The voyage from Haven to Bartertown began uneventfully, with an early morning cast-off of the mooring lines by the deck hands. The morning breeze caused the canvas to slap momentarily until the wind filled the canvas of the Dashing Stag. Dremnin took the wheel and steered a southerly course, aiming for the pass between the high peaks. We left port with the rising of the sun, and anticipated smooth sailing ahead. By evening we had almost reached our destination for the day, which was the cairn where we had buried the hapless crewman named Veranda. Alas, with the fading light of day, we could not locate the cairn before being forced into an alternate anchorage for the night in the foothills of the tall peaks which marked the end of the lower plain. Though the guard was doubled all night for security, no ill fell upon the trim ship and crew while we slept.
Day came upon the crew of the Dashing Stag, and with a hot breakfast in our bellies we set out to navigate the pass that had almost proved our downfall on the trip out to Haven. But the Passions smiled upon us this time, and fair winds ushered us beyond the menacing rocks of the pass and into the plains beyond. Again, Dremnin steered a course SSW to skirt the wild forest to the west. But in the afternoon, sharp eyes spotted a thin column of smoke to the South, inside the woods. After a quick discussion over the possible source of the smoke, it was decided that it was not a fire from burning trees, and thus might hold some interest that bore examination. We altered course and proceeded to the plume of smoke.
As we pulled up on the smoke, it became readily apparent that this was the wreck of some air ship, for the path she plowed through the canopy of the woods was easily spotted. As we closed on the wreck site, we spotted the furrow the ship made as she crashed; a deep gash in the earth garnished with uprooted and broken trees. Not much remained of the wreck, although Skram immediately recognized the tattered standard that still flapped uneasily over the wreck. It was the Theran colors of the house that had kidnapped a younger Skram and sold him to slavers. This wreck had suddenly become very personal to the Unchained.
From the air above the wreck, for we had slowly descended below the tree line to be able to view the wreckage properly, no sign of life was visible. Vridich sent his ugly-assed familiar down to search around for signs of life, but only one intact corpse was located inside the wreck. Only signs of torn trees, blood stains and claw marks in wood remained to tell this tale. Just before settling below the tress, the lookout hailed the deck to report a circle of flying beasts in the distance some 10 miles away. With no need for urgency at the current wreck, it was decided to go and investigate the circling beasts. It was thought that they might be after live prey from a slave ship, and hands tightened on weapons as the Dashing Stag rose into the air again to confront Theran slavers.
A quick passage south was made once we again rose into the breeze, and the word passed down to the deck, that the beasts were Espagra! As we arrived on the scene below, the remains of a Theran slave barge rested uneasily on the earth at an odd angle, where she had come to rest after plowing through the trees. Several of the beasts could be seen gnawing on bloody remains, and there appeared to be someone still actively resisting the carnivores at the stern of the ship. To arms and tally ho! Ropes were quickly lowered for those hands who did not have Wind Catcher, and those selected for the battle quickly went over the side to engage the Espagra.
But now the fickle Passions deserted the Unchained, and both Skram and Suulin slipped from the ropes and plummeted down to land in the bow of the wrecked air barge. Both were badly hurt in the fall, and the Espagra, sensing easy prey, moved to finish off our heroes. But this was not to be their fate, as Urgral successfully rappelled to the deck and immediately engaged the beasts, followed by Stilicho’s squire. Battle quickly ensued.
In the stern of the wreck, Stilicho and the Wind Catchers landed without incident and began to engage the Espagra with a vengeance. Meanwhile, from the deck rail of the Dashing Stag, Dremnin shot his arrow shafts down into the Espagra with great skill as they approached Skram , and Vridich shot astral bolts into the beasts with great glee, causing roars of rage and pain to drift up to the ship. Skram and Suulin managed to regain their feet and make a stand in the bow with Urgral and the squire, while Stilicho and the rest of the crew slew Espagra in the stern. Two of the crew went down to vicious attacks in the battle, but the tide turned when a troll in crystal armor broke out from the cabin below and began to swing with the easy skill of a trained swordsman.
With our heroes on their feet, supported with deadly bolts from above, the remaining Espagra quickly fled the scene, leaving the Unchained victorious. The crewmen who were badly injured were thus saved from death, and eight valuable Espagra hides were rescued from the hull below. As soon as combat was over, it was decided that we would search the wrecks for survivors and booty. The troll aboard the wreck, a weaponsmith named Dagmar Steelsong from Bartertown, quickly gave us his thanks for the rescue and was taken aboard the Dashing Stag. Thus ended the day’s fight, with the search for booty yet to reveal the secrets of the wrecks.