Exalted: Ghost of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance, Part 12

It all flows downstream

Bundled onto the Tiger’s Heart at first light, the party settled in for a two month journey west to Nexus. Willow and Mai billed themselves as a scholar and her student, while Ominous Whispers and Rami played at being nobility. Stalwart Second and Gaias signed on as thier bodyguards, respectively, and Shade was listed as Whispers’ page. Willow studied her book, taught Mai and performed other scholarly services. Second and Gaias offered to teach her the basics of combat in return for instruction on matters of the occult.

The boat made a brief stop to load cargo, resupply and exchange passengers in the trading post of Alsia to the east of Great Forks. Some of the cargo was occupied, and a rat beastman named Versalis was found and chased about by the cook and a guard. Shade stepped in, saying that she was his pet and had been with him since Marita. The steward responded that if such was the case, he would be charged retroactively for her feeding and berthing to which he agreed. Mai spoke with her in broken Foresttongue and learned she was fairly intelligent. Second and Willow taught her Riverspeak and how to read and write and she grudgingly agreed to let Willow dress her up.

Soon thereafter, each of them began to notice things going missing. The problem spread to most of the passenger list and very quickly the company steward had a very large, angry customer base to contend with. Several passengers were accused of the thefts every day and their belongings searched only to come up with nothing. Mai found a cache of the items during a casual search of the ship, but left it in place. Shade, Gaias and Second determined that Versalis had been the one filching the items when Blood Moon wasn’t able to detect any strange scent in their rooms. Versalis fessed up, but had trouble understanding why what she’d done was wrong. She agreed to gather up all the items she’d cached around the ship and brought them all back to Shade’s room. Unsure how to return them, the men called the rest of the party together. After they’d been pondering leaving the items in a big pile at various places on the ship, Rami suggested that Willow proclaim she’d discovered a “thief spirit” on board and charge a fee to banish it. Though somewhat against the ethics of the idea, she agreed and Stalwart Second sold the idea to the company steward. That evening, Willow drew a summoning circle and pretended to enact a banishment rite all the while apologizing for her rudeness to the local spirit court in an obscure dialect of Old Realm. Mai and others used sleight of hand to disperse the stolen items amongst the crowd and, several hours later, it had all been returned.

The Tiger’s Heart made landfall in Great Forks where they spent two days. Most of the party took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs. Curious where the nemissary had gotten to or if they had even followed at all, Shade searched the ship with the aid of Blood Moon. Overhearing a conversation between two of the foremen, Shade sent Blood Moon to investigate the rented slaves that rowed the ship. The soul-sucked crew were largely unhelpful, but Blood Moon reported that one of them smelled about a week dead. The nemissary in the slave didn’t respond to the presence of the immaterial barghest, so Shade left him alone for the time being. The trip from there was largely uneventful until a few days before they reached Nexus. A patrol boat from Lookshy pulled alongside the Tiger’s Heart and boarded her looking for Anathema. Everyone was questioned and the cargo was searched. Though the Dragon Blooded did find some objectionable information about the party (namely that they had scammed the steward and were associates of Typhon), they moved on shortly after boarding.

When Nexus was almost in sight, the passengers and crew began to complain of a sickness that quickly spread to everyone on board. The captain ordered the rowers to maintain a position and a warning flag was flown to keep others away and quarantine the ship. Willow and Second helped where they could without revealing their power, but when Mai continued to deteriorate Willow pulled out the stops and used her magic as well as her skill to heal her. Several days later and with only a small loss of life, the Tiger’s Heart approached Nexus.

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