“Perhaps we should go down to the grotto?” Feruzi asked. The guests were headed to bed and no amount of searching had revealed Sefina in or around the hold.
“I think it would be a good idea to inform our trusted allies first. We should not leave our guests unguarded,” Reiko said.
Pegsworthy, Tatsumi, Rosie, Saburo, Leila and Conchobar were quickly recruited to set up a perimeter. Ezikial climbed onto the roof to roost with his beloved ballistae. Chopper set off toward the grotto with Reiko, Feruzi, and Sandara in tow.
“It seems a little odd that Sefina would do all this walking instead of swimming,” Feruzi remarked as they followed and quickly lost the faint traces.
“I’m good, but I can’t track through water,” Chopper said. “Maybe we just pay her a visit and, you know, ask her.”
As they approached the water’s edge something launched into the air and exploded into bright sparks. A moment later Sefina rose up from the water. “I am sorry,” she said, “for what the tiny man makes me do.”
“What tiny man?” Reiko asked.
Sefina stared directly into Chopper’s eyes. “Defend me, Captain.”
The nereid then sprayed a fine mist at the ladies. Feruzi ducked and Reiko tossed her head, but Sandara squealed and pawed at her eyes. “Dammit, I’m blind!” the cleric yelled.
“Sefina, what are you doing?” Reiko demanded. “We did not come here to hurt you. We only came to ask you a question. Why are you attacking us?”
“The tiny man has my shawl! I must obey him?”
“Who is the tiny man? We can get your shawl back for you!”
Feruzi attempted to get around Chopper but he pushed her back without apparent effort. “Stop that. Please don’t make me make you hurt me.” Sefina sang to the water and an elemental answered her summons, gliding forward to grapple Reiko. Chopper made a face. “See, now what do you need me for?”
“There ARE three of them,” Sefina told him, pouting.
“That thing counts fer two, though!”
“What in Hells is happenin?!” Sandara complained. She flinched as Feruzi shot a volley of arrows at the elemental, disrupting it badly enough that it lost its shape.
“Oh, good,” Chopper said. “I might actually become necessary as a means of defense now.”
“I’m supposed to keep you all busy while the tiny man sets fire to the pirate lords’ ships! You’ll be disgraced if you can’t stop him!” Sefina cried mournfully. Reiko gave her a disgusted look. Feruzi attempted once again to get past Chopper, but he doggedly interfered. Not seeing any other alternative, she punched him.
“Dammit, Ruze!” Chopper grunted, staggering backward. Reiko darted past him and struck Sefina with the hilt of her sword, dazing the nereid.
“I’m sorry!” Reiko said reflexively. “We need to go now, guys!”
“How are we supposed to find him out there?” Feruzi asked, chasing after Reiko and catching up after only a few strides.
“We can’t do anything from this side of the cove, we need to get back to the fort.”
“I’ll sound the alarm,” Feruzi said, ducking her head and pushing into a full sprint, her long legs devouring the distance. Chopper and Sefina watched them go.
“It’s already begun,” Sefina said. “I don’t need to hold you here any longer. You should go while there’s still time.”
Feruzi was almost within shouting range of Nightmare Hold when the side of the Blood Moon exploded into a blaze of fire. She saw people up on the parapet were now clearly aware of the situation and turned toward the docks, freeing one of the rowboats for Reiko to use when she caught up and then diving into the water to swim toward the anchored ships. As she got closer, she saw the silhouette of a halfling clinging to the side of the Wavecrest and doing who-knew-what to the hull of the ship. Unfortunately, he spotted her and dissolved into a fluid form, leaving some kind of device behind.
Feruzi grabbed the side of the Wavecrest and hauled herself out of the water. “HEY!!” she bellowed in her best Master-at-Arms voice. “There’s a bomb on the side of the ship! Get some people down here NOW!!” Inquisitive heads looked over the side at her and she began cursing them viciously. “Signal the other ships, dammit! And where’s that bloody druid when you need him!”
Reiko, Chopper, and Sandara finally arrived at the docks. Reiko took charge of their allies from the fort, directing Pegsworthy and Tatsumi to blockade the harbor and sending everyone else to aid with the firefighting effort. Chopper took the oars of the loose rowboat and Reiko climbed in, still yelling instructions as they cast off for the Come What May, Cerise Bloodmourne’s ship, pausing only briefly to pick up the squelchy Feruzi. Reiko pointed: the translucent halfling was there, on the side of the Come What May, planting another bomb. Feruzi drew her bow, scowling at the water-filled quiver, and took a shot. The halfling looked up, yelped, and dove into the water.
All was now quiet. Mase Darimar helped the crew of the Blood Moon extinguish the last of the flames: the Wavecrest and Come What May were unscathed. Exhausted by all the excitement, Reiko, Chopper, and Feruzi returned to shore, where Ezikial was waiting.
“Got ’im,” Ezikial informed them.
“Succinct,” Chopper said. Ezikial led them to a hidden cellar that now contained an equally hidden alchemy lab. The halfling, now solid, lay on the floor in a bullet-riddled fashion.
“What was that all about, anyway?” Feruzi asked, baffled. Ezikial shrugged.
“Captain, sir, the pirate lords would like a word,” Conchobhar said. Cerise Bloodmourn, Avimar Sorrinash, and Mase Darimar were waiting with the Master of the Gales.
“Sorry for all the ruckus,” Chopper said.
Lady Bloodmourn grinned and tipped her hat. “Not at all. That, Captain Chopper, was a party.”
“Heh, thankee. Still, my apologies to Captain Sorrinash more’n the rest. Security breach was my own fault. Whatever reparations we can make fer the damages ta yer ship, we’ll do.” Avimar gave him a sharp, disgruntled nod.
“It is the decision of this committee that you will EACH be offered a seat on the Pirate Council,” Lady Bloodmourn said.
“Congratulations,” The Master of the Gales intoned. “I think that new blood is just what the Council needs.”
“Wait, what?” Feruzi asked.
“You are now on the Pirate Council, Miss Feruzi.”
“Sounds like a lot of extra work to me.”
“It’s not that much work,” Lady Bloodmourn said. “Hells, if I can do it . . .”