This is what the night eventually led to, but there was some leading up to it, so lets lead in with the leading up to part.
Having dispatched the savage humanoids, the characters discovered the stupid orcs wielded hand axes of dark elf steel. It was glistening and deadly in the darkness but tarnished quickly in sunlight. They found 6 such axes (worth 500 gold apiece) and surmised that the tunnels must lead down eventually into the Underdark, demesne of the drow. While checking all this out Poppy heard the faintest of murmured cries coming from what sounded like human prisoners in the tunnels below. The heroes (who happened to be short on slave rowers) proceeded with caution down the foetid tunnel, leading ever spiraling downwards. Tolro the elvish hunter used her sneaking skills to scout ahead, and she came to an area of pitch darkness where the walls seemed to expand into a roughly circular chamber.
Her elvish eyes could detect even the faintest reflection of light, and she counted 18 pair of human eyes seated around the perimeter of the chamber, and a dozen sets of glowering red orcish eyes in the center of the chamber, but no visible ogres. She was also overcome by an overpowering stench of decaying flesh. She hurried back to the others to devise a plan and it quickly came about that they may be able shock and awe the orcs into fleeing. So began a series of flashes and bangs, shouts and even the half orc THokk somersaulting into the room with a back-spray of flashing lights. Needlesss to say, the minions fled, and the surviving crew of the Emerald Guard were saved.
They claimed to sail the Emerald Guard, ship of the princess of Shalazar, who was lost overboard when they foundered in a storm. The crew wound up in this sea cave and were promptly captured by the savage humanoids who have been feasting on them one after the other for the past few days. THe ship captain Ling Wei spoke to them as Poppy and Hex hurried forward, sensing danger. But it was only a softly enchanting music they heard, and could even pick out a few words. The song spoke of an elf with a big sword and a stabbing, cursing space pirate.
Poppy and Hex hurried forward to hear more of the song, and as they reached the waters edge inside the sea cave, they noticed the tide had gone down, exposing a small island in the middle of the cave. ‘Pon this island grew many beautiful, small white flowers, which reflected the shafts of lancing rays shining down through the extinct volcano’s open top. Laughing and playing on this island were a group of charming mermaids, who picked the flowers and strung them through each others hair, except for one tall red-haired beauty who sang a lovely song about coming out to play.
Hex skidded in his tracks, shaking his head and deciding he had no interest in the mermaids, but Poppy went straight to the edge of the carved stone dock, her toes curling over the lip. She glanced through the crystal clear waters of the sheltered harbor and saw a gigantic octopus with coiled tentacles lounging on the sea bed. The words drifted over the waters about the magical powers of the flowers to raise one’s defenses. Poppy was tempted mightily but seeing those slick pink tentacles twining through the salty brine made her see truth and she halted just in time, even as her hands were coming together in a dive.
The singing stopped and even though the mermaids begged them to come out to the island and promised them each a flower, the party set their eyes towards the exit and rowed on without another word. The pouting mermaids stuck out their tongues at them as they passed. They promised them half the pearls from their treasure chest if they could recover it from the octopus, but the protagonists would not be tricked a second time and thus returned to their ship with 8 veteran seamen. The winds were still blowing at gales strength though they had shifted to the west. This proved fortunate to the Pyrpyl Wyrm as her prow was now pointed straight to Free Port.
The Pyrpyl Wyrm made great time throughout the rest of the day. The Three Seas is unique in that it is a flooded volcanic plain, still active, and this has a drastic impact on the form of the sea, ad the rules of sailing. The depths can vary greatly from one area to the next, with great deep trenches cutting fast currents, and all kinds of rocky shallows and outcroppings make dangers for ships. Poppy caught sight of one such spire of rock of the port side, a league or so distant, but she wasnt worried, as the water ahead and below was the dark blue of great depth.
