Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!
Dolce, Mirielle, Quinn, and Shade tended to the injuries of the rest of the crew. They were minor by comparison to those of Revel and Dolce. Grudging as the elf was, she realized Shade had really done her a solid. It irked her beyond belief.
The sahuagin captive had the poison quill they’d become all-too-familiar with. They removed it from his mouth before reviving him, and there on the dark deck of The Lady’s Purr, they questioned the creature. It was reluctant to help them. It even managed not to wholly succumb to their Shackles of Compliance.
Still, Dolce had a few seconds of precious time in which it was ‘cooperating’ per the Suggestion she had cast through the shackles. She used it to ask about the riddle, and soon they learned which caves in the walls of the cliffs they should be concerned with, as well as that one of them was trapped.
When the effects of the spell wore off the creature became completely uncooperative. Dolce looked to Mirielle to see what the captain wanted to do. She decided to press forward that night, and so Dolce left the sahuagin in Shade’s capable, devious hands.
Of course, the cave resembled a skull. They entered through the left eye socket and were met with a tangle of roots. Within the roots, another skull, facing downward. They dug into the dirt, a long, slow process without any shovels. Eventually they came to wooden flooring.
Revel tore through that with relative ease, and inside they saw a tunnel. The remains of a wooden platform and stairs clung to the walls of the tunnel, but they were not serviceable in the least. Dancing Lights soon spiraled down the length of the shaft, and at the bottom there was water. Dolce took some time to prepare and cast Water Breathing and then Darkvision twice. She thought it would be best if they didn’t announce their presence in the tunnels below with light that would be starkly out of place.
She also decided the next time they were in a major city, like Senghor, she’d root around and find them a more permanent solution to water breathing. It seemed a prudent idea considering how often they were below the water.
Without further delay the girls descended. The climbing kits made it a simple matter to get down, and the rope they left secured behind them would make it simple to get back up again. Of course, they knew there must be another way in since the sahuagin hadn’t dug through the earth in the cave behind them.
The series of caves proved long and twisting. There was a single chamber that was above the water level, and within it a dangerous plant… Dangerous, but slow, and Mirielle had recognized it for what it was before they drew near. The resulting combat was done at range with their Returning weapons and cantrips. When the plant was fallen, Mirielle asked Nasha to attempt retrieving some of its beautiful, violet blooms.
Nasha nodded and knelt near the plant. “You want just the petals?” she asked, looking up at Mirielle.
The aasimar paused. “Umm, no, I’d like some of the stem so I can put them in a vase later.” She blushed a little.
Dolce snorted, “A vase? How very cute!” She clapped Mirielle on the shoulder as she said it.
“Oh stop it!” The aasimar protested, brushing the elf’s hand off her.
“I suppose if nothing else, others will know you have dangerous tastes.. But they won’t live long, you realize?” They’d killed the core of the plant and the blooms would not last long on their own.
“That’s why I was going to have you dry them and preserve them… If you’re willing,” Mirielle said, smiling at Dolce sweetly.
‘That really is precious. Imagine if the Fever Sea could see my captain now…’ the elf though. She shook her head. “Aye, Cap. I can dry em for you, somehow, on a ship at sea. I don’t know how, exactly, but I’ll manage.” Dolce hooked some of her hair out of her face and returned her attention to Nasha.
The lizardfolk had carefully clipped the stems of the flowers now that she knew what Mirielle was seeking. Then she’d stood and walked to Mirielle’s side, though the captain hadn’t noticed as she engaged with Dolce. Nasha stood quietly, watching the two and listening to them. When Mirielle’s gaze followed Dolce’s the aasimar actually started a little from the lizardfolk being so close.
Nasha looked down at Mirielle, her head canted slightly to a side. “I.. apologize.” Her words were slowly spoken and purposeful as was her way. She offered Mirielle the flowers all the same.
Mirielle chuckled, though Dolce was laughing outright and Revel had joined in too. “There’s no need to be sorry, Nasha. I just spooked a little is all.” She took the flowers from Nasha’s scaled hands.
“Why do you want them? Their potency is lost in death,” Nasha said.
Mirielle smiled, “Because they’re pretty. Don’t you like flowers?”
Nasha considered this for a time. She watched as Mirielle handed them to Dolce and the elf stowed them in the magical satchel. After this Nasha said, “No.”
Mirielle looked surprised, though Nasha couldn’t say why. Shortly the captain asked, “Well, what sort of things do you find pretty?”
Nasha scratched her cheek briefly and said, “Shells, polished stones, pearls in the water, seaweed, Revaress and Cupiir, fish like them, that are bright and colorful… Things like that.”
Both Dolce and Mirielle had scritched their familiars when the lizardfolk mentioned them. It made Nasha pleased to see. After she finished Dolce said, “I find a lot of those things pretty too. I posit that perhaps you just haven’t seen the right flower yet. There are a great many kinds and some of them have some pretty bright colors too.”
