Chapter the First: Unpleasant Underground Underhandness
[Retroactively: Lumpy was a stowaway on the ship, and tried to take one of the leaky ship’s dinghies to shore shortly after arrival. This went poorly. She was rescued by our noble swimming/walking-on-water heroes and, after some discussion about what use there was for a gnome in this crew, was welcomed on board. Mostly]
Our party decide to enter the mysterious hole in preference to attacking the camp, since mysterious holes in the ground are much more likely to contain loot and people to fight. Strangely, this is correct, and they happen upon two drow happily asleep in a cave with lots of possessions. While Jack and Jaryk fail to see in the dark, Akta and Lumpy loot the chests, and everyone else eventually nobly bands together to kill one of the drow and incapacitate the other, although not before a lot of people have become far too intimately acquainted with spider bites.
Our captive drow introduces herself as Serena, mentions she can heal people and offers her own manacles to be confined in when the party argues over whether to keep her captive or just kill her. This somehow works. Gold and potions are divvied up from the chests, while a strange large stone covered in markings that can only be partially read is also dragged out of the cave because Serena says it’s important for things in the South, where apparently she is also headed. Loot and drow are ferried back up to the surface, even if other members of the party struggle somewhat with climbing ropes out of holes.
Back on the beach, it turns out the camping party has come down to talk to the remaining crew, and are very interested about securing passage to the South. They offer money. Everybody is distrustful of them. After briefly revisiting the possibility of killing Serena and getting lots of money from the others, everybody agrees in the end to keep Serena hostage and to refuse passage to the other group, who seem disappointed but thankfully do not (yet) have their own ship to chase our heroes down with.
Chapter the Second: A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea
Sailing. Is apparently a thing we can do now. Jaryk bosuns around getting the crew to sail for us, mostly. Everybody has a bit of a nap. Nala chats to Serena, Akta plays some soothing music, Jack stands heroically in the prow of the ship, presumably until he gets bored. The group decides to head for the Pirate Isles, rather than directly towards the South, which makes Serena grumble but everyone else is agreed they need a better (aka more loyal) crew, which they can hopefully hire there. Upon finding out that the main island/town of the Pirate Isles is called Cerveza, everybody rolls their eyes but sets sail for it, carefully avoiding all possible hydra sightings along the way.
Cerveza itself is approached via a curious sailing passage flanked by reefs of broken ships. There are other ships in port, including a very large and shiny ship with red sails, and the wreck of Jack and Jaryk’s previous ship. The combined navigation skills of our crew are not quite enough to avoid crashing the ship into the dock they’re trying to stop at, but after a hasty repair they pay off the previous crew, offer a bonus for any who stay on, and head into town. Reviewing the hostelries on offer, they eventually plump for one called the Horny Tiefling.
Inside the pub, everything is rowdy. Akta looks for someone to play at cards, and accepts the offer of a slightly shady gentleman to unite their decks and play against each other. She draws a completely unremarkable card from the man’s deck, and nothing whatsoever happens. Lausa goes to find some music to sing along to. Nala non-vocally orders two drinks from a bottle with a big red X on, drinks one and observes that the world has turned upside-down and is now populated by fish. Finding this interesting, she locates the fish known as Jack and offers him the other glass, which he promptly drinks. Two members of the party thus spend the next hour or so talking to all the fish-people and participating no further in anything else. Jaryk, sensible man, has gone to the pub by way of visiting the harbourmaster (who is not the same harbourmaster as on their last visit, careers being somewhat temporary in Cerveza), and thus arrives somewhat too late to get involved in any of this silliness. He has found out, however, that the ship with red sails is called the Scarlet Fiend, and that captains of it never live long due to everybody else wanting to kill them and become captain. The new captain (and his hat) haven’t been seen since they docked, though.
Back at the pub, Lumpy has found a passed out person in a cloak and removed the cloak, without which the person looks quite different. In particular, the person is wearing the Scarlet Fiend’s captain’s hat. Lumpy takes the hat, and puts it on, somewhat annoying Jaryk. Unfortunately, it turns out the hat can’t be taken off again… so Lumpy has to also don the disguise cloak to prevent herself being immediately murdered for the hat. The party also discuss the VIP invitations they’ve been finding, which appear to show a shrunken head of some sort as the meeting place – so probably either the Headless Child or Decapitated Gnome pubs. Jaryk thinks they should head off to the meeting to find out what it’s about, so drags Jack and Nala down to the sea and dunks them in it to sober them up. This works. Jack, Jaryk, Nala and Lumpy then head off to the meeting, with Jaryk dragging Lumpy along physically, much to her annoyance.
Serena, meanwhile, has acquired (through means which are not too deeply questioned) a cloak, and in the pocket of the cloak there is a model ship with spiderweb-sails. She gives this to Lausa as proof she has a ship now too, at which Lausa looks unimpressed. Serena says it gets bigger if you put it in water, and Lausa says there’s no water here, only beer. Serena says put it in the beer, then. Lausa does.
The next short while is full of death and exploding ship for most of the bar patrons, particularly Akta. She dies, and is greeted by her god, who rather unfortunately has to hand her over to the man she was playing cards with earlier – not a man, but a powerful demon who now has a powerful enmity with her. He gives her a week to escape or find him something more interesting to do than hunt her down, and sends her back into the world. Lausa, meanwhile, is attempting to turn the boat smaller again by mopping all the beer off it. This does not work, and eventually she is convinced by Serena to go off looking for ingredients for a spell which will allow them to wash the boat out to sea (and off the remains of the pub).
At the secret meeting, meanwhile, Jack, jaryk, Nala and Lumpy are taken to be whoever the invitations say they are, which leads to unspecified awkwardness. They find other people of importance, however, poring over a map of the whole sea area, pushing ships around and generally obviously keeping an eye on all trade in the area. Apparently a load of Orcs are heading to Aelaria from the East, although nobody seems that bothered about it, and a fair few ships with spiderweb-sails are dotted around. Upon being asked why they called the meeting (under their assumed personae), the party bluff as best they can and ask for advice on heading to the South. They are not given much that’s useful, although they are told that at least it’s not the West – they’ll just not come back from the South, rather than coming back raving as they would if heading West. So that’s something.