Locking the door to his room, a wary Sporp produces a book and a wooden box out from underneath his bed. Out of the box, the myconid takes a number of trinkets that he's collected since he was only a sprout, growing up in the grove—"artifacts" from the world beyond the narrow confines of his old home, a world that he is now privileged enough to be able to explore. Sporp arranges the trinkets in a circle and flips the book (taken from Rorik's library) open to a page that reads, 'Contact Other Plane'.
This isn't the first time he's performed this ritual, and each time he has been exceedingly lucky, though the young myconid doesn't realize it himself. As he finishes speaking the incantation, Sporp's trinkets begin to move across the floor of their own accord, spelling out the words, "Hello, Sporp."
Sporp happily tells his mysterious, otherworldly friend what's going on in his life—about meeting a surfing giant, playing pirate, and generally enjoying hanging out with the party. The myconid says that he wants to introduce his friend to Mye-kuhl Jancer and the others, so that they can all be friends together, but the entity tells Sporp that it's shy, and only wants to be friends with a "very special little sprout" like Sporp for the time being.
"I love you, Sporp."
"I love you too, friend!"
Meanwhile, up top, "Breezy" Isabella Locke sits at the ship's spelljammer helm. She's mad at herself for accidentally crushing Rorik Law with the ship, and moves the ship out over the bay before getting up and going out onto the deck. The two goblin swabs they press-ganged are busy mopping the place under Yuk-yuk's supervision. The goblin gives Breezy a salute as she passes by, the tattooed sorceress taking a place at the rail and looking back towards the ominous black tower into which her new masters… or maybe… friends, have gone.
She hums a song that her old master used to make her sing to him while he ate. She hits every note with a careful, practiced precision; anything less would have meant a beating, and she learned from a young age how to be the obedient servant that she was expected to be. She closes her eyes and clutches at an old scar as the wind rustles her raven hair.
Shaela Vae prowls through the loot-filled cargo hold of the Mind Flyer, her darkvision piercing the gloom, and finds a space amid the crates and barrels suitable for her purposes. Vials of blood, a ritual dagger, salt, five black candles, and the book that Jancer used to summon a fiend of his own, lifted after her night with the half-elf. She had done well that night, grabbing what she needed and hurting Nylah all in one fell swoop. The tiefling had made her feel vulnerable… weak…
She would not have that chance again; none of them would.
Shaela saw a dagger behind every smile—such was life among the drow—and she would stab these surfacers in the back before they had a chance to do the same to her. Yes, she would return to Urvae Ch'lloth and finally prove herself by bringing Lolth the piece of the Rod of Seven Parts that the party now holds. Her plan was simple enough, and this was the first step: a circle of power, perfect for summoning demons.
First comes the babau. Shaela bends it to her will with ease by offering more murder than the shadowy creature could ever hope for—mortal souls ripe for consumption. Next, four dretches. The slovenly monsters prove easy enough to cow when Shaela introduces them to the babau, which gnashes its lipless teeth hungrily at these tasty morsels. The dretches disappear into the crawlspaces of the ship to bide their time (Shaela means to strike when the party is asleep and most vulnerable), while the babau sinks into the priestess's shadow with a cold chuckle.
Down the hall, Elspeth Varkestone finishes practicing some paladin techniques taught to her by Jimothy Jones, as well as some things that Nylah showed her, and takes a much-needed seat on the edge of her bed. The armored dwarf wipes sweat from her brow and looks over to her side table, where two toy soldiers stand—mementos of the brother she lost—reminders why she must learn these things to begin with. Her thoughts turn to her new friends, especially those they've lost, and those who they left behind. Elspeth stands and heads into Nylah's room next door, laying down on the bed and sinking into the pillows. The bard's smell reminded her of home…
Suddenly, the door creaks opens again. Elspeth jumps, grabbing her warhammer from beside her, and turns to see Shaela standing in the doorway.
"What're you doin' here?"
"I could ask you the same, but then… I'm not really interested in you, am I? No, it's our tiefling friend that interests me."
The dwarf snaps at the intruder about how she hurt Nylah, and has no right talking about the bard as if she actually ever cared for her. She tells her to leave… now. Shaela laughs and lays down beside Elspeth in defiance. The dwarf pushes the drow onto Algernon's doggy-bed with a mighty heave, sending coins and the dragon's brand-new chewing bone flying. Shaela stands back up, rage in her eyes, and points her crossbow at Elspeth.
"I think it's YOU who should leave, dwarf!"
Meanwhile, Sporp heads out into the hallway and runs into Pleedleplop, who is happy to hear that the little myconid wants to learn more about Blibdoolpoolp. The kuo-toa puts Sporp up on his shoulder and takes him out on deck to look at the sea. Breezy takes notice and decides to join them. Pleedleplop tells Sporp and Breezy that "the sea is always within us"—something that Roland Leopold told him. Sporp says he misses Roland, but Pleedle reassures him that Roland too is always with them, for he has joined the Sea Mother in her briny halls. Sporp turns to Breezy and asks her if she has "anyone who's a part of the sea now". The sorceress's eyes widen at the question, but before she can answer, she spots something quickly approaching their position from the northeast—another vessel!
