The Boom-Top Apes look at each other in slight confusion as the group stands atop the Longboat in silence. The younger one makes a series of questioning hands motions, pointing at the Wild Bunch and then his own mouth. The older Ape thinks for a moment, before *shrugging* his massive, scarred shoulders. The white-shocked Ape opens his mouth widely, pantomiming a fanged creature *ripping* his tongue out. The old ape then shows his young companion his wrists pressed together, fingers locked and the palms facing outwards. The younger Ape looks down at Jack and Oak with newfound concern, making sad, sympathetic grunting noises…
The pair of Apes *grunt* at each other in a barely contained delight as the smaller of the two Shifters speaks up. The Young Ape seems to point in an accusatory manner towards White-Shock, who shrugs the little primate’s barbs off nonchalantly, scratching scars along his belly and *PLOPPING* back to sit, bored, along the wooden planks.
At Jack’s mention of the eye-blindness, the two creatures begin to chatter aggressively between each other. The Older Ape peels his eyelids down, exposing the red flesh beneath them, attempting to warn off his companion. The Young Ape bats an angry, dismissive hand at the older primate. Grabbing his spear and quickly pulling on a brilliant, tiger-striped loincloth, the little Ape grabs the side of the palm tree, and *LEAPS DOWN* into the ocean, barely even grabbing the side of the massive palm as he falls into the waters below…
…absolutely *SOAKING* the members of the Wild Bunch, and nearly threatening to tip over their Longboat! The young ape (smaller than his companion at 13 feet tall, but still twice as big as anyone here) wades over towards Jack, the water only coming up to his lower abdominal area. Using the hand carrying his spear to steady himself in the water, Tiny Kong trudges up to the side of the watercraft. Much like one might examine a litter of puppies, the Young Ape leans over the boat (his weight shifting the angle of the craft below you by about 45 degrees), and sniffs at Oak and Jack (leaving Urixes a respectful distance). The “little” primate finally leans in too-close on young Jack: he examines his eyes first, carefully seeking out signs of the Eye-Rot. The Ape sniffs, sniffs, and *SNEEZES*, attempting to cover his nose with his arm at the last minute (but not quickly enough to keep from covering Young Jack in a bucket’s worth of gorilla-snot). Wiping his face along his arm, the Young Ape then *DIGS* his spear into the sands of the water below him, takes both of his thumbs, and moves in with his hands slowly, looking to pull Jack’s mouth open…
Tiny-Kong’s thumbs press inside Jack’s mouth with a loud, painful *POP*. The lips part *uncomfortably* (almost impossibly) wide on either side of the young Shifter’s face, as the young ape peers keenly at his teeth…gums…uvula (gently for him, were you to believe it). Eventually, excruciatingly, Tiny-Kong withdraws his thumbs, and Jack’s face *SNAPS* back into place. The young Jack rubs his poor, chafed checks and mouth with both hands, checking to make sure everything is still in place…
Satisfied at Jack’s apparent good health, Tiny-Kong moves down the line to check on Oak…when overhead, White-Shock ooks out a warning, and (after a few more moments, where the elder Ape loudly works to put his clothes back on) the older primate slides downs the length of the palm tree, to join you all (with less splash this time) in the water.
“CAREFUL,” The Big Ape warns. “*THAT* ONE DOESN’T SEEM AS TAME AS THE LITTLE GUY. HE MIGHT BITE. *THEN* WE’D HAVE TO PUT THE POOR FELLA DOWN, AND WOULDN’T WANT TO HAVE TO DO *THAT* NOW, WOULD WE LITTLE-BEAR?” The (larger than twenty feet tall, and battle-hardened) primate forces out a loud belly-laugh. He is clearly trying to joke with/ also warn Oak to be on his best behavior (more the latter than the former, really). “BESIDES,” White-Shock goes on, scratching lazily at the back of his neck, “..IF THE RUNT IS CLEAN, THE OTHERS WOULD BE TOO. THE EYE-ROT SPREADS LIKE *WILDFIRE* BETWEEN HUMANOIDS OUT IN THIS CLIMATE, ESPECIALLY SHARING SOME...*DINKY* LITTLE BATH TOY TO ROW AROUND IN. NO OFFENSE.”
