The Freeport Chronicles

Lumberjack Challenge

The companions have some wood to chop

Summary

  • the companions explore a nearby island in the Glencarney Chain
  • an orc boat is moored in the lagoon
  • Ansor and Annabelle are rescued, they wish to leave the island post-haste
  • sufficient hardwood is obtained to repair the mast and rudder
  • the companions learn that the orc crew have found an ancient artefact and are transporting it to their chief in the Hold of Belkzen
  • returning to the ship, repairs are commenced
  • Gary Soldana is questioned in the brig and crossed off the list of suspects
  • the companions learn that the Shadow Swift has extra capabilities that could be of interest to them

Details

With many clues already exhausted, Freight, Anton and Lando decide it best to focus on repairing the ship. They load into a rowboat with several crew and head to shore, conveniently meeting up with their other companions as they complete their conversation with the Hellknights. They journey to the nearby island together.

Lando has collected several tidbits of information regarding these islands. The Glencarney Chain is an archipelago, with two larger islands surrounded by many smaller ones. The island has few recreational visitors, and rumour has it that fewer still are permitted to leave. A hermit by the name of Jacku is known to inhabit the island. He is said to be the sole survivor of an anti-pirating mission out of Port Peril some 400 years ago. A sorcerer by trade, he allegedly performs strange experiments in his isolation. From time to time, a rumour of a castaway that escaped the island will turn up – the last of which traded an arm and four teeth for his freedom. Always interested in chatting with other wizardly connoisseurs, Lando asks the group to be on the lookout for the hermit.

The beach landing is performed successfully. The companions exit their rowboats in the shallows of a beautiful sandy beach. The tropical island is primarily beach and jungle, with a hill that rises in the centre of the island. Pretty Ike and Rockinsky advise that they will require hardwood for the mast and rudder, several stands can be seen on the higher ground.

Instead of progressing machete style through the jungle, the group decides to follow the beach around the island to search for a trail head. Rounding the corner of the island, the group spots a small ship moored just inside the mouth of the lagoon. The garish ship is similar in appearance to the Bloody Vengeance – a sleek, open-style vessel propelled by oars. Although empty at present, the companions assume it is crewed by orcs.

Understanding that time is of the essence, the companions continue on along the beach. The lagoon is larger than anticipated, effectively splitting what could be a larger island in two. The beachfront on both sides is open, and the companions can see a hut constructed on the strand. There appear to be several people inside the building, the side of the hut is open with a bar style facade. An orc lounges in a chair pulled up to the bar front.

The companions walk towards the hut, making no efforts to hide their approach. The orc notices the group as they near and becomes visibly agitated. From inside, a familiar voice attempts to calm the orc, “Do not be alarmed, these are good friends of mine, likely come to check in on me, eh? Please, come join us.” Ansor exits the hut and pulls up several chairs. Annabelle, the sister of Rooster Pumpernickel, can be seen inside the hut. Lando starts as he recognizes her from his vision. Ansor continues, “You are probably wondering what I’m doing here on a secluded beach in the middle of nowhere. Good ol’ Ansor, who always requires the big crowds and the limelight. Well, funny story that.” He motions towards Annabelle. “We had a tough go in Freeport after the news about Rooster. So we struck out for greener pastures. And really, what better place for some rest and relaxation than this beautiful beachfront?” Anton senses that the gamesman is not being entirely genuine. “And then destiny came calling. This orc crew just appeared out of nowhere, allowing me the opportunity to ply my trade in perpetuity here on this beach. They are happy to have me run my games of chance, and I am happy to do so. Over and over. And over again.” Anton again senses that he is being coy. And then it clicks – he is under duress and not able to communicate openly. Their eyes meet, and Anton slowly motions to the orc. Anton nods and brains the unsuspecting patron.

Ansor and Annabelle thank the companions profusely. They have been stuck on this island for over a week and weren’t sure if they would every leave. Their few belongings already packed, they beg the group to get them off the island. The companions agree to do so without hesitation and bring Ansor up to speed on why there are here. Ansor is happy to reciprocate. He introduces Annabelle, whom the companions have met in passing. Through her experience with the curse, the same that Magus Mike endured, she has received strange powers. They take the form of visions that allow her to see strands of the future providing some sense of consequence regarding present decisions. She is willing to use the granted powers, but to do so, she must enter a drugged up state that takes a great toll on her. The companions thank her for the offer. Regarding the island, the orcs have set up camp further up the beach. Further, a trail head to a path that leads to the hilltop is not far from the hut.

With that, the companions, with Ansor and Annabelle in tow, follow the trail to the top of the hill. The high ground is fertile, a spring at the top feeds a fresh water lake. There is abundant wild game and the companions take the opportunity to replenish their food and water stores. With the assistance of Pretty Ike and Rockinsky, sufficient hardwood is procured for a new mast and to repair the rudder. The group prepares for their trip back to the beach.

