Skull and Shackles

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" ---- continued
Free Pirates

Not in Port Peril for even a day when some urchin tried to pick my pocket. He did a messy job of it though. Like he hadn’t had even the most basic training. He looked like he could use the coin though so I let it slide. However, Inam witnessed it and caught the kid before he could run away. When questioned about his lackluster performance, he confessed that the Thieves guild was in a bit of turmoil these days. I gave him a few quick pointers and sent him on his way.

So, it turned out that although we were infamous pirates, we weren’t yet “official” pirates. The amount of rigmarole required to get this status was worse than dealing with the tax man back at my bar. We first had to prove ourselves worthy by completing three challenges. The Hurricane King, Bonefist, sent his first mate to administer these tests. Goldtooth, whose tooth was made of gold, arrived with a crew of lackeys and a crowd quickly formed around us. He yammered on for a while, working up the audience, complimenting my fashion sense, etc. Eventually he got to the point and gave us our first test. A race.

The goal was to climb to the top of a ships mast and unfurl some sails before your competitor did. We chose Quinn to be our challenger. He’d had the most experience with large masts. The race began and Quinn just sat there, letting the other guy get a head start. You know, like a jerk. Did he really think this was the best time to show off? While we were being judged? Eventually, he did start and soon caught up. Then there was some cheating by one of Goldtooth’s guys cutting a rope and almost knocking Quinn off, but he managed to hang on and still win. Easy peasy. One down, two to go.

The next nefarious challenge was the devious, the treacherous, the most perilous of all contests…..a game of cards? I thought we were trying to become pirates. Was Goldtooth just messing with us? Anyways, he cheated, Inam lost, but two outta three still counts so we were off to the final test.

This one at least seemed like it was going to pose some real challenge to us. We were placed on a ship and a swamp giant was sent to kill us. No complicated rules or restrictions this time. Just survive. The poor giant never had a chance. It was immediately ensnared by Jerrick’s magic tentacles and zapped with lightning. Erlik hit it with a frost bomb, just to make extra sure it wasn’t going anywhere, and Inam and Quinn shot at it with arrows. My crew clearly had this menial fight under control so I did some grandstanding, getting the crowd to cheer us on and chide Goldtooth a bit. The swamp giant was soon dead and Goldtooth begrudgingly admitted our victory, and invited to attend a feast at the Hurricane King’s fortress where the final decision would be made.

Before the party, however, I received a note requesting a meeting with one of our old Thieves Guild cohorts. I informed Quinn and we met in an appropriately dark and mysterious alley. We learned that there was indeed some serious turmoil in the guild going all the way to the top. We were asked to help take care of “problems” if they came up. We agreed that we’d do anything, if the price was right.

Later that evening, we showed up for the feast. Bonefist, whose fist was made of bone, insisted that I tell some of our harrowing tales. The crowd was wrapped around my little finger as I regaled them with our rise to infamy. I think ol’ Bonefist was getting a little jealous of the attention I was getting and so stopped me to call for a final vote from the Council on making us official free captains. It was a unanimous yes. Well, except for Harrigan, of course. But that look on his face as he stormed out. Priceless. The rest of the night was filled with drunken revelry befitting the occasion. At one point, I was approached by one of the council members, Lady Fairwind, asking us to meet with her later on.

When we woke up the next afternoon, we visited Fairwind to see what she wanted. The stories I shared the previous night really impressed her and she wanted our help. She gave some information about potential Chellish spied and asked if we could investigate. She also told us about a regatta coming up that if we were to win, we could become members of the Pirate Council.

Afterwards, we got back to what was really important, more drunken revelry! We found our way to an enchanting little tavern. Soon after arriving, a lovely gentleman by the name of Pierce bought me a drink. Suddenly there was some shouting and Pierce was swinging a fist to knock down somebody about to hit me from behind. That Pierce was my kinda guy. A real man’s man. What followed was just a good ol’ fashioned bar brawl. After the dust up was over, Inam and Quinn(who were noticeably absent from the fracas) summoned me. They had captured a woman that had been slipping oil of taggit into peoples drinks. Turned out to be Culky who we knew from our time on the Wormwood. She missed me so she decided to ditch Harrigan and join up with us.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" --- continued

At last, the time had come for Lady Smithy of Tidewater Rock to be wed to the Great Errol Karn. The ceremony was simple and tasteful. As a wedding gift, Lady Smithy gave me a worthy dowry, and in return I gave her the honor of forever being tied to history as the first wife of Captain Karn. But it was not my fate to stay as a guardian of the Rock. Neigh, my destiny was far greater. I was soon ready to venture out in search of infamy and inglory.