“NOW, ’EYE-ROTS” A PRETTY GOOD STORY, THERE…YOU MUST KNOW WE BOOMERS ARE IMMUNE FROM THE NASTY STUFF, AND ITS NOT LIKE WE COULD GO PICK YOU A BUNCH OF EYEBRIGHT WITHOUT TEARING UP HALF THE SWAMP BESIDES. OR, WE TURN YOU ALL AWAY, AND LOOK LIKES A BUNCH OF ASSHOLES. SOUNDS TO *ME* LIKE A GOOD EXCUSE TO GO GET THE LAY OF THE LAND, SO SOMEONE CAN COME BACK LATER AND CATCH US WITH OUR CLOTHS DOWN.” White-Shock looks around at the three of you suspiciously, crossing his giant arms, daring you to prove his suspicions wrong.
The Great Ape soon produces items of like great bits of metal and a log from one of his many pouches. The hackles of the Wild Bunch get immediately riled up…until the group realizes it isn’t weapons that the Mighty Kong holds. He sparks the tree-sized cigar with the huge flint, and slowly *PUFFS* the thing to life. Great clouds of thick, black, choking smoke fill the area. White-Shock (very aware of the secondhand smoke he is producing) stares off the coastline towards where the Whispered Curse sits. “SO, YOU GUYS ARE TOURISTS, HUH? WHOSE FLAG YOU NOT-FLYING OUT THERE? WILD-KIND VERMIN? SUN PRINCE BOYS? MAYBE YOU’RE A PACK OF SECRET CORPSE EATERS, AND *THAT’S* HOW YOU GOT THE EYE-ROT?” The Great Ape only addresses Urixes, viewing Jack and Oak as little more than pets/pests along for the ride. He suddenly seems to realize something, and glares at Urixes with newfound wariness. “WAIT, WERE YOU…*SELLING* THESE GUYS? BECAUSE WE DON’T GO IN FOR ANY OF THAT ILLEGAL SHIT. DEFINTELY NOT AFTER *LAST* TIME…”
“I DUNNO,” says White-Shock, shaking his head in a kind of mixed-pity. He passes the giant, smoking cigar to the eager Young Ape, and pulls his spear back up out of the water. Sighing in consternation, the Mighty Kong turns back with purpose to the Tiefling. “I GUESS I COULD BRING GUYS YOU TO THE FLOWER. BUT, THIS, YOUR WHOLE THING IS WEIRD, RIGHT? I MEAN, YOU ALWAYS LET YOUR PETS SPEAK FOR YOU, PREACHY?” The Great Ape frowns once more over at Jack and Oak. “YOU GONNA PUT THEM ON *LEASHES* OR SOMETHING, IF I LET YOU GO IN? OR IS THIS JUST YOUR EXCUSE TO GET IN THE DOOR AND START TALKING TO US ABOUT YOUR “ONE GOD”, OR WHATEVER...”
”ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, I GET IT,” White-Shock says, trying to casually dismiss any offense he may have caused. “ONE OF THOSE “MY PETS ARE MY CHILDREN” PEOPLE, HUH? THAT’S FAIR…LONELY IS LONELY, ESPECIALLY OUT HERE, HUH? WELL, GLAD YOU’RE NOT HERE TO *CONVERT US*, IN ANY CASE. ABOUT TIRED OF *THOSE* GUYS SHOWING UP. NAW, HOLD THAT,” White-Shock says as the Young Ape attempts to pass the giant cigar back to him. Moving towards the trees, the mighty Kong grunts as he shifts the massive palm out of the way, creating an entrance just big enough for him to climb through. “I’M HEADED IN WITH THE…STRANGERS. NO SMOKING OR FIRE INSIDE HERE, GOT IT?” the Ape warns the Wild Bunch. “EVERYTIME WE THINK WE’VE GOT THE VENTS FULLY CAPPED, WITHIN THREE DAYS ANOTHER HOLE GETS *BLOWN* OUT OF THE ISLAND SOMEWHERE…”
The group enters a pristine, beautifully tended swamp, with large, freshly-cut planks stretching from one hump of dryland to another. All along the wild areas in here are tastefully woven rope fences, carefully hung signposts, and huge, glass covered gas lanterns. The smell of sulfur is faint, but lingering. However, it is almost completely overtaken by the lush and verdant aroma of tended greenery in nearly every direction. The place is like a gigantic greenhouse, with too-large azaleas and hyacinths growing in carefully maintained groves. “SO, WELCOME!” says White-Shock, taking in the look on the group’s face with smug satisfaction. “WELL, NO ONE I’VE EVER MET WANTED TO GO VISIT A PLACE CALLED “STINK-PIT”. GOOD DETERRENT. SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? COSMO OUR GARDERNER IS REAL INTO “BONSAI ART”. SAYS ITS A GOOD WAY TO KILL TIME OUT HERE IN BETWEEN BOOZE SHIPMENTS…”
He lets you all take in the manicured gardens for a while. Besides the lush outcroppings of expertly cared for foliage, there are nearly a dozen different copper boilers at points around the island, usually tucked around the flower groves, and planted tightly into the soil. The strange, barrel shaped machines are each about the size of your Longboat, and have nozzles and curious apparatus sticking out from a spout near the bottom. You saw “similar” technology in the Grey Maw with the Gears and Pump Rooms; all the different clockwork mechanisms used to move the water locks. But where the Grey Maw’s technology had clearly come from a lost and bygone era, these copper boilers look like they were built fresh yesterday…
“LISTEN,” the mighty Kong says to Urixes, coughing in an awkward fashion. “YOU DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH YOUR…FRIENDS THERE. *I’M* NOT ONE TO JUDGE. BUT YOU’VE CLEARLY NEVER BEEN TO THE EXPANSE BEFORE, SO I’M GONNA GIVE YOU A FEW TIPS FOR FREE. CAUSE’ IF PEOPLE CATCH YOU TRAVELLING WITH SHIFTERS, THEY’RE GONNA ASSUME ONE OF THREE THINGS...”
White-Shock walks through the garden as he expounds to Urixes, daintily smelling a giant flower overhead. “HEY…YOU! YEAH, THE LITTLE GUY!” The Great Ape yells over at Jack, nodding his head towards the Southernmost Grove. “THOSE FRILLY FLOWERS THERE, WITH THE THREE FRONDS AND THE YELLOW SUNBURST PATTERN? *THAT* WOULD BE THE EYEBRIGHT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR!”
“RIGHT, SO,” White-Shock says, turning back to the Tiefling. “NUMBER ONE: THEY’D THINK YOU’RE WORKING WITH THE PRINCE’S DOGS. YOU SEE, THE PRINCE, HE STEALS WERETOUCHED CHILDREN FROMS VILLAGES AND ISLANDS AROUND THE EXPANSE: RAISES EM UP TO BE HIS ENFORCERS, BREEDS EM’, TEACHES THEM TO LIVE FOR “THE GOOD OF THE FAMILY”. THEN, HE SENDS EM’ BACK OUT INTO THE WILD. SOMETIMES TO JUST SIT AND WATCH THINGS…SOMETIMES TO DO DIRTY WORK. NEVER FOR ANYTHING *GOOD*, MIND YOU…”
“NUMBER TWO: THEY’D THINK YOU TRUCK IN WILD-KIND. THE *FIRST* BREED OF SHIFTERS…THE ONES HERE *LONG* BEFORE ANYONE SHOVED A GOLD MASK ON THEIR FACE AND DECIDED *THEY* WERE IN CHARGE. THEIR DEAL…WELL, ALRIGHT…YOU SEE HOW ME AND MY BRETHERN, WE’RE TRYING TO DO BETTER FOR OURSELVES?” The Great Ape makes a sweeping gesture at the island and architecture around you. “TRYING TO EXPAND THE LIMITS OF OUR KNOWLEDG AND CULTURE? WELL, *WILD-KIND* ARE THE OPPOSITE OF THAT. MORE OF A “LET’S GO BACK TO PICKING FLEAS AND NITS OFF EACH OTHER WHILE WE FREEZE AND STARVE IN DAMP CAVES” SORT OF MENTALITY. HAD A FEW RUN-INS WITH THOSE LOT MYSELF, CLEARING OUT THIS ISLAND…” White-Shock looks down bitterly at the tusk and bite scars along his arms. He flexs his fist with a remembered anger. The mighty Kong looks up almost unconsciously at Oak, then forces himself to look away again.
