Skull & Shackles

Grindylows in the storm!
Calistril 3, 4712

Early in the morning, the ship’s bell rings in alarm. A storm has hit the Man’s Promise and all hands are needed on deck! Zalamesh is ordered to climb up into the crow’s nest to act as lookout in the storm, while Faiz is ordered to assist with the linework in the riggings. Theodric is ordered up into the upper riggings to work, while Hamish is ordered to work in the lower riggings. The work is hard, wet, and slippery. After hours of struggling with the sails, the men are relieved when the sky brightens for a moment, but then the storm redouble in intensity.

Theodric slips from the riggings and falls on his left arm, injuring it badly, and Hamish tumbles from one of the spars, breaking his left hand during the fall. Zalamesh calls out a warning, as the ship is suddenly amidst a bevy of reefs, and Faiz cries out in dismay as grindylows clamber aboard in the driving rain!

Grindylows are vicious ‘sea goblins’, with wide-mouthed, sharp toothed maws. Their upper halves are goblinish in appearance, but below the waist, they appear to be octopus-like, with wrigging, grasping tentacles in place of legs. Two of the grindylows advances on the prone Hamish, thrusting spears at him, while another menaces Faiz.

Theodric calls upon Besmara to heal his injured arm, then stands and moves to assist the injured Hamish. The half-orc has stood up to fight, but one of the grindylows trips him with its tentacles and the other stabs him in the stomach, grievously injuring him. Hamish kicks one of his assailants, and it retreats overboard. Zalamesh, from the crow’s nest, calls out that other grindylows seem to be crawling aboard, but it is hard for the crew to distinguish anyone on deck in the driving rain and wind.

Giffer and Faiz attack the grindylows, and Hamish punches one of them overboard. When Giffer is stabbed back by one of the little monsters, Faiz conjures up a shock shield to protect him, then moves to help Hamish. Kroop, who has come up from below, shouts out that the grindylows have dragged Rosie overboard. Theodric, Faiz, and Giffer stab at the grindylows around them as Zalamesh warns the others that the spirits are warning him of danger.

Theodric moves to the side of the ship for a better look, but sees a shiny object on the deck, which, as he moves closer to investigate, proves to be Sandara’s obsidian holy symbol. The Man’s Promise suddenly jolts to a halt as it slams into a reef. The pirates cling to the ropes and masts, though Mister Plugg and Faiz loose their footing. The few remaining grindylows dive overboard into the whitecaps as Samms calls out from below that there is a lot of water belowdecks.

Plugg orders some of the crew belowdecks, where they find out that the Man’s Promise has a hole in the hull, but her freshwater barrel has also been smashed by the grounding. The ship is taking on water slowly, but still too much for the bilges to clear.

As the storm abates, the crew can see that they have run aground on a reef in the clear waters surrounding a small island. A high rock tor is on the northeastern side of the island, with a long spine of rock running to the south and west. Between the tor and the ridge is a low, swampy area, and dense jungle grows along the ridge. The rock has been worn away by the sea, leaving few places to beach a boat on the island, though ruined mud huts stand between a muddy beach and the swamp. Many spars and curls of coral jut out of the water between the ship and the island, though the waters appear clear. There is no sign of Rosie or Sandara,

Kroop recognizes the island as Bonewrack Isle. He doesn’t know of anyone living on the island, but says that ships avoid it because of the shallow waters and dense reefs. Plugg orders some of the crew to begin dismantling part of the deck to mend the hull. He summons Zalamesh and the other men and orders them to take one of the ship’s boats to the island and secure barrels of fresh water. The ship has grounded at low tide, and it will take the better part of the day and night to fix it. When the ship is repaired, the crew will cast off on the next high tide, whether the boat is back or not.

The men get their supplies and cast off in the cutter. Though the muddy beach is closer, they are wary of the collapsed mud huts, which must surely be abandoned. Zalamesh and Hamish row the boat around the northern tip of the island. As the boat weaves through the coral, the men see creepy totems affixed to the tips of the reef. Scrimshawed bones, some human, some not, are tied together with bits of rope and seaweed to form ghoulish sentinels, undoubtedly the work of the grindylows.

Drawing around the far side of Bonewrack Isle, the men see a long expanse of white sand beach, dappled with tall coconut palms. Further south, the dense jungle takes over again, before a cleared patch of land, which seems to be overgrown with untended crops. The men decide to beach the boat on the white sand beach. As they pull it out of the water, some of them notice that there are shattered coconuts below the palms. This seems suspicious to Shango, as the sand would not crack the hard coconuts, and coconut crabs would tear apart the hulls, rather than shatter them. He approaches the palms warily with Theodric to tie off the boat.

