The pirate shore party of The Golden Ram hastily leave the jungle island, thankful of leaving only one casualty behind – for it could have been so much worse. They row back to the ship and Captain Lubbock, eager to reach his target set sail immediately for the next island, which is the centre-most in the archipelagos. An hour later and the ship has once more dropped anchor and the same party plus one new seaman, row two boats ashore of the almost identical island before them. Once ashore on another scrubby beach they are faced with the same dilemma before; Hasting s wastes no time though and once more dispatches the three crewmen across the length of the beach with instructions to head a little way into the jungle and locate a path. Etienne, a crewman who has been on the ship only for a few months, cautiously enters the jungle which is shaded by the canopy above and very quiet; within seconds he has lost sight of the party on the beach. He pushes forward when he suddenly hears something rustle in the bushes in front of him – a moment later and whatever it is comes rushing directly at him. The young sailor, unsure of the nature of the threat turns and runs as fast as he can back towards the beach, his adversary quickly gaining ground on him. As he exits the jungle his foot catches a tree root and he falls face down into the rough sands of the beach and moments later a wild boar comes shooting out after him. The rest of the group witness a frantic duel to the death as the frantic savage pig makes repeated charges at the newbie pirate; Etienne for his part manages to escape being gored and lands several blows on his porcine enemy before finally running it through. Meanwhile, Menage, one of the other seamen sent to scout for a path also cautiously explores the dark and quiet jungle interior with pistol and cutlass drawn. A short time later he stumbles on a dirt track intersecting the jungle – and spots a mysterious old man clutching a staff and dressed in rags, staring at him from the other side of the path, amongst the trees. Menage hails the old man, who in turn tells him to go back to where he came and that the pirate doesn’t belong there. Menage decides that it would be wise to head back to the beach and report the find and encounter to the rest of the party.
Captain Lubbock, upon hearing the news of the discovery of a path, duly orders the party to travel over to it. The First Mate, Smiling Jack, fails to notice that one of the three scouts has not returned. The party head into the jungle and a short time later come across the dirt path and spot that the same old man is still stood on the other side of the track, watching them intently. The Captain hangs to the back of the group, not wishing to expose himself to any risks; there is a quick discussion about what to do before Smiling Jack, tiring of the talk, decides to take a lead in the action and walks straight over to the old man with the intention of murdering him. As he approaches the old man once more tells the stranger to leave the island as he does not belong there; Jack is interested enough to ask why and is told by the old man that only death awaits them if they continue on the path. Jack then swings his cutlass at the old man, who is in fact not what he appears to be. The shape-shifting Arenea is far faster than the average human and responds by dodging the blow and striking forward in turn. The rest of the pirate party witness the Spiderkin drop its illusion and reveal its horrible human-spider hybrid form just as it leaps forward and delivers a poisonous bit to the First Mate, who promptly drops to the ground screaming. While a couple of the crew quickly retreat away from the horrifying team, and a couple of them futilely fight amongst themselves in the face of danger, Hastins lifts his flintlock pistol and fire an effective shot into the monster. The Arenea spins and bucks from the pain and reacts by spraying the group with is web fluid, managing to entrap several of them. It then begins to retreat, dragging its bound victims behind it. Zan’thire, who managed to dodge the web attack responds by casting a flashbang illusion at the creature, followed up by a cutting spell that manages to free half of the captives. Etienne, who also managed to avoid being encased, cuts the remainder of the group free and the ghastly Spiderkin turns and flees deep into the bush. The group are in no shape to pursue, and so they busy themselves freeing each other from the sticky webs and dusting themselves off.
Twenty minutes later and the party is once again ready to move. Everyone is miraculously unharmed with the exception of Jack, who is still very much suffering the effects of the venom. Lubbock is aware that they only have a few more hours of sunlight left and so orders them onwards, down the track. A short time later the path ends at a large clearing, in which sits the moss-covered ruins of an alien-looking temple complex. The group observes that the visible carvings and architecture is the same as that of the underground chamber on the previous island.
