Wild Abandon

Lightning in a Bottle

Chapter 23

Finally, the day of the Free Captains' Regatta dawns. The competitors jockey for position in the shadow of Beshaba's Antlers, and the roiling clouds of Euroclydon, the living hurricane, beyond.

There are 9 vessels in all, including the party's own, The Mind Flyer:

  1. The Ilvara's Caress, captained by Jorlan "Sea Spider" Despana, with Undren "Stonehand" Drakebrand, Honemmeth, and the imprisoned Shaela Vae aboard. The ship has the dark and elegant design of all drow constructions.
  2. The Rope Trick, captained by Henrietta "Hoist-the-Colors" Fairwind, alongside her pixie first mate. The ship is, as its name would suggest, covered in ropes.
  3. The Baphomet's Call, captained by a minotaur they call "The Burnt Bull". The ship has a bull head-shaped ram made of iron for its figurehead.
  4. The Depth Star, captained by Wolfgang "Suckers" Merryweather, an older man who has an octopus on his shoulder named Suds. The ship is decorated in tentacle-wrapped stars.
  5. The Corollax, captained by the flamboyant gnome, Finito "Feathercap" Fizichi. The ship is incredibly opulent, and its sails shift in a rainbow of colors.
  6. The Dead Man's Best, who's captain isn't known. The ship looks ramshackle and its crew all seem to have their mouths sewn shut and stare straight ahead like zombies.
  7. The Zero-Chum Game, captained by Captain Fin, a ravenous-looking fishman with a pirate hat and a cutlass. The ship has a fishy stink all around it.
  8. The Barnacled Booty, captained by "Bone-gnawing" Beatrice Birdy, a supposed cannibal. The ship looks like it's in need of a good scrub, that's for sure, and there are hyenas cackling on deck.

Jancer is quick to note that "Smiling" Schmidty's ship, The Maiden Voyage, hasn't moved from where it was last night. Jimothy starts yelling at another ship (and I mean, at the ship) as it bumps into the Mind Flyer. Captain "Suckers" looks over at him and the Depth Star backs as far away from the party as possible. Rorik points out, "We have the crazy advantage."

The Master of Gales turns into an albatross and flies up to the top of one of the Antlers and begins giving a speech about how the regatta is a test of all sailors, to prove their worth against not only one another, but against the wrath of nature itself! The druid raises his arms as his speech reaches a crescendo, and lightning flashes into the water in front of the other ships.

THE RACE HAS BEGUN!

The Mind Flyer begins sailing ahead, towards the first obstacle—a series of shoals and reefs formed by the spiral action of the hurricane. Rorik and "Breezy" navigate from the crow's nest, while Pleedleplop volunteers to jump into the water and scout ahead of the ship. They easily navigate the maze. Behind them, the Barnacled Booty becomes lodged between two sandbars, and then is SMASHED as the iron ram of the Baphomet's Call bursts through the middle of the ship!

The next obstacle is a powerful current coming out of the hurricane through the cleft between a rock formation known as The Pincers. It pushes the party backwards towards the shoals. Nylah grabs Wave with both hands and both feet and points the trident behind the ship to try and spur it forward with a geyser of water. Instead, the tiefling bard is rocketed across the deck on her back, head first into the mast!

"ACK! Nylah! Are 'ya alright?!"

"E-Elspeth, when did you get a twin sister?"

Just then, the Corollax comes up beside them, colorful sails beginning to flash faster and faster. The captain comes up to the fore and clears his throat to speak, then Jimothy yells to intimidate them to "STOP THAT AT ONCE!" The gnome captain passes out in fear and the crew rush to help him.

Jancer lifts the Mind Flyer up into the air, allowing it to easily zoom over the current and catch up to the Ilvara's Caress. Nylah goes over to the railing and begins shouting insults down at their rivals, especially Undren, who starts going off the deep end, angrily ranting up at her. Nylah hocks a loogie at him, and it goes right down the dwarf's throat as he's talking. Algernon keels over laughing, as does Nylah.

As the party's ship is about to enter the narrow cleft of the Pincers, the Dead Man's Best pulls ahead of them. Then, a moment later, the other vessel disappears as the sea beneath it EXPLODES! As the watery column dissipates, the party watch in horror as the other ship is bitten clean in half in the snapping jaws of a dragon turtle.

Breezy drops to her knees, peeking over the railing and pulling on Rorik's pantleg at the beast who sunk her previous ship. Rorik grabs two swords and a rope and climbs up onto the edge of the crow's nest, ready to defend her and his crew. Nylahtells Algernon to wave hello to his uncle. The little bronze dragon is in absolute awe as he looks at this enormous creature, easily seven times his own size.