They are startled when huge crabs begin to clamber down several of the palm trees. Though only waist high to the men, the crabs are as big as dinner tables, with huge, sharp claws. Theodric and Shango rain down blows on one of the crabs, stunning it, before Shango fells it with a hefty blow from his axe. Hamish draws his sword and rushes at a second crab as Faiz holds back to prepare his baton and cast a spell.

Theodric and Zalamesh hasten to reinforce Hamish, who has staggered one of the crabs with a stout swing of his sword, while Faiz summons a gout of flame which only singes it. Zalamesh again finishes off a stunned crab with his axe, but the third crab evades the men and snips open a nasty wound in Faiz’s side. Theodric stabs the crab with his cutlass and Hamish smashes the injured creature to death with his sword.

Theodric heals what he can of Faiz’s nasty wound, but the injury is too deep for his relatively simple healing spells. The men take stock of the situation. Some want to search for fresh water first, while others want to disobey Plugg and search for the missing crewmen, in hopes of finding them alive. It is decided to climb to the top of the island, which will let us easily see all around, in hopes of finding either, or both, or our goals. Rather than entering the swamps to the north in hopes of reaching the tor, the men decide to follow a faint trail that enters the jungles south of the beach. It may lead to the fallow fields, or somewhere else, but it is at least a clear sign that someone has been on the island previously.

After a sweaty trek through the jungle, the men enter a clearing. Though the thick trees and creepers have been cut down, the clearing is overgrown with corn, and it is difficult to see more than a few feet in any direction. They begin walking through the clearing, staying to the right, but stop short when they find a blackened, rotting head impaled on a high pole. It is buzzing with fat black flies, and when Shango moves forward to investigate it, the spirits around him warn him of danger.

Zalamesh retreats from the gruesome marker, and looks around for the source of danger. Instead, he spies a corpse nearby. The men approach it cautiously, and Shango moves up to examine it. The body lies in a twisted pose, with one leg curled underneath it, and it clutches a pouch in one skeletal hand. When he reaches for the pouch, the wendifa is overwhelmed by a moaning chorus of watchful spirits, and narrowly twists out of the way as an immense, insect-like monster emerges from the ground!

The strange monster has huge, sharp mandibles, as well as dull claws on each of its six legs. The mandibles are coated with some dark liquid, and Shango realizes that his wicker shield is sizzling where the corrosive saliva has contacted it. He stabs at the monster, but its carapace is very tough. Hamish rushes forward with a battle cry and chops at the beast, but it does not reel until Zalamesh smashes it in the face with his axe.

Theodric prepares to bless his companions as Faiz incants a spell to shock the monster. Hamish finally lands a solid blow on the creature, dealing it a great injury, and in response it vomits forth a gout of acid, burning his buckler, but not injuring him. Faiz’s spell fails to penetrate the tough armor of the creature, but a few more sword blows and a final axe swing from Zalamesh finally bring it down. Faiz recognizes it as an ankheg, an insectile predator more common to plains and fields than deserted islands.

Zalamesh lays claim to the pouch, finding it full of gold coins and three polished obsidian gems. The men search around the field of fallow corn, finding several more of the severed heads atop posts. Each pole seems to be mounted around the perimeter of the field, but there are also several other bodies within the cornfield. One has a rusty dagger, but the scabbard is ivory and encrusted with pearls, while another has a rotted belt with a buckle of gold. The rotten belt holds a small vial of liquid on a peg, and the fluid within seems to be magical.

Scouting around the clearing, the men find another path leading into the jungle. It seems to lead up the ridge, and crude steps have been hacked into the stone. Though the heat and climb are strenuous, the going is much easier than blundering through the dense jungle and steep ridge otherwise. The men arrive at the top of the ridge in early afternoon, tired and sweaty.

They follow the faded path along the ridgeline and it soons runs parallel to a narrow stream of water. The stream and path lead to a timber stockade surrounding a small wooden lodge. An immense tree stands in the stockade and low branches hang over the lodge and the stockade walls. The stream flows under the wall of the stockade, and the door appears to be open.

Inside, the lodge abuts the huge tree on the far side, and there appears to be a telescope mounted onto the far wall of the stockade. The stream emerges from a small, bubbling pool of water between the tree and the door to the stockade. Hamish moves towards the lodge to investigate, while Zalamesh kneels down beside the pool to see if it is magical. Faiz and Theodric stand on either side of the door, on guard, but no one senses anything awry!

