Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago

Part I - Shipwreck!

The Story Begins

The merchant vessel Antonia, carrying a cargo of silks, sugar, and jade from Khitai and her escort, the Imperial Navy ship Infigo get caught in an unnatural storm. On the decks, the undine bard, Niara, notices strange currents of magic in the clouds above. The storm is too fierce for even the veteran sailors to steer their ships, and many are tossed overboard by the waves. Niara attempts to save some of those who have fallen overboard, diving in to help them. From the water, she notices that the ships are travelling much too quickly to be powered by wind alone. Fortunatley, her elemental affinity to water makes her a powerful swimmer, and she is able to catch up to the boats and gets back onboard.
The storm worsens, and the crews are tossed around by towering waves, losing sight of the other ship. The last thing they remember is a terrible shuddering and the sound of a thunderous crack.
They awaken on the beach, slowly, and take stock. The only survivors of the Antonia are Rothlek, a sailor with a suspicious past and an arcane gift, Jack Johns, a swaggering mercenary with a keen blade and an expert eye for marksmanship with his pistol, Bingo Taverncrasher, a ostentatious halfling with a flair for dramatics and a strong arm for his mace, Niara, the undine bard, whose songs can make the waters themselves dance, Milah, the young catfolk soulknife, who ran away from home to go on adventures, and Ignatious Pyromancer, an aspiring mage from khitai.
They quickly realize they are not alone on the beach, as giant crabs that had been feasting on the drowned sailors quickly set upon them, hoping for fresher meat. The party is able to slay their attackers, who provide them with breakfast. Roast crab-meat!
They decide to head along the beach, to scout the island, and come across a marine from the Infigo, who leads them to the camp of survivors from that ship. They are met by Captain Otto Von Margensburg, a man with a kind but boisterous personality and a gigantic mustache. He tells them that he has a number of marines and sailors, and plenty of food, but his charts and navigation tools are still on the ship.
Niara and Rothlek, both who have the ability to breathe underwater, volunteer to salvage from the imperial ship, managing to acquire the chest of supplies as well as a stock of healing potions. They return the chest, but Niara holds on to the potions, trying not to make the captain suspicious.
The group continues on the circuit of the island, aided by a trio of marines. Along the beach, they notice beyond the overgrown treeline a small hut. Attempting to reach is by hacking through the growth is slow, so Rothlek transforms himself into a shark-hybrid and tries to gnaw his way through the vines, while Milah leaps into the trees and just climbs above the tangle. She inspects the hut from the outside as Jack and Rothlek hack and gnaw their way through. Before they reach the hut, the shark-man begins feeling nauseous and passes out, poisoned by consuming so much of the plant.
Carrying an unconscious Rothlek, they inspect the house, finding it to be of crude construction and greatly overgrown with the strange flowering vines. Milah notices that there is a fine dusting of yellow pollen over everything. Inside they find three skeletons, withered flesh still clinging to the bones. One slumps at a table, a heavy cutlass through his ribs pinning him there. The other two lay on cots along the wall, bright yellow flowery vines growing from inside their burst skulls. The walls of the hut are lined with bottles of rum in all shapes and sizes, and the players find what looks to be a ledger of sales on the table. They surmise that this was either the shipwrecked survivors of a crashed rum ship or a base for rum smugglers.
They leave the hut behind, carrying many bottles of rum each, and continue along the beach. As they go, the island slopes upward, until they are walking along the bottom of a cliff. As they round the corner, they see before them a bay, relatively untouched by the storm, and a ship! Milah cautiously climbs around the cliff face to get to the dock and peers around. She finds the strange yellow pollen coating everything, with footprints all around, heading to the island. She must have made some noise as she was inspecting the docks, because as she swam back, a figure appeared on the deck of the ship and called out, asking if anyone was there.
The party swims over to the boat, finding a Tengu, by the name of Wu Que. He tells them, after promises that the marines aren’t going to arrest him, that the island is the base for a group of rum-runners, as the players suspected, and that the rest of the crew disappeared a couple days ago. The ship is too damaged to sail right now, but the parts they need should be in the compound at the top of the cliff.
Milah climbs the cliff face with a rope and lets the other players climb up. As they climb, Niara suddenly recalls where she has heard a similar story. When she reaches the top of the cliff, she recalls to the others a story she heard about a monster called the Yellow Musk Creeper, a strange and horrible plant that can take over the minds of living things and turn them into zombie-like thralls to spread itself. They look at the overgrown compound with a sense of foreboding, and debate the best course of action. It is decided that they should try to burn the vines, but as the torch is lit, the whole plant begins to writhe ominously and the sounds of movement stir in the darkened compound.
They watch on horror as a once-human figure shambles out of the doorway, his flesh dessicated, his body covered in trailing vines, leading up to his head, which is split apart to reveal a brightly flowering vine.



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