Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Beyond the Shore: Session 10

Ye Angells bright, pluck from your Wings a Quill. 
     Make me a pen thereof that best will write. 
Lend me your fancy, and Angellick skill 
     To treate this Theme, more rich than Rubies bright. 
     My muddy Inke, and Cloudy fancy dark, 
     Will dull its glory, lacking highest Art.

An Eye at Centre righter may describe 
     The Worlds Circumferentiall glory vast 
As in its nutshell bed it snugs fast tide, 
     Than any angells pen can glory Cast 
     Upon this Drink Drawn from the Rock, tapt by 
     The Rod of God, in Horeb, typickly.

Sea water straind through Mineralls, Rocks, and Sands 
     Well Clarifi'de by Sunbeams, Dulcifi'de, 
Insipid, Sordid, Swill, Dishwater stands. 
     But here's a Rock of Aqua-Vitae tride. 
     When once God broacht it, out a River came 
     To bath and bibble in, for Israels train.

Some Rocks have sweat. Some Pillars bled out tears. 
     But here's a River in a Rock up tun'd 
Not of Sea Water nor of Swill. Its beere. 
     No Nectar like it. Yet it once Unbund 
     A River down out runs through ages all. 
     A Fountain opte, to wash off Sin and Fall.

-- Edward Taylor

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A massive capstan turned and the Red Sadness slid up the long wooden ramp, rising out of the water.

As the ship was hauled up into the dry-dock at Rickety's Squibs, the party hastily shoved all of their most precious loot into the large, magical sack that they had taken from Captain Nikolaos. "Oi! Fuck you!" a voice called from below, "Get the fuck off the deck so we can work!" They looked over the rail to see Rickety Hake's, foreman, an attractive Frenchman with a pipe clenched in his teeth and a hook in place of his right hand, yelling at them. Around him stood a swarm of workers, nearly thrice the number of their crew, waiting alongside heavy mooring ropes and pieces of scaffolding.

As the ship settled into place, a ladder was set up against the hull and they all climbed down. The shipwrights immediately set to work stabilizing the ship and erecting the scaffolding to allow them easy access to all points of the hull. One seemed to be working just a tad slower than the others and was immediately reprimanded by the foreman with a string of profanity accompanied by the sudden appearance of glowing chains bursting from the ground topped by the screaming face of a beautiful woman.

Leopold asked whether there were any taverns. "Of course you stupid shit-fuck!" the foreman replied, "just make sure you go to the good one and not the shit-hole one!" They asked for directions to the "good one", which brought a fair amount of snickering from the workers, and it soon became clear that there was, in fact, only one tavern in the small settlement around Rickety's Squibs, and it was, in fact, a shit-hole.

Shit hole or no, they made their way to the tavern -- a once-grand villa that had been carved out to serve as the commons and chow-hall for the entire settlement. Caddis and Thaduk burst into the tap room and immediately began extolling their recent mighty deeds, only to find that the tavern was basically empty aside from their own crew, who were already busy drinking, their three prisoners, tucked into a corner under Henrye's watchful eye, and Rickety Hake, who was at the bar talking to the weather-worn wench who ran the place. Caddis checked in with his sister Jessica, who was sharing a drink with Caulky, the other cabin-girl, and in surprisingly good (if ever-silent) spirits.

A quick conversation with Hake and some application of characteristic charm, and Caddis had secured the use of the squib's two dock-side warehouses: one to hang the crew's hammocks in, and the other for storing their load of booty. Caddis tried to get Riaris to manage a watch on the warehouse full of loot, then, failing that, delegated Henrye to organize a rotation of the crew members to stand guard. They all then trekked back to the dry-dock to unload the ship.

In the less than two hours since they had disembarked, the two foremen and their work crews had already pried off most of the running boards on one side of the Red Sadness, leaving a giant hole from stem to stern. Seeing them approach, the salty Frenchman called a halt (accompanied by considerable profanity) as the Sadness's crew piled in through the hole to begin unloading the cargo and hauling it to the warehouse. As they worked, the Frenchman made some disparaging comments about them being "like little girls", only to be on the receiving end of a stuck-out tongue from Caulky, who was helping Jessica haul one of the crates.

After another hour or so, everything was unloaded. Henrye posted rotations of six people on watch at all times, with additional orders from Caddis to make sure that no more than two of the Dutchmen from the Ginger Belle were on watch at any one time, due to their inexperience in combat. "But Captain," he insisted, "the rest are all PIRATES!"

"So are you now..."

