Skull and Shackles

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 "

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