenders rather than be destroyed and dropped her sword. Hanos charms one of her two red-skinned companions (naming him “Grr” for his lack of articulation), while the second grudgingly surrenders as well.

When Xax asks for her name, she considers a moment before answering “Thaena.” With the ship secured, Xax marches Thaena back up to observation to see the captain, but Mal’s damage is severe, aggravated, and doesn’t stop bleeding. When Xax offers to help, Thaena readily accepts until “for a later named favor” is added. To ensure compliance, she reluctantly agrees if the request is “within her power” in exchange for healing. Xax stops the blood flow.

Arriving in observation, Zyn points out that the ship is over the next town, Bellvale, and in the night sky, they can see it is burning. Thaena immediately accuses the crew of being responsible for the fires, the results of the senseless killing of their kin in Newshire. She then specifically names Mal a murderer, mockingly his skills as a paladin. When questioned about her motives, Thaena claims no ill intent upon the women who birthed the devils nor on the Last Born themselves; Mal was accused of making the first attack in both cases, the “children” (who turned out to be devils) and Thaena herself upon arrival.

Discussions are heated as blame is assessed, but Thaena pleads that the intent was to escape the Hells they were trapped in, not drag anyone down into them. By birthing, the smaller devils were able to evade detection. With the ruse revealed, the Arch Dukes, the highest ranking devils in power over the Hells, will be looking for those in charge for explanation and punishment. The first priority, however, is to stop additional towns from being warned; if those devils fleeing to tell other towns of the treachery aren’t stopped, more will die. Thaena agrees to help the Last Born in a show of faith that what she has said is true.

From a higher vantage point, Thaena is able to discern where the devils are. Thaena agrees to return after she stops one group while the Last Born stop the others. Successful on both missions, Thaena returns as promises with the imps on her shoulder. Instead of demanding the devils return, it is offered that they should all reform from evil, no exceptions. With no other choice, Thaena agrees to the deal for all except her mentor, who she claims she cannot. It was he who sent her to demand Mal answer for killing the children.

The Last Born accept Thaena’s compromise, telling her to make the arrangement so that Mal can explain his “position” to her boss. With everyone looking on and expecting quite a show of Mal laying down the law, the “boss” shows up amidst the fires still smoldering in the town of Bellvale. Mal doesn’t want to fight the greater devil, but the creature quietly explains that, because of him, this must be done; the Arch Dukes are aware, and if it appears that he was killed by a superior foe, the Dukes may not question anything else that has transpired, keeping those who have escaped safe. Mal understands; the devil is sacrificing himself.

As the battle begins, Mal strikes hard, surprising even himself with the efficiency of his attack. When the devil retaliates as he must, Mal receives the most devastating wound he has ever suffered in battle, then realizing that not only is the devil sacrificing itself but also pulling its punches not to kill Mal as well. Mal begins to utter a prayer to Sanguine on behalf of the monster, a notion it sense and quickly condemns since it must be tainted when killed and banished back to the Hells. Finishing the monster off with his next attack, Mal finishes the prayer for the creature anyway. As it falls, it tells Mal to run with its dying breath as it implodes upon itself, the corpse vanishing to leave only a smoldering empty patch of ground.

Returning to the ship and heading back to Newshire, Xax patches up Mal, who in turn decides to hit his rack for some well-earned sleep time. In Newshire, Xax presents the village with Thaena, who some see as a black-winged angel, to stay and help repair the damage. Xax releases her from her healing deal, telling her to do what she can for her and the others to forsake evil.

Underway again, Sophie receives a request (from who she believes to be Maidyn) to seek Xax in letting her meet with his brothers in meditation by way of the geode. Inside, Sanguine appears (as the geode in a robe) but speaks only to the brothers. They ask Xax to ask his question, then tell him to bring Sophie to them. Xax obeys and gives Sophie a crash course on the technique.

Sanguine appears to open a portal for Sophie, which Sophie readily enters. Inside is a gnarled father tree entangling a helpless elf maid and surrounded by darkness. The entangled elf warns Sophie that a price must be paid to assist her, one that Sophie readily agrees to bear. Finding it more difficult than she first thought to reach the entangled elf, the maiden holds out a staff with a green stone inside one end. As Sophie finally reaches it, she is suddenly cast out and back into the real world.

Xax bids his brothers goodbye and leaves the geode as well. Outside, Sophie does not have the staff but has acquired something else: she has more than doubled in age, a condition not unlike that suffered by her own father.

Session XP: 11,000 per player (total 92,900 xp)

About Kevin A. Ranson

Content Creator, Horror Writer, Film Critic. Heeding a macabre calling listening to "Mother Ghost Nursery Rhymes" in kindergarten, Kevin started writing in grade school and filled countless notebooks with story ideas while touring the Mediterranean in the US Navy. He is the author of The Spooky Chronicles and the vampire thriller series The Matriarch, creator/critic for MovieCrypt.com and "ghost writer" for horror host Grim D. Reaper. WEB • FACEBOOK • TWITTER
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