Everyone’s favorite Elven airship Captain, Elaudia Bautista, makes her triumphant return. After some discussion with Gwendolyn Miller, Bautista decides to bring the merchant on board to take the over the role previously held by Reynard, who has abandoned the group.
Bautista then recruits Ray Vance to the Wyrm Hunt. Soon after officially bringing Ray into the fold, she introduces the party to another recent recruit to the Hunt, a supposed expert on dragons. The party is then soon reintroduced to Snorri Godi, who had met up with Bautista earlier in the day. While the party is getting their affairs in order, The Zephyr is given a new paint job to cover up any Varangian naval markings and a knorr, the Obese Gertrude, is strapped onto the bottom of the ship.
The party boards the ship, reuniting Victor Hernando Fortunato and Itzomaltocoatl Chimahuazlili Acapalpitzin Keeper of the House of Darkness and Second Zlontlital of the Order of the Jaguar Warriors together at long last!
While on board the ship, Bautista decides to blow off a little steam by sparring with Fortunato. After defeating him in a single move, Bautista offers to train with Fortunato, who then reminds her that training was part of his original agreement, though that conversation felt as though it had occurred months ago.
Chief Engineer Jose Iglesias approaches the Arisen and asks them to help him with hazing the new crew members. Being a massive bitch, Fortunato declines but Tocoatal agrees, joining forces with Iglesias and Lieutenant Giancarlo Stanton to break in the new members. Being a massive bitch with a heart of gold, Fortunato warns Ray Vance and Snorri Godi of their nefarious plots and plans.
The three conspirators run their hazing attempt that night but are foiled by the fact that Ray Vance is too legit to sleep and was watching over Snorri. Tocoatal and Ray wrestle and end up spilling a bottle of Bautista’s lavender perfume all over themselves.
With that attempt ending in failure, Tocoatal decides to take a crack at Gwendolyn. He hides out in the toilet and sticks his head out when Gwen enters the restroom. This attempt is largely successful and at least one member of the new trio is given a proper Varangian military welcome. Good job, Tocoatal!
The following day, Bautista finally tells the party what is going on: the party will be crossing over the Muspellian border to investigate a possible connection between the Muspell government, the dragon and its appearance, and the pirate Surtain. They will be going undercover as a mercenary group, The Black Dragons to try and get to the bottom of the situation. While they are doing this Stanton will run a scouting mission aboard the Zephyr as well as babysit Porkrinds, who will surely be useless on an undercover mission.
First, however, the crew has to worry about penetrating the Muspell border. On a previous scouting run, the crew of the Zephyr discovered a magic alarm system codenamed The Chain which protects the border between Muspell and Varangia. The Chain is capable of detecting not only objects crossing over but the relative size of the objects of well, which is partially the reason why they suspect Surtain is actually a corsair employed by Muspell. Fortunately, the Chain has a major flaw: it is only really effective if the people you are trying to keep out aren’t aware of it. If one link in the chain is severed, the whole thing falls apart.
Bautista decides that the best way of doing this is to insert a team on one of the many oil rigs that host the focusing crystals required to operate the Chain.
As these oil rigs are horrible places to live and work, they are crewed by the most undesirable criminal scum. If the crew works and reaches their quota for oil, the team that comes to collect will drop off a supply of food. If they don’t, they die and are replaced by another group. The team’s objective is to kill everyone aboard the rig, giving the impression of a riot breaking out and a fight between factions. As crude is highly combustible, it is entirely feasible for it to light in the chaos if one group felt the need to for leverage or whatever reason. Igniting the oil would melt the crystals, disabling the Chain network and allowing the Zephyr to pass through undetected.
The crew goes about their business, allowing no survivors, and pass through the border with no incident. As they reach a reasonable rowing distance from the island of Kiev, the Zephyr drops off the Obese Gertrude with a crew consisting of both Arisen and their pawns, Ray, Snorri, Gwendolyn, and Bautista, who is no pretending to be a burnt, mute mercenary named Scorch. As they are approaching the island, a sudden fog rolls in and the party hears a woman’s voice asking for help. Snorri uncharacteristically asks that they simply leave her and after some discussion, the party agrees.
As it turns out, Snorri’s metagame knowledge was completely correct as it is the sea monster Scylla, the very one that attacked his ship! She gives pursuit but the party is able to paddle to shallow water quickly enough to escape her wrath, for now.
While the party looks about Kiev for clues, they are accosted by a book peddler who claims to have some information on the dragon. He claims to be a part of a secret society that is hated in hunted by an intolerant Muspellian government. He asks that they meet him at the catacombs outside of town that night for an initiation meeting.
Suspecting the worse, the party naturally agrees to meeting with him. They arrive and overhear him giving some generic evil speech about chaos and shit, revealing that the cult views the dragon as a god and the Arisen as their priests. As they approach the gathering room, they notice that it is full of people, listening intently to his speech.
After talking to the man, he begins to become more and more aggressive before outright naming Fortunato as an Arisen, recognizing him by… Something? I don’t know, he recognizes them though! Yep! Don’t question it, homey.
Anyway, he requests the books that Ray and Fortunato took from him before. That’s approximately the time that the party realizes they are in a room surrounded by skellingtons! 2spooky!
The party agrees to return the books to him and leave to go fetch them. Having only a few of the books on them personally, they decide to mix those with some fake books. They gather the rest of the party, including Bautista, and return to the catacombs, expecting the man to not only still be there for whatever reason but for him not to take any precautions against a possible double-cross. Inexplicably, the man is in fact there despite telling them to simply leave the books, though he did take some precautions.
The party enters and finds a tabard hanging up against the wall. After investigating the tabard, they realize that one of the ropes wasn’t actually attached to anything. The man from earlier, The Librarian, emerges from his pocket dimension, laughs like a cartoon villain, and disappears through a series of quick teleports, leaving the party enraged and feeling cheated.