Orithia- Skull & Shackles

Sessions Eight and Nine

The Journal of Sandara Quinn

Low Hanging Fruit

Following the map retrieved from the Kobe No Maru we sailed south along the Draconic Coast in search of this mysterious Lizardfolk town of ‘Gold Town’. We would later learn that this village was called ‘ Oratlan’ but at that time, our minds were set on one very important thing: gold.

Lizardfolk hut

Finding the village was easy enough, the map was detailed enough to allow us to identify the estuary where Oratlan was situated. The Captains called a meeting of the Officers to formulate a plan. It was decided that a night-raid wouldn’t be a great idea, despite several suggestions to do just that due to the Lizardfolk propensity for intimate knowledge about their lands. Instead it was decided that an all out assault in the early hours would represent our best chance at catching the Lizardfolk off-guard.

We were wrong.

The next morning, the Bastard was sailed right into the mouth of the river on which Oratlan was constructed. We were met by a dug-in and very ready militia of Lizardfolk warriors. They were armed and protected by over-turned canoes and other hastily constructed earthworks. The Lizards must have seen us arrive the night before. They had even moved their women and young far out of our way. The Lizards had a large militia of determined warriors led by a big warrior and a canny witch doctor who wore a skull mask. The Lizards lived up to the name of ‘Gold Town’- most of them had Gold Dragon heritage and the gleam of gold was constantly visible from the bodies of the warriors and the large statue at the centre of town which kept the gaze of most of us.

Gold dragon statue

The long wait over night had built the crew up into a ‘plunder lust’ and despite the shouted orders to halt from Titus, the shore party leapt into the shallows and charged into Oratlan.

The preemptive move by the majority of the crew forced the hands of the officers and the attack was underway. We fought hard but took many casualties. The ballistae on the Bastard helped keep the defenders pinned down but pressing into the town proper was hard going. Ratline took a spear to the gut and died before I could get to him , while Jape, Tilly, Shivikah and Fipps were also injured badly and would require ongoing treatment. Even the officers were badly injured- Jasper lost an eye from an exploding potion thrown by the witch doctor and Captain Eikou’s leg was broken after a nasty underwater tussle with a summoned water elemental. Titus, Gian and Kaheed were also badly bruised and bloodied after a long, hard fight.

Lizardfolk militia

Eventually the last of the Lizards was taken out. Some captives were found from amongst the injured, but they were killed by some of the more bloodthirsty of the crew before the officers could tell them otherwise. The lack of discipline from the crew continued to be a problem as they immediately set about looting the village and burning down huts. They were brought to heel by a particularly angry Titus who must have burst a blood vessel after screaming at the crew for a good ten minutes. As a punishment for not listening to the orders at the start of the fight, the crew lost their looting rights and all plunder found was to be given over to the ship for sharing out.

Meanwhile some of the officers, while searching the Hetman’s hut found two captives in a dingy earthen cell: Nobuhara and Dartak. We didn’t have time to interrogate them much but it would appear that they were held by the Lizards for infiltrating the town and killing the Gold Dragon who once defended the town! Quite a claim! We were rather distracted at the time however as not a minute after we had pulled the two up out of the ground, did a bone-shaking roar echo through the trees.

The silhouette of a large dragon was visible through the smoke from the burning village flying into the sky from across the river towards us at some pace. It would seem that the town was not without a Dragon defender after all…

We stood there for a few seconds, mouths agape. ‘This can’t be real’ I remember thinking. As the dragon got closer though, the severity of the situation rapidly re-asserted itself into my body along with most of the others around. We scattered to the nearest shelter under trees, behind over-turned canoes, into the river wherever we could go to break line of sight to this monster. Some of the officers took shelter in a small wooden shack which had already taken a pounding from the water elemental’s assaults earlier in the fight. Captain Eikou dragged the two captives into the shack behind her and I ducked in behind them just as the dragon’s shadow fell over me. Its’ roar was terrifying and I immediately began a prayer to Besmara for deliverance. The glittering bronze scales of its’ hide were visible from any angle on the beach as it swept by overhead, venting its’ rage at our transgressions.

Captain Van Helgen clearly read the situation very differently to the rest of us. As we cowered and hid, he remained in plain sight- musket slung casually over his shoulder and began to hail the dragon! What was he thinking!? I should have had faith in him though, if this happened again today I know which side I’d back. As the dragon circled, peering down at the ruined town, Van Helgen shouted up to the dragon that they could use its’ help as the ‘one who did this’ indicating the village, had ‘got away’. The dragon actually believed the ruse, and landed to begin conversation. Needless to say the parley didn’t last long, as up close the dragon was able to more accurately survey the damage to the town and the big piles of loot being prepared near our ship. The next thing I know there’s aloud bang and the dragon is bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest while Edward sprinted away, frantically reloading his musket. Combat then.

