The people of Farshore had fewer than sixty days to prepare for what Lefty, the sole survivor of the attack on Farshore, explained would be a “massive invasion force” sent by The Crimson Fleet. There was no time to lose, on that all could be in agreement, even the disparate camps lead by Lavinia and Manthalay.
It immediately became apparent, however, that the two leaders of Farshore had radically different ideas of how the problem should be handled: Manthalay, the militarist, counselled closing off Farshore’s borders, aggressively annexing the goods and services of the native populations, and shoring up Farshore’s military might as much as possible in the intervening time. Lavinia, the converse, believed it was time to reach out to the neighboring tribes for aid, to gather resources and focus on more innovative strategies. Neither wished to be sidelined by having to fight for their perspective, much less so at the cost of neither plan being fully realized as resources were diverted in two directions, and so, it was reluctantly decided that an election would be held in two weeks time to decide who would lead Farshore as its mayor and as general in the upcoming battle. While Manthalay set his nephew, Avner, to campaigning almost immediately, Lavinia met with her trusted protectors to strategize where they could do the most good in the shortest time, and how. With the help of Lefty, the other members of the Farshorite Council, Amella, and – surprisingly – Kaskus Kiel, of the Jade Ravens, a list was made. In summary:
- reach out to the Olman peoples for aid and support
- recover the Sea Wyvern and return her to Farshore to be repaired
- bolster Farshore’s defenses with the addition of watch towers, upgrading the infirmary, rebuilding the chapel, etc.
- recruit more able bodies for the combat itself, with fewer than half of Farshore’s small population fit for combat and only half of those currently willing to participate in the battle
- acquire material resources in the form of lumber, tar, stone, etc. to aid in facilitating trade and providing materials needed to upgrade the colony
With their goals before them, the only question that remained was in where to start. Lavinia suggested it might be a good idea to ask around town for any other ideas, especially to Jeran Emrikad, Farshore’s librarian, who fancied himself a bit of an expert on Olman history. Stopping at the hall of records, Jeran told the men that if they wanted to start with something small with a high reward, he had an idea for them: the island on which Farshore was located was called Temute, and many centuries past, he explained, there was at a time an Olman tribe called the Kawabusa who called it home. While they had fallen prey to predation and integration with other tribes, it was rumored that some of their wares could be found in the ruins of their temples in the form of their masterwork weaponry. This information he provided on the condition that they also see the foreman Dranys Sellis, whom he believed also had a task that could be accomplished without leaving the island.
Dranys, in fact, had told Jerad that the damage done to both the hall of records and the chapel could not be repaired without a good deal more timber, but that a tribe of troglodytes that lived on the island made an impossible with constant raids on the lumberjacks he sent into the jungle.
With a clear objective, the group made out into the island interior, returning late the following day with the discovered weapons of the Kawabusa tribe and the savage troglodytes on the isle thinned out enough that lumber could be safely harvested for some time to come.
As the group pondered their next move, it became impossible to keep their attention completely on the task at hand. Farshore was bustling around them, and they still had much to take care of with their friends and companions even as they attempted to perform all the dirty work in ensuring Farshore’s survival.
Tavey Nesk, Kizziar’s biggest fan and the orphaned cabin boy, had the good fortune to be taken in by a childless couple who operated a distillery and small farm on the opposite side of the Farshore city wall, and was reportedly doing well, in spite of his recent trauma. Kizziar decided it may be best to leave Tavey alone, for a while, as the grim gunman’s presence would likely serve Tavey only as a reminder of the horrors he had lived through.
Meanwhile, Amella tentatively began to make steps towards her own recovery. Lavinia had insisted that she be responsible for administrating the defensive upgrades for the harbor, and while initially very reluctant, Amella found that once she embraced the work, it began to return her to her element. Things remained strained with Traxen, though during a meeting at her room at The Last Coconut, they were polite, and she stated that she would only need some time, a request Traxen felt it important to honor.
Urol, perhaps most of all, seemed to be taking the horrors he had seen in stride, possibly through the power of cognitive dissonance alone. Throwing himself into his research, Urol made fast friends of Hevrik and seemed to be having an attempt at courting the lovely Telda. Only the nervous shudder or glazed look in his eye when examining a particularly gruesome specimen, or the occasional waking up screaming in a cold sweat, betrayed that there could ever have been anything wrong.