Suddenly, two green, ape-like creatures sway down from the limbs overhead. Though each is not much larger than a halfling, their long arms stretch out farther than a monkey or ape. One whips his limbs around Theodric’s neck, seizing him in a tight grip, while the other twists his vinelike arms around Faiz’s head, wrenching his neck violently and cutting off his air!

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Sailing aboard the Man's Promise
Calistril 2, 4712

The men work hard at their assigned tasks, ropework for Faiz on deck, and hauling the mainline again for Theodric. Hamish runs messages, while Shango labors belowdecks in the bilges. All are deeply fatigued by the time their shifts end.

Zalamesh commiserates with Kroop over the tight control that Plugg has kept over the rum on board, and Theodric surprises Rosie with her fiddle, which she had thought was left aboard the Wormwood. Faiz attempts to discern the location of the Man’s Promise, but he can sight no landmarks to guide him. In the evening, Theodric talks to Tilly, who is dissatisfied with being assigned to Plugg. Though she wasn’t fond of Barnabas Harrigan, he was at least a notorious pirate, rather than an unknown captain. Sil confesses to Faiz that she, too is a bit unhappy about being under Plugg’s command, but only because Plugg is so strict and methodical. Zalamesh seeks out his toady Ratline for any scuttlebutt, and the nosy halfling admits that he saw the captain consulting the maps aboard the Man’s Promise, plotting a course to approach the Mwangi coast south of Port Peril.

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First day aboard the Man's Promise
Calistril 1, 4712

The men are assigned work on the Man’s Promise much like they were on the Wormwood, except that the scarcity of crewmen means that the work is harder and more tiring, and there is no time for non-essential tasks, like Ratcatching. Faiz is dismayed to find that Mister Plugg cannot spare a cook and a cook’s mate, so he is forced to do laborious ropework on deck, and passes out from exhaustion. Theodric, working on the mainlines, Hamish, assigned to run messages, and Zalamesh, in the bilges, all work hard and wear themselves out over the course of the day.

Barefoot Sams and Tilly have been forced to sleep on billets in the ’officer’s quarters’ with Scourge, Jape, and Maheem. Samms says that she has gotten little sleep from the attentions of Scourge and his mates, but she has overheard Scourge and Plugg talking about taking real command of the ship. Tilly only knows that Scourge and Plugg are talking a lot, but Sandara and Bahram can tell, from the currents and stars, that the ship is not heading on a course that would take them to Port Peril.

Hamish gets his hackles up and spends much of the day and evening making Jaundiced Jape quite uncomfortable. The other half-orc seems to get the hint and moves his billet out into the general crew quarters, convincing his mate Narwhal to bunk in the officer’s quarters instead.

The four men get together and share their information, trying to figure out what to do. Zalamesh calls over Ratline, who doesn’t have much more information, but the halfling suggests talking to Kroop, who is an old sea-hand, and friendly to boot.

Zalamesh makes a show of gambling with Aretta, Sil, and Fipps, betting largely and loosing badly to Fipps. However, the raucous gaming helps to distract from Faiz and Theodric going into the galley to talk to Kroop. Fishguts has spent too little time on deck to notice the change in sailing direction, but from what Theodric can tell him, based on the scuttlebutt, Fishguts suspects that Mister Plugg might be turning the ship towards a drydock on the Slithering Coast known as Rickety Squibbs. The master of the docks, a retired pirate known as Rickety Hake, makes a practice of ‘squibbing’ ships, or making alterations to their lines and riggings, to change their appearance. It’s not an uncommon practice in the Shackles, as many pirates wish to conceal the provenance of their ship, either from foes, or prey.

If Plugg can get the ship squibbed at Rickety’s, then he could sail a bit further south to Blood Cove and obtain a new complement of sailors from Blood Cove, so named for the slave trade in the port, and set sail without crossing path with Harrigan.

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Skeleton Crew
Abadius 31, 4712

Early in the morning on the 31st, the ship's bell calls the bleary-eyed pirates on deck. Once the crew has assembled, a long line of captured sailors is paraded from the Man's Promise before the crew. Harrigan addresses the captives, offering a place on his crew for any who wish to throw in with the pirates. Several step forward and Scourge cuts their bonds before allowing them to take their places among the crew. 

