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As you'll realise I'm still in the weeds of doing a 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off rotation on a platform with very little internet access. It's likely to continue on for another 1-2 months at least before I get a change back into (hopefully) an office based role.
So this'll be on hold for that period at least as I'm not really going to be able to get continuity until I'm back in the office. Apologies again, but there's not much I'm able to do about it.
The ship's put back to sail and you begin to put the rocky shallows behind you. Those in the rigging are on close alert for any more sign of scaly devils in your wake... but after a few quiet hours with naught but wind and wave your company even they begin to relax back into the voyage. Talk among the crew turns from memories of blood to the chance to get back to port and hock their hunk of silver for whatever poison's their preference - mainly of the two-legged or cask-borne variety, though there's a particularly lean snaggle toothed gent who spends a good couple of hours expounding upon exactly what sort of cake and sweetbreads he'll gorge on once they make port.
Looking at the heading of the boat, you'd wager that a fairly direct path's being cut t'wards the haven of Freeport... haven that is, if you're looking for a festering well of piracy and vice. The Captain and Hinsin don't emerge from their chambers for the rest of the day - and the fall of darkness brings the ship still a sail, though with relatively calm wind and flat seas.
The toe bone feels cool to the touch, and heavier than you'd expect if comparing it to either the bone of a shark or man. Regardless no thunderbolts strike you down nor do you feel a tactile taint or stain to it... it just feels... like a bone.
The party ensures that they're not stiffed on the hacksilver and each see themselves to a fair portion of what they're entitled. Folded and hammered it's a chunk of hefty weight (about 20 lb a piece) and unwieldy enough to need both hands to lumber down to your bunk (or wherever you seek to make it safe).
DM - Voice of the Voiceless wrote:
Hinsin waits to see the cloak delivered to him before he follows Lanteri into her quarters. Horumheb remains on deck, bellowing to the crewmen "Right lads, get your back into it. Quicker we do it the quicker we're at sail and moving on."
Tipene puts the question to the most senior on deck - Horumheb. The man shrugs and replies "If they wants a trophy I ain't the one to say no... can't see the bones being worth much in bits though"
The crew set to the task of stripping down the silver with gay abandon, crowbars, hammers, chisels and axes all employed in equal measure. The coffin takes some destructing, but eventually yields to the attention and kindling is separated from the lining. Wood and bones are sent into the brine and to Besmara's keeping - while the silver is hacked into manageable chunks, folded and hammered into a size where it might be easily secreted or portioned up for sale.
For clarity - does everyone claim a share of the silver?
Neither Quillin nor Bek can get a mental fix on a name or legend that might directly relate to a cyclops in a box, though each in turn does ruminate on a few points that might be of relevance.
The gnome recalls some footnotes from a book once thumbed through with respect to spellcasting amongst the larger races. Giants typically not known for their expanded minds, bar a couple of cases. The ogrish types from distant Arcadia... and the cyclopes of years past. Though not known to be active in the now, in ages past the cyclopes were thought to rule as sorcerer kings - keeping the smaller races merely as chattel.
Bek on the other hand recalls a few sozzled and drunken tales of the isles. Sunburnt and recently returned, high on liquor and ready to boast - more than once a Shackles sailor has told of their crew stumbling into a ruin or tomb amongst the isles and making off with wealth and riches. Though you've not seen anything bar a few fragments of hacksilver or a well worn stone carving - with one eyed iconography.
On the topic of manifest for the crew - it is something that I should develop... but I don't have anything specific at this point.
News on the work front... I have some! Will be mobilising offshore (to an oil rig) on Sunday for anywhere up to 3-4 weeks. The role should continue on and off through till the end of May - which gives a bit more stability to me here (plus means I can get paid again ;).
What it might mean though is that I suddenly drop off the contact map. Until I get offshore I have no clue what their internet filters are or aren't going to pick up... so while I'm hopeful Paizo is still accessible it isn't guaranteed. As long as I can get online I'll pop up a quick howdy - but again given it's a new job and I'll be landing right in the middle of ongoing operations it might take a few days before I get meaningful downtime.
So ultimately smiley face followed by pensive face which is hopefully followed by tired yet professionally satisfied visage.
Just a short note with apologies - I've not been in a happy headspace (well that plus busy with real life events over the weekend) for a while which has made it difficult to get into character. Hopefully on the mental mend and will be back into it sharpish, but a bit of patience is appreciated.
Note: Nothing major major, just a passing melancholy.
Gong Xi Fat Cai! - and happy year of monkeying to you all.
