Sometimes, prisoners are just too gifted to sit behind bars. The Sopidean military runs a program where gifted and unique prisoners with “redeemable” dispositions are offered the opportunity to serve their sentence by serving the empire as agents in the Soulfire Wing, Sopidea’s special forces. Other magically gifted prisoners are simply too dangerous for local jails to securely hold.
The Bloodhound Betty is charged with transporting seven such prisoners; five with potential for the Soulfire Wing, and two dangerous mages destined for higher security prison. The prisoners are sent with two wardens from the Sopidean colonies towards the Sopidean mainland.
Shortly after departing the colonies, the ship is hit by a storm. Despite protests from the ship’s first mate, Louis Iddan, captain Rasoun frees the prisoners so that they may escape the sinking ship. At first the prisoners flee straight to the lifeboats, but a couple go back to help the captain carry out two more of the prisoners who remain bound in full-body restraints.
One of the fully restrained prisoners, one of the two wardens, and a deckhand are lost to the sea in the brunt of the storm. The surviving prisoners escape with the first mate and surviving warden aboard one lifeboat, while the captain, surgeon, and surviving deckhands retreat aboard another boat.
The two boats get separated. Among the prisoners, there are…
Utu, a silent and diminutive fellow;
Marconi, a reckless sorcerer kept under tight security;
Puca (formerly known as Rose), a woman of five masks, six personalities, and many names;
Loud, smuggler and inheritor of a legendary revolver;
Dalton, a young swordsman with an unwanted propensity towards magical fire;
and Seven, a golem with a rare and masterfully built body.
They travel with…
Maria Sandoval, a determined warden with two revolvers;
and Louis Iddan, the skittish and trigger-happy first mate.
The eight retrieve minimal amounts of gear, but manage to find Puca’s masks and Loud’s gun. They spend the evening cold and wet, but that same night they spot land – and lights. Torches and campfires dot the small island.
Puca signals the island with magical light, and one of the campfires signals back. “S.O.S. Survivors Stranded. Goblins.”
Needing supplies and fearing for the survivors of the other boat, the group makes landfall. Puca, Loud, Dalton, Seven, and Maria go ashore while Louis remains aboard with Marconi and Utu. The five head inland and immediately find the beach covered with slimes washed up during the storm. Then, from the forest, a hunting party of goblins emerges and begins attacking and collecting the slimes. The group slips into the forest under the cover of nightfall, unseen.
After stopping to fill some canteens with water, they head towards the campfire and the source of the SOS. They arrive at the top of a cliff and find both the captain and a deckhand slain. Two goblins remain at the campfire, and the group makes short work of them. Loud fires his revolver, ending one goblin and alerting the island to the group’s presence.
Seven heals herself during the fight, astounding Maria. “You can heal,” the Warden remarks afterward. “Terra forever great, you can heal like us. I was there at the Ekelonian Blockade, when Zaria made its awesome and awful machinations bare to the world. Nothing like you, in my wildest dreams. I cannot know what magic binds you.”
Interrogating one of the two goblins, Loud discovers that the last of the crew has been taken to a cave as slaves. Meanwhile, Seven spots movement in the lights of the islands. The goblins are coming.
Opting for retreat, the group fights their way back to the beach and the boat. The goblins blockade them with remarkable effectiveness, responding to signal flairs and displaying tactical sophistication rare among their kind.
Once aboard the boat, the group sees a monstrous hobgoblin, garbed in old and tattered Sopidean navy regalia, emerge from the woods and onto the beach. It levels a gigantic bow at the boat, but as they frantically row away, it opts not to fire, instead walking casually back into its domain. The group retreats from the island, forced to leave the survivors of the other boat behind.