Chapter 2 - Poor, Poor, Stupid Shefton

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"Ornrik, you want to come take a look at this?" asked Viselys as he stood before the musty, potentially poison-filled room.

With a few gestures and muttering of arcane words, Ornrik could tell that many of the things in the jars on the shelves as well as much of what was growing along the walls was, indeed, poisonous. Likewise, the body on the ground appeared to have died from poisoning. It appeared that there was a Violet Fungus in the room that must've been the antagonist that killed the poor gnome on the floor. Viselys and Ornrik plugged away at it from a distance to remain in a safety zone. It didn’t take long to destroy the dangerous mushroom.

Carefully exploring the contents of the room, Ornrik recovered the dead gnome's satchel which contained 2 Potions of Lesser Restoration.

Still hearing the sounds of struggle and combat, the gang continued to explore the caverns. One room appeared to be some sort of a trophy storage area as it contained an enormous reptilian skull, nearly six feet in length, mounted on a wooden display. Other trophies lined the walls—nameplates from ships, battered sea chests, mounted heads of sea monsters, and weathered figureheads. Ornrik discovered a well-preserved, leather-bound collection of nautical charts (provides a +4 bonus on Profession (Sailor) checks made to plot a course on the ocean.)

Idae managed to spring the locks on the sea chests, discovering 120 gp, 448 sp, 683 cp, 3 garnets (20 gp each), and 5 pearls (100 gp each).

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Moving forward, the group came upon a maze of tunnels. Lurching out from the tunnels, three savage pirates attacked, swinging away with their scimitars and biting at anything nearby. Shefton caught an unfortunate blade that sliced him just right, causing him to bleed out. The savage pirates capitalized on the injury and started biting him too, causing Shefton to lapse into shock and lose consciousness. The beasts (for they were certainly no longer human) continued to feast upon Shefton. Saris came around the corner, but it was too late for Shefton. The group destroyed the pirate-things, mourned briefly for Shefton, then carried on towards the sound of even more combat, where Idae believed he heard a woman's voice amongst the savage growling.

Moving past a bedroom area, where there appeared to have been a struggle, but no immediate threat remained, Idae poked his head around the corner to see a woman surrounded by a dozen or so savage pirates. The woman was backed into a corner, using a table for some cover, and fought fiercely—her blades whirled about frantically and struck any pirate that drew too near. She looked to have been bitten once or twice, but seemed to be holding her own. She yelled out to them, "Oh, you're hungry are ye? Eat this!"

In an attempt to draw some of the pirates away from her, Idae shot them in the back and ran back down the hallway towards the rest of the group.

When the woman noticed the arrow in the back, she called out, "Oi! Get in the fight or get outta here, bucko! These things are lookin' to die, and I plan on obligin'!" Several of the pirates turned and followed after Idae, who had retreated to the bedroom area. Saris steped to the front of the narrow passage and began to run through the savage pirates as they funneled towards him, even managing to skewer two of them at once!

Idae, in the bedchamber, discovered a half-eaten half-elf surrounded by several acidy piles of goo. On one of the half-elf's finger was a fine looking ring that Idae removed. He then cut himself on the forehead, attempting to appear as though having suffered much damage in getting this far.

Back in the room where the woman had been surrounded, the gang filed in and helped finish off the remaining pirates. As the last pirate was slain, the woman gracefully sheathed her rapier and dagger and called out, "Oi, sure glad you showed up, but who are ye? You ain't none of mine, and you ain't none of them, neither. What brings ye here to this little piece of hell?"

Idae answered her in a language that no one else seems to understand. (Argot) The lady responded in kind and gave a nod of the head before Viselys piped in, "You know, it's not really polite to speak in a language that not everyone can understand."

"Well, this ain't no place for politeness, and I ain't necessarily got time fer it, y'know?" replied the woman.

Viselys offered her a healing potion and Ornrik performed some healing magic as the group told her how they’d been trying to track down Vanthus. At the mention of Vanthus Vanderboren's name, she flew into a poetic litany of profanity that lasted several seconds and was as magnificent as it was scandalous to hear.

"All this ye see here," the flamboyant woman said as she waved her hand at the slaughtered deformities, "and what nightmares ye must have fought through t' get t' me; t'was all Vanthus Vanderboren's doing! That vomitous pig came t'me with his hussy 'n asked t'see our wares; made like he were a black marketeer lookin' fer some fur or scale t'move. Told him we had a ship coming in today what were full of exotica for him ta' shap, so he stayed on a bit. Seemed a fine enough chap, but then not an hour ago, he dumped a hold full of whale oil into the cove and lit it up. I was on the' Slippery Eel at the time, and that's when I caught the two of them on board, fixin' t'rob me! Can ye ‘magine that? A pair of base curs tryin' t'rob Captian Harliss Javell? Anyway, I stuck the fool in the arm with me blade, he yelped, and then as he ducked aside he dropped what he were tryin' t'rob. Were a black pearl. One the size of a man's fist, mind you! Was going to make some fair coin off that bauble, but as it fell, the thing cracked like an egg. Some o' Vanthus' blood from my blade spattered the pearl, and it boiled and flashed with light. This foul, choking green gas started spewin' from it, burning through the wood like it were acid. I grabbed the thing, ran up topside, then threw it in to the water, but as it struck, the thing exploded!