That witch that I so easily took down had a map tattooed on her back. Since that incident, Erlik managed to make a nice leather version of it for us to use, and we set sail for the marked location. It led us to Mancatcher Cove, a crescent shaped island with tall cliffs and a thick canopy of vines. We sailed up to the mouth and considered our next actions.

We could see a skull carved into the cliff face opposite of us that had a tooth made of gold. In a rare moment of distraction, I made the mistake of following the advice of one of my crewmates as we decided the best approach was to try to climb across the vines to the other side. Once we were halfway across, Jerrick and Erlik made a preemptive strike against the quiet waters below, summoning a squid and dropping bombs to try to lure out any nasties. The only things that surfaced were a few saughin. But one was riding a shark! I didn’t even know that was possible!

Just then, we were attacked by the vines themselves. It was a harrowing fight. Jerrick was almost swallowed whole, but fortunately, he’d managed to grease up the vine monster beforehand, allowing him to slip out. And then promptly plummet to the ocean beneath us. The crew of the DDD had seen our struggles, though, and had already sailed in to help and were there to rescue him while the rest of us continued to battle.

I grabbed one of the vines and sliced it, allowing me to swing down for a graceful swoop attack, but as I did, one of the vines tried to reach out and catch me. It was at this moment that I felt something. I blinked and suddenly felt as though I was watching myself from someone else’s eyes. I saw myself deftly dodge the attacking vine and quickly counter it, cutting the vine free from the canopy and watching it fall, dead, into the waters beneath us. Another blink and I felt in control once again, back in my own eyes. It was an incredible feeling to see myself from that perspective. How amazing must it be for my crew to be able to witness amazing feats like this every day!

We’d soon killed the remaining vines, with Quinn making the final, fatal blow. Then we finally made our way to the cliff with the skull carved into it. Examining the gold tooth revealed it was nothing but fool’s gold. Who does that!? You go to all the work of carving a spooky skull into the cliff of a dangerous cove and then skimp on a detail like that? Disgraceful! Anyway, the eye sockets turned out to be caves, so we figured there was still something valuable to be found. One eye was covered in vines while the other was filled with flowers. The map had some poetic clues written at the bottom that led us to choose the left cave with the vines.

Inside was an old tree that resembled and ancient, bearded king. After a little digging, we found some planks and pulled them up. Underneath was a corridor leading into water. We followed it and came to a room with some saughin and a shark. Having recently learned that sharks can be tamed and ridden like a steed, I decided to claim this creature as my own. However, my crew felt threatened, I guess, and killed it before I had the chance. I need to remember to have a stern talk with them later on about obeying my wishes. Seeing the shark killed, the saughin started to run away. Inam yelled after them to offer a deal. If they would lead us to the treasure, we would spare their lives. One, named A’kash’ak, agreed. I also asked him to teach me how to ride a shark. I’m not sure Inam’s translating skills are all that great, though, because he didn’t really seem to provide a sensible answer.

A’kash’ak led us to the king’s chamber but refused to go any further and scurried off. The chamber had a large wall of seaweed crossing the entire room. As we approached, a saughin with four arms jumped out and attacked Quinn. Everyone rushed in to help defend him while I swam into the seaweed wall. It proved to be just a thin barrier. Behind it were three more saughin. One appeared to be a shaman of sorts, attempting the heal the four-armed monster on the other side. I single-handedly killed all three without taking so much as a scratch or breaking a sweat and then went back through the seaweed. I’ll admit, I’m embarrassed to write this, but I found that the rest of my crew had barely survived the fight against their single, solitary opponent.

Having slain the creatures, we explored the room. There was an appealing throne that invited me to sit in it. I must say, it just felt… right somehow. As if it were the kind of throne I would have after rightfully taking my place as ruler of the world. There was also a hollow space hidden underneath it containing two chests. One looked pretty standard, at least as far as secret chests hidden in throne rooms under carnivorous islands are concerned. The other looked distinctly, well, creepier. We opened the normal one first. It was larger on the inside than it should have been, and was filled with all sorts of treasure and goodies. You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face even if you were to release a cloud of deadly poison into the room by breaking the lead seal on a boobytrapped chest. Ahem.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure Quinn got his vision back at some point.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" -- continued
Wedding bells

