Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Treasure Island

Not far from the first stop in their destination, the ship ran aground trying to avoid a storm. Thankfully, there were no injuries, nor was there much damage done to the ship - in fact, it provided space for the ship to have some repairs done, as the able carpenter Giles worked tirelessly night and day to get the ship, er, ship-shape.

Meanwhile, Baguette discovered a strange cave opening in the sandbar - thankfully, the ship avoided the rocky area, only scraping on the sandy shores around it. Baguette, Zuko, and Edison climbed down inside, noting that the water level inside was lower than the surrounding area.

Inside, they found carvings in the walls - strange, unreadable runes that looked like round, flowing cuneiform. There were also a number of other carvings of beasts, monsters, and various sea-related things like ships, storms, and so forth, all obviously added later than the original writing. A wide shelf ringed a pool, calm and clear; peering into the water, it was obvious that there was a tunnel that stretched back into the rock, though it was entirely filled with water. Zuko, the best swimmer of the three, dove in; after a quick look, he came back for a rope. The full length was too long for a single length of rope, but he found a room on the other side - pitch black, of course. He swam back, then added a second rope and returned once again. He gave a tug to signal the rope was well attached, and the other two swam over. Lighting a lantern and a torch, they surveyed the room. It was roughly oval, about 20 feet wide and 30 feet long... and the floor was covered in treasure! Mostly boxes, but statues and a few coins as well. Quickly, they swam back to fetch some other sailors, and returned to begin moving the boxes. Each box was quite heavy; it took two men to move a single box, and with the tunnel flooded, it was slow going.

As time wore on, however, the tunnel slowly drained, leaving the path clear. Zuko explored further in, and discovered some kind of altar; leaving it for the time being, he and the others searched through the boxes for anything interesting. Zuko found a well-crafted wooden box with 50 pieces of eight inside; Baggette, a firestarter kit with a magnifying glass, firesteel, flint, and all number of other things in a metal tube with a watertight screw-on lid. Edison found 3 flasks of what turned out to be alchemist's fire, stored in clay jugs, with a rag stuck in wax at the top to light. A little more searching turned up two bottles of fine wine for Baguette, and a small box holding a huge gem for Zuko (a n amethyst worth easily $300). Edison found a bundle of well-preserved meat, cheese, and other foods in an oilskin sack. Finally, Zuko uncovered another small box, this one with herbs and spices stored inside. The box held three rows of four spices per row, all in delicate metal boxes. The last spot was missing a spice, though a tiny note was wedged inside - one Colonel Sanders described his recipe for creating a delicious meal from chicken, via frying, and using this secret blend of herbs and spices.

After a while, Zuko's curiosity got the best of him, and he went to take a look at the altar again. The top of the altar had four grooves, one from the middle of each side, leading into the center, where a golden bowl, roughly two feet in diameter, was sunken into the top. A second bowl was fit on the of the first, forming a sort of clam-shell shape. Zuko carefully pried the top of the shell off... then leaped back as a swarm of black, biting flies rushed out! The others saw Zuko running towards them, waving his torch and slapping at the flies, and quickly dropped what they were doing and dashed for the exit. Some of the flies followed them out, but most of them stayed inside, swarming about.

Baguette took the initiative to invent a jar-within-a-jar, filled with black powder on the inside, and as much smoke-producing material as he could find on the inside. He lit it, ran in, chucked it at the back wall, and dashed for daylight. After waiting, Longarm began, "Say, how long-" and was of course interrupted by a ground-shaking roar. Black smoke belched out of the cave, and flies swarmed out. After a few minutes of waiting for the smoke to clear, they went inside - the air was still rank with smoke, but the flies were mostly driven off. As the others dragged box after box outside, Zuko and Edison decided to investigate the altar again. They pried the bowl off, revealing a hole barely big enough for a man to squeeze inside; Edison lowered in his lantern, but the warm air from the lantern rose back out the hole, carrying a terrible stench. They stuck a box on top of the hole, and went back to help carry boxes. The tide went out, then came back; seeing that the tide was coming in through a crack in the floor in the tunnel, Baguette patched it closed with pitch.

As the tidal pressure built, finally the pitch gave way with a bang; the crew sloshed out of the cave, avoiding the high-pressure water. Once the tide went down again, they went back in - this time, the water was warm, unlike the bracing chill of before. As the others dragged out treasure, Zuko decided now was the time to climb down. It seems that the box he and Edison had set over the hole had been broken by... well, pressure, he presumed. It had fallen down inside. Luckily, it also had cleared out some of the smell, so it was at least bearable now. He set his rope and climbed inside, worming down into the nasty, sludgy water below. The room was rank; he barely kept hold of his lunch. Spotting a glimmer, he fished something shiny out of the black muck - a gold tooth. As he sloshed ahead, he broke through the film of blobby oils on the surface of the water, releasing a horrifying smell. A noise suddenly broke through the quiet - a low sound, halfway between a moan and a growl. Bracing himself, he moved forward. Finally, as he rounded a corner, he came face to face with a creature! He froze, his torchlight playing off its two amber eyes as it stared at him, unblinking... after a moment, when it didn't move, he took a step forward, then another. He suddenly realized it wasn't a creature at all, but a lifelike carving of one. Two cruel sword-like claws rose from its back and curved overhead; its feet were set as if it has squeezed into a hole in the rock, and plugged it with its body. Its mouth was open wide, razor-sharp teeth gleaming dully in the dim light. Zuko poked it with his torch, then feeling braver, tried to pry out the gemstone set in the eye-hole, but was unable to manage it.

Suddenly, the groaning roar came again - it was coming from the statue! At the back of its throat, behind its tongue, was a kind of whistle, or perhaps pipe-organ's pipe. As air moved through the hole, it let out a deep, reverberating growl. As it turned out, there was also a gem behind its tongue - a golf-ball-sized gem, perfectly spherical, that glowed with a bluish light when the torch illuminated it. As it moved away from the light, it seemed to hang onto it somewhat, glowing dimly for a second or two before going dark.

Zuko returned, shimmying up the rope and squeezing out unassisted; the water had once again begun to rise, and as he swam to the other side, he realized the water was quite warm. Warning the others, he pulled out one final box, and they climbed out of the hole. The water filled much faster, this time overfilling the hole, and suddenly, there was a grinding sound, and a puff of steam drifted out of the cave! Deciding that maybe it might be too dangerous to return, the crew helped Giles get the ship out to sea (having finished the repairs he was able to complete), and loaded up the boxes.

The Captain ordered one of the boxes opened - it contained tightly-packed tapestries, worth at least 2,000 pieces of eight, according to the first mate. The second box was filled with silver ingots! The first mate suggested perhaps leaving the rest untouched, but the captain agreed with Baguette, that the treasure should be cataloged. When all was said and done, the treasure amounted to nearly 32,000 pieces of eight. The captain decided everyone would be awarded shares, according to their station.

Later, Sauvage approached each sailor and asked if they thought it was fair that the captain would get the lion's share; the others refused, and Zuko gave him a good punch, which was met with a scratch by a knife, before he bashed Sauvage in the head so hard he nearly passed out. The sailor retreated, grumbling, and got patched up by Edison - who was also unsympathetic to his cause.

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