Captain Tito Pitchbeard blinked against the spraying surf as his shattered vessel rocketed towards Boralus Harbor, flame spraying from her stern and propelling the frigate to the only hope of her crews survival. First Mate Ghosthorn was out cold, maybe even dead, and the majority of the other crew members hadn't even begun to recover from the naga attack yet. Only Bluetoe the ogre was on his feet, and shouted above the splashing din with a deep and booming voice, "Cap'n! We not gonna make it! Ship's lost her arse half a league back!" Bluetoe was right, the gnomish device propelling the ship had blown the rear half of the ship clear off in their haste to escape the naga. This thing we nabbed better pay ta fix me ship... or pay fer me funeral, at least... Tito thought to himself, and as he gazed into the head-sized pearl in his grasp, he began to think back to how he got himself into this situation and a convenient expository flashback started.
3 DAYS PRIOR
Tito had grown accustomed to Boralus, the Ashvane Company ran the docks, and they were lax as far as dockside regulations went. You paid a "protection fee" and they left your cargo bay alone. So by this point, Tito and the crew of his ship Goldtide were regulars in the Ashvane Yards and Hook Point, and being regulars got you privy to information others might miss. Usually the location of a good party or the like, but on this particular day, the information was special.
"I'm tellin' ya Captain, it's legit!" Bandle Sparkshot, one of Tito's pair of gnomish navigators attempted to appeal to the dwarf. "The Tidesages basically run this joint, nothin' comes in or out of the waters outside of Boralus without them knowin' about it. So when one of them is tryin' to keep a trinket secret even from his fellows, it's gotta be somethin' rare an' valuable, right?" Pitchbeard was unconvinced however, "Bandle, jus' cause ye paid fer tha info doesn't mean it's suddenly "legit". How do you even know what a Tidesage looks like? Coulda' been some vagrant scamming the gnomish tourist with some fancy robes an' wild tales of sunken treasure."
A smug look crossed Bandle's face, and she then produced a handful of something and gestured to Tito to accept it. "He gave me a taste of what we'd be huntin' in exchange for a bit more coin," she whispered. Tito grabbed the offering while looking around for witnesses shadily, and when he looked down at his now full hand his eyes lit up with greed. In his hand sat a trio of the largest blue pearls he had ever seen. He could easily sell each of these for five-hundred gold. "And yer friend said there was what, more o' these at the spot?" Tito questioned Bandle without looking up from the pearls. "No, cap'n," she said, growing more excited, "He said there was the mother of all pearls there, one what puts those little ones to shame! We could be ri-!" Tito clapped a hand over the gnome's mouth, and she looked about nervously, noticing the gathering group of vagrants in the nearby alleyways staring their way. Every hobo with a row boat would be asking around about this treasure if they didn't think of something soon. Luckily, Tito was an accomplished master of fudging the truth. "These're clearly fakes, Bandle, what kinda trash are you diggin' up fer me?!" Tito lied at an above-average volume as he threw the pearls into a nearby mud puddle. "SORRY CAP'N!!!" Bandle shouted, making Tito wince before shaking his head and motioning for her to follow him back to the Goldtide to fill in the rest of the crew.
"This is a terrible idea." The next day, the Goldtide was on her way out to sea with the Tidesage's secret treasure as the destination, and First Mate Ghosthorn was voicing his concerns, as he had been since the idea was brought up. "We know what you think already, Ghosthorn, now give it a rest," Tito barked at the Taunka, eliciting a defeated grunt from the First Mate. "I'd figure ye'd be more enthusiastic about it! First Mate gets a big cut o' tha loot. You work hard around here, mate, I don't keep ya around fer yer good looks, after all," Tito chuckled as he handed the captain's wheel off to contented Ghosthorn, his ego stroked enough to calm his attitude. Captain Pitchbeard made his way below decks to check on the machinations of his navigators, Bandle and Spanner. They'd been working on a means to speed the ship up using their considerable mechanical skill, and it would save them quite a bit of time if they could have it in working order on the way to their destination.