The dragon mauled at Edward, tearing strips from him but still he fought on, pumping shot after shot at point blank range into the mighty beast. Eventually the dragon took to the skies once more and disappeared over the jungle canopy, large footprints and a trail of blood on the sand the only evidence of it ever being there. A tentative cheer went up from some of the more short-sighted crew. The officers remained tight-lipped and took the momentary pause to dress wounds and catch their breath.

The dragon reappeared a minute or two later but this time, a robed female Lizardfolk rode atop its’ back. They swooped low over the beach but this time we were ready. Titus gave the order and a volley of crossbow bolts, musket fire and even a ballista shot from the Bastard were our reply. Still the dragon came on, with a deafening thunderclap it opened its’ maw and released a bolt of electrical energy right at the hut where most of the officers were still taking cover. At the same time, the rider unleashed a magical assault sending a fireball arcing into the hut. The combined explosion of electrical and thermal discharge blew the hut to shattered splinters and sent the crew and officers hurtling through the air and taking most of them out of the fight.

The dragon continued to circle, the rider launching more spells at the survivors while we continued to return fire with everything we had. A lucky shot nicked the dragon’s wing, causing its flight to falter slightly and forcing it to land on the beach. It was all the excuse we needed, Kaheed and Jasper immediately sprinted towards the injured beast sensing an opening while the rest of us that could, continued to open up with our crossbows. Kaheed leapt atop the dragon using its scales as natural finger-holds to climb onto its back, acrobatically kicking the rider off as he went sending her tumbling off into the sand. The rest of the fight was a blur as I was busy tending to the wounded and dragging people out of the wreckage of the beach hut. When I looked up, the dragon was dead and somehow on fire itself. Kaheed was also marked with burns and had the Lizardfolk rider tightly grasped in his arms, frog-marching her towards the ship. Besmara be praised she answered my prayers once again. If I was going down in a fight it would be against a beast of the seas not some flying lizard!

We rounded up what loot we could, but there were no captives other than the dragon rider who turned out to be the village priest and so would fetch a good price at a slave market which kept some of the less scrupulous crew members happy.

The officers interrogated the priestess and she quickly divulged the location of two other places where loot might be held. The dragon’s lair south of the river (where the beast likely kept its hoard) and the town temple further up stream (where the gold dragon killed by Nobu and Dartak was currently being intered). The officers explored the lair and returned an hour later with armfuls of coins and reported no resistance. Made a nice change! We rested a while aboard the ship before the officers decided to head off to explore the temple upriver, spurred on by their easily-won treasure at the dragon lair. What they found there, they certainly didn’t expect, and when they returned, they were changed forever…

Comments

“So, here’s the plan. We are going to round this bluff, then we will have sight of the Lizards. Your job is to sit here on the ship and pin-cusion the bastards with crossbows! We only charge the beach when I give the say so!” Titus marched back and forth along the deck instructing the crew. Most of the crew were nervously grasping crossbows, watching Titus and cautiously glancing between him, Edward and Titus. The gold-lust was evident in the crew, but they clearly weren’t soldiers.
I checked over my own crossbow, making sure everything was in working order. I thought it made sense to stay on the ship. If these Lizards are as animalistic as I’ve been told, this should be an easy encounter. I idly wondered what giant Lizards tasted like.
As we cleared the bluff the Lizard camp came into view. It wasn’t a nest. It was a village, with houses, jetties and in the centre was a huge golden statue. Worse than that though, the Lizards were expecting us. They had soldiers, with ranks, shields and officers.
This did little to slow the attack, and we made anchor just off the shore of the village. However, with little regard for what was said merely minutes ago, the majority of the crew immediately dove off the ship and onto the beach. I stood in amazement as the crew stormed up the beach towards the entrenched defenders, with the golden statue as their clear aim.
With a wild laugh, Jasper leapt from the deck of the ship to follow after the crew, followed shortly by a reluctant Mameha and Gian. I couldn’t let them wade into this fight without me, so I grabbed a rope and swung onto a jetty.
The fighting was intense, Mameha and Gian found themselves caught up in a battle against a living whirlpool, while I thought my chances would be better against the Lizards. I passed through a partially collapsed hut and moved up the centre of the beach. It wasn’t long before I caught the attention of some of the Lizards, who charged at me with their vicious clubs and swords.
I adopted a defensive pose to prepare myself for engaging multiple enemies. At first there were only two. They choped at me with their clumsy weapons, which I easily dodged and countered with a number of blows of my own. However, seeing their allies stuggle, the leaders of the Lizards moved over to attack me. There was a much larger Lizard, decked in many golden trinkets, a shaman and a giant four-legged lizard being ridden like a mount. Against such numbers I was only just able to hold my ground. My back was against a flimsy wooden wall, and I was ducking and weaving to aviod the hail of attacks.
It was at that moment, that Jasper sprang up behind the shaman and plunged his cutlass deep into it’s back. In surprise it began some gutteral chanting and began to fly into the air. Jasper roared in victory, “Take that you scaley son of a bitch!” but was quickly quietened by the shaman throwing some kind of explosive vial, which caught Jasper in the side of the head.
I was still in this whirling melee, and now the shaman turned his attention back to me. He began hurling vials at me, but I was able to duck most, and even able to redirect a couple onto the Lizards. Despite this I knew this was a fight I couldn’t win alone. I waited for a lull, then turned ran back through the collapsed hut and leapt from the jetty back onto the deck.
There, I was able to catch my breath and launch myself back into the fray, eager to avenge Jasper’s noble sacrifice.

