Monday, January 28, 2019

Beyond the Veil

This post presents a number of encounters that the PCs could have while exploring the Winding Way, the realm that lies between places, time periods and possibilities.


The Winding Way is a realm that exists between different places and time periods. It can be a gateway to almost any possibility, including parallel worlds and alternate histories. The normal means of gaining entrance is to find a Crossroads, a place where the boundary between this world and others has worn thin. Failing that, it is sometimes possible to force open a portal using terrible magic, something that happened recently inside a US Army for on the American Frontier. 

Hell to Pay
For more information about the ritual that caused this rift to be opened, refer to the scenario in which it happened. 

Adventure Synopsis
This supplement presents a number of encounters that the PCs can experience as they make their way into and through the convoluted twists and turns of the Winding Way. As such, they can be run in any kind of order that the GM desires, as ways to add drama to the PCs' exploration of this realm. If the Player Characters are pursuing a specific objective inside the Winding Way, then these encounters could be run in order as a series of challenges as they pursue that goal.

For the Gun Master
GM's who wish to have more insight into the strange nature of the Winding Way, can reference the following comic books.
  • The story arc “Ghost Dance,” from issues 30-5 of The Sixth Gun, detail Becky Montcrief's journey into this realm in order to learn more about the power of the Six.
  • The spinoff series Valley of the Dead also ventures into the Winding Way, and details a battle against the aspiring God of Death known as Yum Kamil.
  • Finally, the first five issues of the spiritual successor to The Sixth Gun, Shadow Roads, shows how characters can using this realm to travel between locations on and beyond this earth.
Involving the Heroes
The PCs could decide to explore the Winding Way for any number of reasons, including the following.
  • An associate of theirs goes missing through the rift, and it's up to them to go find that unfortunate lost soul.
  • Alternately, an NPC who could hire the PCs to go in search of a friend or family member who has gone missing.
  • One or more of the PCs might wish to seek knowledge or some other objective by venturing into this realm and exploring the possibilities to which it leads.
  • Indeed, that endeavor could be based off plot elements revealed in stories told during one or more Interludes during previous adventures.
  • Finally, the PCs could have been present during the events of “Hell to Pay,” and seek to explore the rift following that battle, perhaps after some terrible creatures emerges from the rift.

Scene 1—The Rift
Beneath Fort Arneson lies a network of tunnels that were dug in the shape of a pentagram as part of Angelica Smith's attempt to summon and bind a Crossroads Demon. Assuming that the heroes succeeded in foiling her efforts, then there is a hole in the center created by the massive flux of magical energy. Narrow holes provide access to the tunnels, and they are pitch dark inside. In their middle is a gaping hole that descends one hundred feet to the surface of the water in the chamber below. 

Any efforts to climb down the hole require a successful trait check at a -2 penalty, due to the lack of handholds and slippery nature of the surface. That should be modified, of course, based on any equipment or other arrangements that the PCs can make at the entrance.

Scene 2—Underground Lake
The chamber underneath the rift is partially flooded, filled with water to a depth of thirty feet. The walls of this chamber are sheer, meaning that characters must make Swimming checks in order to move around it. There are only two areas that provide solid ground on which to stand; one is a narrow ledge in the middle of the chamber, which is also home to a constrictor snake that inhabits this area; the other is a platform that leads into the exit from here. Remember, too, that it's important to know what kinds of light sources the PCs have for illuminating the darkness.

Constrictor snake: Refer to pages 162-3 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition for details.

Useful or Valuable Items
It's possible that previous visitors to the Winding Way—ones who did not survive the experience, that is—left behind some of their gear; this could include the following items.
  • In an old leather sheath there is a tarnished silver dagger, one with a moonstone embedded in the base of the hilt.
  • Wrapped in an old bit of cloth are three sticks of dynamite.
  • A gold pocketwatch has stopped, but resumes if it is wound. Additionally, there's a black-and-white photograph of a woman inside the hinged lid.
  • Finally, there's a letter. Its contents are left to the GM to determine, but can certainly provide a plot hook for some kind of unfinished business.

Scene 3—Columned Chamber
A series of natural stone columns connect the floor and ceiling in this chamber, which is on average about twenty feet high. Strung between many of the columns and the wall are thick webs, ones spun by the giant spiders that inhabit the chamber.

Giant spiders: Refer to page 163 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition for details.

There is one spider for every two PCs (rounded up). They try to strike from above, hoping to trap victims in their webs, before moving in to bite.