Nasha thought about her time in Port Peril and the breaks she would take in the edges of the jungle when she had finished her work. “Maybe,” she said. “Maybe I just don’t like flowers.”
Mirielle considered that for a moment, then smiled to herself. “We’ll see.”
Dolce caught a hint of mischief in Miri’s voice and raised an eyebrow, but the captain said nothing further on the matter. As the girls explored the chamber more closely they found what must have been Inkskin’s bed and personal effects, including the preserved head of her previous captain. They took everything of value and returned to the water.
In the twisting, underwater caves the girls fought many sharks and many sahuagin. They found their possessions, simple and warlike as they were, and killed every sahuagin they came across. Nasha did her best to knock the sharks unconscious, though as oft as not her claws left them bleeding too severely to be saved. In one room they encountered a giant crab protecting a collection of spears and other weapons.
Eventually they came into a strange chamber filled with eggs. At first they thought the eggs were those of the sahuagin, but on closer inspection Mirielle recognized them as locathah eggs. In the next cavern was a locathah matriarch, but the poor creature had been savagely brutalized. The sahuagin had even removed her legs.
All of the girls were disturbed by what they saw, but none were moved as much as Nasha with her love of children and families. Mirielle hesitantly approached the locathah. “Hello..” she said. She’d had to draw rather close due to the muffling nature of the water. The female didn’t seem to understand her at all, staring blankly forward.
Mirielle paused for a moment, then looked at Nasha, “See if she responds to Aquan, Nasha.”
Nasha nodded and swam forward as well. “Hello,” she said, speaking the Aquan tongue. This drew the creature’s gaze briefly. To Mirielle Nasha said in common, “I think she knew the word.”
Mirielle nodded. “Tell her…” She hesitated, looking back toward the room with all the eggs. “Tell her we are going to help her.”
Nasha nodded again. “We will help you,” she said in Aquan.
The locathah now met her gaze and asked in a weary voice, “Why?”
Nasha nodded toward her captain, and said in Aquan, “My captain told me to… but… But I would anyway because it is right.” The locathah, looking tired and weak, simply watched Nasha. Eventually the lizardfolk said, “The elf will approach you now. Do not be alarmed.”
The female nodded her understanding and Nasha told Dolce she could undo the manacles. The elf swam forward and observed the locks in more detail. She felt intense compassion for the poor creature. Soon enough she worked her picks in the locks and had them open.
“Thank you,” the matriarch said, but she immediately started swimming for the other room, pulling herself with just the strength of her arms. The girls followed her.
Soon they saw her objective. She started collecting the strands that dangled by each of the eggs, pulling them to her. “I will help.” Nasha said simply. Rather than assist with the eggs directly, the lizardfolk moved beside the matriarch. “Hold my shoulders. I will help carry you.”
The matriarch hesitated and said, “It is.. very sticky.” She seemed to think this was a matter of some concern.
Nasha’s tail swished briefly and she said, “I do not care. I will help you.”
The matriarch nodded and wrapped one arm around Nasha’s abdomen. She clung to the lizardfolk with that arm while gathering strands with the other. “I am sorry,” she said as some of the eggs stuck to Nasha.
“No,” Nasha said. She looked back at the female, craning her slender neck to get a better view. “They are your children. It matters not.” She tried to offer her a reassuring smile, though her reptilian face sometimes made the gesture have the opposite of the desired effect.
The locathah returned the smile. “Th-thank you.”
They gathered all of the eggs. Mirielle, Dolce, and Revel watching as they did so. “Should we help?” Dolce asked as Nasha drew near enough to hear.
Nasha shook her head no and said in the common tongue, “I think she will be happiest to hold them herself.”
The others nodded. On occasion, Nasha used her tail or one of her long, lithe arms to coral one of the eggs closer to the locathah. When the last egg was collected Nasha asked, “What will you do now?”
The matriarch looked at her and said, “I will make my way home. I- I think I can make it there, though it is a far way.”
Nasha frowned, another gesture that her facial structure didn’t always translate correctly. “I do not think that wise.”
“What then?” The locathah asked. “I cannot stay here.”
“Mm. Maybe for a short time? We have only seen part of the cave, but we are going through the rest. The way we came in would be hard for you to leave… But if you wait and we find a better way out, the way the sahuagin use…”
The locathah, “You did not come that way?”
Nasha shook her head no. “The way we came would involve climbing out of the water.” She looked purposefully at the cloud of eggs sticking to one another. “I do not know how you would fare leaving that way.”
The locathah frowned now. “It is better than staying to die.”
Nasha considered. “Let us make an arrangement. You wait by the entrance we came in from, and if we do not return within three hours, you leave that way. Otherwise we will show you the way out and take you home.”
