To Parley with Pirates
- The French pirates sail the cabal back to their home base, a small natural port near the city of Caen in Normandy. They dock and promise to stick around for a short while, and to not quite pirate as much in the meantime.
- At the pirate base, the cabal befriends the pirate’s disrespected quartermaster, a shaky fellow named Nervous Peter.
- Peter isn’t real big on sailing since the last several close calls, but IS big on dousing his anxiety with alcohol, so the cabal procures some bottles of wine to try and loosen information out of him.
- Peter spills that the French pirates as of late have been commissioned by a local patron to try and loot passing English ships. The men can keep any of the lesser goods that they find, but craftwork of precious metals, religious icons, delicately woven clothes, and the like, must be surrendered to their patron.
- What happens if they would rather not? Well, that’s bad luck to ask. Freak accidents will get a ship sunk, going against the patron. That’s just bad luck….
The Ox-Pulled Cart
- With the knowledge that the patron is likely to be holed up in the nearby motte-and-bailey castle, the cabal asks to replace the crew responsible for the next delivery to the patron. Vincenzo turns himself into an ox for cart-pulling, and the cabal heads out.
- With a newly magick’ed bow enhanced by the down of the roc that they helped, Shamus finds nearby hill to provide long-distance ranged support.
- Kehr hides himself in one of the delivery barrels. Malik and the cart, driven by ox-Vincenzo, arrive at the castle.
- Inside the courtyard of the castle are a mixture of men. Half appear to be local villagers, put upon and scared. They haul around the goods from the pirates, not happy to be there, but certainly not about to leave. The remaining men are stern, cloaked in almost-religious garb.
- Ox-Vincenzo quietly summons lightning to hit his cart, intending to make a diversion. Several of the men scatter. Malik teleports into where he detects something fishy is, in the stone fortification built on the raised ‘motte’.
The Angel Denied Heaven
*Malik discovers a darkly-handsome man within the fortress, surrounded by broken and misused relics. Foot-deep water surrounds and dances in the room around him, as he tries to remove magic from the various icons and trinkets. Malik’s arrival interrupts him, and Malik, tauntingly, gives a snide quip and teleports away.
- The tower’s middle floor explodes outward with a boom, sending a cascade of water outward, settling into a swirling pattern. The man steps forward, sprouting giant eagle wings, as two charmed griffons leave their perches at the top of the tower. The cabal has successfully located the demon Focalor, and he is pissed.
- All hell breaks loose. Focalor, seemingly spurred by the sight of Malik, shouts “Doth thou hound me, Al-Miraj!?!?” Kehr chooses now to go into murdertime, leaving cultists in piles of their own carnage. Ox-Vincenzo brings down more lightning and angry ox horns.
- The cabal manages to avoid the direct fury of Focalor but fare much worse against the griffons. Vincenzo, upgrading himself to Winged-Ox-Vincenzo, just barely manages to convey Kehr up to one of the griffons before taking a massive blow himself. Stumbling out of the air, he flees, hiding and healing his profuse wounds.
The Riders from Afar
- At the sight of lightning in a cloudless sky and loud ground-based thunder, Shamus spots a pair of riders from the nearby town. They rush straight towards the fortress, kicking up dust that belies their unnatural speed.
- Deeply concerned about his friends being pinched between Focalor and the mystery riders, Shamus snipes off the bardings of the horses. He manages to significantly slow their approach to the castle.
- Meanwhile, Kehr shreds the wing off of one of the griffons, riding it down to its death. Focalor continues to fight.
- As the riders arrive, all cultists are dead or fleeing, but one griffon is still raging with Focalor.
- Holding out his hand, the armored rider seems to mesmerize the remaining griffon, allowing Kehr to focus on and slay Focalor. Like the others, he dissipates upon death, leaving behind a gold-inlaid ritual page.
- The fight over, the cabal and the pair of riders approach each other cautiously. Thanks are given, but trust does not come easily.
- Malik, using his talents at smoothing relationships and magically reading the room, speaks with the Hospitalers.
- The pair are Evan Sayer, an English Hospitaler knight, and Lela the Devout, a Maltese Hospitaler nun. Evan is at first guarded and distrustful, but Lela seems more willing to be open with the cabal.
- The pair had traced news of the possible demon presence to the area, but only received full confirmation at the lightning and explosions. They used their Obviously Magic talents to rush there.
- Focalor, a fallen angel, had been pulling magic out of religious artifacts in a bid to try and return to heaven, but (per angelic lore) was unaware that this was impossible. Alas for him.
- Evan seems initially extremely distrustful of Malik, but Malik’s empathy spells lets him detect strains of guilt during the conversation. By the end, he begrudgingly thanks him for the tea, telling him it reminds him of someone he used to know.
- Evan and Lela shared that they have been trying to track down the same demons that the cabal has, but that they were focusing on the more destructive ones first. While they focused on getting more research on the Continent, they shared that they knew of another demon in cahoots with Focalor on the British Isles. This ally tipped Focalor’s crew off to heavily-loaded ships full of artifacts and men, in exchange for yet unknown reasons.
- Telling the cabal to head for their contact in the cathedral at London, the Hospitaler pair wished them well.
- The cabal, now with 4 demon notches on their belt, heads off to English via chartered pirate ship towards their next challenge….