The Keepers of Los Claustros

Chapter 9: The Black Mast

Someone slipped an envelope under the door of Mhera’s apartment. An envelope emblazoned with the sigil of an organization she thought she’d left behind: The Black Mast. The letter within was from one of Mhera’s oldest friends, and a former employer – the she-pirate Tallis Mayne. The letter, written in the seafarer’s shorthand, told of ships gone missing on the sea, entire crews disappeared on the Silver Sea. Tallis called on her old shipmate to bring the Keepers and perhaps solve this mystery.

The Keepers arrived that evening at Thieves’ Landing and journeyed to the Black Mast guildhouse, where the pirate greeted her old friend joyfully. The two had long been separated. But some of the other buccaneers, superstitious folk, shunned Mhera, believing her to be a bringer of bad tidings. Tallis, moved to extreme measures, elected to sail out on her very own ship, The Pearl, with the Keepers as her crew, in an effort to draw out this unknown threat.

They sailed all night. One the fourth watch, Aurora noticed something in the water – something massive and hungry. But before she could warn her companions, the beast rose from the deep: The Kraken! Its tentacles wrapped around the ship and its jaws took an enormous bite from the hull. The crew ran to the deck while Captain Mayne held back the ship intact with an arcane ritual.

The battle raged on for hours, with many of the Keepers near drowned, but finally the beast sank back into the deep. As sharks circled the ship, the Keepers pulled one another aboard.

Soon, a quick vessel bearing a white flag approached. Tallis recognized the ship as belonging to a former member of the Black Mast, a thri-kreen named Mantis. Years ago, Mantis had defected to begin his own profiteering business. As the boat approached, Mantis and a companion – a huge, black-scaled dragonborn in purple robes, hailed the ship, obviously surprised to see it still intact.

The Keepers surmised quickly that Mantis and his companion, Dunwither, had intended to sack the wreckage left behind by the sea monster. Thus began an interrogation. Mantis folded eagerly, ready to surrender to any who could best the kraken. He revealed himself as having been hired to follow the sea monster and to loot any vessels it might destroy. The Keepers demanded further information, but Dunwither reminded Mantis of their duty to the holder of their contract.

In an effort to not have to beat the information out of these ruffians, the Keepers agreed to buy out the mutineers’ contract in exchange for service and information on the previous contract holders. Dunwither, once free of his contract, explained that he had been approached by Aela Haydron of Hammermount to animate sea creatures and to have them attack ships coming up the Raider Coast. Essentially, the dwarven government authorized this as the first stage of a full-on embargo on Thieves’ Landing.

The heroes brought Mantis and Dunwither back to the Black Mast guildhall and called a meeting of all the guilds. In attendance were the Keepers, Mantis, Dunwither, and representatives from each of the five guilds: The Consortium of Murder, The Smugglers’ Guild, the Zerial family of gnomes, Duyoth, dragonborn leader of The Fangs mercenary group, and Tallis of the Black Mast. The profiteers revealed their mission, and the leaders of the guilds called for war.

Of course, even five bands of cutthroats and thieves wouldn’t have been enough to storm the mighty fortress of Hammermount – but Tallis and the guildmasters of the Consortium of Murder and the Smugglers’ Guild devised a plot to assassinate Aela Haydron and steal most of the ships from Hammermount’s shipyards. Because of her piratical experience, Mhera elected to accompany the operatives as liason to the Keepers, and to oversee the contractual obligations of Mantis and Dunwither.

Because with the demons only two weeks away, Thieves Landing would need a navy, and a place on the sea that would be safe from the reaching tendrils of darkness.

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