Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Duendewood: Captain Halmar

Our DM's take on recent events and setup for the next set of adventures... 

Halmar of Long Alley, an elf and a patriot, recently became captain of the Boner Galley, a ship whose fame grew with the day. It happened rather suddenly, just off Lighthouse Point. The Lord Provost’s band of spies and lackeys had been quickly rooted and replaced by Halmar and his crew, hand-picked by Ruin’s brother, Darvinin.

Standing at the gunwale, Halmar listened to waves lap at the hull of his vessel and stared across the deep blue ocean at a coast of tropical palms. A gust of wind rippled the sails and cooled his face, a welcome feeling after several days on Boiler Bay in the heat of early summer.

“Pirate’s point,” Selussa declared, walking up to stand next to him. She was his first mate and a damn fine sailor. “It seemed so fast. I suppose between the fear of being caught from behind and the adrenaline of the battle, we didn’t have time to stop and think. We just acted.”

Halmar turned to regard her with a grin, “You should have seen the look on your face when that dragon swooped in! I’m sure you shat your pants.”

“I did not,” Selussa said, leaning her forearms on the gunwale and pouting.

For several minutes, they stood in silence, as they had for many hours over the years on the open sea, staring at the undulating water. Suddenly, their reverie was disturbed by a crashing sound, followed by a snarl. Selussa turned but Halmar did not.

“I don’t like him,” Selussa said.

Halmar turned to follow her gaze. On the Fo’c’sle was an iron cage with a man inside. He was throwing himself against the bars, cursing and swearing vengeance. Three feet away, Ruin sat cross-legged, staring at the man with a stoic expression.

“Is he always like this?” Selussa asked.

“No,” Halmar replied, “Sometimes he’s coherent, claims he’s a man named Sacha. In those moments he’s a right fine fellow. Other times he claims to be Kroni, servant of the Dark One, and hurls profane curses at us, swearing that his master will be resurrected. In those moments he’s so beastly and carnal that he harms himself, rending his flesh and breaking bones in futile attempts to escape. It’s back and forth, but as we nurse him back to health I do believe we are getting more Kroni and less Sacha. Luckily, Geddy knows some healing so we’re able to keep him alive.”

Selussa shivered, “Why do we keep him? We should just kill him.”

“Geddy vouches for him.”

Selussa smiled, “Geddy helped me the other night, too. I had a terrible gash from our escape, and he used his magical hands to make it better.”

“Magical hands?” Halmar regarded her with a wry smile.

“Is it true about Ruin?” Selussa blurted, trying to change the subject.

“Ruin? What about him?”

“The girls,” Selussa said, “Is it true he…”

Halmar chuckled, “Oh yes, it’s true. Both of them. Just wait until Werendril finds out! How did you know?”

“Martini told me.”

“Ah, that reminds me,” Halmar said, turning toward the aft cabin, “I need to let the lady know that we’ve passed Pirate’s Point.”


Laughter washed over Halmar as soon as he opened the cabin door. The common area of the Boner Galley was relatively large by naval standards, occupying most of the stern cabin, except for a small galley in the very back of the ship. It has been sparsely appointed when they acquired it, having been used to transport mindless skeletons, but Selussa had done a good job picking up a scattering of decorations at their various ports, and now the room was bordering on cozy. A round table occupied one corner. It was big enough to seat 8, 10, or even 12 people, but right now it had only three, crunched close together as if the rest of the table were unavailable. On his left, Martini and Lady Keishara were laughing hysterically, the latter with tears running down her face. On the right was Geddy.

“…and so I says to her, ‘Why don’t you have another drink, Kasadya? It’ll be our… SECRET!’ And she did, while I sat there and played my lute and sang my songs.”

“Oh my,” Martini gasped between laughs, “And they just stood there, while that ear splitting siren went off?”

“Well, you know, I just played a little louder is all!”

With this last punchline, Martini and Keishara broke into gales of laughter all over again.

“Oh, excuse me,” Halmar said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Halmar, my man, you’re not interrupting. Come sit with us!” Geddy flashed an inviting smile.

“Oh, no, Lord Geddy, I simply couldn’t…” Halmar protested.

“Nonsense. We are just about to get down to business and will need to be advised on naval matters. That’s why I saved you a seat.” Geddy gestured to a fourth chair, pulled conspicuously out from the table. A fourth cup of wine sat in front of it. Was it for him? Halmar’s chest swelled with pride and he quickly took the chair.

“Now, Martini, what were you saying about that journal you so deftly recovered?”

The lady of Dwint’lithar quickly regained her composure but smiled at the compliment. “Yes, it is Drachma’s journal. The most interesting part is here.” She pushed the journal across the table, pointing to a passage that Halmar couldn’t read, but pretended to. “Basically, they’ve discovered some sort of magical contraption called the Apparatus of Kwalish. He believes they can use it off Titan’s Reach to dive all the way to the bottom and retrieve the Hand of Vecna.”

“So that’s the sea monster,” Halmar exclaimed, “A magical boat, that sails under the water?”

“Exactly,” Martini said.

The door creaked as Azrael strode in. He took one look at Keishara and Martini huddled around Geddy, spun on his heal, and started walking back out. Halmar didn’t think Geddy noticed Azrael enter, as his attention seemed to be focused on the journal.

“And just how,” Geddy asked rather loudly, “is some kind of magical contraption going to allow them to dive so deep. Won’t the weight of the water crush it?”

Azrael paused, turned slowly, and tossed his hair back with a twitch of his head. “Uhhh, the metaphysical ether will lend durability to the hull.” He stared at them as if this were obvious. “The MORTAL forces of the water will be nothing, as their futile efforts to exact physical force upon the device will translate into entropic dissipation in the astral plane. Duh.”