Scene 4—Chasm and Rope Bridge
A robe bridge stretches more than one hundred feet in length from one end of this chamber to the other. The ceiling rises thirty feet overhead, while the floor plunges sixty feet below. There is also a narrow cave that is home to a wolf raptor, one of the more dangerous inhabitants of the Wind Way.

Wolf raptor: Refer to page 31 in the Winding Way adventure for details.

The wolf raptor waits until one or more characters have moved out onto the bridge before leaping out from its lair and attacking. It uses its Death from Above ability to lift PCs off the bridge and then drop them for a wicked fall.

Scene 5—Skinwalkers' Lair
At some point the tunnel opens up into a larger cavern. From the entrance (1) the PCs might be able to hear (with a Notice check) the presence of inhabitants. Beyond there is a broad chamber (2) with a firepit in the middle that serves as a common area. From there branches of the tunnel leads to a midden pit (3) in which the skinwalkers deposit their waste and refuse, as well as sleeping quarters for the clan's male and female members (4 and 5), respectively. Finally, the end of the branches into several different tunnels (6), each of which leads to more branches and, eventually, other places, times, and possible realities.

Skinwalkers: Refer to page 79 in the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook for details.

There are a number of skinwalkers present here equal to the PCs in the party. They are territorial, moving to challenge any interlopers when they become aware of them. Even so, the PCs might be able to negotiate safe passage with a successful Persuasion check, with bonuses or penalties assessed based on reasoning, roleplaying and other factors.

Moving Forward
Beyond this, the tunnels can lead to all kinds of destinations; here are a few suggestions.
  • Characters who have unfinished business of their own—such as elements revealed during characters' stories during Interludes or by other means—could have a chance to investigate those matters, perhaps gaining insight into those affairs.
  • They could also witness scenes from the past that impact on the current storyline, as observers who are not able to change the flow of history.
  • In either case, this could allow them to interact with people who are deceased, thereby gaining information that would otherwise have been lost, and especially if they missed some key detail during previous activity.
  • Finally, the PCs might also re-experience moments that did not go well for them, with a chance to learn what they could have done differently in order to have succeeded. At the GM's discretion, they could even be able to correct previous mistakes, finding that the outside world has changed once they emerge from the Winding Way.

Scene 6—Other Encounters
During their exploration of the Winding Way, the PCs could have numerous additional encounters; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • The ghost of the Indian boy Small Raven, unable to find eternal rest because his body's hand was cut off and turned into a Hand of Glory, is able to enter the Winding Way, and can act as a guide for the PCs. Use the stats for a haint from pages 75-6 of The Sixth Gun RPG.
  • At another point a wraith emerges from one of the tunnels, exploring this newly created rift. It is likely to attack the PCs, given its hunger for life energy. Refer to page 82 of The Sixth Gun RPG for details.
  • This activity also attracts a crossroads demon—possibly even Kalfu himself—who wishes to learn what has transpired. As long as the PCs are respectful, the demon can provide information about the Winding Way and perhaps even help navigate for them. Refer to page 74 of The Sixth Gun RPG for stats.
  • It's quite possible that the PCs encounter a dangerous swarm of vermin in these tunnels; refer to page 163 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition rulebook for details.
  • The PCs might encounter other travelers making their way through the Winding Way; this can be a good way for the GM to introduce new NPCs and their stories into the campaign.
  • As the tunnels begin leading toward other places, time periods and possibilities, of course, any number of creatures might come wandering into the area.
  • The most dreaded inhabitant of the Winding Way is the dream stalker, detailed on page 30 of the Winding Way adventure.

Due to the unusual nature of the Winding Way, this scenario can end in countless different outcomes, depending on the desires of the players, the needs of the campaign and the whim of good or bad luck. As such, the myriad possible further adventures are already mentioned above.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Spacefarer's Almanac, Volume 1

As a supplement to the material presented in The Aethernaut's Handbook and A Gazetteer of the Sol System, this is the first installment in what I'm calling The Spacefarer's Almanac.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Riot and Ruin

This supplement is designed for use with the 1st Edition of the Pathfinder roleplaying game, using the Aetherial Adventures setting; it sets up a series of scenarios based around the notion that the heroes of the Godharp Saga campaign fail to stop the demons' plot to devastate Homeworld, thereby leaving the planet devastated and overrun. 