Tito opened the navigator's hold with a slam, causing the pair of gnomes to jump out of their skins. "CAP'N!" they shouted in unison, tools clattering to the floor. The dwarf paid no heed to their shout of frustration and instead took in the sight that beheld him. A massive machine was anchored to the ceiling, looking a bit like a cross between a crane and a rocket. "So, how's yer contraption comin' along? Could we get it movin' us quicker?" Tito questioned the gnomes as his hand hovered near a big red button on the underside of the machine. Spanner slapped his hand away, eliciting a yelp of surprise from the dwarf. "S'not done yet! We haven't even cut out a hatch for it to stick out of yet, so don't touch that bloody button unless you wanna cook us all well-done!" Spanner wagged her finger at the Captain and went back to working on the other contraption in the room, a small diving suit. It would be necessary to retrieve the Mother of All Pearls from the ocean floor once they reached their destination. "Aye, fair enough. It better be ready soon, or I'm throwin' it overboard! S'weighin' us down!" Tito threatened with a freshly slapped hand. "Oh no, Cap'n! It's my life's work! I'd just die if ya did that!" Bandle practically cried as Spanner rolled her eyes and continued her work.
Tito left his navigators in peace, his mood befouled by an unwarranted hand-slappening. He decided to head to the kitchen and drown his frustrations in... whatever Bluetoe was cooking. Bluetoe being the ogre cook for the crew of the Goldtide. As Tito entered the mess hall, he heard a commotion from the kitchen, and sauntered in to find Bluetoe in the midst of uproarious deafening laughter, a goblin fellow sat on the counter grinning to himself, clearly pleased with the outcome of his joke. The goblin went by the name of Hanz, and was the primary "requisition expert" of the crew, which basically meant he was the best at stealing, picking pockets, picking locks, picking the best piece of the treasure, and so on. Bluetoe got on well with Hanz, unlike Tito, who had spent many an evening following a return to port searching for the best piece of treasure he had set aside for himself only to discover it in Hanz's quarters. Hanz was just too valuable to risk alienating, however, so he got to stick around.
"Ey, Cap." Hanz waved to Tito as he entered, as did Bluetoe through laughing fits. "Must've been some kneeslapper... when yer done wheezin' Bluetoe get me some Cherry Grog, an' make it snappy! We got a ways ta go yet before we reach tha spot." Tito bossed the big ogre back to work, though Bluetoe was still chuckling to himself as he returned with a flagon of bright red liquid grasped between two of his gigantic fingers. "Sorry Cap'n, Hanz just too much! He tell me story of-" Tito downed the flagon of grog with a single pull and held a hand up to stop the ogre before speaking again, "Any salt-pork left?" Bluetoe popped the top off a barrel behind him and pulled a slab of whitish meat from inside. "Got plenty, Cap'n. I grill you some." Bluetoe began to soak the pork in a bucket of fresh water nearby as he continued his story. Tito didn't pay any attention and turned to Hanz. "Hanz, yer gonna be tha one ta take tha dive, you still think you got the stones for it?" Tito questioned with a sly grin. Hanz didn't return the grin, looking as aloof as ever. "Why, you think you got what it takes to open up whatever your sunken treasure is? Wouldn't wanna lose our beloved captain to fat-fingers." Tito's grin fell and he turned away from Hanz with a grumble as Bluetoe laughed from the kitchen at a particularly hilarious part of his story retelling.
The next day, the entire crew was assembled on-deck. They had finally reached the spot in the ocean that the Tidesage had marked for them, and the crew was buzzing with the promise of a valuable treasure right beneath the waves. Hanz was fully clad in a shiny brass diving suit below the neck, with the helmet under his arm as he chatted with Spanner and Bandle about the specific dangers of his equipment. Bluetoe sat on the deck near the diving point, a length of rope coiled beside him to pull Hanz back to the surface when he retrieved the Mother of All Pearls. First Mate Ghosthorn had the wheel, as Tito wanted to see off Hanz in person, seeing as he'd have his hands on their biggest find since forming as a crew. He's be sleeping with that pearl under his pillow and a pistol aimed at the door until they reached Boralus again, that's for sure.
