With the Thri-Kreen slain and their treasure gathered, the party decided to bury the statue and most of the gold until their return, and move on to the Pirate encampment. After a half-day’s ride, they saw the smoke from the pirates’ cooking fires and soon came into sight of the compound itself – a log palisade with several watchtowers. Captain Scabbard’s ship, the infamous Moonsea Stiletto, was moored in the bay just beyond the walls.
After some discussion, the party decided it would be best to infiltrate in two groups, and then decide what to do after thoroughly surveying the fortress. First in were Wulf and MacTavish, both of whom had some nautical experience and could thus present themselves as potential recruits. Thanks largely to MacTavish’s status as a Cleric of Tempus – after all, a cleric’s often the only thing standing between ye and an eyepatch or pegleg, matey – the pirates quickly accepted them. After an interview with Scabbard himself and his third mate, the aptly named Trumpet, Wulf and MacTavish signed the Pirate articles, received their headscarves and poofy shirts, and were promptly remanded to the custody of a pirate named Aard who set them to work taking care of the pirates’ 30 head of stolen cattle.
Next in were Aeryn, Ginallath, Inigo, and Rajmani, with rogue and mage disguised as slave dealers and the two rangers as bodyguards. They were also received by Trumpet (the Third Mate being Officer of the Day), who showed them the slave pens. The women meant as husbands for the Phlan colonists had already been purchased by buyers from Zhentil Keep, but two stowaways from their ship – the burly blond barbarian Dak, and his wiry dark-haired buddy Rosko – were still available. Aeryn noticed their objective, young Galon Bivant, in the corner of the pen. Dak and Rosko had clearly adopted him and were watching out for him.
Trumpet next showed the “slave dealers” to an open space in the camp where they could pitch their tents while they negotiated prices with Captain Scabbard. Inigo and Rajmani, both of whom had been in the wilderness for a while, succumbed to the shared experience of hunting down Thri-Kreen and nipped off for a quickie while Aeryn and Ginallath made contact with Wulf and MacTavish – more accurately, MacTavish made contact with Aeryn by flirting with her, and Raj gleefully played the part of the overprotective bodyguard by giving him a good slap in the name of “defending her employer”.
The party spent the next day watching the pirates’ routine. Wulf spent most of it shoveling cow dung, while MacTavish had his clerical powers tested on wounded and sick pirates. Aeryn and Ginallath met with Scabbard amid his collection of prized carved figurines, who offered them both Dak and Rosko for a “mere” 8,000 GP. When the party met again (under cover of a “romantic rendezvous”) between MacTavish and Aeryn, they came up with a plan: Aeryn and Inigo would recover the golden Thri-Kreen idol and offer it to Scabbard as payment for Dak and Rosko. Once inside the slave pen, the party would turn on the pirates and liberate Galon.
Later that afternoon, Aeryn and Inigo returned to the Thri-Kreen mounds and dug up the statue. Scabbard was very pleased with it – after, of course, he’d had his sorceress lover Murron make certain it was harmless – and summoned Trumpet to hand Aeryn and Ginallath’s new slaves over to them. With the two of them, Inigo, and Rajmani at the slave pen, and Wolf and Inigo at the corral waiting to rush to their assistance, everything seemed to be going as planned…