Upon returning to Junktown, the party checked in with Yugi, giving him the glowing orb from the Temple of the Red Queen in exchange for some cash and another punch on their Sammy's Place Membership card. Ash, with nothing better to do, hung around with Thane and Zahuul. Yugi asked if the group would be interested in some wetwork, citing an island of pirates nearby causing trouble for the local merchants. True to his word, he also said that the island may contain some relics to Zahuul's diety. The party was intrigued by this offer and decided to rest on the Ardent Skull before setting off. Thane attempted to challenge Yugi for a free ship rental and lost at cards, being banished to shadow realm for only a few moments in real time, but what seemed an eternity to him.
The way to the harbor was blocked off for construction due to a minor earthquake, so the party took a side alley, where they were attacked by several mercenary types. Outnumbered and tightly packed into an alley, the party fought well, but when the group's leader arrived, the quickly fell, one by one. They may have perished there, if not for the intervention of the opportunist cleric of Tymora, Monad, who happened by. Using a command spell, he drove the leader off, and healed the party, asking only for a modest fee of a a few gold a piece.
The party revived one of the fallen mercenaries and interrogated him, and he said the job came from none other than Sammy. Enraged by the double cross, the party killed time at a tavern as they waited for Sammy's shift to start. They then traveled to Sammy's place, only to find the centaur squaring off with the very mercenaries that had attempted to kill them. With a few bolts from his crossbow and help from the party, they killed the remaining mercenaries. Sammy welcomed the party to the shop. They asked Sammy about the incident, and he explained that often, they give the contracts for jobs to several adventurers, causing some crossover. Members of the Marauders had also taken a job to retrieve the orb from the island of the Red Queen, but rather than claim it themselves, the instead lied in wait for the adventurers who did claim it, unaware that the orb had already been returned to Yugi.
Sammy offered the party the same job that Yugi had: take out the camp of Marauders on a nearby island thereby removing some chaos from Junktown's trade routes. Since the Marauders were also known to capture hostages, Sammy threw in a bonus for each victim they could bring back alive. In apology for the trouble, he also offered another stamp on their frequent customer cards. Before leaving the shop, Monad looted a cloak from the mercenary leader (advantage on dexterity saves when worn).
The party again borrowed the Ardent skull and set out on the mission, realizing several days in that they were being tailed by a much larger ship. As they approached the island of Marauders, it appeared that the ship was tailing them in, and thus Thane changed course and circled halfway around the island. From there, the party beelined to the spot marked with a question mark on Sammy's map, located in the middle of a lake.
There, from the trees they spied two guards at the front of a long stone path that led to a structure in the middle of the lake. Zahuul shot from the treeline and eldritch blast, which missed and set a nearby torch falling into the lake. The guards investigated, and one slipped into the lake as a result. As the guards struggled to get out of the lake, the party attacked, knocking them out, but not before they heard one of the guards cry, "They are here for the oracle!"
The party revived the guards and interrogated them, learning that prisoners were being held in the structure nearby, and that most of the Marauders had joined after being press ganged when their ships were captured. One guard, Zachary, was uncooperative and left tied up, while the other, Jonathan, was convinced a better life awaited if he helped the party, one where he did not get beat as often and could make his own choices. He was left outside of the path, but not before switching clothes with Zahuul, so she could appear as one of the Marauders.
The party journeyed to the structure, where the followed a damp tunnel from the entrance that went deep underground. There, they found a vandalized statued of Yemoja, Zahuul's diety in a large chapel-like room. Monad cast mending on the statue to repair it's broken arm, and prestidigitation to cleanse the grafitti. The party then went to the two side doors to peer in. From their view, they saw cages filled with a half orc in adventurer's gear, a pale, thin form lying on the floor of a cage, and a human man dressed in ragged clothes that may have once been finery. Also in the room was a very large orc that was reading from a huge, metal bound tome.
Monad entered the room in an attempt to speak to the orc, who attacked quickly, bursting from his seat with a battleaxe while casting spells. The half orc in the cage asked the party to let him out, and said the orc guard had a wand that controlled the cages, but only the right column of runes on the wand opened the cages, and not to touch the left columns.
In the fight that ensued, the orc cast spells to make himself stronger, entering melee with Thane while Ash and Zahuul attacked from the rear with crossbows and eldritch blasts. Monad used command to have the orc drop his weapon, then gave it to the half orc in the cage, with the promise that if the party set him free, he would help kill the orc.
"Yes," the half-orc replied, "Technically, I will help you kill him."
Under duress, the orc retreated into the chapel room, breaking an arm from the Yemoja statue to use as a club. The wand was wrestled away from him, and he ran up the ramp as water began to pour down it, filling the room. The party activated the wand, left side first, and heard the cackling of electricity and the screams of the half-orc in the room behind them.
The party returned to the room with the prisoners to see the cages open, and the half orc on the floor of his, clutching a battleaxe and transforming into something large and furry. Quickly, they grabbed the remaining prisoners, the human aristocrat who offered them money if they saved him and the pale figure that turned out to be a thin, tattooed elf who could barely move on his own. They retreated to the chapel, but the water was coming down the ramp in waves, rapidly filling the room. The orc guard came slipping down the ramp, his metal tome, which he had used as a shield previously, washed to Thane, and he took it. The half-orc prisoner, now fully a werewolf wielding a battleaxe, took the opportunity to attack the guard.
Seeing no way out, the party backed themselves against the statue and the fountain within, and Zahuul suddenly went catatonic for a few seconds. When she came to, a wall of force surrounded the fountain, keeping the water out. here hand was a simple necklace, attached to a glass bead in which the image of a shark appeared. As she watched the image disappeared, in in the water, form of a full shark took place. The water suddenly crashed in, but as a pale blue glow surrounded the shark, they found they could breathe in the water. The grabbed on to the shark, which swam up the ramp tunnel, past the forms of the werewolf and orc guard still locked in combat. Right before they set in motion, Monad saw before his eyes a gold coin, and reached out to grab it.
