Our heroes awoke aboard the Sea Slicer, a mid-size caravel traveling to the cold port of Bellock in Scirn. Hired the night before by Captain Ghen, a half-orc female with bluish-green skin. Ghen paid them half up front to guard her cargo and requested they arrive late at night to set sail in the shadows.
They now saw each other in the light, Abdan Heartstone, a dwarfish monk testing the reflexes of the human fighter, Cuprous D’Shay, in the bunk above. Boris the Bear, a dwarfish druid silently watched the ensuing terse exchange of words until the curtain at the end of the sleeping area swept open and a towering female half-orc fighter sashayed out with a flip of her hair. Introducing herself as Hembra, she accompanied them to the galley where they met “Cooke,” a grizzled ship chef missing both legs below the knee. After a small breakfast, they ascended to the main deck and met the rest of the crew, including a very hung-over gnomish first mate.
During the course of their exploration, Abdan grew suspicious of the captain and crew’s recalcitrance towards revealing the nature of their cargo. Cuprous strutted around, telling various and conflicting stories of his time in the Hafferis King’s Army. He also made the acquaintance of Bern Hwy, the gnome first mate who was muddling through a hangover. Hembra also continued to sashay and attempt to draw a few gazes; she succeeded with an optimistic young dreamer named Kellarn, though his enthusiasm for questions seemed a bit off-putting for the female half-orc. Boris sat on the outskirts, observing.
After lunch, Abdan’s suspicions came to a head. With the last of the sailors vacating the galley and Cooke focused on other things, the dwarf monk convinced his fellow dwarf to investigate the hold. Casting Pass Without A Trace upon himself and Boris, Abdan managed to pick the lock and enter the small area above the hold grate. Unfortunately for him, Boris stumbled, catching Cooke’s attention as the door swung shut behind them.
Shouts sounded and footsteps stomped overhead. The dwarves managed to conceal themselves, Boris beastshaping into a rat while Abdan ducked behind a few boxes. Captain Ghen entered, failed to notice them, and returned topside, bellowing for a role call while Cooke waited outside. Lockpicking the grate, the dwarf monk, heedless of the shrieking hinges, dove into the hold below.
Up on deck, Captain Ghen and the rest discovered their disappearance just as Cooke’s voice called from below.
About to follow, Boris turned as the door was unlocked and swung open behind him to reveal Cooke hanging from two hooks, dual rapiers screwed into the bottom of his amputated legs. One slashed out at Boris the Currently Rat and reverted him back to his shape. A massive half-orc hand hauled him up by the scruff of his neck. “Where’s the other one?” Ghen growled.
Below, Abdan booked it through stacks of boxes and barrels, noting the cargo was less than was common for a trade run such as this. At the other end of the hold, he halted before the brig. His eyes, darkvision’d though they were, could not pierce half of the cell. All he could see past the bars was a plate of half-finished food and then an orange cat who padded out of the darkness and stared up at him.
About then, Ghen caught up with him and hauled him and Boris to the top deck and dumped them in a ring of drawn rapiers. “Explain yourselves,” she growled. Cuprous and Hebra were herded alongside them.
Abdan growled he had been burned before by mystery and criminal intent. “I ha’ no desire t’be again. What is your cargo?”
The half-orc crossed her arms and attempted to downplay, but the group could tell she lied. Out of frustration, she at last lead them to the Fo’c’sle cabins. Inside, she revealed three dragonborn females who assured her they did not recognize any of them. “These three are carrying a merchant contract to Bellock,” said Ghen. “There are a few who would see they don’t get there.” Leading them back out, she frowned. “I can’t turn back now but I will demand your swords from you.”
Abdan, after a moment’s hesitation, complied, along with Boris. Cuprous and Hembra managed to retain theirs as they had not participated in the intrusion. However, all four found themselves with a new companion, a guard with a drawn rapier to accompany them through the day. The mood substantially lower in temperature around them, the day dragged on into the evening with Hembra changing into fine clothes and perfume and turning more than a few heads at dinner.
During the night, the party was roused by a clash of swords and the roaring of battle. Cuprous pulled the blankets over his head and groaned. Boris and Abdan charged topside while Hembra tried a more challenging route through the window near her bunk. She fell in but soon strode the waves thanks to her ring of water walking. Topside, the crew of the Sea Slicer was in full conflict with the pirates of a longship that had grappled alongside.
Abdan leaped to the defense of Captain Gehn and the helm, Bern passing him his sword. Boris the Bear took his name seriously and soon a mountain grizzly bowled through the battle. About to join them topside at last, Cuprous met two pirates and a captain storming the lower deck in an attempt to get to the hold. Managing to fend them off, Cuprous took several nasty wounds and was unable to prevent two pushing past; they hacked desperately at the door to the hold-grate as their captain fell under the onslaught of Boris the Now Bear, Abdan who successfully fended off attackers of the quarterdeck, and the tardy but foaming Hembra. The latter, disappointed with not being able to share in the battle as much, turned her attentions to the longship, engaging the last two guards with Boris. One she slew, the other dove into the water.
