A Sorcerer's Ransom, Part Three - Homeward Bound
The group cantered quickly away from Gisors, looking nervously over their shoulders. Night began to fall, but they pressed on in the twilight, fearing pursuit from the treacherous French. Eventually, after one of the horses injured a fetlock in the dark, they left the road and set up camp.
Dispensing with a fire in order to avoid advertising their location, they settled in for the night after allocating double watches. To their mild surprise, the night passed uneventfully and they carried on their way, albeit rather tired, at dawn.
The horses made short work of the road, and within hours they were back in Rouen. Sophia’s healing had restored Gerold almost completely by the time they wished him farewell and climbed the gangplank onto the Sea Horse.
Wasting no time, Captain Patch shouted orders and the ship was soon underway. The group went below, into their cramped shared cabin, to get some well-earned rest. But their relaxation was short-lived, as within an hour of setting sail, warning shouts rang out from above deck.
Grabbing weapons, the companions rushed up the steps. All eyes were fixed on a small, fast cutter which was closing on them fast. Squinting, Sophia made out a black flag flying the skull and crossbones.
“Pirates!” yelled Captain Patch. “Prepare to be boarded!”
Within seconds, the faster ship was upon them, arrows flying from archers on its deck before it crashed into the side of the Sea Horse with a splintering of wood. The impact knocked many on the deck prone, and as they struggled to their feet the group noticed a wildly grinning goblin in the rigging.
As they watched he let out a gleeful yell and leaped from the rigging, swinging across on a rope and impaling Storm on the end of his bladed peg-leg! More goblins followed his lead, some misjudging their swings and flying in the sea with desperate screams, but others landing on the deck and attacking the sailors with wicked daggers.
Meanwhile, Sophia noticed a small figure in the crow’s nest of the pirate ship, his raised hand sparkling with electricity, which arced down and sizzled into Tector.
Led by Brother Thomas and Tector, both swinging their great weapons, the sailors counterattacked with belaying pins, hammering into the goblin leapers even as their fellows used grappling hooks to secure the two vessels together before vaulting down from the higher pirate ship to join the fray.
Bleeding profusely from a deep wound in his thigh, Storm stumbled away from his maniacal attacker, who was drawing a strange, horn-shaped device from his belt. Fearing further injury, the dragonborn unleashed his most powerful spell, conjuring three javelins of ice which slammed into the goblin, piercing him through the leg, guts and chest and leaving him bleeding out on the deck.
On the other side of the deck a furious melee erupted, as two ferocious cobaka demons were unleashed by their goblin handlers. Pirates with wickedly curved daggers slashed at crewmen, who fought back with belaying pins. The goblins were faster and more experienced in combat, and the crewmen were overmatched, but in the center of the melee Tector and Brother Thomas cleaved through the goblins with massive blows from greataxe and warhammer, turning the tide until their advance was stopped by the cobaka demons.
Seeing the goblin sorcerer in the crow’s nest of the pirate ship strike Brother Thomas with another stroke of lightning, Storm conjured a whirlwind that tore the goblin from his nest, hurled him into the air and dumped him in the sea behind the ship! Sophia traded arrows with the goblin archers on the deck of the pirate ship. Her aim was better, but there were more of them, and she was hit several times.
The cobaka demons tore into Tector and Brother Thomas with their huge serrated teeth, and the big warrior began to tire from blood loss. He and Thomas fought on, unleashing huge blows in return that felled both of the terrible creatures. Meanwhile, one of the goblins broke through the melee, charging at Sophia, but she reached into his mind with her enchantments, sending him fleeing in terror and leaping into the sea.
Sensing that the battle was balanced on a knife-edge, and seeing more goblins on the deck of the pirate ship, Storm thought desperately for a way to turn the tide. Acting decisively, he drew his Wand of Fire and aimed at the rigging of the goblin vessel, unleashing a bolt of fire that ignited the mainsail.
As Tector and Brother Thomas continued cleaving their way through the goblin attackers, the crew of the Sea Horse gradually fell back, unable to stand against the ferocious pirate attack. Sophia was hit by more arrows and collapsed to the deck in agony as one pierced her right leg. Tector stood over her, fighting off a brutal attack from one of the demonic creatures, but it bit deeply into his shoulder. Storm punished the goblin archer with a lightning orb that blasted him off his feet, but then felt a sudden, agonising pain in his back!
As he fell to the deck, his vision blurring, the last thing he saw was a goblin assassin, wielding twin daggers dripping acid, dance past him and toward the melee.
Tector turned to confront the assassin while Thomas fought off the remaining goblins, the survivors leaping into the sea or back onto their ship to avoid their huge blows. Tector swung his greataxe but the assassin was too fast, and an acid blade bit deep into Tector’s arm. The cumulative blood loss finally took its toll, the big warrior finding it impossible to stay on his feet.
Seeing the last of the boarding party fall under the terrible blows of Brother Thomas’ warhammer, and struggling to put out the flames in the rigging of their ship, the remaining pirates on the deck cut the ropes of their grappling hooks, allowing their vessel to start moving away from the Sea Horse.
Thomas turned, advancing on the now-stranded goblin assassin. He backed away, sheathing his daggers and pulling a white feather from his belt. Breaking it in two, he suddenly leaped into the air, flying from the Sea Horse and to the safety of the retreating goblin ship.
Storm, semi-conscious, raised his head painfully. “No, don’t let them get away!” he gasped. “There will be treasure on that ship!” Thomas ignored him, turning to Sophia and tending her wounds.
With Brother Thomas and Sophia both employing their healing talents, Storm and Tector were soon back on their feet, albeit a little worse for wear. Sadly, several of the crew had been killed by the pirates, and more were carrying nasty injuries. While the rest of the crew helped the injured below, the companions searched the goblin corpses on the deck, before throwing them overboard.
They found another white feather charm on the goblin with the peg leg, which Sophia claimed. Storm ascertained that both the grappling hook and the horn-shaped device were also enchanted. The grappling hook, which was claimed by Tector, would land true when thrown, and aid in climbing any surface. Storm claimed the horn-shaped device, although he was unable to determine its exact powers.
Finally, the companions decided to donate the silver coin they found on the bodies of the dead goblins to the families of the sailors that had been killed. They delivered the treasure into the hands of Captain Patch and his first mate, before retiring gratefully to their cramped cabin for some much-needed recuperation.