Trinsic Tales:Ships Ahoy!/Chapter 02
Chapter Two: Smilin' Stan, the Trader Man
<Capn_Ascii> *march, march, march*
<Capn_Ascii> *march, march, April...oops, march...*
<Capn_Ascii> As we join our heroes, we find them pounding the sand as they head inland, along the lone trail, their proverbial dogs barking. The jungle looms large and dark to either side of the path. The sounds of unfamiliar wild creatures echo through the trees, while the occasional pair of predatory eyes peer at them from the underbrush.
<Capn_Ascii> All in all, not a particularly relaxing tourist experience.
Marilyn carefully watches for hostiles as she continues her dignified (well, relatively speaking) walk along the path.
<Capn_Ascii> Wes starts to whine. "Are we there yeeeeet? I'm thirsyyyyy..."
Marilyn pulls out both her blades and sets herself up into her typical fighting stance, just in case.
<Capn_Ascii> As you continue to walk, you soon come upon a fork in the path. There's a sign here that reads: "THIS WAY TO VILLAGE" with an arrow pointing left.
<Marilyn> "Halt!" Marilyn commands, examining the sign carefully for signs of tampering.
Marilyn points out the piece of wood in the ground. "Wes, get that wood... there's a nail on the tree there to reattach it to. Or you can just bring it to me, either way."
<Capn_Ascii> Wes whines. "Yes, ma'am."
<Capn_Ascii> He fetches the wood and hangs it back on the nail. It's a sign, which reads:
<Capn_Ascii> "THIS WAY TO DARK FOREST OF VICIOUS APEX PREDATORS."
Marilyn mutters something under her breath about whiny idiot men.
<Capn_Ascii> ...with an arrow pointing along the right-hand road.
<Vathgani> "Vathgani guesses that is not the name of a village."
<Marilyn> "Well, let's avoid that place," Marilyn comments. "Left it is. Return to formation."
Vathgani continues marching
Marilyn follows along in formation behind Ashling
<Capn_Ascii> *march, march, march*
<Capn_Ascii> Before long, you can make out something in the road ahead - a large portcullis-like gate, made of what looks like bamboo. It's set into a tall fence made of wooden logs with spikes carved into their tops, the fence runs off into the jungle on either side of the road.
<Capn_Ascii> There doesn't seem to be any way to open the gate from this side; indeed, the only obvious feature besides the gate itself is a small, covered slot, about eye level, off to one side of it. There's also a small button beneath it.
Marilyn smiles. The more things change... She walks over to the gate and checks for any traps at either the gate or the button.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: Huh, that's odd. It looks like the button *was* trapped at one time, but someone came along and removed the trap mechanism afterwards.
Marilyn shrugs. No trap is no trap for now. The mystery is not a high priority at the moment. She presses the button.
<Capn_Ascii> No response, at least for a few moments. Then, the wooden cover on the slot snaps open. There's a pair of eyes looking out at you.
<Capn_Ascii> "Go away, or I kill you."
Marilyn blinks, highly offended. "Excuse me? I am Marilyn Kiradan, Princess of Belcadar. Harming me will be an act of war against one of the largest kingdoms on the Farallon continent. I'm not looking for trouble, but I do require assistance, am willing to trade, but will defend myself if necessary, and am quite capable of having this village obliterated if I desire... or greatly enriched, if I desire. And if you're going to respond to my statement, I remind you that you threatened Me first."
<Capn_Ascii> The eyes blink. "...go away, or I kill you...please?"
<Capn_Ascii> You hear the sound of a door opening, and an exasperated sigh. "Oh, for pete's sake, Frank. Just move, I'll take care of it."
<Capn_Ascii> The panel closes, and you hear the sound of whispers and bodies moving around. Then, it opens again, and a different pair of eyes look out at you. "Hello, there, and welcome to our village! Sorry about Frank, he's new."
<Capn_Ascii> "What may I do for you?"