“As we headed back upriver to the sea, we found a small Chilaxian vessel ahead of us. We weren’t about to let them escape so Erlik scared them a bit with the catapult before we rammed them, splitting the boat in half. As their crew tried desperately to swim to shore, Erlik hit them with one of his stinkbombs causing the poor souls to both vomit and drown at the same time. They clearly weren’t there alone so we took one of them as hostage to find out where they were trying to escape to. He was…reluctant to give us any information. I wasn’t going to waste any more time on him and just gave him to Erlik to do the kinds of things Erlik likes to do. Except he did something unexpected, and unnerving. He revealed this disgusting, talking, growth from his body that he apparently calls “Mr. Stinky”. At this point, our hostage, fearing a fate worse than death, told us everything we needed to know.
They were returning to a man’o’war named the Dominatrix sitting just outside the river’s mouth. Commander Kind was planning on blowing us out of the water as soon as we tried to leave. We were no match for a ship of that class so we devised a plan sacrificing only the lives of Erlik and Jerrick. They were to take some water breathing potions and sneak under the Dominatrix, placing bombs on the rudder to hopefully immobilize it, at which point we’d shoot out of the river like an arrow. We on the DDD waited while they made their slow trek under water. We eventually heard the boom and went full sail. Sure enough, the stern of the Dominatrix was in flames and there was a storm cloud throwing lightning down upon their crew. Still, they did a number on us with their vast armaments but we managed to get out of their firing range with the ship mostly intact. Looking back, we saw Erlik and Jerrick floating back in his hat boat… boat hat…thing. Nice hat though. So we waited for them to get to the ship before continuing our escape."

“Now free from Commander Kind’s ambush, we decided it was time to return to The Rock to see if Lady Smithy had heard tale of our exploits and was ready for our marriage. On the way there one evening, we saw a ship on the horizon. Only got a glimpse of it before it disappeared. The following night, a heavy fog had set in but we could hear a ships bell clanging in the dark. We then got another brief sighting of this ship before it was lost again in the fog. Somebody recalled a story about a ghost ship called the Death Knell. Story went that Captain Pilk liked to stalk his prey for several nights before killing them. I slept fine that night but fear that my crew did not. But sure enough, the Death Knell showed up again for the next night and this time with violent intent. They attacked us and during the melee, Captain Pilk shoved his ghostly hand right through Erliks chest, bringing him to the ground. Seeing this, I ran along the ships railing and flipped behind the ghost captain, skewering him as he, and his hat, vaporized into nothingness. We quickly sailed off as the Death Knell sank into the ocean. From now on, the legend of the Death Knell would have a new ending and a new villain.”

“Approaching The Rock, we found it to be under attack by pirates. We rushed to defend the outpost and rammed right into their ship. Quinn had the idea to use the momentum of the colliding ships to fling himself over to theirs. Unfortunately, one of their crew, a berserk looking guy named Knuckles, had the same idea and the two crashed together with the impact of a shipwreck. The ensuing battle was a bit of a struggle because they had a witch who hovered continuously out of reach of my sword. After having killed most of the crew and Knuckles however, she flew out of sight having been scared away by our might. We went on to The Rock and I chatted for a while with the lovely Lady Smithy. She had indeed heard many stories of the Great Captain Karn. Of Karn the Fearless. Of the Infamous, Handsome Karn. Only one thing remained before she would agree to our marriage. And that was the witch who will still moored just outside. Kill her, and the marriage would go ahead. A simple task for the crew of the notorious Dread Double Doubloon. So that’s exactly what we did. We went back out there, found the witch, and brought her down to our level with a grappling hook so we could finish her off. Quinn might be blind but I expect that that’ll get better in a few days.”

“Wait. What the hell is that thing growing out of Erlik!?”

Fallout from killing the sorcerer

The ship her and her crew were on had 2 points of plunder….spices and metal fittings that it looks like they stole from another ship.

The map tattooed on the Isabella Locke’s back depicts
the outlines of several small islands. A stylized half sun
sits to the right of the islands, while simple images of a
monstrous eye and the face of an aged, bearded king are
to the left. Beneath the map are five lines of crude verse:
From blue bight’s embrace
Spy the Grave Lady’s prize tooth
With the Dawnf lower’s first kiss
Climb the Captain’s wayward orb
To claim old king’s hoard

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" - continued.
And so it begins

“So we go all this way to find some unknown treasure and all we got was a key with no lock and another damn map. Hopefully this one leads to something a little more lucrative.”

“On the way to our next destination, we came across a Chelaxian vessel that had captured a pirate ship. It was on fire and screams could be heard from inside. The bastards were being cooked alive in their own hold. The world could always do with a few more dead Chelaxians so we charged right at ‘em. Erlik kept distracting them with wayward catapult shots while I tore’em apart with the ballista. Once we got broadside, I charged onto their deck, killing anyone in my way. I was about to head over to the burning ship to rescue the poor souls trapped inside but saw Quinn swing his way over. I let him handle it while I continued have my fun cutting down the sprogs.
Unfortunately, his first attempt at picking the lock failed and the pirates continued to roast.
Jerr-ick and Erl-ik brought out their disgusting one-two punch of electrified vomit, which I’ve decided to call the “ick maneuver”, and Inam was picking them off with her arrows. I was having a grand time murdering these pathetic Chelaxians when Erlik decided to help me by means of a stink bomb, causing several of the cowards to jump ship in terror of my blade.
Quinn continued to struggle with the lock.
Some of the Chelaxians boarded the DDD to attack Jerrick. I went back to help protect him along with Erlik and Inam.
Quinn fails again at getting the lock open. I could start to smell burning flesh.
We killed the rest and were about to go help Quinn when their captain jumps outta nowhere to attack us. It was a cheap move but we easily defeated the sneaky scoundrel. Quinn finally got the damn door open and crispy pirates started pouring out. Moments later, the ship exploded, sending Quinn into the air like a champagne cork (with nary a flip or twist mind you). The pirates who hadn’t been turned into shark bait agreed to join our crew. The next morning, I noticed that Quinn had a bunch of hash marks carved into his arm. Maybe he couldn’t find a pen?"

