The Captain & the Crew
The morning dawned crisp and clear; Captain Amular Crestwave was looking forward to an early departure, his cargo, all living. Not, that Captain Crestwave avoided moving textiles and other goods from Waterdeep to Daggerford, but these types of runs, paid better. Less work, more coin. The weather looked remarkably calm for the next few days. In his experience, this was always a positive thing, because those sailing, did NOT have the look of a group with sea going experience.
Standing on the deck of his double masted schooner the Ladys Leap, Crestwave glanced about and saw his crew busily preparing to set sail once the guests arrived. The half-orcs Cruxx and Servious (also called “three fingers”), where checking the rigging while the first mate Bright, set-up the small guest quarters below deck. Minzi Task, his helmswoman, was double checking her charts before the Leap set sail. Chuckling to himself, Crestwave thought about the comments commonly made against his crew. Made-up of all humans and two half-orcs, they raised more than a few eyebrows while docked in the many ports along the Sword Coast.
“Well, they might not have their sea legs, but at least they arrived on time”, Crestwave thought as he watched the group of four, warily approach the schooner.
This, IS the SHIP?
Four very different individuals, stood at the base of the gangplank looking up at the double masted schooner, each preparing to take their first sea journey on the Sea of Swords. Oskar Frostbeard, the rather gruff and hairy dwarven ranger, voiced his thoughts first. “I, don’t like boats. Or water. Or things that are on the water.”
The rather excitable and quick to question gnome, “Badger” Bunglestump, simply smiled, quickly making his way up the gangplank. The dwarf, sighing, followed him on board.
That left standing on the dock the elf Tass Burrfoot and the half-elven lass of Waterdeep, Noshdalynn Rohann. The two simply shrugged their shoulders, quickly making their way up the gangplank. Once aboard, Cruxx removed the plank while Bright, escorted the guests below deck to their quarters.
A small, 10×10 portion just below deck, had been prepared for the guests. Simple canvas hammocks had been strung, with crude lockers being made available for each party member to stow their gear. Bright then rounded up each person, once they had settled in, giving them a quick tour of the ship before the lines were cast-off. On schedule, the Ladys Leap made her way out of Waterdeeps harbor.
Sunny Skies and Leaping Dolphins
Bright skies and star filled nights accompanied the Leaping Lady as she skimmed quickly along the Sea of Swords, making her way towards the city of Daggerford. During the day, those crew members not involved with shipboard duties fished and relaxed, while the traveling party enjoyed the sites, the weather, the seas and the dolphins which followed behind the vessel. Unfortunately, the meals were rather common, consisting of hard biscuits and gravy washed down with grog, but there was plenty of food available. At night while on deck, the constellations were easily seen, with the stars reflecting upon the calm surface of the water.
While Tass, Nosh and Oskar generally kept to themselves, Badger kept himself rather busy. The young gnome inspected the bilge, the main mast, the spar, the anchor, the stich on the sails, the different types of ropes, anchor winch, the wheel and the compass. He then found himself engrossed for two solid nights, trying to figure-out all of the seaman knots he was shown by Cruxx and Servious. It was noticed by everyone, that throughout the day as well as the night, a constant lookout was maintained for pirates.
Neon Green, Is NOT a Natural Color
It was during the middle point of the voyage, when things took a turn for the worse. During the evening, an unnatural storm kicked out of the south. The schooner began to rock violently back and forth, while blinding rain slashed out of the neon green sky! In the middle of this, the four below deck awoke to the sounds of howling wind, ripping sails and shouts being carried away by the storm up on deck. The hammocks were swaying so severely, that Nosh and Tass became entangled and crashed to the deck while trying to get up!
Oskar was the first on deck, and from what he could see, things looked grim indeed. The wind seemed to shift on its own, howling in from one direction and then another in the blink of an eye. The sky above was lit by a swirling vortex of clashing neon colors, first green followed by purple and then red. While bracing himself on deck, the dwarf was startled to see both Cruxx and Servious intentionally leap, over the rail and into the storm tossed seas!
Quickly after this, Bright handed the dwarf a stout line, telling him to “NOT let go at ANY cost!” Unfortunately, the storm and the seas quickly started pulling the dwarf across his deck, towards a potentially painful meeting with the mainmast and his face. Oskar, wisely, let go of the rope. Cringing, he waited for something to happen. Oddly…. Nothing WORSE than what was already happening, happened.
Badger made it to the deck, discovering that it was REALLY not a fun place to be. The slashing, blinding wind made it difficult to see, and the pitching deck was dangerous. The gnome decided to summon his owl familiar, to assist him in this dire time of need! The gestures where made, and the owl appeared! And, just as quickly, the savage blowing gales of wind swept the owl, pinfeathers and all, off into the raging blackness. Badger dismissed the familiar.
It was at this time, that Oskar and Badger decided to head back below deck.
