Following the funeral for Lucas & Neema, the dwarf and the gnome are soon approached by representatives of the Consortium. They want answers. During a painfully drawn-out session of the court before the representative parties, Deldund and Hobbes both realize that what the Consortium needs is someone to blame that isn’t already dead. The people here are going to demand action after a tragedy this traumatizing. They even cast some doubt on the pair’s innocence due to the wicked rumors spread by Nimseo and Gardal before the group made it back to South Landing from their jungle trip.
The two of them are quick to focus the attention on the ship of Nims’s mercenaries that did manage to sail-off with the rest after Lucas’s boat was overturned. Despite the deaths of their leaders, these criminals can still be brought to justice. The Consortium, amid their infighting and borderline hysteria, seize upon the opportunity and immediately assign the task to the short duo.
Their names cleared, Hobbes and Deldund return to the Sea Dwarf to plan their next move. They spend the night, and when they arise, they find the resident dwarves literally disassembling the entire establishment. Asking the barkeep, they’re shocked to learn that the entire inn is actually and dwarven sailing ship that’s been pulled into a cavern carved out to shape it precisely. They assist the band of dwarves in readying their ship for the sea, including the massive effort of hauling it from the cavern at high tide.
Hobbes and Deldun are both largely at a loss as to what they should do next. Both know that the box cannot be allowed to pass to any other’s hands, and both realize the implications of the spreading ships from the South Landing docks; but there seems little they can do to stop them all from reaching innocent ports.
The dwarves sail north, Deldund and Hobbes aboard if for no other reason than getting away from South Landing and the tragedy it represents. The curiosities of a dwarven ship are enough to distract them for a few hours, as they marvel at the nearly unbelievable shape and seemingly ineffective sails and stare at the manually-driven propeller shaft inserted below decks. A manual screw, the barkeeper/Captain explains, is as reliable as dwarven arms; the folly of men to rely on something as fleeting as the wind confounds the stout sailors entirely.
The trip is uneventful for the first day, crusing out past the Daggers to avoid running afoul of sub-surface stone pillars. Soon after dawn on the second day, however, the lookouts spot ship rocking the surge, jammed upon stone teeth and listing badly. As Deldund and Hobbes near the ship with a band of dwarves in one of the Sea Dwarf’s ingeniously hidden launches, they see not a shred of movement; not even sea birds.
Once aboard, they begin to search for any survivors, but find the deck deserted. They open the holds: one is filled with shuffling livestock that are soon discovered to be infected and undead. Hobbes immediately sends alchemical fire to cleanse the hold, and the zombified beasts burn in silence. The other hold contains cargo strewn about. In searching it, they find a handful of sailors crushed amid the unsecured crates and barrels. Next they enter the crew quarters, and there they find a larger part of the former crew. Unfortunately, the crew immediately charge them both with unholy hunger. These zombies are quickly laid back to rest, and the pair depart the ship as the flames begin to consume it. Disturbingly, it does appear that the burnging ship’s launches are missing, likely rowed to toward the sea cliffs a mile west. The implications are concerning, but they have no way of following them with any effecacy at the moment.
Another ship is observed the following night, a few miles ahead of them the lookouts spot its cruising lanterns. As they seem to be overtaking the vessel, however, there is immediate concern. The Sea Dwarf is a very slow vessel, and while it can maintain its speed while becalmed, sailing galleons far outpace her. Nearing the ship, they see the lights are not laterns, but fires on the decks and above. A full scale battle runs the length of the ship, apparently under attack by pirates arrived in small dinghies now lashed to the sides. The dwarves and Hobbes immediately take to a launch and make way towards the fight. Arriving, howver, it’s difficult to tell the pirates from the crew, and they’re left with one option, defend the brightly-uniformed officers near the helm. Before much longer, the battle is turned and won, and they set about controlling the many fires. During this phase, Delund notices several of the bodies begin to take on a darker aura…he immediately begins cleansing the area with holy prayer, channeling Moradin’s honor to destroy the undead before they fully awaken.
Deldund and Hobbes work their professions to clear the ship of any remaining infections of dark plague, and they bid the crew good bye. The Sea Dwarf continues her trek, and near the end of the fourth day at sea, the end of the Daggers comes into view, along with the lighthouse of Dalda. The next morning, they attempt to enter port, only to find that all of the docks are already full. Ships not only fill up every pier, there are half a dozen anchored out in the bay. There are many with Oslander flags flying, and they cannot easily pick out which one might by Nimseo’s. More concerningly, they can’t determine which of these ships just came from South Landing, but it’s quite apparent the potential spread of this disease is quickly becoming a very, very big problem.
They take a launch to the docks, along with a handful of crew and the Captain, intent on warning the Horselord of the danger already inside his city. Hobbes and Deldund implore the court regents, but the hordes of upset merchants, captains, and foreign nobility already assembled foil their efforts. Instead, they approach the Shrine of the Sun, imploring the Pelorite clerics to listen to them. High Priest Amisus soon emerges from his chambers at the commotion and they relate to him the danger. Immediately, Amisus directs his acolytes to the docks to begin cleansing them in holy light. Meanwhile, he himself accompanies the travelers back to Horselord Dale’s court. With the backing the High Priest, they’re granted an audience. The words appear less impactful on the Horselord than they should be, and they are quickly told to assist Amisus in dealing with the situation. Amisus nods gratiously and they leave the Horselord.
They High Priest makes his way to the Court of St. Cuthbert and Gelnor’s Lodge to share the news with them, and holy men descend upon the docks with deep sense of purpose. To lay the spirits of the dead back to rest from such an unholy curse as undead is one of the few common threads that bind all goodly faiths together, and the unity of purpose is easily seen.