Hanz slid the big diving helmet on, peering out at the crew through the large glass seeing port. He gave a thumbs-up, and the crew cheered as he fell below the surface and Bluetoe began feeding the rope out as he sank. "Luckily we have a rope tied around the snake," Tito exclaimed with a chuckle, "When he surfaces, I get that pearl immediately, ye understand?" Bluetoe continued feeding the rope out, "Aye aye, Cap-rrgh!!!" Suddenly, the rope began to pull against Bluetoe's grip, before becoming too strong and sliding through his hands, eliciting a grunt of frustration from the ogre as ropeburn tingled his grasp. Before he could properly react, the end of the rope slid from his hands and below the ocean. "Cap'n! What we do!? Hanz...!" Bluetoe was beside himself, torn between jumping in after the rope and following orders. Tito was taken aback by the turn of events and looked to Spanner and Bandle for answers. "What happened?! That thing was safe, right?" Tito barked at the gnomes, and Spanner replied, "There's no kind of failure, even catastrophic, that would cause it to just sink like that! I..." Tito shouted at Bluetoe, "DON'T YOU DARE JUMP IN AFTER HIM, everyone just CALM DOWN!"
Bluetoe slumped down to the deck, almost in tears, and the gnomes began to chatter to eachother in an attempt to solve this conundrum. "We'll see if he surfaces, corpse or otherwise, then we can come up with some other solution," the dwarf ordered to his crew. "We shouldn't stay here longer than we have to, Captain. If Hanz was taken by something down there, I don't want to be here when it investigates where he came from." Bandle piped up at this, "The suit still has escape mechanisms, the Ski-Boots would let him rocket back to the surface even without a rope to help! We briefed him on all the gadgets... maybe something just snagged the rope? We can't just give up on Hanz after one setback! Give him a chance to surface!" Spanner nodded in agreement, and the assembled crew looked to their captain for a decision. "We'll give him until tomorrow, no matter what we're headed back to Boralus come morning." The crew disperesed back to their duties, minus Bluetoe who sat next to where Hanz dove in a defeated posture.
Tito returned to his quarters, and prepared to sleep. His mind still raced with fury, as he was certain Hanz had found a means to slip off with his treasure. No proof had presented itself, but he knew his ship was the only way for Hanz to get back to port, so he'd wise up and show himself before too long. Tito's anger led him to waddle out of his bedroom to the mess hall for some cherry grog. The ship was as silent as a ship at sea can get, the creaking of the wooden decks becoming background noise as Tito slurped some cherry grog from a tapped keg before returning to the door of his bedroom.
((Add in this music from this point onward, if you like. https://youtu.be/ja1texxSyj8 ))
The dwarf paused as he reached the threshold of his domicile when he heard an odd sound. A squeak... a squeak of a porthole... the particular squeak that only his room's porthole made upon opening it fully... Tito slowly became alarmed, and settled into a crouch as he waited and listened. Shortly after, he heard the heavy clump of some metal boots on the floor, and scraping footsteps cross the room. Pitchbeard pried his door open silently, and what he saw confirmed his worst fears. Hanz stood over Tito's bed with something grasped in his fist, likely a blackjack, preparing to bring it down on what Hanz likely assumed was an occupied bunk. Tito shifted his weight and prepared to burst into the room and confront Hanz, but a noisy floorboard creaked beneath his foot and alerted Hanz to his presence, causing the diving suited goblin to staggeringly turn to face Captain Pitchbeard as he burst into the room and grabbed Hanz by the arm, attempting to remove whatever weapon he possessed.
Hanz reached out with his other hand and slammed it into Tito's face, grasping and covering the dwarf's vision. Pitchbeard struck out wildly and his fist connected with the glass viewing port of the goblin's dive helmet. When the blow was struck, Hanz's arms fell limp to his side and Tito was able to focus. Within the shattered helmet, however, Tito didn't see Hanz. He saw nothing at all, it appeared empty! Until suddenly, a black slime began to flow from the shattered helmet, and some sort of purple flesh bulged at the edges of the viewing port, struggling to emerge from the tiny opening. Tito, in his horror, grasped for the pistol on his bedside table, and managing to find it he aimed carefully at the creature wearing Hanz's form and fired at the viewing port just as the creature began to slide free. It spattered into dark purple ichor, and the dive suit clattered to the floor like a ton of bricks. And all was silent for a moment, before Tito began to hear a flopping sound above his own racing heartbeat. He noticed the sleeve of the dive suit bucking up and down, and lifted it to reveal a purple, squid-like creature struggling to move on land. On sighting the dwarf, it immediately latched on to his arm and began to climb it with frightening speed. Tito bludgeoned the creature with his pistol repeatedly until it ceased moving, its single eye ruptured by the dwarf's assault.
