Serpents of Scuttlecove
Started as – and continuing to be – a pirate’s paradise of the sort that would grind more virtuous or delicate men to dust, Scuttlecove exists as a tumor upon the westernmost shores of the area of the Vohoun Ocean known as the “Pirate Isles”. More than being the location of the base of the Crimson Fleet, Scuttlecove is home to a gaggle of horrors and monsters unfit for habitation outside of perhaps the hells, and many of them are not mortal. From the yuan-ti cult known as the Seventh Coil to the drug kingpin wizard Kedward Bone to the anything-goes brothel of debased sexuality called Porphyry House, Scuttlecove is a wicked man’s playground, a moveable feast of delights that always come at the expense of another. Brave men fear to tread here, and more than one good man has been turned bad to make it on the streets of Scuttlecove.
A depraved and cancerous wizard, Kedward Bone has made a name for himself in the City of Serpents as being one of the most deadly to handle. Uncontested king of the drug trade in the Pirate Isles, nearly all the narcotics that flow into or out of Scuttlecove are bought or sold by Kedward Bone. From his opulent tower in eastern Scuttlecove, he practices dark magic to further his apparent ends of control of the entire region, flanked by his familiar, Matylda, a diminutive, red-skinned, heavily-pierced, hypersexualized imp who acts not just as Kedward’s familiar, but also as his research assistant and oftentimes lover. Monstrous looking, Kedward practices a black art known as ‘cancer magic’, wherein he invites putrescence and sickness into his own body as a means of amplifying his arcane power. Consequently, his body is a lumpy, tumorous mass of gnarled flesh and spurred bone.
It was revealed that it was Kedward who first knew Lefty back when he was a pirate looking for work in Scuttlecove. Thanks to poor management and even worse fortune, Lefty had lost several thousand gold worth of drugs owned by Keward when working for him several years prior, and it was for this unpardonable sin that the wizard had hung Lefty in the Plaza of Hanging Ruin to die. While apparently surprised to see Lefty still alive, the canny wizard wasted no time in ensuring that Lefty compensate for the losses he could not at the time or suffer a fate worse than he had escaped. Setting the party out to investigate Madame Wulvera and Porphyry House, whom he believed to be poised to contest his role as King Pusher of Scuttlecove, he informed the group – posing as pirates from a far sea – that Lefty’s debt would be forgiven if the matter could be resolved.
As much as the group despised Kedward, they undertook the task on Lefty’s behalf, and after considerable trouble, managed to rout Madame Wulvera and shut down her drug laboratory. As the party returned to Kedward, they spoke among themselves about the prospect of killing the wizard in the hopes that it might cleanse some of the blight from the area. But after reporting back to Kedward, he made it plain to them that he was aware the party had plans to murder him, thanks to the slave ring he had given Lefty, fitted with a tiny sending stone, as well as his awareness that the group was holding out and keeping Wulvera’s notes from him. Reluctantly, knowing they had been bested, the group relinquished the notes to Kedward, who permitted Lefty to remove his ring and forgave his debt, albeit with prejudice. Scornful of nothing so much as adventurers, he bade the Gang of Five “fuck off” and hopes never to see them again.
Aaron Islaran is the missing older brother of Kolta Islaran, nominal Harbormaster of Sasserine. First encountered on the docks of Scuttlecove in front of the Top of the Food Chain food stall, Aaron seemed immediately to be suffering from some form of withdrawal. As is common with addicts, it didn’t take long to discover his drug of choice, sannish, an inhaled blue powder that mimicked feelings of ecstasy and relaxation in users. Working as a tout, Aaron offered to take the party around Scuttlecove for fee enough to get his next fix, but was harshly rebuffed, as the group was incognito at the time.
After some discussion and arriving at the realization of who the man was, the group determined he ought to be returned to Sasserine and to his family. Convincing Aaron ended up being easier than anticipated: for the cost of a few doses of sannish, they were able to wrest his compliance and, indeed, his entire sordid story out of him: a decade prior, he had come to Scuttlecove looking for his older sister, believing her to have been kidnapped. When he arrived in the city, however, he found that she had come of her own volition to join a secretive and mysterious cabal of sexual-ecstatic torturers who claimed to have a line on divinity and secret knowledge. He attempted to persuade her home, but she refused, and in the few days that followed before Aaron could effect an escape from Scuttlecove, his sister was murdered. Deciding to instead stay to investigate and avenge his sister’s death, he discovered over the course of months that she had been murdered by the friend of a man she had killed for sexually assaulting her. Driven to despair by the realization and the egregious difficulty of seeking justice, he turned to sannish for solace, and spent the following decade as a two-bit hood, informant for Kedward Bone, and junkie.
