Castaldo – The Mermaids


====Session 6====
The trio of women were left on the garden-hill feeling lost and confused. Aunt Mayda was starting to cry in hunger and no one was sure of what to do next (about there situation, or the baby)
Autumn remembered the spell books they gathered from The Other Garden, and found one that seemed appropriate. It succeeded, somewhat. Baby Mayda had some of the curse held away for a moment. She blinked and stared at her hands and the three adults.
“That bitch Mab! I dealt with her in good faith. I made a deal for youth! Not to be a helpless baby!”
“Well, you are young…”
Mayda talked to the trio for a while. Explaining that the “Fairy gifts/curses” were not like mortal magic – they changed things for good. Something about the exchange always made things stick. They would need some major magic to “re-age” her a little. Lilith found the conversation interesting, as she no longer knew how long she had been a child, and a change felt like a good idea.
The all agreed that another Fallen Star would be able to do the trick, but she was aware of a “secret library” that would hold and answer, but was dangerous to enter.

Lilith led them all back to the swamps to see Wendy – who was gathering herbs and vines while singing. Wendy was happy that they had rescued their Aunt, and was curious to meet a talking baby. Unfortunately she didn’t know where a Fallen Star could be. But she did know that the Mermaids were always asking for gossip from around the island, and happy to trade information.

Lilith and the sisters started to head for the coast, but after over a day of non stop excitement they all had become too tired to properly function, and they stopped to camp. That night Autumn revealed her fairy-cake & wine taken from the Other Garden – It was sublime! Everyone felt more energised and hopefully that ever before. Lilith also became intoxicated by the wine, and started to float while passed out!
During the night, a fire-newt (black croc that burped fire) came to investigates the smell of leftover cake. Autumn was intrigued at first, even using another of their dwindling supply of magical books to try to communicate with it. But it was very rude. They left it to wander the swamps again.

The next morning they made their way to the shore. The tropical beach and sea was a welcome relief after the swamps and close jungle. They enjoyed walking along the sandy beaches and watching the creatures. When they came to the Mermaid’s grotto, they could hear the singing inside.
The sisters remembered many stories about Mermaids and Sirens. They took the last of the magic candles and made earplugs out of the wax, on the theory that the imbued wax would stop any “vocal magic”.
Inside, they found 4 mermaids preening on rocks in a large shallow pool. The sisters tried to beg for some information – they told their current sad condition and asked about where they might find a Fallen Star. The Mermaids expressed their pity, but were so sorry they couldn’t help.
The blatant brush off infuriated the trio.
Nihal tried to get closer, complimenting the Mermaids and wading into the pool – she was almost in position to threaten one of them when she noticed another mermaid had closed into a position to threaten Nihal… There mermaids were not as “innocent” as they pretended.
Lilith turned on the waterworks. She told her own sad tale of abandonment and need, recounting the events of the past days and the theft of Hook’s star and Mab’s semi-betrayal… While the mermaids tried to remain detached, it was obvious they were intrigued by the news of Hook’s loss and calculating how to profit from this. They offered a “secret way off the island” to Lilith and the Castalso family, but since this would leave Mayda a baby, they declined.
As a final gambit, Lilith and Autumn tried to grab one of the mermaids to act as a hostage for information. But the mermaid was fast and slippery, and the four mermaids swam into deeper waters, furious. They began to sing a terrible song – which just sounded off key through the magical wax…
They left, defeated.

Hiking west along the shoreline, the women discussed their options. Going home needed a mirror (thanks to the mirror-path spell they still had), and going to the library required the spilling of blood in a library (which needed a room full of books at least). Both of those conditions could be met by sneaking on board the Jolly Roger. So they continued west towards the pirate ship again.

Late in the day as the shoreline began to turn north, they spotted something thrashing in the water. It was a huge golden catfish struggling in the shallows. It was trying to flee from a pair of mermaid hunters in the deeper waters. Immediately the women thought of trying to trade again for information, and with some splashing and effort they managed to wrestle the catfish out of the water. Lilith was surprised when the fish spoke! It thanked them for keeping it out of the Mermaid’s nets, and asked to be protected. Which gave the sisters an idea. They called to the mermaids and offered to “help”. The mermaids came in closer and closer until the women dropped the golden catfish and grabbed the mermaids by surprise. They dragged the mermaids onto the beach, while the golden catfish laughed from the shallows.
The sisters “aggressively questioned” the mermaids about Fallen Stars. The only information they learned was that “Lady Mara”, their leader, was the only one who would know anything about that kind of thing. The catfish giggled and told the women that “Lady Mara” had been exploring the mangroves and learning the location of Fallen Stars. Lilith thanked the Golden Catfish and waved as it away away, happy in it’s revenge.
The sisters were furious. They decided to carry out one of their threats. They gathered branches and vines from the jungle, and tied one of the mermaids to carry with them. “We need blood for an entrance to the Library. You’ll do just fine.”
The other mermaid they left flopping on the sand dunes.

As the sun set they looked out over the dunes at the Jolly Roger pirate ship, just starting to set it’s lights and the pirates rowing out to shore.
====End Session====

This was a challenging session for me.
I think that the beginning was especially difficult, as the players had “won” by getting their Aunt, but the scenario was not “complete”. So there was a weird vibe at the very beginning of “what the hell happens now”?

I should have know this would happen after the end of the last session – in retrospect it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen, but I hadn’t prepared for it. So the players started to more aggressively try to complete the scenario – get home / put everyone back to normal.

Sadly, the dice kept on throwing failures for them. There was a run of a half dozen complete failures in a row, which led to the characters being completely shunned and even attacked by the Mermaids (who became a hostile faction even). What is worse there didn’t seem to be an obvious way out…. The way Neverland and Gardens of Ynn (the two modules we’ve been using) combine isn’t the best. The Gardens have a very solid time pressure (door closes in X hours) versus Neverland which has everything running over weeks and months… So Ynn wants the players to hurry, while Neverland wants them to take their time and explore.

Something I need to work out.

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