Anton calls for silence and motions to the trail, a patrol of orcs is walking up the path. The companions take a step back into the covering brush and ring the chime of silence for good measure. The patrol passes the group and stops at the spring for water. Several members of the group speak the orc language and eavesdrop on their conversation. The patrol is returning to camp on the opposite side of the island so that they can continue on with their mission. Ansor has gleaned that they are here to resupply on their journey back to their home far to the north. They have found some sort of artefact that they are transporting. The orcs attempt to one-up each other constantly, vying for the right to present the artefact to the Belkzen chief. Lando’s ears perk up at the mention of Belkzen – could this artefact somehow tie into the vision he received?

After the orcs vacate the area, the companions travel back to the beach without incident. The materials are loaded into their rowboats and the group returns to the Shadow Swift. Ansor and Annabelle are ecstatic over being liberated from the confines of the island. The ship’s officers are summoned and tasked with completing repairs as quickly as possible. They advise that they ship should be in sailing condition around noon.

Content that repairs are underway, the companions return their attention to the murder investigation. Thinking on the events of their engagement with the Hell Hound Social Club, it strikes them that the stowaway plays an important role in this mystery. The Hell Hound Social Club ship is much smaller than the Shadow Swift and would only have a fighting chance in combat if the ship were crippled, say due to damage sustained to its mast and rudder. With that in mind, they decide to focus on the shadowy figure seen on board during the night.

Believing that the individual may have dropped something overboard, Anton – chosen due to his ability to breathe underwater – is rigged with an anvil and dropped over the side. The ocean bottom is sandy and flat, affording good visibility in the clear water. Anton explores the general vicinity but sees nothing of note. He pulls on the rope and returns topside.

The companions next turn their attention to the poodle. The druid Loquacious and physician Zwicket join in the examination of the dog. The poodle is lethargic and sick looking, its coat of fur is shedding in large clumps. A strong hint of transmutation and evocation come from the dog. Zwicket advises that the dog is sick, something not associated with a natural disease, but different from what afflicts Anton and the Magus. Loquacious shakes her head constantly during the examination, seemingly struggling with herself. She advises that she may have exaggerated things, that this dog may have been what she saw. Perhaps the explosion made her see things that were not there. Lando attempts to detect illusory effects with no success. The companions thank them for their assistance.

With no other leads at present, the group travels to the brig to question Gary Soldana, the crew member who did not report the night prior. The brig is housed in a back segment of the ship and the companions must travel through the inner workings of the Shadow Swift to get there. The ship’s engineering is impressive, a feat of technology that is wholly unexpected. The companions pass Sprocket and Glurp on the way and mention that they are interested to speak about the upgrades – Lando specifically complements their fine work and asks if they would have time later to discuss further. Several looks pass between the two – Glurp seems keen to share, but Sprocket is less forthcoming. Lando assures them that he has the best interests of the ship in mind. A rather thick policy and procedures manual is shared with Lando, who is excited to have the opportunity bring himself up to speed.

The group continues on to the brig to speak with Gary Soldana. A lone crew member guards the imprisoned sailor. Gary is unrepentant of his insubordination, and doesn’t seem to care that a murder was committed on the ship. He is low on the shore leave list, has drank his grog rations, and will do anything to get more. It is clear he views his time on the ship as a curse. Romica, upset by his lack of forthcoming, pushes past his companions to confront the sailor. Gary is intimidated by the hulking mass of crazy approaching him and decides that it is easier to cooperate. Regarding the other clues on deck, he advises that he has no idea who owns the poodle, doesn’t know anyone with red embroidered fabric, and offers up that he left his trident on deck. The companions thank him for his honesty and send him on his way with a reprimand.

During this time, Lando has steeled himself away to read the policy and procedures manual. It outlines some of the amazing features of the ship such as the hydroplanes and stealth abilities, but also details some extra capabilities that other ships of this era would not have. Specifically, there are three fuel tanks that operate on precious resources whose iconography align with the beakers provided to the group through their visions. With manual in hand, Lando leads the companions back to the engine room.

The group excitedly discuss the fuel tanks with Sprocket and Glurp, who are somewhat relieved to be able to share information about the ship’s features openly. They are not responsible for the enhancements, but instead have been trained by their predecessors. The companions learn about the different types of fuel:

  • chronos fuel – identified by the image of a three-headed serpent, granted by the God of Time; provides access to time travel, the solution can be fed directly into the tank
  • vorpal dust – is represented by an image associated with Besmara, or more specifically, the Holy Grog; was previously obtained from Fardell in recompense for gathering tithes and sending them to the depths; the solution improves tactical abilities in martial engagements; the dust must be broken down and refined for use in the tanks; Lando explains from his review of the manual that pipes lead to different areas of the ship so that this tactical advantage may be applied to armour, weapons, reconnaissance from the crow’s nest etc.
  • a mystery tank – the group is unable to ascertain the iconography, which somehow shimmers as if from heat; Anton can see something purple-greenish from the corner of his eye when he turns his head back and forth; a strange distortion prevents the companions from hearing the description provided by Sprocket and Glurp

The tanks are not overly large, the companions estimate that each would hold perhaps 30 liters or so. Doing the mental math, they guess that the beakers they received from their visions would represent about 1/16 of the volume.

The gnome and goblin advise that all three tanks are empty at present, but they would be happy to showcase the features should the companions procure any fuel.

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