Serpent's Skull

Shipwrecked - Week One

Mitabu and Takara were on the Jenivere, a vessel captained by Alizandru Kovack, and headed for Sargava before the ship mysteriously changed course. Although the captain insisted this was a shortcut, the crew was suspicious. However, before these issues were resolved, everyone was poisoned and vessel was wrecked upon the notorious “Smuggler’s Shiv,” an island south of the Sargavan colonies.

Although most of the crew and passengers perished in the wreck, you survived along with 6 other passengers: the Tian sailor named Ishirou, the cleric Jack Derindi, the red-haired, seemingly bi-polar warrior(?) Sasha Nevah, gnome comedian Gelik Aberwhinge, the attractive and alcoholic half-elf Aerys Mavato, and your companions, Renaelde “Rena” Shazmne, a half-elven who you suspect is some kind of primitive cleric (witch), and Bik Unkgart, a beardless, heavily scarred and tattooed dwarven martial artist.

The party established a primitive base of operations on the beachhead after waking up on the shore and beset by sea scorpions. From the vomiting and the splitting headache you were able to determine that your last meal on board the ship was poisoned, although the motive remains unclear. Takara took control of the situation and directed the NPCs to construct a shelter and sent others in search of the Jenivere’s wreck, spotted to the West. Taking command of the situation, Takara alienated Sasha who stormed off into the wilderness. Prince Takara set out after her, and convinced her to return to camp.

After finding the wreck of the Jenivere, and fending off more sea scorpions, it became clear that you were all rescued by the first mate, Alton, who perished at the hands of either someone’s rapier or wounds from a sea scorpion on board the wreck. You have also discovered in the Captain’s log that something was going on between him and Ieana, a bookish Varisan scholar who was traveling to Sargava to explore ancient runes there. The captain’s log, at first containing only poorly written love songs to Ileana turned sinister towards the end, as he complained about how the crew was eyeing “his Ieana” and wrote several times about how he wished that the first mate, Alton would “have an accident.” In the final entry, the Captain wrote that he’d changed course for Smuggler’s Shiv at Ieana’s request, in spite of the crew’s agitation, and hopes that the two of them can make a home on the remote island. The final line muses that “something may need to be done about the crew” if their suspicions get any worse.

Also on the wreck of the Jenivere you discovered that the cook had been killed by a bite from a vicious snake and stuffed into a cabinet on board the vessel. This led to Rena accusing Mitabu of being in league with the captain, as he had displayed that he possesses similar abilities earlier that day when he grew fangs and killed a sea scorpion with a nearly identical wound. Although she remains suspicious, Mitabu was able to make a colorable claim of innocence by noting that he too was present during dinner and was poisoned.

Returning to camp, you learned from Ishirou that you were on Smuggler’s Shiv, a notorious island north of Eleder. The island is named not only for the knife-like shape of its coastline, but for its uncanny habit of wrecking ships that draw too near—mostly smugglers eager to avoid detection by Sargava’s navy. He has heard the place is haunted by ghosts, and indeed, during the night you believe you may have seen a ghost in the glowing waves, but were attacked by a shark and forced to withdraw from the heaving seas.

The wreck also contained several keys, one of which you used to free Jask, a cleric of Nethys, who claims that he used to work for the Sargavan government and discovered proof of corruption involving illicit deals with the Free Captains of the Shackles. When he confronted his superior he was betrayed and framed with the same crimes. He fled, but was arrested in Corentyn and placed with the Captain to be sent to Sargava. He has asked you to look for the wreck of the Brine Demon, which he has heard was wrecked on the island, for perhaps that vessel, captained by Avret Kinkarian one of the Free Captains allegedly involved in the deals in his investigation, will have proof of his innocence.

Takara was able to win over the trust of Aerys, who had bitterly disliked him for his refusal to hand her over some booze, and the fact that she is distrustful of those who she thinks are flirting with her (and the fact that he dangled a potion of cure disease in front of her and refused to give it to her). She has confessed that she wishes to be cured of alcoholism and asked the party to find her some viper nettle berries which are supposed to make the symptoms of withdrawal easier to bear.

Takara has also learned that the vulgar gnome, Gelik, is a Pathfinder, although he’s in “somewhat of a difficult time with them right now,” because he sold off a Thassilonian relic in Magnimar that did not turn out to be Thassilonian. The merchant called the guards and he fled town.
We left off in the morning, the first full day after the wreck…

Day 2
Your party awoke early on the second day after the shipwreck that brought them to the Smuggler’s Shiv. Takara tasked Jask and Gelik with fortifying the campsite by the beach, and sent Aerys and Sasha on guard duty. He offered the (deceased) first Mate’s masterwork leather armor to Sasha who accepted (without thanks). Ishirou accompanied the party as they went exploring/hunting into the hills north of the shore (K4 & K5).