Leopold and Rummy, meanwhile, used the bag of holding secretly smuggle Fishguts into the warehouse as an added security measure. Caddis then fed a drop of his blood to two of the Jellied Monkeys that they'd found in Peppery Longfarthing's lab, animating them and setting them to also watch over the warehouse. As a last measure, Henrye put the best locks they had scavenged from the Red Sadness (at least the best which they still had keys for) on the doors. At last, Thaduk handed his bugle over to Henrye, who snapped to attention, saluted, and began pacing in front of the doors (to many rolled eyes from the other crewmen).

By the time everything was as secure as they could make it, and the hammocks from the ship were hung up in the adjacent warehouse for the crew, dusk was falling, The party headed back to the commons, which was by now bustling and crowded, with nearly everyone in the small settlement settling in, the squib-crews having ended their shifts.

On entering, Leopold decided to try to get into the pants of Sal, the bar-wench. He walked up and ordered "your finest bottle" and three glasses. Sal, apparently having a sense of humor, or else of literality, handed him a beautiful, but empty, green bottle, for which he turned over £20 (a king's ransom) without blinking, and then set three empty glasses on the table. When that went no where, he ordered "whisky", which they didn't have, then ordered a "round of your finest beer" for the house. This was met by cheers, until it was revealed that she only had the one drink on tap, the same piss-water (which probably had a lower alcohol content than Thaduk's actual piss) she'd be serving since they got there.

Finally giving up on the old broad, he turned and began playing a tune to entertain the crowd. As the song ended, Caddis and Thaduk took the opportunity to once again attempt to extol their infamous, piratical deeds to try and boost their reputation as proper-buccaneers. Just as they were getting started, a narrow-faced man dressed in the unusual all-black habit of a Puritan burst in and began declaiming at the top of his lungs.

"Their foot shall SLIDE in due TIME! That they were always exPOSed to desTRUCtion; as one that stands or walks in slippery PLACES is always exposed to FALL! This is IMPLIED in the manner of their desTRUCtion coming upON them, being represented by their FOOT SLIDING! The same is exPRESSed, 'Surely thou didst set them in slippery PLACES; thou castedst them down into desTRUCtion...'"

There was a groan from the locals, barely audible under the man's sermonizing...

"It imPLIES, that they were always exposed to SUDDEN unexPECTed desTRUCtion. As he that walks in SLIPPERY PLACES is every moment LIABLE to FALL, he cannot foreSEE one moment whether he..."

Caddis fixed the man with his evil eye and attempted to put him to sleep. Which failed...

"Another thing imPLIED is, that they are liable to FALL of themSELVES, without being thrown DOWN by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery GROUND needs nothing but his own weight to throw him DOWN..."

Caddis tried to command the man to be silent. Which also failed...

"There is no want of POWER in DORmin to cast wicked men into HELL at any MOment. Men's hands cannot be strong when dorMIN rises UP. The STRONGest have no POWER to resist him, nor can ANY deliver out of his HANDS. Even Emporer Prospero in all his glory cannot STAND against him. He is not only able to..."

Rummy finally stepped up and took the man by the elbow, "Yes, yes, destruction, fascinating. Perhaps we can step outside and you can tell me more..." Surprised to find anyone actually willing to listen to him, the heretical preacher allowed himself to be lead back out the door. Before the door had even closed behind them, Rummy cold-cocked the preacher with a quick right hook to the jaw, eliciting a cheer from the crowd gathered inside.

Caddis followed him out, and, once the door was properly shut, they stripped the old man of the armor he was wearing under his robes, as well as a brace of pistols, a substantial amount of ammunition, a bag of coins, his book of sermons, and other sundries. Caddis sowed the thought in his mind that he had fallen and been knocked out while working on the ship. They then bandaged up his head and deposited his body on the docks.

They walked back in and, distraction averted, Caddis was finally able to wow the crowds with his story of their stealing the ship and their defeat of Captain Nik. Rummy, meanwhile, walked up to the bar and asked who the man he just punched out was.

"Oi! He's my fuckin' co-worker. He's the foreman for the other shift working on your fuckin' boat!" the Frenchman replied. The Frenchman finally introduced himself as Guillaume De La Fontaine and explained that no one in the small settlement really cared a rat's ass about the other foreman. They got little other useful information out of the locals, as most of the conversations in the taproom were focused either on the battle that morning, or else on the oppressive heat and drought that had afflicted New Caledonia for the last month.

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The next morning, Leopold awoke naked and sticky, with a dead fish on his chest. It could only be assumed that Tilly had found her way into his hammock at some point in the night. Not bothering to get dressed, he walked out of the warehouse onto the adjacent docks and jumped off the end into the harbor to bathe.

