Hoea, hoea ra
We rejoin our heroes in the aftermath of a brief but tough fight. Four carnivorous apes attacked them as they filed down the trail to Burawao, on the south peninsula of the Isle: the heroes are:
- ½-Jack the Halfling rogue
- Br Abram Gaunt the cleric of Tempus
- Banjo Carrick the Elf mage
- Martel Guerra the paladin of Tyr
- Red the Elf ranger
A short rest
Martel uses his power of laying on hands to restore Carrick and Gaunt to march fitness and we five set off south once more, not daring to rest here. Before too long we come to the expected fork in the trail. Here, we decide to rest.
Once he has rested a while and munched his nourishing berries, Red decides to forage. But before too long he returns, nervous. [He made DC14 Perception]
“I heard a dry scraping – like a really big snake slithering towards us” he rasps.
Slinging our gear back on we hasten away on the south fork to Burawao. We’ve all rested and eaten enough to regain fitness. [Except for Gaunt who chose to only roll a single d8, we rolled up to max.]
Burawao lies near the shore and is warded by a reasonably sturdy palisade. The guards are hallooed by ½-Jack, who holds aloft our token – Mira gave it as safe-conduct – and speaks at them LOUDLY. After a cautious inspection and more civilized address from Carrick we are welcomed.
Burawao is laid out as a twin to Tanaroa, though its warriors are more concerned with the sea. Over dinner, we ask about pirates – Carrick is spokesman [but makes a poor Persuade check] and Martel mutters suggestions of what to answer – and the chief and senior warriors politely explain.
Pirates do attack villages. We had been concerned that the locals might have a working relationship with the pirates, so this is good news for us. We ask whither pirates? And, would any brave warriors join us to help rid the sea of them?
The answers we get are less than hoped for [that lousy Persuade check is repeated] but we gather that pirates have a base somewhere off to the west, and we are allowed to borrow a boat, with no crew.
Ways and means
At this point a runner arrives from Tanaroa. Tanaroa has been raided by pirates! Some villagers have been taken!
We are angered: Tanaroa’s chiefs told us that pirates seldom bothered them, what with their strength in numbers of guards. Now, almost as though to cock a snook at us, the village we just left has been attacked!
We hope, briefly, that this has changed the Burawao opinion about taking action, but no, it hasn’t. After kicking round options, we decide that we will sail after the pirates and rescue the captives. We won’t be able to intercept them, so we have to guess where they lay up and sail there.
½-Jack unrolls his map, and we study ranges, likely beaches and the like. Based on that, we decide we will head north then west.
It’s time to sleep for anything we do must be at full strength. But before then, ½-Jack selects a boat.
½-Jack spent his early life aboard ship, and is our expert on nautical matters. He selects a narrow boat supported on the water by a kind of extra plank, nearly the same length as the boat, held out off the gunwale a couple of yards or less by two sturdy curved planks. He calls this an ‘outrigger’. Anything that helps not drown us is good news so we welcome this stable craft. ½-Jack plays around with the sail, a crude flap of material like an inverted V, until he can no longer see in the dark, then retires.
[Long rest – all spells and talents recovered]
We set off in the pre-dawn. Carrick has selected Charm Person over Thunderwave, and Red has Fog Cloud. Martel encourages them to discuss how to combine Fog Cloud with Carrick’s illusions. Carrick is set in the prow, so that he can use his keen senses; ½-Jack is navigator working the sail; and the other three of us learn how to paddle.
The wind is not in our favor and much paddling later [1 hex/hour] we arrive at Panitube, south-westernmost village of the main Isle, lying across a bay and around a headland from Burawao.
½-Jack and Carrick shout the situation to the shore guards (where are they when pirates sail in?) then we beach and explain.
The villagers again indicate that pirates have their base “west” though have nothing definite. We’re advised to stay inside the reef for rougher seas and larger monsters lie outside it. Using ½-Jack as bargainer, and the party treasury, Martel acquires five local javelins for a gold coin. [Gaunt already has four so that’s nine, a good ready-arsenal for shorter-range.] Red pays a couple of silvers for a bag of berries.
It’s time to set sail; i.e. paddle some more.
Night on the mainland
By paddling furiously we make it to a welcoming beach below a threatening fringe of jungle. ½-Jack’s reckoning puts this on the mainland, which means that anything up to dragon-sized lizards could be out hunting for food.