Ishirou spoke more of what he knows about the island. When Sargava was as first settled, Chelish engineers erected a lighthouse on the Shiv’s southwest shore. The light was intended to warn approaching ships of the dangerous waters and, eventually, was to have been the first building in a small colony. The light and all plans for colonization were abandoned just before completion amid rumors of curses, haunts, and cannibalism.

Ishirou also revealed his backstory: he spent many years working for a syndicate called the Aspis Consortium (basically the Dutch East India company of the Mwangi Expanse). Takara wondered why such a “noble Tian” was working as a common thug, but this conversation was cut short when the party stumbled upon a trio of goats. Takara and Mitabu managed to calm and charm the goats and sent Ishirou back to camp with them.

The party headed back towards the shore, marching through the jungle heat nearly felled Mitabu from heat stroke. Moving along the cliffs you spied a small island to the East (F2/G2.5). The party continued scouting through the jungle and ran into four poisonous snakes, which they dispatched with ease and brought back to the campsite for dinner.

Heading back to camp, Rena spoke of her home city Ilizmagorti. Mitabu noted that the mythical Red Mantis assassins are from there. Rena confirmed that they run the town, but Mitabu denied that such an organization existed. Rena told of how she made it on the Jenivere: the shop she was working in as an alchemists apprentice was robbed, she blacked out, and when she woke up the robbers were dead and her fox, Ithys, was licking her awake. She fled Ilizmagorti and booked passage on the Jenivere.

Back at camp, Mitabu and Aerys spoke about the cure disease potion that Mitabu possesses. Mitabu gave Aerys a chance to argue for it, but she declined arguing that tropical diseases were more deadly than alcoholism, and she would continue to struggle onward while waiting for the party to find the viper nettle berries.

That night, Mitabu had a strange dream regarding his last meal on the Jenivere. He dreamed that as he drank the cook’s soup, a snake bite him on the tongue, chewing furiously.

Day 3

The party struck out towards the small island they had spotted earlier. Along the way they spotted a beautiful small pterosaur. Although the seas between the islands are extremely rough (10 foot waves, yo) Mitabu tied everyone to him and used his manly superpowers to help his occasionally drowning companions across the channel to the island. The shipwreck they had spotted earlier turned out to be the “Tears of Grog.” Within the broken wreck the dead walked! The four undead sailors passed out quite a lot of damage (due to their awesome DR) and nearly killed Mitabu (and just after he had done such a nice job of critt’ing one to death) and Takara. In the battle Takara revealed that he apparently doesn’t believe in using a weapon more than once in a battle (he cycled through like 4 weapons). The vessel contained some loot, including rope, fishing tackle, and a barrel.

They returned to camp with their spoils. Takara and Ishirou spoke about their pasts, and Ishirou revealed that he stole treasure maps from the Apsis when he left, and that one of them is of the Shiv, where a treasure is allegedly buried (near F20/21) he would like to go with the party and check it out.

Mitabu spoke to Gelik with an idea about how Gelik could get back in the Pathfinders good graces. Gelik revealed that he too had a plan, as a Pathfinder vessel, the Nightvoice went missing near these waters and it is widely believed that it sunk on or near the Shiv. He asked the party to look into it, as if he could determine what happened to the vessel he would be able to return to the Pathfinder Society.

Sasha ran to camp ecstatic at having seen a pterosaur. She begged Takara to bring her a live, baby dimophodon (the baby pterosaur). When Takara asked Sasha about Ilizmagorti, the Red Mantises, and why Rena was terrified of them, Sasha stated that she had never heard of the Mantises.

We ended before nightfall, Day 3.
Day 3 (Evening)
As the sun fades and thunder rumbles in the distance the companions return to camp. Although Aerys wonders about the whether the primitive shelter that they have constructed can withstand the gale, Takara assures her that it will and that the storm will blow itself out over the night. As lightning strikes nearby Bik confides in the crowd that he is afraid of lightning, having not experienced it while growing up underground. Sasha also claims to be afraid of lightning, although everyone else rolls their eyes at her transparent attempt to get into Takara’s bunk.
During the night Mitabu awoke due to a leak in the roof and heard the sound of very large wings flapping overhead the campsite. Although he stumbled out of the shelter and looked about, he couldn’t see anything as the sound of the wings faded into the distance.