“Continuing on to our mystery location on the map, we found a fishing trawler that looked like it’d recently been the scene of a fight, though hastily cleaned up. I was gonna pass it by but curiosity got the better of me when we noticed there was also a small dinghy suspended under the surface of the water. We approached and Quinn swung across to scope things out. Jerrick for some unknown reason decided to just jump into the water and was instantly rendered unconscious by some sea creature. This whole thing was, surprise surprise, a trap. Erlik and Quinn dove in after him and I had the crew drop the anchor to be used as a lifeline. Meanwhile, a bunch of the critters had climbed on board from the other side. There was an old song we used to sing back at my bar. It’d been stuck in my head so I was killing them off in time with the music. I was just reaching the crescendo when the last creature fell to the ground with an arrow in it. The song was supposed to finish with a whole note, not staccato, Inam. In all that time, Jerrick still hadn’t been pulled up so I dove into the water to take care of things. I was surprised to discover that the unconscious Jerrick was now glued to a dead, sinking monster. Quinn quickly cut him out of his robes to free him from the sticky situation while I forced a healing potion down his throat and got him back on board. So glad we stopped!”

“Finally. FINALLY, we made it to the island where the map was leading. We took the DDD inland by way of a river running through some swamplands. This eventually brought us to a clearly marked path. We docked there and began to hike. We soon came across some cotton fields being worked by zombies. Pretty clever idea really. It was at this moment that Erlik decided to study the map for any secrets. He found a hidden word written on it. After he woke up and he cleared the blood from his lungs, he told us that the word was “dig”. Hurray. We could see a village and as we got closer, we could tell that map led directly to one particular hut. This was all the more obvious thanks to the two guards posted outside and the creepy red moat around it. Without crossing the barrier, we attempted to speak to the guards but got no response. Jerrick threw a stone across the moat to see if anything would happen. It didn’t. I threw a stone at one of the guards to see if anything would happen. It did. A woman inside then invited us in. As we crossed the moat, the world outside it became a scorched hellscape. The voodoo lady inside said she knew why we were there and to leave. I wasn’t about to just abandon things after spending all this time and effort getting here. After some negotiation, we agreed to work together. All I had to do was make a blood pact to release whatever we found. Easy, my plan was to release it to whoever the highest bidder was anyways. She put her zombies to work digging at the spot marked on the map. There were many obstacles along the way down, all saying “stop” in one language or another. Eventually, the zombies pulled up a gnarly looking chest that had similar stylings to, say, oh, I don’t know, that tentacle key that we retrieved from that ice cavern! Everyone stood back as I used the key to open the chest. As I did, time stood still and a silky black liquid smoke poured out and into my lungs. Once the world began moving again, the voodoo lady left, her goals apparently accomplished. We investigated the chest and found two pillows. One had a white pearl sitting on it and the other was empty. Between the two was a note that said “For all good, there must be Evil”, or something like that.
We took the pearl and returned to the Dread Double Doubloon. I don’t know how much we got out of this little adventure of ours but I do feel…different.
I feel…..powerful "

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" - continued

“…so long story short, that’s how Annetta died. She was Plug’s loyal strumpet though so I wasn’t bothered. The crew didn’t see much sense in mourning her either and we continued on towards Blood Cove in search of diving supplies.

Along the way we spied a Chilaxian ship on the horizon. We decided to hoist the Triple D and give ‘em the watery grave they deserved. The ship looked to be sailing pretty low in the water so it was clearly full of something. Of loot or of sailors, we didn’t yet know. We were able to easily board the vessel but when we did, the only crewman on deck ran below deck like a cowardly bilge rat. In going after him, we were surprised by a charging minotaur and 4 Chilaxians. Myself and Quinn took on the real effort of felling the raging beast. I tried to reason with it, to aid us instead of its cruel (and ugly) captors. Unfortunately, it was too bull-headed to heed common sense so we had to put it down. Meanwhile, the others were busy torturing the rest of the officers. The poor souls soon found themselves stuck full of arrows and uncontrollably vomiting while simultaneously being shocked by lightning from above. Until that day, I didn’t know a man could be made to make the sounds they did. After finally ending their misery, I noticed that one of them had jumped ship and was now attempting escape in a small dingy. I also noticed that their ship had a perfectly functional catapult. I let the crew cut the head of the dead minotaur and launch it towards the fleeing scoundrel. They nailed it, sinking him with a perfectly aimed shot.

