At last, out on the open waves and with at least a week and a half to kill before they returned to Trolanport, the adventurers were able to address the conundrum of the ancient schema. They had originally been told that this was a long-lost invention of House Cannith from the dawn of the Last War, but their recent adventures had brought them all to the even more ancient ruins of the lost Giant civilization. Discoveries along the way had suggested that the origins of the warforged had more to do with this ancient culture than any tinkering by the House of Crafters, and now they had to decide what to do.
Their prize had turned out to be evil, sentient and determined to overthrow the rule of all organic beings. The giants themselves had scattered its components rather than allow Xulo to fully manifest and the party felt that giving their prize up to House Cannith would generally turn out to be a bad idea. They briefly toyed with the idea of surrendering the artifact to the Black Lantern, who had been their patrons during the hunt for Lucan, but in the end decided that they needed to at least separate the component elements to force the entity back into quiescence.
Sealing themselves below decks, their plan was to summon a skeleton to hold and attempt to break apart the device, relying on its mindless nature to overcome the telepathic onslaught they knew Xulo could produce. Instead, the artifact swept aside their control of the undead minion and assumed direct control while triggering a burst effect confusion spell.
The artifact’s basic escape plan was to try and get thrown overboard. As it was able to move itself slowly and take over most creatures with which it came into contact, the immortal construct reasoned that escaping the ocean’s depths was a better bet than close quarters combat with seasoned adventurers. In the end, bolstered by magic and colleagues, Keill was able to hold on to Xulo and resist its demands long enough for his companions to dismantle it.
A single part of the schema was immediately thrown overboard and the rest of the components stored in separate containers. The adventurers could relax for now, but now they had to decide what to do with regard to their employer. House Cannith would not look kindly on the news of their actions.
At this point, fortune appeared to offer a new option. As their ship made its way through an archipelago of islands and rock stacks, it was attacked by a small pirate ship. The battle was fierce, with magic deployed by both sides. The adventurer’s ship took several heavy hits to the hull, while a fireball launched by the pirate captain severely damaged the sails and many of the crew.
Bumperklart and Ruin took the fight to the pirate ship’s deck, while Darmon flew across invisibly and was able to surprise the pirate captain, killing him with a shocking grasp. The remaining pirate crew surrendered, aside from a pair who were locked in combat with summoned hippogriffs. While they died swiftly, one of them fought so bravely and well that he was honoured by Bumperklart with a warrior’s farewell as they disposed of the corpse.
The survivors swore allegiance to the adventurers, who decided to appropriate the ship as their own. The session ended with both ships harboured in a hidden cove in a nearby island while they repaired the damage to both.
I think the campaign might be about to go in a very strange set of directions – so we’ll call this the end of Chapter Three. What will happen in Chapter Four is more up to the players in this game than they perhaps quite realise right now…