Sessions Eight and Nine
 

Fortunately, Ambrose has let me use the kitchen to make some Shorbat for the injured crew. I’m not technically the ship’s Carpenter, but I still feel more at home in the kitchen. I taste the soup, its not as good I can make, but I have to make do with what we have. The lack of fresh vegetables doesn’t help with the flavour or nutrition. I test the seasoning one last time, and satisfied, I lift the pan from the stove, and along with a few bowls and spoons, make my way to the sickbay.
The way out of the galley was always cluttered; it lets out right into the sleeping quarters. I have never liked that about this ship, as it makes it tricky to get food in and out without some of it ‘going missing’. My leg is bothering today, the swim from the Dominator has caused it to rub. I sigh but continue without complaint.
I am greeted in the sickback by a surprised looking Sandara.
“Kaheed, what are you doing here? Is your leg alright?” Sandara me up and down, and upon seeing the pan of soup says “Oh, whats that? It’s not more of your spicey stew I hope. I’m not sure my stomache can take it!”
I laugh slightly with the memory. I didn’t expect the ‘violence’ of the reaction to what is normally a popular dish at home. I guess it’s not for everyone.
“No do not worry Sandara. This is Shorbat. It is not spiced. It is a soup of sorts. Lots of vegetables and gentle flavours. It is normally eaten in my home by those in need of recovery from all sorts of ailments and injuries.” I explain politely. I like Sandara, but I don’t think she every really forgave me for hurting Owlbear.
“Oh, well, pass me those bowls before you chuck it everywhere.” She walks over and takes the bowls out from under my arm.
“Thank you very much.” I walk past and set the pan down on a nearby table. I spoon out soup into three bowls, hand one to Sandara, Hannah, who was unfortunately injured during the Shark Man attack, and Gian.
Gian was looking fairly tired and unhappy. Her wound was clearly causing her some discomfort. Seeing me approach she smiled, and sat up. It was a genuine smile, but was tainted by the obvious pain she was in.
“Kaheed, what brings you here? Is that soup? Don’t mind if I do!” Gian took the soup from my hand, held it to her face and breathed in deeply. “Mmmm smells good. What is it?” A faint glimmer of doubt crept across her face; everyone has become so dubious of my cooking.
“It’s Shorbat. A vegetable soup. It’s supposed to aid healing. It’s not spiced, do not fear.” I reassure her.
“Oh that’s good. I couldn’t sleep next to Cog after what you did to him last time”. She giggled.
I smile in response, but am slightly disheartened by the negative reaction of the crew to my food.
“How is your relationship with Cog? I never thought he would be terribly affectionate, but you seem quite happy” I enquire as a way of changing the topic.
“Oh my Coggy! He can be such a sweetie sometimes. He stopped by earlier and sat with me for hours. It was really nice, but he doesn’t bring me the juicy gossip like Mameha does”
“Oh I see. I am afraid I will not be much help in that regard either Still, it is good that Cog had the time to see you.”
“Yeah…. so when are you going to find someone Kaheed. You are one of the good ones. I bet there are loads of girls with their eyes on you.” She grins.
“I am not sure what you mean. I have not noticed any undue attention from the female crew members. I am not very knowledgable about courting rituals. In my home village, returning men are matched with a female that is decided by the Elders. There is no need for courting as you know it.” I explain.
“Thats horrible! What about love?! A man and woman should be free to choose who they want to marry. It shouldn’t be decided by some musty old men!” She seemed sincerely shocked.
“Oh it’s not that bad. Many are very happy. The Elders take great care in selecting appropriate partners.”
“Oh Kaheed, you are missing out! You should find yourself a nice girl, fall in love, get married! I can see it now! Walking down the aisle, hand in hand with a pretty girl, in a long flowing dress, with ruching, and high heels and flowers everywhere….” She sighs and stares off into the middle-distance.
I wait for a few moments while Gian enjoys her day dream. “Maybe I will, but I do not think I will find someone on the crew. I do not think any of them are very interested in pursuing that kind of relationship.”
“Well one day Kaheed, you’ll find a nice girl. Then we can double date!” She says with more force than I suspect she meant. She grimaces, remembering her injury.
“I should let you rest Gian. We need you well. Let me take that bowl from you. I hoped you enjoyed it.” I stand and take the empty bowl from her hands.
“Thank you Kaheed. It was very sweet of you to drop by.” She smiles back to me and lies down.

