Skull and Shackles

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.

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