Tales of the Shackles

Oathday, 25th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

Not sure if I’m goin’ to be able to write this wi’ a steady ‘and. Been up at the ’Urricane King’s kip, Fort Hazard, fer a knees-up to celebrate Perri gettin’ accepted as a proper Free Captain o’ the Shackles.

It weren’t just a walk in the door, though. Bonefist sent down ‘is first mate, Tsadok Goldtooth, to do some tests to make sure we were a proper pirate crew. Well, says I, you take a ship out and cruise around fer a couple o’ days, you’ll find out right quick if we are proper buccaneers or not! Course, I didn’t actually say that. But I thought it. Loudly.

Anyway, I reckon ‘ee just made these tests up as ’ee went along, the daft bugger. Duaros ’ad to climb up the mast an’ unfurl the mains and royals faster than Goldtooth’s man did on their ship. It were a bit o’ a mess to be quite honest, but our Duaros maintains ‘ee won by the letter o’ the law. But we all know ‘is grey stuff’s three sheets to the wind on what makes the law the law. Then we ‘ad to fight some marsh giant an’ play Tsadok in a game o’ Bastard’s Fool – surprisingly no problem for our cap’n, given Tsadok’s less-than-scrupulous reputation. Still, ‘ee weren’t going to give us the go-ahead on grounds that we didn’t have a Free Captain sponsor, when who should hobble into the fray but what’s left o’ Merrill Pegsworthy! Well, with ‘im chucking ’is anchor into the drink, Tsadok didn’t ’ave a leg to stand on – even less that Pegsworthy!

So up we all gallivant fer a word wi’ old Bonefist. ‘Is place looks even bigger on the inside than what it does from the out! Stories talk o’ treasure squirreled away beneath the flagstones o’ the place, an’ not just Bonefist’s loot neither, but forgotten loot from long ago. Ain’t no way to get to it, course, but a girl can dream.

Still, Perri got ‘is letter o’ marque, so we can sail th’ Shackles without ’aving to worry about getting picked on by no other Free Captains! At least, not officially. But when does official count fer much round ’ere?

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Oathday, 18th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

We found the legendary treasure o’ Mancatcher Cove!

T’be honest, it were beginnin’ to look like a myth to me, spread about by the sahuagin so they’d get a fresh shipload o’ treasure-‘ungry food turn up once in a while. But no. Looks like old cap’n Wolfe really did stash all ‘is ill-gottens ’ere, an’ the sahuagin’ve only been addin’ to it this whole time.

Lucky we piked them potions o’ water breathin’ off of Locke’s cronies. The officers all necked one an’ entered the underwater tunnels after workin’ out the whys an’ wherefores o’ the rhyme our little goblin chum were spoutin’. ‘Course, Bert didn’t need no potion, kitted out in that stingray cloak they’d found on the ‘alfling ghoul a week or so ago. Trouble was, ’ee were so much faster than the rest o’ them in the water, ‘ee went speedin’ off into an ambush an’ nearly got ’imself a briny farewell down there in them lightless depths. Not a nice way to go…

But all’s well what ends well. Sounds like Perri got the body count, usin’ ‘is fiery words to burn a whole creche o’ sahuagin fingerlings. They finished off the matron what guarded the slippery little buggers, an’ fought their way through a whole load more. Finally, they caught up wi’ the chieftain, a four-armed brute who was sore because ‘ee thought our lot ’ad killed ’is son… and it’s a pretty goo bet that we ‘ad, somewhere along the line. Besmara knows we sent enough o’ the things to their scaly maker.

Anyway, they were smartly at nines and tens down into the treasure room, where they shifted a fair king’s ransom. There’s furs, silks and cloth, some o’ it older than Port Peril ‘erself, an’ all kinds o’ art, sculprures, a couple o’ paintings sealed up tight in a wax bag so as not to let the seawater in, an’ gold. Lots o’ gold. A chest brimmin’ wi’ coin an’ jewels, by all accounts.

not that we’ve really seen much o’ it at this point. The stuff’s so ‘eavy, there were no way they could ferry it all back to the ship in one go, an’ on the way out they ‘ad to go full pelt out o’ the escape tunnel, right through a bloom o’ Shackles Pink Ladies. Dunno what the saltheads were thinkin’, but most o’ them got stung by the jellyfish’s tentacles a couple times, an’ poor old Perri’s swollen up like a sucklin’ pig on Merrymead Day.