Nosh had untangled herself from her hammock, and assisted Tass with getting out of his. The two stumbled out and up from below deck, arriving into the very heart of the unnatural storm. As Nosh peered around to try and see, well SOMETHING, a wild swinging line lashed out of the darkness towards her face. Nimbly, she caught and then secured the loose rigging. With the two just standing in the blinding rain, they saw both Badger and Oskar attempting to make their way towards them. They assisted their friends, and all decided to take shelter, back below decks.
Which, turned out to be a mistake.
By this time, though none would have believed it just twenty minutes ago, the storm grew more severe. The ship was not simply rolling; it was spinning and rocking from one severe angle to the next. Below deck, it was intolerable. Badger quickly became seasick, vomiting up a rather large amount of food, that he couldn’t recall eating. It was decided for safety, to gather up on deck, not only for safety, but to try and assist the ship’s crew.
The group fought their way across the pitching deck and through the turbulent rain, eventually reaching the ships wheel. The sky above was even more chaotic in appearance, with waterspouts now dancing around the ship. The caption was muttering about a portal, and words about “the Booty”. Oddly enough, Oskar knew of this legend, and through the howling winds informed those around him of a lost pirate atoll, accessed by passing through a type of storm gate! Unfortunately, other than knowing the name of the last pirate from the atoll, Oskar had no other useful information. The dwarf did share the name; it was the notorious goblin pirate, Funkster Deathblade.
And with those words said, towering columns of water smashed into the ship from four different directions.
Who SAYS DWARVES can’t SWIM?
The party awoke on a piece of floating ships wreckage. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the disorientation was more than overwhelming. Around the four, bits and pieces of the ship floated. Small, bits and pieces of the ship, with no sign of the crew anywhere around them. To the front, roughly 100 or so yards away, was an atoll. Not tropical, but small and wooded. A single, long jetty pier reached out like a finger into the harbor. Towards the back of the pier, the group could see a handful of roofless, old buildings. The area, looked long abandoned.
Oddly enough, the luck of Tymora was with the party, and the decking of the ship which held their gear, floated no more than 20 or so yards away. All but the gnome, jumped into the clear water to swim over and regain the groups gear. Oskar, weighted down, made the swim, but needed assistance from Nosh to get onto the wreckage. It was at this time, that Badger noticed the large reef sharks, swimming through the water towards them.
The gnome gave notice, then cast one of his simpler magics. A bolt of flame leapt from his hand, flashing out and striking a shark as it swam along the surface of the water. The bolt, seemed to inflict just enough damage, as to drive the shark away! Noshdalynn brought her light crossbow into the fight, taking steady aim and delivering a devastating attack! The second shark was driven away, but the third and final, continued to towards the party on the wreckage! Badger again wove another fire spell, with the bolt arching out and striking the final shark. As with his first attack, this caused enough injury to the shark, to drive it away.
The group decided to paddle towards the atoll, before any more sharks were attracted by their activities. Oskar drew his axe, quickly chopping four planks from the wreckage to be used as paddles. Badger looked at the plank, smiled and weaved another spell, conjuring a semi-transparent hand. This “hand”, then took the plank, and paddled for the gnome. Heads were shaken, but no comments made. With very little effort, the party put ashore by the jetty.
That GUY with the KNIFE
The four quickly took stock of their situation. It sucked. On a pirate atoll. No boat. No way to get out of here. Maybe a weeks’ worth of rations. It was decided to explore, and check out the abandoned buildings. Oskar and Tass, quickly and silently made their way towards the first abandoned building. Oddly enough, the dwarven ranger, proved to be JUST as silent, as the cunning elf! The two, encountered no problems approaching an open window, and peering in. What they saw, was rather startling!
A very dark tanned, human sat at a table. He wore only simple breeches, and he stared at the table in front of him. His most interesting feature, besides the deep tan, was his red hair. His wild, red frizzed out hair easily fell to the middle of his back. But, it didn’t stop there! Like a blossoming red halo of frizz, it branched out and reached around his head! Almost, like it was pulling itself into some type of orbit. Truly, a site to see!
Dwarf and elf, looked at each other, and then shrugged. Tass decided to boldly stride through the front door, while Oskar kept him covered with his light crossbow from the window. Back on the beach, Badger summoned his owl, and silently commanded it to fly over and look down into the ruins of the tavern.
Entering the ruined tavern, the elf spied the tanned, frizzed-out hair human who gazed intently at him. The human then drew a wicked looking knife made of fishbone, and started carving on the cable. The elf, stared at the human. The human, stared at the elf. The dwarf, stared at everyone. The owl, stared down from the sky, staring into the ruins. Nosh, stared at the gnome and kept poking him, trying to get his attention. The gnome blinked, smiled, and then said to Noshdalynn, “there’s another person in the tavern out of sight. He’s big, bald, tattooed with runes across his skin, and we’d best head that way!” Agreeing with the gnome, the two headed toward the tavern.