Texts for Reference
To find an overview of the adventures in the Godsharp Saga, refer to the following article from the d20 Pirates blog.

There's an old saying that no GM's plot ever survives contact with the PCs. Building on that premise, this supplement works on the assumption that the heroes who participated in the events of the Godsharp Saga failed in their efforts to stop Nora the succubus and her demonic allies from laying waste to much of Homeworld.

A “Points of Light” Style of Campaign
The starting premise of this campaign is that Homeworld has been overrun by the demons. As such, it's an awful place in which to live. Even so, there's plenty of opportunity for heroes to find adventure in such a setting. Indeed, it's a world in which isolated bastions of civilization and hope remain in a world that is otherwise filled with villains and monsters. While the situation is undeniably dire, it is also a time in which those who are bold, skillful and lucky can win tremendous glory.

The Powers That Be
At this time, the demons and their allies are the unquestioned conquerors of Homeworld. After all, they control the Godsharp, and all others are at their mercy. Detailed below are suggestions for how other factions from the Aetherial Adventures setting have fared during recent developments.
  • The Church of Ptah is the first target of the demons, since its clerics know the most about the history of the Godsharp and how it can be wielded. As such, their temple in the Holy City is destroyed first.
  • Among other factions, the Cult of the Void and the Disciples of the Destroyer are likely to become allies of the demons, given their bent toward death, evil and chaos.
  • Such is also the case with the troglodytes of Tyr, who also worship Lamashtu and could begin expanding their empire.
  • The Sol Society and Guardians are staunch enemies of the demons, since they embody freedom and goodness, and so would be the next foes targeted.
  • Conversely, the Navigators are a faction that might be recruited by the demons because they can provide information about the other organizations, even if their members feel conflicted about cooperating in such a way.
  • As long as they cooperated with the demons, such as by hauling supplies for them, members of the Royal Interplanetary Company might also become allies.
  • Those who belong to the Order of the Lion are not likely to agree with such an arrangement, however.
  • On other worlds, the Dwarven Mining Guild might be recruited to craft weapons and armor for the demons, while the Elven Navy would stand against them.
  • Similarly, the giants of Wodan are likely allies, while some of the genies from Freya—notably the efreet—could ally themselves.
  • The Freebooters' Fellowship is a wild card that could go either way in this conflict.
Places of Interest
The scenarios of the Godsharp Saga provide plenty of locations that can be used for adventures, including the following possibilities.
  • Claw Island, along with the trading fort and tomb located on it (from Out of the Blue), could become a bastion of resistance for those who wish to oppose the demons.
  • Starfort Station (from Among the Stars) could hold out for some time, but the demons would eventually target it using the Godsharp. They would also seek to gain control of the interstellar portals that the elves have hidden among the rings of Kronos.
  • Depending on how the Interplanetary Company casts its allegiance, the Crossroads asteroid colony (from At a Crossroads)could be a staging point for the demons' aetherships, or another place where the PCs and others can stage their resistance.
  • The troglodytes's ziggurat on Tyr (from Beneath the Sands) becomes a major stronghold of the demons, a place from which they launch attacks on foes in the asteroid belt and beyond.
  • The center of the demons' power on Homeworld is the labyrinth on the Island of the Minotaurs in the Middle Sea (from Beyond the Pale), and the portal to the Abyss remains open there.
  • With the Holy City in ruins following the demons' attack, it could be overrun by undead created and commanded by Cyril the necromancer, who use the ruined Temple of Ptah and its catacombs as their base of operations (also from Beyond the Pale).
In the same way, the Gazetteer of Homeworld provides additional options.
  • As mentioned above, the giant strongholds on Wodan and the floating genie island of Freya could be places where the PCs find friends or foes.
  • The pristine forests of Arcadia and the desert wastes to the south of the Middle Sea can provide havens for those who fight against the demons.
  • The Barbarian Lands and, beyond them, the Eastern Kingdoms, are places where the PCs might seek allies to aid in their fight—provided they can convince those others of the threat the demons represent beyond the vicinity of the Middle Sea.
  • Humanoids and giants from the mountains beyond the Northern Kingdom would likely go on the rampage and offer their allegiance to the demons in exchange for aid and—more importantly—plunder.
  • In the asteroid belt, the Grotto serve as a valuable hideout, and the mobile facilities of the Dwarven Mining Guild would serve well to bolster any naval force that's being assembled by the resistance.
Planetary Ecologies Revisited
The encounter tables provided on pages 15-19 in the Gazetteer of the Sol System can be used to provide ideas for populating different locations with monsters. Just match the table with the appropriate region on Homeworld or other planet for ideas of level-appropriate foes that the PCs might encounter there. Those, then, can be used to “stock the dungeon” in some of the places of interest mentioned above. 

