We gained a glimpse into the past to witness how our heroes found their way onto the Black Galleon.
Horath, imprisoned by the king’s guard, gained his freedom after a visitation by a mysterious sorceress to the dungeons beneath Kordava. The former sea captain was told by her to meet with Captain Octavos at the wharfside drinking hole known as The Knave. King Karis was in need of experienced captains such as them for a dangerous expedition to the unknown lands within the Eye of Xotli.
After introductions were made between Sir Marcellus, Horath, Declan and Captain Octavos at the Knave, they were nearly assaulted by Barris the Bold and his privateers! Jealous of Octavos’ success in securing the contract that they were assured by king Karis, they entered the watering hole with violence in their movements. But Barris and his men were surprised at the swiftness with which Sir Marcellus drew his blade and put the fear into one of the nerdowells. Horath moved equally as swift and drew his blade along one sea dog’s throat. Captain Octavos struck one man in the face with the guard of his saber, shattering his nose. To add insult to injury, the skald in the corner of the main room; Declan, viciously mocked Barris and his motley men right out of the bar.
“This isn’t over, Octavos!” Barris promised as he and his men, ashamed, ran out of the establishment.
Certain that he would need such able bodied ones such as they, he hired them on as entertainer, bodyguard and master of sails.
Fritjof, the Vanaheim barbarian, was captured by slavers in his journeys to the south and placed inside a cage in a frontier fort between the Black and Thunder rivers. Making contact with local natives from the area also in captivity, they established a plan of escape.
Meanwhile, Kwaris the shaman and his friend Artemios arrived back at their village to witness the aftermath of a bloody battle that had taken place while they were out. Though they sensed that this retreat to the nearby fort was a trap for them, Kwaris and Artemios pursued the enemy and followed in the footsteps of the warband heading out to visit vengeance on the colonizers. Seemingly up against daunting odds, the warband managed to enter the fort and begin slaying their oppressors. Kwaris performed a ritual that caused massive amounts of damage to the fort and all surrounding ports that slavers would utilize to take to sell their people abroad. At the end of the grisly task, Kwaris removed his face revealing a bear. Moments later, he became that bear and began moving towards the fort, hungry for blood!
Seeing the opportunity, Fritjof freed himself and the captive natives with him and joined the battle. Recovering his axe after depriving the fort commander of his manhood, the barbarian beheaded his adversary and put the fear of death into his men. As the storm raged and their numbers dwindled from the surprise attack, some of the fort’s guards began to flee–only to be greeted by a rampaging bear and his arrow slinging friend. Freed at last our heroes discovered that some of the locals had already been taken south to the city of Kordava. Banding together, the trio traveled to Kordava and took advantage of the destruction wrought to the wharfs from Kwaris’ spell. With the slaver’s departure delayed, they easily freed the rest of the tribespeople. This, however, was not without its consequences.
When next we saw the three adventurers were on the streets of Kordava, riding feverishly towards the lone ship able to make dock and ship out at the end of the week; the Black Galleon. On their heels were the city guard, tipped off that thieves and murderers responsible for the freeing of slaves were on the run! Seeing the three ride down the pier, Captain Octavos lowered the entry ramp as the ship left port. All three of our heroes jumped safely aboard. With a smile, Octavos welcomed all to the Black Galleon. And thus their days with the crew began, sailing on the high seas, seeking adventure, fortune and vengeance…
Back on Black Rock Island, the crew gathered around Silence as Kwaris performed another profane ritual and issued the girl a sleeping draught, causing the girl’s dream to be presented before everyone gathered around the small campfire. In her dream, Silence was able to speak at last! Introducing herself as Cassandra, she was able to explain and show her memories of what occurred to the crew.
Nasos, her father, had come to the island seeking an ancient power known as the Screaming Silence. Supposedly sealed away in a large castle ages ago, it was reputed by some to be located at the peak of Black Rock Mountain. Sacrificing some among his crew there, Nasos unlocked the cosmic silence that was trapped inside a giant humanoid skull. Instead of the power flowing into him, however, it flowed into his daughter, destroying one of the runic wards on her necklace.
Something terrible occurred during the ritual, however. An ancient terror was unleashed by the power of the death ritual performed on the crew. After awakening to find her father gone, Cassandra found instead a demon rising from the pool of blood at their feet. A many limbed, many eyed horror known to few among our adventurers as The Red Terror of Valusia! Cassandra fled it and the newly arrived flying “demons” that hounded her all the way down Black Rock Mountain. Discovering that her voice now produced the cosmic silence, killing all living things around her, poor accursed Cassandra fled deeper into the jungle.
Eventually running into and being captured by the Dano people in the jungle, she pleaded for her life when three braves were sent to take her life in the hut she now resided in. All three men predictably died. After awakening from her dream, Kwaris prepared a potion for Cassandra to quaff. This, he assured her, would subdue part of the curse temporarily. Until the next dawn, she would be able to speak one or two words until the ritual could be reversed and the cosmic silence trapped once again at Black Rock Mountain.
Realizing they needed to return to camp and search for Nasos and his ship, our heroes reported what they found to Captain Octavos. Citing their need for the rest of their captured crew to sail the Black Galleon successfully out of the Eye of Xotli, the captain remained behind with the others and made preparations while our adventurers began their trek to Black Rock Mountain.
Making camp at the base of the massive mountain, a large flurry of bats summoned by Kwaris alerted them to the presence of the flying apes from before! Under attack, our heroes fought off their attacks bravely. However, in the midst of the combat, two flying apes absconded with our cursed heroine and flew away with her into the night.
What awaits our brave adventurers at the summit of Black Rock Mountain? Will they ever escape and what will happen with the power that is the Screaming Silence? Find out next time on Conan: Three Black Coffins!