The locathah’s eyes grew wider, “You would escort me back to my people?” she asked.
Nasha nodded. “It is right. You should be reunited with your family.” Her eyes strayed to the eggs again.
The locathah nodded. “I will do this.”
Nasha explained to her friends and then swiftly swam to the entrance. Dolce, Revel, and Mirielle kept watch in the chamber. There shouldn’t be anything in the caves behind them, so they figured it would be faster to let Nasha go alone since she was the fastest swimmer among them by far.
Nasha rejoined them, and the girls wandered into another hatchery, but this one was full of sahuagin eggs. They were not in the chamber long before an immensely large sahuagin female entered the room. She fought them fiercely, attempting to protect the eggs.
Nasha, who had moved up against one of the walls to which the eggs were stuck, swung wildly at one point and destroyed several of them. The matriarch attacked her relentlessly after this. Thankfully she didn’t live much longer and Dolce was able to treat Nasha’s wounds while Revel destroyed the rest of the sahuagin eggs.
While exploring the tunnels the girls came across a sea drake. It proved far more challenging than any sahuagin they’d faced within the tunnels. Its electric breath arcing between them. When they recovered from this encounter they found they’d doubled back and Dolce surmised that the branching path they hadn’t taken likely led outside since the sea drake had come from that direction.
Finally they found the throne room of the sahuagin, and there contended with the strongest among them. It was a fairly fierce battle in which their king wielded a vicious trident that attempted to rob the wielder of their mobility. He also flew into quite a rage, dealing considerable damage with his attacks. The girls overcame him, Dolce unleashing two Lightning Bolts to aid in this.
They found two chests beyond the king’s throne, one made of stone and the other of wood and metal that showed no signs of water damage. Magic, Dolce knew. They took both chests to their ship, though not before Nasha found the matriarch of the locathah and aided her in leaving the caves as well. They were right in their assumption that the caves they hadn’t traveled led outside. There were quite a few dead jellyfish near the entrance as they made their way up.
The locathah agreed to wait while they moved the chests. A net was lowered into the water so the locathah could hold to it. When the chests were aboard, Nasha joined the matriarch in the net. She aided her in keeping the eggs close during the voyage as they sailed her out to where she said her people were and returned her to them.
Nasha and the captain swam down with the locathah matriarch. They were met by a group of other locathah who noted their approach and swam up to meet them. “Shalnoxx!” they called, swimming up and embracing her. Only then did it occur to the girls that they hadn’t asked the locathah’s name. “Thank Lysianassa you’re alright.”
Shalnoxx returned the embrace of the one who had greeted her and handed some of the eggs off to other locathah. “I would not be if not for these surface-dwellers,” she said, indicating the group.
“You saved our queen?” the male asked.
Nasha inclined her head to him, though she also held out a sack in which was a locathah head. “I’m afraid we could only save her. The head was all that remained of this one.”
The man frowned and looked inside briefly. “Oh Drolneer, so that’s what became of you.” Shalnoxx put a hand on the male’s shoulder. “We sent him to find you, with four others. None returned and my ring stopped working.”
Shalnoxx frowned. “It pains me that we lost so many on my account.” She spoke sadly. “We cannot thank you enough though, for you have saved our children,” the queen was speaking to Nasha now.
The lizardfolk nodded, “I was happy to help. Forgive me a moment, I wish to tell my friends what has been said.” The two locathah nodded and Nasha translated to Mirielle and the others.
Ultimately Nasha acted as an translator between Mirielle and the male locathah, whose name they soon learned was Loxshon. Mirielle asked how they would manage with so few remaining, and Loxshon said other tribes were near and they might join one or seek others to join them. Mirielle did mention she’d considered visiting some herself, with the intent of recruiting some to guard her ship in the water.
Loxshon shared the location of the major tribes he knew were nearby, but told her while a locathah might sign on for a short sting they were not likely to travel with any vessel for long. Mirielle thanked him for the information all the same, but wondered if she couldn’t find one more likely to hang around if she put some effort into it.
Just before they left Loxshon handed Nasha his ring, explaining it was a Greater Messenger’s Ring that had been used to communicate with their scouting party, in thanks. Nasha thanked him for it, and gave Shalnoxx a hug. “Take care of yourself and your family,” Nasha said softly.
Shalnoxx nodded and patted Nasha in turn. “I will. You, you do the same, even if they look like strange family.” Her eyes passed to Mirielle and the others.
It gave Nasha brief pause. She’d been growing closer to the pirates with every passing day, but that an outsider would observe them together and assume the bond was that strong was telling to Nasha. She inclined her head again. “I will do so.”
When they left the locathah Nasha gave Mirielle the ring. “I think you have more use for this than I.”
Mirielle smiled and said, “It will certainly make it easier to communicate with Maheem at Tidewater Rock. Still, if you ever wish to use it, don’t hesitate to ask. The ring’s power should be able to be called upon many times in a single day.”