The party appeared at the surface, and as they crawled to the lake shore they saw that the water in the lake had risen tremendously, effectively sinking the building and the ramp leading to it. Jonathan and Zachary were nowhere to be seen. They took a short rest, and Than looked at the book shield. As he did he felt a surge of arcane energy flow through him and found he could suddenly cast a few low level spells. Monad examined his coin, which inexplicably showed teh countenance of Tymora on one side, and a four leaf clover on the other (once per day, gain advantage on any skill the holder is proficient in).
The party still hadn't fulfilled their contract though, and set back to the ardent skull to secure the freed captives by tying them to the mast of the ship. The aristocrat argued, but was eventually persuaded, and asked the party to recover the spices he had lost when his ship was attacked. He also asked they return him to Junktown, where he might secure passage to go back home to his wife, Priscilla, who did not like seasonings on her food and only favored pumpkin spice. The elf did not argue.
The party set off to the Marauder camp, on they way, hearing the howl of a wolf in the far distance. Thane argued that maybe the werewolf survived and could be lured into attacking the Marauders. No one else wanted to gamble on it, so they crept towards camp, where they spied Jonathan making an impassioned speech before a gathered crowd. At his feet lay the corpse of Zachary, filled with crossbow bolts. The crowd jeered Jonathan and threw rocks and took potshots as he attempted to convince them they had nothing to lose but their shackles, and to revolt against Big Red, the halfling who sat perched on a pile of stones at the center of camp.
"I tell you what," Big Red said, "I'll let you, and anyone willing to help you take me on. If you and any sympathizers can beat me, in all my power, then you are free to go and take with you whatever you want."
Monad and Thane emerged from the woods to help Jonathan as Ash and Zahuul hung back in the treeline, unseen. Monad attempted to rally the other sailors, most of whom looked as if they had, like Jonathan, been pressed into serving the Marauders. One, Tim, sheepishly joined. Monad and Thane told Jonathan that it would be fine, and that the power had been inside him all along.
Big Red tapped his silver cane twice on the rocks beneath him, and from below emerged a giant crab made of sand and stone, which the party identified as an earth elemental. The first hit was on Jonathan, nearly killing him. Ash ran in to drag Jonathan away as Thane captured the creatures attention, and Zahuul stealthily made her way around the camp outskirts. Monad conjured an image of himself to confuse Big Red and the beast.
Monad was able to command the beast, giving enough opportunity for Thane to strike Big Red. Monad and his image clamoured aboard the elemental as it dove beneath the earth, emerging from the earth behind Thane. As Thane took hits from the creature, Monad pushed Big Red off of it. From the other side of camp, Zahuul's eldritch blast sent Big Red flying into the creature and dazing him. As he recovered, Jonathan limped towards Big Red and drove his sword through him, whispering, "The power … inside…"
With Big Red defeated, the remaining crew milled about, unsure of what to do. From behind the party came the baleful cry of a werewolf, and as the party ran to the lifeboat on the beach, they warned the crew of a werewolf. "Oh, Kyle?" one said. From the trees, burst a werewolf wielding a battleaxe. "WHERE IS BIG RED?" he screamed, then seeing the corpse of the halfling said, "Oh, am I too late?"
The crew welcomed the beast, who turned back into the half-orc from the lake chapel. "Sorry about freaking out," he said, "You know, bloodlust and all that." Thane and Monad welcomed Kyle, as Ash and Zahuul hung back.
In the hour that followed, the party learned that Kyle had been a crew member, voluntarily but had been imprisoned when he got into an argument with another crew member and maybe, kinda, sorta, killed a few people. He informed the party that the dock boat had the remaining members of Big Red's crew, those who were loyal to them, and offered to "Help convince them."
The crew at the beach were told they were free, and were offered passage to Junktown on the captured ship. Thane went to walk through the forest back to the Ardent Skull to retrieve it, while Zahuul summoned her familiar and swam to it, reaching it first. There, she freed the aristocrat and had him pilot the boat to meet the others at the camp. Thane arrived to find the Ardent Skull missing, and trudged back to the beach camp as well.
Monad took the rowboat to Big Red's ship, only to find carnage and Kyle. There, he was able to find one person he could heal back to consciousness, a pirate name Colton. Colton begrudgingly agreed to help the party reach Junktown, under threat of Kyle.
Over the next few hours, the crew got to work loading the camp and cargo, including the aristocrat's spices onto the ship, and set a tow line to keep the Ardent Skull behind it. Zahuul stayed on the Ardent Skull, and helped the frail elf eat and drink, though he never uttered a word, only nodding his head and offering weak smiles of thanks.
On the way to Junktown, Thane and Monad brokered a deal between Jonathan and the Aristocrat. As the ship was now Jonathan's he and the crew, whether remaining members or new hires, would act as one of the transport vessels for the spice company. Kyle was talked into being the ships boatswain, and Colton, former crew member of Big Red, agreed to help get them to Junktown, but wanted nothing to do with the party once he was freed. The party, for arranging the contract, would get a finders fee and a cut of profits.
As they neared Junktown, they spoke to Colton about the oracle. He told them that it was the elf, purported to have memories of the time before the cataclysm. However, the elf wouldn't speak and despite torture and beatings, proved effectively worthless in revealing secrets of the old world to Big Red and his crew.
Once at Junktown, the party went to Sammy's to collect their coin (200 × 10 victims saved, 500 a piece for clearing out the camp). The party used 200gp of gold to find a medic for the elf and a room where he could convalesce.