Orithia- Skull & Shackles

Session Seventeen

The Journal of Sandara Quinn

CHAPTER THREE- Tempest Rising

I knew there was something different about those four from the moment I laid eyes on them. Besmara smiles on their actions and, I am sure guides their hands. There was a new air about the four of them following the weddings and the disastrous events therein. Jasper died (which saddened me greatly) and Edward left the ship in order to rule over Windward Isle (which surprised me greatly). The remaining officers were mostly competent pirates and sailors but Captain Mameha, First Mate Gian, Master Gunner Titus and Master Carpenter Kaheed were the ones really running the show.

Downtime

Piratescene.jpgI bought this new journal (my third since my press-ganging on the Wormwood) at the market-stall at Piren’s Bluff- a quiet and picturesque fishing town on the beautiful Windward Isle. As I write these words I am sitting on a grassy, flower-covered hill overlooking the town and the dock beyond. We were given a month of shore leave to enjoy our victories, celebrate the weddings and mourn the fallen.

There are more additions to the crew- the vicious leader of the Sahuagin, Isabella Locke (or Isabella__Inkskin__Locke.JPG‘Inkskin’ as she is known) has joined along with the surviving crew from her ship the Thresher – a move which surprised many of the crew (myself included) and angered many more. The Captain explained that the two had made an agreement. Apparently Inkskin had attacked us under orders of Barnabas Harrigan. Clearly the theft of his ship had not escaped his mind, but more worryingly he may now know the true identify of our squibbed vessel. Inkskin had reportedly been promised to Harrigan in marriage, but the bastard betrayed her and used her to attack us, taking over her tribe while she was away. Her father was killed by Harrigan and the Sahuagin chief installed by Harrigan as new leader of her tribe. Mameha promised to help Isabella to re-take her home if she made peace with the crew of the Bastard. We shall see if this truce (and the exchange of tattoos as a mark of respect) is a good idea. I’m sure Besmara is watching over us.

Mameha has been busy making more friends during her own shore leave. She has been seen hanging around with Nobu a lot more and socialising with our crew in general as they enjoy the taverns and street food of Piren’s Bluff. She also managed to convince Almir Vendikon, the brother of the ousted Baron to pay for the blacksmith order left unpaid after the Baron’s untimely death. This has helped to ease the tension between the Vendikon and Smythee/Van Helgen dynasties.

Titus and Kaheed have been gone for a week or so. They took a small cutter and a handful of crew (including some deserters from the Piren’s Bluff town guard!) and went sailing around the islands and villages nearby to sell some of the plunder we recovered over the last few weeks. They are then heading to Drakeclaw for more supplies.

Gian and Cog seem very happy also. They have hardly been seen, and when they have they have been inseparable. There have even been whispers of an engagement but getting two words out of the sullen Boatswain is hard enough at the best of times.

Mancatcher Cove

Our shore leave over we set sail east by north-east, skirting the jagged archipelago that is the Shackles, followingIsabella_s_Tattoo.JPG Isabella’s directions and the cryptic map tattooed between her shoulder-blades. Good thing she wears little clothing else we may have been lost. Her dress (it barely qualifies as such) has been the talk of many of the female crew members and the subject of gaze for many of the male ones since she joined our ship. Her crew are equally talked about- the polar opposites to Isabella. Where she is tall, beautiful and barely dressed, they are vicious, rude, smelly and ill-kept. They seem capable however and it may prove useful to have more competent sailors aboard.

Harrigan_s_Flag.PNGWe arrived at Mancatcher Cove, the reported burial site of Cyrus Wolfe’s main treasure hoard by night. Isabella assures us the treasure is there kept safe by her tribe and we are entitled to a fair share of it once the mission is complete. The lookout spots a ship anchored in the wide cove, her crew revelling on deck but armed guards visible patrolling also. The Captain orders the ship to run dark- using starlight to navigate through the waters in the hopes of getting the drop on the ship which we believed to be Harrigan’s men (closer inspection of their colours later confirmed this as they were flying his ragged banner).