“THEN THERE’S THE THIRD KIND, ALTHOUGH THEY USUALLY START AS ONE OF THE OTHER TWO: YOUR SLAVE-SET. SHIFTER’LL EITHER GET LOST OF CAPTURED OR KIDNAPPED, FIND THEMSELVES TAGGED AND COLLARED BY SLAVERS, SENT OFF TO HELL’S GATE TO BE SOLD. FAIR NUMBER OF EM’ MAKE IT BACK INTO CIRCULATION HERE IN THE EXPANSE. NONE OF EM ARE EVER “RIGHT” AGAIN, THOUGH. I KNOW CAUSE WE EVEN…*HRRM”,” The great ape looks away from Urixes, clearly some conflicted feelings of shame around his actions. “..WE ACTUALLY BOUGHT A FEW EARLY, TRY TO DO SOME WORK AROUND HERE. I FELT SORT OF BAD ABOUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED WITH THE PREVIOUS BATCH, AND THOUGHT….*ANYWAY*, THOSE LITTLE *BASTARDS* COULDN’T BE TRUSTED EITHER! DISSAPEARED ONE NIGHT, ALONG WITH A *BARGE* FULL OF GOLD, AND HALF A MONTH’S WORTH OF FUEL CANNISTERS.” White-Shock shakes his head in sad disbelief. “*STILL* DON’T KNOW HOW THEY GOT THEIR COLLARS OFF…”
“IN ANY CASE…I’VE DONE YOU A HANDFUL OF FAVORS NOW, RIGHT GUY? SO LISTEN, I’M GONNA NEED YOU, AND YOUR…FRIENDS…TO DO A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR ME. SELENE….SELENE!” The Great Ape *BELLOWS*, looking around for an unseen party. “SELENE’S AROUND, SOMEWHERE…SHE’S OUR “ORC OF GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT”“. White-Shock looks pointedly at Urixes. “HONESTLY, GOTTA THANK YOU FOR THIS…BROKE UP THE TEDIUM OF THE DAY, CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH THAT MEANS! US BOOMERS ARE USUALLY SO CUT OFF FROM THE GREATER ECOSYSTEM OUT THERE…INFORMATION, NEWS, GOSSIP…ITS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD! BESIDES,” says the Great Ape, smiling a bit cloyingly. “NOW I GET TO SHARE THE STRANGE STORY OF THE SILENT SAINT AND HIS LOYAL, STEADFAST COMPANIONS!”
A half-orc, clad in leather and metal and carrying pipes for the copper boilers, emerges from behind one of the flower groves. The woman looks annoyed at being disturbed from her work.
“More visitors, Marley?” the woman (who must be Selene) says ruefully. “Can’t be letting every Tom-Dick-and-Harry in here. If word ever gets back..”
“IT WON’T!” booms Marley cheerfully. “THAT’S WHY YOU’VE GOT YOUR LITTLE BOOK THERE! *THAT’S* THE LITTLE THING YOU’RE GONNA NEED TO DO FOR ME...” the Great Ape leads gently to the group. “…SEE, THIS ISLAND IS TOP SECRET. LIKE, “*TOP*TOP” SECRET. MY OWN *BOSS* DOESN”T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS PLACE *REALLY* IS. AND, *THAT’S* THE WAY WE’RE GONNA KEEP IT!”
“SO WHAT YOU NEED YOU TO DO IS, WRITE YOUR NAME…THE NAME OF YOUR SHIP…AND THE NAME OF YOUR CAPTAIN…IN THIS LITTLE BOOK RIGHT HERE. TAKE THE EYEBRIGHT FLOWER…MUCH AS YOU NEED!...AND GO SAFELY ON YOUR WAY. BRING IT BACK, HEAL YOUR SICK CREW. I’VE ENJOYED THIS DIVERSION, WITH YOU AND YOUR…FELLAS! BUT UNFORTUNATELY, YOUR TIME ON “STINK-PIT” HAS COME TO AN END!”
Arno finally gets a solitary moment as they step out of the Clinic. The night settles in and the infected have let sleep slowly take them. The distant Longboat sits empty, moored on the nearby jungle island (the rest of the Bunch must be seeking the flower still). An occasional *CRACKLE* of lightning can still be seen off in the distance, but that awful heat is finally starting to abate, as thick, heavy gray clouds start to roll in on all sides.
Arno fills a strange thrill creep up the back of their neck there is a sense of something in those clouds…what is it? Mystery? Adventure? Foreboding?...
A voice speaks to Arno from somewhere Beyond the Pale:There is danger there amongst the clouds…but, there is *GREAT* potential as well. A torrential funnel of rain…an impossible gathering of storm clouds...and a bright, blessed light at the end of that long, winding tunnel. You could ride that Thunder, through the Storm…become blessed by the Expanse! But it would be no easy task. You would have to take this Ship and its Crew to the very limits, push the Curse and the Wild Bunch to the very brink…
The Half-Orc smiles, sweetly but pityingly at Jack (this one, it seems, doesn’t treat Shifters as lessers). “Well, luv, if yer asking, my advice would be…there’s only one seat in the house at the Sport o’ Kings that don’t cheat; the Copper Camel uses the same vessels for their “artisanal waters” that they do for their wastes; and Arlen Garrety might be the single most quietly evil-fook-ing-man in the *WHOLE* the Expanse!...*BUT*, unfortunately to you en’ me both, this info don’t help much now,” says Selene sadly. “Cause I’m afraid you’re barely gonna remember any of it!…”
“YUP, *THAT* FIGURES….” Marley is taking note of Jack’s signature in the book. The Old Ape is nearly, theatrically bowled over when Oak finally speaks up. “WOAH-HO-HO! LITTLE BEAR CAN *SPEAK!...WELL, SORRY I WASN’T CLEAR, SMALL CUB!…” Marley is aiming for maximum condescension, trying to demean as personally as possible (Oak, you can’t help but notice that more than half the scars along his chest resemble bear claws/bites): “WELL, TO EXPLAIN SIMPLE ENOUGH SO YOU’LL UNDERSTAND IT…YOU ARE SIGNING AN AGREEMENT TO “FORGET” ALL THIS. BY THE TIME YOU ROW BACK TO YOUR SHIP, THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE WILL SEEM LIKE A BAD DREAM. YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SAY FOR SURE WHO WE WERE…WHERE “THIS” ISLAND…IT’LL JUST BE A BLANK SPOT IN YOUR MINDS WHERE A COUPLE HOURS USED TO LIVE…”
Marley leans forward, observes both signatures...and frowns. "YOUR PETS DON'T KNOW HOW TO FULLY-FOLLOW DIRECTIONS," the Great Ape informs Urixes. "NEED THE NAME OF YOUR SHIP EN' CAPTAIN, TOO. FEEL LIKE I, *MRRM*....SAID THAT, ALREADY. YOU UNDERSTAND....ITS NOTHING PERSONAL... BUT, ANYONE SAILING IN OR OUT OF "OUR" SEAS, *WE* NEED A RECORD...!" Marley the Mighty Long folds his arms across his chest, annoyed
The Great Ape bristles openly. The hairs on the back of Marley’s neck stand-up, as the bigoted creature is fully confronted by the proud and defiant Urixes. “…YOUR BOAT IS *WEIRD*,” The Great Ape says finally, openly sulking, cheeks turning red in barely-contained frustration beneath his fur. “…GLAD *YOUR* HORNS ARE MADE OF SALT LICK, BUT *I* NEVER GOT NOTHING BUT *BIT* BY WILD-KIND…OR LITTLE NIBBLING LIZARDS…OR BULB-EYED LITTLE FISHIES. LOOK, I *DID* MY GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY…YOU ALL CAN SEE *YOURSELVES* OUT.” Marley departs the group quickly, and gropes his way back to the tops of the trees overhead. Despite his loud, huffing absence, the Boomer continues to view the Wild Bunch as they gather together and prepare to leave, his large form watching and puffing smoke from the shadows, complaining under his breath about “ungrateful demons” and “mouthy-out of place -Wild-Kind”…
The group rows back, away from the island, back towards the Curse. A sudden, dreamlike haze falls over the Wild Bunch…like waking from a deep sleep, and suddenly finding yourself back in reality…
OOC: That save triggers whenever we decide to remember something right?
The following morning, the Ship catches a steady, full tailwind, and sprints eastwards, making up for lost time. Heavy rainclouds lazily chase your Ship throughout the early hours, slowly but surely catching up to the Curse…
The lingering heat is brushed away by the overcast skies, to be replaced with a humid, cool mist. The clouds close in overhead. Rains begin to fall, which starts as simple drops; quickly progresses to a pounding storm; and soon, has monsoon waters threatening to wash people overboard.
Arno works harder than they’ve ever worked at the Wheel, the waves and water fighting them for each inch of progress! Refi (lucky to have her eyes about her today) does her level best to guide you all through the storm, while Derbin at many points has to assist Arno in holding the madly spinning wheel, pinning it with his body to keep the Ship from spinning off wild…
“Hold it steady just *a bit* longer!” Refi shouts over the deluge. “If we keep slowly tacking starboard, we should be able to pull ourselves out from the heart of the storm in another few miles!”
“Iffen we all last that long!” Derbin shouts back, panting under the force of the Wheel.
On the Decks below and in the Nests above, sailors (such as Oak and Jack) loosely wraps ropes around arms and legs, bracing themselves against the worst of the storm. Urixes and Sorcerer Aaron spend much of their day vanishing waters from the Decks, keeping the Crew from drowning in the constant, unnatural flood.LATER THAT AFTERNOON
“…fer the best, I think, that we went round that one rather than through it,” says a badly soaked and very tired Refi. “I sensed something out there with the clouds…presences summoning the storm.”
“Yeah? And what were they using it for…to season us?” Derbin runs a hand along the railing. When he presents the underside of his fingers to Refi and Arno, they see a spiky, crystalline residue. Derbin gives it a lick, and nods. “Salt.”
“A salt blizzard,” Refi nods glumly. “Very much for the best we went around, I think…if it had gotten much heavier, I fear we may have been shredded. The Ship could take it, but the Crew,” Refi sighs, exhausted from all of this. “…I’m glad, we took the extra time. But Chaff cannot come soon enough…”
The Crew is almost uniformly grumpy the next day, despite the clear skies and the sun glowing down on the glistening sandbars which dot your travel. People grumble at each other as they go about their jobs, eyes downcast, everyone feeling the stress from the near-constant crises which have occurred…
Early evening, and Oak sends out the call for a Ship sighted; off the Port Bow. The Shifter takes in the Boat and its inhabitants as the craft drifts slowly closer:
Oak, the Ship you see is fancy to the point of being garish. The inhabitants appear to all be either Elves or Drow, carousing along the Decks of the Ship while engaged in song and story. Some of the elves play instruments, or perform lazy feats of magic while reclining on longue chairs. All are dressed in equally loud fashion to match the Ship. You see no weapons, or even guards, that seem to be present on board the craft.
The Elven Boat continues to draw ever closer, and it becomes apparent the two of you are on the same path. Maybe this group is headed to Chaff as well?
A delighted holler comes from the Deck of the other Ship as they finally come to notice the Curse. Some raise a glass, some wave excitedly. One in particular has climbed onto the railing, and seems to be hailing you.
"Hello!"; "Welcome!"; "Ohhh, a Changeling, how marvellous!"; "Are those real pirates? Wow!"
It's a Party Boat! For Elf/Drow parties! WOOOO, PARTY!
It’s strange for these two groups to be keeping Ship together. In most cases you’ve heard of, Drows and Elves don’t exactly care for each other. But the ones you see before you seem to be warmly engaged; feel safe and happy in each other’s presence. They give off the impression, of wealthy, spoiled vacationers
All the people aboard the Ship have the look of Wizards and Sorcerers, but of the “casual” variety. This group probably wouldn’t be completely defenseless in a nautical battle, but the thought of them defending themselves from any of sorts of Giant Sea Creatures the Curse has run into is laughable. They’re soft, unscarred, indolent. Not seafarers or daring adventurers, to be sure.
Even among the pilots and those running the rigging, all the people you see are in beautiful, exotic robes; bright layers of shimmering fabrics; revealing outfits of satin…very revealing outfits. And as you notice the velvet-lined railings, see the name of the Ship carved into the side (“THE LOVE REVOLUTION” in Elvish, Urixes) your suspicions are confirmed.
It’s a Pleasure Craft. The open-invite party and freely shared good vibes (though completely foolish for their part) are legitimate. The Elves and Drow aren’t hiding anything, they’re simply utterly naïve to the nature of the Twilight Expanse; they have no idea how much danger they’re in right now. (Your “peace and love” type of hippie-commune) You remember how you have heard of doors and rifts throughout this place…remember the strange, alien Far Realm glimpsed for a moment from inside the Dead Whale Ship. Off-worlders, from “somewhere else” then. Sailing naked in the breeze, in more ways than one. Are they suicidal? Or simply unknowing?
One of the Elves, a wiry fellow with brilliant amber eyes and pure white hair, leans over the railing, floating the delicate glass sifter slowly over towards the Changeling’s outstretched hand. The drink smells *delicious*…when Arno tastes it, they think of coconut, and molasses, and pomegranate…
“We haven’t met any pirates yet, so they’re all pretty excited…we’ve just arrived, you see! My name, is Orrian Morpeiros.” the White Haired Elf loftily says. “Sailing now towards a house called “The Sea of Sighs” in Chaff. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Perhaps, we are going in the same direction?” The elf waves at the Ship behind him, replete with beautiful people and diversions galore. “Maybe you would you like to partake in our festivities? We have been engaged in a three day celebration, to celebrate Silvanus delivering us safely to this realm!”
The Crew is thrilled at the Wild Bunch’s decision. This is exactly the sort of distraction they’ve been looking for! The men and women of the Curse are relieved they can finally take a load off tonight, and not have to wait another whole day before taking a real breath after the rough voyage so far.
“Alright,” says Captain Ari, half a smirk on her face as she checks in with Oak. “If you say they’re harmless, then I guess go nuts. But don’t let them do anything foolish! And make sure not to have *too* good of a time; we still have last minute prep to complete in the morning before we make Port. And Mr. Oak? I’m gonna need to see you in particular before you all head off for the week. Got some things I’m gonna want you to handle for me while in town…”
“I’ll watch over the Ship this evening with Hex, Cap’n,” Killian the Striker says, coming over to assure the group. “Calthus sounded like he’ll stay with me as well. Elves, Light or Dark, ain’t his, errrgm, “type”, exactly.”
“And yourself, Mr. Grant?” Captain Arabella asks.
“No ma’am!” The Striker says with a wooden-toothy grin. “Jennie-Mae was the only lass for this old sea dog! Just wouldn’t be right, ya know?”
“I believe I do, Mr. Grant. I believe I do.” The Captain’s eyes seem to shimmer for a moment, but it might have just been imagination. She makes back up to her Office, to finish off last minute landing preparations, only a bottle to keep her company
Zephyr eagerly joins Arno at the party. The Genasi is enchanted by the smells and sounds of the Elves, quickly making friends and falling into the spirit of things. He insists on feeling the fabrics of their strange garments, much to the amusement of a pair drow lounging nearby. The elf and drow group quickly turns the table on the Wizard, plying him with drinks while asking him twenty questions about his eyes; his origins; his decision to join the Ship.
“Simply wanted to see sights…maybe make a great…great discovery, before. Ahhh, I was simple, small-thinking *hic!*. But the Expanse, the Expanse changed me…opened my inner eye!” The Genasi expounds, as the heavy liquor quickly takes his senses. He waves the glass over towards Arno, spilling a bit as he does so. “And it’s only further opened, the farther we sail into this place and the more we’ve embraced its wildness! The things I’ve seen…the things I continue to see, even now!...”
“That’s fascinating,” says a female Drow, listening enraptured as she goes to fill Zephyr’s drink again. “And your sight was lost when you were given a glimpse of the Gods?”
“Well, *uurrp*, oh dear, excuse me of that…sort of. You’re half right. What happened was, there was a night on our Ship much like tonight…”
Jack eats with a group of Drows and Elves,helping himself to strangely spiced and battered fishes, delicious seed cakes, sweet berry wines. This is just his sort of dinner companions, too: the Elves are all shoveling down fistfuls of the feast, each trying to outdo the next. Jack keeps up with the gluttonous group, but sooner than he expects, his pants become uncomfortable, and the buttons on his shirt stretch out several inches further than they had. As Jack lays back to become more comfortable, Fusspot jumps down to the leftovers on the table, making a snack of a fish cutlet.
One of the drow Women, the one sitting at the head of the table, looks over at Jack’s appetite in quiet appreciation. The woman has five plates and several bottles in front of herself, each more comically overflowing than the last. As the woman lazily watches Jack eat, she pulls a some sort of wing from a roasted bird, taking a singular bite which cleans the meat from the bone, and then rinses it down with half a pewter goblet of mead. After a deep breath and a contented sigh, the Drow lets out a loud belch, which physically shakes the table and plates before her. The woman then smiles at Jack.
“Well met! Your unfettered consumption does Silvanus proud! My name is Ilmin Dach, and I can see you are a fellow Gourmand! It is a large part of why I joined this expedition myself,” the woman says, looking lustily at the plates before her. “To sample all the many rare, and exotic delicacies of the Expanse!” She leans over seductively towards Jack, and whispers into his ear, “…they say there’s a travelling restaurant called “The Floating Table” sailing the Twilight. Apparently, their Head Chef, Wilbur, can whip you up any meal in the realms…a plate to sate any appetite!” Ilmin sits back in her chair, putting a discrete finger to her lips and looking around to make sure the others are preoccupied. "Though, I hear that he only chooses to cook for the great and powerful…or the famous…and he’s very secretive about it! I’m hoping I can slowly make my name as a world-class Gourmand in Chaff…then one day, I might be able to get him to cook me that *magnifique’* predatory-floral fungus stew I had once when I was but a child! The flavor was… amazing, indescribable! But, you have to get the thing down your throat before it tries to climb up your nose and eat your brain.” Ilmin sighs sadly, munching a corner off a full wheel of cheese. “It’s a damn shame the fungus went extinct where I’m from…”
Oak joins the circle of smoking elves and drow, who eagerly press the pipe into his hands as he approaches. The group is impressed as the Shifter takes a long drag into his lungs. “Ahhh! The stories were right about the sturdiness of your pirates!” a Drow gentlemen with a strange cheetah-patterned robe exclaims. “It’s part of what excited us so to come out here! Our existence has been rather…sheltered.”
