Following their acceptance into the pirate brethren, the following day Bennett made himself scarce, not only to commission his multi-purpose hook, but also to purchase a horse. As a lay priest of Neptune, Bennett was none too comfortable with having a figurehead of Besmara, the Pirate Goddess, fitted to the War Pig, so he took it on himself to appease Neptune in the only way he knew how. After purchasing the horse, he found a quiet spot on the edge of Armada and drowned the beast as an offering.
That evening, the crew went to the Riptide Alehouse, to have a few drinks and see if they could rustle up a few more bodies for their crew. As they strolled in, they were recognised as the newest Free Captains and a cheer rose up from the patrons, who also vacated the table nearest the fireplace for them. Tregellan generously offered two rounds of drinks for everyone present, which was greeted with an even bigger cheer. As the crew settled down at their table, Anton worked the room trying to recruit some more sailors, however despite his offers of adventure, excitement and mackerel pate, he only managed to convince another four sailors to join up. Distinctly unimpressed, he muttered “We might as well have hired the French!” However he did manage to recruit a ships surgeon to join the team – a certain Doctor McCoy.
Whilst Anton was doing his rounds around the bar, a handsome rogue approached the table, clearly very interested in Louise. Introducing himself as Pierce Jerrell, he lavished numerous compliments on her, from her beauty to her fighting prowess at taking down the Chastener. Louise seemed unimpressed.
Whilst this was going on, the Dutchman spotted a familiar looking face on the other side of the bar. He recognised her instantly, that was Caulky Tarroon, the cook on board the Red Knave, the ship that had originally brought them to the Caribbean which suffered a coup (as Louise put it) at the hands of Captain Mauser, ending in them being marooned. This could be the very person that had drugged them in the first place! Jiim explained the situation to Bennett and Manuel and how they were all very keen to have a ‘word’ with Captain Mauser. Caulky herself was busy lacing the drink of one of the bar patrons with some substance.
Caulky had not yet spotted the crew, and they moves surreptitiously into position to try and intercept her. However at this point the bar patron with the spiked drink noticed that his glass had been tampered with, and threw his drink over his shoulder, landing on another pirate who took a swing at the man standing next to him. Almost instantly, a brawl broke out in the alehouse.
One of the pirates that Anton was trying to recruit took a swing at him, and managed to stun him. Another rushed at Louise but she clobbered him as he was rushing up and floored him. Yet another patron rushed over the table punch Manuel, but the quick-thinking Spaniard tipped the table over and sent the pirate tumbling, however he managed to keep his feet.
Anton, unaccustomed to being punched like that, kicked one assailant and punched another, stunning them both whilst exclaiming “Well played sir!” Caulky spotted the crew amongst the stramash, and recognising them for who they were, she ran towards the back of the bar. Jiim set off in pursuit, punching a patron in the stomach, but this had no effect other than to cause the patron to smile a three-toothed smile at the Dutchman. Bennett drew one of his knives and held it to his assailant’s nether regions stating “Back off or you’ll lose them!” – which the terrified pirate duly did. Pierce Jerrell, still trying to impress the unflappable Louise, struck out at one of the men next to her, but missed.
The ingenious Louise called out at the top of her lungs “50 pieces of eight to the man that brings that one-eyed bitch down!” This had the instant effect of causing the brawling pirates to all rush towards the terrified cook. Manuel and Jiim ran towards the main doors, and Pierce, sensing that his chances with Louise would be improved if he were to take down Caulky, set off in pursuit. Louise seemed to be warming a little to Pierce, possibly because Captain Tregellan had taken a dislike to him?
Bennett found himself only a few yards from Caulky, but with a great many drunken pirates between himself and his target. In a daring feat, he leapt up and grabbed a chandelier, and attempted to run across the shoulders of three men before diving onto the cook. He swang up, ran across one, across a second, and uttering a quick prayer to Neptune, ran across the third – however even this was one step too far and he lost his footing and collapsed to the floor in a heap next to Tarroon. Tregellan was on the other side of the alehouse, so he casually slammed the two pirates in front of him together with a bone-shaking crunch, dropping them both to the floor, and he took up a flagon of mead and sat down at a table, mopping up the mess.
Caulk, now with a whole bar after her, smashed a window next to her leading onto the street and started climbing out. As Jiim and Manuel sprinted for the front door, Louise broke another window further up the street, and Bennett called out for the horde of pirates chasing Caulky to grab her by the legs. They tried, but couldn’t quite hold on.
Anton continued to sip on his drink, fully expecting his crew to capture the cook. As Caulky ran to the corner of the building, Jiim levelled his musket and loosed a shot, deliberately trying to catch her in the leg. As usual, his aim was true and the bullet passed clean through her thigh, causing her to let out a scream of pain. The horde of pirates, eager to claim their bounty, rush through the broken window after her. Caulky limped around the corner of the building out of sight of the crew, and Anton finally decided to take matters into his own hands and rushed to the back door leading to the alley, and flattened himself against the wall. As Lennie decided to start eating the bar snacks, Manuel rounded the corner to find that there was no trace of the cook. Louise attempted to track her, but found the trail of blood from the corner of the building from her leg wound simply stopped.
Anton rounded the corner and on seeing his crew shouted “Well?” Jiim explained that he had shot her through the leg, and her disappearance must be supernatural somehow. There were definitely strange forces at work here – after all Jiim had punched a pirate in the stomach and it had had no effect! Tregellan was more inclined to believe in Jiim’s poor marksmanship than the supernatural, however it did seem that the devious cook had eluded them.
