Posted on August 16, 2013
Castaway Diary, Day 10 & 11This week in “David covers up his own mistakes…” Last night I managed to dump a bunch of character stuff quite late in the game. I’m glad we got to it, but it was 11.30 when we wrapped and in my rush to get things tied up in a bow, I forgot to give a full account of what had happened at the camp and then what happened after. Nothing that would change what people are doing, I don’t think. But still: information. For example, did you know that the evening after you left the camp was attacked by zombies? Yeah, see, that’s the kind of stuff I forgot to mention. So I’ll mention it, near the bottom of the post. Thanks, players, for sticking around so late. I’ll try not to make a habit of that. Cast of players last night: Matt made his triumphant return to the 5’x5′ grid stage as Percy the Tengu Cleric of Sarenrae. Ben T made his triumphanter return as Victor Glorington, the Paladin of Iomedae. JIM held things down as Orny the Warlock. Sean dependable-character-actor’ed Nobody, Tiefling
So after sending the ghost of Captain Kinkarian to some kind of satisfied rest, um… the other three showed up. Percy, Victor and Malicia had left the main party and nobody really cared. In fact, Nobody really didn’t care. Because those folks could take care of themselves, right? Probably.
As it turns out, they’d been chased through the jungle by a dire black panther. But that was all over now and most importantly, they’d learned nothing from the experience. They spent the rest of the night in the wreck of the Brine Demon with the others.
In the morning, they faced the decision of whether to head back to base camp, explore more of the island or to press on to the hill indicated on Ishiro’s treasure map. They decided that they’d check out the hill, because Ishiro had told Floki that the treasure was in a pit and hopefully they’d just stumble into a pit and swim around in gold coins for a while. Even if they didn’t find it, they’d at least be trailblazing, which saves time in the future.
They decided to take the coastal route, but finding that the hill ended in cliffs on the seaward side, they headed back inland. That wasn’t much better, with steep basically-cliff-like rocky slopes to the summit of the hill. Orny remembered that goats fucking love climbing stuff like that though and they spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to get a rope attached to the top of the cliff with a goat, while Bon G. Ripper the goat stared at them with his freaky eyes.
The unconventional solution was for Orny to down a potion of Reduce Person and ride the goat up. It’s so crazy I almost didn’t go for it, but goats can bear child-sized… well, children… pretty well. They can’t gambol up the sides of cliffs with children on their back and that’s actually exactly what happened – Orny was pitched off the goat’s back and caught himself on a ledge, 60ft above the ground. The goat scampered off, because that’s not what he signed up for, goatdamnit. Orny was able to hold onto the rope, however, so the effort was far from wasted.
Uun, seeing a chance to flex those barbarian muscles, clambered up the cliffside and finished the job, lodging the grapple into some sturdy volcanic rocks. Everybody except Nobody made it up no problem, but Nobody slipped and fell, being caught be Victor before he hit the ground. All in a days work for a Paladin, ma’am.
Once they were all at the top, they pushed through the small ring of jungle and into a sunlit meadow of tall swaying grass, fragrant and evidently edible, since the goat was munching away at it. (NB. Edible to goats doesn’t mean “can be eaten and digested” it just means “I can put this in my mouth, chew and swallow it and I probably won’t die.”) The summit of the hill was marked by several natural stone columns/spires of rock, probably basalt from some geologically turbulent time in the island’s history.
They swept forward through the grass, carefully getting into formation and then running out of that formation to go see stuff. Nobody and Malicia got the first inkling that something might be amiss as they detected a hissing sound that wasn’t just the grass. It came as a surprise to Uun though as several venomous snakes either ambushed him or defended their territory, depending on your sympathies.
They hacked at the snakes, Nobody rushing in and cracking off a shot which, somewhat amazingly if you think about it, hit an angrily swaying and darting snake. He’s done that twice now, yet can’t hit human torsos. Victor laid some hurt on the snake and then Uun BIT ITS HEAD OFF. Chomp. Floki set to skinning and harvesting the dead snakes for their meat.
Malicia suddenly felt something briefly clamp shut on her butt and turning found a metal-scaled snake, acting pretty much like the other snakes, like a robot boy that was trying to fit in with his hu-man friends. She stepped back out of the way and as the others rushed in and then slipped around more noticeable fighters to sneak attack the little metal bastard. This thing was a considerably tougher target than the actual snakes and as they surrounded it and hacked without taking it down, Floki lost patience with his snake skinning and charged into the fight, lopping the metal serpent’s head off with a single blow. This was a curious creature, a construct, animated by clockwork and magic. They pondered what it might be doing here. Speaking of pondering…
The spires of stone made a rough horseshoe shape, with the open end nearest the summit of the hill. The stone closest to the sea, at the bottom of the horseshoe they found riddled with holes. Not the little holes you get in basalt, but deliberately drilled holes in very straight lines, from one side of the rock to the other. They could see daylight through them and it didn’t appear that there was anything else going on, other than the holes. The diameter of the holes was either 1″, 1.5″ or 2″ depending on the hole, but the diameter was consistent all the way through. They had time to ponder further as they did some foraging and found a patch of wild pineapples nearby; small, tart little things, but juicy and refreshing. As they sat munching on those they thought more about the holes.
Given the absence of a pit full of booty or some cunning pirate sign, like a subtle skeleton in a blouse pointing to the ground, they figured that the holes must play some part in locating the treasure pit. They started threading rope through the holes and seeing where a straight line would take them. They isolated all of the points and then chose a few of those points and then started digging. Nothing was evident before the sun set other than this hillside being covered in holes. They made camp in the tall grass, Orny had first watch and Malicia second watch. Malicia heard the distant sound of pounding drums shortly before dawn; a fast, repetitive beat that began to increase in intensity until stopping suddenly, pretty much just before she was weirded out enough to wake someone else up.
Eager to make use of the early morning cool, the diggers resumed their digging. I’m not sure how many of them have shovels. Certainly not enough to be shovelling in all the holes they started. So their progress wasn’t good. As the sun rose and pierced the rock, creating brief dots of light in its own shadow, the heat picked up. When the heat became oppressive they decided to give up. If they set off then without more fannying about in the dirt they could be back at base camp just after sunset.
They tracked back the way they had came, taking the coast and previously cut trails and moving at a decent speed given the heat. The sun wheeled overhead and by the time it began to sink behind the ridges of the west, they were walking down to the lagoon in which they had first been deposited, 11 days earlier.
They spotted something splashing around in the shallow lagoon and Malicia, Percy and Nobody could make out that it was Sasha, bathing and having a great time doing it. Malicia and Percy have never really understood quite why the featherless races of the world get so weird about seeing each other naked, since Tengu wear clothes to a) keep their feathers nice and b) help the featherless tell them apart. But Nobody understands, so he asked for the spyglass. Aw yeah. No doubt about it, Sasha’s a well built young lady. But as she washed her hair and frolicked in the warm shallow water, Nobody had just enough blood remaining in his brain to spot a large tattoo, at the base of her neck, usually hidden by Sasha’s long red hair. It appeared to be a “N” albeit in a strange, disjointed um… font… Nobody certainly wouldn’t have called it that. But Nobody was a little tongue tied.
As they approached a few of them noticed Aerys suddenly stand up from her perch on a rock at the edge of the lagoon and loose an arrow into the water near her, gently reeling the arrow and its target back towards her. Sasha wasn’t particularly bothered by all these people traipsing along the beach, trying to hide boners, or in Victor’s case, averting his gaze so hard he kept bumping into other people. She collected her clothes and accompanied them back to camp.
Jask was absolutely delighted that they had recovered Captain Kinkarian’s log and immediately took it and began leafing through it, absolutely absorbed in his task.
They filled Gelik, Sasha and Ishiro in on what they had found, recounting their exploration. While this was happening, Nobody took the opportunity to tell Orny about the tattoo he had requisitioned the spyglass to closer observe, honest. Orny isn’t 100% sure, but it does sound like a mark of the fabled Red Mantis, a society or organization of assassins that have been blamed for numerous political assassinations over the centuries. Their reputation as disciplined, relentless killers seems at odds with the flighty Sasha, but… that chick knew a lot about poisons and did murder an entire tribe of goats… so…
Meanwhile Floki was – for no apparent reason – telling Sasha about the flying lizard things they saw on the cliffs. At this she became very excited as she had heard they could be kept as pets if they were trained early enough. She extracted a promise to retrieve one of these creatures for her.
After preliminary perusal of Captain Kinkarian’s log, Jask couldn’t believe his luck. Not only did the book contain coded entries detailing collusion between several Sargavan bureaucrats and the Free Captains of the Shackles, Kinkarian had carelessly included the cipher to all his codes, lists of aliases and codenames, pretty much everything that would document the entire corrupt enterprise and – most importantly – clear Jask’s name.