<Marilyn> "Our ship was damaged in a recent confrontation. We request materials to be able to fix our vessel, and are willing to trade other supplies."
<Capn_Ascii> "Ah. Well, alright, come on in then. Just please deposit all of your weapons in the drop box below."
<Capn_Ascii> A previously-unseen drawer opens in the wall right below the eye slot.
<Marilyn> "No. I will not leave myself defenseless. I give you my word that I will not seek to harm you," Marilyn comments, sliding her blades back into her Haversack.
<Capn_Ascii> The eyes eye-roll. "I'm sorry, but no weapons are allowed inside the village walls under any circumstances. If you won't turn them over, I'll have to ask the village trademaster to come speak with you outside."
<Vathgani> "That works for Vathgani."
Marilyn looks around. "Very well. I will wait."
<Capn_Ascii> The slot closes.
<Capn_Ascii> After several long minutes, the large gate slowly grinds open.
<Capn_Ascii> A dark-skinned man with a pronounced stomach, wearing a long grass skirt and a hawaiian shirt, steps out. He's holding a tall staff in one hand that has some unfamiliar symbol carved into the head. He bows. "Greetings, foreigners! Welcome to our island, and our village. I am the village trademaster. My name is..." He proceeds to rattle off some long, complicated words in a language you're entirely unfamiliar with. "...but you may call me 'Stan' for convenience."
<Capn_Ascii> He proceeds to rattle off some long, complicated words in a language you're entirely unfamiliar with. "...but you may call me 'Stan' for convenience."
<Capn_Ascii> "You wish to trade?"
<Marilyn> "Greetings, Stan," Marilyn smiles. "I am Marilyn Kiradan, Princess of Belcadar. We have two cracked hull braces, a few missing hull planks. We'll also need tar to complete the repairs. Wes here has a list of materials we can consider for trade. Of course, we will be trading on a principle of fair value."
<Capn_Ascii> "Oooh, a princess!" He grins, and makes an exaggerated bow. "Welcome to our fair land, M'lady!"
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: Well, there's good news, and bad news. The bad news is, he's got the obvious 'slickness' of a professional salesman about him. The good news is, he seems genuinely interested in trading, and not, say, robbing you blind.
<Capn_Ascii> You also sense that he's hiding something important from you.
Marilyn basks in the praise, giving a slight smile and bow of appreciation and acknowledgment. "So hopefully we can come to an agreement of some sort... if you'll examine our list..." she indicates the documents being held by Wes, also giving Wes a hand command to show Stan the documents.
<Capn_Ascii> Wes forks over the papers. Stan begins reading through them. "Ah, yes, I see. I believe we can work something out, yes." He begins marking off items on both his own list and yours. "So, you're planning to head back out to sea, are you? Can't say I envy you, what with that lunatic on the loose."
<Marilyn> "Lunatic?" Marilyn asks coyly, batting her eyelashes. "Go on."
<Capn_Ascii> Stan shrugs. "Let me guess - your ship is damaged because some weirdo riding on a kraken showed up and attacked you."
<Marilyn> "...maaaaaaaaaaaybe sounds about right," Marilyn replies, giving Stan a wink.
<Capn_Ascii> Stan nods. "It's been the same thing for months. He's driving off all the tourists who used to come to the islands - our tourism industry has gone down the toilet. Nobody knows who he is, or what he wants, only that he attacks any ship that comes near the islands. They either sink, or get stuck here."
<Capn_Ascii> He finishes marking off some items on your sheet, and hands it back to Wes. "There, I think that's a fair trade. Though you might want to negotiate for more food stores for your stay. You'll probably be here a while."
Marilyn thinks for a second, then nods. "More food can't hurt. It's a long way to Trinsic. Go ahead and negotiate for a bit."
<Capn_Ascii> Stan shrugs, takes back the list, and starts marking off more items. "Trinsic? Nice place I hear, if a bit pigeon-infested. But, yeah, seriously. Don't plan on leaving any time soon, unless you've got one of those fancy new teleporting ships or something. You're stuck here just like the rest of them."
