The next morning the group turned up early to the Rusty Dragon: Ameiko was waiting for them.
“This is quite puzzling. The Kaijitsu Star was one of three ships which went north on a trading mission with my Grandfather Rokuro, and my father Lonjiki. Only one of those ships came back-the one with my father on board. The Kaijitsu Star and the Kaijitsu Blossom were lost in a terrible storm as they returned to Sandpoint. This was 24 years ago- in 4687”
“Rokuro was the man who brought us here from my family’s homeland, and who was the founder of our fortunes in Sandpoint-a new settlement at that time. None of the servants appear to know any of the details of this trade mission, which was surrounded with great secrecy.”
“And your grandfather?” asked Ragnar.
“He never returned. Sadly I never knew him, for I was born only later.” repled Ameiko. Dinald mentally made a note of her age range.
“And your father?” persisted Ragnar.
“Dead in the goblin troubles which hit Sandpoint a few years ago.” Ameiko looked sad . “There are none now alive who can tell us more of this mission.” She paused.
“If there is another ship there then it must presumably be the Blossom. If you are prepared to check it out for me and find anything which will throw some light on this I’ll pay you fairly. How does 100 gp each sound?”
“More than generous My Lady” said Dinald smoothly before anyone else could haggle. “We’ll see to it straight away won’t we men?” He looked at Ailukka and Gram. “Er.. I mean… ’won’t we fellow adventurers?’” . Gram sighed.
“Fine, fine. I asked about a boat and Old One Eyed Tam down at the dock is prepared to take you down the coast. You might have to prise him off the cabin boy first though.” She shook her head.
Ungo nodded in agreement as Dinald agreed to taking the mission. He recoiled in horror however when he heard about the cabin boy.
“The big shirt-liftin’, Jessie, nancy boy, better nae be gettin’ up to any ‘o ’is funny business when ah’m around. Not unless he be wanting to be known as Old No Eyed Tam by the end o’ the trip.”
Down at the harbour the group were directed towards Tam’s fishing smack, ‘The Jolly Bird’s Eye’ . As they approached they saw a white bearded fisherman in a hooped shirt, wearing a dark blue jacket and cap, smoking a pipe. He watched them approach, eying Ungo with interest.
“Bob, get out here lad.” he called as they approached.
“But maester me bum’s sore, do I have to?” called a voice from below.
“Look lively ye’ young snake, we gots visitors- and one right pretty one too Ah HArrrr” he said,again looking at Ungo, who glowered.
“Listen ye lantgulterrn dirtchute, I dinnae fash yer weelin’ jessie talk, so just keep yer mittens ohrf ma john thomas and yerl keep ye hands attached. Ye tak mah meanin’?”
Captain Tam frowned.
“Ungo says good morning Sir, and its time we got away if you’re to get paid” explained Rasha helpfully.
After a little more diplomacy from Dinald (who had ‘a woman’s hands’ according to Captain Tam)Ungo sat in the prow facing directly back along the length of the boat, while Tam and Bob steered the boat southwards into the small bay facing onto Brinestump Marsh. The dinghy was lowered, and Tam agreed to wait for them till sunset.
“Oi’ll be busy in me cabin, won’t oi’ laad? Ahhr Harrrr!” Bob eyed the cabin doubtfully.
The small boat paddled through the mist and into one of the larger creeks. Occasional splashings and eerie calls from the banks reminded them that this was not a safe place. eventually they came to a confluence of waters, and paddling became more difficult. Through the mists could be discerned a rising cliff on their port side, and Reynald spied what he thought might be a cave in the walls.
“That might be the actual cave” he suggested, “Which means we’ve missed the ship. Let’s double back and search.”
They beached at what they thought was a likely location and started to cast around. Ungo spotted what appeared at first to be a strange tangle of branches up in the canopy, but on closer inspection appeared in fact to be the moss-covered ribs of a wrecked ship. The ruined ship lays on its side, split down the middle and mostly sunken into the mud and murky water, but leaning over onto firmer ground. A short distance off lay the ancient ruin of some stone structure, little more now than a raised platform.
Making their way round to the firmer ground Ungo, Reynald and Dinald scrambled on board, while Ragnar made out the name of the ship, ‘Kaijitsu Blossom’, A shouted warning from Ailukka made him turn round.
Stepping silently across the marsh from the direction of the old ruin were three gaunt figures, clad in tattettered cloths and ragged armour. Their whitened bones stood out even in the gloom of the marsh.
On the port side of the wrecked craft Dinald was horrified to see three more skeletal forms rise from the mire, expelling a dry hissing noise as gases were released from the noisome muck.