Tito grabbed his sword and gunaxe and sprinted topside, searching for Bluetoe, who had elected to spend the night on deck. The night was moonless and dark, and it took some adjusting for the dwarf to be able to see in the inky darkness. His eyes adjusted enough for him to find a candle, which he lit and padded over to Bluetoe's spot on deck. He brought the candle forward to illuminate the sleeping ogre, and was surprised to find another of those squid-like creatures attempting to maneuver itself over the ogre's gigantic cranium. At the presence of the candle's light, the creature shrieked, its single pupil dilating wildly as it jumped at Tito. The dwarf caught the squid-thing in midair and threw it down onto the deck, stomping it into paste with his boot. Tito breathed a sigh of relief, but had a creature been attempting to attack Bluetoe, the rest of the crew must be in danger as well!
Captain Pitchbeard began attempting to rouse Bluetoe, "Bluetoe! Ye great oaf, wake up!" As the dwarf began to shake the ogre, he heard footsteps coming topside, and he looked up to see, just as the clouds parted and moonlight spilled across the deck, the form of First Mate Ghosthorn with an enourmous squid-creature enveloping the top of his head, its tentacles grasping his face in a deathgrip. Tito began to slap Bluetoe's face in an effort to rouse him quicker, "BLUETOE! GET UP! GHOSTHORN'S BIGGER THAN ME!" Bluetoe began to stand up with a grumble, Tito riding on his shoulders and desperately attempting not to fall off. "Cap'n... too sleepy for orders..." Tito squealed at the ogre, "Ghosthorn's gone mad! Take him out, stop him, do something!" The First Mate then began wildly swinging a saber at Bluetoe and Tito, causing Bluetoe to jab out in self-defense, his first blow tearing the squid-creature free from Ghosthorn's face. "That's it ya big blue beauty!" Tito was overjoyed, as Ghosthorn shuddered and spoke groggily, "What happe-" The Taunka was cut off mid-sentence as Bluetoe gave him a more concentrated punch, cracking his nose and knocking him out cold, to Tito's horror. "BLUETOE, NO! WE NEEDED HIS HELP!" The dwarf slapped the ogre hard across the back of the head several times, though Bluetoe didn't seem to feel it. "I stopped him, Cap'n. Maybe he not be crazy when he wake up."
"Y'better not have KILLED him... We need ta check on tha rest o' the crew! An' quickly! Y'saw what happened ta Ghosthorn, get those bloody squid monsters off their faces and maybe we can do something about this!" Tito was in a blaze of fury, Ghosthorn would have known exactly what to do here, but all he had was Bluetoe now. At least he wouldn't want for muscle. Tito had the ogre stash Ghosthorn in a trunk so as to not allow another squid monster to attach itself to him. "Below deck, lets go. Find Bandle an' Spanner quick!" Tito ordered his makeshift mount downstairs, as quietly as he was able. Luckily, the navigators room was right beside the stairs two floors down. Horrifying sounds could be heard squelching and crunching from other bunk-rooms, but Tito couldn't afford to worry about it. He'd only get out of here with his own skin intact if he could get Spanner and Bandle to help.
The gnomes had their door locked, as per usual. Tito knocked quietly, doing his best not to attract attention. To his joy, the door opened and a squid-face didn't greet him, it was Bandle in her garish pink nightgown. "Cap'n? What's the deal?" Bandle sleepily questioned the dwarf as he forced his way into the room, Bluetoe crouching low to follow him before Tito closed the door quietly and locked it behind him. "We have an issue, Bandle. Where's Spanner?" He looked around the windowless cabin as something stirred in the room's sole bed. Spanner poked her head out of the covers and growled at the others. 'I only got to sleep an hour ago, what's this commotion about? Bandle, come back to bed, an' Captain, take Bluetoe and piss off!" Tito puffed up at the gnome's rudeness and began to fill them in, no time for discipline. "Y'really think I'd be bargin' in here if I didnae have a good reason? Bloody great squid things're makin' puppets of the crew! They already got Ghosthorn, an' woulda got Bluetoe if it weren't fer me! Whole ship's bein' turned as we speak, an seein' as you two are the smartest on the crew I came here first." Bandle blushed a bit at the compliment, while Spanner nodded in agreement, before joining the other three out of bed.
"So what started this, Cap'n? You ain't one to just go above deck for no reason in the night, what got ya topside?" Bandle questioned Tito as he relayed the whole story to the rest of the group. "Hanz came back to the ship, only it weren't him! I popped his helmet and some purple thing was squishin' around inside the suit. He had a squid-thing in his hand, ready ta slap it on me face. After I dispatched him, I ran fer tha one I thought'd be tha most help, Bluetoe on deck. A good thing, too, there was a squiddie right on his head. 'Soon as I saved his blue hide, Ghosthorn came up the stairs with one on his face as well, swingin' a blade aroun' like a madm-" Tito stopped when he heard the sound of many bunk doors opening, and a multitude of boots clomping and scraping down the halls and up the stairs to the main deck. "That no sound good..." Bluetoe rumbled quietly. When the boots stopped clomping and no more movement could be heard, Tito whispered to the others, "We need to check that out. Bluetoe, let's get up there quietly. Bandle, Spanner, yer smart, think of something ta help. We'll take a little peek up top and be back." The two gnomes began to protest, but Tito shushed them with a finger over his lips as he rode on Bluetoe's back out the door and upstairs.
((If you've been playing the music, go ahead and switch to this one now https://youtu.be/6d8JWq0N-r4 ))
As Tito and Bluetoe reached the deck above, they began to hear an angelic melody echoing through the floor from the main deck. Sailors had always told stories of "sirens" who had the ability to beguile a man into servitude with their song, but Tito had never faced one himself. He stopped Bluetoe before he reached the next floor and began picking at the warm and malleable wax on the large candle he had used to find the ogre earlier. He plucked two giant globs of it and told Bluetoe the plan, "Alright, ye hear that singin'? My bet's on a siren, that sort of creature can make ye do her bidding jus' by givin' you a good earful of her song. We ain't seen her yet, so I guess it ain't gonna have an effect unless we both see and hear her. I figure we'll have ta look at her ta fight, so I'm goin' ta put this wax in yer ears so ye cannae hear her song, right?" The longwinded explanation was absorbed by the ogre who processed it for a few moments before nodding in agreement. "Wait for me signal before goin' ta town on her, though. If ye see me pistol go off, then thats yer signal ta get in there!" Tito clenched his fist as Bluetoe nodded. "Got it, Cap'n." Tito then proceeded to plug the ogres ears with wax, before doing his own as well and he was deafened.
As they snuck onto the top deck, a bizarre sight was laid out before them. The remainder of the crew, sans Ghosthorn, was on their knees in formation, squids wriggling on their heads and bowing before a horrible creature at the stern of the vessel. The creature appeared to be some sort of elf from the waist up, minus some fins, gills, tentacles, and glowing red eyes. From the waist down she transformed into a sea-serpent, her body twisting and undulating as she sang to the assembled group of possessed sailors. Tito was so struck by the sight that he almost failed to notice what floated between her clawed hands; an enormous blue pearl, glowing in the moonlight and surrounded by a thin sheen of seawater. From the shadows of the entry to belowdeck, the ogre and dwarf were unseen by the mass of possessed turned the other way, and the naga siren was engaged in her spell.
