Lhye came out on deck and approached Captain Archer and Lunjun, explaining what he had found through torturing the prisoner, the Black Smoke. He explained their predicament. "I think what we lost sight of is why a person would steal information from a Chelish diplomat. They are rebels, even if not active rebels against Cheliax, and would make for good allies in any other situation. They also have at least one paladin onboard, maybe more, so are actually good people."
Captain Archer contented himself with the fact that he never explicitly ordered torture (merely to extract information in whichever way possible) and that the Black Smoke had a knife on a woman in his cabin which would normally be an executable offence, so really, the Black Smoke got off lightly.
At about this time, Proteus' monkey communicated with Captain Archer that Proteus has been taking tea with the captain and is being well-treated. The Egress' lookout also identified Proteus assisting with the rigging on the other vessel - and not in a dodgy saboteur-type way.
Lhye wasn't so sure the other ship would see it that way and, more to the point, wasn't so sure that torture was excusable anymore. So when Captain Archer organised a parley through Lunjun's Message spell, Lhye got himself into the position of one of the escorts. Captain Archer selected First Lieutenant Marxus as the second escort and ordered Marxus to keep Lhye safe.
With that they took the Black Smoke down into the rowboat (still with the Manacles of Cooperation on) and the two rowboats met in the middle of the water between the two ships. Proteus failed his Sense Motive check and just thought that the Black Smoke was a little bit scowling and Lhye looked down - perhaps he'd been given a dressing down? Proteus' escorts were the Desnan Inquisitor and the Shelyn Paladin who both steadied the two boats so Proteus and the Black Smoke could swap sides. At this stage the manacles came off him.
Proteus made a few wisecracks but was stunned when Lhye stood up and said to the Black Smoke that: "I meant what I said. I wish to speak to your Captain."
The Black Smoke smiled grimly and simply said one word: "Jump." The two rowboats had been pushed apart, after all.
Lhye did so, and made it safely into their boat.
Proteus looked on stunned as the two boats were rowed apart. He tried to press Marxus for details but Marxus only stated that he wasn't ordered to keep Lhye safe from himself and that it's all about what was ordered.
Back on board the Egress, Proteus pressed Captain Archer for details and Archer said that he only told Lhye to interrogate the man. It wasn't his responsibility what had happened thereafter. Besides which, this was a military matter and things could've gone over worse for the guy.
Proteus' response was: "You told a tiefling to interrogate a guy to get out answers and walked away? You're right, it could've been worse. He looked intact."
Which was a good point, in truth, and one I hadn't thought about. Tieflings have evil in their veins and it doesn't take much to bring it out when encouraged and given a good reason. Lhye had actually shown a great deal of restraint.
Captain Archer decided to add an amendment to all later interrogations that they would stop short of torture.
On the opposite ship, Lhye came up on deck with the two escorts and the Black Smoke.
Captain Carnegie said: "This isn't the way prisoner swaps normally go. You don't usually get an additional prisoner."
Rather than explaining the situation himself, the Black Smoke merely went belowdecks, leaving Lhye to explain it himself. And Lhye did, giving both his reasoning and accepting that his reasoning was obviously flawed because it led to torture.
Captain Carnegie's response? "So you want to join my crew."
Lhye was a little taken aback by that. Surely they didn't want a torturer among their crew?
"Why not? Many of us on this ship have fallen at some stage. If you want to atone or be a better person, perhaps a new ship might be best?"
Lhye asked, a little nervously, if that would be the price of his atonement.
Realising that the matter was more one of the soul than a desire to leave a ship of bad influences for a good one, Captain Carnegie told Lhye to speak with his paladin on the subject.
And so Lhye did. The paladin, thinking he wished to complete a quest to atone, set him the task of solving the issue of the shadow creatures in Westcrown in the name of Shelyn though it didn't need to be heralded as such - ostensibly to free a soul from the Glaive of Whispers. Lhye was happy to do that (or try it) as he'd already been set such a task by someone else but he didn't think that would be enough. Realising he meant to find a path to goodness, she instead offered a seemingly easier task of simply doing one good deed for somebody at every port he entered. Lhye accepted both tasks but still seemed uncomfortable with himself.
