With the new sailors integrated into the crew, the Sea Wyvern returned the Heroes 4 Hire to the village of Tanaroa to gather their things and prepare for a beachhead assault on the pirate ‘stronghold’. The former pirates provided invaluable intelligence on their base of operations. Once loaded, the team said their goodbyes to their village friends, and Mira of the Hawk rewarded them not only for their recovery of her brother and his party, but also for all the help and trade they had performed with all the villages. She named them Advisors to the Council of Chiefs (a regular meeting of the seven village chiefs), a position within Tanaroan culture and politics directly below the chiefs and equal to that of the ‘ancestor masters’.
The Heroes departed and sailed on the Sea Wyvern throughout the day and into the night, arriving at the small archipelago early in the nighttime. The ship anchored roughly 250 yards offshore and the team boarded two small launches, while Mr. Cotton and four sailors boarded a third. As the assault force began rowing, an alarm sounded ashore as the first shot from the Wyvern’s amidships trebuchet landed squarely on the southern watchtower, crushing the roof and railing and setting the platform and structure aflame. With first blood drawn, the band of pirates came out to meet their guests, in force. The pirate captain also appeared, organizing a defensive line on the beach and preparing for the arrival of the three boats, and as the team hit crossbow range the second round from the Sea Wyvern obliterated the northern watchtower with a shattering of flaming oil barrel.
Arrows and crossbow bolts volleyed back and forth as the assault force stormed the beach and closed with the pirates. Outnumbered almost three-to-one, the Heroes 4 Hire and Mr. Cotton’s team engaged the pirates in a fierce, up-close and personal combat. One after another, the pirates fell to the swords and spells of the adventurers and sailors, who managed to keep their injuries to only minor wounds except for one fatality amongst Mr. Cotton’s men. A third shot from the Wyvern exploded the western watchtower beside the pirates’ stash cave. The pirates finally fled in a rout, with one of the pirate elites surrendering on the beach and the captain plus three others fleeing down an escape tunnel dug out the back of their ‘loot cave’. Thia, Illyia and Diplo gave chase, but the dragonborn paladin found the narrow passageway much more challenging than the lithe elves did. One more pirate lost his life as he attempted to stop the pursuers in the passageway, but the two elves continued the chase until the tunnel submerged underwater.
Seeing no other path of escape, the elves dove into the dark water and swam (good thing Thia took those lessons!) about 20 yards underwater until the tunnel opened into a coastal cave on the opposite side of the islet from the pirate camp, where they surfaced and spotted their quarry swimming away toward the cave mouth. They pursued once more, and realizing he was losing distance the pirate captain suddenly popped up above the surface and ran on top of the water. The other two pirates realized they were being abandoned, stopped and watched wild eyed as the two elves swam by them to continue pursuing the fleeing captain. The chase continued out of the cave and southward onto the beach and overland, and Illyia had his raven familiar, Nightshade, surreptitiously follow the fleeing brigand.
The pirate captain ran south along the island for several hours before taking up a hiding location, all under the watchful eye of the orbiting raven. Illyia and Thia snuck up on the hiding buccaneer, took up sniping positions and simultaneously fired their bows at him, injuring him to the point of coma. They searched him and recovered a set of chainmail, a shield, a magical longsword and a magical ring. The elves manacled the captain, tended to his wounds enough to revive him, and then force marched him back to the camp.
Meanwhile, back at the pirate camp, the remainder of the team policed up the fallen sailor from the Sea Wyvern, secured the surrendered pirate elite, and looted the iron box in the cave that Illyia had taken the time to unlock before pursuing the fleeing corsairs, recovering a large pile of coins and a watertight scroll case made of bone (from some sort of large beast). While the party at the camp were mopping up, the two pirates that Thia and Illyia had passed in the coastal cave returned to the camp and surrendered, and eventually the two elves marched the captain back into the enclave as well. The loot, prisoners and team loaded into the boats, and Mr. Cotton supervised the sailors setting flame to the huts and remaining outrigger canoes before everyone returned to the Sea Wyvern… aglow from the beachside bonfires.
Well after midnight all personnel, cargo and equipment was secure, and Captain Larouche set sail for Anchorhead, ending the nearly 5-hour combat operation and the Heroes 4 Hire’s first expedition to the mysterious Dread Isle… the first of hopefully many to come.
“It is with heavy hearts that we gather here atop the Sea Wyvern to pay our final respects to Arlen Thatcher, who gave his life in selfless combat. Mr. Thatcher was one of us ‘originals’, the first to sign up when Mr. Cotton and I started this Company. His loyalty and skill were exemplary of our highest traditions of the profession of the sea. His solitary actions distinguished himself as a sailor and as a man, and his sacrifice brings the highest honor to the name Thatcher.”
“To the sea, we commit your body. To Melora, your soul. It is time, Mon Cher.”
And with a nod to Mr. Cotton the order was given, the plank raised… and the corpse of Arlen Thatcher, sailor of the Sea Wyvern, slid into the salty blue.
Join us again next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire”