The wooden stairwell cracked and shattered under the impact of the flaming ship. Aleister fell face first into the smoky surf below. Ono swung on the rope and clambered down the cliffside. Finding Aleister unconscious, Keahilani stabilized the witch and hid his unconscious form within the coastal grasses. Flames and smoke permeated everything. Wreckage and smuggled cargo were strewn about the beach. While scavenging the few valuables left, the party stepped into a mass of corpses, many of which showed signs of being devoured by other creatures. Cracked bones and puddles of gore led to a tidal cave system.
Scouting within the debris and corpses, several deformed pirates howled and attacked with cutlasses. Some of the creatures sported vestigial twins, others the familiar bone spurs and writhing tentacles. Bertram and Crush were bitten. Ono and Zuka Zuka bashed the diseased creatures while Bertram blew holes in their festering flesh. Keahilani joined the battle with his magic dagger as did Shea’s eidolon, Crush. Keahilani, Bertram, Shea and Crush began to suffer mentally due to the disease they carried. Knowing that time was limited they entered the cave system.
More signs of cannibal feasting were found everywhere. In one chamber, the pirates’ cook happily butchered fellow crewmen. In another, diseased krenshars feasted on their fellow guard dogs. They destroyed these creatures and found themselves in a cave covered in once-beautiful silken tapestries. As he examined the east wall, Bertram was suprised by a lurking diseased deinonychus. The dinosaur erupted from its hiding spot and tore into Bertram, before others in the party could do battle. The reptile proved fearsome and difficult to kill, inflicting gory, diseased wounds. A raccoon-squirrel humanoid glided from the cavern ceiling and attempted to sneak attack Ono. Bertram recognized it as a phanaton, likely a former crew member. Keahilani did battle with his dagger while the other slew the reptile. At last, the beast fell and the diseased phanaton was easily destroyed. In another chamber, a shattered woman greeted them, “Vanthus? Is that you? It’s Brissa? Come here my love?” The diseased woman attempted to bite Ono at which point the party slew her. They found a locket containing a portrait of Vanthus inside it.
They followed the sounds of mad cackling and a female’s cursing, which led them through a maze of stalagmites and to a makeshift bedroom where a gruesome feast had finished. A pirate had made his last stand, killing six former crew members before the others tore him apart and feasted. The cackling continued and they rounded a corner to see a dark-haired pirate captain cursing as she whirled her blades about her,dispatching many of the cannibal pirates. “Who ye be? Join the battle or away with ye!” The party joined the fray, only to realize she needed little help. At last, corpses covering the floor, she introduced herself as Harlis Jarvell, a commandeer of the Crimson Fleet and formerly reporting to Captain Kilgante (Kilgante, she informed them, was the devoured corpse they just passed).
When asked, the party provided their story and the fact that they searched for Vanthus Vanderboren. A stream of profanity left Jarvell’s mouth at the mention of Vanthus. “That scurvy, vomitous pig caused all ye see!” She explained that Vanthus had introduced himself as a trader wishing to buy contraband. Left on his own, Harliss later caught Vanthus setting the bay on fire and attempting to steal a large black pearl she had intended to sell for a weighty price. In anger, she stabbed him with her rapier. As the wretch bled, blood touched the pearl and green smoke and sparks erupted. Vanthus fled overboard and swam for shore. Jarvell had grabbed the pearl and threw it overboard where it exploded upon impact with the water. Green tendrils of smoke infected most of the crew members and animals aboard the ship. The rest, the party had already witnessed. The worst news, however, was delivered by captain Harliss herself.
“I’ll learn that cur what it is t’foul my business! I know who he is! Th’Vanderboren name’s no secret to me. I know he’s got family’n holdings in Port Shaw! I sent me right hand Drevoraz t’deal with yer friend, I did. He’ll do for Vanthus’ sister, his mum and pop, and any other family or friends the bastard has in that dunghill city. Cross the Crimson Fleet and we take everything in your life from ye. Best not forget that, boyo.” The party explained that Lavinia was actually working against Vanthus and wanted him brought down. Harliss seemed skeptical but explained they best hurry since Drevoraz was sent inland to gather “allies” before attacking the manor. With that, she left the party and headed northwest.
The party paused to search the refuse in the tidepool, finding the shattered remains of the pearl and putting it in a large chest. One undamaged ship remained moored in the bay and they swam towards it. The Sea Wyvern boasted a beautiful wyvern figurehead and sails bearing the emblem of a wyvern in flight. The new “pirates” expertly navigated the bay and made towards Port Shaw. Docking in the Tide District, they were stopped by the Dragoons who recognized the shift as belonging to the dread pirate Kilgante. Bertram stepped up and explained they had dispatched said pirate and displayed Kilgante’s unique rapier. With a sigh, the Dragoons left.
A festival was taking place in Port Shaw. They learned it was “Founders Day,” celebrating the colonization of the island by mainlanders and the departure of the elves many years ago. Fighting their way through the crowds and drunken revelers, they found the small chapel of Quell in the Tide District. There they met their friend, Jimmy, as well as the young priest of Quell, Zalen Trafalgar. The trident-wielding blond man healed them of the disease and seemed concerned about the nature of the supernatural taint. He offered to take the pearl into custody, but the party opted to leave it aboard their new ship. Bertram dedicated himself to Quell and Zalen advised that he might need to work for the temple at some point the future.
Keahilani urged speed in order to save Lavinia. The party pushed through the crowd, only to see a float in the shape of a sea serpent careen out of control towards them and the crowd. Street performers on stilts surrounded them while a woman in a skin-tight black skeleton suit tumbled past Ono and whispered, “This is for Rowyn Kellani and the Lotus Dragons.”