Day 4
The next morning at breakfast he brought up his observation to the group. When questioned by Rena and Bik about what the creature could possibly be Mitabu concluded that it could be anything from a dinosaur to a dragon or a wyvern. This unnerved everyone, and Takara concluded that they should camouflage the campsite with palm leaves. Sasha brought up the fact that she still desperately wanted a baby pterosaur. Aerys and Sasha started to fight, and Takara separated them. The PCs struck off to the East along the coast.

As they trudged along the beach they discovered a nest of baby dimorphodons (small pterodons) and three adults. Mitabu decided to charm one of the adults in the hopes of getting the creature to take the other adults away from the nest so that they could capture a baby for Sasha. Mitabu tried the influence of his charm spell but was unable to overcome the creature’s primal protective instinct towards its young, and the adult broke free of the spell. After a brief battle in which it was revealed that pterodons are startling hard to grapple, the PCs managed to kill the adults. They were then faced with the prospect of climbing up a 100 foot cliff to reach the baby ‘dactyls. Takara slipped and fell about a quarter of the way up, nearly killing himself in the fall, and the party decided to send Bik up the cliffs instead. Bik anchored a rope, and then Takara scaled it and used his ranger skills to calm the dimorphodons, which he stuck in his pouch.

As they returned to exploring the island, Mitabu remarked that the baby dino was sure to get Sasha in Takara’s bedroll, but warned him that she was hiding something about her past with the Red Mantises. Rena confirmed that despite whatever Sasha says, the Red Mantis are real and run Ilizmagorti. However, Rena had no idea how to actually identify a Red Mantis. The party tabled the discussion, reasoning that they could probably overpower and kill her if necessary.
Moving further to the East, they spotted a small shipwreck on a barrier island offshore. This time no one nearly died crossing the rough seas, and they discovered a wrecked Elven vessel, the Golden Bow. Despite hearing the moans of the dead sailors within, three zombies got the jump on the party. Takara remembers that the best way to deal with these unnatural creatures is not to bludgeon, shoot, or poke them, but to slash them to bits. Despite the fact that only Rena and Takara have slashing weapons, they manage to finish off the zombies and find an astrolabe, functioning compass, and a pair of dice. Although Takara wanted to ditch the astrolabe, Bik indicated that he had seen sea captains use it many times when he was a galley slave, and that the party might need it to get off the island.

Everyone swam back to the Shiv and proceeded along the coast (which began turning South instead of East). After an hour or so they discovered the remnants of a quickly rigged shelter and evidence of a small campfire well above the high-tide line. A search of the area revealed Captain Kovack’s tricorn hat and several scarves that Rena identified as having belonged to Ieana. Takara scoured the area for tracks, which had been mostly worn away by the previous night’s storm. Despite the difficulty of the task he persevered and found enough signs of their passage (slashed and broken tree limbs, bent weeds, and the like) to locate their path into the jungle. They followed the tracks for a short while through the jungle and discovered a river that Capt. Kovack and Ieana must have crossed. As it was getting dark, they decided to set up camp for the night back along the cliffs rather than along the river, for fear of predators.
From their cliff-side camp the party spied another shipwreck offshore, and decided to investigate it in the morning. The party spent the evening discussing their betrayal by the Captain and Ieana and wondering about the wounds that they found on bodies at the Jenivere, which looked as though they had been caused by a large snake. Upon waking, Rena discovers that she has contracted a jungle fungus on her foot, Boot Soup, which gradually paralyzes its victim. The party uses its cure disease potion to heal her.

Everyone crawls down the cliffs to the shipwreck and carefully walks across a reef to where the Bloody Doll has run aground. Inside, Takara spots a humanoid creature with glowing eyes, long, sharp teeth, and pallid flesh stretched tightly over a starved frame. Although the creature was coiled to strike, Takara spots it first, and his dagger plus Mitabu’s magic quickly finishes off the creature before it could get in a single strike. Inside the wreck they find a chain shirt, 58 gold pieces, and a small bronze token with an anchor painted on it.

Returning back to their camp atop the cliffs they resumed their tracking of Capt. Kovack and Ieana through the jungle. Crossing the river, they noticed a large grove of thorny vines with walls seven feet high and thorns six-inches long. Deep within the 60 foot briar they spotted several splashes of red berries. Not wanting to stomp through the thorns, Takara tried to induce Ithys, Rena’s fox, to retrieve the berries, in exchange for first crack at rations. Ithys relayed (through Rena) that he would prefer one of the dimorphodons, and (with reluctance) a trade was made. Ithys devoured the dimorphodon that Takara planned to raise and brought them the berries that Aerys had sought to help her through her addiction.

