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Sad Panda

The strange ship pulls alongside your vessel...

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> Wait, I can still turn this around...

 

Pallegina: "No!" The paladin marches over to you, grabs the front of your armour, and with frightening ease lifts you off your seat. "I have not slept a wink in three days because you insisted on making me bunk next to that mumbling lunatic...!"

 

Aloth: "H-hey!"

 

Pallegina: "...and gods be my witness, if I have to listen to you two yammer on for another minute, I will tie you both onto a cannon and hurl you into the depths of the ocean!" She bares her teeth as she draws your face closer to hers. "You. Are. Done."

 

The Godlike plops you back onto the chair and swoops back into her corner with a thud, plumage a-flutter and arms crossed over her chest defiantly. Her face is etched into a deep scowl as she for a few moments glares at you grimly to underscore her threat, before turning away with a loud 'Hmph!' As she does, her eyes meet those of Aloth, who has nestled back into his own corner to quietly mope. After a brief moment's contact, the wizard averts his gaze, looking quite visibly hurt. Pallegina's indignant masks breaks and her brows furrow in guilt as she too turns away, the two of them now silently facing the opposite walls. You look over to Edér, who shakes his head in tiny, jerky motions to caution you from pressing the issue.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "So what'll it be? Do ye acknowledge ye defeat?"

 

> Yes. I admit defeat, and that I cannot use force without breaching my word. We are at your mercy, captain.

> Yes, though it changes nothing. If I must go against my word, then that is the burden I will bear to ensure the safety of our fellow seafarer.

> Screw this. We're leaving, and don't any of you hairy midgets try to stop us.

> We're done talking, that's for sure. Now comes the part where victors write history to their satisfaction. At them!

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> Yes. I admit defeat, and that I cannot use force without breaching my word. We are at your mercy, captain.

 

Captain Thundernipples: The Orlan stands up and tilts his head back in thunderous laughter, quickly to be joined by his lieutenants. "Very good! I see ye be an honourable kith, after all. In recognition of this, we shall allow ye depart with life and limb intact -- as long as ye satisfy me demands, of course. And me first demand be..." He turns to the side, striking an oddly noble figure as his large, hooked nose inches slightly upward and he strokes his unkempt beard in thought, his movements again mimicked by his fellow pirates. A few moments pass in silence, but just as you open your mouth to say something, he snaps toward you with a mad gleam in his eyes and mouth curled in a fervent grin: "...another philosophical debate!"

 

Pallegina: "What?"

 

Captain Thundernipples: "This time, however, I be wanting it recorded for posterity... so she be taking notes!" The Orlan points at Pallegina, failing miserably in containing his sheer glee.

 

Pallegina: "What?!"

 

Edér struggles to keep a stiff upper lip. Aloth is still looking away, but from the way his elbows are clutching his sides and his cheeks billow, you gather he has conquered much of his earlier melancholy.

 

> Splendid! Let's get right on it!

> Before committing, I'd like to discuss your demands in full.

> [bluff] Er, best we not use her. Her handwriting, it's terrible. Just terrible.

> I'd sooner stab myself in the eye with one of your little statues.

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> Splendid! Let's get right on it!

 

You don't even have the time to realise she had begun moving when Pallegina has already cleared the distance between the two of you and smacks you hard on the back of your head with her armoured glove. You're pretty sure she drew blood.

 

> I mean... 'tis with heavy heart that I accept your terms.

> I think we should first re-enact the earlier debate and make her transcribe that, as well.

> Before committing, I'd like to discuss your demands in full.

> [bluff] Er, best we not use her. Her handwriting, it's terrible. Just terrible.

Edited by Sad Panda

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> I mean... 'tis with heavy heart that I accept your terms.

 

Pallegina: The Godlike's eyes narrow, but she seems willing to let you off the hook for now.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Fantabulous!" He clasps his filthy hands together in excitement. The eight of you have spent many long hours gently simmering in the small cabin, away from the cool breeze of the sea to counter the sweltering midday heat, and you're becoming increasingly aware of the appalling personal hygiene of your pirate counterpart. Not that your own party is exactly shower-fresh by this point, either, or was such even when you first stepped foot on the alien vessel -- fresh water is a precious commodity at sea, even with a wizard on board. "I be allowing ye to pick the topic and ye thesis, to give ye a bit of a head start. So, what be we discussing?"