I am still here, though currently digesting the news of being forced into taking annual leave followed by potential unpaid leave unless some work magics itself up in the next wee while. Currently contemplating either that or potentially seachanging and leaving the country... interesting times.
Iscarel's furtive fingers flick forward to filch the valuables... and his heat surges a beat as he waits to see if his and Quillin's combined distraction have served to divert attention. There's no sign of discovery though as she instead closes down Quillin's inquiry "I know well enough what they're for without your byword crewman... see the shroud to the sawbones, the cloak goes to Hinsin. The silver cladding's the crew's share - break it down and send what's left of it's inhabitant to the brine."
Hinsin waits to see the cloak delivered to him before he follows Lanteri into her quarters. Horumheb remains on deck, bellowing to the crewmen "Right lads, get your back into it. Quicker we do it the quicker we're at sail and moving on."
Shroud of Repose: if a person is wrapped in this sheet during an 8 hour rest, the person gains hit points at three times the usual rate. They also get a save at +4 against any poison / disease they are under the effect of. If wrapped around a corpse the body is subjected to a gentle repose affect.
Gemstones: if held in one hand, each of these stones provides the holder with a Swim speed of half their land speed, and at will can subject the holder to an air bubble spell at 5th caster level. Gem must be held throughout the duration of either effect.
Ring: vanilla +1 protection.
Sharkskin cloak: moderate abjuration / transmutation, though the exact workings are presently beyond your grasp. The item would need to be at a minimum inspected (and Spellcrafted) to gain any real insight.
Hinsin doesn't offer any tangible response to Rackham apart from a short nod, retaining the cutlass with himself as he resumes position by the stairs to the Captain's elevated position.
Tipene grabs the scepter and finds it heavier than it looks... though all of the weight seems lodged in the shaft and not the head.
As you grip the scepter the world seems to grow colder, the wind bites more deeply and your heat internal rises to a smoulder.
... Hinsin gestures with his non cutlassed hand to see the scepter to his grasp as well.
Bek removes the shroud, and finds it slide near silently from the skeletal form beneath. The shroud shrinks as he hefts it, reducing in size from a large bedsheet to that of a bandage one might use to sling an arm. Exposed from head down over a pair of heartbeats... the recumbant form in state is unleashed.
The humanoid figure is skeletal entirely, with nary a skerrick of flesh or skin shown. It's arms lie crossed in gentle repose across it's chest, and the bones have a 'feel' of age to them... as though they've laid in state for years upon years. While mostly human-like, the jaw, skull and structure give you pause and cause breath to lodge in chest.
The creature was taller than a man, though not a true giant... the load-bearing bones thick and strong. It would have easily stood head and shoulder above the tallest of you, and outweighed four or five men by muscle-weight. The skull itself lacks the definition of a human one... instead having but a single sunken socket for an eye at it's center forehead. Below the eyesocket is a jaw structure unlike anything you've seen on two legs.
Overlarge, and built off layers of intersected tesserae as support and overall structure showing gaps where muscle or cartilage would have been. The teeth sit in rows of three or four, jagged and sharp - angled back towards where the creature's throat would have sat. The structure is known to you, and has been seen and feared by each and all of crew and sailor alike... as it is generally attached to the great predator of the seas - the shark. Beneath the skeletal mass lies a cloak of rough shark-hide, and then the silver inlay of the coffin itself.
The crew gasps in unison and a ripple of shock, murmurs and religious mutterings sound out. Lanteri's eyes narrow, but the sight doesn't appear to be completely unexpected... though both Hinsin and Horumheb share the crew's shocked reaction.
Additionally due to your close proximity, you see a pair of gems (sea green in colour) and a simple white-gold ring lodged under the creature's pelvis. At this point you're certain that the captain and her officers, and indeed the rest of the crew, have not yet observed their presence.
Sorry for the wee slowdown - had a medical in the morning (which was a big deal for me, as it was the first one I've done since I dropped 20kg in weight... turns out that losing the weight and getting fit also dropped my resting pulse from 66 bpm down to a lazy 43 bpm...) and busy work afternoon followed by kidlet sitting in the evening.
I want to make sure I can give the next scene a bit of time and loving attention rather than half-arsing it ;)
Rackham retrieves the weapon without ill event occurring, drawing the weapon to show a mirror-sheen on the length of the blade. Turning it over it's exceptionally balanced and sharp despite the time it's spent lying fallow. Hinsin calls after a moment "Don't get too attached... that and the scepter comes to the Captain savvy?"
