Day 23 – The morning is spent splitting up into groups and setting about fixing the damages that the rocks and the Grindylows subjected our poor ship to. Thankfully the rocks are keeping the damage out of the water and making it easier for repairs, and the Rahadoom sailors who survived are more than eager to help repair the ship now that they know they won’t suffer the same fate from us as they did our captain. Cogward may not be the kindest supervisor… but he keeps things disciplined and gets things done. I just hope that we can get enough wood from the deck to fix everything.
“Looks like it’ll take 2 days for the repairs to be completed, Cap’n,” he informs Drago.
“That should give us enough time to explore Bonewreck Island, then. We need to get our crew back, as well as refill our water and food supply. Keep up the good work with the repairs, and we shall return forthwith.”
Cogward nods and heads back to oversee the Rahadoom while we climb into one of the boats and explore the coast for an opening in the tall cliffs that seem to surround the island. After about 2 or 3 miles we finally find a small bit of beach with a delapitated village of bamboo cottages strewn about.
“There’s something strange sticking out of the water…” Priest notices. “I think it’s a skeleton.”
“Halfling, looks like it…” I mutter as we row closer. “Look at the scrimshaw… this is quite the intricate design.” I run my finger along the bone as I gaze at the carved tentacles and runes. “This doesn’t seem magical, though… more of a primitive religious fetish than anything. Still…” A piece of femur comes free easily and I stow it in a pouch for later inspection. While it’s not magical now, it certainly could be later.
“I’ve read about the Grindylows doing things like this,” Zack offers. “I think they’re called Shepards.” Good… maybe we’re on the right track then. What could they be sheparding, though?
Drogo heads off on Jabber towards the village as the rest of us row to shore and tie off the boat. “I don’t see any tracks… but there are a few more Shepards over that way,” I say as I point off towards the jungle.
“Nothing here,” Drogo replies. “Looks like they packed up and left, other than a human skeleton over there that met a nasty end. I’ll take point if we want to continue down that path.”
We head past the Shepards due south and trudge through the swamp for about a mile when the path deadends into a bog. There are a few remnants of a wooden bridge, but mostly just the pylons and the platforms at each end.
“Well, we could try the pylons, or there’s some vines up there we could swing across…” Drogo mutters.
“Outtamyway!” Zack yells as he springs past us and skips along the pylons sticking out of the swamp. Suddenly a long fleshy projectile shoots out of the murky water, but just misses him before sinking back into the darkness.
“Kill the frog!” exclaims Zack as he makes it to the other side, quickly followd by Priest and Drogo.
I climb quickly up through the vines and perch on one of the thicker branches as I wait for the projectile. I can just hear the splash of water before the frogs tongue lashes out…but it gives me just enough time to shift to the side and grab it as my hand crackles with electricity.
“Eat this, amphibian!” I chuckle as the electricity from my Shocking Grasp cascades down the tongue to a flailing frog below. Fortunately it doesn’t suffer long before Drago spears it and puts it out of its misery.
“Mmmm… frogs legs!” I say with glee as I drop down and pull out my skinning knife. “Give me a minute so I can gather some stock… I can probably get a good 12lbs off of this thing!”
“Bleh… I hope you’re going to cook it, because I’ve just decided raw frog is nasty ,” Zack exclaims as he spits out a piece.
“Come on, I think I found more Shepards this way,” Priest shouts. “Human heads this time… and it looks like they didn’t take the time to clean them.”
“You’ve got some skills, my man,” Zack says with a smile as he claps the morose priest on the shoulder. “You’re just the tracking gun-toting cleric of death, aren’t ya?”
We’re travelling for another half mile or so through the bog when we come across even more Shepards. “These are Elven females… dead about 6 months, I’d say,” Priest warns.
“We must be getting closer then. Good.”
“Yeah… this place is seriously starting to reek. I hope we find Sendara so we can get the heck off this rock.” Zack agrees as he holds his nose.
“Gods… you’re not kidding! What is that smell? It’s like rotting flesh and cheap perfume.”
The path of overgrown swampland suddenly opens up into a clearing with a rather large and musty old tree growing out of the middle of it. The bottom of the tree is draped in tents, however, with the trunk decorated in a collection of faces and body parts.
“Gross! Do you think this is their camp?”
“Maybe we could use the trees to our advantage and come at them with a two-pronged attack,” I theorize when I notice Drago casting a Detect Magic cantrip and moving towards the tents.
“Why do you always assume they’re going to be hostile?” he mutters as Priest and I follow behind him with our weapons at the ready.
“I don’t know… must be the smell and the rotting heads on spikes,” I reply to noone in particular.
Jabber creeps into the tent to spy around, but with a gasp from Drago comes racing back out again as a curtain opens to reveal four emaciated figures in badly stained raggedy gowns and corsets wearing brightly colored wigs. They’d almost remind me of the worst parts of some of the bigger cities I’ve seen on my travels… if it weren’t for the drooping grey skin, claws, and gnashing teeth.
One of them launches at Priest with a snarl and chomps down on his neck like a vampire would its next meal. He screams for a brief moment before his body jerks and stops moving. I reflexively pull the vial of Holy Water I’d been saving for a rainy day from my belt pouch and smash it over the creatures back before stumbling back away from the encroaching ghoulish prostitutes.
