Trinsic Tales:Ships Ahoy!/Chapter 18
Chapter Eighteen: The Pirates of Penance
<Capn_Ascii> As we join our heroes, we find them descending into the depths of...The Hidden Temple! There are plenty of legends about this place, most of them involving a giant talking stone head for some reason...
Marilyn carefully heads down the stairs, blades out, watching for traps.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: You don't see anything dangerous as you descend the circular stairwell. Indeed, these stairs actually look to be in surprisingly good condition - seemingly untouched by the ravages of time, unlike the other ruins you've seen. Beautiful native relief carvings decorate the walls.
<Capn_Ascii> You keep going, and soon find yourself in a rather odd little room. It's slightly smaller than the elevator shafts you were in earlier, except this one doesn't move - instead, there are three openings in the circular walls going in various directions. Each opening is only waist-high; you'd have to crawl through them.
Marilyn looks around for traps, mechanisms, or other points of interest in the room.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: You don't really see much here, although...hmm. Actually, now that you look closely, you think you can see one of the stone tiles that makes up the floor sticking up a bit more than the others.
Marilyn examines the floor tile
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: It's sticking up a bit more than the others. Wait, didn't I just say that?
Marilyn checks the tile for traps
<Capn_Ascii> Nope, no traps. Actually, it looks less like a pressure plate, and more like someone was trying to shove it back into place and couldn't make it fit quite right.
Marilyn gestures for everyone to get into a defensive position in case this does something it shouldn't, and steps on it
<Capn_Ascii> The plate doesn't move. It does rattle slightly, though.
Marilyn tries stepping on it with both feet.
Marilyn also gestures for Vathgani to join her on the plate.
Vathgani steps onto the plate with his considerable bulk
<Capn_Ascii> The plate groans...and then cracks in half!
<Capn_Ascii> The two chunks tilt against each other, stopped by something solid beneath them.
Marilyn looks down into the crack.
<Capn_Ascii> There's a metal grating on the other side. Looks like the tile was covering it.
Marilyn steps off the tile. "Here, let's try to pull this off," Marilyn comments, grabbing at her half-tile in an effort to shove it off the grating.
<Capn_Ascii> The tile moves easily enough. You and Vath shove the pieces out of the way.
Marilyn looks down at the grating
<Capn_Ascii> It looks grate.
<Capn_Ascii> (Bwahaha! Kidding, kidding. Couldn't resist.)
<Capn_Ascii> You look through the vent, and see...quite a sight! The room below you is huge, and full of at least two dozen robed cultists, milling about. Many of them are carrying clipboards, and the ones that aren't...hmm. They appear to be looking at strange, magical displays projected by a number of crystals on mounted stands around the room.
Marilyn instantly puts her finger to her lips and looks nervously down, trying to see detail
<Capn_Ascii> The 'screens' (for lack of a better word) are being projected by crystals...each one shows something different. Several of them are pictures of what looks like the ocean areas throughout the island chain, presumably used to monitor ship traffic. Others are full of lists of information, though you can't read any of them from this angle.
Marilyn tries to listen in to see if any juicy gossip is to be had.
Vathgani joins in on the listening
<Capn_Ascii> None of you can make out much of what's being said; there are too many people talking at once, all over the room. Marilyn is so frustrated by this that her ears decide to go on a brief strike, leaving her deaf for the next several seconds.
Marilyn stifles a sigh and gets up, looking around carefully at the three archways. She looks down each of them in turn, trying to see where they might go
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: THE THREE CRAWLSPACES ALL DISAPPEAR INTO RELATIVE DARKNESS AFTER A FEW FEET. IT'S HARD TO TELL WHERE THEY MIGHT GO; ALL YOU CAN SEE IS THAT ONE EACH RUNS OFF TO THE EAST, WEST, AND SOUTH.
Marilyn sighs, picks a tunnel at random, and starts crawling through it, gesturing for everyone to follow her.
<Capn_Ascii> THE THREE OF YOU--oh, wait, you can hear again. The three of you pile into the southern vent and begin crawling, Vath going last (and only just barely managing to cram his bulk into the narrow crawlspace). You begin crawling...and crawling...and crawling...
<Capn_Ascii> After what seems like minutes, but in reality is only slightly fewer minutes, you come across more grates, this time across the bottom of the crawlspace. You look down through them, and see an enormous underground ship dock! It's a massive cave, big enough to hold a half-dozen sailing ships - you know this, because that's exactly how many are down there, moored at several wooden docks, sails tied up.