The Jade Ravens, on the other hand, showed outward signs of total disintegration. It was Kaskus who opened up on the matter to Kizziar, whom he found an odd kinship in. While he had begun to court the halfling doctor, Telda Syren, and spent most of his days attempting to help at the infirmary, the others had scattered. Tolin, he reported, spent much of his time in the jungle outside of Farshore itself. This was recent, however, as prior to the Gang of Five’s arrival in Farshore, he had spent almost all his time hovering around Lavinia. As Kaskus understood it, Lavinia had told him only the night before their arrival to back off, after he made a rather heavy-handed grab for her affections. Since then, Kaskus believed he didn’t want to be around Lavinia and around Othar even less, and spent much of his time in the jungle, seething. Zaan, on the other hand, could easily be found. Zaan had confessed to Kaskus on the voyage across the Vohoun Ocean that he hated sea travel, and the jungle, and that leaving Sasserine was the biggest mistake he’d felt he’d ever made. Since arriving in Farshore, he had begun to drink heavily, and as Kaskus observed, if one was looking for Zaan now, they had only to look for the alcoholic, self-pitying wreck that had become a permanent fixture of The Last Coconut. The case of Liamae, though, was strangest of all: shortly before arriving at Farshore, the Nixie ran afoul of the same storm that grounded the Wyvern. While Kaskus, Tolin, and Zaan aided in securing the rigging, Liamae attempted to use her magic to calm the storm, and was hit by a lightning bolt. The jolt very nearly killed her, and she didn’t wake again until they’d been in Farshore for days. When at last she did, she was changed, and not in a way Kaskus thought was very healthy, he admitted. Becoming almost madly devout, Liamae claimed to be touched by Desna, the goddess of fortune. She abandoned her arcane studies and became a devout adherent of Desna – and an almost entirely different person – in the process.
“The Ravens”, he concluded, sadly, “ah think weh may be done, Kizziar.”
Avner was readily accessible, and could often be seen bustling about town campaigning on his uncle’s behalf, even in the earliest days since the election was called. While Othar and Dorian both would make attempts at campaigning for Lavinia whenever they were in town, it seemed all Avner was permitted to do was huck for his family’s victory. It was clear, however, that a change had come over him: where once there was arrogance and self-importance, there was now a spark of humility and decency in Avner, and his meetings with Dorian and Othar were polite, and possibly even friendly. Dorian and Othar left each encounter with Avner with the distinct impression that he did not care for his uncle, nor his uncle for him, and that perhaps, somehow, Avner had grown as a person.
Lavinia remained busy. Even with her role as the leader of Farshore contested, her duties were many, her days full of meetings, planning, accounting, and fighting Manthalay’s campaign, which was actively portraying her as the clueless and inept offspring of her parents, unqualified to lead. Othar would meet with her whenever possible, usually during the evenings to take a meal together, or express their concerns, or for physical and emotional intimacy.
After returning from their first foray into the island interior, Lefty was released into the custody of Dorian, whom Ulvar assured would be held responsible if anything happened. Dorian and Lefty decided to make a sort of home in the small schooner Slipknot Peet had brought his invasion force on, a vessel called The Hellfish, where Lefty revealed his story (eventually revealed only to be a small portion), wherein he worked on a merchant vessel, was an unwitting part of a mutiny by the crew, was forced to kill one of his fellow crewmen for the amusement of Peet, and how he was eventually made a servant of the Rat’s End pirates. To his own surprise, Dorian found himself becoming fast friends with the pirate, and offered to take him to the Isle of Dread proper when they returned to begin the meat of their work. Lefty, a self-confessed inveterate coward, expressed that the thought terrified him. “But then again, Chairman”, he called Dorian, “I don’t suppose I’ve made the best choices in the past, and perhaps it’s time old Lefty steps up and tries to do some good for once, huh?”
The Gang of Five’s next step would perhaps be the biggest: returning to the Isle of Dread and penetrating deep into his black heart, they would secure the aid of the Olman tribes, forge alliances with anyone willing to hear their plight, and gather resources to shore up Farshore’s defenses. Taking The Hellfish, Traxen, Dorian, Kizziar, Othar, and now Lefty would begin their journey by sailing to Mora, where they hoped to reach out to the Olman clan of warriors and tradesmen.
Unfortunately, the Mora tribesmen would not even see the outsiders to hear their request, as Manthalay had done much already to ruin the reputation of the colony amongst the Olman. Only the chief of the Sea Turtle clan would allow them a chance: single combat, wrestling, himself against their chosen. It was Traxen who stepped up, and, in an incredible display, managed to best the fearsome warrior, winning the respect and the attention of the Sea Turtle clan. Chief Hunapo spoke on the Gang of Five’s behalf to the other Mora clans, but they would not be so easily won. To show their prowess and earn the respect of the whole of the Mora tribe, the Gang would have to find and defeat a massive tyrant king named Temauhti-tecuani, “Great and Powerful Tyrant King”, who had made trouble for the Mora people by recently making the valuable tar pits his hunting grounds. Knowing that liberating the tar pits would be a valuable resource for the people of Farshore, as well, they group agreed to return with proof of their might.