The dragon turtle crashes back into the water and locks eyes on the Mind Flyer hungrily, evidently not satisfied with a single ship. Jimothy Jones suddenly charges to the front of the ship, pulls out a bag of 100 gold from his pocket, and pours the treasure into the ocean, shouting, "TURTLE, BY ILMATER, TAKE THIS AND DESTROY OUR FOES!"

The dragon turtle's eyes widen at the sight of gold, and it completely ignores the party, allowing them to pass by. The other ships don't seem so lucky, but as they begin to pass into the outer wall of the living hurricane, they spot the Rope Trick slingshot itself OVER the dragon turtle, and the Ilvara's Caress fly clear, narrowly avoiding the dragon turtle's steam breath. Rorik casts 'Shatter' on their mast and yells back,

"Get your own schtick, you drow bastards!"

The storm clouds close in all around the Mind Flyer, and Jancer feels the flying ship being blown hard by the gale-force winds. He is able to keep her under control for the time being however, as the deck is battered by sheet after sheet of rain.

Rorik's now snake-like eyes pierce through the thick clouds easily however, and spy the top of what looks like an enormous tower emerging from the waves. They loop back around to the northwest and continue the race, marveling at how tall something must be to rise up from the ocean floor like that.

Knowing that there are no more landmarks they have to keep an eye out for in the storm, Jancer decides to take them up above the first layer of clouds, to avoid at least some of the wind and rain. The ship emerges, sandwiched between two layers of roiling blackness. Overhead, Rorik spots sickly green nimbuses of electricity that he quickly identifies as lightning elementals! The eldritch knight climbs to the very top of the mast and tells Breezy to stay low as a flurry of ball lightning appears from the cloud cover headed straight for the ship!

Meanwhile, back at the starting line, aboard the Maiden Voyage, "Smiling" Schmidty and crew clear their heads of the Dancing Monkey Juice and go, "… OH SHIT, THE RACE STARTED!"

Back on the Mind Flyer, Jancer pulls out the stone of air elemental summoning he has, and tells the summoned elemental that bursts out of it to get inside the S.A.I.L.S. Unfortunately, he has no time to do this AND maneuver the ship out of the way of the incoming lightning. One strikes the ship, leaving a burning hole in the deck. Nylah scurries over and begins dousing the flames with Wave. Rorik is struck by one and feels his muscles clench up as electricity pulses through his body. Jimothy lets out a roar and charges to the front of the ship, one foot up on the figurehead, and thrusts out his macuahuitl in one hand like a lightning rod. Unsurprisingly, he too is electrocuted.

Elspeth and Pleedleplop run over to the paladin, "ARE YOU ALRIGHT?!!"

"Never felt better," he says, smoke coming out of his visor with each word.

The ship rocks violently, and Jancer falls off the pilot's seat as the psychic backlash of the damage taken by the vessel affects him. He accidentally lets off a 'Lightning Bolt' in his pain, which streaks up towards the elementals, who take it as a queue that "Yes, we want to play! Please throw MORE balls at us!" So they do.

Just as the ball lightning is about to hit the ship and utterly devastate it, Jancer climbs back into the seat and ACTIVATES THE AIR ESCAPE!

VWOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!

The Mind Flyer takes off at super-speed as the air elemental propels them through the hurricane! Rorik falls from the mast and impacts with the deck. Sporp is so light weight, he begins levitating. Krog, who has his new frost giant legs wrapped around the mast, grabs the myconid and stops him from flying off. He doesn't do the same for Elspeth, who goes firing like a bullet backwards, and down the stairs with an "Ooh-ow-ow-ah-agh-ooh-ow!", followed by a weak, "I'm okay."

As they burst out of the side of the hurricane, the air suddenly becomes incredibly hot. So hot, in fact, that Elspeth, Jimothy, and Rorik's plate armor begins burning their skins. Everyone except Jimothy quickly doffs it, with the goliath gladly enduring the pain for his god. The paladin looks down and, as soon as he sees the Ilvara's Caress appear from the clouds behind them, aims his macuahuitl at the ship.

"Ilmater, fire lightning from my sword and destroy your foes!"

Despite believing that being struck with lightning had charged him up with electricity, Jimothy's sword does not fire anything. As luck would have it however, a bolt of lightning strikes the back of the drow vessel all the same! Over the waves, they can hear Undren cursing loudly as Jorlan and his crew rush to put the fire out.

Lightning also strikes the nearby lava flowing from the volcano, sending globs of it careening dangerously towards the Mind Flyer as they sail through the treacherous rocks around the burning mountain. Jancer douses one with a 'Ray of Frost', while Nylah catches the other two using Wave's water-works.

