Dark Presence Rising

The Belly of the Beast

Play Session 4

The heat of battle subsided, the party begins to clean their weapons, check their gear and armor, and loot the corpses of the pirates they have vanquished. Auris, ever the perceptive one, hears scuffling down below. She quickly motions to others to come closer and quietly tells them that she’s sure she heard something below deck that did not sound like normal ship noises. Zanhorn orders the group to form up with Castiel, Variel, and himself in the lead with Castiel taking up point position as the stealthiest of them all.

Castiel quietly moves down the stairwell below the ship’s deck into a gloomy, dank, and cluttered hold. He quickly makes an assessment of his surroundings and doubles back to let the rest of the group know that there are small cabins that appear to be able to fit one or two pirates in hammock bunks. He cautiously whispers to Zanhorn, “I’m going to sneak past these cabins and see if I can take out some of the deckhands before they alert the ship’s captain.” Zanhorn thinks this is a good idea and quietly tells the others to be ready to spring into action should Castiel need their help.

As Castiel creeps forward, he sees a larger cabin at the back with two large oak double doors that can be nothing but the treasury and captain’s quarters. What they thought was furniture shuffling was actually the captain and the remaining crew shuffling in their bunks after a long night of drinking and enjoying the spoils of their last raid. Castiel thinks that if he can dispatch the remaining crew, they should be able to quickly subdue the captain, forcing him to surrender.

Sneaking to the left of the ships hold, he comes across the first cabin and quietly nudges the door open a crack. Inside is a dirty pirate asleep in a hammock that smells as if he hasn’t washed in weeks. The smell is enough to make even this dragonborn want to wretch. Castiel quietly draws his knife, steals into the cabin, and dispatches the pirate with a quick slice to the neck cutting his vocal cords in the process and drowning him in his own blood. Smiling to himself, he decides to finish what he started and proceeds to saw off the pirate’s head as a gruesome trophy.

Meanwhile, Variel, thinking he can contribute to dispatching the other slumbering pirate, tries to sneak into the next cabin. Being the giant that he is and lacking any kind of grace, instead of nudging the door open, he kicks it open almost full force. The rucous jolts the pirate out of his slumber and he charges at Variel. Variel grunts to himself in exasperation and begins to grapple with the pirate in an attempt to subdue him. Knowing that he has probably set motions into event earlier than he wanted to, he furiously tries to snap the pirates neck but is unsuccessful in doing so and the pirate yells out.

The pirate’s warning rouses the captain and his guard who both scramble out of the captain’s quarters and right into sight of Zanhorn, Auris, Kael, and Arkamydies. Zanhorn, quick on his feet and a fearless leader gives the command to attack and rushes forward to confront the two. He decides that his first objective is to disable the human guard before turning to the captain and demanding surrender. To his surprise, the guard is more agile than Zanhorn anticipated and before he can pivot, Zanhorn has taken a wound to the shoulder where the guards sword is poking through his armor. This normally wouldn’t have been enough to bring him down, but the captain slams him over the head with the butt of his axe. The companions were caught flat footed and cringe as they see their leader cut down so quickly.

Auris immediately begins to pray to Pelor for healing energy to wash over Zanhorn and bring him back into the fight, Kael begins chanting the incantation to a spell, and Arkamydies begins chanting the incantations to a spell as well. Variel, seeing his companions in trouble calls for all of the strength he can muster and breaks the pirate’s neck by bending his head completely backwards. The sickening crunch leaves him feeling satisfied as the pirate’s blood begins to run down his hands but also throws him into a battle frenzy because, and he mumbles under his breath, “This is going to take hours to get the stains out of my armor.”

At that exact moment, Kael’s spell chanting completes and he looses a wave of magical energy that engulfs the human guard and slow’s his movements while Arkamydies releases a magical bolt of energy that strikes the same guard directly in the chest. They can smell the charred flesh of the guard as it begins to sizzle with the heat of the magical energy. Castiel, emerging from the side cabin, sees that Zanhorn is in trouble and lobs the severed pirate head at the ship’s captain. The head arcs over the rest of the group and solidly thumps into the captain’s chest. This act of debauchery terrifies the captain and allows Auris to finish her prayer releasing healing waves of energy into Zanhorn’s failing body. Zanhorn, returning to consciousness flutters his eyes open at the exact moment that Variel interposes himself between himself and the sword falling towards him to deliver the killing blow.

Variel, in a frenzy, blocks the sword blow that surely would have ended Zanhorn’s life. He quickly reverses the grip on his great axe and, muttering a prayer to himself to “deliver the wicked unto justice” jabs the butt of his great axe into the face of the guard temporarily stunning him. Reversing the grip again, Variel sweeps the legs from beneath the guard tripping him to the floor and follows with a bone shattering overhead chop that cleaves right through the guard’s entire upper body and face.

Seeing this, the captain works himself into a frenzy as well and begins to stalk toward Auris and Kael. He manages to get one solid blow at Auris who deflects most of the damage with chain mail but is sent spinning to the deck. Kael begins to furiously retreat and Castiel, through acrobatic prowess, flies through the air and lands between Kael and the captain. Draw both swords, Castiel executes three expert sword maneuvers. The first one deftly blocks the axe aimed for his face, the second takes the captain’s leg off at the knee, and as he falls the third blow, a graceful spinning slash tears out the throat of the captain.

Wiping his blades on the captain’s tunic, Castiel turns to Zanhorn, “Are you all right?” Zanhorn, not knowing exactly what has happened but feeling well enough to stand rises and groggily replies to Castiel, “Yes, I believe I will make thanks again Auris.” Hearing her name, Auris approaches and tells both of them that “Pelor guides us and watches over those who would do his will whether they worship him or not” as she casts a side glance at Castiel. The party collects themselves after looting the captain’s cabin and finding gold, gems, and weapons. They are faced with a difficult decision. Do they tow the ship to Waterdeep to ransom or sell at port or do they sink the ship so that no more harm can be done using the ship.

Auris, ever the pious one, argues that Pelor would want this ship disabled so that no more wicked acts can be done from aboard its decks. Zahnor, the pragmatic warlord thathe is, agrees solely for the fact that it could cause them harm in the future if they do not sink it and let this occurrence disappear from thought. Castiel, argues that such a ship could serve them well in the future as a means of transportation and income while Variel nonchalantly shrugs the entire situation off. Arkamydies wants to keep it in his pocket as a toy though not one of the others is sure how he plans to accomplish this (could he really be that powerful or is he deluded?). Kael is indifferent to the situation as was Variel. In the end, the pragmatic arguments win out and they party decides to sink the ship in a brilliant display of fire, thanks to Arkamydies. The board the merchant ship, and after conversation with the captain about the day’s events, resume the rest of the journey to Waterdeep without incident.

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