ROOTS Skull & Shackles

Trying to keep the Keep.

The Key leaves Tidewater Rock and heads out for the port Goatshead on Firegrass Isle. The port of Goatshead is very much a “No lawss, nor lords, evry won is hez oon mastr” Most of the wharfs are owned by private individuals or companies. It is well advised that you do not wonder around by yourself. Once at Goatshead, you sell some plunder, pay the crew, gain some Infamy, and get notice to return to Tidewater Rock.
Once back at Tidewater Rock, the sahuagin have attacked again with only eight but this time a ship was noticed nearby just before and during the attack. Not many details could be made out about the ship because of it running with black sails and running with no colors. Agasta saved a sahuagin in case Jonah wanted to Speak with Dead again. You explore the islands around Tidewater Rock to see if you can find the ship but no luck. During the night, the ship is seen again but there is no sahuagin attack.
The following morning, the black sailed ship parks itself of the other major beach. An obscuring mist rolls into the shore. Once in position, the Thresher lowers two longboats full of buccaneers into the water. Captain Isabella Locke goes with the boats. Once the boats are close enough to shore, she blasts the keep doors with two lightning bolts. Although the doors hold, they are weakened. The majority of the keeps defenders take position on the 1st floor awaiting the siege. The ballistae, on the roof of the keep, fire onto the boats and men below. The defenders on the 1st floor open fire on the raiders from the arrow holes.
Meanwhile up on the roof with Cap’n Jonah, Captain Locke makes her prescience known by blasting Cap’n Jonah full of magic missile holes. She then sends a summoned salt mephit down the stairs, where she had previously secretly sent her invisible viper familiar. The roof defenders fight back but to little avail for Captain Locke can fly and just downs most of the rooftop defenders, including Cap’n Jonah.
The Battle of First Floor goes far better. The invaders pour in through the breached door and attack. Maxwell starts recounted tails of victories past to inspire everyone to fight on and with great ability. Dakkiah, Katarina, and Thaddeus wade through the invaders, cutting them down time and again. The salt mephit, unable to get into the battle on the 4th floor, flies down and attacks Thaddeus. The salt attack has an extra nasty effect on Thaddeus of course. Dakkiah moves into the door way. He is making it harder for invaders to enter? Is he setting up flanking? His true plan is revealed when he starts channeling negative energy, damaging friend and foe alike. “Pain to all!” The salt mephit gets taken out easily enough. Raiders and guards alike, drop as Dakkiah blasts away with more negative energy. Thaddeus and Katarina head upstairs after hearing a girlish scream coming from the rooftop. Dakkiah heads out to finish off the invaders outside and with help from a Hold Person from Maxwell. Dakkiah succeeds in killing the last of the invaders on the ground. After which, he heads upstairs.
As Katarina and Thaddeus are rounding the last of the stairs to head up to the roof, they are greeted by a lightning bolt from Captain Locke. Thaddeus goes down just like Cap’n Jonah had done earlier on the roof from magic missiles. Katarina makes it to the roof. Girl on girl action ensues. So they are joined by Maxwell, who drops an anchor, not a literal one though, to keep Captain Locke from taking flight again. The battle turns south for Captain Locke once Dakkiah gets there to help out. The fight goes only a few more seconds before Locke is defeated.

