Day 15 in the Isle of Dread
The party continues their battle with the pirates of Rat’s End. Duine appears from a captive hut, and a half-orc pirate wielding a huge anchor, named Draxon, joins the fray — on the side of the party. First Mate Sully Nabb yields, and the party talks with him and Quartermaster Janie Vome, who both want the evil, indolent Captain Stepney Beckwith removed from power. The party talks to him and through persuasion, intimidation, and deception, convinces him to step down from his role.
Sully Nabb becomes the new captain and gives the party his treasure as a reward. He takes some of it back on request, as ransom payment for the captives in Rat’s End. The pirates lend the party an outrigger canoe, and they take the prisoners back to Tanaroa, including some villagers, Chief Mira’s brother Doran, one of the Tharashk mercenaries, and three rakastas. They also take the bodies of the dead villagers.
At Tanaroa, they speak with the chieftain, who thanks them for their efforts. The Tharashk mercenary decides to stay in the village while the party escorts the rakastas back to their camp-village, north of the wall. A few days later, the party arrives at the rakastas’ camp-village, which they just call “Rakasta.” They stay here for a couple of days to wait for better weather, then set out for the other point marked on the map they found in the ruined canoe. According to Sully Nabb, it is a hidden village filled with strange forest creatures.
After a few more days, they make it to their destination, and find the village is above them in the canopy. They decide to wait on the ground instead. They are attacked by frightened ankylosaurs the first night, which they drive off. The next day they are set upon by giant spiders and aided by a shipwrecked smuggler, the shift Gulch. Gulch joins them. That night, they are attacked by saber-toothed tigers, which nearly kill Renshaw. They fight these off as well.
The party decides to finally ascend to the village and climb up the trees to get there. Here, they meet the phanatons, who speak only elvish. The party asks the phanatons if they have anything that needs doing in exchange for their hospitality. They ask the party to save their young, who have been stolen by araneas — giant intelligent spiders, who lair to the north. Peril remains in the village for the time being, still recovering from his injuries at Rat’s End.
Without Peril, the party is easily lost in the wilderness, and after several days they end up right back where they started. This time, they hire a phanaton guide to take them as close as possible. While camping, the party believes they are about to be ambushed by tribal warriors. They kill most of the warriors, sparing one, and learn that the warriors were not there to ambush them. Draxon kills the last survivor so that he cannot report back to the village.
The next day the party comes to a cave in the swamp with totems and primitive paintings at the entrance. They decide to investigate. Although they attempt to be stealthy, they neglect to put out their torches in the dim light, and the mad, corrupt lizardfolk within take notice and attack. The party is flanked and nearly overrun, but manage to just barely triumph. They investigate the cave further and find that it is not yet empty: they locate the lizardfolk king, shamans, and a few more warriors, and all the lizardfolk spawn at the back of the cave.
(end at Day 30)
Experience Gained: 65 XP
Day 15 in the Isle of Dread
The party is in the midst of a battle with the pirates of Rat’s End. Peril is surrounded by pirates, Renshaw is defending against the attacks of First Mate Sully Nabb, and Litreex and Gelzinn have been overrun. The villagers freed by Renshaw are being slaughtered by the pirates, save Doran, who is still missing on his search for weapons.
Renshaw is backed up against one of the huts by Sully’s (mostly ineffective) frenzy. As he is pressed against one wall, the door swings open, revealing Duine, who was last seen with the boat on the north shore of the small island. Duine, seeing the chaos, projects his ever-curious psyche onto Sully’s mind, confusing him and implanting suggestions to attack his allies, distracting him from Renshaw. Several pirates rush in to attack Duine in the threshold of the hut.
Peril fights valiantly, but is brought down after taking out five of the pirates he was fighting. He picks himself back up only to be knocked out again, and Renshaw uses his sorcery to bring him back once more, allowing him to finish off the surrounding pirates. However, he falls once again as the pirates who were previously attacking the villagers abandon the only escapee to join the main fight.
Further back, a group of more sober pirates armed with crossbows fire into the melee. As they do, yet another pirate approaches, this one a huge half-orc, dragging a massive anchor behind him. The crossbow-shooting pirates seem invigorated by his arrival, encouraging him to join in the fight… until they discover that he is angry that his hut (the supply hut) was burned down while he slept in it, and he blames the pirates for it, as they are the first people he has seen.
The back rank is thus disrupted as the newly-arrived pirate charges into them swinging his anchor, maiming most, killing some, and routing the rest. He then moves forward to join the rest of the fighting, just as Sully manages to overcome Duine’s mental override enough to call “Yield!”
The party chooses to honour his request, as do the fighting pirates. There is a tense moment as Doran returns, who then attacks Sully Nabb. Nabb deals Doran a serious but not fatal wound, and the party convinces him to back down. Sully Nabb orders the men to disperse, and tells the party he wants to speak with them in his hut. They agree, and he takes them there. When they arrive, he sends a runner off to go get “somebody important,” and speaks with the party for a short while. Peril is laid on Sully’s bed to recover from his injuries, while Sully attends his own wounds.