Anton immediately set off to find Armada’s harbourmaster to enquire after the Red Knave. It turned out that indeed the Red Knave had been docked up until very recently, and had departed very soon after the crew had completed their third trial for an unknown destination. A coincidence? After instructing the harbourmaster to keep them informed as to any news on the Red Knave’s whereabouts, the crew headed back to the War Pig, to find a messenger awaiting them. The messenger bore a letter from Tessa Fairwind, inviting the crew for dinner the following evening at her townhouse in Armada. Anton immediately recognised her name and reputation. Tessa was one of the most popular Pirate Lords on the council, known for her charm, attractiveness and promiscuity. Her flagship was the Luck of the Draw, a sloop-of-war. Rumour has it that she in next in line for the Pirate Crown.
The following day Anton decided that acquiring a new hat for the occasion was the top priority, whilst Louise also got herself a new outfit in fetching black and purple. Chancing his luck, Anton also decided to check in with surgeons and barbers to see if anyone had called in with a leg wound needing attention. The lack of anyone reporting such an injury further convinced Anton that Jiim had simply missed his target. The rest of the day was spent showing their new crewmen around the ship, and come evening they set off for Tessa’s townhouse. They were led in by one of Lady Fairwind’s retainers into a windowed dining hall overlooking Armada harbour. The table was laden with fine cold meats and cheeses, French wine and brandy.
Tessa entered the hall, an event which immediately causes Anton to question what the local laws are on bigamy, and congratulated them on their achievement of becoming Free Captains. She then asked them what they know of the current political situation in Armada, to which they honestly answered that they know very little. She went on to explain that Bonefist’s hold over the Pirate Lords is perhaps not as strong as it might appear. When her own candidacy for the position was mentioned, she vigorously denied having any designs on the position, but nevertheless Bonefist’s days as king were likely numbered.
She then went on to explain the real reason for calling them tonight. She has heard whispers of Spanish designs on Armada. Whilst the Spanish hatred of pirates is nothing new, lately the rumours have been hinting at a Spanish attack on Armada – a horrific idea for all Free Captains. She is convinced that there is truth behind these rumours, but she needs solid proof to put before the Pirate King and Council to force them to act. She can’t investigate these herself, she is far too well known, and is therefore asking the crew, ‘resourceful newcomers with no previous allegiance’ as she put it, to investigate. She’s prepared to offer 5000 PoEs for any solid proof that she can put before the council.
“I am convinced that Spain has spies and informants operating in Armada.” As all eyes turned on Manuel. “I can only think of two places that might have some knowledge of these traitorous informers in our midst. The first is the House of Stolen Kisses in Port au Prince, a temple of Erzulie, and one of the best information brokerages in the Caribbean. Use this note to obtain an audience with the temple’s High Priestess, and my good friend, Dindreann. The second is the Lurker Guild in San Juan, I have no contact with them, but their currency is information. I hope you can convince them to reveal what they know.”
The crew, and especially Anton (with comments like “never let a day go by”), eagerly accepted the task, and they left, with Jiim forcibly pulling Anton away, as Tessa cheekily winked at him. As they departed, Tessa presented Anton with a very fine chart of the Caribbean.
Discussion ensued about where to head to first. Port au Prince or San Juan? Should they stop by Tidewater Rock or Tregellan Island on the way? Tregellan eventually made an executive decision that San Juan would be the first port of call, and amid discussions about ‘Drowning the Dutchman’, and exactly what that meant, they set sail.
The thirteen day journey only took eleven thanks to Anton’s fine navigation skills using the new charts provided by Tessa. When the captain was asked how they should go about locating the Lurker Guild in San Juan, his reply was simply that he would leave it to his shifty contingent. As they dock up in San Juan, with no resistance thanks to their Letter of Marque, Louise sets up a shore leave rota, and Bennett proceed to carve up Manuel’s hat and accuse him of being a Spanish spy. Eventually they got out of Manuel his true story that he had stolen from the Duke of Seville, and had been forced to spend these proceeds in engineering his escape. Bennett, satisfied that Manuel was ‘too inept to be a spy’, enquired if there was a bounty on his head. Piratical tendencies seemed to be spreading. Eventually, the crew headed to a local tavern, La Real.
Manuel, realising that asking openly about the Lurker’s Guild would not be a good idea, questioned the barkeep about Captain Mauser. When the barkeep stated that he didn’t know the name, the canny Spaniard asked if there was anyone nearby who would? He was directed to a local nondescript warehouse near the docks, and they set off, tipping the barkeep as they departed. Locating the warehouse, they were greeted by a small man, clearly English, who introduced himself merely as Slip. When it became clear that the crew wished to trade information, they were invited in off the street.
Firstly the crew enquire about Captain Mauser. Slip explains that the Lurker’s Guild deals in secrets as their currency. If they wish to know something, they must provide a secret of equal value in return. Comments such as ‘The Bosun wears women’s pants’ and ‘Tregellan is gay’ were not accepted as legal tender, but the crew eventually stumbled across giving away the location of Mancatcher Cove. This was deemed acceptable and Slip told them all the information they had on Captain Mauser. He had risen to prominence fairly rapidly and now operated in the western Caribbean mostly. He had an island base, and the name Gannet Island had been associated with him, however the Guild did not know it’s location.
The crew then proceeded to enquire about possible Spanish spies within Armada. This was a far bigger secret, and that knowledge would require some information that the Guild wanted. Slip went on to explain that a ship called the Brine Banshee mysteriously disappeared several months ago. She was said to have been one of the fastest and best handling ships in the Caribbean. If the crew were to discover what happened to this vessel, and the secret of her unprecedented speed and maneuverability, they could trade this knowledge for the information they sought. The ship disappeared somewhere near Nassau, but it did call at Port au Prince on its final voyage. Perhaps that would be the best place to start?
Stopping at the tavern once more on the way back to the ship, Bennett tries to recruit some extra hands to serve on Tidewater rock, but fails miserably to convince anyone to join them. They set off in the direction of Port au Prince