As Tito watched, before his eyes, a human crew member stumbled forward, and laid down before the siren, as still as a corpse. The naga raised her hands into the air, and the pearl floated a small distance above her as she produced a knife from the ritual area she had created. She continued to sing as she slit the throat of the sailor, eliciting no response from the man beyond his squid-possessor wriggling eagerly. The man's blood seemed to be drawn out of the wound by the song of the siren, as she sang more intensely and the stream grew larger. The mans skin grew pale as his lifeblood drained out of his slit throat and began to surround the pearl floating above the naga's head, replacing the thin clear sheen of seawater with a thick congealed skin of blood around the pearl. The naga siren then reached for the pearl again, and it lowered to its original position, as the squid-creature on the man's face extended a single tentacle towards the pearl, and a deep black beam of shadowy energy enveloped the pearl and turned the blood a foul shade of black. With a dark flash of shadowy magic that forced Tito and Bluetoe to cover their eyes, something else lay where the man once did. A thin, purple-skinned creature rose in front of the siren, its face a mass of writhing tentacles and dark magics glowing in its eyes.
When the naga motioned for another crew member to go forth, Tito shook off his shock and knew he had to act. He leveled his pistol, aimed squarely at the naga siren's face. Bluetoe tensed, feeling the dwarf prepare to fire. With a bang that pierced even the pair's earplugs, Tito fired his pistol right into the foul naga's face, her neck snapping back from the force and her song cut short. Bluetoe immediately jumped to the nearest crew member and yanked the squid-creature off their head, and did so for a second one before Tito slapped his back and pointed past his face to where the naga was.
The ogre looked in her direction as she slowly brought her head back forward, Tito's bullet suspended in a globule of water before her forehead, and a smile dancing across her singing lips. The other possessed crewmates immediately jumped on Bluetoe, stabbing at his tough flesh with broken bottles and skinning knives. Tito slashed at the squids, cutting their tops off as best he could, leaving those he did so to successfully to slump to the ground. Bluetoe squashed squids between his fists and kicked vicious squid-sailors across the deck. The pair managed to incapacitate the gathered group of sailors, but their deafened state had left them unable to anticipate what the naga would do while they fought. When they looked back to her, Tito's heart sank with terror. Shadowy tentacles were emerging from the waters behind the ship, each as big as a kraken's, and a pair of clawed reptilian hands reached onto the top of the stern, followed by a gigantic naga warrior. Bluetoe grabbed as many crewmembers as he could and threw them towards the other end of the ship, as he and Tito retreated.
Just then, as soon as all seemed lost, a massive explosion ripped through the stern of the ship, throwing the pair of naga off balance as the shadow tentacles writhed in pain for some reason. The pearl stopped floating and flew through the air as the explosion rocked through the ship. It clunked to the ground and rolled towards Tito, who eagerly grabbed it as the naga siren pointed a jagged claw at him and the warrior tried to regain its balance. The doors leading below deck then burst open, Spanner and Bandle came through and wildly motioned to Bluetoe and Tito to come with them. The ogre and dwarf sprinted to the door as Spanner slammed it behind them.
The ship then lurched forward following another rumbling explosion, dislodging Tito's earplug. He heard the naga's screams fade into the distance as the ships lurching leveled out. He opened the door above deck again to see that the deck was clear of naga, and they were moving at high speed back towards the mainland. "What'd ye do girls?!" Tito gasped confusedly, "What's happened?!" Spanner spoke up, "We activated our magnum opus before its time, you better be appreciative! Now grab the rest of the bloody crew before they slip off with the naga!" Bluetoe stood obliviously, until Tito plucked the wax from his ear and yelled, "Get them to safety or they'll be in tha drink, Bluetoe ya oaf!" The ogre scrambled to grab as many crewmembers as he could under his arms and brought them below deck to the mess hall, convenietley located at the front of the ship and away from the rampaging rocket. The group just managed to get everyone to the relative safety of the mess hall when a deafening crack shuddered through the ship, causing Tito and Bluetoe to rush topside, leaving the gnomes to care for the awakening crew members. Tito ran to the front of the top deck, as Bluetoe surveyed the damage.