Soon, a rough-looking woman enters the hut, who is introduced by Sully as Quartermaster Janie Vome, called “Quickbolt” by some of the crew for her skill with the heavy crossbow slung across her back. Together, Sully and Janie explain the situation: while the captain is ostensibly in charge of Rat’s End, they are the ones who actually run the day-to-day. The captain, they say, is an incompetent leader and an evil man with vile appetites. Sully leans particularly hard on the oaths they swore to their old fleet, the Crimson Fleet, and on a nebulous thing he calls the “pirate code.”
Apparently, Stepney Beckwith took the role of captain not long after a storm led them to the Isle of Dread, at which time two huge birds swooped down from the mountains and one killed the previous captain. Beckwith, as first mate at the time, took the previous captain’s magic sword and ring and seized control of their ship, the Drowned Rat. He led the pirates to the Emerald Isle, where the ship was mostly dismantled to set up the early shelters of Rat’s End.
Since then, he has been trying to indulge his sick desires as much as possible. According to Sully, if it were up to the captain, they would burn the villagers’ homes to the ground, kill their children, and have their way with their women. Further, he’s abandoned all thoughts of leaving the Isle of Dread and going home. The party determines they left Khorvaire 200 years ago (relative to the time at which they, themselves, left).
So far, Sully and Janie have restrained the captain’s indulgences, but they have had enough of him. Janie wants to mutiny, but notes that for all his villainy, Beckwith is far and away the most competent fighter in the crew — plus, he’s armed with his magic sword and ring, and has the backing of a number of loyalists in the crew still. Sully believes his word must be his bond, and refuses to mutiny, but mentions Renshaw’s strangely endearing qualities (a mix of charisma, smooth-talking and psychic nudging). He believes the party can convince the captain to be a better man.
Both offer the party a reward. Janie will allow them to take the captain’s magical items and any treasure he might have, and Sully offers them his personal treasure hoard, acquired over years. The party discusses. Renshaw wants to try and convince the captain to mend his evil ways, but Peril is strongly against it, believing at best he’d just lie and pretend he’d changed. Duine is ambivalent, and Draxon, who has injected himself into the situation, seems to grossly misunderstand the situation, and believes he will be the new captain. The group decides to try and convince him first, and resort to violence if that fails.
The party, plus Draxon, go over to the captain’s hut and knock on the door. Stepney Beckwith answers shirtless, his sword hanging from his hip and a wave-shaped ring of clear blue stone on his finger. His breath reeks of booze. Although he knows the devastation the party wrought in Rat’s End the night before, he professes to be too tired and hungover to deal with them, and asks them to just get out of his hideout.
Through persuasion, deception, and — with Duine’s psychic influence inspiring fear in the captain — intimidation, Renshaw delivers cogent arguments and Peril impassioned speeches to convince Stepney Beckwith to give up his role as captain. He surrenders his hat but refuses to give up the magic sword and ring that belonged to the previous captain. The party returns to Sully, handing him the hat. Janie scoffs, saying that she thinks Beckwith will just turn on them again, but Sully thanks them and gives them his treasure.
The treasure is a box of coins, gems, and a scroll of shield. The party offers to give him back some of his money as ransom for the prisoners in the camp, which he accepts. He initially wants to take back the silver (totalling 5,000 coins) but the party convinces him to take the copper, instead. They then go to free the prisoners and retrieve the dead, and are loaned an outrigger canoe by the pirates. They go back to Tanaroa with the prisoners, including Doran and several other villlagers, as well as one of the House Tharashk mercenaries, named Tuhg, and three humanoid tiger creatures called rakastas.
According to Sully, the pirates planned on using the rakastas, who are talented at wild animal rearing, to raise griffons for them, using eggs stolen from the griffon nest. They were going to use the “weird monkey things” in the forest to steal the griffon eggs — thus the map the party found in the smashed canoe.
Draxon accompanies the party as well, seeking fame and fortune in their company and apparently feeling stuck in Rat’s End. Duine adopts a manner of speech similar to the pirates.
Day 18 in the Isle of Dread
Back in Tanaroa, the party returns the villagers and the bodies of their dead, and then goes with Doran to see Chief Mira. She thanks the party profusely, chastises Doran, and offers them anything she can, although the village has little to give. The adventurers seem content to just rest the night in Tanora.
Tuhg decides to stay behind in the village, but first shares some information about teh island and the other House Tharashk mercenaries. Like the party they were contracted to map the island, though they are unsure by whom; the leader of the troop, Khav Aashta d’Tharashk, claims to be able to remember almost nothing about their employer, but refers to him as a “blue man.” While heading to the huge volcano in the northwest part of the island, the mercenaries were separated by an attack that involved dinosaurs and lizard-men. Tuhg and some others ran, and were then found by pirates. The other mercenaries with Tuhg died in the skirmish, while he was captured.
Day 20 in the Isle of Dread
The party sets out with the three rakastas. Only one of them,, speaks Common. He helps guide the party to the rakasta village-camp, which they simply call “Rakasta.” The village consists of a number of silk-walled pavilions, including one large central pavilion with a number of silk cushions and a bonfire pit, several residential pavilions, and a few other pavilions where the saber-toothed tigers are kept.
