Skull and Shackles

Session 44: Tragedy Tomorrow, Comedy Tonight

The Theater of Corruption in Hell Harbor was run by a trio of Chelish expatriates who performed abstract reworkings of ancient Chelish plays. The disturbing operatic comedies featured dark fiends as protagonists and mortal antagonists who embroiled themselves in sins and deviltry, suffering ironic losses, deformities, and often damnation. It was difficult to know whether the patrons enjoyed these themes or whether they simply loved the scandalous reputation of the establishment.

The Crisis officers spread out around the broad, single-story building, constructed on piles over the waters of Hell Harbor in search of side entrances. Feruzi had approached the doors when she was interrupted by a loud “Oi!” from around the corner.

“Don’t you ‘oi’ me!” she snapped. A heavily armored guard approached her.

“You need to move on, there. This buildin’s under the personal protection of Lord Endymion hisself!”

“And what, exactly, did you think I was about to do to said building?”

“Don’t matter, girlie. Get thee gone.”

“How do I even know you work for Endymion?”

“Do we even care?” Ezikial grunted from his position further up the street. He took a swig from his flask.

“Well, no,” Feruzi said, " but I don’t appreciate people trying to tell me what to do."

“It don’t matter if I work for Asmodeus hisself. This is yer last warnin. Leave.”

“Ooh, my last warning. Now I’m scared,” Feruzi said. “Whatever shall I . . .” she punched the guard in his ugly mug and was surprised to discover no real resistance. Chopper charged out of the shadows and whacked the so-called guard upside the head, or tried to, he passed right through the illusion, which vanished, accompanied by the sound of mocking, ethereal laughter.

“Bloody witchcraft!” Chopper growled. Feruzi clambered onto the roof of the building, not immediately finding any other enemies. There was a loud thumping noise as Reiko assaulted the door, battering it open in a matter of moments. Ezikial and Chopper, still on the pier, were hit by a wave of unholy energy. A devil, sporting a rather dangerous-looking beard, shimmered into view and attacked.

“Lord Endymion sends his regards, fools,” it cackled. “Now die!”

“Eh, probably not,” Chopper said, fending off the devil’s assaults. Feruzi shot it, dealing some damage while Reiko drew her sword to deal with a wild-eyed, bloodstained man who punched at her with his bare hands. Somewhere inside the building a powerful soprano began to belt out a Chelish opera. The bare-knuckle fighter proved to be a powerful adversary, pummeling Reiko without mercy. Someone from inside the building cast a spell on him which only served to make him more ferocious.

Ezikial raised his pistols and blew the devil away, removing one distraction as the sound of spellcasting came again from inside the building. Reiko dealt the berserker brawler a hideous blow, but he laughed and bellowed a challenge at her as the wound was largely healed by a powerful spell.

Blocked from assisting Reiko, the other three officers and Sandara hurried toward the main doors. Ezikial blasted the lock and they rushed into a dimly-lit hall with excellent acoustics that seemed to be amplifying whatever bardic magic was taking place. Sandara threw a spell into the far corner, removing the illusion that concealed one of the attackers. She looked like a skeleton wrapped in a woman’s translucent flesh. A tiefling and a Chelish diva were also gathered in the corner, overseeing the fight.

Reiko drew her short sword and engaged the berserker in a flurry of attacks, ending by slicing through his arms and impaling him in the neck with her wakizashi. Slowly, seeming not to believe he was dead, he fell to the floor. The Chelish diva cursed and quickly cast a spell, vanishing from sight.

“Dimension door,” Sandara said. “She’s outta here.” The remaining spellcasters similarly vanished. A search of the theater fortunately uncovered some evidence that they were, indeed, Chelish spies.

Overall, not the best result. Even so, Endymion was happy to contribute his ships to the gathering fleet preparing to face the Chelish offensive.



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