As the ship’s bell summons the crew of the Wormwood to the quarter deck, an observant sailor can see the faint, green haze of the coast drawing closer to the port side of the ship.
“We be drawing near to the Slithering Coast, you swabs,” explains Mister Plugg. “The waters here be shallow, and tricky. Don’t you go thinking about swimming to shore, lest you like a nest of vipers better than the den of thieves you have here.”
Theodric is assigned ropework in the riggings, while Bahram is tasked with assisting Kroop again with supper. Zalamesh is assigned to haul the ropes, and Hamish is given a bucket and told to swab the decks.
Theodric, working deftly in the riggings, talks a little to the intimidating Shivika, who confesses she prefers piracy to slaving, as pirates don’t have to keep captives alive to make money.
Shango, working hard on the heavy ropes as the ship tacks back and forth, wears himself out in the hot weather, but takes time to encourage the overwhelmed Conchobar, who is equally tired out by his tasks. However, the little gnome’s pride is assuaged by the immodest (and overblown) praise from Zalamesh.
Bahram is able to relax in the kitchen, as Kroop hasn’t drunken himself into a stupor. He decides to actually spend time drinking with Fishguts as the cook works in the galley, and the fat chef confesses that Faiz is ‘the best cook’s mate I’ve ever had." Hamish swabs the filthy deck and scours the wood with a sandstone block on his knees. The hard, sweaty work puts the half-orc in a foul temper, and he focuses his ire on Crimson, who, also working on deck, cannot escape his wrath. Cogsward initially glowers and scowls under the menacing talk, but is learning to walk quietly around Hamish by the end of the day.
Late in the afternoon, the ship lays anchor in a series of shallows. Mister Plugg calls for Hamish, Bahram, Theodric, Shango, and Giffer to assemble on the quarter deck. He tosses wooden pots at their feet and points out a reef a few hundred feet off the bow. “The captain wants crab for dinner. You lot swim out to that reef and fill up these pots, sharpish!”
The four pirates swim out to the reef, and begin paddling around looking for crabs to catch. Theodric casts air bubble on some of his companions as they swim around looking for crabs. Little Giffer is the first one to capture a crab, but Zalamesh is close behind. Each of them secures their crab within the wicker pot they each carry.
As they are swimming around the shallow reefs, Faiz and Zalamesh spot two larger creatures that have been stirred up by the activity. Faiz recognizes them as reefclaws, agressive predators with lobsterlike foreparts and eel-like hindquarters. Reefclaws are vicious predators the size of large dogs, with a strange ability to learn and understand the words spoken around them. Faiz shouts to warn the others on the surface, but Giffer and Zalamesh, who have remained below the water, cannot hear his warnings.
One of the reefclaws swims swiftly towards Hamish who fights it with his fists and fangs, but when he badly injures the carapaced creature, it goes into a death frenzy, attacking him without pause until he smashes its shell apart.
Zalamesh is forced to fight the other reefclaw, which nips at his limbs, until he uses his juju powers to force it to desist and retreat from him. However, the maddened reefclaw simply chooses another target—Faiz! Though Faiz gets in a stout punch on the spiny carapace, the reefclaw seizes his limbs in its surprising strong claws and worries his flesh until Faiz passes out from the pain. Hamish and Zalamesh swim as fast as they can towards their friend, as Theodric uses his prayers to give himself a life bubble so that he can heal Faiz even underwater.
Giffer, who had seen the reefclaws before they attacked the others, has swum away into another part of the reef and has continued to grab crabs from their hiding places in the reef, filling her basket before she surfaces.
Hamish bashes the reefclaw, inciting it into its own death frenzy, but Zalamesh is able to use his magic to roll it over helplessly, letting Hamish beat it to death before it can attack anyone else. Theodric heals the helpless Faiz, who awakens in confusion underwater. As the men surface and reconnoiter, Giffer announces that her pot is full!
The crew fills their remaining pots and swims back to the Wormwood, taking the crabs and reefclaws belowdeck to Fishguts. After the evening’s rum ration and supper, most of the pirates relax and socialize on the decks. Faiz cautiously talks with the menacing Shivikah, doing his best to ingratiate himself with the towering Bekyar. Theodric tries to romance Sandara, and despite a rocky opening, seduces the fiery-haired pirate into a night of romance. Hamish cannot resist taking his shapely crew-mate Sams below-decks for another carnal evening, but while they are otherwise engaged, Shango regales the crew with the story of the daring battle underwater with the deadly reefclaws!
As the crew hangs on his words, Captain Harrigan emerges from his cabin and demands to know which of the crew caught the reefclaws. Zalamesh and Theodric both insist that the entire group worked to kill the reefclaws, Harrigan laughs and praises the fine taste of the claws. He had meant to reward the swab who did the deed, but since the men insist on sharing the credit, he’ll have to settle for rewarding them with a single potion of healing! A bit ruefully, Zalamesh takes the potion from Harrigan, lamenting his reluctance for stealing the credit.