The Drylands (Pathfinder)
A Pirate's Life for Me
Wield your chains. In a world full of laws that both promote and hinder the quest for personal fulfillment, embracing those laws, owning them, and using them can be a fulfillment all its own.
Kiriss Relentless reflected briefly on that core tenet of his order as he drew his bow. He tapped into a greater power than philosophy as he passed judgment on the pirates who drew their ship within crossbow range of the merchant vessel carrying Kiriss and his team. Justice demanded these thugs die for their crimes, and Justice was guiding Kiriss’s arrows with supernatural accuracy towards the Grippli lining the railing of the enemy ship.
It wasn’t going to be enough. The pirates had ambushed them from out of a fog and set their sails alight with alchemist’s fire from a small catapult as the chase took the ships far from shore. The merchant’s crew had put out the flames on the deck, but with their speed crippled, the pirates could simply match pace at a short distance and use their superior numbers to sweep the deck with crossbow fire.
Kiriss looked at the captain. Ziki Waverider was probably the most competent member of the crew on this ship. A merchant smuggler and suspected pirate himself, Ziki now strode the upper deck calling out targets for his remaining archers, who were losing ground in the ranged duel.
From the relative safety of an overturned launch used as cover against the rain of bolts, Kiriss’s companions looked for him to make a decision. The normally gregarious Wistful Amity was chanting her focusing mantra under her breath over and over, nervously waiting for Kiriss to decide where her psionic blasts would do the most effect.
Kiriss’s other ally, Two-Tone Scream, presented the opposite picture. Quiet and detached, she stroked the monstrous serpent coiled at her feet. Kiriss knew that if she ordered Two-Tone to charge the pirates herself, Two-Tone would comply, and likely take down a fair number. But without support, it would be suicide.
As Kiriss was taking potshots over the top of the launch, Ziki stomped over, furious.
“Quit hiding and fight, damn you!” he shouted. “We’re dying here while you cower.”
“I’ve killed two so far,” Kiriss said. “But unless they get closer, there’s not much we can do.”
“So get closer! I’ve seen that snake of yours fly. Do something!”
Two-Tone calmly looked at the captain, stood up, looked at the distance between the ships, and then looked at the central mast.
“Amity,” Two-Tone said, “Blast the mast.”
Ziki began to sputter an objection, but Amity pointed at the mast and a crack of thunder erupted from her hand. A cloud of splinters burst as a three-inch deep divot exploded out of the base of the mast. A thrill of euphoria washed over the group as the power of Amity’s manifestation surged through them.
“Amity,” Two-Tone said, “Blast it again.”
With a thought from Two-Tone, the serpent flew over and began gnawing on the other side of the mast, its teeth sheathed in a shimmering darkness as the mast began to be shredded from both sides.
Ziki locked eyes with Two-Tone, about to object to the further destruction of his ship, when her strategy clicked. Shouting for his archers to reposition on the center deck, Ziki motioned Kiriss to join him as less than a half-minute later the serpent gave a final push and the mast toppled toward the pirate ship, flaming sails crashing onto their deck and igniting their pile of alchemist’s fire in an explosive detonation.
Ziki pulled off his gloves, revealing wicked looking claws on both his hands. He flexed his mid-legs, grinned, and charged across the fallen mast towards the smoking chaos on the enemy vessel. Kiriss followed behind him, speaking the words that turned his bow into a quarterstaff as he hit the deck. Amity took up the rear, now blasting the pirates with fire and lightning. As they pressed into the pirates, covered by archer fire from the merchant ship, they saw Two-Tone fly overhead on her serpent. Waves of mental disruption and terror washed over the pirates as Two-Tone descended, her serpent ripping into the dazed and shaken raiders. From there, it was all over but the screaming.
After the battle, Kiriss inspected the eight surviving pirates sitting bound on the deck of the captured pirate ship. This last contingent had surrendered. One had a ripped arm from Ziki’s claws while another’s leg was burned from Amity’s fire blast, but the other half-dozen had simply given up.
Ziki had decided to scuttle his original vessel and take the pirate ship as a prize. Explosion and fire notwithstanding, it was still in better condition than his own.
Kiriss began to recite, “Piracy, murder, battery, attempted kidnapping, interference with an sworn officer, assault, unauthorized operation of a vessel-of-war in Mogogol waters. You’re looking at an extended stay in the Mogogol rehabilitation program, assuming they don’t declare you unreachable and ship you off to the Moldfolk.”
The pirates relaxed slightly. The Mogogol penal system was bizarre by their standards, but not particularly harsh or unsurvivable if you could convince them you could ‘reform’.
“However,” continued Kiriss, “I have no plans to return to Mogport anytime soon. And thus I must release you under your own recognizance to report to the authorities yourselves to face justice. And since justice demands equal treatment, it’s only fair that all of you have the same chance to reach that justice.”
As she said that, Two-Tone and the serpent approached now terrified Grippli from either side. Walking down the line, Two-Tone took a knife and stabbed the limbs of the four closest pirates so each had a wounded arm and leg. The serpent ripped the limbs of the other four in the same fashion.
“And now, please be on your way. You’ve delayed my travels long enough,” said Kiriss.
As Kiriss finished, Ziki, Two-Tone, and the merchant ship’s crew began to throw the struggling, screaming Grippli overboard into the water. The current spread the blood from their fresh wounds.
Leaning over the railing, Kiriss shouted, “The Mogogol Swampland is about a day’s swim west. If you slip your ropes and hurry, there’s a small chance you’ll get there before the sharks find you.”
As he stepped away to assist the crew in making the ship ready for sail, Kiriss passed Ziki in the process of casting a spell. Kiriss looked a question and Ziki grinned, “I wouldn’t put any bets on them beating the sharks. That’s all I’ll say.”
Sure enough, as the crew got the deck cleared, the rigging repaired, and the transferred supplies securely stowed, the shrieking started from the water.
Amity kept her eyes fixed intently on the rope she was knotting, looking a little sick as the screams turned to desperate splashing. Two-Tone leaned on the rail, looking contemplative as the Grippli went under.
Kiriss kept focused on the job at hand as he moved the remaining alchemical projectiles to storage.
“Wield your chains,” Kiriss thought. With a satisfied smile, he decided he had used them truly effectively today.