So it’s a cold camp (and a dry one, as there’s no obvious stream) and we set watches and our full array of alarms and caltrops. Based on watches and a short night, everyone will get at least four hours sleep. Barring attacks of course.
We are attacked by lizardmen who ghost right through Red’s alarms. Ironically it’s on his watch.
Surprise round: [having failed Perception] Red is attacked by a pair of lizardmen using only tooth claw and tail, and hit hard [8 damage]. He sounds the alarm.
Round 1: There seem plenty of lizardmen to go round and most of us are hit. Carrick takes a savage bite [Crit, 10]. Guerra pushes himself up to one knee, raises his shield, and calls for Tyr’s blessing. ½-Jack dodges away and from his own bedroll, over to Guerra, and stabs one of the lizardmen there [8 damage] then sets his back to Guerra’s. Gaunt does roughly what Guerra did but his spell is Cause Fear. In the dark, he can only see one lizardman, but that one is affected. Red carries on from where he left off in the ape fight, striking twice with his scimitars, but failing to drop his mark. Carrick grabs his orb focus, stands, and casts Mirror Image. Unluckily he’s about 10 feet away from his nearest comrade and that makes it hard for anyone to see his difficulty.
Round 2: Most of us are hit again, Red quite hard. Carrick loses a false Carrick. Bellowing a rallying cry, Guerra sweeps up his sword as he rises to his feet, and cuts the wounded lizardman asunder [smite]. ½-Jack sneak-attacks the nearest lizardman and attempts to hide [17 on check] by Guerra’s side. Gaunt sweeps up his own sword and backs off to Guerra. He’s able to see Red’s opponents as he does so, and throws Cause Fear at them: one is affected. Red disengages, and runs over to Carrick, shouting so as to let his fellow-Elf know he’s coming. Carrick shreds one of his two tormentors [MM L2] with bolts of blue fire, and abandons Red, retreating over to the others.
Round 3: An unwounded lizardman charges Gaunt, wounding him. Guerra is nicked twice but no-one else harmed. Guerra, bellowing something about Tyr, singles out the lizardman ½-Jack just wounded and chops him down [smite]. ½-Jack nimbly hops over the thrashing body and stabs the next one a killing blow. Now three lizardmen lie piled around the adventurers. Gaunt smashes his opponent, and again [war-priest] and fells that one too! Red spots that his opponent is wounded, charges, slices twice and kills it. Carrick unleashes another MM to slay the last.
In the wake of the pirates
We take an ‘extended’ short rest so that Carrick can recoup his spells. Then we paddle (with half-assed, half-pie help from the half-pint on the sail) south out of the main isle’s shadow and west-sou’west to the blue shadow, its heights a sun-splashed cone, which is our planned destination. Then because it’s still early we throw that plan out and improvise another.
We paddle, with little help from the wind as mentioned, even further south, out to one of the outermost islets. It has a marginally possible size and beach, but there are no signs that anyone has landed here. So with the satisfaction that we can rule it out, we head for the volcanic cone again. ½-Jack decides to name our destination “Volcano Island.”
We land on an extensive and handy beach, and Red scouts while we keep a wary lookout. Above the high tide mark he finds evidence that the pirates have used this as a way-stage or occasional careening camp, but no evidence of permanence.
However, while he’s been away learning this, the Humans and Halfling have been turning over notions of ancient civilizations and hidden bases, with or without super-villains.
Red returns by deep dusk and his report is met by thoughts of a vote: to stay the next day and explore the slopes, or paddle to the more likely isle nor-nor‘west. Both Elves vote to carry on, but ½-Jack Gaunt and Martel all vote to explore.
A day later, the lower slope has been checked and we are agreed that it’s time to carry on. We have found no tracks and no lairs. Red tells us that the weather will stay much the same on the morrow.
½-Jack’s navigation is half-way adequate, and although the island we are heading for is large [about the same size and shape as Santa Cruz island off California, if not bigger] we are in danger of making landfall slap-bang in front of the pirates until Carrick’s sharp eyes [great Perception check] suggest to him a village situated roughly where our prow points.
Opting out of a surprise frontal assault (the kind that is only surprising in terms of stupidity) we work our way to the southern end of the beachable coast, haul our craft well up, and roughly expunge evidence of our landing. It’s time to lay plans to thin out the pirates!