Reluctantly, over the three weeks of journey time to the Vondaran Sphere, they got to know Prince G’Vrain a bit better. He was exactly what he told then he was – a Paladin who was fighting to free his people from the rule of a tyrannical religious fanatic.
At the urging of Mulan, they agreed to help him and still get their reward for handing him over. According to the Prince, they were sure they would be met at the Portal into the Sphere by at least three Vondaran warships and they would most likely be boarded and they could trust the Knights to honour the deal.
Clayton would handle the negotiations for the reward money and insisted that he not be party to any of the planning in case they used a Detect Thoughts ability on him.
Secretly the others planned to hand G’Vrain over – they would travel to Vondara Prime and land there to deliver the Prince in exchange for the money. Mulan and Zerth Symron would make their way in secret to the Manor House of K’Rakas (G’Vrain’s old tutor – a powerful wizard who was in fact the Prince’s trusted advisor and a leader of the Rebel forces). After they handed over the Prince in exchange for the reward, Mulan would use her Invisibility spell on herself and Zerth and get them near enough to Planeshift the captive away into Chaos. After 8 hours of rest, Zerth’s Planeshift ability would return and they could teleport back to the manor house of K’Rakas. They would get their money and the Prince would be free on Vondara.
The prince explained that Bu’Tross, the evil Lord Protector and High Priest of Pyruss, would probably torture him to reveal the names of other Rebels before holding a public execution. He estimated that the execution would be within a day or two after his arrival on-planet.
[GM: Clayton had not been party to any of this planning – the player walked away from the table while the planning took place].
When they entered Vondaran Space, three warships hung there blockading the Portal. Our heroes displayed the Prince and the heavily-armed warships (three heavy cannons each) held position in range and sent across a 4-seater Dragonfly ship with two armoured Knights and a Priest to helm it.
Clayton handled the negotiations alone and suddenly to the horror of all the conspirators, he handed over the captive and they took G’Vrain away on the Dragonfly.
Turning to his companions, Clayton explained that the Knights of the Sun had originally promised to return in 2 days with the fifty thousand in gold, but he had instead agreed to wait an extra day to have the value returned in barrels of Vondaran Wine (which they could sell for triple that value as there had been a shortage of it since the Vondarans closed their borders).
With two of the Warships remaining on station, with their weapons casually trained on the Hammer for the whole time, they had to float there waiting for three days. The third warship flew off immediately with the Prince. They were too far away for Zerth to Dimension Door across.
It was about 24 hours flight time to the planet. Mulan was distraught but could think of nothing she could do but weep and bite her nails.
Half-way through the third day (as they waited for their shipment of wine to be delivered) the sun of Vondara suddenly turned blood red!
Even across the distance to the warships, they saw the change come over the enemy crew – they all had tatoos of the sun – suddenly the ink seemed to burn brightly with red flame. With no other warning the gun crews pushed out their cannons and began to fire at the Hammer.
Unknown to our heroes…
It was about 1 day flight time to the planet, so on Vondaran Prime, the Prince was carried in triumph into the Palace of the Sun and tortured for a day and a night. Somehow th noble paladin resisted the tortures and refused to give up the names of the other rebels. Perhaps he was sustained by the knowledge that his rescuers would soon appear to whisk him away!
Perhaps he still hoped for the planned rescue, even as he was tied to the stake with some ancient Pyruss ritual and burned alive. At the last moment as his flesh burned away, only then did he start screaming as he perished. At the last moment, perhaps he saw the sun change colour and saw the change come over the people – where they had watched sullenly as their Prince was executed, suddenly they began chanting and screaming, filled with bloodlust and hatred for all heretics.
Back on the Hammer, the enemy cannons ripped into her, disabling the Hammer’s only cannon.
Abraham managed to swing her about and make a break for it, back through the Portal – the others did a good job with the remaining ballista, disabling one of the warship’s cannons, but were hopelessly out-gunned.
Fortunately, even with a few more of the crew killed, they managed to out-run the Vondarans, but the two warships followed them into the Flow and pursued for three days.
They could have simply out-run the pursuers but it seemed likely the blood-crazed fanatics would pursue them all the way to the Rock of Braal. Instead they planned to stay just ahead and lead the pursuers through the Chaos Portal and lose them in the Sea of Chaos. [GM: An excellent plan except I told them they would get an encounter on the way on a roll of 6 on a D6 – Carl immediately rolled the “6”]
They suddenly dropped out of warp-speed as a Scro Squidship, flying a Pirate flag, blocked their way. [GM: I didn’t explain this at the time, but the Squidship is really an Imperial Scro Warship, but they fly the Pirate flag so that the Scro Empire can deny that it is their captains doing these attacks].
It flew towards them and had two cannons ready to shoot. Quick-thinking, Clayton got his red Orc crewmen to stay on deck and the others to hide, then ran up a white flag and when the ship came close enough to hail, explained about the two pursuing warships – less than two minutes behind them in the Flow. When the two Vondarans dropped out of warp behind them and began to close, Clayton agreed with the Scro captain that they would fight them together.
It was a tense battle. The warships had a massive advantage in firepower and the enemy crew were tougher, with lots of plate-armoured knights. But the heroes have the great advantage of being experienced and powerful individuals and it was their powers that swung the battle.
The plucky Hammer was hopelessly out-gunned but Abe managed to ram their enemy, destroying their main gun and the other guns could not be brought to bear. Zerth dimension doored to the stern of the enemy ship and tried to take out the Helmsman (a wizard, stripped of all spell slots by the Helm). Unfortunately the Helm room was guarded by two plate-armoured warriors and he couldn’t get through.
He returned to help Mulan, who had swung across into the rigging where 6 of the enemy sailors had swarmed up the ropes to surround her. She managed to cut the ropes dropping the enemies to the deck where she and Zerth could finish them off.
Jock and Clayton ran along the ram and boarded the ship, clashing with the Knights while the red orcs and half-orc crewmen swung across and fought the rest of the enemy crew – all were empowered by the blood lust and fought to the death. Inquistor Abraham, in his skull-emblazoned armour, finished off the battle with his Spirit Guardians spell. As he walked the length of the enemy deck, the Spirits tore through the remaining crew, even killing the ones below decks in the gun rooms. At the end of the ship, the Spirits finished off the powerless Helms wizard too.
The “Pirate” Squidship was nearly destroyed by the heavier firepower of the Vondaran and when they finally managed to close, the plate-armoured Knights seemed much tougher because of their blood lust. with the help of the heroes, they managed to finish off the second warship too.
The Hammer of Torkas has suffered heavy losses (another 6 of the original red orcs were dead, along with 2 of the human crew and 4 of the half-orcs).
The ship was horribly damaged (about 30-50 thousand gp of damage) and the damage and lack of crew will make further travel and combat very difficult. (Target Numbers of 17 until repairs or extra crew).
On the other hand, they have taken a powerful warship (although it is damaged and has no crew and needs a spellcaster to power its helm). They can replace their cannon and gunpowder supplies, maybe even add another cannon.
They believe the third Vondaran Warship will only be a half-day behind them (possibly it will be laden with their cargo of wine?) and it seems likely that the rest of the Vondaran fleet will be swarming out in a few days, powered by this blood lust and hatred of all who do not bear the tatoos of Pyruss.