BACK ON THE SHIP
Dayne gasped as the water poured over his naked body. No blood, he thought, as he watched the water flow out the scuppers and over the side of the ship. That's a good sign. It was good to be out of the chain-mail and to take a bath. Dayne poured another bucket of water over his head.
They had been very fortunate in their encounter with the lizardmen on the island. We only took a few scratches, and the lizardmen were dead. Well, not dead. That wasn't a term you could apply to a creature that could regenerate. They had cut off their heads, pounded the heads to gruel, and the gruel still slithered back to the body to re-form as the head. They were, at least, powerless now. A petrify spell, and then buried in solid stone. Who would have thought they were once men? That was a good thought by Kareen that they were humans cursed somehow. Dayne glanced at the former lizardmen tied to the mast. Kareen had reversed the curse, and now the human was no longer a lizardman. However, Dayne was still concerned that some influence of the prisoner's former state might still be active. Dayne had ordered the Captain to secure the prisoner until they were sure he was harmless. They would question the former lizardmen later to see if they determine the source of the curse. Determining if he was harmless would be more difficult. And now we'll have to unbury the lizardmen on the island, and bring them back to the ship. The curse could not be reversed on the island. Was that a clue to the curse, Dayne though.
Dayne shook himself to remove the water, and looked back to the island. They were anchored a league to the west of the smaller islands that circled the main island. The lizardmen were nocturnal as evidenced by the attack at night on the main island. But could they swim to the ship? Best to discuss an enhanced watch overnight with the Captain. And protections spell as well. Dayne wondered about Jesse who had disappeared during that night attack. Was he alive? Why had he disappeared?
Hans was talking to the First Mate Gobo. Gobo wore only a loincloth revealing his hard grey skin. Gobo was the result of the mating of a rock elemental & a gnome. That is one of the strangest things I have ever seen, thought Dayne. I wonder which was the father and which the mother. Perhaps Dayne would ask him at
Another sign of a good ship played behind Hans & Gobo. A trio of treefoxes scampered about. Treefoxes were independent creatures about the size, shape, and general features of a common cat but with a spherical head, large tufted pointed ears, and a bright orange-brown coat. They were appreciated for their superior vermin catching skills. But they could not be owned. They would join a ship for their own unknown reasons, and depart for the same. However, a ship with treefoxes had very little vermin. They seemed very strong for their size. One charged the other, and his partner jumped head high in the air to avoid the charge. His partner ran underneath, and past. That seemed a very high jump for their size, mused Dayne. Did they have magical attributes? Perhaps an aura spell to determine if they had magical characteristics ...
Dayne jerked as the treefoxes froze in unison, and stared at him. Dayne took a step backwards, and reached for his staff. Dayne fumbled the grab, and glanced to the staff to find it. Dayne looked back to the treefoxes, and the treefoxes were gone. Dayne looked around over the deck of the ship to find the treefoxes, and to see if any of the crew had noticed his start. No sign of the treefoxes. And the crew seemed not to have noticed Dayne's behavior. That was very strange, he thought. Definitely some sort of magical traits. And that must be what Olo means when he says he feels 'icey'. Their stare had chilled his blood. Must have been the unexpectedness of their behavior that had unnerved him.
Dayne resumed dressing. He donned a shirt & vest in preparation for the Captain's dinner. A red sash was tied around his waist, and his silver elven dagger tucked inside the sash. Dayne wore no shoes. Like some other sailors, Dayne preferred to feel the deck to get better footing. Dayne tied his shoulder length hair into a horsetail with a short length of red cloth.
He picked up the staff, and tucked it under his arm in a position Hans had taught him. Very few could recognize the staff as a wizard staff. The staff was shoulder length, thin, solid, and a purple so dark it was black. There were no carvings on the staff. The staff was a flanged metal rod with fibrous flexible wood-like river vine inserted between the flanges. Then it was wrapped with a thin cord, and a layer of linen paper placed over the cord. Coats of lacquer were then applied to give the staff its purple color. The staff was stronger than it appeared, and could break a sword with the proper strike. And the metal content was useful for lightning spells.
Walking down the stairs to the main deck stopping to talk to the crew, Dayne used the time to gauge the crew's mood. He answered their questions about the island to calm them; made sure they stayed alert for any unexpected foray by the lizardmen, and keep a weather eye on the prisoner. The crews was alert and prepared for the lizardmen, but were not fearful of the possibility. Dayne spoke to the First Mate Gobo to confirm an enhanced watch for any lizardmen has been established, and to watch for a possible return to the ship by Jesse. Dayne asked Hans to sleep on deck tonight to be able to respond quicker to any lizardman attack than if Hans slept below deck. Gobo did not commit to accompanying the party to island when the idea was presented.
Dayne went below decks for the Captain's dinner. Captain Fordham, all the party members, Gobo, and the ship's priest Puilsag were present. It was a tight fit. The party gave a more detailed telling of the adventures on the island. Dayne wished he had thought to warn the party about mentioning the obelisk. That is a valuable piece of information. The presence of such a large high-mana zone was valuable. Asking for silence probably would not have worked anyways. Word of the obelisk would have leaked out anyways. Dayne discussed the trade in the area with Captain Fordham. Captain Fordham did not sail this area much, and was unaware of the trade situation. Dayne wondered if the island had reduced trade to the eastern parts of Asselin. And who claimed ownership of the island? The island with the high mana zone was in strategic position to influence & control trade around the southern end of Asselin if the curse could be removed.
Olo's cooking was the usual superb effort. The hobbit certainly had a knack for cooking. Dayne liked the poached fish with cream sauce. And the pastry dessert was delicious.
After dinner, Dayne walked the ship with the Captain, First Mate, and Ship's Priest. As Dayne smoked his pipe, he surreptitiously checked for the treefoxes and discussed preparing the ship for the night. An earlier weather prediction spell indicated no storms for the next few days. Just the chance of some light rain. The watch for the night, and prisoner were discussed. Dayne notified them that he would be casting a protection spell over the ship later in the evening. The crew would be warned of the slight shimmering to expect, and how any one approaching the ship would see a fog bank. Anyone on the ship would be able to see out fine. The procedure of notifying all the ship's crew of the protection spell was discussed. And Jesse's possible return was discussed.
Later that evening, Dayne prepared his hammock on deck. In preparation for the protection spell, he had the dwarf Grimgar use his superior night vision to confirm there were no lizardmen lurking in the water near the ship. Anyone or anything with in the area of effect when the spell was cast would not be subject to its effects. Dayne then cast the protection spell that would conceal the ship in the magical fog bank. Dayne staggered into his hammock, drained close to unconsciousness by the exertion of the protection spell, and wrapped himself in his cloak.
Thoughts & questions buzzed through his head as he drifted off. Could the obelisk cure the curse? Was there a landing point closer to the obelisk? Was Jesse alive? Who claimed the island? Could Dayne convince the Asselin Queen to give him claim to the island? What about the island fortress? What caused the curse? What was the 'ring of great potential'? Would the lizardmen attack the ship?
Dayne finally fell asleep and dreamed of being chased by treefoxes.