“Yes, until very recently!” A handsome blond elf nearby interjects. “There has been nothing but one adventure after another, since we came here through the hidden entrance in the Faewild, isn’t that right Caltel?”
The Drow, Caltel, takes a long drag from the pipe, expelling as he answers. Oak’s head begins to spin a bit…maybe buzz. For a second, he finds himself lost in distracting thoughts, but with a hard shake, the Shifter manages to brush off the heady effects of the pipe. As he tries to focus on the conversation, he makes out several interesting bits of information:
- The Drow and Elves have, somehow, been on these waters only three days.
- On their first day, they emerged from what they describe as a friendly funnel cloud, which is somehow also their God Silvanus, and the Gate that deposited them in this place. These “Storms” are apparently a constant presence on the Expanse. (Oak, the storm Arno guided you just barely past yesterday might’ve even been the edge of “The Storms”)
- On their second day, they were greeted upon the waters by an eccentric old man, whose “Ship” was a sealed copper barrel which somehow rode underwater. The old man (who referred to himself at “The Professor”) boarded and participated in the celebration of plenty (and apparently celebrated *pretty hard*). During his time on the Love Revolution, The Old Man (through copious consumption) shared that he was on his way to Chaff but running late. The man was to give a demonstration on the capabilities of the diving watercraft he rode in; along with one other, which already awaited him at Chaff, in secret and under guard at Shipping Warehouse C. The Professor then spent some time engaging services aboard Ship, before leaving that night to “make up time” getting towards Chaff
- Yesterday, they stumbled upon a group of Doppelgangers, headed North. The Doppelgangers were wrapped in the guise of a stereotypical group of pirates much like yourselves, and seemed to be on the run from something. There were only four of them, along a Sloop which was far too big for such a small group. They had no interest in engaging with the Elves, and in fact, did their level best to hide and ignore the group as they sailed by. Most curious for the very open and outwardly comfortable elves and drow was the fact that, despite the heat, all the doppelgangers continued wearing their full-garb, and didn’t simply head belowdeck to escape the heat, or ditch their clothing for nothing at all
- The Love Revolution has been eagerly expecting a letter back from their soon-to-be proprietor; a man they refer to as Mr. Pryce. Apparently, he is a man they “spoke” to before even coming out here, who is eagerly expecting to welcome them to the House of Sighs. The letter was meant to arrive by something called “The Harrier Express”, which if Oak understands it right is an Aaracokra Flight Service which sends official correspondence safely and quickly across the Expanse. Mr. Pryce not responding in a timely and proper fashion is apparently fairly concerning for this group
As Urixes stands aside, taking in the festivities, he makes the eye of a beautiful, red haired elven women, who gives him a slight, secret smile. Moving lithely between the celebrating crowd, the young looking elf makes her way over to the railing to join the Tiefling, offering him a thin-stemmed glass of wine.
“You look lost,” the elven woman says softly. “Oh, I don’t mean on this Ship…it looks to me, sir, as if you carry that look everywhere you go!”
“Forgive me if I am being too forward. I am Keya Herfina.” the red-haired lady says, reaching out a dainty hand to shake. She follows with a small smatter of well-intentioned laughter. “Of course you understand, my real talents are that of an Empath. I can sense someone’s moods...their intentions…their longings. Plus,” she says, taking a small sip of the wine glass. “…my betrothed, bless his memory, always had that very same look upon his own face…”
“So, quiet one….why do I feel like, out of everyone at this party, you’re the only one that knows exactly what ‘s really out there…and yet, you’re also the only one who doesn’t seem to know where he wants to go?”
Keya puts out a slight hand to rest on Urixes shoulder. She smiles up at the Tiefling, gently. “Care to share your burdens with me, and I will share mine with you? I have read of this place before, you know…I know the Magics which roam here may offer great danger, but I have heard stories where they offer great healing as well. Healing for the soul. Escape.” She looks at Urixes, seeing a familiar glint of something in his eyes. “Redemption.”