Harrigan then explains his plans. He has two ships, but only one crew. The Wormwood will sail on to it's planned destination, with some of the original crew and some of the new mates. His first mate, Mister Plugg, will pick a skeleton crew to sail the Man's Promise to Port Peril to sell it for salvage. He points to the rest of the captives, saying some will be worth a hefty ransom from their families back in Azir, "and, for the rest, if the life of a pirate's not for them, they can spend the rest of their lives at sea!"  With that, he roughly shoves one of the injured captives overboard, and her shrill screams of terror motivate many of the other sailors to swear loyalty to Harrigan. 

 

Mister Plugg begins selecting his crew for the Man's Promise. To no one's surprise, he selects Mister Scourge first, then Owlbear,  then begins selecting many of his cronies. Fipps, Maheem, Jaundiced Jape, Narwhal Tate, and Aretta Bansion are all chosen as crewmen. To Plugg's disdain, Harrigan indicates Fishguts with a thumb, saying "I've had my fill of his bilge. Get him off my ship." Slippery Syl is selected, to Faiz's dismay, though Sivikah is not, to Shango's surprise.  With a leer and a wink, Scourge points out Barefoot Sams and Sandara Quinn, and Plugg selects them for his crew. Plugg also picks Ratline and Rosie, the two halflings, and Tilly Brackett. Giffer and Conchobhar are both selected as well. The men are chagrined that so many of their allies are selected for the crew of Plugg's ship, but are a bit surprised when Plugg selects them all as well.   Plugg informs his new crew that they all have ten minutes to get aboard the Man's Promise with their gear!  Faiz groans when he realizes that all of the savories he swiped for the Wormwood will be left behind!

The men scramble to get their footlockers with their gear, and each rushes off to the quartermaster's store to reclaim some of their seized gear from Grok, who, as an officer, is staying aboard the Wormwood. She cries profusely, as she is losing both her new friends, and her long-time drinking companion, Ambrose Kroop. Heart-broken to see the men go, she offers each of them a prized item from the ship's stores, sobbing "I hate Harrigan! Take something to remember me by, boys! I don't care what Harrigan does about it!"

Grok gives Theodric the finely crafted fiddle that belonged to Rosie Cusswell, and she gives a magical short sword to the pugnacious Hamish. She gives Shango four bottles of Holy water to protect him against angry spirits and zombies, and she gives the handsome Bahram a potion of Barkskin to protect his pretty hide in a fight.

Then the men board the Man's Promise. Plugg calls the crew together and explains that though the ship is new, the rules remain the same—though punishment will be harsher than the slack discipline aboard the Wormwood.  Shango is again assigned to the bilges, and Theodric to hauling the lines for the mainmast. The skeleton crew is stretched too thin to spare two men for the galley, so Bahram is assigned to haul rope and work knots, and Hamish is spared from rat-catching duties to act as the ship's runner. The crew is stretched thin, so each of the men is forced to work much harder than ususal. Though none of them incites Plugg's ire, each of them is exhausted by the end of the day. 

As Kroop dispenses the meal for the evening, Plugg informs the crew that rum rations and evening entertainment are, in his opinion, a waste of time and plunder, and shall not be permitted. He and Scourge go below and assign the crew to their bunks, though he assigns Tilly and Sams to thin reed mats on the floor of the officer's quarters on the main deck, staffed by Scourge, Jape, and Maheem. Of course, Mister Plugg claims the captain's quarters.

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Boarding the Man's Promise
Abadius 29, 4712