<Marilyn> "Unless we, you know, actually that out that kraken controller. Any ideas?"
<Vathgani> "Find the kraken, and hit it really hard."
<Marilyn> "Vathgani!" Marilyn scolds. "We are not going to try to take out a kraken. I highly suspect simply eliminating its controller humanoid will be sufficient."
<Vathgani> "Kraken might still be confused and angry if it was under mind control. Might need to take it out for our own safety."
<Capn_Ascii> Stan grins. "M'lady, we've been *trying* to take him out for months. But we have no idea where he's hiding out between attacks, and the moment we send ships out into the waters he shows up ready to tear them apart. The wind problem doesn't help, of course."
<Marilyn> "Do you have a chart of locations of attacks? And please describe this 'wind problem'."
<Capn_Ascii> "Ah, yes. Well, you see, the wind around the islands has been acting very odd ever since the kraken and its rider showed up. Normally the winds blow more or less continuously to the east, but now they blow inward - towards the center of the island chain, from *all* directions."
Marilyn nods slowly, contemplating. "So the causes would likely be linked... and someone is intending to trap ships at the center."
<Capn_Ascii> "Normally, this wouldn't be a problem - nothing an experienced helmsman couldn't handle." Wes looks rather sheepish at this remark. "...but it makes it impossible to out-manuver the kraken. If we take our boats out, it shows up in front of us, and the winds blowing against us make it impossible to slip around the beast. We're forced to retreat back to the islands."
<Marilyn> "It sounds to me like we should head into the center, determine the agressive force, and eliminate it."
<Capn_Ascii> "And somehow, the rider *always* knows where ships are. Not a boat goes out past the outer reefs that he doesn't harass - ours and the outsiders. We have no idea how he knows..."
<Capn_Ascii> "We've tried that, but there's nothing there but the Island of Meneacingly Foreboding Geography. It's abandoned; we've searched almost the whole thing, but found no sign of anyone."
<Marilyn> "Presumably a way to scry the archipelago... or sensors at the reefs... wouldn't be difficult, and not a hugely relevant issue... for the good of all seafaring Kevlans, we must deal with this threat, not run away from it!" Marilyn begins speaking softly, but raises her voice as she continues.
<Marilyn> "Well, if there's nothing in the middle... how many islands are in this archipelago? And is there anyone of similar status or power to Myself around... this could be a simple plan to keep an individual trapped here... or an artifact for that matter... any other outsider ships that might have something?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Hmm. Here, this should answer your questions."
<Capn_Ascii> He hands you a weathered-looking parchment - it looks like a map.
Marilyn carefully examines it.
<Capn_Ascii> He explains as you look at it. "There are five islands in the chain. This is Deathspire Island, to the southwest, so named because of the beautiful central mountain." He points at the spire.
<Capn_Ascii> "To the northeast is the Island of Excruciatingly Painful Death, known for its verdant grasslands and friendly wildlife."
<Capn_Ascii> "To the northwest is Mt. Endless Raging Hellfire, a dormant volcano whose lush plains are infused with volcanic ash that nutrifies the soil. We grow most of our foodstuffs there."
<Capn_Ascii> "And to the southeast is Severe Disfiguring Frostbite Island, a large area of interconnected crags with a pleasant year-round temperature of 68-degrees."
<Capn_Ascii> "Also..." He points to a spot between the northern two islands. "There's a reef here that's been known to wreck ships that sail into it unawares. We maintain a lighthouse there to prevent any more accidents, but the reefs are already clogged with the wreckage of older ships from before our time. I'd be careful there if I were you."
<Marilyn> "So why all the, ah... unappealing names, compared to the reality? Or are you just lying about what happens there?"
<Capn_Ascii> He shrugs. "It's our cultural heritage. Our first chieftan was terribly paranoid."
