Skull & Shackles

Second day at sea
Abadius 11, 4712

The men awake in the dark, muggy hold, and set about preparing for the day’s work. Zalamesh has a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, and turns about to find that four of the crew have maneuvered themselves between him and the other new crew and the stairs topside. Some of the crew have quickly made themselves scarce, while others are loitering on the steps to watch. “Jaundiced” Jape, “Slippery” Syl Lonegan, Aretta Bansion, and Fipps Chumlett stand before them with threatening glares.

“Where d’ye think ye be going?”, inquires the fat Fipps, shoving Hamish insolently. Hamish roars and grabs Fipps by the back of his neck, jerking the fat bully forward into a stout punch from his other hand. Fipps falls to the ground, blood streaming from his face. A brief scuffle breaks out, with Aretta attempting to kick Zalamesh in the groin before he intimidates her with his fearsome reputation as a Bekyar demon-worshipper. Bahram and Syl trade blows ineffectually before he plants a boot in her stomach and shoves her back. Theodric attempts to reason with Jape, but the half-orc is having none of it, until Zalamesh musters his spiritual energies and commands the swab to drop to the ground. Fipps attempts to struggle to his feet, but Gibbs stamps on the fat man’s back, then drops an elbow into the small of his back, leaving him struggling to remain conscious.

The two women flee for the stairs, while Shango attempts to interrogate Jape, a task which is made harder by Theodric’s offers to heal the aggressors. Eventually Zalamesh pulls Jape’s focus back on him, and the sullen swab tells him that Scourge doesn’t like the new crew, and sent them down here to rough them up a bit and make them late for morning roster—and they may already be too late!

The men quickly trample their way up the stairs, each eager to avoid getting any punishment. Hamish grapples with Fipps Chumlett and “Jaundiced” Jape, trying to keep both of them from arriving before him. Jape, however, has a good head start, but he, Hamish and Fipps all end up being late, and sentenced to three lashes during the ‘bloody hour’ after work.

Zalamesh is assigned to the bilges again, and, as it is quite a hot day, he gets quite tired, but he finds a leather cuirass and a well-crafted boarding axe in some of the flotsam floating around down there.

Bahram, being the cook’s mate, has to help Fishguts again, but Fishguts is relatively sober today, and Faiz has little to do other than drink rum and listen to Kroop as he laments his fate in the kitchen. Faiz has has time to chat with Cut-throat Grok, and he flirts with the gravelly-voiced quarter-mistress. He learns that Rosie Cusswell has a fiddle in the booty like Theodric. Having little else to do today, Bahram also talks to Tilly Bracket, who tells him that the widely-disliked first mate, Plugg, is deathly afraid of crows. Tilly joined up about six months ago on the Wormwood, when many of the crew, including Plugg, were taken on.

Plugg assigns Theodric to rope work today, and despite doing an exemplarly job, the first mate always seems to find fault in his work. Theodric finds time to talk with Rosie Cusswell, who was also press-ganged onto the Wormwood days before he and his mates. She lost her temper trying to get her prized fiddle back from Grok, but really wants the valuable instrument back. Rosie has a fiery temper, and particularly despises Mister Scourge.

Hamish is tasked with catching rats aboard the ship today by Mister Plugg. The half-orc is utterly unsuccessful in the task, to the vocal displeasure of the critical first mate. Hamish’s poor performance may have been somewhat due to his determination to spend as much time flirting with the alluring Barefoot Sams, who, to many of the crew’s surprise, seems to respond with enthusiasm.

During the Bloody Hour, Scourge whips both Jaundiced Jape and Fipps with a wicked laugh, despite each of the swabs being ‘mates’ of his. Scourge’s special ire is reserved for Hamish, however, as the half-orc’s thick skin seems indifferent to the first few lashes of the whip. Scourge finally lashes out with a vicious swipe and peels a strip of hide from Hamish’s back, though a surreptitious blessing from Zalamesh beforehand has softened the blow somewhat.