 

> Ethics of unbidden soul-reading.

> Treatment of sentient wilder species.

> Creation mythology and worship.

> Road infrastructure in the greater Dyrwood.

> The 26-hour consumer society.

> Artificial scarcity of camping supplies.

> Stepwise proficiency and implications to pedagogy thereof.

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> Creation mythology and worship.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Very well. And ye thesis?"

 

> The gods cannot be established by any objective means as actually residing over their claimed spheres. Thus, the act of worship is at best wishful thinking, at worst self-deceit, and in either case liable to only deepen our ignorance as to the true origins of the world and blindly subject us to the tyranny of potentially malevolent entities.

> The power of gods is an indisputable fact, even if their origin and involvement in the creation of the world and aspects thereof can be called to question. Thus, the act of worship is warranted for both those seeking enlightenment and those simply seeking to secure the favour of deities relevant to their personal interests.

Edited by Sad Panda

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> The gods cannot be established by any objective means as actually residing over their claimed spheres. Thus, the act of worship is at best wishful thinking, at worst self-deceit, and in either case liable to only deepen our ignorance as to the true origins of the world and blindly subject us to the tyranny of potentially malevolent entities.

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> The gods cannot be established by any objective means as actually residing over their claimed spheres. Thus, the act of worship is at best wishful thinking, at worst self-deceit, and in either case liable to only deepen our ignorance as to the true origins of the world and blindly subject us to the tyranny of potentially malevolent entities.

 

Captain Thundernipples: The pirate strokes his beard. "Ah, but be the causality between worship and divine intervention not empirically established beyond all reasonable doubt? Be the many astonishingly convergent accounts of mortals interacting with the gods, spanning various cultures with no plausible contact with each other, in itself the objective evidence ye call for?"

 

> The existence or might of the gods is not in question, but whether or not their self-declared origin and nature can be trusted. To believe an entity truthful because they say they are truthful amounts to nothing but circular reasoning. The divine mechanics must be established by means that do not rely on the testimony of the gods themselves, and worship specifically runs contrary to this by narrowing the paths of interaction to those chosen by the deity, and further encouraging the society to regard other avenues of inquiry as heresy.

> The evidence you cite is biased, as the accounts that reinforce the established image of a given deity are liable to be spread among the faithful, while those which do not are likewise liable to be suppressed. Anecdotal evidence should always be regarded with scepticism, while worship is defined by unquestioning acceptance.

> The various cultures of the world did not arrive at their perception of the gods independently, but rather their views were moulded by accounts of missionaries and the gods themselves. Worship is nothing but a tool to reinforce the chosen image of the deities by rewarding the spread of dogma with the occasional divine intervention. There is little surprise in the accounts converging when the message is controlled top-down.

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> The existence or might of the gods is not in question, but whether or not their self-declared origin and nature can be trusted. To believe an entity truthful because they say they are truthful amounts to nothing but circular reasoning. The divine mechanics must be established by means that do not rely on the testimony of the gods themselves, and worship specifically runs contrary to this by narrowing the paths of interaction to those chosen by the deity, and further encouraging the society to regard other avenues of inquiry as heresy.

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> The existence or might of the gods is not in question, but whether or not their self-declared origin and nature can be trusted. To believe an entity truthful because they say they are truthful amounts to nothing but circular reasoning. The divine mechanics must be established by means that do not rely on the testimony of the gods themselves, and worship specifically runs contrary to this by narrowing the paths of interaction to those chosen by the deity, and further encouraging the society to regard other avenues of inquiry as heresy.