In the morning, the Wormwood is drawing closer to her chosen prey, a three-masted sailing vessel a bit larger than the pirate ship herself. It will be several hours before the faster Wormwood can overtake the other ship, so the pirates take the time to ready their gear. Riaris Krine, the Wormwood's master gunner, stops overseeing the deployment of the ship's ballistae to call the new recruits to her. She informs them that they will be part of the boarding party, and their task is to secure the wheel on the other ship. She points out Zalamesh and tells him that, being as he's the least bloody useless of them, he is in charge of the boarding action. She points out the stern of the fleeing ship, telling them to note the wheel on the poop deck and the two ballista on the higher stern castle. "Those spears take too long to load, so they won't be much use during the boarding, but they'll be using them to slice our riggings soon enough." She tells them to swing over once the ships are close, drive off the sailors, and take control of the wheel. "Don't let anyone get to those boats," she says, as she points to two small jonny-boats on the port and starboard main deck. "We want crew and prisoners, not castaways." Krine waves to the Wormwood's sorceress, Peppery Longfarthing. "Things will get foggy when we get close. Just stick to the plan. Swing aboard, take the wheel; guard the boats." Krine sees that the men are armed, so she doesn't issue them any weapons from the ship's armory on the main deck. Hamish takes one of the spears mounted on the wall of the galley, as well as two of the hatchets that Faiz told him were being used as meat cleavers. He chooses to use these rather than the mace he found in the bilges as it is a bit unwieldy. He puts on his brigandine vest and his leather greaves, as well as his leather bracers. Zalamesh also armors himself up as best he can and decides to use the nicely balanced boarding axe he found rather than his own sickle. Theodric fetches the short sword from the galley, and Faiz straps on his own scimitar. He is interrupted in his preparations by orders from Captain Harrigan, who tells the cook and his mate to slaughter a hog and bleed the animal overboard. Harrigan wishes the seas to be teeming with sharks, as he wants no deserters and no escapees. Zalamesh, knowing about the magical grapple in the galley, suggests to his friend Faiz that he should borrow the grappling hook from Kroop, while he and Theodric secure their own ropes for the boarding action. Theodric blesses the weapons of his friends, enchanting Zalamesh's boarding axe and Hamish's hatchet, while Faiz summons a crackling shield of sparks to guard him from his enemies. As the ships finally draw closer together, Peppery begins fouling the air with sorcerous mists, spoiling the aim of the sailors aboard the Man's Promise, who nonetheless load and crank their crossbows with desperation, hoping to land a lucky shot among the crew on deck of the Wormwood. Shango, Theodric, and Faiz ready their grappling hooks, standing on the stern of the Wormwood waiting for the enemy ship to draw close enough to grapple. Hamish holds no hook, but a spear, and warns the others to stay clear of his path. Soon enough, the Man's Promise can make no further gains on the Wormwood, and their crew turn to the inevitable boarding action to come. As the ships close together, many quarrels hurl through the thick mist, fired in desperate hope, but none find their place in the four's flesh (though one buries itself in the mast next to Shango). They can see two men guarding the wheel, and four more at the sterncastle, reading for the boarding. Before the ships collide together in a tangle of wood and ropes, Hamish hurls his spear, taking one of the sailors in the chest with it. The man is wearing studded leather armor which absorbs some of the force, but he drops his cutlass and staggers to the ground, stunned. His mates, having dropped their crossbows, ready their own cutlasses and hangers, and the pirates of the Wormwood hurl their grapnels! All of the men's find purchase in the riggings, and as they prepare to swing across, Hamish rushes forward with a howl and leaps the gap between the two ships! Faiz swings across, but misjudges his swing, and lands close to the wheel, but also, too close to the armed sailors for his comfort. Theodric swings across and nimbly lands beside him, to reinforce him, while Shango muffs his swing and lands farther back on the stairs leading to the poop deck. Pressed by the sailors before he can even draw his sword, Hamish pounds his fist into one of their faces, staggering his foe before he can draw blood. The fight is soon thick and fast. Shango threatens the sailors of the ship, promising to sacrifice their souls, and a few seem reluctant to engage him. He uses his voodoo magics to force the men to drop their swords, making them an easier target for Hamish's hatchet. Faiz and Theodric clash blades with their foes, with both sides largely parrying the others, until Faiz lands a solid cut and disables an opponent's sword arm. Theodric turns to finish off one of the men staggered by Hamish and Zalamesh, and his opponent takes advantage of his lapse to stab him painfully. Zalamesh and Hamish are advancing up the port side toward the sterncastle, putting down their foes. Hamish hurls his hatchet into the back of one of the sailors too foolhardy to surrender, and Zalamesh savagely chops him down for failing to bow to his will. One of Theodric's opponents clouts him brutally in the face with the basket hilt of his cutlass, but the Besmaran stands his ground and follows his mate's lead, chopping at the other man's arm to disarm and disable him. When his mutilated foe refuses to surrender, and tries to crawl away towards the boats, Theodric attempts to stab him in the back, but the wounded sailor twists away from the blade before passing out from his injuries. As they fight, the men notice Captain Harrigan making for the captain's cabin of the Man's Promise with Krine and Scourge close behind. None of the three see a sailor slip from behind a mast and draw close to Harrigan with a knife. Shango calls out a warning to the captain, and Harrigan wheels about and rams his sword through the assassin's gut, spilling her innards to the decks, before tugging his sword free and going inside the cabin. As the men secure the poop deck, an explosion rocks the bow and Kipper staggers from the cabins there with soot and smoke around him. The blast parts the fog a bit and the men see three Rahadoumi sailors running for the cutter on the ship's starboard deck. Hamish rushes to engage them and Theodric clambers into the boat itself to prevent one of the sailors from freeing it. Faiz jolts one with lightning, and Shango forces the other to drop prone with his magics. After finishing off his opponent, Hamish kicks the prone man to keep him down as well. No sooner than the men have secured the boats, the captain of the Man's Promise emerges from belowdecks with two of her sailors. She wears a fine shirt of mail and carries a boarding pike, which she thrusts threateningly at the men. Hamish, a bit tired from all the fighting, takes his hatchet and smashes the haft of the pike. Faiz unleashes fire from his hands, causing the three to scatter to avoid the flames. One threatens him and the sorcerer gives him a nasty gash across the leg, while Theodric and Zalamesh deal with the other. The captain, however, draws two scimitars and stands her ground. Hamish hurls his last hatchet at her, biting through her mail and hurting her badly. She makes a run for the side of the ship, but Hamish rushes her and, with a flying tackle, takes both of them tumbling over the edge of the gangway to the cargo deck, rendering her unconscious. The men have secured the wheel and the boats, and from the sounds around them, the battle for the ship is at an end!