Note, too, that certain types of creatures not included on the regional tables for Homeworld can also come into play. This is especially true of the undead, which would be drawn to the power of Cyril the necromancer in his stronghold amid the ruins of the Holy City. Additionally, the minotaurs might begin experimenting with building different types of constructs, especially if they can be powered by infernal means.

Plot Hooks
Finally, here are some more suggestions for plot hooks and other story elements from which to build adventures.
  • The defeated PCs from the Godsharp Saga—those who survived that ordeal—would become important NPCs in this campaign.
  • More powerful demons would also likely travel to this plane and Homeworld in order to help take command of the ruined planet. While they provide even deadlier foes for the PCs, their presence could also lead to infighting and other intrigues.
  • In order to build their empire on Homeworld, the demons would seek to enslave any who possess useful skills.
  • At the start of the campaign the PCs could be part of the crew on a ship that works for the demons, or—even worse—could have been enslaved by them. As they go about their work, then, they witness just how terrible their employers or masters are, but then have a chance to free themselves from such onerous work.
  • The campaign might even begin during a stopover in the little port town of Alcudi, the same place where the events of the Godsharp Saga began.
  • Gathering together the scattered remnants of groups devastated by the sudden onslaught, as well as overcoming with diplomacy any differences between them, is a vital part of organizing any large-scale resistance against the demons.
  • At the same time, providing food and water for larger groups in this newly devastated land presents a challenge in its own right.
  • The demons and their allies would jealously guard the skies around Homeworld as well as access to aetherships of any kind, making overland travel slow and dangerous, and the acquisition of ships crucial.
  • All the while, too, the demons would continue to utilize the Godsharp as a potent weapon against locations in which their enemies dwell, especially if there is a sizable force massing against them.
  • The demons would also send their agents to hunt the PCs and, if they are able to discover their identities, any loved ones that the PCs might have.
  • Given the scope of this catastrophe, good outsiders such as the azata and possibly even angels could become involved in this conflict.
  • In order to defeat the demons once and for all, then, the PCs must raid each of the fiends' numerous lairs, as well as those of their allies; close the portal that is providing access to this plane of existence; secure the Godsharp so that it cannot be wielded against the forces of the Sol System; and then slay any remaining demons, especially those who have taken command of their evil forces.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Celestial Council

In the aftermath of the Godsharp Saga campaign, the powers that be in the Sol System begin to coordinate with one another in order to protect against similar threats. For that reason, here is a description of the organization known as the Celestial Council.


The Celestial Council
In the aftermath of what has come to be known as “The Incident”—an attempt be demons and their allies to destroy Homeworld using an artifact known as the Godsharp—several of the powers that be in the Sol System decided to form an organization “for the purpose of mutual assistance, information and defense.” The members meet four times a year, on the day before each solstice and equinox, to share any news they've heard and to debate any mutual decisions that they might choose to make. The venue for each meeting varies, with different members taking turns in hosting.

Current members of the celestial Council include the following individuals.
  • Brother Ibrahim, a priest of Ptah, represents the Free Cities of the South on Homeworld.
  • Marshall Leomund, a cavalier from the Order of the Lion, speaks on behalf of the Northern Empire.
  • Captain Aelwyn represents the Elven Navy.
  • Delve Captain Rorik, son of Rudrig, is the agent for the Dwarven Mining Guild.
  • Minister Yun is the representative for Emperor Zhu, who rules the Eastern Kingdoms.
There has also been talk of including other members, such as the giants of Wodan, the genies of Freya, and even a representative of the Barbarian Lands on Homeworld. So far, the existing members have chosen to keep the Council small.