In the aftermath, Ghen at last took the guards into her cabin. Inside, the orange cat waited and at their appearance turned into a beautiful elf, raven-haired but with a streak of crimson in the middle. “This is Metzan. She is the cargo. I must deliver her to Tellern’s Fang in the Fogmouth.”
It turned out the dragonborns were not the primary reason for the trip. It also turned out, with abrupt, careless dismissal, that Metzan considered everyone, the guards with the possible exception of Boris the Bear, little more than cannon fodder and meat shield. Despite the rising tension and irritation among the party members toward her, she reminded them of their contract and swept from the room, refusing to give them any information beyond the aim of her mission: “heal the world.”
After sleeping the rest of the night and awaking later in the morning, the party awoke to the smell of steak. Cooke greeted them warmly and offered up steak for breakfast as thanks for their support in the battle. Upon Abdan’s query, he told them the story of how he lost his limbs to a sahuagin and his subsequent rescue and employment by Ghen.
Following the story, everyone ascended to the top deck except for Hembra. The female half-orc fighter attempted to climb out the window and up the side of the ship again; she fell again.
Despite Boris the Bear transforming into a giant eagle and circling the ship, Hembra’s frantic pursuit of the Sea Slicer went unnoticed until a random crewmen looked back and spotted her sprinting atop the waves after them. An annoyed Captain Ghen took in sail while Boris homed in and managed to lift the sheepish fighter back to the ship. In the meantime, Cuprous spotted an enormous fogbank on the horizon – the Fogmouth.
From what Ghen told them, no sailors ever entered the Fogmouth if they could possibly help it. And for good reason – as the Sea Slicer entered the mists, they took in sails and lowered a boat to pull the ship at a slower pace. Shards of rock poked out of the sea, scraping the sides of the ship now and again, even with the deft maneuvers by her crew. At last, they reached an area where the fog opened up into a clearing. In the middle, a giant rock, cut and formed by the tides over centuries, loomed over them. It tapered to a point, not unlike a tooth.
"Tellern's Fang." Boris the Bear looked over to find Metzan leaning on the rail next to him. "It is within we shall find what I need." She volunteered little further information save for their intended meeting with someone named "Ugaiatha."
With Ghen dropping anchor at the edge of the fog, the four plus Metzan rowed out to the giant rock. No birds sang and, besides the sea breeze and the soft sound of waves against boat and stone, the silence hung heavy over them. Approaching the Fang, they discovered a smooth cliff face where Metzan called a halt. "This is it. Follow me." She dove over the side and disappeared from view. Obeying with various shades of reluctance, the party discovered an underwater tunnel that lead to a small pool within the Fang. Bioluminescent algae cast a faint light all around, showing the stone interior, damp, and dark.
Casting darkvision on their human companion, Abdan brought up the rear as they continued on. Hembra swaggered in front down the winding rock tunnels. At one point, she slipped down a slope and into a series of spikes but managed to ensure everyone else made it safely. Passing a waterfall, they reached at long last a stone door, outlined in blue light.
Metzan walked to it and brushed her hands over the surface, illuminating runes. "Do any of you speak aquan?" she asked. Their negatives brought a superior smirk to her lips and she squinted. "Ah, it's a riddle."
We stand toe to toe
But not in depths below
I have your back in light
But never at night
After a few guesses, Abdan suggested, "Shadow." The answer was accepted and the door dissipated to allow them entrance. They filed through to discover a large cavern with a deep pool in the middle. A jutting ramp of stone lead up to a pillar of rock in the middle. Upon the top was chained a haggard old woman. Before they could help her, a slavering, finned, clawed individual burst from the pool and growled, "I knew you would come."
Unimpressed, the party made short work of the threatening merrow. Abdan approached the chained woman, lockpick in hand. As he attempted to undo the chains, the woman rasped, "You've killed only the puppy."
As Cuprous ascended an encircling ledge near a cave opening on the other side of the room, a slavering green humanoid with a fishy head stormed from the shadows. The human was soon bleeding from a dozen wounds, the blood from his wounds stirring a frenzy within the creature's actions. After a hectic battle, the creature was slain and Abdan at last managed to release the woman.
Metzan, who had contributed little to the fray aside from healing Cuprous at a critical moment, now approached. "Thank you, all," she rested a trembling hand upon Abdan's shoulder. "You have fulfilled your task. Go back to the boat and await my return. I must talk to Ugaiatha."
Rubbing her wrists, the old woman raised piercing eyes upon the druid. "I know why you have come." Her voice dropped into a whisper that nevertheless echoed in a hiss to the party's ears as they exited the cavern. "I have one piece and know where the second is. If you want it, I will require a geas."