13th Voyage

28 - The Corsair's Third Wife

The tale of the Crocodile Jewel begins.

When she arrives in Hamaji, Wind-of-Embers excuses herself from her new companions. She travels to Tovok’s Post, the agreed-upon meeting place for her talon. She finds two of her comrades there: Breskhancha Hammer-of-the-Wall, and Tikhalcha Net-Cutter. The two warmly greet her, and exchange tales of their quests for the jewels; Breskh and Tikha had successfully gained an audience with the Enlightened Caliph’s vizier in Saramanda, and spoken with the sage Rabeyah the Quill. From the former, they learned that the Chariot Jewel was still in the Caliph’s possession; from the latter, they increased their knowledge of the empyreal gems as a whole.

The other two — Kaistron and Zilyazha Clouded-Heaven — left a note. They returned from their inquiries in Izir, City of Flame, before Breskh and Tikha did, and left almost immediately. The two have begun searching for the Crocodile jewel among the corsairs.

Breskh and Tikha listen with great interest to Wind-of-Embers’ tale. Breskh seems satisfied that that the Behemoth and Dolphin jewels have found trustworthy bearers, and notes that they should meet Wind-of-Embers’ new companions. The Hakasarrean priest offers to make introductions. Breskh says she intends to travel next to the tower of the Prophetess to see what she might tell them. She recommends that if Wind-of-Embers is still willing to split up to continue the search, her partnership with the Khavayish venturers seems to be a promising one.

That evening, Aya wanders Hamaji to look for Prince Taskasha. Unfortunately, she has no more luck than her familiar did. She meets with no Serpent Emirs at all, though she does have an interesting conversation with Zezin the Viper, a snake-tattooed warrior of some repute in the Hamaji arenas. He mentions that Taskasha is a friend of his own patron, and asks if the affair is vital. When Aya tells him that it is not an urgent matter, he says “Then I’m not going to drop everything to contact my patron, and we should spend some time drinking.” Aya accepts.

The following day, the venturers stake out a table under an awning by the harbor to await the Twist of Fate. Wind-of-Embers, Breskh, and Tikha find them there. Wind-of-Embers makes introductions, and the two drakha express their thanks for looking after their talon-mate and securing the jewels. The two groups exchange their information on the Zodiac Jewels, and are still conversing when the Twist of Fate makes harbor.

The ship unloads its passengers, a pair of jewel merchants, still talking about the excitement of a closely averted corsair attack, before the Righteous Wheel say their farewells and the venturers make their way back on. The crew greets them with enthusiasm. “We were so slow and clumsy without you, Aya,” says one sailor. “The corsairs actually got within bowshot range!”

“Well, Notch needs something to do.”

Abd, who has been silent for most of the day, moves into a small cabin for some privacy. Aya makes her way up the rigging to feel more of the sea wind. Kismet greets Captain Tairasha and asks him to speak privately. The two adjourn to his cabin, where she awkwardly explains their journey among the Kholos-Sahar. As her tale draws to a climax, she brings out the jann’s tear. She pauses, realizes she has no idea how to use it, and quickly excuses herself.

After a short and somewhat obscure conversation with Aya, Kismet returns. She takes the crystalline tear and hurls it at Tairasha’s stone foot, shattering it. The captain stares at his foot in some confusion before he cries out and drops to one knee. He clutches his cursed shin, grimacing… and the stone begins to shift. In less than a minute, Captain Tairasha is entirely flesh again.

The captain stammers a few incomplete words, then embraces Kismet. He holds her close for a moment before putting his hands on her shoulders and pushing back, clearly aware of the less than professional action. She responds by taking his face in her hands, drawing him in, and kissing him. Tairasha tenses for a moment, then leans in and returns the kiss.

Kismet leaves the cabin a few minutes later, a swagger in her step.

That afternoon, the venturers meet with Tairasha. The conversation moves to Barbafir Bloodmouth, a corsair of gruesome repute who has tenuous ties with the Free Brethren. Tairasha tells them that Barbafir is a hard one to trace, but he does have three wives who might know more. The closest and youngest lives at Plum Wine Isle, an island in the Necklace not too far from Hamaji. Aya and Kismet agree that it seems prudent to visit her and see if she might be able to help them.

The group spends the rest of the day preparing for the trip. They purchase an attractive book with numerous illustrations as a present for Barbafir’s youngest wife, assuming that even if she’s illiterate she might enjoy the pictures. They then seek out Lightning Zan to settle on the next move for the Fire-Eater and its crew.

They find Zan participating in the festival arena-fighting. The genasi swordsman is making a fine showing for himself, and afterwards even has a few admirers. Aya and Kismet talk to him about. After a short discussion, he grudgingly agrees to sail for Uur Iblim in search of the Maiden Jewel. Kismet adds some encouragement; “Honestly, I’d like to meet an ogre princess myself.”

Zan cocks an eyebrow. “It’s been two hundred years. Her beauty might have faded by now.”

The next day sees the Twist of Fate departing before sunrise, fully stocked. Wind-of-Embers joins the venturers for the jaunt. The ship reaches the Necklace by sundown. There’s still color in the western reaches of sky and sea as they reach Plum Wine Isle. The island is mostly hidden in the deepening dark as they sail around the coast. As they near the village cove, they see orange light on the water — the village is ablaze!

As they draw nearer, they see a ship is at anchor in the harbor — a sturdy and swift vessel, flying no flags to indicate its allegiance. Aya and Wind-of-Embers note a longboat still on the beach, and that the ship has oddly knotted rigging much like that of the Twist of Fate. The ship fills its sails and begins to sail away. Tairasha shouts “Pursue or go ashore?” The venturers quickly agree to let the ship go and go ashore to aid the village.

Kismet calls on the Dolphin Jewel as the landing boat carries her, Aya, and Wind-of-Embers to the shore. Half a dozen reavers of the other ship’s landing party, swords drawn, wade into the surf to meet them. The sailors quickly discover they have heavily underestimated their opponents. One dies to frost, four more are blasted by fire and cut apart by Kismet’s blades, and the lone survivor drops with one of Notch’s arrows through his neck before he can withdraw.

The women move into the town. The largest building, the winery, is one of the buildings on fire, with a group of halflings attempting to fight the flames. A badly wounded youth stands before a young woman, trying to hold off one of the invading corsairs — a corsair who very quickly dies as the venturers turn their attention to him. Kismet sends the Dolphin Jewel’s summoned water elemental off with the vague instruction to douse fires; the elemental responds enthusiastically to the command.

As the women make their way farther into the town, they meet the rest of the landing party. A scarred marine leads a pair of tattooed, frenzied raiders wielding great two-handed scimitars, with a few more sailors backing them up. The assailants meet the venturers with great ferocity, and a gruesome melee erupts. Aya, Kismet, and Wind-of-Embers all find themselves fighting for their lives — though they are still very well-equipped for the task.

During the battle, Wind-of-Embers takes a massive strike from one of the great scimitars, wounding her to the bone. As she reels back, a strange metallic voice whispers “No. Not like this.” Suddenly a cloud of dark smoke explodes into the eyes of her attacker. As he reels back, a blast of Aya’s thunder sends him to the ground.

Wind-of-Embers calls on the Curved Flame’s power to bind her wound, and sends a blast of fire completely through the torso of the other great scimitar-wielding warrior. Kismet’s blades do their work, and quickly the last attackers lie dead on the ground. The three survey the village, see no more attackers, and then begin looking for the home of Barbafir Bloodmouth’s wife.

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