The Captain couldn’t turn the wheel however- something had jammed the rudder and we were heading straight for the cliffs at full speed! Sure enough fins could be seen circling the ship- sharks with Sahuagin riders. Gian shouted for sails to be stowed to try and slow our speed while Kaheed grabbed a repair crew and ran to stern to rappel down the back of the ship and try to fix whatever damage the sea-devils had wrought. Titus fired his bow at the Sahuagin trailing us, thinning their numbers while Kaheed fought off a rider and his shark while splashing in our wake. Not quick enough though, as one raised a conch horn and blew- the sound echoing across the silent waters, surely alerting Harrigan’s ship to our approach.

Underwater_Sahuagin_Fight.JPG

He managed to fight them off as well, using his incredible mastery of unarmed combat to evade the attacks of rider and mount and even caused them to attack each other!

Just in time the rudder was unjammed and the ship turned away from the coast and we continued towards the enemy and the cove. By now the were prepared for us and opened fire with a blistering broadside almost immediately. They had a cannon tower on the island nearby which also opened fire. The Bastard made directly for the enemy ship, the Red Jackal while firing the trebuchet at the tower, Titus commanded the gun crews to target the enemy ship and the marines to prepare for boarding. We took a few more broadsides before we rammed her in the port side. Our crew made slow progress through the tangled rigging but eventually boarded her. Kaheed was already across engaging the enemy Captain and his officers alone. Titus spotted and eliminated the enemy sorceress while Gian glided through the rigging and ended more lives with her red knives.

The battle was over after the enemy Captain had his throat cut and the fight went out of the survivors. Both ships had suffered heavy damage and multiple casualties. I began triage straight away, Cog was found under a pile of bodies with a cutlass through his belly and multiple pistol bullets in him. It looked bad and Gian ran over in tears. Through some miracle, Taisho the Captain’s Kami companion and acting Chaplain had managed to stem the worst of the damage and keep him alive until I could apply my healing knowledge and Besmara’s blessings to the man. Luckily all our wounded were treatable. We even captured some twenty new crew members- we’d need them if we wanted to take both ships which seemed to be the idea.

Not wanting to waste the element of surprise (or what was left of it) the officers decided to press the attack. Mameha, Gian, Titus, Kaheed and Isabella dove off the ship after imbibing some magical potions to allow underwater breath and taking some aquatic blessings from myself and swam straight down, following Isabella’s lead to a secret entrance to the Sahuagin caves. I hoped she was trustworthy as she could quite easily have led them all to their dooms in an underwater trap or ambush.

Meanwhile aboard ship we bound the captives on the deck of their ship and looted what we could from their hold. It looked like they had already helped themselves to Cyrus Wolfe’s hoard (an encouraging sign that did exist!) which I helped Rosie transfer to our own hold.

Buried_Treasure.JPG

When the officers eventually returned, battered and bruised but alive and victorious. They brought with them a large elaborate chest. Not much loot I thought, until they opened it, revealing an extra-dimensional space inside which contained the rest of Cyrus Wolfe’s hoard and whatever else they could carry from the Sahuagin caves.

The rest of the night and most of the next day was spent sorting out the loot, deciding which crew would take which ship and the next course of action in general.

Comments

The galley buzzed with happy conversation, the air thick with tobacco smoke as the crew of the Magnificent Bastard celebrated last night’s victory. Every crewman had been given a heavy pouch of silver and seen the chests of treasure being brought aboard. Seated in the dark under the sterncastle Titus was clumsily telling the story of what he and the other officers had encountered in the Sahuagin caves. He had already drunk several glasses of rum and was halfway through his second cigar, Samms was sitting on his lap as he talked.

‘So, we was swimmin’ along, the surface of the water above us like a huge damn mirror and the ocean floor below all smooth but with rocks and weeds and stuff. Isabella pointed us toward a cave on t’other side of this great big hole in the sea floor, must have been sixty feet across and deep enough that even I can’t see the bottom. Kaheed gestured that we swim around the side of it rather than straight across.’

Somebody shouted a question.

‘How come? I dunno. Kaheed! Why did we swim ‘round the outside ‘stead of across the middle?’

Kaheed answered calmly, since he had not drunk anything and was, in fact, trying to mend some of the tackle from the gun decks that had been damaged in the battle.

‘Predators often lurk in the depths and attack prey silhouetted against the sun. A shark might have mistaken you for a fat, juicy seal.’

