I’d hoped we were finally rid of that menace.
I was wrong.
We sent the former prisoners on their way with the city watch, and had much to ponder. Of the multiple leads, which one demanded the most attention? We had learned of the Prancing Prince, and had also learned of the temple underway using the Irespan as its base. Our trek back to the inn was set against a cacophony of discussion, points and counterpoints being raised.
Ultimately, we were at an impasse, but finally compromised on a plan of action. The next day I set off with Cora to question the harbormaster about the whereabouts and activity of the Prancing Prince, while the rest of the party…preached, sternly.
The harbormaster informed us that all the fees on the Prancing Prince had been paid on time, and there was little activity. We traveled back to the remainder of the party and relayed this information; given the lack of activity, the group decided to check the Irespan, assuming the ship would not be going anywhere.
Unfortunately, our journey to the Irespan proved fruitless, save some rather interesting sights, sounds and smells. The slums under the mammoth structure teemed with those scraping by. Information was scarce, and there was little we could do to help the lot of them, sadly. The very basalt of the bridge was corrupt, they said. It had been mined previously, and unleashed a scourge of demons onto the city.
The impossibly large pillars jutting from the sea like teeth taunted us as we gave up, heading back to the inn, noting a group of armored men monitoring another ship and witnessing a violent brawl in the street. I have to admit, the temptation to get involved—only to test my skills, of course—was high, but we left them to their violence and proceeded to develop a plan for scouting out the Prancing Prince, given that the Irespan appeared to be a dead end.
That plan, unfortunately, was centered upon my sneaking onto the Prancing Prince and scouting things. Given how difficult I’d managed to make otherwise mundane tasks, there was more than a little concern on my part as the plan developed.
Using the small rowboat under the inn, Toshiro and I traveled through the water out to the Prancing Prince, moored in the dock. We’d spotted a trio of cloaked figures heading onto the vessel earlier, so following them seemed to make the most sense.
We’d decided that ten minutes was ample time to allow me to scout the vessel. At that point, I was to either signal the group that I was not in distress, that I needed their assistance, or nothing, which would prompt their approach to the boat (as they were monitoring things from the dock).
The night was clear and starry. I dodged amongst the masts and crates on the deck, making my way towards the fore of the ship, when I noted two things. The first thing I noticed was muffled commotion from the storage hold. The second thing I noticed was a shadowy figure crouched in the stairwell leading down, unmistakably monitoring me as I attempted to prowl about.
As my time drew nigh I sought to signal the group that I was not in danger, and wound up kicking an unseen, unlit, lantern instead, causing an immediate change in plans. Knowing that my time was up I hurried to the edge of the ship and lowered the gangplank; the rest of the party boarded the vessel, but the shadow had disappeared.
The upper deck was clear, and this only fueled the party’s concerns. Many of them guessed that the lack of response from those already aboard the vessel indicated that there was nothing we would find valuable upon the ship. Things were being looked at in the wrong way, however. The truth was only that there was nothing on the upper deck worth guarding.
A group of half-orcs greeted us on our descension to the second level, and the unarmed and unarmored disciples were easily dispatched. We descended to the second level, but before we could explore further a black, winged menace made its presence known.
The dragon burst from the bottom deck through the cargo hold and onto the top deck. We hurried after, surprised to see the creature lingering above the top deck. Wielding the bodies of crewmen from below, Blackfang viciously attacked, and we countered in kind. Toshiro suffered grave injuries and fell, but Adalan was able to revive him while Bellum and I occupied the beast.
In the midst of the chaos Cora remembered the wand crammed into her pack, the two dragons interwoven. Bellum landed a tremendous blow to the beast while Cora dug out the wand and unleashed a blinding torrent of energy…that flew right over the dragon’s head. We weathered the storm for just a while longer and Cora sent another shot, this time through the beast’s chest, leaving a hole as large as my head.
Over a dozen prisoners were kept below decks. We also recovered a map, which appears to be an overhead view of the Irespan pillars. A letter of sorts was found, some kind of infernal love letter to Izmaco. If demons are involved in this and somehow allied with the dragons…well, best not to think of such things.
The wyrm’s corpse is coming back with us to Sandpoint; I should be able to fashion some armor from the hide, and Rilen will hopefully be able to lend his talents to enchanting the item. The guardsmen indicated they’d been aware of this cult but had little luck making any headway; hopefully, we will fare better. The city watch of Magnimar has provided us with letters of mark, and we are to report to them on our return to continue our investigation.