The trail goes south along the river, until it reaches the shore, where the party spots another wrecked vessel. They approach the wreck, a ninety-foot-long vessel encrusted with salt and moss and leaning against the cliffs. At the bow they spot a leering demonic figurehead green-caked brass and, painted in chipped and fading white paint, the words Brine Demon. Although most of the vessel had rotted away they managed to find an unopened darkwood coffer sitting in an opened secret compartment of a rotting desk in the Captain’s quarters. Forcing it open, they find a gold locket containing a tiny, incredibly detailed portrait of a beautiful, red-haired half-elf woman, identified along the bottom edge of the portrait as “Aeshamara,” a well preserved and quite sharp dagger (+1), and several fat ledgers and journals which contain irrefutable proof of collusion between Captain Kinkarian and half a dozen Sargavan and Bloodcove government officials, who were skimming off the tithes and taxes offered to the Free Captains of the Shackles – the evidence Jask was looking for.

Having looted the vessel and with the sun beginning to fall towards the horizon, Takara and the others decide to head back to base camp.

Evening of Day 4
Having looted the Brine Demon, and weighed down with supplies, the PCs (who need a team name) headed back to base camp. Mitabu presented the nettleberries to Aerys, and Takara presented a dimorphodon baby to Sasha and the documents that they liberated from the Brine Demon to Jask. Takara then gathered everyone around the fire and reported that their ranging had discovered the tracks of Captain Kovack and Ieana. As a result of picking up their trail along the Eastern coast of the island, Takara suggested moving their campsite more towards the island’s interior (F12.5).

Sasha and Jack were not pleased with the suggestion of moving into the forest – Sasha because the beach had been so good for her tan, and Jask because he feared whatever beasts are within the jungle. Takara countered by noting that Ieana must have some way off the island and that it would be best to be following her, and that in any event the river itself would provide a barrier protecting the campsite. Their objections countered, the NPCs agreed to move the campsite and everyone settled down for the night.

Day 5
Mitabu’s midnight watch was interrupted by a ghost – presumably the captain of the Brine Demon – who accused Mitabu and his companions of thievery, betrayal, usurpation, and generally being scoundrels – all while menacingly waving his hooked hand at them. Eventually, Takara was able to reason that the ghost sought the locket that they had looted from the ship, and to look once more upon the face of the woman within the locket. Takara boldly presented the opened locket to the captain, who disappeared rapidly into fog upon touching it.

In the morning, Aerys took Mitabu aside while they trudged the disassembled campsite to its new location. She revealed that the berries were helping her, and that she appreciated the assistance, and that she would like to share her true passion – poetry – with Mitabu. Aerys presented Mitabu with her opus, the Aendego Cantos, an epic containing themes of overcoming terrible adversity with strength of will (which provided Mitabu with a bonus to his concentration in battle).

As they continued to move across the beach, they encountered a strange swarm of several thousand crabs along the beached, devouring goats and everything else along the shore. Takara wisely decided to move around the swarm, and led the party through the jungle to the new campsite location.

After reaching the new campsite, Takara noticed something strange dangling from a tree nearby. Upon investigation it turned out to be a giant rat, entangled in some vines and completely drained of blood. The PCs agreed to keep this a secret from the others.
Mitabu decided to stay back and set up camp, and then read Aerys’s poems, while Takara, Bik, and Rena went to continue tracking Ieana and Captain Kovack. After trailing the two of them south-easterly along the bluffs, Takara realized that they were very near where Ishirou’s treasure map indicated treasure was buried so they decided to break off from the search for Ieana and go treasure hunting. After reaching the top of a high hill set above the bluffs (F20.5), Takara re-read the treasure map and realized that they would have to wait there until dawn, when the position of the sun between two rocks would show them where to dig.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, Ishirou led the NPCs in constructing a lean-to which promptly collapsed. This led to much arguing between the NPCs in which Mitabu diplomatically defused a fight between Sasha and Gelik. Meanwhile, mosquitos harassed them all, and Mitabu contracted dysentery. When Mitabu asked Jask for aid with his special digestive problem, Jask confessed that there was little that he could do besides offer a blessing. However, he also taught Mitabu several mantras from the church of Nethys to focus his mind and continue through the discomfort. Jask and Mitabu had a brief theological discussion but Mitabu preferred to stick with Shimye-Magalla for the time being. Jask senses a potential convert though!

Mitabu read through Aerys’s Abendego Cantos, discovering them to be shockingly well-written tales of the strength of personality overcoming adversity. He counseled Aerys to nurture her poetry more than her thirst for booze, and then took up his watch over the camp.

