The Brine Demon has been spotted upon the group’s return to base camp. They decide to investigate, remembering that the cleric of Nethys, god of magic and balance, asked them to search it for evidence that may clear his name. It seems that Jask may have spoken the truth, as the castaways discovered a human skeleton grasping a waterproof darkwood coffer.
Along with a magic dagger and a gold locket, several ledgers and journals detail a skimming operation involving Sargavan authorities and several pirates of the Shackles, taking money from the tithes and taxes paid to the Free Captains by Sargava for protection from Chelish aggressions. Chumba suggests opening the gold locket, and inside is the striking miniature portrait of a red-haired half-elf, and is inscribed with the name “Aeshamara.” The return to camp is almost hindered by two large diamond-head boa constrictors, but Max and Chumba literally waste them both in about 6 seconds.
The party returns to camp to re-supply and check in with the other castaways. Jask studies the ledgers, and relates a bit of his past- he had been arrested in Cheliax for crimes against the Sargavan government, likely by the mid-level officials named in the ledgers. He had been hired to conduct clandestine investigations into this sordid affair by an independent council. He also has tended to Ayeris, laid low by withdrawals from alcohol. He knows of a fruit that aids with these symptoms, the luscious viper nettle berry, found clustered at the heart of enormous tangled, thorny vines.
Ishirou has been maintaining the camp’s defense, and pulls Taraz and Arendel aside to ask their advice on a southern palisade that is constantly battered by a wayward wind from the south. He points to a bald plateau, and tells them that he collects treasure maps, and one in particular seems to indicate this rise as a potential site. An especially dastardly pirate named Quellig supposedly buried his treasure here, but died before he could recover it. He nods to Taraz, calling him “a brother of misfortune,” and hopes that anything found, if it is indeed a treasure site, can help him ease the suffering of others.
Sasha is very excited about her “present,” a dimorphodon egg retrieved from a shipwreck. She promises to take very good care of her new, exotic pet.
At taps, both Sasha and Jask offer their companions insightful training as a boon for their hard work so far on the Shiv.
As Ace and Kay’ess keep watch, a ghostly, half-decayed and dripping wet pirate rises from the campfire, pointing a hook at the summoner. “You! You took Aeshamara! Scoundrel! Thief! Betrayer!” The commotion alerts the camp and all are generally fraught with the incorporeal captain’s presence. He focuses his rage on Arendel, while calling out, “Turncoats! Mutineers! I’ll swab the deck with ye!” and other such piratey phrases. Recognizing the name “Aeshamara” and ghost’s general desire to be laid to rest for eternity, Arendel pops the locket open, very afraid-like. The ghost of Kinkarian, captain of the Brine Demon, whose skeleton was found aboard, reaches his remaining hand to the locket, and sighs a ghostly sigh as a rush of wind draws the spirit away. It seems his final attempts to gaze upon his beloved one last time are finally realized.
The next day, Jask teaches the casters a set of mantras to help them keep focused while casting spells in battle, and Sasha teaches the Varisians several spot-and-listen techniques to keep them ready for combat.
A pair of monitor lizards strikes camp during training, and is dispatched. Realizing that Ishirou’s map requires the group to be upon the hill at dawn, and with one day gone for training, the group decides to rest quickly before heading out to the treasure site.
Under a full moon, the castaways leave camp and finally meet another group of humanoids. Unfortunately, these humans are half-naked, wielding weapons and bent on eating their combatants. The battle is tense but the 6 cannibals are defeated. A thorough search reveals sharpened teeth and ritual scarring, including the pentagram-like symbol painted in blood in a deserted shack, eerily reminiscent of the nation of Cheliax. Ace and Kay’ess are somewhat enthralled in combat, as they pick up a few Infernal phrases from their assailants, a few references to “Thrune,” the noble Chelish house that Ace is from. The pair also picks up the phrase “Mother Thrune,” though its importance eludes them. Later, a lone ghoul is spotted and destroyed.
The party arrives on the plateau at daybreak. Following the ciphers of Ishirou’s map, the group digs a hole in the ground only to reveal a wooden platform, or plug, and the skeletal remains of a leather armor-clad dwarf. The beard gives him away. Tossing the dwarf aside, debate rages over the next possible course of action. After digging into the soft stone around the plug and finding it likely to be a 10’ square of well-designed wood, akin to a door, it is decided that smashing a hole into the wood to see what lies below is the best course of action. By casting light on a stone and dropping it down the exposed shat, it appears that a 50-60 ft shaft ends in water. The light stone drifts to the bottom and is obscured. The donkey is roused into service and the platform is removed, revealing a worked shaft braced with timber. The group decides to rest out of the high heat before continuing.
While resting, they knot the 150’ rope they brought, dividing them into two 75’ sections. Securing the ropes to a log used to pull the plug, KS is first to descend. As Chumba follows, her human-stank attracts 2 lacedons, aquatic ghouls. They feverishly attack, but once the majority of treasure hunters lands in the waist-deep water, these ghouls have no chance. KS then explores the submerged tunnel from which the lacedons entered.
After swimming a short tunnel, he surfaces again and is faced with an enormous treasure chest, Quellig’s treasure. It is summarily dragged out and unsuccessfully opened. Max decides to simply break it open, wrecking the lock but nonetheless spilling coins, jewels, foul-smelling clothes, a scroll tube, a darkwood buckler, and a cold iron shortsword on the ground.
The sun begins to set upon the intrepid treasure hunters, their 9th day stranded on Smuggler’s Shiv.