Back in Freeport the group is still determined to learn who the mysterious merchant seen with Tarmon is. They walk down the street and spot a corn exchange; Lucern heads inside the busy centre of agriculture commerce and attempts to quiz one of the sellers but learns nothing; she then moves on one of the buyers who proves to be better informed of local personalities and occurrences. The buyer reveals that the man’s full name is O’takan Farastay, that he’s not from the continent, but from somewhere else, and that he sails on the Narwhale which doesn’t fly any nation’s colours. Armed with the newly acquired information the group debates what to do next – they feel that the antique dagger is central to the recent events and that they should perhaps either learn of its provenance or better still, acquire it themselves, by visiting the local antique dealers, of which there are several. After some time spent walking the streets they do manage to find The Rusty Junk, a small shop crammed full of expensive and not so exotic bric-a-brac. Edward takes the lead in the talking while the other s wait outside; he asks the shopkeeper about the emerald pommeled dagger but the man is at a loss to say anything about it other than to try to sell the musketeer similar ruby and sapphire daggers that he has in stock. Unsatisfied, Edward leaves empty-handed, and upon stepping outside the shop and rejoining the group they are accosted by three very large thugs who ask politely for them all to follow them for a chat. Lucern and Edward demand to know where it is that they are supposed to be going and with whom they are to talk with – things that the three thugs are not at liberty to reveal. Gito uses the opportunity to slip quietly away from the group unseen while Izzard takes advantage of his small size to shoot out between everyone and leg it. The three thugs instantly react by grabbing the two remaining humans; Edward, weighing up the situation decides to be chivalrous and offers to come along without a struggle if they just take him and release Lucern – and the thugs agree to this.
Edward is then ushered into a nearby coach and driven to the docks and then whisked into The Golden Rivet tavern, a nondescript drinking hole, patroned by individuals who know to turn a blind eye. Edward is led through a rear door to a private room at the back of the bar and finds himself facing Demetrios, a key player and facilitator of The Black Mark, the organised smuggling outfit of Freeport. News of the groups questions around town concerning Farastay have reached his ears and he is eager to know what all the fuss is about. He easily menaces and persuades Edward to reveal everything about the group’s activities, including who they are, who they work for and what they are after. The awol musketeer for his part is so keen to avoid harm or further trouble that he blabs away and asks nothing of his inquisitor in turn. Satisfied that he what he has heard is the truth and that nothing further can be learned, Demetrios informs Edward that he is free to leave. Once outside, separated from the rest of the group, Edward decides that it would be best to try and locate the Narwhale by walking along the dockside. Within the hour he has walked back into the Merchant District, and spots the Narwhale, a sleek caravel in excellent repair, moored up on a pier; directly in front of it sits or stands a sizeable contingent of bronze skinned, dark haired sailors. Edward weighs up the options and decides to return to the Sea Hag back in the Dockside District and get a good night’s sleep.
When Edward was whisked away by the thugs the rest of the group reconvened and tried to decide what they were going to do about the situation when a paperboy selling the latest edition of The Shipping News wanders by, shouting of the headlines of multiple mysterious murders and fugitives sought. Lucern buys a copy and reads of three seemingly random murders, linked by bloody notes left at all the scenes. One of the victims was a prostitute killed in Rose Alley, another victim was an adventurer in Kergan’s Kradle, and the last was a well-respected member of the City Guard, called Reinholt Proy, who was found floating in the harbour. Six suspects are now being sought by the City Watch, a goblin, a lizard, an elf, a half-orc and two humans; a unspecified reward is being offered by authorities for any information leading to the apprehension of the suspects and there are two sketches that bear striking resemblances to Gito and Lucern. The pair quickly set about disguising themselves with what they have at hand; they then all discuss what to do next and decide that locating the Narwhale is the most sensible step and head for the Merchant District docks.
It is dark by the time the trio locate the Narwhale. Lucern once more decides that her innate beauty and charm will enable her to gain access aboard the vessel and she approaches the six crewmen sat blocking access to the gang plank. But no matter what she says and explains the crewmen appear to not understand her and merely motion for her to leave. Izzard then steps in and tries to use his skills as a conman and seasoned communicator to also get past the group but the silent men also refuse him access. Gito decides that while the other two are distracting the men he will use a mooring line to creep aboard the ship. Stealthily he manages to get onboard undetected and better still he also creeps past some of the crew still on deck. He lets himself into the aft of the ship and begins to explore the interior, aiming for the captain’s quarters; which he manages to find within a few minutes. He creeps ninja-like into the captain’s quarters where a tall bronzed man in white robes sits oblivious, reading a book. Gito clears his throat and makes a quip about the ineptitude of the ship’s security and O’Takan Farastay looks up with cool alarm. The foreign merchant asks who Gito is and the goblin thief attempts to bluff his way onto the ship’s crew as a security guard. Farastay thanks Gito for demonstrating the inadequacies of the ship’s security arrangements but firmly informs him that there are no job openings available. Gito then changes tack and reveals that he is working on behalf of Tarmon and asks Farastay about what he knows of Aporcus Beedle and the mysterious Emerald dagger; Farastay denies all knowledge of these and insists that he will meet with Gito outside the ship first thing in the morning and go and see Tarmon to discuss what this is all about. He then calls for a crewman to escort Gito off the Narwhale. Once back with the other two they decide it’s time to head back to The Sea Hag and get a night’s sleep before facing a new day.