The next stop was the coastal Panitube tribe, inhabited by craftsmen, boaters, fishermen, and riders of the oceanic waves. The Panitube, lead by the dashing and experienced Chieftain Kahunamoku, were surprisingly receptive to the group’s requests for aid, though she cautioned them that her people were not warriors: the Panitube are peaceful, but their skill in understanding the ocean is virtually unmatched. For the promise of friendly trade with the people of Farshore for comforts and advances her people could use, Kahunamoku promised she would send a contingent of volunteers to Farshore to teach the citizens to better understand and benefit from the ocean.
Lastly, they returned to the spiritualist village of Tanaroa, last stop before the Great Wall and the dreadful and dangerous island interior. Their evening came well into the evening, and from over half a mile away, thunderous chanting and bright lights could be seen emanating from the canopy near the village’s location. The group hurried to arrive to witness whatever ceremony was taking place, but the moment they arrived, the massive, burning effigy of a bat that sat atop a stepped pyramid in the center of the village seemed as if to burst, sending a massive chunk of the pyre to the ground below, and the Tanaroans scattering. But then, the shape began to move and writhe, and shaking off a blanket of coal stood a creature, somewhat taller than a man, with the head and skin of a bat, and the body of a man. The creature pointed a taloned finger at the Matron of the Tanaroans, screeching out in Olman “”/campaign/pathfinder-savage-tide/wikis/denizens-of-the-isle" class=“wiki-page-link”> Zotzilaha hears your sniveling prayers! You would appease the Great Bat!? Return that which has been stolen or burn!" His message delivered, the creature burst into flames, consuming him into ash at the same moment as a tremor shuddered through the ground and in the distance to the northwest, two great, twin volcanoes shuddered and belched a cloud of noxious vapor into the night sky. Most of the Tanaroans panicked, and those that did not fell to the ground in worshipful fear.
One notable exception was a young girl, perhaps of about twelve or thirteen years, who approached the dumbstruck outsiders and, addressing Othar, spoke in common “You are here to ask for our villages’ aid against your enemies. Matron Itzam-Ye wishes to propose an exchange of favors. You will come with me to see her.” Further perplexed by the direct young lady, Othar agreed, and the five traveled to speak to the matron of the Tanaroan people, the elder who had attempted to raise Tobin for them not more than a week earlier. The elder explained, using the young girl to translate, that Zotzilaha, their fire god, had grown angry over the disappearance of a golden idol taken from his temple months before. She had augured the Gang of Five’s reasons for returning to her, and she assured them that she would help them. But only if they would travel to the volcanoes to the northwest, the Fangs of Zotzilaha, and find a way to appease their god’s anger and quiet his fangs. With no real options, they immediately made their way for the Fangs of Zotzilaha.
Following the clouds of billowing smoke and gouts of flame erupting from the mouth of the twin volcanoes eventually lead them to the opening of a massive lava tube enshrined with offerings. The heat inside was intense, and stifling, but as the warmth of the lava hundreds of feet below a jagged precipice rose up to greet them and the batlike man whom they had seen at Tanaroa stood by, they knew they had come to the right place. With as much respect as they could muster with their sheer ignorance of Olman religious custom, they returned the idol they had found at Tamoachan. The massive bat thanked the group, and indeed, the mountains seemed to quiet their bellowing wrath almost immediately. In gratitude, the bat offered each man one of the tributes that had been left by warriors and travelers who had come before, with the caveat that the item had to be selected on sight alone, and that once selected, the choice was made. Each selected an item of some minor magical or monetary import, save one: when Kizziar went to select his item, he opted for a humble strip of leather connected to a long, thin fang, no larger than a thumb. Upon selecting it, the avatar of Zotzilaha sniffed and said “That one is not known to us. It does not belong here. Take it from here!”, and permitted him to select again. Not knowing the purpose or provenance of the mysterious tooth, they nonetheless put it aside for later, and left the volcanoes, heading out for the tar pits to the west, where they hoped to find Temauhti-tecuani, and hopefully, earn the respect of the Mora tribe.