In fact, Breezy recognizes this vessel, for it is the ship of the infamous slaver, "Six Flags" Yahil! (if the ship's unique shape didn't give it away, the party bus music sure did) The sorceress goes into full panic mode and frantically relates through interpretive dance to Sporp that he should go downstairs and get the others.
Back in Nylah's room, Elspeth lifts her hammer, dodges a bolt fired by Shaela, and knocks away the drow's crossbow. The dwarf goes in for another swing, but instead of hitting the dark elf, Elspeth finds the head of her warhammer grabbed by a clawed hand that suddenly shoots up out of Shaela's shadow. She tries to yank her weapon free, but the metal suddenly turns white-hot and she is forced to drop it as the babau rises from the darkness and saps the strength from Elspeth's muscles with its 'Weakening Gaze'.
Sporp opens the door and is instantly alarmed by the demon in the room. He raises his Tentacle Rod, concentrates, and fire off an 'Eldritch Blast' at the babau. It misses, but suddenly, eight 'Magic Missiles' begin spraying wildly out across the room. Two hit Elspeth, one hits Shaela, three hit the babau, and the last two send pillows and papers flying into the air!
Up top, the other vessel pulls up below the Mind Flyer, and the finger-like shield over its deck opens to reveal three umber hulks, one of which has a hideous creature with the body of a tarantula and the head of a moray eel standing astride its head. This is none other than Yahil himself—a neogi. He pushes up the brim of his pimp hat and glares angrily at the flag of the Black Antlers.
"YOU! You are the Black Antlers that I've heard so much about—wrecking my bar, stealing my property, and flying around making a mess of everything! You will hand your spelljammer over to me immediately, or I shall take it from you BY FORCE."
Pleedleplop clears his throat and replies with a gurgling bellow,
"I am Pleedleplop, proud monitor of Slooblidoop, and I tell you—you shall have our ship and our friends when you claim them from our cold, dead, fishy hands!"
"HAH! Very well then."
Yahil takes a puff from his cigar and taps a spidery leg on the umber hulk's head, ordering it to man a deck-mounted harpoon gun nearby. The goblin swabs dive for cover as Breezy and the others brace themselves. There is a loud crash as a harpoon connected to the other vessel by a chain latches onto the prow of the Mind Flyer, causing the ship to suddenly jerk forward at a cant. Two of Yahil's umber hulks begin climbing the chain in no time, heading towards the party's ship.
Below, Shaela loses her balance and is thrown forward, towards Elspeth, who catches her in the side with her warhammer, but is too weakened to give the treacherous dark elf the beating she deserves. The babau tosses aside Elspeth's hammer and summons a shadowy spear that it thrusts at the dwarf, catching her just above the heart with one of its stabs. Shaela lands near Sporp, and the myconid begins telling her about the slaver ship. The priestess casts 'Suggestion' on Sporp, and tells him to find a safe place to hide, and not to move until she comes and gets him (not someone else, ONLY her).
Sporp rushes into the freezer, squeezing his mushroom body in between the wall and Saladesh's sarcophagus. The low moan coming from the lid of the coffin sends almost as many shivers down the myconid's proverbial spine as the actual temperature does. He tries to convince himself that the mummy won't come out and attack him like it did Krog, and thinks about how the alcohol he has stashed under his bed would help calm his nerves.
Meanwhile, Breezy, Pleedleplop, and Yuk-yuk engage the umber hulk that climbs onto the top deck with them. The kuo-toa draws the creature's attention, while Yuk-yuk stabs at it with his spear and Breezy tries using her cutlass on it. It's no use though, the blade barely even scratches the hulk's thick carapace. It swings a massive claw around that the sorceress only narrowly dodges.
Elspeth, looking to make a tactical retreat, runs across the room while Shaela fires another crossbow bolt at her, grabs her hammer, and smashes out one of the windows with it. The dwarf squeezes through the porthole and begins climbing along the outside of the flying boat. She hears the crashing of waves against the cliffs far below, and the sounds of battle overhead. Elspeth clambers over to Jimothy's window and busts it open too.
Meanwhile, Shaela recalls the babau into her shadow and casts 'Cure Wounds' on herself before running upstairs. Elspeth does much the same as the priestess as she leans against Jimothy's shrine to Ilmater. The dwarf also gulps down the potion of fire resistance she bought in Kalfsgate to avoid falling victim to the babau's 'Heat Metal' ability again.
Sporp sneaks back out of the freezer and towards his room, but is confronted in the hallway by the other umber hulk! The creature still lurches towards the myconid, but he COMMANDS it to "FLEE!" and it suddenly stops and runs back towards the front of the ship, where the harpoon-chain it climbed up is.
Climbing under his bed, Sporp pulls out the alcohol and drinks deeply. It hits him like a brick wall, and he pulls out the book of spells he used earlier, hoping to talk to his friend again. He flips to a page and tries his best to read it (his vision goes blurry), but as soon as he does, a 'Fireball' suddenly engulfs the entire room with a scream.