Geddy grinned, “Azrael, I didn’t see you come in! How you doing, big guy? Are your arms sore after that sword fight? Man, that was metal!”

Azrael looked down and scuffed his foot on the floor. “No… not really… Yeah, it was pretty metal.”

“You were awesome,” Geddy said, and gestured to Martini to continue explaining Drachma’s notes. Azrael looked around furtively and quietly made his way to the table, choosing a seat as far from the two women as possible.

“Well,” Martini continued, “the next few pages explain that this device is simply too heavy to transport by magical means –“

“Duh,” Azrael said.

“Right,” Martini continued, “As I was saying, it can’t be transported magically, so they had plans to sail it up the coast and walk it across land.”

“We must go back,” Ruin declared, stepping out of the shadows. Keishara let out a small scream and both Martini and Geddy jumped. They looked at each other across the table with alarm.

“Whoa,” Azrael exclaimed, “You’re getting kind of scary, dude.” He nodded his head appreciatively, “Metal!”

Ruin strode to the table in two steps, causing the occupants to lean back reflexively and give him space. “Look, they already have the Eye thanks to that scheming Provost. We can’t let them have the Hand as well!”

“We don’t need to go back,” Martini declared. Ruin gave her a skeptical look and she explained, “Look, it doesn’t do them any good sitting in their basement. They have to move it, and we know where they’re taking it.”

Ruin’s face lit up and he strode over to Martini, who pushed a pile of papers to the side so they could look at a map. They began pointing and talking excitedly.

“That song,” Keishara asked, “Is that what I heard in the castle?”

Halmar had been humming. “Oh, apologies, my lady. I just picked it up somewhere.”

“I like that song,” Azrael said, looking up for a brief moment before returning his gaze to the table directly in front of him.

“Yeah,” said Geddy, “That’s what I was playing for our good friends in Wellfort.”

“I heard it from my cell,” Keishara said.

“Did you like it?” Geddy asked.

“Yes!” Keishara, Azrael, and Halmar all responded at the same time.

“Well, we need to talk strategy now, but we’ll get back to the song later,” Geddy said.

“Oh?” Halmar asked, flattered, “You’ll play it for me?”

“I’ll do better than that, Captain, I’ll teach you how to play it!” Geddy gestured to the lute on his back.

“I should like to see that!” Keishara exclaimed flirtatiously. It made Halmar blush.

“So, they must go to Titan’s Reach and we will slay them there!” Ruin exclaimed.

“Impossible,” Martini said, “Malefar will lead this expedition personally. And he’ll have protection. This isn’t like Drachma, this would be suicide.”

“Quite a long walk for a hierophant,” Geddy mused, giving Azrael a knowing look.

“Yeah, no way,” Azrael said matter-of-factly.

“What are you talking about, big guy?” Geddy asked, locking eyes with Azrael.

The room was quiet and Azrael squirmed in his chair, “Just, he wouldn’t do that.”

“Why not, big guy?” Geddy asked.

Azrael tossed his head to the side, flicking the hair out of his eyes. “I mean, he’s a total badass -- totally metal. If I were him, I’d just make my underlings do it, and I’d teleport there like a total badass.”

Ruin stared at Azrael for a second, walked over, and pulled him out of his chair in a giant hug. “You beautiful, brooding bastard! That’s brilliant!”

Azrael plopped back down in his chair ungracefully. “Yeah, whatever.”

Ruin paced around the room excitedly, “It’s brilliant. We know exactly where they’re going! And there’s no way the Hierophant is going to spend several weeks hiking through that dreadful jungle. It will be guarded by his underlings when it’s en route!”

“You sure earned those scrolls your sister valiantly snuck out of Drachma’s library,” Geddy declared.

“Yeah… thanks, Farta.” Azrael said begrudgingly. Martini beamed for a short moment before regaining her composure. Geddy caught Halmar’s eye and gave him a knowing wink.

“It’s perfect,” Keishara said, “They won’t have a choice, and we’ll be on our home turf in the forest.”

Geddy turned and took the grand elder’s hand, staring deeply into her eyes, “Sadly, no, my lady. Your king needs you, as daggers point to his throat from all directions. Though it thins our ranks of competent companions, we must lose you for the greater cause.”

Martini seemed to take a hint and took Keishara’s other hand. “Geddy’s right, Grand Elder. Though it breaks my heart, it must be this way. Please give my love to my mother, and tell her that I honor my father’s spirit by doing the business of all Sol Povos.” Keishara’s chest puffed out with pride and she nodded in silent agreement.

“Well said, Lady Dwint’lithar,” Geddy declared.

“And you, Captain Halmar,” Martini turned to face him, “You must take the creature alternately known as Sacha and Kroni to Lady Baethira and our own Hierophant, Saeledhel. They can advise us on what must be done with him.”

Halmar felt a fire burning in his breast and knew that he would sail the Boner Galley to the very gates of hell to complete the quest he was just assigned. “I will, my lady.”

“Great!” Ruin exclaimed, clapping his hands in the excitement, “Then it is decided!”

“Huzzah!” Geddy raised a toast, downed his cup and pushed himself off the tall chair. On small legs, he made for the door, grabbing Ruin’s arm on the way. “Come, Ruin, let us talk of fatherhood and apple pie!”

“Of course!” Ruin replied, “Wait, what?”

Keishara, Azrael, and Martini followed Geddy out the door, but Halmar remained for a moment, finishing his wine. On the deck outside, he could hear Geddy singing, and others joining in. It was the Rains of Wellfort, the song he’d been humming earlier.

Words of wood and words on high, ancient blood still runs through
And ours is pure and true my foe
As you are not my friend

And so she spoke, and so she droned
That lady of Lith’laur
And now the treaty lies unsigned
With no one there to see

Yes now the clouds kill o’er his halls
As all lay there to see

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