"After that…things got a bit weird, mind ye. A green mist filled my vision, and I felt strange. Like someone else were in my head. Someone…someone hungry! And the rage! Rage like I never felt 'afore! And then, just like that, it were gone. Vanthus were on deck too by then, but he and I were the only humans left. That pearl, it did something to me crew. Ta' Vanthus' little girly, too! Turned them bad, like something ye might find in a net and throw back on account the sun got no purpose lookin' upon it. These things!" She kicked one of the deformed pirates in distaste. "Whatever were in that damnable pearl turned over three score men into…into man-eating freaks!

"Vanthus, he seen what his friend and the rest turned into. He dove into th' water to get away. I did the same, only I swam for shore. Found me first mate Drevoraz there. He's resisted the change too, as had some others here and there, yet they were nothin' but the banquet for those things. We fought our way into the caves and managed to hole up here with Captain Kigante, the man who keeps these caves for us. Only, Kigante's freak food now; he got jumped by a mob of them not twenty minutes ago. Tore him apart like they was sharks!

"And one more thing. I think they got the sick in their maws. The places they done bit me still burn, and it's hard to think straight… But hey! You fought yer way in here! That means there ain't much left of them out there, right?"

“I think these were the last. If there are any, it’s probably just a few,” Viselys assured her, “So, about Vanthus…”

"I'll learn that cur what it is t'foul my business! I know who he is! The Vanderboren name's no secret to me. I know he's got family 'n holdings in Sasserine! I sent my right hand Drevoraz to deal with 'im, I did. Drevoraz is on his merry way to Sasserine as we speak. He'll do for Vanthus' sister, his mum and pop, and any other family or friends the bastard has in that dunghill city. Cross the Crimson Fleet and we take everything in your life from ye. Best not forget that, boyo."

Terrified by this news, the group explained to Harliss that Vanthus wouldn’t likely be in Sasserine, that he’d killed his parents, and looted the family vault. Also, Viselys felt troubled by the fact that he was standing before a professed captain of the Crimson Fleet, who had undoubtedly committed many, many crimes.

After muttering some curses under her breath, Harliss confessed, "Sorry boyos, I fear I may've made a huge mistake."

"Perhaps you could accompany us back to Sasserine and tell your friend to stop," suggests Viselys.

"Oh no, I won't be going back to Sasserine," Harliss responds. "I've been there before, and let's just say that I've got no reason to go back. I'll tell you what I can do, though; I can give you this note to pass along to me first mate that's tellin' him to stop. Vanthus won't be showin' and there's no good in doin' the rest of the family harm to get t' him. If you leave right away, you might be able to beat him to Sasserine. He'll be stopping in the swamps to gather some allies…a local tribe of bullywugs…to help him."

Taking the note, Idae asked, "But how will Drevoraz know this is really from you? I'd certainly be suspicious of it…"

Harliss replied, "Here. Take this, too." She handed him one of her earrings. "He knows that this is mine and will trust you if you present it to him with the note."

"Great, let's go, guys. Lavinia's in trouble," Idae said as he began to head out of the caverns.

"It's been fun, boyos, but it's time for me to go, too," said Harliss. Viselys stepped in front of her. "Is somethin' t' matter, boy?"

"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come with us, Captain Javell," insisted Viselys. "You have to pay for your crimes."

Chuckling a bit to herself, she said, "Boy, we've all suffered, and we've all committed a crime or two here or there. Why don't we just let things be?"

"Come with us," demanded Viselys as he readies his sword and shield for potential combat.

Harliss steped up next to him and calmly said, "I'm going to have to ask you to step aside…and I'm not going to ask you again."

When Viselys didn’t get out of the way, Harliss, in a lightning fast display of swordsmanship, drew her blade and pierced Viselys. He struck back, Saris took a stab at her, and Ornrik tried to befuddle her with some magic.

In another moment, Harliss quickly used some misdirection to draw Viselys' attention away as she quickly cut him down and moved on saying to Ornik, "Sorry 'bout that…you should see to your friend," before she made her way back through the maze of tunnels and fled the cove.

Along the way, she crossed paths with Idae, who had begun to leave before the conflict had begun. Seeing her new wounds, Idae offered her another healing potion, saying "'Til we meet again!"

Harliss gratefully drank the potion and said (in Argot), "You should tell your friend to say thank you. It's not wise to cross the Fleet," as she scampered off towards the mouth of Kraken's Cove.

Ornrik patched up Viselys and helped him to his feet. The group began to make their way out when they came across one last savage pirate, who seemed to be feasting upon Shefton's remains. As she heard them approach, she lifted her head away from her banquet and called out, "Vanthus? Lover? Is that you? Oh, I'm soooo hungry!"

Saris quickly ran her through, disgusted by the savagery. Around her neck hung a locket with a picture of Vanthus in it.

All four of them had the same thought: “Creepy.”

As they went, Idae could hear Shefton’s voice in his imagination, "Hey guys, if we hurry back we can still make it to the Wormfall Festival!" He shook his head sadly.

Continue to Chapter 3...

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