When the rum is rationed out, Theodric tends to Hamish’s wound before seeking out Grok herself and drinking with the half-orc. Grok gets more foul-mouthed as she drinks, but despite her tongue, her mood improves. Theodric tries to get his fiddle back from her, but she explains that the loot taken by captives is pirate booty, and she’ll have to account for it to the captain. He can buy it from the stores, but she’ll not be returning it with nothing to show on the ledger.
Theodric also attempts to heal Fipps from the thrashing he received from Hamish, but the fat swab is having nothing to do with him and brusquely waves him off.

Zalamesh seeks out the other Bekyar aboard, Shivika, speaking to her cautiously in polyglot, attempting to come to an understanding. Shivika is blunt with him: She and Scourge are mates, and Scourge doesn’t like the new crew, so she doesn’t like them either.

Hamish spends little time on deck after the rum ration, as he and the very affectionate Samms find a warm hammock below deck and entertain themselves while the crew relaxes on deck.
Bahram, who fell asleep soundly after the rum ration, wakes up late at night on deck, and talks to Jack Scrimshaw, who also signed up with Harrigan on the Wormwood six months ago. Jack was intimidated by Harrigan’s reputation as a hard master, but hoped his sailing skills would prove sufficient.

First day at sea aboard the Wormwood
Abadius 10, 4712

The four men awake on the lower deck of a ship at sea, with a bitter taste in their mouths, in confusion.Mister Scourge stands over them, screeching at them to get on deck, and six other pirates stand around the Bosun, blackjacks in hand. His cronies include“Slippery” Syl, “Jaundiced” Jape, Aretta, Fipps, Maheem, and Sivikah.

Bahram Faiz is one of the men slowest to respond to the strident orders of the bosun, and Scourge lashes him brutally, slicing open the flesh on his leg, as well as the linen of his blousy trousers. Zalamesh insolently stretches out from his sleep, but Faiz further infuriates Mister Scourge with a thoughtless remark. The lanky bosun lashes out again with the whip, slicing open Faiz’s cheek with a brutal stripe, and the handsome Keleshite collapses to the deck. Theodric and Hamish quickly carry the unconscious man up the stairs.

As the captives are ushered upwards, they see two of the crew watching them curiously from the galley, ‘Fishguts’ and Cut-throat Grok, while another crewman, Owlbear, crows like a rooster and shouts merrily at them, chained to the foremast.

Emerging blinking onto the quarter-deck, the men find themselves among the crew of the Wormwood, who are gathered about there, awaiting word from the men who stand on the poop deck. The pirates usher the captives forward, and the unconscious Keleshite is deposited on the deck. An attractive red-head sidles between Hamish and Theodric, and kneels down beside Faiz. Her prayer to Besmara heals his wounds, and he awakens.

A few pirates, ship’s officers from the look of them, stand about on the foc’sle, but all attention is directed at the two men standing athwart the ship’s wheel on the stern castle. Captain Harrigan introduces himself and mockingly welcomes them to the Wormwood. He cautions the men to keep to themselves, and warns them that “’there be no killing” amongst the crew. Then he tasks his First Mate, Mister Plugg, to turn the captives into pirates proper.

Mr. Plugg, grinning unpleasantly, orders the men to chivvy up the riggings to the crow’s nest, as he is in need of a rigger. Theodric scrambles up the ropes far quicker than any of the others, and Plugg assigns him the role of a rigger; today he is to be serving as lookout. Plugg inquires to the others as to their skill in the kitchen. Faiz makes an off-handed remark, and Plugg seizes upon it, telling the well-dressed man that he will be serving as cook’s mate to ‘Fishguts’ Kroop. Plugg informs Hamish and Zalameshthat, as they have no particular talent, they shall be serving as swabs.

