That is, Friday night we played some shadake, and went looking for ghost-ships left behind from a changestorm. So that we could loot them.
So after a short wait for the ship to actually get the repairs they'd paid for, the Brushfire set off in search of ghosts. No one actually knew where the ghost ships were, so they decided to take all the old sailor superstitions and violate them, figuring one or the other would end up putting them against ghosts.
They didn't get it on the first try. Or the second. Cane started writing a journal of the various superstitions and the truth behind them. Eventually, however, on the edge of the heat-lightning storm they nearly ran into while heading for a superstitiously unlucky color of sky, they found a pair of derelict ships that might be what they were looking for.
As they moved in, they discovered a stowaway who'd attached itself to the bottom of their ship -- 3 Gears, the grid 'ambassador to Enca'. No, not from Enca -- to Enca. "Where's Enca?" "Not here." He'd been struck by lightning and needed repairs, so Nico obliged him with a shape metal spell. "That's... adequate."
The ships were merged into each other strangely -- the structural members fused, the 'cosmetic' bits like the hull and deck just smashed and broken. Really weird -- was this the work of more Grid? Takara had a spyglass, and checked it out, but no - no sign of movement, other than insects and rats and the like.
Just in case, they brought the Brushfire in above the uppermost ship (which was at an angle) and lowered a ladder. Their presence changed the gravity enough to dislodge a large block of granite, which smashed through the deck of the lower ship -- apparently, the wood was all really rotten. So Cane went down first, figuring that if the rotten-looking wood could hold his weight, it could hold anyone's. It couldn't hold his weight, but he managed to recover and walk along the rafters.
Well, until the sky-mantas attacked. Five baby skymantas swarmed out to attack the party, but... well, they were pathetic, and easily dispatched. Was that the worst the ships had to offer?
Of course not. Nico noticed that the interior of the ships was darker than dark -- it was magically darkened. Cane tried lighting a torch with ethereal flame ointment (which only burned ghosts, but was convenient for torches since it didn't burn the wood you smeared it on) and sticking it into the darkness. The ghosts hiding inside took this as an attack, and swarmed out.
No one could see them but Takara -- Cane was carrying an aura-sight lantern, but they were expensive so the plan was to light it only after Takara spotted ghosts. Unfortunately, the ghosts' first act was to incapacitate Cane with aura fatigue -- utter horror that made it impossible for him to act, even to light the lantern. The others were similarly attacked, but not as intensely, so Kyngeah climbed down to Cane and lit the lantern, and then everyone could see that they were being attacked by ghostly Feriphal. (little squirrel-hedgehog people)
Well, by one ghostly feriphal, who'd stayed behind to delay the party while his companions fought the real enemy -- the ghostly Kalmar (sentient parasites who infected mostly deer-like creatures) soldiers from the other ship. The party had all their bullets coated with ghost-touch ointment, so they were able to shoot the ghost until he 'died', and while the ghosts fought each other, Cane was able to rest and recover from the horror attack.
But meanwhile, Kyngeah decided to go talk to the battling ghosts. She astrally projected (protected by her usual sanctuary spell) and started asking them questions. The ghosts were busy fighting, and often dying, so they didn't give very coherent answers, but the feriphal were apparently trying to get to the kalmar leader, and the kalmar were fighting to protect it.
Eventually, the feriphal lost, and all the remaining ghosts faded away. Then the mother skymanta attacked and was captured alive, for easier dissection or possibly milking, since Cane remembered [when prompted by the GM] that skymanta venom was the missing component of the pain poison he'd analyzed but never been able to replicate.
Once he'd recovered, Cane decided to see if the darkness was a solid blackness or just a wall, or what. It turned out itw as 'or what' -- inside, you could see in black and white, but what you saw was the ghostly pre-disaster image of the ship, with the feriphal inside fighting a storm and stuff. This made it possible to get around (since you could see where things were supposed to be) but difficult (since there were holes and obstacles not present in the undamaged vision of the ship), and looting would similarly be possible but difficult.