Healed of his addiction by T’lali once on the boat, Aaron seemed to have turned a corner. But his salvation was sabotaged when during the trip back to Sasserine, he stole and binged on packets of sannish held by the party, giving several doses to Liamae and rutting with her in a drug haze before being dragged, comatose, back to his family home. Expecting his younger brother Kolta to be relieved, it instead turned out quite the opposite: in private, Kolta intimated to the party that Aaron was an addict and self-destructive drain on the family even before he left for Scuttlecove, and that the whole family had breathed a collective sigh of relief without him.
In the end, Kolta paid a handsome sum of money to have his brother discreetly deposited back in Scuttlecove where he couldn’t threaten the family integrity or further tarnish their name. Dorian and Othar helpfully left a note to his unconscious body explaining why his choices had led him back to this miserable place. His fate remains unknown, though it is surely grim.
The Sisters of Lamentation:
The three harpies known collectively as the “Sisters of Lamentation” are, like many of Scuttlecove’s citizens, a combination of mad and corrupt that would render them unfit for any society outside that festering wound of the seas. These women have plucked themselves bald for reasons known only to them, choosing to exalt in their ghastly nudity, covering their skin with tattoos and piercing their flesh with both conventional piercings as well as odd bits of jagged metal simply shoved through bare flesh, the end result being a trio of savage and exotic creatures who skate the line between the erotic and the horrid.
Originally operating as a competitor to Porphyry House, the Sisters’ Birdcage quickly became a specialty operation offering information procurement services, rather than carnal pleasures. For a price, the sisters will find, detain, and interrogate anyone for their clients. Their roost-like building is plush and opulent where it isn’t filthy (in the way that birds tend to make everything filthy), and is staffed by dull, placid, compliant “servants” dressed in leather bondage wear stylized to resemble colorful jungle birds. It was hear that both Harliss and Liamae were rescued, the former after being directed to the Birdcage by Tyralandi, the latter after a thorough shakedown of the city lead them back to the Birdcage.
One of the three sisters was killed during the skirmish, along with a small, childlike corpse that fought with incredible ferocity that the sisters had apparently adopted. On the return visit to acquire Liamae, however, it was clear that the sisters had somehow reinvigorated their dead kin, and a deal was struck for Liamae’s release: a massive crate of sannish, stolen from Madame Wulvera, in exchange for the Jade Raven’s freedom.
Tyralandi, Madame of Porphyry House:
Daughter of a succubus and a nymph, the enchanting Tyralandi is the current (and thanks to the Gang of Five, recent) Madame of Porphyry House, a massive, opulent brothel in Scuttlecove which draws its name from the distinctive purple, volcanic stone the building’s body is carved from. While up until recently one of three operational lieutenants of the house under Wulvera, the party’s intervention lead to Wulvera’s death and Tyralandi’s subsequent hostile takeover of the business.
The animosity between these two women seems to run far deeper than business, however, as Madame Wulvera’s plan of using a new and potent narcotic to infuse the people of Scuttlecove with demonic taint so as to fuel her own dark apotheosis was motivated by her adherence to Demogorgon: Tyralandi, she revealed to the group, has a different patron, one who opposes Demogorgon’s ends, and it was for this reason that she aided the Gang in taking Porphyry House for her, slaying Wulvera, and scuttling her plans. It is also, must to their astonishment, the reason why she had pulled Lefty from “the Hooks” at the Plaza of Hanging Ruin after Kedward Bone had him placed there, leaving all wondering exactly for how long they’ve been pawns in a game that they’ve only recently learned is being played.
Tyralandi was generous insofar as she could permit herself to be for the party’s portion of the lifting, and gifted back to them any and all information she could acquire for them (other than the identity of her mysterious superior), as well as the gently reposed body of Tolin, one of the Jade Ravens, who had been slain and subsequently sold to the brothel as a “prop”.