"What god do you follow the most?" asked the paladin.
The paladin tried not to wince. "Calistria is a good goddess and a great influence for some people in certain situations. She inspires rebels to strike back at their captors, encourages people to punish those who hurt them, and can provide fire in the belly for those who need it. But for a Tiefling it might be better to pick a god who provides gentleness, especially as Calistria isn't a good influence for the military (he had mentioned their privateering)."
Lhye saw her point, especially about the military. Vengeance wasn't a good path for an army or a navy. He doubtless expected to be preached to about converting to Shelyn but she didn't encourage that so much.
"Of course, Shelyn might not be what you need either. It is often best to pick a god who assists you with your own weaknesses. Abadar can provide pragmatism. Desna can provide freedom from the chains of the past. Cayden Cailean can provide a focus on joy rather than pain. Shelyn can provide romance and a pull toward diplomacy. Iomedae can provide nobility and honor. And, of course, Pharasma can provide an awareness that all things are fleeting and thus provide perspective."
Lhye asked for books on Cayden Cailean and the paladin gave him three, including one on religious instruction. He took those books with him and the Black Smoke returned to escort him back to his ship. Archer was a little surprised that he'd been returned so quickly. Lhye didn't admit to what he had on him. While reading those books late at night he was stung by a wasp to show Calistria's displeasure though he knew as well as any that would likely be the extent to her actions against him - especially how he would never stop being a supporter of the Calistrian church that raised him and their positive actions in the region of prostitution.
They returned to the Exodus still docked at Bloodcove and met up with the others. Prior to this Haylei had ensured the 'torture room' which was the midshipman's bunks were properly scrubbed out before Wellard could see it - though whether that would stop the gossip that so often filled ships would be a whole other matter.
Kitzy was annoyed to hear the tale of how her former lover had gotten off scott free. "I've waited a whole year and that's all I get!"
The others were irritated with her for not giving them more information but it seems she had little of the important information. She hadn't known he'd worshipped Cayden Cailean. Perhaps he hadn't at the time or maybe he'd hidden it. That god was forbidden under pain of cruel death in Cheliax. She hadn't known his motives for stealing that information. All she knew is that he'd jilted her and run off and she'd wanted revenge. What they had told her was hardly a good story to show her efforts to speak about in taverns.
So Proteus came up with a story for her that had the added advantage of making it appear that Carnegie was no longer a threat to Cheliax though the information he once held might still be. The story had it that Carnegie had been so incompetent he'd lost the information to another and had become a derelict homeless man on the streets who had begged her forgiveness and to whom she had tossed a single silver coin before walking off. She accepted the tale, being not nearly as bloodthirsty as she appeared (secretly she had feared they would kill him though was too proud to ask them not to).
Oh and Lavender Lil found Lhye's stash of Cayden Cailean information and she got cross with him for it as though she were a prude who'd found his porn. Lhye neither confirmed nor denied her suspicions but made it out that it was simply reading material and who cared what books he had? Lavender Lil accepted this before moving on to more complaints about how Lhye had disappeared for 10 years to find a safe haven for Tieflings (there is no such thing!), about how she believes Alyssa from the Apiary is no Tiefling, and how if the Apiary is such a good place then why didn't they remain in Andoren rather than cruising these full seas?
Proteus defended his good friend, Lhye, with such a pragmatic outlook about how stopping in one place would have the devils catch up with her but she could do that if she liked that Lil was stunned silly and offered him a free head job. Captain Archer simply shook his head at the whole thing. Regrettably for Proteus, Lil changes her mind in the end and reneges on her offer.
There was a bit more to this session but I think its more fitting to come at the start of the next article as it is more about what comes next than what came before. Here is a good ending to their time in the Shackles as they head back to where it all began ... in Westcrown.