As you draw the blade you hear in your mind's ear a susurrant rasp in a language long dead, disjointed images and senses sear into your memory of a hand wet with spilled blood, the roar of a land-shark and the burning gaze of a single green-irised bloodshot eye.
You're able to pick out the two items atop the shroud as the most powerful items in there... though there is a sense that the power within the scepter is at this point latent and not fully available or unleashed. The cutlass has the stink of enhancement magic to it, matching it's utilitarian appearance. The scepter has the stink of transmutation and abjuration... though without handling and studying the item you can't glean much more than that.
The shroud itself holds abjuration magic as well, while there are other more delicate scents confined within the confines of the lined wooden box... but the side of the coffin blocks the radiance of any of them... meaning the contents would need be spilled for any more to be known.
Quillin's eyes take a few moments to adjust to the radiance that shines forth from the casket. Scepter and cutlass both stand out as searing pinpoints of arcane might... though there are also a melange of notes playing out from beneath the shroud...
Spellcraft / Knowledge Arcane check please
Derisive tone comes first from Horumheb "Why? You think it can hear you?" drawing a few chuckles from the rest of the crew.
Captain Lanteri fixes Quillin with a challenging glare from her elevated position and extends intent "Long dead prize taken from a ruin in the Shackles... that's all you need to know crewman"
The application of acid unto the iron bands takes a few moments to start... but soon show signs of weakening the bonds sufficiently to make a tangible impact. The bands are weakened enough that with application of hammered crowbar and significant elbow grease they are warped out of shape to be free of the wood beneath. Without the binding constriction of iron, the gap between the lid and base presents itself more invitingly... and prone to a repositioned application of leverage.
Knock isn't cast at this point.
With grunting force, the Bride's crew and yours set three levers into the lid and strain. Moments of gut bursting exertion stretch beyond reason, though with shuddering creak and strain the lid finally starts to move. When a crack opens betwixt the lid and base, a slight sucking suction can be felt and heard - the coffin breathing in air before returning same with a sigh. The air around the coffin becomes redolent with expensive spice and the musty dryness of aged death. A sweet taste of cinnamon and clove lingers on your tongue as the lid is further forced.
The coffin's interior is then laid bare. The inside is lined, not with cloth... but with a silvered and untarnished metal layer. The lid is heavier than wood would be, suggesting that the metal is less a trim, and more a tangible part of it's construction. Hesitantly you cast eyes within and find a figure laid in state - wrapped in a white opaque silk shroud devoid of iconography. Upon the shroud is laid two objects... a ruby tipped scepter with white wood handle whose head is wrought copper... and a sheathed cutlass that appears exceptionally well made, but is plain in appearance. Surprisingly to your eyes their size is as though made for human hands... though the humanoid laid in state is not. Wide and tall, to match the coffin's size, though the lay of the shroud suggests that the corpse is defleshed and skeletal.
The crew gasps at the revelation, most taking a step back and crossing themselves... though a few remain in place and look with lascivious eyes t'wards the clear and opulent wealth in play. Hinsin stands with the skeptics, Horumheb the greedy... and eyes turn to the Captain... who eyes the figure with live fire eyes of burning intent. She presses with words "See lads - wealth and more besides. Strip the shroud and see what else is in there..."
Tipene manages to see his crowbar wedged just under one of the iron bands with some small degree of effort. The wood of the lid is hard... hard as the stoutest woods used aboardships and not suffering at all for the long submerging under the salty waves. The wood deforms enough though after a few hammer blows to see the crowbar into place. Placing all his weight and effort upon it though doesn't noticeably deform either the crowbar - or the iron band around the coffin.
Iscarel doesn't see any conventional means of locking or securing the lid... in fact on inspection it doesn't seem as though the lid should have physically been able to be closed and the iron placed... unless some kind of magic was involved.
The crew follow suit and try to use the crowbars to pry away at the iron bands... to similar lack of success.
Crowbar level of leverage is insufficient.
Bek's question is treated as rhetorical by the Captain, as she looks on with some degree of interest. The attempt to force a crowbar into the very snug fit between lid and base of the coffin is defeated by an inability to get leverage due to the tightness of the fit. The area where the iron bands sit looks as though it might provide purchase... but you'd likely need to hollow a groove somewhat.
Of course, there's always the more direct approach...
Making your way out onto the top deck, you find the coffin in the same place that it was last night. Though a few of the rest of the crew eye it with a slant eyed suspicion, the Captain soon makes an appearance on the fo'castle with Hinsin at her side. With a small nod to Horumheb she gives approval to the words that follow from his mouth "Right... crack it open then..."