Time to scope out what was weighing this ship down so much. The door to the hold was locked tight. Quinn was able to unlock it. Eventually. But set off a trap in the process. Fortunately, it was a trap to keep folks in, not out. We found a bunch of dead Chelaxian sailors who were wise enough to end their own pathetic lives with poison before having to deal with the wrath of Errol. There were also a great number of slaves being held in cages. Not loot. We freed them and left them the ship, hoping they’d spread the word of Captain Karn and the Dread Double Doubloon. We also recruited a few of them to our crew."

“At last, we pulled into port at Blood Cove. I granted most of the crew shore leave while we went about our affairs. Is it any wonder why they love me so much. I decided to strike up some conversations at a local tavern to see if anyone had advice on where to get good diving supplies. I never managed to bring the topic up though because everyone kept insisting I tell more stories about my adventures. Inam and Quinn had come with me but they must’ve snuck out at some point. I guess sneaking’s just what they do. Later that evening, an old “chum” from the thieves’ guild, Solomon the Fixer, stopped in and politely reminded me that I owe 20% tribute of my plunder. T’was true that my memory had been a bit selective as of late but I assured him that I had every intent on keeping in the guilds good books.
I never made it back to the ship that night because I had some entertaining to attend to but I did come back in time for breakfast the next morning. During which, Quinn informed me that the thieves guild knew we were in town and were looking for their cut. Thanks Quinn. Jerrick and Erlik were distracted playing with some useless bits and bobs that they’d spent real, actual coin on. That day, we did find a vendor that could get us some potions for breathing under water but they cost us most of our remaining gold. I hope this map of Inam’s pays off. As we were about to ship out, my thieves’ guild mate Solomon made another appearance. I made an offering to the guild which, I have to say, was unjust, even by thieves’ guild standards, but I had no other choice.”

“We got to the location marked on the map and, after consuming the potions, dove into the depths of the sea. There was an underwater cavern but there was a layer of ice between us and it. We cut a hole and climbed up into the room. There was a man sitting behind a desk and several others perusing bookshelves. What a bizarre place to find a library. The man behind the desk mistook us for deliverymen of some sort. I tried to introduce myself but instead of a warm welcome, the man attacked us. As we fought, they started to lose their form, as if made of wax. There was an orb on a pedestal in the middle of the room which seemed important to them so I took out a flask of alchemist’s fire and threw it at it. That did the trick and the fight was soon over. In searching the room, we found a key shaped like a tentacle and a journal which will hopefully tell us where it’s matching lock is located and what treasures it may contain.”

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV"

As we sailed away from the perilous island, it vanished behind us. Not that I had any intent of returning to that hellish place, but a disappearing island of monsters and danger? Pfft, no match for me and me crew. By now, there were probably folks looking to reclaim The Man’s Promise, including our old friend Captain Harrigan. Based on the maps left by Scourge and Plug, it looked like they were headed to a place called Rickety Squibs to get a new look and a new name for the ship. Seemed like a good idea to me so we followed the course. When we approached Rickety’s, we stopped when we saw a flag being waved from the lookout tower. We were approached by a ship with several armed sailors. One of them introduced himself as Rickety and asked to board the ship. I granted permission and we began to negotiate. After some smooth talking we arranged a deal. 2300gp to completely squib the ship and install a secret hold. We didn’t exactly have that kinda gold laying around but we were able to trade most of our goods to make up the rest, more or less. We also snagged a wand of healing out of the deal.

Squibbing would take several days so I intended to occupy my time in leisurely fashion. Quinn and Inam decided to do some hunting and Erlik, well, did Erlik things in the privacy of the woods. The two hunters managed to take down a tiger. The village was quite impressed with the deed. In fact, that evening, we were invited down to the river for a special treat. They’d been keeping a keg of beer in the water to keep it cool. As the amber treasure was being hoisted up with a rope, it was tragically yanked back down into the water by a naga. There were some vines hanging down over the river so I grabbed one and majestically swung out into the water after the beast. Quinn did the same but added a backflip to the maneuver. A little showy perhaps but not wanting to be outdone, I felt, shall we say, compelled, to swim back to shore and give it another go. In the meantime, Inam climbed out on a branch and started loading the monster full of arrows while Erlik also tried to swing on the vines, making an impressive dive face first into the muddy banks as his branch broke. I swung out again, this time doing a backflip with a twist, a trick I believe the locals now call a Karn’n’ball. We soon killed the beast and I brought the beer back up from the water. Oh, and Quinn rescued the local that got pulled in. One of the locals got pulled in as well. As a thanks from Rickety, he returned 500gp that we’d spent on the squibbing work. Erlik took the naga corpse into the woods. I think he might have brought Plugs corpse there as well. Interesting fellow that Erlik.