“GUS!” shouted out the red haired man. “MY NAME, is Gus.” He then stuck the knife into the table top, leaving it to quiver. “By chance, would you have any food?” Tass felt rather bad for the man, and though unsure about the fish knife, handed him some food and water. Gus smiled, started to eat, and called for a “thing” named “PIKER!”
After a few shouts, still no one appeared. By then, Nosh had taken up a position with Oskar by the window, preparing her crossbow. Badger, strolled into the front of the tavern, approaching Gus. It was at this time, that “PIKER” made his appearance, the tattooed man. Hulking, big and bald, Piker strode into view and stopped. He gazed at the elf and gnome, and then repeated his name three or four times, at different volumes. He then smiled, casting a spell which seemed to activate a rune on his forearm. He smiled once more, and spoke.
“My apologies, Gus and I have been here for some time. My name, is Piker. Do you have any extra food?” Upon seeing that Piker and Gus intended to mean no harm, Oskar and Nosh joined everyone in the ruins of the tavern. Food was shared, with the group attempting to find out, just what exactly was going on here on the atoll. Piker, did all of the talking.
“You see, the atoll has been abandoned from almost twenty years, since the sea gate became corrupt destroying vessels attempting to get here. Gus, and myself have been stuck. Now, we’ve been getting by. But, be warned, there is a small clan of goblins, left over from Funksters Deathblade crew, who continue to search for his treasure. I believe, there is a cave of sorts close by, which may hold answers. We have not attempted to delve ourselves. The goblins, and some of the other creatures on this atoll, do not bother us. But, the cave may hold answers for you. Also, Gus did see a few others, possibly from your ship, swim ashore. We’ve not seen them here, which lead us to believe, they may be out in the woods around here.” Piker then took the party out through the back of the ruins, showing them an old, overgrown trail. “This, may take you were you need to go”. He then, returned to eat with Gus.
The party, gathered their gear then moved off into the forest, and up the path.
Things that GO BUMP in the NIGHT
Within a quarter of a mile, Oskar came across an old goblin trail marking. “Safe passage” he told his fellow adventurers. Not being exactly sure HOW safe, everyone prepared weapons and spells, and continued on. Possibly another quarter of a mile down the path, the dwarf spotted a second goblin trail marker. Oskar peered at it intently. “I can’t read it”, he said sheepishly.
“NO problem” Badger spoke up, it says “Hidden Location”! The gnome then summoned his owl, sending it aloft. He focused, taking over the bonded mystical creature and peered through its eyes. “OK! I see a cave, just ahead, through these trees!” Oskar and Tass moved out ahead of the group, with Badger and Nosh supporting them. The party carefully stepped through the trees and out of the forest, with the cave opening looming up in front of them.
Oskar and Tass, decided to use some stealth, and moved silently into the cave. The change from the light outside to the darkness within, proved to cause a problem. The problem, being the large spiders web which took up half of the cavern inside! Oskar avoided being stuck, but the elf, not so much. Once the elf was stuck and started to struggle, the LARGE spider within, felt the tremors on its web and ventured out to feed.
Fortunately for Tass, Oskar was close enough to cut the elf out of the strands. As they retreated back towards the entrance, the spider twice tried ensnaring the two of them with webbing fired from its abdomen! Back outside, Badger and Nosh were brought up to speed on the spider and the webbing. The gnome was eager to do battle, and wanted see “just what this big THING looks like!”
Cooler heads prevailed, and battle plan was formed. As a team, the group entered into the cave. The web was of course till there, but the spider was nowhere to be seen. While taking a good look at the web, the group noticed a humanoid sized figure, cocooned up in the web. Nosh, decided to climb up and cut it down, to try and save whatever was enshrouded. A good plan, but Nosh lost her balance while trying to slice the webbing away from the cocoon. This caused her to fall into the web strands, trapping the half-elf. As she struggled, her vibrations attracted the huge spider! With gaping fangs filled with dripping ichor and poison, the spider advanced on the helpless half-elf!
Oskar fired a bolt from his light crossbow, striking the spider but not driving it away. It continued to advanced, on the horrified Nosh. And then, it fell suddenly fell asleep. Badger, shouting in triumph, had dropped a Sleep spell on it! “HURRY!” he cried, “we don’t have much time!” Tass lept into action, while Oskar kept the spider covered with his crossbow. The elf had some issues making the climb, but between his skill and Nosh working an arm free, they could free the stuck half-elf as well as cut down the cocoon.
Just in time it would seem, for the spider “blinked” awake, and started to move! Badger wasted no time, and summoned a bolt of fire! It streaked towards the spider, striking it and causing severe injuries! Within moments, it curled up dead. JUST to be sure, he shot another bolt of fire into the carcass, but the spider remained unmoving.
Within the strands of the cocoon, the body of Minzi was found. Thankfully, still alive!
And here, is when this part of the adventure, concluded.