The ghoul sizzles and turns into goo that drips down the front of the still unmoving Priest.
He jerks into movement a few seconds later before I can even wonder if he’s dead, however… and gasping for air he clutches at his holy symbol and yells. “Abominations be gone!”
“Nice try, Priest,” Drago chuckles before skewering another with his spear. “Try your gun next time.”
Zack screams out before becoming paralyzed as one of the ghouls takes a bite out of his shoulder. I stab the one in front me with my cutlass and as I duck its return swing send a barrage of magic missiles towards the ghoul attacking Zack. Thankfully Priest takes Drago’s advice to heart and finishes off the last ghoul with a well-placed hole in its head thanks to his gun.
“Disgusting,” he mutters as he wipes what he can of the ghoul goop off of him. “I’m going to tend to Zack in one of the tents now that it’s all clear.”
“Good idea, we’ll see what we can find around here before we head out again.”
Drago and I search through the other tents and come away with chests full of female clothing and jewelry, including a rather beautifully done wedding dress inlaid with pearls and rubies and a whalebone corset with mother of pearl inlays. The poor woman… she was hoping for a brighter future that she’d never see. At least now, perhaps, her soul can find peace.
We also find the following:
- Hip flask with a crocodile on the side of it: unidentified potion inside.
- 3 sharp daggers
- Small locked chest
- 2 barrels full of cheap perfume
- Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds
- 12 silver and obsidian hat pins
- 250 gp – 97 sp – 56 cp
Zach eventually is able to shake of the paralysis with the help of Priest and enters with Sendara’s tricorn hat in hand. “I think Priest found the trail again,” he says grimly as he tosses it down on the pile of women’s clothes.
“Don’t give up hope, my friend… she’s not lost yet.” We stash the heavier booty that we find and make note of the tree’s location so that we can head back this way when we return to the ship. No need to lug barrels of perfume through the swamp, after all.
We continue on the trail that Priest found towards the southern edge of the island when he notices a sign of struggle and a new trail leading off to a grove of coconut trees.
“Looks fine to me,” says Drago.
“Wait,” Priest warns as he looks ahead. “I see movement up ahead… I think there are three large crabs hiding in the grove.”
I glance at Zack and Priest with their bandaged wounds after that ghoul attack and come to a quick decision. “They aren’t worth the trouble. Let’s keep going.”
Priest nods and continues until we come to a large fenced off area that seems to be growing crops. Corn, to be precise. As the path continues, more and more heads on spikes appear along the road with bones littering the path and clouds of bugs up above.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” I say with a smile as I inspect the crops and start pulling ears off and putting them into my bag. “You know… this could be a good way to set up an ambush. We could set fire to the crop, take cover with our weapons, and shoot whatever comes up that path.”
“Worth a try, anyway,” Zack replies.
Yeah… it sounded like a good idea anyway… too bad I didn’t think about the bugs . After a few minutes of panicked swatting and running the bug exodus departs from the area, leaving us stung and bleeding. Thankfully we have a cleric to help save us from my crazy ideas.
The sun begins to set along the cliffs so we decide that we might as well camp since we already have a fire. Besides, now I get a chance to try out some ideas for new recipies with the frog meat.
“You know,” Drago begins while chomping around a piece of corn, “I could always summon some birds to scout ahead for us.”
Zack shoves Drago in the shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell us that earlier?”
He shrugs. “I figured you all would ask…” He sets down the corn and closes his eyes for a moment when an eagle appears with a slight glow around it that flies down the coastline. “Mmm…. yup… looks like there’s something interesting about a mile south of here. We should probably check it out while the fire is burning… might be a good distraction.”
“Ok… but not until we’re done eating.” I reply as I shake a frog leg at him. Mmmn… yeah… definitely going to have to make this again when I get my hands on more spices.
“But of course!” Drago answers with a grin as he rubs his full belly.
Once I’ve picked up we make our way quietly down the path and peek through a clump of reeds to spy a number of Grindylows swimming off towards the edge of a cliff side with an opening in it.
Drago’s eagle flies out to scout and we make our way to the bottom of the cliff so that we can camp in one of the larger crevasses until morning.
Day 24 – Zack sings quietly of his brother through the night as we take turns at watch. When it’s my turn I encounter the guests that Zack’s singing attracted… two cat-sized dragonflies. Good thing for us, my Papa shared stories around the fire about how the tail meat is a delicacy in some lands…
When morning breaks Priest does his best to regain the trail, but loses them at the water’s edge. Thankfully Drago doesn’t need to be asked before he summons his Eagle to look for entrances in the cliffs, and his Dolphin to search for any entrances underwater.
“I think the eagle has found it,” Drago tells us after a few minutes. “It’s at the base of a cliff around the lip of the island.”
“That will take a lot of swimming,” Priest warns.
“Which is why we’re going back for the ship.” I answer. “We need to pick up that stash, anyway.”
It’s about 3pm by the time we make it back after navigating around the reefs. Tide waters are going down… and reveal a tunnel framed with another pair of grisley shepards.
“Zack, you should write a message for the crew to let them know what’s going on with us. I’ll send it via the eagle, just in case anything happens.”
Yeah… just in case.