<Capn_Ascii> He points to Severe Disfiguring Frostbite Island. "There's a group of outsiders here. Since they can't leave at the moment, they elected to stay and form their own village until the situation changes."
<Marilyn> "Hmmm... that might be worth a trip. Anyone else?"
<Capn_Ascii> "They seem harmless enough, but then again, we mostly leave them alone. No telling how they might react to you if you come to them."
<Marilyn> "I suppose I should ask if you know their nation of origin... May want to avoid them if they're a hostile to Belcadar."
<Capn_Ascii> "No, that's about the size of it. There are small outposts of our tribe on the other islands, and if you need supplies, you're always welcome back here. You can even come inside the village if you like, but as the doorman said, I'm afraid you can't carry your weapons within the village limits for security reasons."
<Capn_Ascii> "Beyond that, all we ask is that you stay well clear of the ruins." He points to all four of the outer islands. "We have sacred ancestral sites on most of the islands where our ancestors built temples for...well, we're not sure, exactly. But they seem important. We have our archeologists excavating them, so *please*, do not enter them - you risk destroying important anthropological artifacts."
<Capn_Ascii> "Oh, and one last thing - *please* do not taunt the wildlife."
<Capn_Ascii> He hands you the map. "You can keep this. Rather handy, and it's also waterproof."
Marilyn nods. "Alright, so I'll ask the question directly: Do you have any idea as to what could possibly be a motivation for this trapping activity, and..." Marilyn drops her voice very carefully and dangerously, "...could it be caused by someone from your own people? And, could something you have recently dug up be part of the problem?"
<Capn_Ascii> Stan snorts. "Don't be silly. We tribals are like one big, happy family. Why would one of us want to hurt the tourism trade? It's all we've got here. Well, that, and our tradesman's crafting. Our primary exports are overpriced bat guano ashtrays, improvised cannons constructed from bamboo, and waterproof maps made from 100% authentic chimpanzee skin.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: As far as you know, everything he's been saying is true. As far as you know.
Marilyn gives Stan a sad smile. "Well this is a problem. Short of attacking the kraken directly... if that village doesn't know anything, and you're right in that the island in the middle has nothing... there's only one possible answer, ultimately, isn't there? Thank you for your input," Marilyn bows. "We shall return to our ship and begin to make repairs. I presume you will send a team along with our materials, and to pick up what we're giving you in return?"
<Capn_Ascii> Stan nods. "Yes, I shall send a team of workers with the materials right away."
Marilyn smiles once more at Stan, then does an about-face. "Let's move out. Same formation as before," Marilyn commands, pulling out her blades.
Vathgani leads the way back towards the ship, still ready to draw his guisarme
Marilyn follows in formation behind Ashling and ahead of Wes
<Capn_Ascii> Wes follows. Oddly, even when he's not saying anything, he still comes across as whiney.
<Capn_Ascii> *march, march, march, etc.*
<Capn_Ascii> You return to the fork in the path, and from there, head back towards the beach.
<Capn_Ascii> As you emerge from the jungle and return to the beach, you see the boat where you left it. You do not, however, see Ensign Ricky.
Marilyn grits her teeth. "ENSIGN, REPORT! IMMEDIATELY!" she yells out to the beach.
<Capn_Ascii> No response.
<Capn_Ascii> ...a terrible, ear-splitting *shriek* from the direction of the banana tree you saw earlier.
Marilyn runs over to the banana tree, examining the scene.
<Capn_Ascii> As you approach the tree, you notice two things. First, the body of Ensign Ricky - lying face-up at the base of the tree. He's obviously been killed - stabbed through the forehead, with a...
<Capn_Ascii> ...banana? The offending fruit is protruding from his forehead, which has been partially caved in from where his attacker stabbed him with it with enough force to crack his skull.
<Capn_Ascii> The second thing you notice is the large, angry-looking monkey hanging in the tree above. It glares at you.