Looks like tomorrow I better ’elp these poor lubbers shift that gold into my… I mean our pockets.

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Wealday, 17th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

We found Mancatcher Cove alright! It’s a huge blue ‘ole in the ground, what cuts a strange circular bay in the side o’ a little isle, and Pharasma alone knows how deep it is. Deep enough that I wouldn’t dive it even if I ’ad magical gills!

There’s Sahuagin in these waters too, no doubt about that. The boys pulled one o’ the things out o’ the water, an’ Perri placed a magical charm on the thing. ‘Ee told ’em that there were a beast in the cove what terrified even the fish devils ’emselves. So the officers came up wi’ a strange plan. They got one o’ Fishguts’ chickens, stuck it on a barrel, an’ Xiao covered it in Faerie Fire so they could see it, then shoved it out floatin’ into the cove.

Sure enough, after a couple moments, up whipped the glowin’ chicken into the canopy above the cove, where I reckon it were munched up by some unseen ‘orror instead of by the ’ungry crew. Which don’t seem really fair, but showed us where the legendary “Beast o’ Mancatcher Cover” was.

Valiant ‘eroes would no doubt’a floated into the cove wi’ their swords out an’ challenged the beast to a duel. An’ no doubt they’d’a ended up like Mr. Chicken. We used our ‘eads, though, an’ mounted an expedition to the island itself.

Took us a couple days but we got all the vines cut down, leavin’ nowhere fer the beast to ‘ide. Whether ’ee fell in the drink or not we don’t know – it ‘ardly matters, though. ’Ee’s not a threat no more.

That goblin they let on board is an odd sort. Saw ‘im chasin’ a monkey around the island earlier wi’ a turnip in each ‘and. Comes back to the ship wi’ a barrel full o’ live monkeys. We been findin’ ‘em all over the ship fer the last couple hours. Ten silvers say we’ll be still findin’ the little beggars a week from now. Still, the goblin ‘ad a song in ’is ’ead wi’ crucial clues fer findin’ the treasure o’ Mancatcher Cove, an’ tomorrow mornin’ at first light we find out whether the little fellow’s song is anythin’ more than hogwash. It’s even odds right now.

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Starday, 13th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

On our way up to where we’re reckoning Mancatcher Cover to be, we’ve stopped over in a little port called Zeibo, in the Ushinawa Isles. It’s a queer place to find out in th’ Shackles – all these little scarlet pagodas, an’ quiet little geishas totterin’ around. It’s as quiet an’ tranquil as it gets fer ‘undreds o’ miles, an’ why anyone’d want to live in such a quiet an’ dull place is beyond me. Still, we picked up a couple bushels o’ rice to tide us over, an’ a couple o’ the weird types aboard the ship – namelt Duaros an’ Xiao – took to stayin’ up all night in quiet contemplation wi’ the locals, it bein’ Longnight an’ all. I spent the night the way more like the rest o’ the Shackles – in quiet contemplation wi’ Fishguts an’ a couple bottles o’ Allerly Old Reserve I ‘appened to find lyin’ around in Bogsbridge.

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Toilday, 9th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

It’s a pretty sad day fer us on the Scorned Mistress. As I write this, I’m lookin’ over at the dead body of our captain, Black ’Ands. ’Is last breath was taken off of ’im by another captain.

We got back to Tidewater Rock yesterday, and we brought the storm wi’ us. It just won’t end, this thrice-cursed rainstorm. Everything’s soakin’ wet, and even inside the Rock it’s all slippery now from so many of us salts walkin’ rain into the place. But it were an excitin’ day yesterday nonetheless, ‘cause Bert was finally gettin’ to say ‘is vows wi’ Lady Agasta Smithee. Well, I guess she’s not a Smithee no more… now she’s Lady Agasta… Bert.