Recent Business
Some of the items with which the Council has been dealing include the following.
  • There is an ongoing investigation into the aformentioned “Incident,” to make sure that no further danger remains from that business.
  • As its first act, the Council awarded a special commendation to those heroes who helped foil the demon's plot; it consists of statues depicting the heroes, engraved with their names, and inscribed with a plaque bearing the words, “For service to the Sol System above and beyond the call of duty.”
  • The Council has also been discussing an increase in pirate activity throughout the Sol System, including attacks on omas that are being used for interplanetary travel.
  • If and when a being should be accused of a crime that harms the inhabitants of Sol System's different planets, then the Council is tasked with considering evidence against, passing judgment on determining the punishment of said individual(s).
  • There's also the question of adding new members, a proposition that is supported by the elves and dwarves, but that the humans oppose.
  • Occasionally the Council receives from other star systems, including ambassadors from the arborlings and the kasatha.
  • Agents appointed by the Council keep tap on the various factions that are active in the Sol System, especially the Cult of the Void and the Disciples of the Destroyer.
  • A continuing concern is the spread of aetherial travel on Homeworld, something that the humans would like to control, but that the elves and dwarves believe should be allowed to happen freely.
  • The Council also keeps track of threats to the different planets presented by rogue comets, asteroids and other such bodies.
  • In order to promote interaction and cooperation between various groups of beings, the Council has adopted the Festival of the Comet—an annual competition involving martial prowess, artistic skill and aethership navigation—as an important intercultural event.
  • Toward that same end, the Council has been working to bring individuals from various cultures to attend the important holiday observations of others, such as solstices and equinoxes, birthdays and anniversaries, and the like.
  • Along more mundane lines, the Council brokers trade agreements between the parties that its members represent.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Tale: Answers and Questions

This post carries the d20 Pirates blog into its tenth year. While the focus of it has changed in the past decade, from D&D-based historical pirate material to space fantasy using the Pathfinder rules, with forays into pirate- and supernatural western-themed Savage Worlds content, I'm pleased that it's been an outlet for my gaming-related ideas. Thank you to everyone who reads it, and best wishes in the coming year.


Tale: “Answers and Questions”
Max could see that it was only a matter of time before Martelli and his pirates overran the rest of the Navy men, and so he had to act quickly. First he stuck two fingers in his mouth and gave a shrill whistle, and then scrambled down the side of the roof closer to the storehouse. Dropping to the ground, he rolled back up onto his feet and then ran across to that building's front door. Pressing his back against the wall beside the door, he watched as the soldiers who'd been on guard duty threw it open and went running toward the dock to help their fellows.

Recognizing his opportunity, Max slipped inside.

“Max?” It was Konrad who saw him first. “Ptah be praised, am I happy to see you.”

The halfling silenced the dwarf with a finger to his lips. “Save it. Martelli and his pirates are attacking the compound. We have little time.”

Konrad nodded and fell silent.

Max stepped over among the prisoners and, unrolling his tool kit, chose a pair of lockpicks. With practiced efficiency he set upon his comrades' shackles. As each crew member was released, he or she took a moment to stand, stretch, and rub circulation back into aching limbs.

While Max freed the last crew member, Horace called to him in something like a stage whisper. “This chest,” and he indicated a wooden one bound with iron, “I think it has our gear in it.”

The halfling jogged over to it and went to work on its lock, too. As he did so, they all heard a distinct three-noted whistle from outside one of the storehouse's shuttered windows.

It was the call of a lark.

“That's Uriel and Nar'raw,” Max announced. “Let them in.”

No sooner had Horace done so than the big half-orc climbed nimbly through the opening. With a nod in the direction from which he'd come, Uriel began helping others back through it, and Nar'raw was there to ease them to the ground. Lucinda, Konrad and Horace emerged after the crew members, having taken a moment to reequip themselves, and were followed by Uriel and Max. Boosted by the half-orc, the halfling did his best to hitch the latch again from the outside.

“What's the plan?” Horace asked.

“We have a boat near here,” Max explained, “but it's not big enough to hold all of us.”

“I think our best bet,” Uriel suggested, “is to make for the interior and wait out Martelli's men. If they don't know we're here, then they won't think to look for us.”

Horace stroked his mustache. “That makes sense. After they've departed, we can send a few people for help.”

Konrad looked from one officer to the next. “Are we in agreement?” The others nodded—but then were interrupted by the crash of the storehouse doors being forced open, followed by the sounds of tramping feet and angry voices.

“That's it, then,” Horace declared. “Start the retreat.”

Max moved to obey, taking the lead and showing the others how to move as quietly behind him. 
Lucinda froze, however, and put up a hand. “Wait.”

“What is it?” Horace whispered.

For her part, the half-elf muttered an incantation and then gestured toward the building.

“Lucinda,” the human continued, “what are you doing?”

As if heedless of him, the wizard produced a small bottle from her component pouch, thumbed the cork out of it, and then dipped a feather inside it. Then she muttered another spell.