 

Captain Thundernipples nods in acknowledgement of your choice of approach. His lieutenants produce a chair; a stack of blank, slightly yellowed papers; an inkwell; and a quill pen, and Pallegina grudgingly takes her place by the desk, setting by its narrow edge across from the wall and to the side from both you and the pirate captain. The two of you reiterate your opening arguments so as to allow the unwilling scribe to catch up. Edér and his board-game-nemesis courteously move their match further away to make room, taking great care as not to spill the pieces off the board.

 

As before, the discussion spans several hours, this time remaining notably exoteric and rooted in pragmatic considerations -- though still sufficiently academic to neatly fit into the framework of "philosophical debate". Either because of this, or because she is now more directly involved in the process, Pallegina's foul mood and fatigue slowly melt away and she becomes keenly interested the proceedings, barely looking up from her work and silently nodding in approval whenever either of you raises a particularly compelling point.

 

Aloth, for his part, attempts a return to the book that previously occupied him, but the ongoing debate keeps tugging at his concentration, prompting him to steal glances at you and your adversary at a heightening frequency. Before too soon, he has given up on the tome and is instead busily scribbling on a notepad with a pencil, both of which items he produced from somewhere within the folds of his robes.

 

The light of the day is already dimming by the time you finish. Neither side has conclusively triumphed, and you have instead reached a very satisfactory synthesis which Pallegina has dubbed "The Pirate's Wager", inscribed as a subtitle in beautifully flowing cursive on the title page she has just finished calligraphing, just below the main title: "And Gods Bore Witness". Aloth offers her several pages of citations to works mentioned during the discussion, as well as other assorted notes, and she diligently sets to work jotting them down as an appendix.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Ah, this be enough for one day, methinks. We shall discuss the rest of my demands tomorrow. For now, make ye as home on me humble vessel." You appear to have established a healthy rapport with the pirate, though not quite enough so for him to let you off the hook just yet.

 

Edér yawns and stretches, the conclusion of your bout apparently coinciding with that of his own. You aren't familiar with the rules of the game he has been playing so you can't tell who won from the placement of the pieces, but like you and the captain the straw-haired rogue appears to have reached a state of mutual respect with his adversary. A low growling noise emanates from his stomach as he reaches lazily for the ceiling, reminding you none of you have had a morsel to eat the entire day. The growl is answered by another from across the room, prompting the half-elven owner of the second rumbling gut to blush.

 

> That was an absolutely scintillating discussion, captain. You have my thanks.

> [lean over Pallegina's shoulder] Did you write my name on the cover? You wrote it above his, right? Since I went first.

> At your leave, we shall retire on our ship for the night.

> I'd like to take a look around your ship, if that's fine with you.

> Before we call it a night, I had some questions...

Edited by Sad Panda

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> I'd like to take a look around your ship, if that's fine with you.

 

Captain Thundernipples waves you off, already too engrossed in leafing through the freshly-finished draft to really pay you any attention. His lieutenants set about lazily putting away the board game and the items making up Pallegina's makeshift secretary's perch, yawning and stretching as they do. Your party sees your own way out, showing like signs of content fatigue.

 

Outside, the sun is already making ready to sink into Ondra's embrace for the night, a group of Orlan pirates idly watching it descend by the railing. The rest of the crew is nowhere to be seen, presumably having finished their chores and retired below-deck. You suspect that with the sea notably calm and the ship anchored by your own, they had precious little to do even during the day.

 

Aloth: "Well that want much better than I expected! I must say, I had serious misgiving about coming aboard, what with the entire crew and the captain in particular acting so... eccentric, but they turned out to be very pleasant kith, indeed!"

 

Edér: "Always better to make friends than enemies." The rogue's warm smile suggests that he's not just waxing platitudes, but is genuinely satisfied with your diplomatic prowess.

 

> Maybe we'll be able to convince them to stop raiding ships and put their talents to more productive use.

> I was only playing along to earn their trust.

> We still need to figure out exactly what's going on here. These are no ordinary pirates.

> Do you think we'll be able to get that dialogue published?

> Pallegina, why don't you go ahead and get some rest on our ship? We'll be alright here.

> [say nothing]

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> Maybe we'll be able to convince them to stop raiding ships and put their talents to more productive use.