Soon after, she saw a ridge of stone breaking surface off the starboard bow, and when she caught another ridge back on the port side, only now less than half a league away, she realized they were being boxed in. Soon rocky ridges sprang up on either side of the ship, narrowing and funneling them to the west. The gale force winds acted as a disadvantage by now. The current had caught them, and the depth of the trench they were following prevented any anchorage without getting dangerously close to the rocks. There also wasnt enough room to turn around. Poppy peered despaarteley ahead and saw to her relief that the two narrowing ridges of rock never met, but that there was a gap wide enough for the ship to pass through, their only options were to furl the sails and coast through at a slower pace, or to go through at full speed. It was unanimous, full speed ahead.
As they approached the gap, pushed on by the gale force winds, and pulled along by the rushing currents of the deep channel, Poppy saw to her horror that in the hundred yard gap between the two clif faces, a great whirpool seethed and churned. The boat would be caught, but she had to choose the left (port) or right (starboard) side of the pool to risk. On the right hand pinnacle of rock, a draconian cresture of such groteqsue gigantism crouched, watching the approaching Pyrpyl Wyrm with its four sets of eyes. It was a flamekiss hydra, and this was its hunting ground. As Poppy prepared to risk the left-hand side, she saw a grey shadow break free of the clouds far above and circle to land on the other pinnacle of rock in a heap of clattering bones.
“Skulla my old ally, I see you have come to steal my kill!” the voice of the hydra boomed out of four mouths simultaneously. “Not at all fiery Charmander, I have been tracking my prey since they left my domicile of dread . It is you who dare claim my kill!” retorted the wretched dracolich in a hollow booming voice, that shook its dozens of tusky ribs together inm a clamor like the dead against the gates of the abyss.
With a short discussion between ships officers the choice was made to pass by the dracolich first, at break-neck speed. They girded for battle, each choosing the best place to stand. It ended up being a good choice since the dracolich could fly and had the ability to mesmerize at long range, whule the hydra had no such powers, so it had to wait until the whirpool brought the ship around to it.
The whirpool was a vast inescapable circling maelstrom, and the ship had to make four successful piloting checks to navigate up out of the four deep channels circling the whirpool and to safety beyond. Only one such channel could be traversed per turn, and the DC to pilot was DC 25, modified by any other ships officers check to aid in the piloting, which gave a cumulative +2 bonus to the roll. The steering check was a minor, as was aiding. As it was the ship took 5 rounds to leave the maelstrom, and one time around no one was steering the ship at all! (I should have rolled on the ship damage chart that turn, arrgh!)
The Battle against the Duo of Soloes
Thokk charged up onto the stony outcropping upon which crouched the dracolich Skulla. He was immediately mesmerized and ordered to leap into the whirlpool. The ship moved quickly past the ship as each character went, and much damage was unleashed towards Skulla, until the ship was suddenly whisked around and began its pass of Charmanders perch. The our headed beast blasted its flamekiss all over the ship, attempting to alight its enemies, but Hex’s magic pulled the hydra onto the ship, which it graciously accepted wthout a fight.
Later on, Hex attempted to push the hydra into the maelstron, but its massive clawsdug ito the ships decking for three passes around the whirlpool before succumbing to the push and taking a swim. hex himself was thrown overboard by the force of the dracoliches wretched breath, and Poppy narrowly avoided the same fate, facing down Charmanders seven heads alone.
But she was not quite alone, for Tolro decided to take the low ground and leapt down onto the lower deck with the sailors to back herself against the main mast. Charmander blasted her into toast, and the captain had to raise her with inspiring words. She got her revenge just after Poppy lopped off many of its heads in a mighty swing. One single arrow when right into CHarmander’s heart, felling him where he stood.
THe dracolich was still unbloodied, and it planted the secret desire to shoot Poppy in the back with the arcane ballista into Hex’s easily swayable mind. Poppy, who was still frowning at the lost kill, turned her evil eye on the sword lock. She then went on to promise certain unmentionable things to the undead monstrosity facing them, and the Raven Queen smiled on her, for she smote the dragon a mighty blow. Bot quite killing it however. THe dracolich went down in a frenzy of minor paltry blows, as the party finished him off like a gang of thugs might finish off a richly dressed fop with no money pouch. Kicking,punching, gouging.