Zalamesh is tasked with manning the bilges, and though he is tired by the hard work, he finds a heavy mace, a buckler, and a few silver coins amid the damp, forgotten mess in the bilges. He avoids the bilge spiders scuttling across the roof of the bilge, and listens without much sympathy, to the woeful tale of Jakes Magpie, who has been chained in the brig to await keelhauling for stealing from the ship’s stores.

Theodric works as lookout, but spends some of his time talking with Barefoot Samms Toppin, who climbs through the riggings like a monkey. The scantily-clad, attractive woman seems to like talking to him about her life, both before and after joining the Wormwood.

Bahram finds Fishguts in the galley, and is appalled by the stench and grime within. Chickens roam freely across the floor and several goats as well. Kroop, a short, fat man with a thick Shackles accent, appears insensibly drunk, but takes a shine to Faiz. Though the drunkard leaves Bahram to muddle through preparing the evening meal by himself, he does tell his mate about the Wormwood, his own sad story, and more than a little about his beloved chickens.

Hamish is tasked with maintaining the ropes today, and sets himself to splicing and tarring them competently. The half-orc’s roving eye spies Samms in the riggings, but he flirts with Tilly Bracket, who is working on deck as well. The pretty tomboy enjoys the attention and soon she and Hamish seem to be fast friends.

That night, the crew is called on deck for the Bloody Hour, where the day’s discipline is meted out. Jakes Magpie is brought up from the brig, tied about the chest with rope. Harrigan calls for volunteers and several of the crew step up to take up the ropes. Magpie is lowered over the side calling out piteously for mercy, and then the crew haul the ropes to drag him under the waves. Zalamesh notices that Plugg heaves on the ropes with particular satisfaction, and before long, a bloody, tattered mess emerges from the water on the other side of the ship.

Theodric moves to attend to Jakes, but Plugg bellows at him to belay that, instructing that the bloody chum should be cut loose before it soils the deck. Theodric pleads his case, trying to convince Plugg, or the distant Harrigan, to save Magpie, but Plugg scowls and avers that keelhauling is too kind for a thief who would steal from the captain.

After the bloody hour, the rum ration is distributed, but Harrigan does not allow a leisurely tipple. Knocking back the strong drink so quickly gets Theodric a little tipsy, but he soon launches into some fine sea shanties, to the delight of the crew. Zalamesh encourages his new mates to enjoy themselves, giving him time to surreptitiously watch the crew interact with each other. Hamish, noticing that Theodric is otherwise occupied, sidles up beside Barefoot Samms, complimenting her on her perfume and attire. Soon, he is chatting with his arm draped around her midriff and she is quite friendly with the broad half-orc mate. Bahram seeks out the beautiful Sandara Quinn, thanking her for her aid that morning. Sandara responds with a wry smile, warning him gently that he must mind his friends and enemies on board a ship full of scalawags. She plucks a small vial from her bosom and presents to him his own potion of healing, explaining that everyone needs a friendly favor on occasion.

Sandara makes her way over to Zalamesh, complimenting him on his fine words, and presents him with his battered top-hat, to his delight. She then seeks out Theodric, greeting him as a fellow servant of the Black Queen. She doffs her tricorne and produces his holy symbol, returning it to him. The priest thanks her deeply, and expresses his wish to recover his favorite fiddle. She informs him that he is not the only crewman with a fiddle in the quartermaster’s store; Rosie Cusswell evidently has a fine violin held in the lockers there as well.

That night, the new crew sleep in their hammocks, save Shango, who seeks out a quiet spot for his daily rituals to the loa. He enters the galley, but disturbs the chickens. The racket wakes up Fishguts to see who is bothering his birds. Zalamesh claims that he was only looking for a little rum—an excuse that delights Fishguts, and Zalamesh finds himself spending several hours drinking in the galley with the portly cook, who tells him Black-hearted Bezebel, his favorite bird, sometimes speaks to him when he’s alone. Shango enjoys his rum, but knows he will regret it in the morning, hangover or no.


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