 

As the men's fight ends, the mists begin to recede, and they can see that the crew of the Wormwood has successfully taken over the Man's Promise. The Radahoumi sailors are rounded up and their wounds carelessly bound up, before being tied up and marched down into the decks of their own ship. The pirates of the boarding parties get their wounds tended by Sandara and Theodric, but no one seems to be grievously injured from the crew. The same cannot be said of the sailors of the Man's Promise, and several corpses are unceremoniously dumped overboard after being stripped of valuables. 

The men consider pillaging some of the bodies themselves, until they see Captain Harrigan and several of his officers, including Riaris Krine and Peppery Longfarthing, methodically inspecting the loot from the captured ship before directing the crew as to where to stow it. Krine looks over and directs the storage of most weapons in a locker on the main deck, while Longfarthing points out particular items and directs them to a narrow closet on the starboard side of the sterncastle. Most of the booty is noted down by Cut-throat before the quartermistress directs the swabs to carry it belowdecks. Bahram makes sure to loot the galley of the Man's Promise thoroughly, selecting the best spices and foodstuffs for the Wormwood's own galley. 

After the prisoners are secured and the booty is stowed, the revels begin in earnest. Kroop prepares the hog bled earlier for the crew, and ample rum is distributed. The entire crew joins in the revelry, until Captain Harrigan interrupts the fracas with a clearing of this throat. 

Barnabas Harrigan praises the pirates of the Wormwood, and announces a paying of a full share to every hand—one hundred and fifty pieces of gold!  There is much rejoicing!  Harrigan then calls out Zalamesh and his boarding party for their swift capture of the wheel, and distributes an additional hundred pieces of gold to each of the four, as well as three potions of healing moderate wounds, and a potion of invisibility.   Harrigan claps a meaty hand on Zalamesh's shoulder and rewards the tall Bekyar with a magical amulet of natural armor for alerting the captain to his peril. The boarding party slew two of the sailors, so Harrigan awards them a bounty of 50 gold for that, and then awards them an additional 100 gold coins for capturing the ship's officer before she could escape!  The men are surprised, but delighted, to be granted such largess by the bloodthirsty Captain Harrigan. 

 

The crew engages in drunken revelry, feasting, and general merry-making throughout the night, as well as the entire following day. Theodric romances Sandara, and Hamish spends little time apart from Barefoot Sams. Shango seeks out Tilly for a bit of romance, but her blood is up, and rum is flowing, and Tilly is far more interested in partying hard than in lovemaking. Bahram approaches Syl for a romantic liason, and finds her more than willing. However, even when she disrobes, she does not remove a slim filetting knife from a snug sheath on her thigh. After their coupling, Faiz questions her about it, but learns little, other than the knife is 'her favorite'. 

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20 Days at Sea
Abadius 28, 4712

In the morning, Theodric steps to with alacrity, handling the stiff work on the mainline, while Zalamesh goofs off in the bilges a bit, spending a lot of time scouring around the lower deck, snooping out the location of the other sailor’s lockers and belongings, as well as inspecting the locked and trapped doors to the captain’s and officer’s cabins. Hamish finally has some success as a ratcatcher, and is able to present a suitable bounty of the vermin to Plugg to avoid a further lashing. Kroop is sober today, and preparing the meals himself, so all Faiz needs to do is endure a bull session with his boss—which, unfortunately for Faiz, also involves a substantial amount of drinking. The Keleshite is already a bit tipsy even before the evening’s rum ration, but his lack of duties lets him spend time charming both Jack Scrimshaw and Badger Medlar with his wit and panache.