You see that there are a few swarthy axes near the rails, as well as rope and crowbars, nails, hammers... much of the ship's stores laid bare. The rest of the crew furrow their brows a bit and look to you to take the lead.
The words catch the ear of Horumheb, who scowls and growls "Captain's got 'er reasons... ye'll find out like."
Bek and Quillin:
Apart from a mild discomfort from having the coffin on board - you sleep with soundness and awaken as well as could be expected aboardship.
Rackham, Tipene, Iscarel:
Sleep comes to you quickly, though it doesn't pass quite as easily. Your slumber seems somewhat deeper, and more primal - filled with lucid dreams and imagery that sears and burns while you are suffused within it... but passes from memory upon awakening. The snippets of images that remain are scattered and indistinct... the tanned head of a cyclops, a bloodied tulita with distended jaw, crashing waves and indistinct chanting in a language both familiar and foreign.
You waken tired and unsteady despite your well honed sea legs.
The tulita that you retained a fragment of is not known to you, but his shoulder is marked with a tattoo denoting the Great Turtle.
The morning comes to a mixed group of crew in the bunks, some wakening fresh and ready... and others still beset with a mind-fog...
Any words or actions belowdecks before moving up to the topdeck?
The dwarven forge stuff is frickin awesome. Especially with little kids - as they can happily wage tempest through the middle of it without any risk or fear of breakage. It's a hell of a investment up front, but after three kickstarters worth of rewards I've got a healthy amount of it floating about ;)
Passive aggressive message received :P
The thoughts of the crew are quelled by either the Captain or Hinsin brusquely closing "Time enough for that on the morrow"
The next few hours play out slowly, though not without some interest. The coffin is raised from the deeps to hang just above the water as the jolly retrieves Rackham and returns to the Bride. From there the two vessels are directed close together and the arduous work of transferring the coffin takes place. Ropes are rigged from the spars of the Bride and used to take the weight of the coffin from the chains. Over a nail-biting period the strain is played out and the load inexorably swings over the Bride's deck to the tune of groaning timbers and straining ropes. The hairiest moment plays out as a load rope snaps, charged end twisting away to dig a deep score in the railing... but luckily the others hold for time enough to replenish the rigging.
After the coffin is finally placed on the Bride's deck snug and secure - the day has passed into the night. Lanteri passes over to the Freeport tug with a small chest in tow - that she doesn't return with minutes later. The tug takes it's leave and Horumheb calls for the crew to take a well-needed rest... though not before making sure that a guard is set and the Bride secured with anchor a little further from the rocks and shore.
The coffin sits on the deck... unmoving and bland... though the air around it seems a few degrees colder than normal and any slight breeze is stilled to nothingness. It is unsettling and your hackles raise in tension whenever you are near to it... Even despite that though... it's been a long day, and slumber draws near beckoning with honeyed words and delicate caress...
Can I have a Will save from each of you please? :)
Quillin's words are met by a smirk, but the Captain keeps her eyes distant.
Hinsin and the others in the jolly don't respond overt to Bek's words, but do show a vested and specific interest in the waters where the load is due to arise.
Straining against the capstans that are hauling true weight, the Freeport deckcrew make slow and steady progress. Eyes to the horizon and waters are wary - but apart from a few passing fish and a distant watery churn of a feeding pack of sharks... nothing emerges worthy of interest.
The item at the end of the chains then breaches surface and for the first time dry eyes can be laid upon it. It looks to be a coffin of some kind, but not sized for a man. Too high by a couple of feet and wider at the base than a normal bodyshape would suggest. It appears to be made out of solid spar-wood - lignum vitae or the like - and banded by ugly black bands of pig-iron. The bands are laid snug and into the wood and seem to be held there without fastener or nail.
You hear Lanteri take a sharp breath inwards from either excitement or wariness.
The next few minutes play out in relative peace and calm. The crews of both the Bride and the Freeport vessel lick what wounds were obtained - though thankfully most seem to be relatively minor - and work continues on the hauling of the load from beneath the waves.
You can surface and choose where you land up at your leisure.
Rackham finds himself recipient of a few wary nodded gestures of thanks... but there is an air of tension that he thinks might flare if he showed any closer interest in anything apart from guarding the chain.
Those in the jolly boat get close to the Freeport vessel, but don't seek to board - the oarsmen doing some hard labour to keep the smaller boat's position relatively static in the swell. Hinsin settles in, sharing a chuckle and nod with Iscarel and Tipene as the spectacle gets a bit weirder.
