Chapter 23: Frenzy
After defeating Rahu at the Smoking Mountain, Mother Morena and Kyle the Unkillable take their leave of the party, after Morena explains that her meditation has led her to believe that the party should take their own path.
The party recuperates and celebrates with the Tanaroans for several days. During this time, Father Pat is able to discover the apparent real location of the Golden Shield embedded inside the statue of the Protector of Man, with the help of the Silver Spear, and eventually convinces Mama Kutsi to let the party secretly remove it from the island for safe keeping.
Seeing a ship in the distance, the party inquires about leaving the island, and is informed that there is a town populated by scoundrels surrounded by an atoll just to the horizon. The villagers provide the party with a small outrigger that they use to eventually make it to the atoll, and to the town of Freewater that it rings.
Freewater is a village of pirates and smugglers. Landing at night, the party encounters two goblins cleaning a boat named The Frenzy, docked near several other ships of advanced design not seen in the duchies. The part is told to inquire at The Satin Sheets, a house of entertainment along the docks.
At The Satin Sheets, the party talks their way into the rowdy pirate establishment, where they see the crew from at least four ships in a lively hall mixed with residents of the atoll. The crew include the rowdy and argumentative crew of The Frenzy, the foreign crew of a Junk from Xing Fai, led by a Lady Chang, and a reserved smuggler named Captain Coffin, as well as a fearsome looking crew of dark robed, bearded fellows that smoke from a hookah rather than drink the local rum.
The party tells both the crew of the Frenzy and the Captain Morgan that they wish to buy transit (though the captain of The Frenzy, Captain Blanco, makes an offer that seems too good to be true). In the early AM, the party heads towards the Captain Morgan, but is assaulted by the crew of the Frenzy on the docks- with some of the party being pushed into the water. The crew of the Frenzy are actually weresharks, and take to the water with their shark followers to attack in their environment.
The party manages to fight off the weresharks and make it to the Captain Morgan, which sets sail for the Kessel Straits.
On the first afternoon, however, after the Captain Morgan manages to evade Lady Chang’s junk, the navigator, Mr. Skeffington, notes that the Morgan is moving too slowly. The party surmises that something might be dragging the boat, but can’t see anything from the deck. As Clinton goes under the boat and discovers a sail-anchor attached to it, The Frenzy appears out of the fog and bears down on the ship.
Even though Radcliffe’s wall of fire spells damage the ship and crew, the Frenzy employs Quench Bottles to put out fires and tenaciously continues to pursue, but eventually the party manages to disable the ship with magic long enough to escape.
After the chase, Captain Coffin invites the crew to dinner, where he explains why the other pirates may be breaking “the pirate code”. He introduces a young coffee-skinned woman from Zaharia, one Dinazade, a beautiful girl and gifted story teller- who is the daughter of the Emir of Sidron but was married to a Sultan in a neighboring country. The next year, however, the Sultan’s brother, Al Hazared, killed his family and took charge of the Sultanate- adding Dinazade to his harem.
Dinazade was forced to accompany “The Mad Wizard” Al Hazared as he then embarked on a reign of terror, raising a pirate navy and launching attacks on port cities throughout the Sea of a Thousand Curses, as well as some Dominion outposts. At one raid, Dinazade managed to escape on a fleeing merchant vessel, taking some of Al Hazared’s jewels as payment.
A gifted storyteller, Dinazade has a photographic memory and remembers everything about The Mad Wizard’s plans, including his goal of summoning a great evil being to help him take over Zaharia and remake the world in the image of the old gods.
The officers of the Captain Morgan, posing as commanders of a smuggling vessel, are actually commissioned as privateers of the Dominion. As such, when they found Dinazade and heard her story, they realized the importance of returning her to Sidron, where she could convince her father to ally with the Dominion. When the party arrived, Captain Coffin recognized the opportunity to beef up the capabilities of the ship with their help.
After dinner, the party proceeds to their quarters to rest. However, in the early AM, there is a loud noise. Arriving on deck, there is a commotion as the carpenter, Teng, explains that the rudder has been ripped off of the ship. At the same time, two members of the crew are found dead, and the Captain is nowhere to be seen.
The first mate, Breedlove, a drunken brute who is not in on the relationship between the other officers and the Dominion, becomes agitated at this and blames the party. He eventually challenges Radcliffe to a duel, and does significant damage to him even after Radcliffe traps him in a web (and quickly releases him). Finally Radcliffe seals himself in a Resilient Sphere rather than kill the first mate, and recognizing that he is a failed leader, the Bosun, Miss Teeg, has the marines put Breedlove in shackles.
Immediately after which, the Frenzy and in Isadrar longboat appear on opposite sides of the ship from the fog. The crew of the Frenzy assaults the deck of the Morgan and attacks again (including Captain Blanco, the brutish Bull, a halfling wereshark named Reefer, and a female druid wereshark). in a pitched battle, several of the crew are killed and Porkins is nearly drowned after being knocked unconscious. Dinazade, rather than have the whole crew die because of her, surrenders herself to the wereshark druid, who drags her towards the side of the boat by her hair. But Father Pat, with the help of the Silver Spear, manages to route the weresharks (Dinazade cuts off her own hair just as the druid attempts to pull her overboard) and the Frenzy breaks off pursuit after taking serious damage, leaving the longship to pursue the Morgan, limping along with its broken rudder.
In the morning light, through the clearing fog, the party can see the mouth of the Kessel Straits- and The Mad Wizard’s flagship guarding it. Faced with the possibility of fighting several of the Mad Wizard’s warships (and the Al Hazared himself), the party considers taking the forbidden route around the barrier islands, through the Hellspout!