Late in the afternoon, there is a cry, “Ship ho!” and the word is out that a ship has been spotted on the horizon. The riggers leap to the sails and a long pursuit is on, as the Wormwood turns towards its prey, and the prey flees before the wind. Faiz, already a bit inebriated, gets plastered during the excited rum rationing, and passes out on deck. Zalamesh seeks out Shivikah as the crew discuss the prospects of a boarding over dinner. He musters his most menacing air and warns his fellow Bekyar that she had best not think of betraying him during the action to come. Theodric seeks out Sandara on the eve of ‘battle’ and confesses his romantic attraction to her. The red-tressed pirate is flattered, and not disinterested, but explains that romantic entanglements can only cause her harm with a ship of conniving bastards like Plugg and Scourge. Hamish finds Crimson and seizes him roughly by the shirt collar, warning the hot-headed pirate that he hasn’t forgotten about Cogsward’s hesitation in helping Samms, and implying that future cooperation is strongly expected. Zalamesh also seeks out the raffish Tilly Brackett, who, as usual, is enjoying her rum, and convinces the headstrong wench that a night of pleasure is the right choice before a day of battle.

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Aboard the Wormwood, Day 19
Abadius 27, 4712

In the morning, Zalamesh uses his juju powers to close up the healing wounds on Hamish’s back, before the men set to their tasks. Theodric works the mainline again, and spends most of his spare time palling around with Crimson Cogsward. Despite their diametrically opposed attitudes, the two men seem to come to an understanding and enjoy each other’s company. Zalamesh and Faiz both work in the hot, damp confines of the bilges, though it seems Zalamesh lets Faiz attempt the bulk of the work, as both emerge sweaty and tired, but Faiz much more so. Zalamesh creeps out of the bilges on occasion to loom over Giffer Tibbs, reminding the easily scared little gnome of his expectations for her loyalty. Faiz, seeking some fresh air and a cool breeze occasionally, turns his charm on Ratline Rattsberger, who eagerly makes any alliances he can. Hamish again works diligently at his tasks as ratcatcher, but once more can make no showing of his deeds when Plugg demands it.

During the bloody hour, Hamish receives double the lashes for failure twice in a row, and his friends wince to see the red welts that Scourge tears open in his skin. Theodric heals him after the rum ration and meal is distributed, and Hamish seeks some gentler companionship with Barefoot Samms Toppin,who takes her mate below decks for her own purposes. Faiz, already worn out from a day in the bilges, finds the strong rum to be the last straw, and can barely make it to his hammock before passing out. Theodric, however, holds his rum better, and drinks with Crimson again, attempting to cement the Varisian’s loyalty to him and his mates. Zalamesh, however, seeks out the prickly Badger Medlar to commiserate with over their cups of rum.

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Wormwood, Day 18
Abadius 26, 4712

Assigned to their duties already, the men make the best of their work. Theodric handles the heavy work of hauling the main lines with relative ease, and spends most of the day trying to ingratiate himself with the sullen and irritable Crimson Cogsward. Zalamesh works in the hot, cramped bilges by himself, wearing himself out, but he does take time to escape the humid hold by talking to Ambrose ‘Fishguts’ Kroop, flattering the slovenly cook on his mentorship of Faiz. Hamish focuses diligently on trying to catch rats, but still has no luck at his assigned tasks. Faiz is told that the captain and officers wish to have another portion of turtle soup, but the ship’s mate has no success in baiting the hooks with bits of raw chicken or potatoes. He dreads the bloody hour as much as Hamish.

During bloody hour, however, Faiz is relieved (a little) to find out that he is simply assigned to work the bilges tomorrow for his inept attempts at catching a sea turtle. Hamish, however, is whipped, gleefully, by Mister Scourge, who lays into the task with relish.

During the evening meal and rum ration, Faiz drinks too much and passes out again, though he has the presence of mind to wander belowdecks to do so. Zalamesh seeks out Kroop again and plies the cook with rum, learning from him that the grappling hook in the galley is a magical one, which cannot miss its target, nor be dislodged without command. Theodric plies the fiddle again, but, being sober, his efforts are much more pleasing to the crew of the Wormwood than the night before. Hamish, his romantic inclinations blunted by the whipping, shares some rum with Cut-throat Grok and convinces the quarter-mistress to open the ship’s store a bit late. He emerges with a sturdy brigandine vest, his own, in fact, purchased back from the ship’s booty with his winnings from the fight with Owlbear. He has also re-acquired his leather bracers and leggings.

