Serpent's Skull

Ch. 1.3 : Souls for Smugglers Shiv

Part 3. Lost

 

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The group was awoken from fitful sleep by an intense downpour of rain.  Their makeshift shelters leaked, but their fires were still lit.  The rain lasted about twenty minutes, and the sun heated the area.  Everyone was thirsty, and it was decided they needed to find a freshwater source before anything else.  They strengthened their camp while Drizzt and Arjin set out alone into the interior.

 

While they were away, the rest of the group built a shoddy patchwork of bulwarks against the ocean in case the water scorpions came again.  Breakfast consisted of a full belly of crab meat and coconut water.  However, the oppressive humidity quickly took a toll on everyone.  Throughout the heat of the day, most people stayed under their shelters.

 

Rhovyn still had her large tent in her pack, and used that as a central location for the camp.  Her and Sasha used a portion of it for their sleeping quarters.  Other smaller tents and crude huts were set up for everyone else.  Ismur approached Sasha and asked if she wanted to stay in his hut.  He told it her it was beachside and winked.  Sasha thanked him for his hospitality but broke the news to him that she would be staying with Rhovyn.  Gelik skipped over and said Ismur can stay with him, spanked Ismur on the ass cheek, and skipped away.

 

When evening arrived, Drizzt noticed the four other people were not contributing as much as the core group.  Ishirou sat looking depressed; Gelik cracked jokes all the time and kept his clothing spotless and nice; Aerys looked dour and snapped at everyone; and Sasha seemed to be having a good time rather than acknowledging their circumstances.  Arjin approached Aerys to inquire about her “story,” and was given a reply, “None of your business.”  Muttering under his breath, he walked away.

 

That night Drizzt and Arjin returned.  They had not found any source of freshwater.  They would try again tomorrow.  The green glow in the surf appeared again, but no one saw the strange form thrashing around.

 

During Rhovyn’s watch, two strangers approached.  One had manacles on his wrists and barely any clothing, an older Mwangi man while the other looked like he had just washed up on shore but had adventuring gear on.  That man introduced himself as Shalimar and said his ship had wrecked and he was in need of help.  The black man, Jask Derindi, said he was a prisoner about the ship Jenivere.

 

The group was astounded- they had no idea there was a prisoner aboard the ship.  They asked how he managed to survive the event and if he knew anything.  They took him in and quickly warmed to the man, who said he was a Cleric of Nethys.  He explained that Ancient Osiriani texts tell of a God-King whose mastery of magic allowed him to gain unparalleled power. With these abilities he became a god by seeing all that transpired on all planes. However, this omnipresent knowledge also drove him irreparably mad. This dual-edged nature of magic is cherished by his followers and is epitomized in his apotheosis.  Nethys is the God of Magic, and without him Magic would not be.  After eating and coming to trust the party, Jask tells his tale.  Jask was once employed by the Sargavan government, but when he uncovered evidence of corruption involving illicit deals with the Free Captains of the Shackles, Jask confronted his superior, only to be betrayed and framed for the same crimes. Faced with imprisonment, Jask fled all the way to Corentyn, where he lived a modest life as a scribe for a decade. He’d thought his enemies in Sargava had forgotten him, but then a Sargavan  agent caught up with him and put him in
irons. The agent handed Jask over to the captain of the Jenivere with instructions to return Jask to Sargava for trial.  He woke up on the beach near the wrecked Jenivere.

 

The group asks where the Jenivere is and he promises to take them in the morning.  Drizzt says there are certainly still supplies left on the ship.  He also hopes the group can help him find a ship called the Brine Demon.  One of the incriminating papers he found so long ago indicated that one of his superior’s contacts in the Shackles was a man named Avret Kinkarian. Kinkarian’s ship, the Brine Demon, reputedly wrecked here on Smuggler’s Shiv. He knows it’s a long shot, but Jask would love to track the ship down and explore the wreck on the off chance there could be more
evidence somewhere aboard to prove his innocence.

 

That morning, the group finds the Jenivere.  Even a cursory glance is enough to confirm that the Jenivere will never sail again. Only the fortuitous presence of a sharp ridge of rock near the side of the sheer cliff wall has prevented the wreck from sinking entirely into the sea, for only the ship’s stern seems to have survived the wreck. This portion is wedged at an angle between the cliff and the rocks, and each wave shakes and tosses the wreck alarmingly. It won’t be long before the
constant pounding of the waves dislodges the wreck and allows the hungry sea to claim the last of this once-fine ship.  Aerys suggests reaching the Jenivere from land is easiest at low tide, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

 

The group swims out to the Jenivere, but Ismur encounters trouble.  He cannot swim well but is excellent at wading, so he remains in the water and eventually goes back to shore while the rest of the party goes into the remains of the Jenivere.  The other four- Aerys, Sasha, Ishirou, and Gelik remained at base camp.

 


Aboard the Jenivere, all that survives are the upper decks, a portion of the captain’s cabin, and on the mid-deck, the larder, a supply room, and the brig and galley. Although the Jenivere’s only lifeboat at first seems to be missing, the fate of this smaller boat becomes clear—it was washed up between the ship and the cliff and was crushed by the action of the waves smashing the Jenivere against the cliff side. Part of the lifeboat’s bow still lolls about in the surf, attached to a protruding timber by a thick rope, as if someone had moored the boat to the wreck.  The wreck is not completely abandoned, as one of the scorpion creatures was trying to get to the body of First Mate Alton Devers.  It becomes apparent that Alton was the one of rescued the passengers, but he apparently perished by stings from the water scorpion.