 

Pallegina: "I am not quite sure what those talents are, exactly."

 

Edér: "They certainly don't strike me as being particularly productive pirates. They easily overtake us, have us outmanned and outgunned, and then spend the entire day loading around with us? I don't get what they're trying to do."

 

Aloth: "I think perhaps you're overthinking the matter. My first impression of them was that they were dangerously unhinged. I was perhaps hasty in arriving at the first part of that assessment, but I've seen nothing to dissuade me from maintaining the second."

 

Edér: The rogue turns to you, biting his lower lip in thought before speaking. "You mentioned earlier you thought there was something more than just piracy going on. Have you figured out what that might be?"

 

> I'm pretty sure I have, yes.

> Not yet. We'll have to snoop around some more.

> I have no earthly idea.

> [say nothing]

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> Not yet. We'll have to snoop around some more.

 

Edér: "Right behind you, boss."

 

> [snoop around the deck]

> [talk to the pirates watching the sunset]

> [go below decks]

> [re-enter the captain's cabin]

> [return to your ship]

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> [snoop around the deck]

 

You dart around the deck conspicuously, overturning baskets and peeking into barrels. The only thing of note your investigations deliver is a half-eaten sandwich tucked away behind some crates. Calling forth your deductive brilliance, you surmise someone was eating it on the sly but got interrupted, tossed the sneak-meal out of sight, and then was unable to retrieve it later on. Or unwilling: The sandwich is little more than two pieces of stale bread squeezed over a few paper-thin slices of cured meat and hard cheese, and it occurs to you it might've been tossed aside from sheer disgust. Then again, life as a noble might just have spoiled you. Giving the matter more thought, you find it conceivable that such a thing could pass for a delicacy on a long voyage at sea.

 

The sun is already hugging the ocean. You have very little daylight left.

 

> [eat the sandwich]

> [snoop around some more]

> [talk to the pirates watching the sunset]

> [go below decks]

> [re-enter the captain's cabin]

> [return to your ship]

Edited by Sad Panda

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> [snoop around some more]

 

You toss away the sandwich, only to have it quickly scooped up by Edér, who after taking a few cautious nibbles to test the waters commences to wolf it down in good appetite. Aloth and Pallegina refuse the polite offer to partake in the bounty, looking on with a mixture of disgust and envy as the rogue fills his tummy while theirs continue to grumble.

 

A good 30 minutes of further searching reveals nothing of note. If you hadn't come forearmed with the knowledge, you doubt you would even be able to tell it's a pirate vessel. Only the fast-fading twilight bespeaks of the sun's departure beneath the waves, and you have missed the opportunity to speak with the crew witnessing it. A mass of clouds is rolling in from the north, promising a dark and quite possibly stormy night; If you want to keep inspecting the deck, you're going to have to do it in torchlight.

 

> [continue snooping, come hell or high water]

> [go below decks]

> [re-enter the captain's cabin]

> [return to your ship]

Edited by Sad Panda

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> [go below decks]

 

You clamber down to the gun deck, which besides the purpose implied in the name appears to be used primarily to house the crew. As is typical of galleons of this design, the ceiling is too low for you to stand up straight, though you imagine the height is quite comfortable for Orlans. There are however no Orlans up and about to verify the theory: The deck is dark save for the moonlight sneaking in through the gun ports, in the dim light of which you can make out several dozen hairy little figures in gently rocking hammocks. It appears the crew is taking full advantage of the rare opportunity to rest, as with the sea calm and the ship anchored only minimal maintenance is required.

 

There is a hatch nearby leading further down. Across the deck, you can see a flickering light through a small, paneless window on a low, rounded door. From Thundernipples' directions, you assume it to lead to Numella's cabin.

 

> [produce some light to get a better look of your surroundings]

> [rouse a crew member to question]

> [inspect the cannons]

> [enter the cabin]

> [go further down]

> [go back up]

 

((I'm presuming here that the PC isn't Orlan just to make things easier for myself.))

Edited by Sad Panda

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