The ghosts weren't instantly hostile, at least -- even the few who could actually see the party. Kyngeah went astral to speak to them, and Takara popped up kitty ears which let her listen to the ghosts the same was she could usually see them with cat eyes. Eventually, they made their way to the captain, who had his psychic slave open a telepathic channel, so that they could discuss matters in earnest.
In short, the feriphal were clinging to life because it was REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT that they kill the Kalmar's lord -- it was one of the Lords of Ython, possibly the very *last* lord of Ython, and without it the Ythonians would no longer be organized enough to fight against Paladine. Of course, the actual battle had happened 50 years ago, and they'd been repeating it every 30 minutes since. Almost a MILLION times, and they'd NEVER won. Probably because they were the crew of a freighter who'd lost most of their people before being transformed into ghosts by the changestorm, and the kalmar were a military vessel with more troops and better weapons.
Kyngeah: "This all getting way too complicated."
Cane: "No, it's simple. Ython is one of our known enemies, so if we want to resolve this eternal battle and get rid of the ghosts, we should help the feriphals. Or we can try to loot without actually being able to see what we're doing, but that's kind of dangerous."
Later, it occured to him that if this was the last of the Ythonian Lords, trapped here in the lightning storm, then Ython itself was *not* organized and had probably been conquered by Amalthia, which is why Corruption and Purity were fighting on the same side against Ree. If they released the lord back on Ython, it might screw up the empire... Sgt. First talked him down -- unleashing a *demigod of corruption* on a defenseless planet was *not* the right thing to do, even if it might have some temporary benefit to the war effort.
Anyway, they didn't want to fight the kalmar head on -- they had ghost-slaying bullets and cannonballs, but the ghosts had guns of their own, and their ship wasn't going to provide any cover against them. They tried to use 'deathshroud tea', which hid auras from magical detection, to hide their auras and make themselves invisible to ghosts, but the feriphal ghosts told them that it didn't work that way -- it just made them look spooky.
But Kyngeah had that sanctuary spell, which seemed to make her ghost-proof. Perhaps she could scout out the location of the lord, and then they could blast it with cannons from a distance? She went on a scouting mission, and discovered that it was in the hold, supposedly hibernating due to a lack of living plants to eat. She'd promised to 'do what she could' to get it a meal, as part of making a deal with it.
But no, they decided to just blast it instead. Nico was able to make a crystal ball and use clairvoyance to locate the lord, which was NOT asleep after all, and then they stood off a ways, planning to blow out the bottom of the Kalmarr ship to make the Lord fall, at which point they'd shoot him with more cannon and have some flying people (using 'flying potions' that would turn them into Anidutu) pour gunpowder and fire oil on him. Fernau had a fireball spell, so he volunteered to be one of the close assault team.
It didn't work quite as well as they'd hoped. The lord was ornery about falling out of the ship, although some extra cannonballs into his tentacles dislodged him. But once he was out in the open air, he had total control of his own gravity, and could fly around and, say, devour the close assault team, although not before they set him on fire. Also, he was able to turn his ghostly minions into the more typically undead flying spectres to menace the Brushfire, although ghostflame poured on their own deck (along with a volley of ghost-slaying bullets and cannonballs) kept them at bay.
They took him down in the end, though, thanks in a large part to Fernau being very ornery about being swallowed, and blasting around randomly with burning hands spells from inside the oozelike lord. The other swallowed crewmember was still alive as well, although both needed serious cure disease spells.
And with the lord dead, the ghosts were, in fact, freed from their eternal battle, and the party was able to loot in peace.
The trade ship was carrying rocks. Giant multi-ton granite blocks. 300 of them! Each worth about a tooth and a half, so not a bad haul, if a little bit cumbersome. There was lots of other stuff, too -- they'd certainly be rich if they could sell it all!
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