Meanwhile, at dawn, Bik awoke his companions and plotted the location for digging out Ishirou’s treasure. After an hour’s hard work of shoveling they discovered a large wooden cylindrical plug blocking their progress downward and the skeleton of a dwarf, stabbed in the back. Takara encouraged his companions to try and break through the plug, and after much smashing and cutting the plug gave way with a sudden crack. Unfortunately, the plug was atop a long shaft, and Takara fell down 40 feet into water-filled chamber and was beaned on the head by bits and pieces of the plug on the way down. Trying to get his bearings, Takara heard howling and hissing from some other creatures, water ghouls, who had been trapped in the chamber for many years. Bik lowered a rope down, but due to the fact that nothing was available to secure the rope with, Bik could only lower Rena down to assist Takara.

The water ghouls ripped a chunk out of Takara’s arm, both paralyzing him and knocking him unconscious. Rena managed to grab onto him and the rope and Bik miraculously managed to bring the two of them up the shaft and back on top of the hill. Rena revived Takara, who took swift revenge on the ghouls with his longbow. Believing Bik to be the strongest swimmer, they lowered him down into the pool of water, where he discovered an underwater passage leading to a treasure chest. Hauling the loot back to camp they opened it in front of Ishirou revealing thousands of coins, many gems, a starknife and buckler, and scroll of raise dead. Mitabu stated that the treasure should be split evenly among the companions, but Ishirou argued that Aerys, Sasha, Gelik and Jask shouldn’t be entitled to any of the treasure. He agreed to table the issue until they get off the island.

That evening, Takara confessed his fascination with outsiders to Ishirou, and asked for more information on the Tian. Embarrassed, Ishirou confessed that he knew little of his people, as he had been raised on his father’s junk – his sword is the only link to his people that he has left. However, Ishirou showed that he knows quite a bit of Tianese swordsmanship, and taught Takara the styles and tricks of his sword-style. Sasha came over to hit on Takara after the lesson, and Takara confronted her about lying to him earlier about her knowledge of the Red Mantis. Sasha revealed that her mother is a high-ranking Mantis, and that Sasha had been in Mantis training but didn’t make the cut. Her mother chopped off Sasha’s left pinkie finger before sending her to Sargava to “mind the interests of the Mantis,” making clear that she was not to return to Ilizmagorti. Sasha tried to get Takara to make love to her down by the river, but he rebuffed her, and she settled for teaching him the tricks the Red Mantis use to get a jump on their enemies.

Day 6
The companions set out again in search of the Captain’s tracks. They headed out southwest, along the river, before heading into the jungle. Eventually they stumbled across a game-trail of some kind. This path was too well-traveled for Takara to isolate the Captain and Ieana’s tracks. They began by heading south along the trail, before running into some kind of clever vine trap. A well-disguised trip wire triggers a snare which drags the victim into the air and against sharpened wooden sticks attacked to a tree. Although probably not the work of Kovack and Ieana, it is clear proof that there are others on the island. Based on Ishirou’s stories, Mitabu and Bik concluded that the trap was most likely the work of cannibals of some kind.

The southern trail terminated (at I21) at what was once clearly a campsite containing a partially completed wooden shack, firepit, and benches. They were surprised to find a large pentagram carved into one wall of the shack. A closer inspection of the pentagram revealed several human teeth hammered into its center. Takara determined that the campsite was at least a year old, but couldn’t draw an exact age, and also spotted several bloodstains. Finding nothing else, they began to head back along the jungle path when they encountered a man-sized spider, which they quickly dismembered.

Following the path, Takara tripped what would be the first of several of the previously mentioned triplines. Eventually the path forked (at M17), and the party chose to go east, eventually discovering that the trail terminated along the cliffs. They found a single creature at the campsite, human in form though sprouting green vines. Takara identified it as a yellow musk zombie, a “natural” zombie caused when the yellow musk creeper slays a human (or finds a corpse). They then infest them with seeds and pollen and send them off to serve the plant (either bringing new victims or sprouting new plants). No sign of a yellow musk creeper itself was found. Takara turned it into a pincushion with his longbow, to little effect. Eventually they beat it to a pulp and discovered that this campsite, like the other, contained fragments of bone, bloodstains, and clear signs of struggle, but no survivors.

As it began to get late, the party returned to base-camp and Takara called a meeting of the survivors to discuss their discovery of abandoned campsites and the signs of cannibalism. Takara took Ishirou aside to ask him more about the history of magic on the island, and the sign of a pentagram, but Ishirou had little information. Meanwhile, Jask and Mitabu continued their theological discussion on the virtues of Nethys versus Shimye-Magalla.

Day Seven
Most of the companions spent the day moving the campsite to a new location (L16.5), Jask and Rena on the other hand hunted for herbs and brewed healing potions.



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