Jask is delighted at the book and Kinkarian’s lack of tradecraft but he wished everything had gone so well in the camp. While they have added a smoking rack, proper latrines and a signal fire, the atmosphere has been tense. Sasha, for a start is very hard to handle, eager to help at all the wrong times, disappears when she is needed, wastes their stores yet adds more to them than anyone else. Gelik isn’t a whole lot better and while his jokes and stories have kept everyone’s spirits up, he has started picking on Ishiro as the butt of his jokes. Ishiro works hard but is maybe too conservative with their stores and can verge on bossing people around; he isn’t a whole lot of fun to have around.
Then there is Aerys. She is in terrible shape, with some kind of affliction she can’t shake. She will barely help out but on the other hand barely eats. She spends most of her time out on one of the rocks with her book, but they’ve rarely seen her reading it or writing in it. When Ishiro tried ordering her to work, she insulted him and refused. When Jask tried to coax her to help, she insulted his god and refused. She has maintained this attitude the entire time the exploratory party were gone. She did summon the energy to build a small platform so she could sit on the rock and has done some bowfishing, to good effect it seems. But she makes everyone uncomfortable when she is around and doesn’t seem to enjoy anyone’s company any more than they do.
Orny and Uun walked out to the rock to go talk to her Uun was talked down from oiling himself which appears to be the Barbarian’s fall back position when ladies need impressing. Initially she refused to be drawn, but Uun thought back to what had made her happy in the past and asked her if booze would cheer her up. Her miserable head whipped around, like it had been slapped towards the barbarian: this interested her a great deal. Unfortunately he had none to give, he was just asking. When she realized that she didn’t get annoyed, she just sank further into herself. Percy wandered over to see if he could help, but as he did, he noticed that she reacted badly to more people being involved – a distinct lack of any kind of privacy in her own affairs may be part of what was grinding her gears so badly. Uun and Percy gallantly retreated, while Orny sat out with her and talked, beneath the moonlit ocean.
It took a long time, but she slowly unburdened herself. She was suffering from some wicked withdrawal symptoms due to the fact that she hadn’t touched booze in over a week. Aerys was in the midst of writing an epic poem about the supremacy of Will over Circumstance, it was a work she had poured the last few years of her life into. Now she was forced to admit that her own addiction to alcohol had undermined her will and that the circumstances she found herself in were – humiliatingly and publicly – beyond her ability to deal with. Jask’s competence, Ishiro’s solemn work ethic and even Sasha’s wild, youthful talent grated on her as a reminder of how pathetic she was. Everything she believed about herself was proving to be a lie and she had plenty of time to mull that over as she sweat the booze out of every aching pore. Unless this is another addict trying to get in Oprah’s book club by just making a bunch of shit up. Maya Angelou, I’m looking at you.
Orny’s response was careful and slow to get to the point, although I’m going to paraphrase it roughly, as he argued that to find yourself amongst people who can help you and whom you can help is part of Circumstance. If Aerys wanted to play the cards life dealt her, that was fine, but she didn’t have to throw away good cards and live with a bad hand, just to call her life her own… like… the cards were the cards, um, you know what I mean? Fortunately (JIM didn’t roll very well on that last Diplomacy check) she did know what he meant and to overcome this obstacle was going to take relying on other people. she was destined to spend a few more weeks in this unpleasant and painfully rough detox. Unless, that is, someone could find Viper Berries. Viper berries speed the detox process along and if she’d been smart she would have tried to find some when she first arrived, but instead she stole the Brandy and drank it, frittering away that window of opportunity. The berries grow in very dank places – low sunlight, high moisture – and while they won’t make her feel better, (just the opposite), they’ll take her through the process faster and get her back on her feet again.
Orny and Aerys were up late into the night, while everyone else sat around the fire and enjoyed more smoked ray, a smooth veal-like meat. They caught up with everything Gelik had found funny in the past few days and took some trips down memory lane with him as he told some stories. The gnome was dismissive of Aerys’s problems, Ishiro in general and Jask’s camp building plans. Sasha was openly envious of the stuff the party had
killed done because it was SO BORING at the camp. She wanted to get out there and see stuff, because almost nothing interesting had happened since the undead remnants of the Jenivere’s crew stumbled into the camp looking for brains to eat. Ishiro grunts at the mention, but he doesn’t dispute that Aerys, off moping on her rock, spotted the undead in time for everyone to get prepared. She put down two with her accurate bow shots, while Ishiro struck down several others and Sasha took down the rest.
Gelik managed to keep everyone on their feet – especially Sasha who fought with no particular care for her own defense. Jask took care of the rest of the healing once he had returned from his foraging trip and was pleased and surprised at how well everyone had handled themselves. They saved what items of clothing were salvageable and buried the bodies in accordance with various rites Jask initiated.