Even Quillin from his more distant post can see the lobsterman surface in his iron shell and get manhandled back on board the Freeport tub. Once the suit is laid down on the deck, a couple of swarthier deckhands move to drag it to one side - obscuring it from view with canvas curtains over an open deck area.
Diving deeper, you draw alongside the coffin and find it sealed well tight. The pig iron bands are secured into grooves in the wood and seem to have been done so without use of nail or fastener. The lid is tight enough to the base that it looks like it will have held the water out of the interior. Given the tautness of the chains it is heavy as well.
Staying under or looking to surface.
The last of the sea devils are put to flight on both of the vessels and Smudge takes to the air to attempt to reccy out whether the retreat is a means of regrouping. His feathered eyes are stymied by the fact that the sahuagin stay below the water's surface... but he can't ken anything of note within his sight.
The crew on the Bride deal the last of their adrenaline out against the few fallen scaled bastards in reach before turning to backslapping and crude congratulation. The Captain lets the emotions play out for the moment, turning her eyes back on the Freeport tug. The men that turned the capstans previously seem mostly in good condition and put their attention and backs towards the task again. The strange lobsterman in the metal case still ascends as he draws closer to breaching the top of the waves.
Hinsin purses his lips as the jolly draws nearer to the Freeport vessel, wondering "Should we look to lend a hand mates? or leave the heavy lifting to them?"
Bek swims downwards and gets a closer look at what's being hauled. It's furniture... of a sort... actually looks to be a coffin of some kind, but not sized for a man. Too high by a couple of feet and wider at the base than a normal bodyshape would suggest. It appears to be made out of solid spar-wood - lignum vitae or the like - and banded by ugly black bands of pig-iron.
You're stuck under the waters for this next wee bit, so just react to the above... rather than what's outside of the spoilers.
The scene continues to play out as expected - those of the Bride break the back of their boarding party to send the sea devils staggering backwards in retreat as the jolly boat continues it's way over towards the Freeport vessel - reaching the chains to find Rackham having ensconced himself upon a chain to harry the last of the sea devils remaining. The decks of the Freeport tug are slick with water and blood themselves, though the arrival of fresh salts and the press of those already there form a similar result in making the remaining green scaled bastards apt to flee rather than remain.
Just an indication of where people are intending to congregate / head for is all that's presently needed. It doesn't look like anyone is in significant concern re: press of devils as they're on the retreat.
Bek sees the wreck beneath him, but he'd need to swim down and away from everyone else to get near or into it. The battle's swirled up some sediment which makes it difficult to get fine detail, but he reckons that the load being brought up by the chains is a single piece of furniture?
Rackham - you're another round's swim to get to the chains - I'll carry that as your action this round unless corrected.
The jollyboat continues on it's rowed path towards the Freeport vessel.
On Raging Song.... knee-jerk head says no, but knee-jerk flavour says yes! Maybe characterize it as a rhythmic whalesong or the like.
Quillin thinks he spies an opening and sends a acid dart scything t'wards it... but finds he only skims the arse of one of his compatriots. Luckily the misfire is lost in the ebb flow and swirl of the shipboard combat - which looks to be settling the way of the Bride's crewmen.
Underwater Bek makes up for Tipene's wayward strike to cut a seadevil deeply. Quillin's summoned reefclaw adds insult to that injury and rends it away from the metal encased lobsterman. Though you cannot see within the suit - the cumbersome arms of it begin to move and it resumes ascending.
Rackham swims towards the Freeport vessel, but doesn't quite have the stroke length to be able to make tangible impact this round.
Iscarel readies a strike against another of the scaly bastards to breach the surface - but when one presents itself the roll of the jolly beneath him means his thrust is o'erhigh and slays only the air above the bugger's head.
Those in / under the water:
You hear a piercing wail that cuts through your ears to resonate within your skulls. The sea devils beneath the waves hear it also and soon after withdraw firstly down and then away from the fray.
Those above the water:
For some reason you cannot ken those sea devils within the water make to withdraw deeper into the water and then away. Those already on either the Bride or the Freeport tug hold station though, and continue a frenzied assault.
Clearly I meant 24 Venusian hours... clearly...
Resetting of the stage and scene:
The lobsterman deployed by your Freeportian associates is under attack beneath the waves by green sea devils. The same devils are assaulting both your ship and theirs - the Corvid Bride by the aft railings and the Freeport vessel by the chain lines that have been run down to pull to surface whatever the lobsterman found.
Bek, Tipene and Rackham have gone to the waters and below (though both Bek and Tipene are outspeeding their less swimmingly compatriot).
Beneath the waves: