…Integrate Himself into the Party.
The pile of sacrificial victims which Sarshan had laid out around his teleportation circle began to stir after the arms merchant died. Another warlock was waiting there: Someone Maxim Shalion missed when he was helping Chance Runner from his bonds.
Unconscious during the fight against Sarshan, Jett joined the others in fleeing on The Conqueror — a Githyanki warship stolen from the Githyanki by a Githzerai scout named Tokk’it. The Githzerai explained that he had been directed to Djamela’s Island by Storm Johnson who was mad that some person with the improbable name of Blackguard’s Bane had sent his giant troop transport to the island where Storm Johnson has a secret base.
It seems Storm Johnson thinks a giant warship might give his location away to the slavers of the nearby City of Brass. So Storm brought Tokk’it over to pick up Duilin Silverfang, who was doing a little scouting for the big goliath.
Since Djamela’s Island seems to have been destabilized by Sarshan’s experiments, everybody decided that fleeing on a ghost ship was better than drowning in the Sea of Fire.
Chance Runner wasted no time in starting to bolster the hull of The Conqueror. He noticed it was damaged. Huge scorch marks on the outside of the hull (particularly in area of the stern of the troopship) suggested Tokk’it’s story about fleeing from attacking dragons might be true. Chance searched the holds beneath the crew deck and found a cache of ritual materials. Still standing in the holds, the revenant was able to cast an Enhance Vessel ritual which bolstered the damaged hull and gave the ship added speed and maneuverability which proved useful once Tokk’it was trying to avoid the draconic Repossession Team sent out by the Githyanki to recover their ship.
Well, the Githyanki vessel did seem to Jett to be manned by a crew of Githyanki spirits, although the Githzerai scout was giving them orders. Not the sort of thing Tokk’it seemed comfortable with, but Jett wanted to make sure.
Applying his arcane knowledge to the bridge, the warlock found a runic circle on the deck and a ship’s wheel standing before it. He ignored the dead body of a Githyanki lying in a heap on the side of the bridge.
Probably the previous captain. Tokk’it did say he had stolen the ship from the Githyanki.
Jett’s arcane investigations revealed that the runic circle gave anyone standing inside it the ability to give orders to the ghostly crew. As long as the person standing in the circle had ahold of the ship’s wheel, the spirits would be forced to obey. They might not feel the true loyalty of a living crew, and they might not show much initiative, but they would keep the vessel flying in the direction they were told to fly.
After the bridge was explored and the newest warlock had used his arcane powers to ensure the loyalty of the crew, Grigore Goldforge led The Golden Scales to the captain’s cabin to search it. They found a desk there with a locked drawer (which took Sam no time to open). Inside the locked drawer, they found the orders under which the Githyanki captain had been operating (up until a certain Githzerai scout killed him and stole his ship). Confronting Tokk’it with the note about a spy inside the fortress seemed to disturb the Githzerai a lot, but not as much as three portraits Jett found in the Gish assassin’s cabin.
Since everyone else, including the Githzerai scout, seemed to be dead on their feet, Jett suggested they all get some rest. Earlier they had found the crew quarters where hammocks could be put to good use.
After their rest, Tokk’it took back the wheel and Jett joined his new comrades in searching the ship. First, they searched the captain’s cabin, then the crew deck. but it seemed to Jett they weren’t very systematic about their searches. So he continued looking around that deck after they went back topside.
At the front of the crew deck, he found a well-appointed cabin. He guessed it was intended for the First Mate or some other favored crew. But its most recent occupant did not seem to have left any evidence of a nautical life at all.
Maybe a passenger or somebody.
What Jett found among the passenger’s belonging was three portraits, well drawn and clear. Almost as if they were intended to help somebody identify the three Githzerai pictured in them.
Thinking that his perception would be all it might take to aim the ballista, Grigore took the first crack at it. But it turned out that aiming was more than just looking, and the huge ballista bolt (more a log than an arrow) went flying toward the bridge. So Grigore turned the job of testing the heavy weapons over to Zumos and Maxim Shalion. Zumos said he hit the spot in the Sea of Fire where he was aiming, and Maxim seemed to know even more about the aiming process, but Grigore was still uncertain they could hit a dragon in flight.
When Jett heard Grigore Goldforge questioning Tokk’it about the ship’s manifest, he noticed that the Githzerai scout seemed very upset at the news that a Githyanki assassin was traveling with the attackers.
The others noticed this as well, but Jett decided the assassin (whose name was apparently Brann’ot) might have been the mystery passenger who had been ensconced in the First Mate’s quarters. When the others questioned Tokk’it further and found out there were specialized defenses at the fortress (defenses which had apparently never been triggered in the attack), Jett decided to ask the Githzerai about the three portraits he had found.
Fresh from the success of his first ritual, Chance Runner had to admit that he wasn’t really a ritual caster. But his Master of Storm Dragonmark did seem to give him just the right rituals for the situation at hand. Glancing at the tattered sails suggested either he would have to climb aloft and do some tricky repairs or just try his Summon Winds ritual. With a trunk full of ritual components in the hold, he knew which option he preferred. Filling the sails proved more difficult than he expected (they were damaged by some kind of draconic attack, after all), but Chance eschewed his limited knowledge of nature to cast the ritual with the full power of his arcane storm mastery. His training at the Monastery of the Storm required nothing less.
When Jett showed the three portraits to Tokk’it, he could tell Tokk’it was greatly disturbed.
Tokk’it covered it pretty well by explaining the portraits were of three diplomats. Nobody was supposed to know they were in the fortress. His bosses didn’t share the reasons for their visit with Tokk’it, but he knew that no Githyanki should have known they were present in the facility when the attack started. If a Githyanki assassin had their pictures, somebody had to be leaking information.
Even so, Jett could tell he was holding something back…something about the drawings.
While Jett assured Grigore Goldforge of the crew’s loyalty (as long as someone stood in the arcane circle and had their hand on the ship’s wheel), he did not guarantee their initiative. If they spotted something approaching, Jett could not guarantee they would tell anyone they might not see as Githyanki allies. So, Grigore headed up to the crow’s nest to watch for dragons and the other ships mentioned in the orders. Soon he spotted a lone dragon with a lancer on its back. Guessing it was a scout, he shouted down to Tokk’it avoid its gaze. This seemed to help and Grigore hoped it would reduce the number of dragons he would have to fight in the approach to Akma’ad, but he knew some fighting was inevitable.
Rather than confront the Githzerai scout directly about withholding information, Jett decided to question him more about the possibility that the fortress had been infiltrated by Githyanki. How was that possible? Didn’t all the monks at this fortress know each other? Wasn’t it more of a monastery where everyone was in constant communion with each other than an actual military base?
Such questions seemed to loosen Tokk’it’s tongue a bit. He explained that Githyanki had amazing mental powers, powers by which they could enslave others.
“They have even been known to take over the bodies of their victims,” Tokk’it told Jett, “so their spies look and sound exactly like the friends and family of those they are spying on.”
As the Githzerai said these words, Jett saw a shadow pass over Tokk’it’s face.
As if saying those words caused Tokk’it to realize something that did more than disturb the Githzerai…
Tokk’it’s eyes moved slowly toward the three portraits.
…something that terrified him more than he had ever been terrified before.
Just then, a voice rang out from the Crow’s Nest. “Dragons off the starboard bow!” the voice of Grigore rang out. “Dragons! Prepare for battle!”