The Free Captains’ Regatta had finally arrived and the party decided to enter the race. for the past 5 years, The druid-captain
known as the Master of the Gales has won the regatta. However, this year he is officiating the race instead of competing, leaving its outcome in doubt.
As the race date draws close and the last competitors arrive at Port Peril, the city’s populace buzzes with speculation about the course for this year’s race. A week before race day, the announcement f lies through the city that the Master of the Gales has declared Cauldron Rock, the northernmost island large enough to be marked on most maps of the Shackles, as the race’s starting point. A huge flotilla of racers and spectators sets sail northward out of Jeopardy Bay.
Arriving at Cauldron Rock, the race fleet anchors northeast of the island. Their main competition consisted of about a dozen ships including the infamous Barnabas Harrigan and the Wormwood. Many of the parties friends also showed up as spectators. Tessa Fairwind, Pierce Jerrell, Merrill Pegsworthy and even Sandara Quinn and Rosie Cusswell.
The afternoon before the race, the Master of the Gales called a meeting of all competing ships’ captains and their senior officers aboard his ship, the Kraken. An imposing man with tanned and weather-beaten skin and long, windblown hair and beard, the Master of the Gales outlines the course of the race to the competitors and supplies a simple route map to each participant. Designed to test even the most rugged crew, the regatta will take ships along the fringes of the Eye of Abendego and even into the storm itself, ending at a small islet called Coaming Point. Fixing each contestant with a icy blue stare, the Master of the Gales reminded everyone that the Free Captains’ Regatta is a nautical race, not a battle or an opportunity to avenge past slights. He announces that he will be monitoring the race, and any ship caught attacking or unduly interfering with another competing vessel will be disqualified, or if necessary, sunk. Nature itself will be the most dangerous enemy the contenders will face, a fact the gathered captains would be wise to remember if they hope to complete, much less win, the regatta.
The race began first thing in the morning, under leaden skies and sudden squalls of driving rain. Tessa Fairwind comes aboard the PCs’ ship to wish them smooth sailing and good luck, as do other friends and allies of the PCs.
After over an hour of shouting, cursing, and jostling for position, the contenders arranged themselves in rough formation behind the starting line drawn between the Kraken and another ship, the Ocean’s Revenge. All eyes looked to the Master of the Gales, who stood atop a rocky promontory on Cauldron Rock. He raised both arms to the sky and unleashes a flashing bolt of lightning down into the surf, signaling the start of the race. He then transformed into an albatross and flew over the participants.
Suddenly, the wind shifted sharply and unnaturally from northerly to easterly, throwing the competitors into chaos. However William was able to weave the Integrity around the jumbled ships without crashing. The PCs where off to a great start.
The first obstacle on was the Silted Shorouds, an extensive series of shallow sandbars formed by the continuous action of the Eye of Abendego. The Party was able to successfully navigate sandbars and they sailed on though without running aground.
The second obstacle was a set of low-lying coral reefs known as Raker Shoals. The party was able to see the reef and help William navigate until one came from nowhere. He quickly spun the enchanted wheel they had recovered from the brine banshee. William VonDar (Timbus) caught a glimpse of ghostly hands helping him maneuver the Integrity narrowly missing the reef.
Gozreh’s Flow, Sometimes called Gozreh’s Piss by the less reverent, Is the swirling wash of powerful ocean currents that sweep out of the Sodden Lands along the southern fringes of the Eye. Senfyr was able to user her knowledge of the sea winds to avoid the strong easterly currents dragging them back. getting past the flow meant they were heading closer to the storm, suddenly a cross wave struck the ship almost sending captain Finrich overboard.
Two jagged shafts of rock, called the Iris’s Splinters, rise out of the ocean here, forming a narrow 100 foot gap between them. Competitors must “thread the Iris” and sail between these splinters. as the Integrity approached, the Sullied Strumpet was able to catch the breeze and pull ahead. As the PCs approach the rocks, a gigantic turtlelike behemoth surfaced ahead of them. As they watched, the beast smashed into the Sullied Strumpet with a bellow, capsizing the light sloop. The malicious giant dragon turtle then submerged leaving the crew shaking in their boots. Galrum and Tiberious rallied the crew while the rest of the party prepared for combat. William swung the integrity wide but it was not far enough, the dragon turtle surfaced and breathed scolding steam at the boat. The integrity barraged the dragon with flaming ballista bolts. Tiberious cast a spell to direct the smoke into the dragons face allowing the party escape and thread the Iris.
As the Party sails into the hurricane, A sheet of lightning strikes the foremast of the Integrity. The deck becomes very slippery as it is hit by rouge wave after rouge wave. however, the ship survived the onslaught and sailed towards Pinnacle Atoll, a towering spire of rock surrounded by two concentric rings of reef called Sharkskin Reef.
The party took the shortest path to go around rock spire, cutting strait though the reef. They managed to get though the reef without incident. However as they were heading out of the hurricane, an unnatural electrical squall struck and a corona of baleful green lightning limned their ship’s mainmast. Senfyr knew that this was about to become a lightning elemental. Galrum quickly climbed up to the crow’s nest to intercept it while the party attacked from below. After a few rounds the elemental was defeated and the party had cleared the storm.
The Integrity was not the only boat to make it out. coming up from behind was none other than Captain Harrigan’s Wormwood. To the west, the Kraken cruised in the distance, the Master of the Gales on deck observing the race’s finish.
This was the home stretch. The integrity was ahead, but William was not going to take any chances. he narrowed his eyes and shot for the Finish line. Suddenly, he felt something slam into him on each side. Using Svingli’s Eye he looked around as saw 2 invisible stalkers attacking him. He called out for help as he took a swig of rum and sprayed it at his attackers reveling them. The party was able to defeat the stalkers and keep William alive so he could cross the finish line.
The PCs had won the Free Captains’ Regatta. Now more than ever they have earned the undying enmity of Captain Barnabas Harrigan. As winners, the PCs receive the regatta’s rich prize purse but more importantly, the PCs gain a seat on the Pirate Council of the Shackles. The Master of the Gales ceremonially attached a broken, silver-plated manacle on Finrich wrist as a symbol of this honor, representing the PCs’ freedom from the constraints of other nations’ laws and authority, but also the responsibility that now binds them to the welfare of the Shackles and its people, whom they now represent. Finally, the Master of the Gales presented the PCs with a deed granting them lordship over a small island in the north of the Shackles. But a deed is only a piece of paper. In order to truly claim dominion over this island, the PCs must explore it and deal with any monsters or other inhabitants…