Nasha nodded. Perhaps she would. It had been some time since she’d spoken with her true family.
The girls returned to the ship and made for Mancatcher Cove again. On the way there Dolce enlisted Shade’s assistance (though it pained her to do so) in disarming the trap she’d discovered on the stone chest. Inside they discovered absolutely nothing. The other chest, however, opened with a key Dolce had discovered in the throne room. It contained quite a large sum of treasure, and now Mirielle and Dolce both were convinced the Hurricane King would grant Miri the title of Free Captain.
The Ancient Mariner
Inside the cave they investigated one last thing, a strange crevice Dolce had taken note of. It took them two hours to dig out the passage so they could enter the chamber beyond. Thankfully it was a new day and they had a fresh allotment of spells.
When they at last entered the chamber they saw a massive anchor, showing all signs of age and neglect. Chains ran across it, and still bound within them was the corpse of a man. The girls drew nearer, but as they did the corpse broke free of the chains and a sudden, unshakable dread came over them.
Nasha had been nearest, and was effected first. Her whole body went stiff and struggle though she might she couldn’t move. The corpse, a deceased captain if Dolce were to guess by the remnants of his clothing, pressed its lips to Nasha’s while she was still trapped by it’s aura. Nasha, even graced with the ability to breathe water, started feeling as though she had no air.
Revel tried to charge forward, but she too fell to the aura’s effect, her body going rigid. Dolce swam to a position that would let her cast Lightning Bolt without hitting her friends and did precisely that. Mirielle, meanwhile, summoned forth her halo of light and moved toward the entrance to the chamber.
The decrepit captain swam to Revel next, doing the same to her as he had done to Nasha. The putrid sea water it spit into her mouth threatened to rob her of her breath, and there was naught she could do while held captive.
Nasha had shaken off her paralysis, and swam into the fray, striking the creature twice. Dolce cast another Lightning Bolt, narrowly missing her lizardfolk ally, but she was trapped fairly close to the enemy. Not quite close enough to be paralyzed herself…
Until he moved. He moved near to Dolce and she was the next to suffer his kiss and its ill effects. Revel and Nasha laid into him, and though she was loath to bite the creature, Revel did so. She couldn’t afford to pull her punches here.
Mirielle saw an opportunity to both heal her friends of some of the damage they had taken and to harm her foe. She was just close enough to catch everyone but Dolce in the spell’s effect. She cast Heal in its most powerful form and bathed the creature in positive energy while restoring some vigor to Revel and Nasha.
This got the creature’s attention, and it was moving toward Mirielle intent on inflicting its curse on her when Revel got the last blow, severing its head from its shoulders with her brutal bite.
The aasimar shuddered. They did, of course, retrieve the deep platinum necklace the captain was wearing and searched the room for anything else. Nothing of value was found. With this completed the girls returned to the boat. Mirielle cast Detect Disease on each of them, primarily to be certain Revel hadn’t gotten herself in trouble biting something so vile and disgusting. None showed any trace of having one.
That done, they set sail for Port Peril, intent on making their bid for Mirielle’s position as a Free Captain.
It was quite comical the way Revel hesitated to fight the sharks. She even let the first one get a few bite on her before she decided that she was tougher than they were and they should basically ‘know their place’ in the pecking line.
It was also comical the way half of them died. When Nasha crits with her Tiger Strike she inflicts persistent bleeding damage, which can prove incredibly lethal if you don’t have magical healing. You can bet Mirielle wasn’t sparing any of her spells to save sharks.
Notedly, they don’t speak much when they are using water breathing. Owlbrarian said because sound is muffled in water, they would have to be very close to be able to communicate with spoken words. This seems reasonable to me, and is why there isn’t much dialogue recorded in this entry for their time in the submerged caves.
Nasha critically fumbled when she struck attacked the matron and ended up swiping the eggs on the wall. The critical fumble card said she basically attacked every creature adjacent to her and she was up against the wall the eggs were on so we treated it like her claws swinging beyond her intended arc. She also hurt Dolce with this strike, but honestly she was more disturbed at harming eggs than harming her friend.
Owlbrarian hadn’t read the treasure in detail and didn’t realize the stone chest was fixed to the ground, so he allowed the girls to spend considerable time and effort moving it to their ship.
At the end of this adventure, after all the fighting was done, I realized I’d forgotten to level up my character’s “static” class features. See, I plan their level choices ahead, so spells, stat bonuses, feats, etc. But missing this meant missing some very big things, like Revel’s 2d10+6 damage while raging becoming 2d12+11. Imagine how much easier this all would have been. As it was, I’m really glad we didn’t explore the secret room until we’d rested.
Owlbrarian allowed me to have a homebrew Detect Disease spell since it doesn’t exist in PF2E.