The rakastas thank them and give them some bolts of silk and geographical information for their troubles. They also talk a bit about the “weird monkey” creatures, which are called phanatons, and warn them about the “upright lizards” who live in the caves to the north. Duine finally loses his pirate speech, but starts talking more like the rakastas.
Day 22 in the Isle of Dread
The adventurers spend two days in the rakasta camp, waiting for sudden tropical storm to stop. The rakastas put up hide screens to protect their homes, and Duine learns about the rakastas’ culture and daily lives. When the weather has passed, the party sets out for the village of the phanatons, as indicated on their map.
Day 24 in the Isle of Dread
Led through the jungle by Peril, the party arrives at the point marked on their map. At first, they see nothing there, but after searching carefully they discover that the village is actually built up near the canopy, built to blend seamlessly into the trees. Occasionally, one of the phanatons — resembling a cross between a racoon, monkey, and flying squirrel — flit across from one tree to another. There are no obvious routes up, and the party is uncertain if the creatures will be hostile, so they decide to wait.
The first night, they find themselves in the path of frightened ankylosaurs, which they slay.
Day 25 in the Isle of Dread
The next day is hot, so the party decides to stay put again. Mid-day, they are attacked by giant spiders, who creep up on them and try to trap them with globs of webs. While fighting the spiders, a newcomer arrives: a shifter swashbuckler, wielding a rapier. He helps the party fight the spiders, and then introduces himself as Gulch, a smuggler of the Society of Badgers. He, himself, holds the title of “the Badger,” which is apparently the highest honour in the Society; it’s supposed to be a secret title, but Gulch seems to be poor at keeping it hidden. Gulch shipwrecked here but has lost his crew, and is searching for them. The party invites him to join them while he searches.
That night, while they camp, they are attacked by sabre-tooth tigers, who sneak up while they are sleeping. Duine is on watch, but fails to notice their approach until they maul Renshaw into unconsciousness. Draxon is similarly savaged, although manages to stay conscious. The party slays the tigers, and sleeps the rest of the night with a doubled watch.
Day 26 in the Isle of Dread
Injured from the tiger attack, the party decides to finally ascend to the phanaton village above. Draxon climbs up a tree and throws down a rope for the others, and they make it up to a wooden platform where the racoon-like phanatons gather around in large numbers to watch them. They are greeted warmly in elvish by the chief of the phanatons,. The phanatons offer their hospitality to the party, who asks (also in elvish) what they can do to repay it.
The phanatons ask them to get back their young, who have been captured by araneas: intelligent giant spiders who wield dark sorcery. The party agrees to get the phanatons’ children back, and are told where to find the lair. They rest for the remainder of the day in the village. Renshaw converts the phanatons to the faith of St. Derli, and shames them into wearing pants.
Day 30 in the Isle of Dread
Peril elects to remain in the phanaton village while the others strike out in search of the araneas. However, without Peril to guide them, the party becomes lost and ends up wandering back to where they started. This time, they decide to hire a phanaton guide, who leads them to the north end of the lake, and then leaves them. That night, while in camp, the party hears approaching footsteps and hushed voices. Duine telekinetically rustles a bush in the darkness, and sounds of an attack are heard.
The party hides in the trees, and watches as villagers arrive. They are differend from those found in Tanaroa, with studier builds, different clothing and equipment, and sharper, more angular tattoos. When they investigate the seemingly empty camp the party springs an ambush, slaying all but one, who is questioned. He reveals he is from the “great village of Mantru,” and that they were only investigating the party’s campfire while on the hunt, not coming to attack.
Realizing they have made a mistake, Draxon slays the last survivor with his anchor so that he cannot report back to Mantru. Duine and Renshaw bury the bodies.
Day 31 in the Isle of Dread
The party wanders into some low but steep hills that roll down into swampland. The hills are dotted with caves, and one in particular draws their eye as they pass. It features totems around the entrance, carved from bone and some jungle wood, as well as crude paintings. They investigate the totems but cannot discern their significance, and so decide to venture inside. The entrance of the cave is flooded slightly, and it is dim inside from light filtering in through the ceiling.
Although they try to be stealthy at first, they neglect to put out their torches, so the lizardfolk within take notice of them. In a chamber surrounding a deep pool of water, several of the lizardfolk rise and charge at Draxon. The others stand further back in the narrow passage, putting them into position to be flanked as the lizardfolk let out horrible shrieks, summoning their kin from further in the cave.
Draxon is the target of more than a dozen javelins and is struck many times by spears, clubs, and spiked shields before he falls. Gulch falls soon after, and Duine, further back, is brought down by the flanking lizardmen. Most of the lizardfolk have been slain, but now only Renshaw stands, most of his magic depleted. He attempts to bargain for surrender with the lizardfolk. They cannot speak, but he uses his telepathy to communicate with them — only to find them mad and corrupt, and hungry for flesh.
When all seems lost, Duine manages to get back up and help him kill the last of them. The party limps through the dungeon, searching for treasure, and as they do so come to the last chamber of the cave… where the lizardfolk king waits, with his shamans, a few more warriors, and the lizardfolk young.