On the top deck, Shaela finds Pleedleplop, Yuk-yuk, and Breezy battling the umber hulk. She reloads her crossbow and shouts, "This ship is mine now!" as she fires a bolt directly into Yuk-yuk's throat, causing the goblin to begin coughing up bluish-black blood. Pleedleplop is distracted by this and gets the full brunt of umber hulk's smack-down, as well as a babau spear through the gut. The kuo-toa blacks out as the demon turns towards Breezy.
The sorceress casts 'Fly' on herself and takes off from the deck, but the umber hulk turns and snaps at her with its mandibles, catching her hand in a vice-like grip (nat 20). The sorceress slices her own hand off with her cutlass, and makes a beeline for the tower on the shore. She spots a figure emerging from the trap-door on the roof—it's Rorik! Breezy flies in and embraces the eldritch knight as she begins explaining to the party what has happened, hot tears stinging her eyes. Jimothy uses 'Lay on Hands' to staunch the bleeding stump where Breezy no longer has a hand.
Elspeth finds a drunken Sporp stumbling down the hallway when she emerges from Jimothy's room. She tells him that Shaela is the one who summoned the demon he saw earlier and that she's betrayed them. He is so confused, and doesn't understand why she would do something like that. Elspeth suddenly smells smoke coming from down the hallway and asks Sporp about it.
"Oh… yeah, hic, my room'sh on fire…"
Elspeth grabs a bucketful of water from the bathroom, and goes running to douse the myconid's room while Sporp runs upstairs.
The babau creates a cloud of darkness to cover Shaela's retreat back down the stairs (Sporp stumbles out of the cloud a moment later), and the umber hulk ignores her, picking up Yuk-yuk's body and putting it into its mouth as it begins making its way towards the helm of the ship. Rorik (who is getting a piggy-back ride from the flying Breezy), Nylah, Jancer, and Jimothy (who are riding atop Peter the Griffon) spot this as they near the Mind Flyer, as well as Yahil and his umber hulk mount climbing up onto the deck themselves.
Jimothy jumps off Peter as the celestial griffon swoops by and snatches the neogi slaver from his seat, bringing the creature back around just in time for the goliath to draw his Macuahuitl of Sharpness and give Yahil a nice wallop as he is carried past by Peter, who then proceeds to let go, dropping the neogi into the ocean a hundred feet below.
Nylah runs over to Pleedleplop and heals the kuo-toa, who is surprised to see her. He thanks her, but she tells him not to mention it. Jancer heads after the umber hulk going towards the helm, but the necrodancer's 'Glyph of Warding' takes affect as the creature touches the seat without saying "OWW~!", teleporting it over the side, where it plummets to its death alongside its neogi master. The other umber hulk on deck looks at Jimothy with fearful recognition and submits to the paladin.
While Sporp and Pleedleplop fill the party in on the details, Shaela calls the four dretches out of hiding and orders them to keep watch over the bottom of the stairs and to kill anyone who descends. She turns to the babau and asks if it is true that they are capable of summoning more of their kind from the Abyss. It nods with a grin and begins the process.
The dark elf draws her dagger and goes down the hall, where Elspeth has just put out the fire below deck. Silent and as deadly as a spider, Shaela comes up behind the exhausted dwarf, grabs her head, tilts it back, and slits her throat.
Up top, Sporp climbs onto the back of Yahil's umber hulk, and charges down the stairs. The dretches burst from hiding and leap onto the creature, but they are no match for it, and are shredded to bits almost instantly. A noxious cloud bursts from their bloated forms, and the already drunk and disoriented Sporp falls and smacks into the ground. Jancer is unaffected, and spots the babau. The necrodancer casts 'Dispel Magic' on the area, and the babau's summoning ritual fizzles. It growls and leaps at Jancer, spear raised over its head. Before it can hit him however, Nylah charges downstairs with Wave and impales the shadow demon. It pulls itself free and slithers away into the shadows.
Rorik and Jimothy push forward to find Shaela leaning over Elspeth, a bloody knife in hand. The priestess creates a magical 'Web' across the hallway to try and give herself time to escape, but Jimothy tears through it with ease. Rorik runs through and slams the drow into the wall, stunning her. Nylah rushes over to Elspeth and casts 'Cure Wounds' on the dwarf, who's blood-dappled skin has gone deathly pale.
Then, color begins returning to the dwarf's face, and she gives the tiefling a weak smile before grabbing Nylah around the neck and pulling her in for a full-on smooch (NAT 20!!!).
Jimothy grabs the demon-summoning tome from Shaela's person and shreds it (despite Jancer's protests) to stop something like this from happening again. He grabs the dark elf by the throat and raises her off the ground as he brandishes his macuahuitl threateningly. Rorik says coldly,
Nylah tells her companions to back off. They do.
Shaela looks up with an expectant smile as the tiefling rises, her eyes shadowed by her hair. The drow is sure that Nylah will intercede on her behalf—give some speech that will keep her safe from the others… but as the bard kneels in front of her with a look of total disdain, she realizes just how wrong she is.
"Chain her up. If this whore wants to go back to her people, we'll take her back to her people…"