‘Course, she’s the least excited about the whole thing, but the alternative seemed a lot worse, an’ she’s a survivor or I’m a basket o’ sand crabs. Free Cap’n Pegsworthy was ‘appy to say the sacred words – which I’m pretty sure ‘ee plucked from his backside wi’ ‘is one remainin’ hand – an’ we were all settlin’ in for a proper party. Even those o’ us who stayed on the Mistress were gearin’ up for a good time despite the rain, an’ Fishguts tapped a keg o’ ’is special reserve rum.

then this big cloud o’ fog rolled in. It were obviously not natural – you don’t get fog banks like that rollin’ in to a sheltered ‘arbour on an isle like Windward Isle, specially not in the middle of a four-verser like this. I could see a ship in the middle of it, all spooky like, just this big dark outline. I thought it were the Seawraith bringin’ Queen Besmara ‘erself to say a few words at Bert’s weddin’.

But it weren’t the Pirate Queen. It were Free Captain Isabella Locke, in ‘er Junk the Thresher. She must’ve ‘eard about ’ow a couple o’ nameless pirates without the protection o’ one o’ the Pirate Council ‘ad managed to put one over on the famous Tidewater Rock, an’ she reckoned she’d come an’ take it off of ‘em. Such is ’er right as a Free Captain, o’ course, but she ended up bitin’ more o’ the hog’s shank than ’er gullet could manage.

‘Twere quite a battle, both out ’ere in the drink an’ up there in the tower. She led a couple longships o’ buccaneers to the base o’ the place while we engaged her shipboard cronies. The Free Captain ‘erself took to the skies, buoyed up by sorcery, an’ assaulted the tower from above.

The officers split up, an’ most o’ them went down to put Locke’s crew to the skewer. The Cap’n and the man o’ the ‘ouse went up to th’ roof though, an’ ‘ad to contend wi’ the sorcerer’s magic. An’ that’s never goin’ to be a fair fight. Fact, she wormed ‘er magics into Bert’s ’ead, and sent ’im after the captain ’imself!

Somehow, the battle moved down to the dining room, an’ Locke comes a-smashin’ in through that big glass window. Black ‘Ands puts up a good fight but she just lets loose wi’ a crack o’ thunder an’ lightning like that what were fillin’ the skies, and drops the poor fool to the flagstones. Lady Agasta drags ‘im into the master bedroom, tryin’ to get ‘im safe, but Locke just sunders the door clean off it’s ‘inges. She steps in, smirks at Lady Agasta (who has the good sense to cower in the corner and pray to who she worships) and looses another lightning bolt into the half-orc’s face.

In life, his hands were blackened as if by soot. Never saw ‘em clean. Maybe they were foretellin’ this day, when his whole top ’alf ended up charred to a crisp.

Eventually, they get Bret under control an’ take down Captain Locke, but not before she blinds Perri and woulds a couple o’ the others. Meanwhile, we’ve captured this goblin what we found during one o’ our sallies onto the Thresher. Locke’s ship fled soon as she were killed, an’ the remainin’ officers brough Black ‘Ands’ body back to the ship.

There were a lot to talk about. We ‘ad to pick a new captain (the honour went to Perri Autumn), pass judgement on Bert fer his part in the old captain’s downfall (turns out we let ‘im off because ’ee was enchanted) and work out what we ’ad to do with this new goblin (put ’im to work in the galley wi’ Fishguts – this ought to be interestin’). But once we got all shipshape, we were ready fer a new challenge. An’ the death o’ Free Captain Locke gave us a fine new adventure.

Seems she ‘as the map fer Mancatcher Cove tattooed on ’er back. So we took it. Actually took it. Duaros flayed it off ’er, an’ we used the skin as a map. ‘Least until we’d found the cove on a proper map what doesn’t leak… fluids all over the ship.

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Starday, 6th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

I were right and wrong.

Right about the boys plannin’ to knock over the ships in the Bogsbridge ‘arbour, but wrong about the storm losing it’s heart. Because she’s back with a fury today, an’ all the fury of a jilted bitch.

It’s Vault Day today, sacred to the god Abadar, who likes to see gold safely moved into the vaults today in preparation for the countin’ houses to do their numberins, or whatever it is them merchants like to do. But we see things the other way round out ‘ere – turns out Vault Day is the day we picked to liberate some o’ that gold.

Maybe ol’ Abadar was keepin’ an eye on things today, though, because we didn’t quite walk off wi’ the loot we were ‘opin’ for. The first boat out bust in through the side o’ one of the ships in the ‘arbour, in the search fer rumoured sapphires. Well, they didn’t find no sapphires. They did, ‘owever, find a ship’s hold full to the gills wi’ angry lookin’ salts. Got chased all the way into town, an’ there was a bit of a tussle before they got away.