As they emerge from the steam cloud surrounding the volcano, the party find a clear-shot to the finish line ahead of them. Then, the Ilvara's Caress comes blasting out behind them, all cylinders firing, easily able to outrun the party's ship if they don't do something to stop it!

Rorik notices a pulsating light from the portholes of the drow ship and casts 'Shatter' on the windows, sending glass exploding everywhere. Jimothy raises a hand to the heavens and uses 'Find Steed' to call forth a celestial war elephant that appears over the enemy ship on a beam of light, and then drops like an anchor through the deck with a loud CRASH! And then, finally, Jancer lifts his Wand of Wonder, levels it at the Ilvara's Caress, and, in a sudden flash of white light, the entire ship disappears without a trace.

The Mind Flyer leisurely continues over the finish line, and the Black Antlers WIN the Free Captains' Regatta!

In the end, the Mind Flyer comes in first, the Rope Trick comes in second, the Depth Star comes in third, and the Maiden Voyage comes in last, having not completed the race. The other six ships are nowhere to be seen as celebrations commence aboard the Hurricane Queen's galleon.

Huge kegs of alcohol are rolled out for the party, including CAVE FISHER BLOOD! Elspeth goes wild, and drags Sporp and Nylah over to drink with her. Krog joins in too, and they laugh at him when, despite being a giant now, he proves to be the lightweight among them ("I-I'm still getting used to this body! Shut up!").

Three pirates that the party recognize from Kalfsgate approach them during the festivities. They pal up to Sporp, and lift him triumphantly on their shoulders, and pat "Captain Nylah" happily on the back, congratulating her for winning the race! The three of them clink their glasses onto Jimothy's armor in celebration.

"I ask that you stop that."

"We can drink to that!" - clink! -

It is decided that each of them will be interviewed:

  • Osana Greentide, a half-elf woman with her hair tied into a short ponytail under a tricorne hat who wants to join up for the sake of adventure and experience.
  • Torutori, a kenku outcast with a cloak of parrot feathers who is looking for fair and honest treatment aboard a ship.
  • "Dirty" Willy, a dwarf who's beard is full of scabs and has snot coming out of his nose who wants to join for loot and ladies (he winks at Elspeth, causing her to throw up in her mouth). He crosses a line when he shamelessly eats one of his scabs. Rorik picks him up and throws him into the ocean after Pleedleplop suggests that he's in need of the biggest bath in the world. Willy is NOT allowed to join the crew.

A moment later, Jancer hears a familiar voice call his name. He looks down to find an even more familiar face looking up at him: BINGLE BOGGLETHORP!

The gambler made a killing off the race, as he bet on the party to win the whole thing; Jancer kicks himself for not placing any bets of his own. He asks Bingle about Zakkencrag, as, last time they saw him, he talked about being a father-figure to the xvarts there, but Bingle says that, "after the whole rats taking over the city and driving the royal family out and all that, things got a little too stuffy for your old pal, Bingle, let's say. PLUS, if I hadn't left, I wouldn't be sitting on THIS fat stack right here!"

Bingle properly meets Rorik for the first time ("Oh, yeah… the guy who cheated and lost me my Wand of Wonder"), and bets the eldritch knight 30gp that he can't hold all six of his swords at once. Amazingly, Rorik does it! Bingle makes another bet, double or nothing—Rorik has to hold the ridiculous position he contorted himself into in order to hold all six swords for a FULL MINUTE.

HE DOES IT!

Rorik yells over to Breezy, "Toss me your sword too!" and catches it in his teeth without dropping any of the others. Everyone's jaws drop in amazement (alcohol pours out of Sporp's like a waterfall). Bingle grumpily hands over the money.

"Yeah, yeah… Frickin' show off…"

Then comes time for the party to ask their favors of the Hurricane Queen. The Master of Gales presents them as "conquerors of sea and squall, masters of ship and storm, champions among sailors and scallywags" as they each step up to make their request:

  • Jancer asks for "dances of power", and is gifted a muscled slave girl who is supposedly the best dancer in these seas ("Well, I don't know about that, baby, but I'm sure she's fine").
  • Jimothy asks to know where the "greatest evil in this land" lurks, and is told of a place at the heart of Euroclydon—a rift in the sea floor, where monsters are said to dwell.
  • Nylah asks that "the word of Diancastra" be spread by everyone present, that her dogma of self-interest becomes known to all pirates.
  • Rorik asks for the Hurricane Queen's "scepter of rulership", which appears to be the piece of the Rod of Seven Parts they are after! She presents it to him, but whispers in his ear that he WILL come and see her later.

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