The tar pits were an integral part of Olman life and would be a necessary resource to aiding in Farshore’s defenses, as well as repairing the Sea Wyvern and gaining the assistance of the Olman tribes in the area. However, it was known that for some reason the fearsome tyrant king Temuahti-tecuani had made the place home, driving away those who sought to use the valuable tar. It was for this reason that it was surprising to the men that, upon their arrival, the great beast was out in force, and appeared to be battling with a cluster of small creatures! About six in number, the small creatures were covered in fur, but wore armor and carried tools, and resembled nothing so much as bipedal monkey-lemures. And they were losing. The group leapt into action, and with the help of the quick-witted and quick-moving creatures, managed to lay low the tyrant king of the Isle of Dread. The fearsome beast had multiple scars from countless attempts on its life over the years, and upon inspection, scores of arrowheads and chipped daggers were found hidden in the beasts scales. Most impressive of all was a fine, cold iron kukri knife of Olman make lodged in the beasts’ foot. Using the blade to extract a couple of the creature’s fearsome teeth, they had both acquired control of the tar pits and recovered proof to the Mora tribe that they were worthy of their help.
The small creatures they had helped to save made themselves known, introducing themselves as creatures called phanatons. Chief amongst their scouts, a phanaton named Bimpo, insisted that the group return to their village so that they could be thanked for their help. Seeing another opportunity to make allies on the Isle and desirous of a good night’s rest away from the horrors of the jungle, they agreed, and followed Bimpo and his pack back to a treetop village deeper into the jungle. There, they were introduced to Chief Teketek, the phanaton elder and Most Interesting Phanaton in the World, who insisted in throwing a lavish party in the group’s honor. During the meal, Othar and Dorian broached the subject of the phanatons lending aid to Farshore’s defense. Chief Teketek thought for a moment and told them that eh would be glad to, provided they could accomplish a small task for him: deeper still into the jungle, towards the first Olman city of Tanaroa, lived an Olman tribe who had, in centuries past, traded with the phanatons, accepting tools and food in exchange for weaponry and toys. The tribe, rather tragically, had disappeared many years earlier, and the chief was curious to know both what had happened to them and if any of their toys remained. “Do this”, he said, “and I shall send objectively the second through twelfth best phanatons to support your cause”. Amused by his bravado and intrigued by the prospect of a cache of Olman weapons, they set out the following morning.
Two days hike saw the group arrive at a massive, mossy ziggurat, nearly sunken into the island interior. Covered in greenery, shielded by the jungle canopy, and very nearly in the middle of nowhere, it is virtually impossible they would have found it on their own, they remarked. The temple itself was only part of a larger civilization that had once existed here, but over the centuries, as the tribe had fallen to attrition and predation, their villages and towns had likewise diminished, leaving only this temple to serve as a headstone to the Olman tribe known as the Rakasta.
Venturing within, the men found a trap and a massive shaft that lead scores of feet down, into the ancestral burial chambers of the clan. Their presence stirred the awareness of a creature who called that lonely chamber home, they soon found: Tonatiuh, a couatl who had, in centuries past, served the Rakasta tribe as a spiritual guide and connection to their deity. Seeing that the men who had arrived now were not simple grave robbers or enemies of the Olman people, the feathered serpent sorrowfully related that his guidance was not enough: the Rakasta people were gone, now, killed by Olman-who-were-not-Olman, men who wore the skin of demons and slew their own. All that remains of their legacy was this temple, and the tools they left behind. Passionately imploring the couatl to allow the legacy of the Rakasta to live on through their weaponry in the fight against evil, the group managed to convince Tonatiuh to take all that remained of the Rakasta legacy to use against the Crimson Fleet: a cache of masterwork Olman weapons and, for their phanaton friends, a small collection of toys and amusements. Bidding the travelers farewell and good luck against their enemies, Tonatiuh declared his mourning complete, and the legacy of the Rakasta ensured. Thus, with a fond farewell, he returned to his home plane, while the party returned to the phanaton village, turning over the various toys they had found and the knowledge of the fate of the Rakasta to the grateful phanatons. As the party made its way back to Tanaroa, they did so with just under a dozen phanatons in tow.
Returning to Tanaroa some days later, the continued quiet of the Fangs of Zotzilaha and the confirmation that the Tanaroan people could again access the tar of the nearby pits ensured that the Tanaroans would stand with the people of Farshore in battling the Fleet. And while the Panitube had already committed to the fight pending the fulfillment of peaceful trade with the people of Farshore, it was Chief Hunapo and the Mora who were most impressed and grateful for the defeat the tyrant king of the Isle and the unrestricted access to the tar pits his defeat would allow. The kukri that Dorian had recovered, they learned, belonged to the firstborn son of another Mora clan. The son had lost his life in the assault, and his father, now bitterly old, wept openly to see his son’s weapon returned to him. The alliance was cemented.
With little over a month left, the greatest obstacle still lay before them: to travel back to the northern side of the Isle and repair their vessel, the Sea Wyvern, enough so that it can make it to Farshore and undergo dry-docking and more permanent repairs. Time was running slim, but recovering the ship and its siege weaponry would prove invaluable to the defense of Farshore.