Later on, Inam showed us a treasure map that she’d got from some old sailor who said she’d reminded him of his old captain. He’d been to the marked location many times but never found anything besides empty ocean. Erlik looked at it saw a hidden message that said “Dive”. Might be worth checking out, hopefully with a load of loot to come back with.

Another day and Inam and Quinn were out hunting again. I was trying to enjoy a quite drink but was distracted by the flocks of birds scattering out of the woods. Soon after, we found ourselves under attack from some gigantic hornets. Erlik and I fought two of them off. We had a good system where he’d bring ‘em to the ground and I’d kill ‘em. Sure, he almost died but he didn’t and that’s what matters. His wounds may sting for a while but he’ll recover. Inam and Quinn had been tracking the insects back to the port and killed the remaining hornet. Rickety again discounted us another 500gp for our heroic deeds.

Soon after this, another ship sailed into the port. It’s captain and some crew were already on the docks in a defensive position. I approached them and the captain said he’d recognized The Man’s Promise. With nothing more than a cold stare, I convinced him that no, he was mistaken. He introduced himself as Free Captain Merrol Pegsworthy. Apologizing for his blatant mistake, he offered to Christen our ship for us. Supposedly, being Christened by a Free Captain is a sign of good luck. He also told us about an old fortress of sorts called “The Rock”, stating that anyone who is able to claim it will also find good fortune. It was odd, however, that his ship was allowed in at all considering ours was already there. The lookout should have told them to wait. Inam, Erlik, and Quinn decided to investigate. Quinn had already been out to the tower and met the watchman who went by the name of Lyle. Unfortunately, it seemed that one of the hornets had gotten him. His parrot, Gutrot, however, took a liking to Quinn.

At last, our ship was completed and Christened the Dread Double Doubloon, a name near and dear to my heart. We also took on a few extra crewmates looking for adventure. As we boarded, we discovered a crate filled with all manner of vile weapons and putrid concoctions. I guess that’s what Erlik had been doing with all the corpses, making a present for us. How sweet. Sickly sweet even. I decided the first thing we should do is check out the fortress that Pegsworthy told us about. Sailing up to it, we were flagged to approach carefully, with several ballistae pointed at us the whole way. We were met at the dock by a small party. The sergeant requested that we leave but I asked how he came to own the place. Turns out he wasn’t the owner so I requested to parlay with the person who did. He left and returned several minutes later informing us that we’d been invited to dinner. As collateral, they required that one of my crew be held prisoner until our business here was concluded so I let them take Quinn. We then met the proprietress of the property, Lady Smithy who asked the purpose of our visit. I tried to give her some cock’n’bull story about how we were just bards collecting stories but she knew exactly why we were there and made it clear that we were heavily outmatched. Erlik suggested that she sponsor our ship. She considered this but then countered with an offer of political marriage. However, we’d need to gain more infamy first for it to be worthwhile for her. So, after dinner, we once again headed out to sea, heading for Blood Cove in order to get some diving supplies in order to investigate the map Inam had received back at Rickety’s.

Along the way, we came across a merchant ship and decided it was high time we did some raiding. We got hit with a catapult as we approached but retorted by blowing the aft off their ship with a well-aimed shot of our ballista. We rammed into her forcing our ships side by side. Quinn had a boarding party attack while he set up a sneak attack from above. I told their crew to lay down their arms and they would live but they continued to fight like cows anyways. Erlik stinkbombed the officers and Quinn jumped down and attacked their captain just as he was stepping out of his quarters. At this point, the rest of his crew thought better of their situation and surrendered.

We looted the ship. Erlik carved DDD into the ship’s hull so others would come to know our name. Inam did the same but with the cheeks of the officers and captain. And me? I took the captains hat.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. III" - continued

“…But there were still a few hours of daylight left so we decided to investigate the fort before settling in. There was some sort of shack within its walls. The door was checked for any traps and we discovered that it was guarded by some sort of healing spell. Odd. We opened the door and sure enough, we regained some of the vitality that we’d lost in the previous encounters with the local fauna. I probably should have been concerned about why someone would trap a door with healing but I find it best not to overthink these things.