<Marilyn> "Um... let's back away, nice and slowly."
Marilyn carefully backs up, hoping not to get attacked.
<Capn_Ascii> The monkey continues to eye you, as if *daring* you to try something.
Marilyn looks at Ricky's hand carefully, spotting something shiny in it.
Marilyn looks to see where her backup is.
Vathgani stands next to Marilyn and stares at the monkey.
<Capn_Ascii> The monkey stares back at Vathgani.
<Marilyn> "Attempt to retrieve that object in Ricky's hand. Fight if you have to," Marilyn orders while pulling out her blades, realizing she has support now.
Marilyn gets another idea, and puts away her blades in exchange for... a 10-foot pole!
<Marilyn> She pokes at the object with the pole.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: You whip out your long pole and start poking (a feeling wholly unfamiliar to you). By lying on your stomach and being veeeery careful, you're able to catch the object on the end of your pole - a hoop, attached to a large metal key.
<Capn_Ascii> The monkey figits in in agitated matter as you pull back your prize, but seems just short of actually attacking you. It's probably a good idea to back away now, though...
<Marilyn> "Fascinating..." Marilyn backs away quickly, pole with key in hand.
<Capn_Ascii> The monkey gives you an angry look, as if to say "Yeah, that's right. You'd *better* back off."
Marilyn keeps backing away
Vathgani joins in the backing away
Ashling was already away. Yup. The whole time.
<Capn_Ascii> You return to the boat - plus one key, and minus one ensign. Oh, well, you have reserves.
Marilyn examines the key closely
Marilyn also puts the pole away
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: It's...a key. A rather old one, from the looks of it. It looks as if it's made of an unusual, dark red metal, with blackish rust stains across it.
Marilyn checks for any signs of writing.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: Hmm. There *is* something written on the key shaft, but it's in a language you've never seen before. You have no idea what it says.
Marilyn shrugs for now, and returns to the boat, waiting for the others to file in.
Vathgani tags along
<Marilyn> "Hmmm... looks like that could be writing... but not any script I recognize... which means that it might be one of the three I never bothered to waste my time with, or something completely unique... Either of you able to read this?"
<Ashling> "Probably. Let me see."
Marilyn hands the key to Ashling. "And while we're at it, cast off, return to ship."
Ashling tries to read and follow.
<Capn_Ascii> Wes grabs the oars and starts rowing the boat back to the bigger boat.
<Capn_Ascii> Ash: The rust on the key obscures some of the important characters at first, but with a bit of scraping and some clever analysis, you figure out what it says:
<Capn_Ascii> SPIRE TEMPLE - INNER VAULT
Ashling relays what it says.
<Marilyn> "Huh. Fascinating. Might be worth checking out later," Marilyn comments, retrieving the key and putting it in the haversack.
<Capn_Ascii> The longboat pulls up alongside the ship; the crew lowers the winches and begin raising it back up out of the water. Soon, you're all back aboard the vessel.
<Capn_Ascii> Mr. Tristan approaches Marilyn the moment she's aboard. "Ma'am, we had a group of natives show up in a boat while you were negotiating with that overly-hirsute tree-climbing native on the beach. They had the supplies we needed, and took the items you specified in trade."
<Capn_Ascii> "We've already begun repairs. With any luck, we'll be finished by morning."
<Marilyn> "Thank you for your efficiency," Marilyn comments, looking around to see what time it is.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: You look at your wristwatch. It's about...skin-thirty.
<Capn_Ascii> (Har, har.)
<Capn_Ascii> You look at the sun, which is low in the west. Late afternoon.
<Marilyn> "Alright, let's pack it in for the day. We set sail for the SDFI when we're ready to go. We have a village to talk to."
<Marilyn> "Find these two appropriate... sleeping locations. Also prepare a new helmsman. Just in case."
<Capn_Ascii> Wes sighs.
<Capn_Ascii> [END SESSION]