The Voleur d’âme, the small galleon of Corran duc Zahn, lay anchored off the coast of the Borderlands. duc Zahn himself remained aloof at the prow while Pike and Drake were overseeing the repairs to the ship, which had sat in wet dock for decades or more. It was in surprisingly good shape, considering. Brukhart handled the heavy lifting, while Magnar and the rest saw to the more delicate work, with Ozmund doing the necessary tasks overhead.
The black sail they’d spotted on the horizon was still more than a day away, but the halfling spotted another ship approaching from the east — a drakkar-styled ramming vessel oared by a host of cutthroats. They flew no flag which meant they were up to dark business.
Spying a coral atoll and a jutting granite slab nearby, with a wrecked corsair between them, the party took note that the drakkar was headed for it, lowering a yawl crewed by four men.
Kik-Dos was eager to beat the men to the wreck, sure that there was to be some sort of treasure about it. He roused his companions to lower the Voleur d’âme’s jolly and set out after them, but duc Zahn was pressing for them to set sail for Mortainne at all due haste.
The companions argued that the Voleur d’âme would be vulnerable should the drakkar turn its attentions on them. This way, they might deter such a threat. duc Zahn agreed and gave his blessing.
Brukhart, being a revenant, encouraged his benefactor, Gnarwald, to remain safely behind, then, being undead, leapt overboard and walked along the bottom of the sea toward their destination, while Kik-Dos, Magnar, Ozmund, and Sebastian sailed the jolly to the granite cropping.
There, they found another moss covered jolly. Curiously, it was an exact match for their own boat. Magnar found a chest hidden beneath the forebench and removed the poison needle trap that guarded it. Sebastian, unable to pick the rusted lock used his crowbar to break into the cask, discovering a battle-marked morion helmet and four scrolls.
Sebastian took a quick look at one of them, revealing a map similar to one they’d found among Blackmore’s belongings — an ancient map of the Mortainne coastline, that seemingly was a companion to the other map.
As the drakkar crew had come ashore and spread out, the party took caution. A lithe archer fired a warning shot and warned Magnar and the others off, as he was claiming the atoll and wreckage for he and his crew. Meanwhile, Brukhart had climbed aboard the corsair wreck and the archer fired at the Skalgrim warrior, setting off a near disastrous chain of events.
In the ensuing melee, three of the four drakkar crewmen were killed, thanks in large part to the skillful use of magic by Kik-Dos and Magnar, allowing Brukhart and Sebastian to cut into them mercilessly. Ozmund, severely wounded, attempted to retreat but was felled by an archer’s arrow, tumbling in to the sea, while Kik-Dos was wounded and unconscious on deck.
Another yawl landed from the drakkar with four fresh combatants. Brukhart hefted up Kik-Dos, while Magnar stabilized him, and they made for the jolly, but the drakkar cutthroats got there first. Sebastian leapt into the boat and distracted them while Magnar magically held the most dangerous crewmen. They all climbed into the jolly, Sebastian kicking their attacker out of the craft, then took to the oars.
Pike called for Brukhart to haul Ozmund out of the drink, but both he and his brother scowled at the idea. Refusing to leave their compatriot behind, Sebastian drew the boat back up alongside the halfling and hauled him in, then made haste for the Voleur d’âme.
Back onboard the ship, duc Zahn healed Kik-Dos and Ozmund, while Magnar and Gnarwald tended to Brukhart’s wounds. duc Zahn called for them to set sail at once, to return him to Mortainne, but the companions, battered and in need of supplies, convinced him to port in a nearby cove and gather the necessary items, and respite, at Skalgrimgard.
duc Zahn liked the idea of being welcomed at court after so long, even in a frontier bastion such as the Keep on the Borderlands. He agreed and Pike and the others prepared to weigh anchor, while Kik-Dos turned his attentions to the looted chest from the moss-covered jolly.
Inside, he uncovered two more maps of ancient Mortainne, stretching from Nordhrim to the Borderlands, and then a most curious document that read:
THIS AGREEMENT is made upon possession of held document
between Choronzon (“Recipient”) and he, or she, who possesses
the document (“Donor”) and having read these words, to whit.
WHEREAS Donor desires to obtain knowledge and power
as derived from the magical arts, and
WHEREAS Recipient desires Donor’s immortal soul and
other services during Donor’s time on the material plane.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises below
and other good and valuable consideration
(the sufficiency and receipt of which are hereby acknowledged)
the parties agree as follows:
Donor shall, upon his death, transfer all right, title, and
interest in his immortal soul to Recipient.
2. Donor shall, during the time he remains in possession of his soul,
take all reasonable efforts to increase his physical strength, skill, experience,
magical prowess, and any other characteristic that has or may
have any positive impact on the quality of his soul upon death.
Recipient shall immediately grant Donor double his FEAT points per span
until such time as Recipient gains title to Donor’s soul.
Recipient shall not directly interfere with any effort by Donor
to fulfill Donor’s obligations under this agreement.
Recipient shall not seek to prematurely terminate Donor’s life or
Donor’s possession of his soul, except as expressly contemplated
by other provisions of this agreement.
Recipient may terminate this agreement at will, with no prior notice to donor.
2. Donor has no right to terminate this agreement.
REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES
Donor’s Representations and Warranties
a. Donor represents, warrants, and covenants that he has the full
right, power, and authority to enter into this agreement.
b. Donor represents, warrants, and covenants that he currently owns the
full right, title, and interest in his own soul, free and clear of
any security interests, liens, licenses, obligations, or other encumbrances.
c. Donor represents, warrants, and covenants that his soul is currently in
merchantable condition, unharmed, and undamaged
other than ordinary wear and tear.
d. Donor warrants that he shall compensate recipient for any damage
to his soul, other than ordinary wear and tear, sustained between the
effective date of this Agreement and the time Recipient takes possession
.e. Donor agrees to hold Recipient harmless for any injury to himself or
others arising out of any use or misuse, foreseeable or otherwise, of the
powers granted by Recipient, and to indemnify Recipient for any
claims by third parties arising out of those same powers.
2. Recipients Representations and Warranties
a. Recipient represents, warrants, and covenants that he has the full right,
power, and authority to enter into this agreement.
b. RECIPIENT MAKES NO OTHER REPRESENTATIONS AND EXTENDS
NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED,
ORAL OR IN WRITING, IN FACT OR ARISING BY OPERATION OF LAW
OR OTHERWISE. RECIPIENT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITIES WHATSOEVER,
OTHER THAN AS SET FORTH EXPLICITLY IN THIS AGREEMENT.
c. IN NO EVENT WILL RECIPIENT OR ANY OF ITS AGENTS, ASSIGNS,
AFFILIATES, WORSHIPERS, VASSALS, OR MINIONS BE LIABLE FOR
ANY INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR
PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT.
Any failure to enforce any term of this Agreement or require the
performance of any obligation under this Agreement by Recipient shall not
prevent any subsequent enforcement of such term or obligation or be deemed a
waiver of any subsequent breach. This section shall not apply to Donor.
2. Interpretation of this Agreement shall take place as though it was drafted
by Donor and any ambiguity shall be strictly construed against Donor.
3. This Agreement shall be governed by the applicable laws of the Abyss
4. Any proceeding to enforce any provision of this Agreement or seeking
redress for breach thereof shall take place in the Abyss
5. Donor shall be liable to fulfill his obligations under the contract
despite any Force Majeure Event, including, but not limited to, acts of gods
(or other deific-level entities of any alignment), pandemics, war, riots,
civil unrest, fire, floods, earthquakes, or other accidents.
This section shall not apply to Recipient.
Kik-Dos looked up in horror. His eyes drifted toward Corran duc Zahn who stood by the deck rail, twirling his mustache.
Corran duc Zahn. Corran Zahn. Choronzon.
It all became painfully clear. Kik-Dos and his companions were on a devil’s ship, and now, he was bound contractually to him… and Choronzon knew it. He knew that cask was out there. He knew that they would find it. It’s why he had led them to the ship at his first taste of freedom, and why he had directed them to anchor not in the cover, but in the open water.
Kik-Dos looked toward his friends, working diligently to come to port next to the Cassandra. He needed to warn them. He needed to find a way for them to distance themselves from this infernal fiend. And he needed, desperately, to find a way to get out of this damnable contract.
End, Season One
The story continues in August.