So Inam, Erlick, and Owlbear went in to take a look around. Next thing I know, the door slams shut and I hear all sorts of screaming and pounding going on. I tried to get the door open while nimble Quinn climbed on the roof and found a way in that way. I followed and was soon able to rescue my crew from some nasty botflies by opening the door and shooing them outside. Turns out there was some guy who’d hung himself in an attempt to prevent turning into some undead monster. Poor sod didn’t even get that right. Just to be safe, we burned the body and then started a separate cooking fire for a hot dinner.
Quinn continued to look around and discovered a spyglass that looked upon a cove. Unfortunately, he also discovered some sea goblins fooling around with Sandra’s hat. This made him an insufferable bellyacher for the next few hours. There were suitable trees to patch up the ship here as well as a fresh supply of water. We had to decide to either bring the supplies back first and then come back to rescue the missing crew, or to rescue them first and risk not getting the ship repaired before the incoming storm. This, assuming they were even still alive at this point. After some debate, we decided it would be better to get the wood back first. The needs of the many and such’n’such. Quinn was not ok with this (and even gave me a poorly veiled and fairly poor threat) but I promised him that we’d return as soon as possible to rescue the others*. The fresh water ran out to sea near the cove so we’d also be able to come back for it fairly easily.

So at this point, we set up shifts for the night and got some rest. The night went uneventfully. Inam and Erlik told us they had heard some scratching on the gate but decided to ignore it and let us rest. Ain’t they sweet. When the sun’d come up, Erlik found that the scratching was in fact something being written on the door. It just looked like scribbles to me but after staring at it for a few moments, his head started to bleed. So, bad mojo, time to get off this island. We rigged up some gear to drag the lumber and made our way back.

On the way we were attacked a few times, ran across some whores, damn near set the whole island ablaze, and got the eventually got the wood back to the ship. You know, as one does. The crew was happy to see us, and ecstatic to see the lumber. But it was clear we could use more hands to man the ship. Also, the crew’s morale would be greatly improved if we could rescue their chums so I had Rosie and the crew work overnight to get the ship sailable by morning."

“At sunup, we sailed over to the cove. I had some of the crew make runs to shore to restock our water supply while I lead the rescue mission. Rosie and the rest worked on finishing up repairs. I told them that if we weren’t back before the storm, they were to head out for calm waters and come back for us. Upon arriving at the cove, we were at the top of its cliff like walls. There was a tunnel leading into some caves but they were currently flooded. We waited for low tide and made our ways down into the water and into the tunnels.

We soon came upon a cavern and in a moment of distraction, I got my leg got caught in some barbed seaweed. At that moment, we were also attacked by some of those gobliny things. As soon as I got free, however, they all took off in fear. Smarter then I gave’em credit for. They cave system was a bit of a maze but I trusted my instincts. We passed a small grotto that seemed to be perhaps a temple or something. We then moved on to the next chamber which we quickly learned was the lair of a devilfish. Erlik and myself were quickly pulled under the inky surface by its tentacles. I couldn’t see through the poisoned waters so I’m not entirely sure what I did next but somehow the giant fish was killed. I was later told that the sneaky Quinn might have played an important role as well.

There were several tunnels leading out of this area but only one that felt right. Following it, we came upon a large cavern. Hanging from the rocky ceiling were Sandra and Conchobhar. Still alive but neither looked in good shape. Both had silver ingots tied to them. There was also this gnarly part octopus, part shark, part Besmara’s ugly stepurchin in there. She starts screaming at us about how we killed some of her brood and she’s getting revenge and whatever and then cuts down our shipmates. The weighty ingots quickly pulled them under the murky, chummy waters. Inam and myself started to attack the fishy queen while the rest jumped in to save the sinking. Jerrick pulled Sandra and Conchobhar back to the caverns entrance but Erlik and Quinn hadn’t yet resurfaced. After a short while, there was a deep boom from underneath the water and they emerged amongst bits of blubber and ambergris. While Jerrick rescued them, Inam revived Sandra who then was able to heal everyone in the cave which swung the battle in our favor. The fish queen was super pissed at whatever Quinn and Erlik had done but it didn’t matter as she was soon slain. After brief reacquaintances with our rescued crew, we made our way back to the now fully repaired and stocked ship and sailed out just before the storm hit."

“I’ve got a ship. I’ve got a crew. It’s time to make a name for myself.”

/* Karn scholars debate whether he truly meant this or if he was just saying what he had to in order to get Quinn to agree with him.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. III"

‘’…After successfully boarding and taking the Man’s Promise, we gazed upon a feisty lass who we later learned went by the name of Inam. She was surrounded by wounded members of our raiding party. Why she hadn’t killed them, I don’t know. She was approached by Plug and Scourge who were just about to kill her when the Captain ordered them to stop. I will admit to being suspicious of her, having spared her assailants and then not being killed herself. However, that suspicion was soon laid to rest.

