Serpent's Skull

Ch. 1: Souls for Smugglers Shiv

Part 2: Shipwrecked

 

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Ismur awoke with a pounding headache and upset stomach.  Bright light bleached his sight.  The sounds of low waves reached his ears.  Then a pinch and pressure on his leg.  When his eyes focus, he realized he was staring up at a blue, cloudless sky.  He lay on something…and he was wet.  He again felt pressure on his leg and looked down.  His heart jumped into his throat has a strange scorpion-like creature backed up a step at his movement.  Gods, he thought, that thing is as big as dog!  Ismur leapt to his feet and the creature lunged with a pincer.  Ismur dodged it, stepping backwards.  He grabbed for his longsword at his hip, thankful it was still there.  He drew it and slashed the pincer off.  The water scorpion lowered and flipped its tail at Ismur, missing him by inches.  Ismur used his forward momentum to skewer the creature through the mouth.  Goo poured out as it died.

 

Ismur then heard clattering and chittering to his right and left.  He looked around and saw the beach strewn with bodies and debris- and several more scorpion creatures, some dragging bodies into the water, some feasting on the beach.

 

Ismur scanned the beach for his friends.  He spotted Arya waking up; Arjin was nearby but not moving; Drizzt was nowhere to be found nearby, while Rhovyn was sprawled out further down the beach.  Ismur gave Arjin a swift kick to the butt which woke him instantly.  

 

Arjin, wondering what was going on, quickly came to realize one of the creatures was about the grab him.  He kicked it in the face, causing it to withdraw and grab a lifeless, drowned body instead.  Ismur yelled, “Find the others!”

 

Arya was standing at this point, trying in vain to kick one of the creatures away from her.  A pincer nipped her leg, causing a mean gash.  She grabbed it and moved back while a now woken Drizzt sliced both pincers off it.  Rhovyn was slowly rising when Ismur got to her.  Arjin made quick work of the remaining creatures.

 

The group stood and surveyed the scene.  Four others were recovering from whatever had affected them and were making their way towards the group.  Sasha, Aerys, Gelik, and Ishirou joined the group, which then discussed what had happened.

 

It was pretty clear the Jenivere had wrecked.  Pieces of the ship were all over the shore, and the group recognized other passengers and crew.  They quickly checked the other bodies for signs of life.  Rhovyn suggested the bodies be buried immediately before more creatures came to feast.  After a quick burial with sand and rocks, the group searched the shore for belongings.  All they had on them were the items they had during the dinner.  It was nothing fancy, and nobody had cumbersome armor, so they all wore their usual adventuring gear.

 

They nearly all panicked because their packs were gone, but Drizzt found them stacked haphazardly nearby.  He had also found footprints in the sand leading back into the ocean.  By his reckoning, it was ten o’clock in the morning.  They must have been out since dinner yesterday.  

 

Ismur made the observation that when he awoke, it appeared that someone had dragged them onto the beach from the water.  Many bodies were not accounted for on beach, including the Captain and his Varisian scholar friend.

 

Arjin spoke everyone’s fear first.  “Um, we better make shelter and find food, fast.”  Drizzt agreed and said these scorpion creatures should be fine to eat.  Drizzt and Arjin began chopping up the creatures while Arjin began to boil seawater.  He knew the salt content would be dangerous, but it would be fine today until the found a freshwater source.

 

The survivors kept close and quiet.  Ishirou said nothing at all, clearly bothered by what had happened.  Sasha and Aerys tried over the evening to figure out where they were, and Gelik tried to keep spirits up by telling tales of treasure.

 

That night, Aerys was certain they had landed on the Island of Smuggler’s Shiv, a day from Eleder.  Smuggler’s Shiv is a notorious island north of Eleder. It’s not shown on most maps, but is rightfully feared by those who ply the waters of Desperation Bay. 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. It’s commonly believed that the shores of Smuggler’s Shiv are haunted by the ghosts and ghouls of the sailors who have died on the jagged rocks and reefs surrounding the island. These rumors are supported by reports of
several failed attempts to establish long-lasting colonies on the remote island. When Sargava was 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.  Drizzt showed the party must be on the northern part of the island, and Aerys agreed they were likely on the “blade” of the island.  Arjin suggested heading south the very next day to find the lighthouse, but one of Arya’s maps, while not showing Smuggler’s Shiv, did give brief details about the eastern side of the island being mountainous and impassable.  Ismur suggested following the beach until no more passage could be made, then go into the interior of the island.  Rumors hold that a group of shipwrecked Chelish soldiers, survivors of an attempted Thrune invasion of Sargava
some 70 years ago, were stranded on the island. The rumors claim that they degenerated into a cannibalistic society, and that their descendants scour the isle’s shores for shipwreck victims to add to their meals.  But Ismur was undaunted by Aerys’ warning.

 

The group did not sleep much that night.  They did eat well, however, and their spirits rose as they planned what to do next.  During Drizzt’s night watch, he saw the waves crashing on the shores of Smuggler’s Shiv become infused with an eerie greenish radiance, almost as if the surf were

glowing. He sneaked over to the other watcher, Ishirou, who spotted a brighter glow churning in the water and moving just under the surface in directions other than the motion of the surf. They woke Rhovyn who catches a brief glimpse of a ghostly humanoid shape thrashing in the water, disappearing within seconds. The rest of the night was sleepless for them.

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