Captain Pitchbeard blinked against the spraying surf as his shattered vessel rocketed towards Boralus Harbor, flame spraying from her stern and propelling the frigate to the only hope of her crews survival. First Mate Ghosthorn was out cold, maybe even dead, and the majority of the other crew members hadn't even begun to recover from the naga attack yet. Only Bluetoe the ogre was on his feet, and shouted above the splashing din with a deep and booming voice, "Cap'n! We not gonna make it! Ship's lost her arse half a league back!" Bluetoe was right, the gnomish device propelling the ship had blown the rear half of the ship clear off in their haste to escape the naga. This thing we nabbed better pay ta fix me ship... or pay fer me funeral, at least... Tito thought to himself, and as he gazed into the head-sized pearl in his grasp, he knew what they had to do. "Grab hold of the mainsail, Bluetoe! Rudder's gone, so that's all we got!" Bluetoe reached up and grabbed the two sides of the wildly flapping sail, gripping them tightly. The Captain squinted until he could pick out the lighthouse of Boralus, shining into the night. "Left, LEFT!" He exclaimed, and the ogre wrenched the sails, bringing the ship shakily in the correct direction. Another crack rippled through the ship and the momentum slowed slightly, Tito guessed that the machine had broken off the shattered deck and fell into the sea. All the better that they didn't go rocketing into a harbor warehouse or something.
The ship was headed directly for a deep ditch designed for leading newly crafted ships out to sea, but the Goldtide was taking on water quickly, the resistance slowing the ship more and more. If they didn't reach the harbor soon Tito would be minus both a ship AND a crew. Perhaps the pearl sensed his desperation, because the ship ceased taking on water, and began to glide gently along the surface of the ocean towards the construction harbor. The pearl warmed in Tito's grasp, but he didn't notice, merely hoping against hope that they would make it into harbor.
LATER THE SAME NIGHT
The half-wreck of the Goldtide hung from a ship crane as Tito, Bluetoe, and the gnomish navigators Bandle and Spanner looked on. If Bandle's appraisal was correct, the Mother of All Pearls would easily cover the reconstruction of the Goldtide, and then some, so until they could fence the thing they were stuck on dry land. The rest of the crew were lounging around the harbor bar nursing massive headaches, especially First Mate Ghosthorn whose nose was wrapped in a blood-tinged bandage. "Well, I'd say it all worked out." Bandle said with a big grin. "The rocket didn't even kill us all, like Spanner expected it to, so, bonus!" Tito frowned at the chipper gnome, "Y'know, yer cut of the loot is goin' towards the ship." Before the gnome could protest, her hands balled into little fists, he continued, "Who was the one who said this was legit? You, right? We lost Hanz AND some fella I cannae remember but that's NOT THE POINT! Yer "tip" felt more like a trap ta me, if'n it weren't fer Spanner's quick thinkin' we'd all be fish food by now. So yer cut's toast." Bandle's mouth dropped open with shock. "Spanner said that?!" She turned angrily to the other gnome, who noticed and began to try and slip away before breaking into a full sprint as Bandle gave chase, shouting obscenities all the way.
Bluetoe sat at the bar, (taking up two stools), seeming rather melancholy. Tito joined him, "Hey, don't be so down, Bluetoe. Yer gonna get Hanz's cut seein' as ya were so helpful durin' tha whole crisis an' whatnot. Y'can buy yerself better than salt pork, that's fer sure." Bluetoe winced at the mention of Hanz, "Gold no buy new friend, me gonna miss Hanz." Tito was hardly broken up about losing Hanz, as it meant he didn't have to keep as close an eye on his loot anymore, but he feigned sympathy all the same. "Aw, I feel your pain, friend. Hanz was a valuable member of tha crew, an' he'll be missed fer sure. Ye ought ta name a new dish after him!" The dwarf patted the ogre on his shoulder as he perked up at the idea, "Use some fine ingredients and make a real gourmet feast in his honor, it'll help us all remember how much we loved havin' him around, right?" Bluetoe stood up with the sound of creaking barstools, "You right, Cap'n. I remember him in way I best at... you see tonight! You gonna love it!" Bluetoe excitedly ran off towards the markets, neglecting to realize it was nighttime, and all the stalls would be closed. Tito smiled devilishly, looking forward to a tasty feast in Hanz's memory that evening, bought with the Mother of All Pearls.