Sessions Eight and Nine
 

“You no understand!” I growl at Mameha, my knowledge of Ealdime is still not good and I can’t seem to get Mameha to grasp what i’m explaining.
“Look, I am Kondaran, you are not Kondaran, you are a foreigner. It no matter where we are, you foreigner, me Kondaran!” She just looks at me in blank incomprehension…or barely concealed distate…it’s hard to tell. I’ve explained this a dozen times already, there is no hope for her sometimes. She gets up and walks away, she might be a foreigner and a woman and i’m pretty sure she might not be human but she knows healing like no-one else i’ve encountered. My wounds sustained from the skeletons in the temple are pretty much gone, just another set of soon-to-fade white scars.

You would think I would be in a foul mood, the initial sortie to the temple went appallingly, only my stubborness and skill kept the six of us from becoming the next set of dusty skeletons to walk those halls but I am quite upbeat. I can hardly wait for tomorrow’s fresh attempt! I stand, shrug my mail back on and head for the beach where Kaheed is waiting for me. I think the last few days have been a tonic for my spirits, first the attack on the village, burning all those stupid mud huts was cathartic to say the least. Fighting the dragon was exhilirating; such a magnificant beast, I have resolved to try to learn more about them as soon as we reach a port. Then treasure at last! I have a bag the size of my head stuffed with gold and silver! I breathe deeply, I can smell the jungle over the salt stench of the ocean. I might even sleep on the beach tonight, it would be good to fall asleep on land again. Truly I am glad to be alive for perhaps the first time in months.

I drop down from the ship and wade through hip deep water to where Kaheed has cleared a circle perhaps 20 feet across, he’s going to try and teach me some of his martial arts techniques. A fortnight ago I would have punched him if he’d suggested I learn fighting from him, but, as i’ve witnessed, that punch would probably have been deflected and i’d have wound up flat on my back for my trouble. So here I am. Kaheed is no stronger than me and only a little more agile so I should be able to pick up his style easily enough…

It’s been 4 hours since we started our ‘training’, it feels more like Kaheed is using this chance to throw me around a ring like a child’s toy. I have bruises on top of my other bruises and i’ve only managed to hit him twice. Twice! It’s like fighting smoke! Still, Kaheed says I am showing great promise and have already mastered the first 19 stances of Crane style…whatever that means. If it gives me an edge in our battles I don’t care what he wants to call it. Jasper, Moussa, Rosie, Edward and a few others are sitting around drinking and laughing themselves sick at my expense. I am controlling my temper though, I lost my head about 2 hours ago and got roundhouse kicked by Kaheed’s peg leg whilst I was distracted…Jasper laughed so hard he nearly choked on his beer…My rage is a powerful aid to my fighting but this style requires so much concentration and focus I cannot loose myself in blind fury and maintain it. At least, not yet. Kaheed looks at me, he has a small wad of cloth up his nose to staunch the bleeding, I caught him with the edge of my buckler a moment ago. Has has a nasty glint in his eye. I sigh heavily and get back to my feet, I hope there aren’t too many more stances to go before we can call it a night. Maybe Gian will be up for rubbing my aching muscles later…i’m sure i can procure some ointment…

Sessions Eight and Nine
Kid_Dangerous

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.