Titus narrowed his eyes, ‘If I weren’t sure that you have no sense of humour I’d think you was making fun o’ me. Luckily, you foreign types don’t know any better so I’ll let it go.’

‘Of course’, Kaheed didn’t even look up from his careful whittling. Both men grinned and Titus carried on with his story.

‘So anyway, we swim towards this cave and there are a load of these weird, pink bubblefish…’

‘They are called jellyfish,’ Gian interrupted, ‘they are really gross and they sting you. If they sting you, you have to pee on the wounds!’ Gian giggled and took another sip of Cog’s rum.

‘So. Anyway!’ Titus continued, ‘there was a swarm of jellyfish’ he glared at Gian, ‘blocking the cave. We unfold the big net Kaheed brought and weigh it down with rocks. All careful like we swim above them and release the net. Woomph, we trap them all and the cave entrance is clear. We swim in and see this massive, weird crab thing and a pair of sahaugin. Now the sahaugin are pissing themselves at the prospect of a real fight but the crab thing looks nasty. The captain and Isabella start blowing loads of bubbles and making faces at the crab. I think they’ve gone mental but then the crab thing starts blowing bubbles right back! I realise they are talking some underwater language and drink my potion so I can keep tabs on them. Turns out this crab thing doesn’t really like the new chieftain but has been charmed to cloud its mind, Isabella casts a quick spell which dispels the effect and the crab thing decides that maybe it doesn’t feel like dying for the new chieftain after all. It scuttles out the way, I put a bolt through the stomach of the remaining sahaugin and we’re into the caves proper.’

Titus paused to take a drag on his cigar before continuing, ‘So we scrap with a bunch of sharks and sahaugin; as usual Kaheed and I do most of the work and soon the water is pink with blood and guts. We all swim on and find a fork in the tunnels, I swim ahead and get into a scrap with half a dozen sahaugin warriors. I put in a bolt in one and spear the rest on my halberd but it’s not until I’m nearly done that I wonder where everyone else has gotten to. They were all still floating behind me, all bruised and looking at some human corpse. I can only assume they had some kind of falling out. You know, women and foreigners, no sense of discipline. So all the sahaugin are dead and the captain decides enough is enough. She calls out for the rest of the tribe to surrender, that we’re only here to kill the chieftain but we’re willing to kill them all if they make us. Now, she don’t look like much our captain but get her riled and she’d scare the crap out of anyone! Scared me that’s for sure, don’t think I’ve ever been more sure that she was willing and able to kill every last waterbreathing critter in these caves. Seems that it worked cos all these sahaugin come out, all shy like, I guess they were females and young ones. At least, they were smaller than the males. They all file out and we let them go, slaughtering civilians for no reason isn’t even my idea of fun.’

A few dark chuckles ripple through the room; some of the newer recruits look a little worried. Kaheed frowned, though whether this was because of the stubborn tools in his hand or disapproval none could tell. Titus looked around, ‘Maybe a tale for another time is that one. Ask one of the older crew about a certain village a couple month ago.’

‘But on with my tale. The path to the chieftain was clear and we wasted no time heading to the throne room. As we enter we see the biggest damn shark you’ve ever seen, must have been at least twenty feet long and had a mouth big enough to swallow a rowboat whole! Behind him was the chieftain, four armed and guarded by two fiercely ugly females. The shark rushed forwards, fast as quicksilver, straight onto my and Kaheed’s spears. We stab and slash and soon the water is pink with shark blood. Luckily we all avoid its massive, snapping jaw and the beast starts to back away. That’s when the chieftain and his concubines attack. Now, you’ve all seen us fight so I won’t bore you with every hack and slash but needless to say we take his ugly ass down. Obviously I do most of the work but I guess everyone else helped too. We kill him and find all the treasure you saw in the hold.’

Titus stopped talking and leaned back, looking pleased with himself.

‘Is that it?’ a voice called.

Titus looked annoyed and shouted back, ‘I’m a soldier not a damned bard, you want poems go find the captain.’ He got up and started to leave, ‘Come on Samms, these critics clearly don’t appreciate a good story’ Titus left, trailing cigar smoke and profanity. Once they were sure Titus had left the others started snickering before a voice called out, ‘Kaheed, your turn for a story!’

Session Seventeen
Kid_Dangerous

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