Skull and Shackles

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.

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