The airship looked like a cross between Goff’s Nautilus and the Hindenburg. Hopefully it would prove a better voyage than either former ship had (no volcanoes nearby, and no hydrogen, so they had that going for them) but they’d first have to learn how to fly it.
The hatch was about halfway up the tinned surface of the vessel, so they climbed aboard and began exploring. The layout was fairly straightforward, long halled decks with doors to the port and starboard sides and fore. There were four decks and the hatch was on the third deck, where fore was a cockpit area and aft was a large steam powered piston engine. Piping, gauges and valves covered most open surfaces. Down on the second deck, they discovered a huge coal tending area and a massive furnace aft, attached to a boiler. The fore doorway gave way to a small galley, filled with food, which the runners promptly began gorging themselves on. Mace and Nate decided to get the furnace burning while Raven explored the rooms and Jiro looked belowdeck to see what he could find in the cargo hold.
Mina heard noises on the deck above her. Maybe that bitch extortionist was planning on putting her to the rails again. Already Lord Siobhan had taken her ship, a few of Mina’s crew had betrayed her, and she had been locked in this hold for a couple weeks, surviving on the mushrooms stored here. Her traitorous gunner and cook had expected to line their pockets with gold, but ended up shackled just as Mina herself was. As if her high and mighty self Siobhan would have further dealings with them. That’s the last time Mina would hire a Goblin crew. It was truly lucky for them they were across the hold from her. The hatch opened up for a few seconds and a strange creature poked it’s head in, then the hatch shut again…. Damn.
Jiro saw three humanoid bodies in the darkness of the cargo hold, and decided to shed some light on the figures to get a better idea of what was going on. He found a lantern and went to Nate for a match.
Raven found crew quarters upstairs, along with artillery rooms. He rushed downstairs to find a linen closet, a stateroom, a pair of privies that were uncomfortably close to the galley, a couple of officers cabins, and a storeroom that looked like it carried a few of the finer things in Throalian life. Mace and Nate had gotten the fire started, and worked on filling the balloon up. The balloon was a canvas affair that was held in shape by a large braided net, looking to be of copper twine, not unlike a modern current carrying wire without insulation.
Jiro got the lantern lit and tied it to a small silken rope and lowered it down into the hatch to the cargo hold. He saw a woman dressed in leathers and lace. She seemed to be asking him where her hat was. Jiro’s limited command of Throalic dialect finally went through and he gathered she was a prisoner of Lord Siobhan’s and so decided to free her. He just had to find some keys.
Mace was exploring the cabinetry and desk in the navigator’s room and found a very nice flintlock, a large sheaf of maps and found the keys Jiro was looking for and tossed them down. Jiro unlocked Mina, who nodded to him and bounded upstairs. She went directly to the navigator’s room. She went in, cursing about her sword being mistreated and snatched her pistol from a stunned Mace, who shrugged off the incident. She jumped back down into the cargo hold and exacted the price mutineers command, then returned to the boiler deck. She found her floppy tricorn hat in Siobhan’s stateroom and began to inspect the ship and the people who freed her.
Nate and Jiro had one question, could she fly this thing? And if so, could she get them out of this underground mess? For a sum to be determined later, she agreed and gave the party instructions on the operations of the ship.
The motley crew lifted off in short order, and began their voyage to the surface world. Mina had a final bone to pick, however, and while Raven and she were in the cockpit, she had him sketch the layout of Siobhan’s estate. She called up to Jiro who was keeping hold on the top deck. There were two large cannons on the top deck, a few boxes of shot and powder, and a large pipe network that fed the balloons. Mina asked him to aim the front cannon directly forward, and wait for her signal. She rounded a massive column and bore down near the back of Siobhan’s estate, dropped almost to path level, and yelled “Fire!” Jiro slammed the handle back and the cannon fired into the back wall of Siobhan’s estate. Into the armory. Into the back wall of the armory.
The resulting explosion send a shockwave several thousand feet through the cavern. The remnants of Siobhan’s forces feebly fired a few shots at the airship, until they were scattered by a dropped charge from Jiro. Mina flew hard away using part of the shockwave as a boost, and sliding to a halt. Jiro saw other ships raising up in the distance, but they looked more like they were spectating the fire at Siobhan’s estate rather than trying to chase them or put the fire out.
With practiced precision, Mina squeezed the ship through a small tunnel and out into…