The Hard Way In

It took a couple of weeks for Meelo the quasit to locate the elusive Queen Myrtle and her crew of uncannily clever pirates. When he did discover it, he then had to scramble to think of a ruse which would allow him to gain access to the vessel. For this was not an ordinary caravel. Despite appearances it was a veritable treasure trove in and of itself, brimming with eerie magical energy and giving off a kind of vibe that a lesser demon like Meelo found almost magnetic in its draw. Here it sat, though, right in the inner harbor of Drepane, a place of relative honor for a cargo ship that didn’t appear to be delivering or picking anything up.

Meelo watched the ship from a safe vantage point for a couple of days, studying the comings and goings of the crew. They seemed to be doing some refitting on the ship, and Meelo noted that they had evidently acquired four medium-sized cannon and were making them ready for service. In this day and age that made this vessel even more dangerous. There was a ward about the ship that prevented Meelo from sneaking aboard, although he had given it his very best shot. He would need to find another way to gain access.

When the Queen Myrtle finally finished its work and set off from the port Meelo almost missed its departure. He had gone back to report to the Witch Queen what he had thus far discovered, so he wasn’t in Drepane to see that two members of the crew had found a way to get rid of the very statue that Meelo had been dispatched to find. This slip up cost the quasit dearly in terms of time wasted in the next two weeks, but it also meant that the Witch Queen would end up paying out 400,000gp to get the information. Even though Meelo did find a way to get aboard the Queen Myrtle he didn’t manage to gain anybody’s trust. Captain Zucco and his criminal crew were simply too smart and too wary to accept Meelo at face value in the guise of a small shipwrecked gnome. They tried to get rid of him, but by then it was too late and Meelo having been taken aboard the Queen Myrtle once was now free to come and go despite the warding power that was on the ship. He simply made himself invisible and stowed aboard.

Communing with the Witch Queen via their magical connection, Meelo let her know where they were and that he had scoured the entire ship from stem to stern and hadn’t found the statue. Meelo was nothing short of impressed by the ingenuity of these people. He had never known mortals to be this cunning. The Witch Queen still wanted her statue back, though, so she sent a magically created tempest to batter the Queen Myrtle into some rocks off the coast of a large Illyrian island. Having stranded the crew briefly, she set about to determine a way to get at them. Clearly her normal means of attack were insufficient to goad them into obeying her demands, so she did something rather unusual. She listened to the counsel of one of her minions.

And this is where Torgo returns to the story. Now one of the Witch Queen’s counselors, Torgo was given the task of thinking of a way to persuade Captain Zucco to cooperate. This was a task that Torgo could have tackled handily at anytime. He already knew from experience that Captain Zucco couldn’t be beaten by normal means. He couldn’t be threatened, and he couldn’t be trapped in the same way Captain Sabre had been. But like every pirate, Captain Zucco could be bought. Despite having been beaten by Zucco and his crew many times before, Torgo would be the first to admit that he admired the old man. Torgo therefore argued that the Witch Queen should find a way to get Captain Zucco, his ship and his crew, all on the Witch Queen’s payroll. Offer them save havens where they could hide from other seafaring forces, give them a ready market for whatever stolen goods they needed to sell, and gold coins up front if need be to get them to cooperate. Once in her service she could then boast a far greater sea captain than anyone in the service of her primary opponent in the Diosian Lodge, the Dread Admiral.

This argument was the most persuasive and the Witch Queen agreed to the scheme and gave Meelo permission to seek a fair price for the information regarding where they had hidden the statue. After a bit of back and forth, and a great deal of distrust on both sides, Meelo was able to secure from the pirates an agreement. In exchange for 400,000gp and safe haven in any areas controlled by Dalmatia, the crew of the Queen Myrtle at last told Meelo where they had taken the statue and who they had given it to. Now when the Witch Queen found out what had happened she was properly impressed by their ingenious solution. Not only had they hidden the accursed thing where she could never find it on her own, or even with a great deal of help, but it was unlikely anybody would ever find the damned statue ever again. In fact, the Witch Queen had to laugh at the sheer audacity of it all. She was highly impressed with Captain Zucco’s ragtag crew of miscreants. With them on her side there was no telling how much damage they could do to others in the furtherance of her own goals. The odds of that statue popping up again in Domum in the next thousand years were a billion to one.

On the other side of Partum, though, the odds were remarkably better.