Venimus, Vidimus, Vicimus Vanthum, to be gramatically correctAfter quickly looting the fallen witch and her pirates, the heroines were grateful to find several healing potions they could use before pursuing Vanthus.
They sped after the pirate’s longboat, but when they rounded the pint they found a most peculiar sight: Vanthus’s ship, which had crashed into the rocks back by the village, apparently whole again and sailing straight for Farshore’s main pier, where Larissa and Vareck Vanderboren awaited their son’s return. However, the cruel trick was revealed a moment later when the ship struck the dock and exploded: Vanthus had filled his longboat with alchemist’s fire, then cast an illusion on the boat to make it look like his broken ship. His own men, dominated by his demonic powers, had then rowed the boat and its deadly cargo straight into the pier, taking themselves, the elder Vanderborens, and the entire welcoming party, to a fiery end.
The entire party was horrified by the sudden and terrible destruction. Lavinia lapsed into disbelieving shock, while Kyo made to dive in and look for survivors. However,before she could dive over the side, Vanthus himself came flying up from behind them, sword and sickle in hand. He struck Ranu-Yani across the back in a sudden flyby attack, then slashed Chastity in his second pass. However, despite his flying prowess, he was unable to avoid a Flame Strike cast by Ranu-Yani.
The heroines ran after him and caught him before he could fly away again. Torra Tailor got in front of him, while an eagle summoned by Chastity cut off his escape from above. Forced to stand and fight, Vanthus proved a terrifyingly deadly opponent. His armor, thick scales and skillful dodging made him almost impossible to hit, while his whirling blades and barbed tail marked each of his foes at least once (save for the dexterous Rowyn, and brought Kyo close to death. He also proved to have a resistance to magic, which prevented Ranu-Yani from turning him into a hamster.
Lavinia also attacked her brother, full of grief and rage, while Vanthus parried and laughed in her face. The last laugh was not his, however, as Torra Tailor managed to evade his thrashing tail and stab him fully in the back. With a look of shock on his face and a whisper of “But… He promised….”, Vanthus fell dead to the deck.
Aldi Ferres and Chastity took some time to cathartically pummel the villain’s corpse, but Lavinia wasn’t comforted by her brother’s death. She stood, frozen, as the smoke cleared and revealed the sheer destruction he had caused. The heroines gathered around her, offering comfort, which Lavinia seemed unable to take. With her monk’s intuition, Aldi managed to see the root of the matter: With her parents dead and her brother revealed and defeated, the only thing Lavinia had left was the people of Farshore, the people she now had to lead, and before whom she could not show any weakness, even if bottling everything up destroyed her. Knowing this, Aldi gently told Lavinia that the five of them were not just her subjects, to be protected, but also her friends. Embraced by her friends, Lavinia finally allowed herself to cry over the loss of her family, and begin the long process of healing.
A thorough search of Vanthus’s corpse (and a few more kicks) revealed, among his various items and treasures, a little red diary. What does this book contain? What was promised to Vanthus, and who promised it? Is the threat of The Crimson Fleet really over, and what lies ahead for Farshore if it is not?
To find out, keep reading next week, when we shed some light on The Savage Tide!