“What is she--” Horace started to ask, but Konrad shushed him.

Lucinda concentrated a little longer, and then nodded. “Ah. I suspected as much.”

“What?” Horace asked.

She cast a quick glance at Nar'raw, who was busy attending to other matters. Then Lucinda smiled. “I think I've found the eggs.”

* * *

The Larks made their way inland, with Max leading and Uriel bringing up the rear, the half-orc doing his best to sweep away any tracks that they left. They followed a circuitous route into the island's thickly wooded interior, and then waded across a shallow stream to conceal their passage. Eventually they arced back to the island's southern coastline and there stayed hidden behind a hill from atop which Max could watch the pirates in the bay. Peering through the spyglass that he'd taken from the house, he could see them emerge from the compound and start back toward the ships. A moment later, smoke began drifting up into the sky from inside the compound, and before much longer the light of flames became visible.

Martelli's men paused for a moment to observe the fruit of their handiwork, and then started toward the peer. Some of them carried more torches and flammable materials, and went aboard the docked Luminous.

“Damnation,” Max swore, and then ran back down the hill toward his comrades' makeshift camp.

* * *

The other Larks were resting and sharing a meal of gathered fruits and the last of Uriel's smoked meat, along with water from the stream, when Max returned.

“What's the news?” Horace asked.

“Good and bad,” Max explained. “On the one hand, there's a galley ripe for the taking docked in the harbor. On the other, Martelli and his men are setting fire to it.”

“What!?” several voices demanded together.

“Even so,” the halfling continued, “they are setting sail while we speak.”

“So we could save it?” Horace asked.

Max nodded. “Aye.”

“Good. You and Uriel, take a few hands and salvage that ship.”

* * *

The halfling and half-orc led a small party back along the coastline, careful to stay out of sight of the departing pirates. Reaching the harbor, they rushed aboard the galley, which was only starting to burn. Swinging his sword, Uriel cut away chunks of wood that were aflame, and the crew members—their hands wrapped in wet cloth—tossed them overboard. Before long, all of the flames were extinguished.

“What do we do now, sir?” a crewman asked, turning to the half-orc.

“Cut some greenwood,” Uriel advised, “and throw it on the burning fort. We don't want the pirates to suspect that something is amiss.”

* * *

An hour later, the officers of the Skylark were gathered around a makeshift captain's table in the aft section on the lower deck of the Luminous—one assembled from cargo crates, and surrounded by more of the same that were used for chairs—with a map spread out for viewing. At the same time, Max was poring over the letters that he'd taken from the house in the compound.

“Lucinda,” Horace asked, “what was that spell that you cast into the storehouse?”

She smiled. “There were two, actually—one to detect the presence of magical items, and one to identify their natures.”

Horace nodded. “And what did you learn?”

“Arturo Martelli carries on his person an item that has a strong aura of conjuration magic.”

The others waited for more information.

“I believe it is,” Lucinda continued, “a portable hole.”

“A what?” Uriel asked.

“To put it simply,” she explained, “it is a piece of what seems to be ordinary black cloth, but it is imbued with magical properties such that there is an extra-dimensional space inside it, which allows its owner to store things inside while it is spread out upon the ground, but then to hide it on one's person when it has been folded up.”

The others just stared at her, before Nar'raw spoke up. “And you think that Martelli has my clan's eggs inside that thing?”

Lucinda nodded. “Yes.”

Nar'raw hissed. “But what good is it to know that, if we don't know where the pirates are headed?”

Before anyone else could reply, Max responded. “ I believe I can help with that.”

“What?” a number of voices asked.

The halfling shrugged. “While I was, exploring the house, I found a few letters that can shine some light on this subject.” He produced a bundle of papers from inside his coat and held it up with a smile.

“What,” Nar'raw stammered, “what does it say?”

“It says here, “ Max replied, “that this wrecked vessel was last reported as passing the southern tip of the Morean Peninsula, and that it was headed east toward the Sacred Archipelago.”

“I know that area,” Horace added, pointing to locations on the map northwest of Minotaur Island and eastward from there. It's a tangle of islets and rocks that make for treacherous sailing; if this ship sank, then that's a likely place.”

“So,” Nar'raw hissed, “we can go after the pirates?”

Horace nodded. “Yes, but we must be careful about it.”

“So, what's the plan?” Uriel asked.

The captain smiled. “For now we start rowing; we can figure out the plan along the way.”