Next plan was more o’ the same, really. Captain was takin’ the officers over to the Royal Sloop in the ‘arbour to see if there was anythin’ else worth nickin’ on it except fer grain. They got on board pretty simple thanks to Duaros pickin’ out an unguarded spot, then took advantage o’ the storm to creep on belowdecks. Besmara knows ‘ow they did it, but they managed to take out most o’ the crew down there without gettin’ into too much o’ a mess wi’ the ones upstairs, an’ even managed to make a new friend – pretty lookin’ fella name of Slick. ’Ee’d ‘ad enough o’ the grain business, it’d seem, an’ there and then signed the black paper wi’ the cap’n. Welcome aboard – specially as they brought back a couple sacks o’ sugar which should get a petty price in one o’ the bigger ports.

Cap’n felt that the heat were up a bit, an’ seein’ as the repairs were all done, we set out in the midst o’ the storm, like idiots. Still, Besmara likes a good raid, an’ what with us nearly in spittin’ distance o’ Her Most Holy Isle, the winds died down jus’ long enough fer us to make it into a little sheltered cove. next stop, Tidewater Rock for a flagon o’ grog, a weddin’ celebration, and a bit o’ a rest.

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Fireday, 5th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

Still an ‘orrible day ’ere. It’s rainin’ pots an’ pans, but the ’eart’s gone out o’ the storm. I reckon we’ll be back to sea in a day or so, ‘specially now the officers managed to muscle their way to the front o’ the line for repairs. There’s been a steady flow o’ carpenters, sailmakers, an’ artisans comin’ out to the ship today, soaked through like pilchards in a pail, and all the ‘ammerin’ an’ sawin’s givin’ me a worse ‘eadache than Black ’Ands’ yellin’ ever does.

Not seen much o’ the officers today. I reckon they’re up to somethin’. Some kind o’ caper or other. If it were me, I’d be ‘ankerin’ to rip off the snail packin’ guildhall, but I’m not sure our boys’ve got the smarts to think o’ that on their own. More likely probably fixin’ to loot one o’ the ships in the bay before they can all get fixed up an’ back out on the ocean.

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Oathday, 4th Abadius, 4712 A.R.

I’m writin’ this in a soggy doorway in Bogsbridge. Not where I thought I was goin’ to be just two hours back.

Someone must’a put a newt in Gozreh the Stormlord’s ale, ‘cause ’ee’s mad tonight. The storm came up out o’ nowhere, and must’ve got up to th’ sixth or seventh verse in under an hour. There were lightnin’ too, like I’ve not seen this far from the Eye in many a year. Great cracklin’ gouts o’ the stuff, crashin’ down wi’ the weight o’ Fishguts’ cleaver on one o’ them chickens. Rosie was up there in the crow’s nest when a bolt comes down an’ splits the mast clean in twain, an’ Rosie with it. There’s another of this merry crew left to the fishes.

We couldn’t make it round Motaku in this state, so cap’n grabs the wheel and tries to take us into Bogsbridge. It’s a famously poor ‘arbour, and it were already crammed wi’ other vessels made the same decision we did. It didn’t look like there was nowhere for the Mistress to moor, but cap’n caught a rip an’ a sailful o’ the storm’s breath, and just threaded a needle between the other ships. We come to in the harbour, mostly sheltered by the ridgeline, and went ashore in the longboats o’ the local people, Besmara bless ’em.

‘Course, the town’s full o’ sea dogs lokin’ for a place to kip – only smilin’ faces I seen all night were the innkeeps. Bumper day in Bogsbridge fer them lot. Best I could manage is this doorway, watchin’ the rain comin’ down and the lightnin’ revealin’ the wrecks that’re left in the harbour.

I ‘ope Bert’s got some extra quartermaster’s supplies on board, ‘cause it’s goin’ to take a bucketload o’ elbow-grease to get that ship seaworthy again.

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Wealday, 3rd Abadius, 4712 A.R.

So Pegsworthy’s back. Well, most of ’im, at least.

