Chapter 21

A Party Divided, Part One

April 6, 2020

It was still early morning when Theren finally reached Cascaveda after an all-night flight on his broom. Docking at about the same time was the Veiled Rebecca, Theren elected to keep a low profile and avoid the pirates who had dropped him and his companions into the middle of giant country a hundred miles away.

He located the three drunken sailors who comprised the last of Black Acacia’s crew to see if he could muster them to mount a rescue, but given the early hour and their carousing the night before, that was a doomed proposition.

Professor Konnifer showed up and lured Theren to a room at Stars Taverna where she promised to explain what had happened to her and Salbrizaar. When the fighter saw the macabre display his former companion had been transformed into, he bolted. Konnifer was unable to stop him escaping and decided it was time to leave, before Theren could mount any reprisals.

Theren reunited with the crew of Black Acacia to visit the drydock shipyards and try to get the ship before delivery, but the yard master laughed them off. Attempts to find more crew were doomed by the lack of a captain, and the quality of men willing to board a boat without one was dubious. In fact, Theren was nearly rolled by a gang of thugs while looking in a particularly bad part of town.

The next day, Theren tried to find a fast ship ready to launch. The captain of the first was unimpressed and sailed away. The second, Theren located via messenger pigeon, but when the captain invited him to come see him at Stars Taverna to negotiate, Theren balked, not willing to risk being seen by the pirates of the Veiled Rebeca in that part of town. Since the Black Acacia was due for delivery the next day, Theren decided to lay low for the night.

By the afternoon of the following day, the Black Acacia was delivered to Quartermaster Dilly, who was next in the chain of command since Captain Beltroth was stranded on a mountaintop a hundred miles away. With that in mind, Dilly claimed the boat was now his since there was no captain. More, given Captain Beltroth’s fighting ability, Dilly wasn’t interested in rescuing a man who could easily kill him to keep the boat. Infuriated, Theren blocked Dilly from taking possession and the three sailors walked.

They walked to the Veiled Rebecca to look for someone who could eliminate Theren, who stood between them and the boat. Lo and behold, in that very part of town, Konnifer was lurking and they gravitated to her, knowing she had a penchant for Evil. While Theren was off trying to find new sailors, Konnifer stole aboard the Black Acacia. She killed one of the handful of men who Theren had been able to find, causing the others to flee, and then she hid in the cargo hold, waiting.

Theren had gone to buy provisions for the journey and when he went below deck, Konnifer attacked, magically locking the doors so the fighter, known for his archery, was forced to fight in vicious close-quarters combat. At first, the death cult cleric had the upper hand, but once Theren unleashed his rapier he cut her to pieces. At the very end of her stamina, life on the line, Konnifer managed to strike first and kill the elf warrior. In the aftermath, his body was just raw material for the twisted Professor’s next art project: rendering paint from his blood.

The next day, Konnifer dismissed Kaamber’s men and set about hiring herself a new crew, calling herself captain in order to attract quality sailors and offering them top wages to ensure their loyalty. After stocking up on supplies, Black Acacia set sail under the command of Captain Konnifer, fully crewed by eight loyal sailors.

Chapter 22: A Party Divided, Part Two