 

Suspicion soon fell on the Captain and his Varisian Scholar friend, Ieana. The captain’s cabin is a wreck—a jagged hole in the side has allowed most of the room’s contents to spill out into the surf and wash away. The group does find supplies (including a bottle of brandy which Arya takes) and the captain’s log.

 

An examination of this log reveals that the Jenivere’s captain seemed to be suffering from some sort of madness that grew over the course of the ship’s final voyage. Earlier entries from previous voyages are precise in recording progress and events along the way, as are entries from the first two-thirds of this last trip. Yet as one reads further, the more recent the entries get, the less common they become—in some cases, several days are missing entries. What entries do appear are strangely short, focusing more and more on one of the passengers—the Varisian scholar Ieana, with whom the captain seems to have become obsessed. Several entries are nothing more
than poorly written love poems to Ieana, while others bemoan Captain Kovack’s inability to please her or catch her attention. Near the end, the entries begin to take on a more ominous tone with the captain starting to complain that other members of the crew are eyeing “his Ieana.” In particular, he suspects his first mate is in love with her, and writes several times about how he wishes Alton would just “have an accident.” The final entry is perhaps the most disturbing, for in
it the captain writes of how he’s changed course for Smuggler’s Shiv at Ieana’s request. He hopes that the two of them can make a home on the remote island, but also notes that the crew are growing increasingly agitated at the ship’s new course. The captain muses that “something may need to be done about the crew” if their suspicions get any worse.

 

The next day, Drizzt and Arjin set out again.  Arjin came back early carrying waterskins full of fresh water.  He had found a small stream about an hour’s walk.  He grabbed more containers and asked Aerys if she wanted to join him this time.  She gave him the stink eye and he replied,  “OK then.”

 

The next several days went this way, with Drizzt and Arjin scouting south down the shoreline.  One night they decided to travel together and spend the night to extend their recon.  That night, Arjin heard the distinct flapping of wings very close by.  He and Drizzt did not find anything of note.  When they returned to camp, they told the group of their encounter.  The group at base camp also had a story- Arya had a dream.

 

She was back aboard the Jenivere, bent over the railing being seasick. After her latest bout of retching, she slumped back and see the rest of the passengers and crew are on deck as well, all of them sick save for the captain and the quiet Varisian scholar Ieana. She whispers in the captain’s ear, then gives him a kiss on the cheek. At that point the captain holds up a wooden
soup spoon, and she realizes that she’s holding one as well. Everyone has a spoon. The ship is sinking, and the only way to stop it is to bail out the hold with her spoon! She works feverishly, but the waters keep rushing in. Just before she wakes, she can see monstrous things with pincers in the water trying to claw their way into the ship.

 

 

 

3 May 4730

 

The group spends their second week trying to plan how to get off the island.  Morale is low; they’ve been accosted by poisonous snakes, hungry plants, and a swarm of ants.  Sasha decides to make Rhovyn the unofficial leader of the group, and Aerys syas she’d like to be leader, too.  Aerys mentions a vote-off.  Rhovyn wins and becomes the leader, but Aerys still makes comments about her poor leadership.

 

 

5 May 4730

 

This night, Drizzt has a dream. He’s sitting down in the galley aboard the Jenivere, getting ready for a meal. The ship’s cook has given a steaming bowl of soup, but he drops his spoon. He sees that the deck below is covered with seawater up to his ankles, and his dropped spoon has sunk into the water and washed out to sea through a hole. He is forced to lift your delicious bowl of soup to his lips and drink. But something big goes into his mouth as he does so, and he feels a sharp bite on his tongue. He drops the bowl, only to reveal a serpent had hidden in his soup that

now dangles from his tongue as it chews furiously. He start awake, biting his own tongue in an attempt to bite through the snake’s body.

 

The next night, while he and Arjin are traveling south again for recon, they find the blood-drained body of a giant rat or a monkey tangled in the branches of a tree.  Footprints of some best are few in the area, and they believe it must be flying.

 

On the way back, Drizzt sees two shining, red eyes in the bushes nearby, which disappear when he moves.  They check the area to find the same footprints as were around the dead monkey.

 

The next night, the sound of large wings passes overhead—and suddenly the body of a goat, most of the blood drained from its broken body, falls into the middle of their fire with a crash! They prepare for battle yet none comes.

 

On the last night before reaching base camp, they are attacked by a winged creature, twice their size.  It wounds both of them with claws before they manage to wound it, causing it to fly away with a screech.

 

When they arrive back and relate their tale, the camp has had another nightmare.  Ismur dreamed

He was in a rowboat on the open ocean at night. Sitting across him, rowing the boat, is First

Mate Alton. He’s obviously dead, with the wounds and stings his body displays on the wreck of the Jenivere, but still he rows. Eventually, the boat reaches an island covered with snakes. Alton waits as Ismur exits the boat, standing ankledeep in snakes, and then he turns and rows back out to sea, Ismur assumes off to look for more survivors to ferry to shore. But Alton never returns, and Ismur wakes up just as the snakes start to bite.

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