This map that Jeremiah Tollervey ‘ad was the last place some ’alfling alchemist was seen, but since then it’s been reputed as the ‘idey ’ole o’ some dragon or other. So off they all go to rescue their mate Pegsworthy, who they all reckon’s got ‘imself into more of a mess than what ’ee can ’andle. And they’d be right. Down there under the ground, ’ee’s all cut up an’ lyin’ on a slab as this undead alchemist gets ready to sew a tentacle onto ‘is arm an’ make ‘im look like Washin Von Char (whatever ’appened to ’im, anyway? Prolly still sailin’ on the Wormwood, I expect).

So one thing leads to another’, an’ this rottin’ bloke gets chopped into pieces, and they’re back wi’ what’s left of old Pegsworthy. He’s goin’ to sail back down with us in a flotilla – him in the Cassimir Sprite, an’ us in the Scorned Mistress – to Tidewater Rock for Bert’s weddin’.

What an ‘appy day that’s goin’ to be. I ‘ope there’s cake.

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Moonday, 1st Abadius, 4712 A.R.

‘Appy New Year to one an’ all! Once again, the Night O’ The Pale passed wi’out so much as an ‘ows-yer-nancy, ’cept fer Perri reckonin’ he saw old Master Scourge in the streets o’ Quent.

Course ‘ee did. Saw a ghost on the spookiest night o’ the year. Me, I reckon he were drinkin’ that Katapeshi brandy all night, what they cut wi’ moon juice. It’s a wonder ‘ee ain’t seein’ weirder than that.

Still, we’re all in one piece, an’ I’ll be a sailmaker’s monkey if we didn’t hit the jackpot! Who should turn up but the man we’re lookin’ fer! Well, it weren’t Merril Pegsworthy ‘imself, exactly. It were one o’ his crew, walked right on up the gangplank an’ brought us this chest o’ fancy bread what they’d taken from a Chelish runner day or so before. Still ‘ad a little moisture to it, though, so I used it to soak up some o’ last night’s booze.

Anyway, we all goes onto Pegsworthy’s ship fer dinner. She’s the Cassomir Sprite, a fair-lookin’ barque wi’ a captain’s cabin all fancy-like, ready fer the kind o’ fancy ambassador’s reception we pirates’re always ‘avin’. Anyway, this salt’s Bo’sun Plate, an’ ’ee’s much too much of a delicate flower to be runnin’ a pirate vessel if y ask me. Not that anyone did, course. Still, ‘ee told us that Pegsworthy’s somewhere around, but away on business somewhere or other on Motaku. So it looks like we’re ‘angin’ on fer ’im.

Least, it did look that way fer a bit. Then, on the way out, Bert overhears these two sea dogs bangin’ on about how some potion-seller’d been ‘angin’ round on the jetty, tryin’ te tell ‘em all that their cap’n’s stolen somethin’ off ‘im (probably not quite garspin’ the notion for to Pegsworthy bein’ a Free Captain o’ the Shackles, an’ stealin’s in ‘is job description). Anyway, this cove’s off an’ dragged ’imself to the ’Owling Goblet up on Bluff Way.

So, bein’ the connoisseurs o’ fine alcyhol that they are, Cap’n an’ the officers all decide to pay the fellow a visit. Turns out ’ee’s some kind o’ wizard or somthin’, makin’ potions an’ tryin’ to sell ’em to a couple whores.

So a fight breaks out in the bar, as they invariably do, an’ the watch turn up. But no’ before Bert – Basmara bless ‘im – necks all these potions off the table wi’out so much as a by-yer-leave. ‘Ee grows these massive frog legs, turns into a ten-year-old boy an starts seein’ stars all at the same time. Nobody wants to punch a man like that, so ‘ee gets off pretty easy in the brawl. Cap’n fair silences the room in the end when it looks like someone’s goin’ to spill ’is pint. The barkeep gives ’im free drinks all night!

After the watch break it up, this bloke – Jeremiah Tollervey – tells ‘em that he’s had his map nicked, an’ that it found its way to Pegsworthy. The Cap’n and his mates agree to ‘elp this Tollervey go after Pegsworthy, what they reckon’s in somethin o’ a pickle on account o’ this not bein’ a treasure map at all but the map to some dead guy’s lab where a dragon lives. They’re leavin’ in the morrow – Good luck to ’em.

I’m stayin’ ‘ere to finish off the rest o’ this glorious bread.

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