Ragnar stepped in close and shattered one of the forms with a well placed punch through its ribcage. Reynald and Dinald jumped down into the muck, floundering badly, while Ungo went flying on his face, almost submerging entirely. Stood away a little distance, Rasha watched his arrows rattle through their ribcages without effect.
Alone on the other side of the vessal Gram’s warhammer was having more effect. With some help from Ailukka’s spells he destroyed all three of the horrific revenants.
Back on the port side Ragnar destroyed a second, and eventually the final one was downed by the combined attacks of four group members. When it was over they stood around staring at one another.
Some of the skeletons wore strange armour made of tiles of leather or wood, and bore short swords with odd wedge- profiled blades. “These weapons are Tian” said Ailukka, “There are many Tien in the Jade Quarter of Kalsgard.”
The old ruin was barely more than a raised platform and a tumble of stones, but there were signs of some long dead camp- a ring of stones where a fire had once been tended. “This is many years old” said Rasha. Apart from it’s name, the Kaijitsu Blossom revealed nothing of interest.
Re-entering their dinghy the group rowed back toward the cave they had seen. Soon after they disembarked Rasha reached down and picked up several silver pieces, and then pointed out a group of skeletal footprints headed off toward the cavern.
A fifty-foot-high cliff rose in front of them, it’s face a thick tangle of jutting rocks and bright green vines and nettles. A curtain of these vines only partially concealed the rather large cave opening at the base of the cliff. Ailukka lit up the end of her staff with her magicks and the group headed inside.
As Ragnar and Ungo scouted out a side passage Reynald and the others headed into a smaller cave, and hands quickly flew to weapons as the light revelaed a cluster of shining eyes, attached to the head of a spider sitting on the wall, its body as as large as a fully grown sheep. It scuttled towards Reynald, and thrusting his arm out straight to keep the thing away it skewered onto the point of his rapier. A terrific stink arose as the creatures fluids poured out, and dribbling liquid it shifted its bulk backwards. As the others rushed forward the thing was hacked down however, and then lay jerking horribly on the floor as they stood off at distance.
Following the course of a small stream they moved futher into the cave, eventually emrging into a larger cavern. As they moved across this they heard the rattle pf dry bones, and as they looked round they could see several twin points of green balefire glowing in the empty eye sockets of the long dead. Silently the forms stalked in.
The combat was short and brutal, with Reynald and Dinald again sustaining several wounds, their rapiers apparently seeming to have little effect. Ragnar’s fists and Ungo’s Axe did have an effect however, and soon they stood panting as Gram saw to those worst wounded.
Taking an opening to the north west this led to a smaller cavern, and sat at the end of this was another skeletal form, this time in more intack and impressive armour, and wielding a short blade which did not seem affected by damage or rust. It stood silently to its feet, and a handful of other forms also emerged from the shadows.
In the narrow confines of this smaller cave the battle was more restrictive, and Ungo, Reynald, Dinald and Ragnar each found themselves faced off against a single foe, with Ungo facing the apparent leader.
Ungo sustained a deep wound from the skeletal warrior’s shortsword, but otherwise managed to evade its blows, while his own axe smashed home again and again with repeated success. The others fought with mixed success, Reynald finally succumbing to his wounds and falling to the floor. By then however the fight was almost over, and the undead guardians smashed and broken.
“Let’s see what all the fuss was about” said Dinald. Behind him Ailukka bent down and picked up the fallen warrior’s shortsword, admiting it’s bluish stell and the tracings of small birds along the blade.
“This sword is good sword” she said. “It has enchantment on it. Worth keeping yes?”
The warriors crowded round with interest, but Rasha was the only one who expressed interest in keeping it. “Looks like it can cut and thrust too” he said. “I can make use of it.”
The skeletal warrior had been sitting on a beautiful carved cherry wood chest, inlaid with fine green stone. “Is Jade” said Ailukka. Inside were a number of potions, a ring and a carved redwood wand, as well as a good quantity of cash and jewellry, and more foreworks. Putting them back in the chest they carried the whole lot out into the boat.
Back on the Bird’s Eye Rasha was fiddling with his new aquisition. "The hilt is a bit wonky, I will need to get it to a good armourer to fix properly " he said. “Hey, what’s this?” As he had unscrewed the end of the hilts a small tube had fallen out of a secret compartment between the pommel end and the end of the blade tang. The small container opened to reveal a small parchment with a message written in an unknown script. “Tian I Assume” said Reynald. “Maybe Ameiko can translate?”