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Aboard the Wormwood, Day 17.
Abadius 25, 4712

Plugg rounds up the new crew and informs them that he’s watched their floundering efforts long enough and has drawn up a duty roster for them, so he doesn’t have to assign them tasks each day any more. With an unpleasant grin, he assigns Theodric to hard work hauling the lines on the mainsail, and Zalamesh permanent duty in the bilges. He tasks the perennially unsuccessful Hamish with rat-catching duty, and tells Faiz that, of course, he is stuck assisting Fishguts in the galley.

Hamish focuses his energy on actually catching vermin today, doing little else, and succeeds, to Scourge’s displeasure, in producing an acceptable catch of rats. Theodric is forced to work hard and tire himself out on the heavy ropes, but he is able to find some time to speak with Badger. She has heard a lot of talk from Scourge about how he and the new fish are making trouble and causing problems, but she seems willing to hear his version of things. Faiz has an easy day in the galley, as Fishguts is sober today. He too spends a good deal of time speaking with Badger, trying to undo some of the more scurrilous rumors that Scourge has spread.

Scourge, for his part, stops Zalamesh before he goes to work in the bilges, and questions the Beykar about any weapons in his possession. Zalamesh is unsure why, until Maheem and “Narhwhal” show up to assist him in the bilges. Shango makes an excuse to climb back out of the bilge, but the two draw knives on him. He avoids a lunge from Narwhal and glowers, threatening to capture their souls. The old dwarf scoffs at his threats, but Maheem retreats warily. Zalamesh and Narwhal circle warily, until the wendifa forces the dwarf to drop his knife with his magics. Narwhal scrabbles for his knife, resisting Zalamesh’s magic further, and slicing up his hand, as well. Zalamesh kicks him hard in the groin, and the surly dwarf collapses onto the deck, causing Maheem to panic and flee. Zalamesh heals himself and rifles Narwhal’s clothes for loot, taking his knife and gold, as well as a small vial. Afterwards, he brags to Grok about his command of the spirits and coolness in battle.

During the evening meal and rum ration, most of the new crew get a little drunk. Hamish cannot keep his roaming hands off Barefoot Samms, and the two soon go below together. Faiz gets tipsy, and sleepy, and soon drifts off to sleep on deck. Theodric, perhaps unwisely, decides to play his fiddle, but his drunken performance only grates on the others. Zalamesh, who drinks a bit more slowly, seeks out Crimson Cogsward, who listens avidly to the tale of the knife fight belowdecks.

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Sixteen days aboard the Wormwood
Abadius 24, 4712

Plugg assigns Theodric to work in the riggings today, but the priest slacks off a bit and searches the cargo hold while goofing off. He finds many casks of oil, and sacks of barley which appear to have been ruptured by something tearing out of the sack.

Faiz is, as usual, tasked with assisting Plugg with the meals, but the old rummy is insensibly drunk, and Faiz has to cook by himself. He cooks an edible, if terrible meal, but spends some time getting the aloof Slippery Syl to warm up to him.

Zalamesh is assigned to serve as the ship’s runner, and wears himself out as Plugg sends him all over the ship for the most inconsequential communications. He leans on Ratline for information, and the obsequious halfling allows that Scourge has spent a great deal of time talking to the crew about the new swabs, finding fault and spreading negative rumors about all of them. Zalamesh also uses his magics to scry on the officers, and finds that Plugg has magical bracers, and his cutlass also appears enchanted. Captain Harrigan carries an enchanted sword of some kind, and his broad belt also appears to be magical.

Hamish is assigned to do repairs on the ropes and riggings, but passes the time by intimidating Conchobhar. He does find out that the seemingly incompetent gnome is, though not an able seaman, a skilled bard and entertainer.

That evening, after the rum ration, Theodric attempts to improve Aretta Bansion’s opinion of him, but the big-eared ex-harlot scarcely regards him much better, given how low her opinion of him and his friends already was. Faiz spends more time talking to Slippery Syl, deflecting her more bloodthirsty comments and ingratiating himself with her. Hamish sits down with Badger Medlar and drinks rum with her, surprising her as his previous interactions had been fairly aggressive. Zalamesh drinks with the roguish Tilly Brackett, though her appetite for rum means that the pleasant evening ends with her being unpleasantly drunk.

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