Achingly beautiful, Tyralandi is a perfectly-proportioned woman with notable demonic features including skin of pale purple, horns, pointed ears, ravenlike wings, and – her own addition – numerous piercings and tattoos. She prefers to stay skyclad, a trait that makes doing business with her all the more difficult.
Eventually, during their conversation with Malcanthet, Tyralandi’s role in this farce was further illuminated: daughter of Malcanthet, Tyralandi was instrumental in implementing the Demon Queen’s plans for the both Lavinia and the Gang of Five, which included saving Lefty all those years ago, as well as providing Heldrath Kellani with the bottle of Shendilavrian Perfume that would someday find itself into the hands of her daughter, Rowny Kellani, and eventually, the party. It was also revealed, thanks to Malcanthet, that Tyralandi is the father of Dorian’s girlfriend, Moxie, and shocking, possibly even of Dorian, himself.
The Madame of Porphyry House when the group first arrived in Scuttlecove, Madame Wulvera was an immense, porcine yuan-ti woman who dressed in revealing clothing and wore wigs to hide her abominable heritage. As the madame of Porphyry House, she ran the business with guile and cunning that crosses the line into disgusting, offering forbidden and vile pleasures not to be found elsewhere in perhaps the entire world, and more horribly, it was revealed, using a stable of prostitutes most of whom were polymorphed animals.
The Madame’s depredations didn’t end there, however, as at the behest of Kedward Bone, the group was sent into the brothel to investigate the existence of a new drug, ’demon’s breath’, which he believed Wulvera was behind. Far more shocking than any simple narcotic, it was found that demon’s breath was actually a powerful, magic-infused, narcotic neurotoxin that caused anyone who inhaled it or made skin contact with it to experience savage and animal extremes of fury, lust, and hunger. Ultimately it was discovered that Wulvera had intended to throw a massive orgy in the following nights at which she would unleash a cloud of the stuff upon her unwitting guests before slaughtering them, one by one, in a massive group sacrifice to her patron, Demogorgon. It was her hope that by forcing what was effectively a low form of demonic possession on so many that she might gain the favor of her lord and be blessed with a demonic ascendance.
Her plans would never see fruition, however, as the party raided Porphyry House just two nights before the scheduled event, sacking Wulvera’s laboratory and eventually desecrating her demonic shrine and slaying both her and her trusted lieutenants. In the aftermath of this destruction, control of Porphyry House has shifted to the only one of Wulvera’s lieutenants who was not an active follower of Demogorgon and, indeed, the party’s helper in bringing Wulvera to heel, Tyralandi.
Owner and operator of The Violated Ogre, the busiest bar in Scuttlecove, Borsch claims to have won the establishment he now runs in a card game that went south, wherein he was forced to kill the previous owner who had just lost a controlling stake in the business. A stern, taciturn man, Borsch looks the part of an imperial guardsman or veteran bodyguard, with a shaved head and fierce musculature.
Borsch plays his cards rather close to his chest, and indeed, there are some who theorize that his presence in Scuttlecove may itself be some sort of mission or have an ulterior purpose. Certainly, he seems cooperative enough with everyone who comes into his bar, and coin always loosens his tongue, but it cannot be said that he does not occasionally offer sensitive information to people who are looking to shake up, change, or improve the city, regardless of how much trouble it may find him in.
Owner and operator of the Scuttlecove Workhouse, the only place in Scuttlecove in which children could routinely be found, Sornk was a vile orc who made the great mistake of pressganging one of the crew of the Sea Wyvern, a phanaton named Tikka, into service at his workhouse. The workhouse, it is known, was a horrible place, and did little more than force children into slave labor until they could be sold at auction. Blinding and forcible muting of the child slaves here was commonplace, and many could not read, write, or even speak a language.
Dorian and Traxen’s trail lead them to the workhouse when hunting down their missing crew member, and upon seeing the stark and beastly reality of the workhouse and the man who ran it, Dorian summarily executed him and two of his three lieutenants before freeing the children. Not wanting to leave them in Scuttlecove, Dorian and Traxen adopted them to the ship, making plans to take them to relative safety in Sasserine. Sornk, an ogre of an orc who dressed in a mockery of fine Victorian garb like the pathetic and despicable fagan that he was, died ignominiously in a pool of blood and washing fluid.