Leopold was not the only one up early for a swim swimming. After about 5 minutes of splashing in the water, he felt something brush against him, them was suddenly tugged down beneath the water as it wrapped around his legs. By this time, Rummy had woken up and stepped outside in time to see Leopold briefly breach the surface, his legs and chest wrapped in something thick, scaly, and glistening blue-green. He shouted the alarm and the rest of the party, along with the Frenchy, who was on his way to the dry-dock to oversee the morning shift, came running.

Perching on the end of the dock, they looked into the clear water to see a massive blue-scaled snake, as big around as a man's thigh, wrapped around Leopold. The snake's head was that of a beautiful woman, save for its lower jaw which had distended enough to begin swallowing Leopold's feet. Leopold continued to struggle, and when he again breached the surface briefly, Caddis used his evil eye to get its attention.

"Could you please let our friend go," Adriana asked very politely.

"I would," the naga said, releasing her bite, "but I am very hungry you see..."

"I'm sure we could find you something more delicious to eat than that man."

"That would be excellent, just leave it on the end of the dock and I will release him..."

Thaduk, apparently feeling less diplomatic, dived into the water and grabbed hold of the naga, attempting to tear it in two with his bare hands. The snake-creature released Leopold and snapped its head around to bite Thaduk, scoring a vicious hit with its venemous fangs.

Hoping to immobilize the creature, Guillaume sent forth a barrage of glowing eldritch chains towards the naga, which exploded into a massive spider-web on contact, anchored to the docks and the sandy shallows. The naga and Leopold wriggled free of the webbing, but Thaduk found himself bound, just under the water, unable to get his head up.

Caddis dived in and tried to freeze the naga using the snowflake ring they had taken from Captain Nik, but could not get a strike in on the wily serpent. Adriana, meanwhile, grabbed a fishing net and tossed it over Thaduk, then, pulling with all her might, snapped him free of the webbing and dragged him back to the docks.

Guillaume continued to lash the naga with his eldritch chains and Caddis continued swiping ineffectively at the snake as Leopold swam for the docks. Leo quickly healed Thaduk, bringing him back to consciousness. Rummy reached down and started helping Leo climb out, but the naga struck quickly, sinking her fangs into the back of his exposed thigh.

Guillaume began taunting the creature, trying to draw it up onto the docks fully. Adriana slashed down with her greatsword, cutting off the tip of the naga's tail. Thaduk, enraged, rapidly downed a couple of healing potions, then grabbed the spear off of his back and stabbed the naga hard and knocking it back into the water. Finally, Caddis tagged the snake with a strike from his magical ring, instantly freezing the water around it, encasing it helplessly in a block of solid ice.

The beast defeated, Leopold headed into the warehouse to get dressed. Guillaume offered to turn the frozen water naga into sushi, but had to run to oversee his shift. The party agreed to cut up the body and bring it by the taproom later. Rummy, though, had other plans.

Once Leo returned, Rummy reminded him that in order to keep Fishguts around, they needed to sacrifice a living sentient creature to him once every twelve days, and the naga, while monstrous, was definitely sentient, and technically still alive inside the block of ice. Caddis warned Adriana and Thaduk, that what they were about to see in the other warehouse was disturbing. Then packed up the frozen naga and hauled it up the docks.

At the second warehouse, Henrye was still standing watch, half-asleep leaning against the door. Caddis told him he was relieved, took the keys, and sent him to warehouse #1 to get some sleep, dismissing the other guards as well. Inside, they were greeted by the giant, piss-coloured, urine-smelling mass of entrails that was all that remained of their friend Fishguts.

Rummy consulted his demonic sex-manual and strung up the frozen naga as indicated. Hanging it upside down, he pulled out the largest of his blades and prepared to cut the snake-creature in two.

The ice was hard, slick with water from where it was already melting in the heat, and required considerable force to puncture. Stabbing hard, he shoved the knife in up by the tail. The force of the blow sent cracks running throughout the magical ice, and, as he pulled down to start cutting through, the entirety--ice block and naga alike--shattered into hundreds of bloody red chunks of ice and meat. Rummy groaned, realizing that he had failed the strict requirements of the ritual.

Disheartened, the party gathered up the pieces of the snake in their arms and hauled them to the dry-dock for Guillaume to prepare. In the tropical heat, the small, frozen pieces melted quickly, leaving the five friends soaked with water and snake-blood by the time they reached the boathouse.

Guillaume, unsurprisingly, heaped curses on them for ruining the meat.