, the strange retainer of King Itztecolotl of Cactitzatziliztli, recruits our heroes to participate in a grand games to be held in honor of the marriage of Princess Ihhuicac. The heroes take passage aboard the Jenivere
, heading toward the Isle of Opposition, from whence they are to journey through a portal to the Valley of Bone.
Disaster! The heroes wake up stranded on the notorious island of Smuggler's Shiv, unable to remember what happened, and immediately have to fight off some giant hungry lobster-things. With them are Aerys, Gelik, Ishirou, and Sasha, as well as a dwarf prisoner named Jade, who is accused of stealing from King Itztecolotl, but who claims to be innocent. After examining the other shipwreck survivors, Jade suspects that everyone was poisoned.
Noticing the wreck of the Jenivere
nearby, some of the adventurers climb across the rock face to explore it. They find the bodies of everyone else who was on board, except for Captain Kovack and the scholar Ieana. The crew seem not to have even attempted to escape the ship, and Noriaki notices that the first mate has a deep stab wound in his abdomen--further evidence of poisoning and betrayal. Castile recovers the captain's logbook from his cabin, but it is too blurred to be easily read.
Meanwhile, the Dartmoor Irregulars observe the flight patterns of the local birds and conclude that there may be fresh water to the southeast. The group sets off in that direction and is attacked by some spiders. Upon defeating them, they find another shipwreck survivor
wrapped up in their webs.
By the time that they have found the stream they were searching for, it has started to rain, and is getting late in the day. They decide to set up camp. During the evening’s discussion, Gelik mentions a ship called the Nightvoice
that was lost in the waters around Smuggler’s Shiv decades ago. Jade speculates on the possibility that a man who could prove his innocence
might have been shipwrecked on the island as well. Noriaki devotes his time to perusing the logbook
, which reveals that Captain Kovack has no gift for poetry at all. More importantly, it reveals that he was so obsessed with the woman Ieana that he neglected his duties and even contemplated killing his own crewmen, should any of them desire her as well. It also hints that Ieana’s true form is different from the appearance she presented. The night is otherwise uneventful save that the Irregulars notice some large creature flying overhead, and Noriaki has a disturbing dream
In the morning, Ishirou gives Kane an interesting map
(further detail here
) and Aerys asks Hú Lí to help her kick her drinking habit
. The group decides to travel along the east coast to look for the distinctive rocks shown on Ishirou's map. Before they have gotten very far, they come across a sheltered beach, where they find the remains of a campfire and some discarded clothing--and overcoat and a scarf--that belonged to Kovack and Ieana. This pair's trail is very faint--the rains of the previous afternoon have all but obliterated it--but the adventurers follow them south, eventually coming to a river, where they notice viper nettles growing on the other side and cross over to gather berries. While searching for more they bump into some very aggressive plants and have to fight for their lives, but they do find a large viper nettle patch.
After gathering berries and having some lunch, the adventurers continue south past the river, following Ieana and Kovack. Later in the afternoon, they find signs that their quarry re-entered the jungle, but they realize they will have to head back to camp if they want to spend the night in relative comfort. Kane marks a tree with his sword to make it easier for them to pick up the trail again.
Back in camp, they give the viper nettle berries to Aerys, who resolves to stop drinking immediately. They also learn that Sasha has been exploring the north-eastern coast and now has a notion to capture a baby pterosaur
and train it.
The night is uneventful, save for another sighting of the mysterious flying creature, and the disturbing dreams
of Castile and Noriaki.
The party is determined to track Ieana and Kovack down at last. Taking Gelik with them, they retrace their steps to the place where their quarry entered the jungle. Once through the forest, they come across an actual trail--and a trap laid on that trail.
Unable to tell which direction their quarry took, the group follows the trail northwest. They find more traps along the way, as well as an abandoned campsite whose inhabitants appear to have been murdered--all but one, who exchanged that fate
for one possibly worse: she has been transformed into a mindless a plant-creature like those fought on the previous day. Kane decides to kill her out of mercy, and has a vision
of the last moments of her life. Continuing to follow the trail, the adventurers find another campsite, whose inhabitants also seem to have met a grisly end. From there they spot some movement in the distance and set off after it. They soon come across a truly immense crab, which at first appears threatening but proves to be only a dead shell that has been rigged up as a giant puppet by Pezock, a mechanically-inclined kenku, who also uses the crab as his house.
Pezock tells the woeful tale
of how his friends were murdered by a tribe of cannibals on the island. Dartmoor asks a bird to take a warning message back to the party's camp, and the adventurers decide that the cannibals must die. That night, they ambush a cannibal war party using a combination of a clever ruse
and extreme violence. After this very long day, they rest in Pezock's crab, disturbed only by some unsettling dreams
The next day, the group heads back to camp, persuading Pezock to come along
. On the way, they pass close to the hill depicted in Ishirou’s map (Pezock having revealed that he is familiar with the location) and are unable to resist the lure of treasure hunting. Pezock leads them to another abandoned camp (where they discover some signs of sinister magic
) and on to the bare-topped hill. The Irregulars head back to camp, knowing that Dartmoor will be able to send an animal messenger to the top of the hill should anything untoward occur, and Pezock points out some shipwrecks
visible from the hilltop. The group decides to spend the night on the hill, in order to see the sunrise as depicted on the map.
The sun rises, proving the picture to be amazingly accurate: the adventurers soon locate a spot offering exactly the view depicted and, after spending most of the day digging, uncover a stone shaft. They are immediately attacked by ghouls
, but defeat them. Kane is undeterred by the vile-smelling, murky water in the shaft and swims through to recover a box of treasure
that includes a beautiful gold Magari calendar disk.
On the way back to camp, the party comes across the wreck of the Brine Demon
and retrieves from it a coffer containing Kinkarian's ledgers, as well as an odd little figurine that turns out to be a magical prison holding a trapped fey beast
, which Kane frees. The trip back is otherwise uneventful and the night passes peacefully, apart from a strange dream
With Sasha along, the group heads out to try to capture a small bird-reptile. On the way, they discover the corpse of an adult that appears to have fallen out of the sky. When they reach the nest, they find it under attack by other bird-reptiles, seeking to devour the undefended young. They beat them off, managing to save two of the chicks, one of which takes a shine to Noriaki and suffers an abrupt growth spurt
as a result of one of the Irregulars’ odd concoctions.
Leaving Sasha back at the camp, the adventurers decide to explore one of the wrecks, but find it occupied by a hostile presence
that they decide is best left undisturbed.
Continuing to explore the island, they follow the stream south from the nettle patch until they reach the top of the ridge. Climbing down again, they cross the valley and climb another ridge, finding there a winding stream that leads to a waterfall. Traveling upstream, they eventually discover a sinister hut with human bones piled around. As the rain is starting, they venture inside. Nobody seems to live here at the moment, but they find an old journal
that seems to have been written by someone on an Allarian-sponsored expedition to establish an outpost on the island. Sadly, the journal is mostly illegible, and after the rain passes, the adventurers return to their companions. With some light left in the day, they move their campsite south, to the ridge overlooking the path.