I knew being under Plug’s command was gonna be rough. He gave me and my mates the shitty jobs. Arunyr questioned these assignments and found himself on the wrong end of a cat o’ nine tails. How foolish. And no rum rations! At least I got a chance to blow a final kiss to the lovely Cut-throat as our ships sailed apart.

That night, Arunyr felt that we had changed course and were no longer sailing for Port Peril. We suspect that we were headed somewhere to be sold off as slaves. We also got to know a little more about Inam. She can somehow sense what the weather will be a full day in advance. Truly a useful talent aboard a ship! She informed us that there was gonna be a hell of a storm coming up and after some discussion, we agreed that she should inform the captain. He didn’t seem to believe her. He did, however, tell her that she was to bunk with him from that point forward. A request that ultimately sealed his fate.

As Inam predicted, we found ourselves in a heavy storm. All crew were on deck, trying to keep the ship under control. As if things weren’t bad enough, we also caught a glimpse of some squidy gremlin looking creatures zipping across our the deck.

We successfully weathered the storm but with fewer crew than we started with. Among the missing were Sandra Quinn and Conchobhar. Oh, and there was also a huge hole in the hull thanks to the island that we ran into. Inam chose this moment to protest Plug’s earlier request by way of an arrow in the back. This triggered the beginning of our mutiny. It was a great fight. Artful swordplay, deadly arrows, biting insults and, um, stinkbombs? Plug went down and Scourge exposed his true cowardice as he tried to escape in a raft. Erlik wasn’t going to let him get away and threw a bomb square in Scourge’s face. Fortunately, my hat wasn’t hurt in the blast but was instead sent hurtling up into the air like a champagne cork. I gracefully dove from the ship and deftly caught it, thus saving it from needless water damage.

So now the ship was ours! Recognizing my natural leadership, the crew selected me as the ships new captain. We assessed the situation. The ship needed repairs. In addition to the giant hole, we also lost most of our drinking water during the storm. We needed to find some lumber and some fresh water. And we had to hurry because Inam informed us of another upcoming storm. So I lead an away party of Arunyr, Erlik, Inam, Jerrick, and Owlbear, leaving Rosie in charge of repairs and Cog in charge of the ship until my return.

We took the raft and rowed up to shore. We found a fishing village that looked like it’d been abandoned some years ago. We decided to head into the island bringing us to a swamp with an old broken up bridge. As we were discussing how best to cross, Erlik took Inam’s rope, tied it around himself, and bounded across the bridges remnants with an elegance not before displayed. Unfortunately, the rope was too short and the other end now lay in the murky swamp water, out of reach from us still on shore. Arunyr took it upon himself to take out another length of rope and tie the two pieces together. As he did this, we was violently pulled from where he was standing into the welcoming maw of a gigantic, carnivorous frog. He managed to wrestle free only to immediately be recaptured by the beast. We all jumped into action trying to recuse Arunyr, with Jerrick being captured by another frog in the process. He retaliated by summoning a squid to fight on his behalf, which, yeah, impressive.

After the frogs had croaked, we continued on and came upon a tent formed from and old sail. Inam and Arunyr snuck up to it and came back saying they’d heard a boar inside. We boldly decided to walk around it. Then we came to a field that had buzzing heads on pikes. We again dared to go around.

And finally we came to a fort built around a large tree. Inam and Arunyr were again scoping things out from a tree outside the fort’s walls when suddenly, Arunyr was was gripped by some vines and pulled into the fort. We all rushed in to once again save our friend. I made the tactically brilliant decision to also get pulled into the tree by one of these “vine chokers” in order to wrestle it to the ground where it was easily defeated. We made quick work of our foes and decided that the fort made a pretty good place to hole up for the night to recuperate.’’

Cut-Throat Groks

In order to speed things up a bit when we get to playing, and because Cut-Throat is in love with Errol, I’m going to list what’s available at her store.

Now that you have cash you can buy things from her shop at a discount 10% discount from whatever is listed on the d20pfsrd site. Here is what’s available.

Mundane Gear
3 flasks of acid
4 flasks of alchemist fire
3 sets of thieves tools
1 set of masterwork thieves tools
candle of truth
potion of barkskin
potion of cure light wounds
potion of haste
masterwork climbers kit
disguise kit
4 flasks of holy water
masterwork light crossbow
three cutlasses
31 daggers
3 masterwork daggers
4 saps
masterwork sap
120 arrows
20 masterwork arrows
6 +1 arrows
banded mail
2 chain shirts
masterwork leather armor
3 suits of studded leather armor
12 bucklers
2 masterwork bucklers
+1 dagger
masterwork warhammer
scroll of cure moderate sounds
scroll of mage armor
scroll of magic missile
scroll of scorching ray
scroll of sumon swarm
wand of bless weapon.


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