<Vathgani> "Sneak down there now, maybe? Vathgani want more space."
Marilyn shakes her head. "Don't see a point. Let's keep going."
Marilyn continues on
<Capn_Ascii> You continue on.
<Capn_Ascii> You keep crawling through the cramped tunnels, heedless of the numerous brightly-colored ghosts on the prowl for you. Soon you find another vent in the floor, this one with a solid wall right after it.
<Capn_Ascii> Looking down, you can see that this one opens into what looks like a small office.
<Marilyn> "Alright, this looks like as good an infiltration spot as any," Marilyn looks for an easy way to open the vent without a bang.
<Capn_Ascii> Good news - the vents are conveniently hinged for just such a purpose! You're able to easily pull one up and open, big enough to slip through. Or in Vath's case, extrude through.
Marilyn does so and hops down.
Marilyn looks around alertly for any threats that need to be neutralized.
<Vathgani> "Perhaps sneak through giant's house next time, have room..."
<Capn_Ascii> Taking a quick look around, you see that the office is actually more like a control booth - there's a large glass window pane that looks out over the ship bay you saw minutes ago. Most of the rest of the room is full of desks, filing cabinets, and many, *many* piles of paperwork. There's also a single robed guy looking out through the window; his back is to you, and he doesn't seem to have noticed you yet.
Marilyn quickly pulls out her wand to make herself invisible.
Marilyn looks carefully around the desks to see if there's anything worth stealing, paperwork or itemwise.
<Capn_Ascii> There's far too much paperwork here to check *anything* at a glance. You'll need to dig through it at length if you hope to find anything.
Marilyn sighs and looks around through the window, to see if the robed entity's sudden disappearance would be missed, or if it's likely that a battle would be noticed.
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: The booth seems to be high above the docks below. Assuming you don't throw him out of the window or anything stupid like that, it's unlikely anyone will notice a commotion here. Muahaha.
Marilyn decides she has time to make one quality search before she has to commit to battle
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn: You dig through the nearest stack of papers, and find...well now, what's this? It's a shipping manifest - one for the SS Narwhal, a cargo ship. The name is familiar to you - you recall hearing about the ship disappearing months ago. Hmm...
Marilyn sighs and realizes that she needs time to do a full investigation. She sneaks up behind the one threat in the room... and strikes with her blades!
<Capn_Ascii> Marilyn whips her blades around in a frenzy, then turns around, stands up, and calmly re-sheaths them. As soon as she does, the goon falls apart into neat little wafer slices behind her.
<Vathgani> "Excessive. Vathgani approves."
<Marilyn> "I only fight one way, citizen, and it isn't 'fair'."
Marilyn cleans her blades on one of the desk legs absent-mindedly
Marilyn looks around to see what exits to the room other than the vent there are.
<Capn_Ascii> There are two doors. One opens into a nearby stairwell that seems to run back down to where the ships are; the other opens into what looks like a small employee breakroom. There are a couple of vending machines, a table to eat at, and a coffee machine and microwave.
Marilyn checks the breakroom for any enemies and/or exits.
<Capn_Ascii> Nope, nobody in here. No doors, either.
Marilyn nods. "Okay, Vathgani, Blue, cover the other door. Ashling and I will search the room for any useful information or items."
Marilyn engages in said detailed search.
Vathgani keeps an eye on the other door with one hand on his guisarme
Ashling searches as well
<Capn_Ascii> With Vath guarding the door, the rest of you begin to painstakingly pour through the stacks and stacks of paperwork. Cargo listings, ship manifests, crew information...it's all the same stuff, more or less. As you dig through it all a pattern begins to form - Marilyn recognizes many of the ships as those that have gone missing in recent months. These 'cultists' are pirates - they're using that giant kraken of theirs to drive ships into the island area to be captured.
<Capn_Ascii> These 'cultists' are pirates - they're using that giant kraken of theirs to drive ships into the island area to be captured.
<Capn_Ascii> According to the information, the cultists are in league with Bigbeard - the mayor of that quaint little castaway village. The cultists drive ships into the islands and keep them trapped there, and when they come to the shantytown to repair and resupply, the 'citizens' there capture them.
<Capn_Ascii> Bigbeard and his followers put on a friendly fascade to keep the crew off-guard until they can sneak aboard at night and take the ship. The pirates keep the cargo and treasure, and the cultists bring the ships here and imprison the crews elsewhere in the temple.