Once Locke is killed, on her body is a very elaborate tattoo is found. Further study of the tattoo reveals the map on her back to be a copy of the map to Cyrus Wolfe’s lost treasure hoard at Mancatcher Cove. The map tattooed on the Locke’s back depicts the outlines of several small islands. A stylized half sun sits to the right of the islands, while simple images of a monstrous eye and the face of an aged, bearded king are to the left. Beneath the map are five lines of crude verse:
From blue bight’s embrace
Spy the Grave Lady’s prize tooth
With the Dawnflower’s first kiss
Climb the Captain’s wayward orb
To claim old king’s hoard
The map shows the way to Mancatcher Cove, the site of Cyrus Wolfe’s fabled hidden treasure, but it must be deciphered first.
A knowledge of geography reveals the islands to be an unnamed archipelago in the Shackles north of the Ushinawa Isles and west of Besmara’s Throne. These islands lie 110 miles northwest of Tidewater Rock as the albatross f lies, but the Key will likely have to sail a bit farther through the numerous atolls and archipelagos of the southern Shackles.
The stylized sun could represent either a sunrise or sunset, though its position to the right (east) of the islands hints that sunrise is the proper interpretation. The monstrous eye represents the Beast of Mancatcher Cove, recognizable with a knowledge of history or knowledge of local. The strange king’s image is merely reference to the root system of a tree that vaguely resembles a bearded monarch, under which Wolfe buried his treasure. The means of finding this burial place from Mancatcher Cove is revealed in the enigmatic lines of verse.
“Blue bight’s embrace” means to begin the treasure hunt from within Mancatcher Cove itself. The “Grave Lady” is the goddess of death, Pharasma, also known as the Lady of Graves, recognizable with knowledge of religion. This line refers to a rock formation that resembles a death’s head when seen from the correct angle in the correct light. Her “prize tooth” refers to a deposit of pyrite in the rock that glitters like a gold tooth in the skull’s mouth when the light hits it.
“Dawnflower’s first kiss” refers to the goddess of the sun, Sarenrae, called the Dawnflower, whose identity is hinted at by the stylized image of the sun on the map. A knowledge of religion also identifies the goddess. This line indicates that the Key must be within the cove at the first light of dawn in order to see the skull-like formation and its “gold tooth,” which indicates the location of the treasure.
“Climb the Captain’s wayward orb” is an instruction to climb the rock formation into one of the caves that form the skull’s eyes. A knowledge of local reveals that Captain Wolfe was known to have lost an eye in battle, it was his right eye. Therefore, his “wayward orb” is his right eye, and the PCs must enter the right eye of the skull formation to find the treasure.
The “old king’s hoard” is another reference to the tree’s roots, which look like a bearded king, designating the proper place to dig within the cave.
The tattoo map is much easier to read once Dakkiah makes a nice tanned version of it for the trip to Mancatcher Cove.
The Shackle’s Key makes it to Mancatcher Cove without issue. Well ok, they did get chased by a dragon ship manned by undead because of Thaddeus. But moving on…..
Mancatcher Cove forms an almost perfectly round bowl in the side of this jungle-cloaked island. The water in this circular bowl is an almost indigo hue compared to the turquoise of the waters surrounding the island, hinting at the extreme depth of the cove. Cliffs surround the bowl on all sides except the entrance, and a few small beaches have formed where the water meets the rock face. The jungle grows thickly atop these cliffs, the massive trees spreading their branches out and over the cove. From these trees a series of interlaced vines have grown like a loose net canopy 100 feet above the water, giving the cove a cave like quality in the shadows of predawn or twilight. More vines, creepers, and roots extend down the cliffs, creating a dense maze of twisting tendrils that shroud numerous dark hollows in the rock.
The Key pulls out and away from the group of islands for the evening and come back in the morning before dawn to identify the cave from the tattoo. The next morning, the Key goes to sail back to the Cove but finds that the rudder had been sabotaged during the night. Someone thought they heard something but there was a lot of noise on the ship that night.
You take a boat in the Cove, while the Key is repaired. You manage to get there at the exact time that reveals which cave holes are referred to as the skull from the tattoo. A short and, for most, simple climb gets you up to the two openings that have to be the “eyes”. You go into the one on your left because that seems to be the one indicated on the map. Katarina takes the lead looking for traps along the way. You find a hole in the floor of the cave that has been covered in boards and dust and dirt. Once removed you find a shaft leading down into darkness but a small ledge can be seen about 10 feet down the shaft. Maxwell drops a lite rock down the shaft. It clanks to the bottom not too far down, maybe 60 or 70 feet.
Before heading down that hole you decide to investigate the other “eye” to make sure nothing sneaks up on you. Katarina searches for traps but this not is not so lucky. A spiked log trap is strung. The trap does enough damage to down Cap’n Jonah again. Jonah is brought back to conscience and you continue checking out the cave to find nothing of value.
The group heads back over the shaft and Maxwell heads down to investigate. He finds an empty cave with a boarded up opening behind which he can smell and hear water.

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