<Capn_Ascii> The natives are oblivious to the whole thing, it seems - they think the inhabitants of the shantytown *are* the shipwrecked crews.
<Capn_Ascii> The cultists themselves are from some far-off land, apparantly capturing the ships for some unknown, nefarious purpose. Exactly what that purpose *is* isn't listed here - presumably their leader is keeping a tight control over information flow.
<Marilyn> "Alright, it seems we have a jailbreak to arrange..." Marilyn looks around for some sort of map of the compound.
<Capn_Ascii> Ah, here's one - taped up behind an old Dilbert cartoon. Hee hee! That Alice, what a card!
Marilyn examines the map carefully, looking for where prisoners might be kept, where the leadership might be, and where they are right now, as well as anything else that catches Her eyes
<Capn_Ascii> It looks like there are three main wings branching off from the control center you saw earlier - the docks where the ships are stored (to the south), the prison area for keeping the crews (to the west), and the Kraken's pool (to the east). There's also references to an 'Inner Sanctum', but there's no obvious spot on the map it seems to be pointing to.
Marilyn checks for a direct path between the prison area and the docks
<Capn_Ascii> Yes, there are smaller corridors that lead between the three main areas of the base. You can avoid the control center if you're sneaky about it.
<Capn_Ascii> The passages away from the docks are down on the water level, though.
Marilyn looks back at the docks, trying to determine if there's anything preventing ships from leaving the docks and returning to the islands at large.
<Capn_Ascii> Hmm...you can't see from this angle. The docks are opposite the room you're in and facing your way, which makes you think the exit might be beneath you.
Marilyn sighs. "Okay, here are the options. We can either attempt to free the prisoners, or we can go straight for command. There's no point in freeing the prisoners unless we're sure they can actually leave, so we'll have to go down and look. I'm listening to ideas."
<Vathgani> "Freeing prisoners sound good."
<Marilyn> "It does, but is it worth the risk of detection by going down there?"
<Ashling> "Either plan sounds good."
<Vathgani> "Likely many distracted by Klonk. Detection not necessarily doom."
Marilyn glares at Ashling. "That's helpful advice," she mutters. She perks up at Vathgani's point. "Indeed, let's go down and look into freeing the prisoners. At least check the docks for viability."
Marilyn suddenly remembers to check the dead man's corpse for anything useful
<Capn_Ascii> Digging through the cultist's luncheon-meat-sliced remains, you come up with a large, iron key. I mean, a *really* large one - like, nearly a foot long. It's a miracle it didn't get carved into pieces by Marilyn's attack.
Marilyn hands the key to Vathgani. "Probably better in your hands."
Vathgani pockets the key. "Hands big enough to hold it, yes."
Marilyn starts heading down the path, with blades out, constantly checking for traps.
<Capn_Ascii> You descend the staircase, which does indeed lead down to the main part of the docks. The area is essentially one big underground cavern, most of which is full of water. The ships and docks are all on the north side, while small catwalks circle around both sides to meet at the southernmost point of the room, where you now stand beneath the monitoring booth.
<Capn_Ascii> A pair of doorways on the east and west sides of the cavern open off from the catwalks into corridors that lead off to the other areas of the complex.
Marilyn looks out at the water -- is there a reason a manned ship couldn't take off and out of here?
<Capn_Ascii> Looking to your right, you can see a massive pair of metal doors in the wall of the cavern right next to you. The catwalks in front of it are apparantly designed to work like drawbridges - a set of cables pulls them up and out of the way so the doors can open and ships can enter and leave.
Marilyn looks for the cable control
<Capn_Ascii> You don't see any controls for anything here. Presumably, someone over there at the dock area operates the doors remotely.
Marilyn walks around towards the north side
Marilyn walks around in a westerly direction, planning to end up near the docks on the north side.
Marilyn gestures for her party to follow
Vathgani tags along obediently
<Capn_Ascii> You go west, like so many gold rushers before you. As you approach, you can see the large dock platform stretching across the north end - the catwalk connects to it near a large stack of crates, perfect for hiding behind. Good thing too, as the docks themselves are crawling with cultists, who are moving, unboxing, and sorting through cargo.
<Capn_Ascii> As you get closer, you see a hallway leading to the north - presumably to the command center.
Marilyn looks on contemplating, realizing she's got plenty of options, but none of them great.
<Capn_Ascii> ---END SESSION---