Installment 2 of the Sapphire Searchers campaign.

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With their new task ahead of them, and their leader quickly departing, the group scrambled at the work left to do and the mysteries left to solve. Thieving a ship after boarding it with a full contingent of crew was one thing, but taking one from the land? And what sea chart were they meant to be following? Towards what Sapphire? It was rather unfortunate that repeating himself was something none of them had seen Seneca do before.

Whatever task lay ahead of them, it would take more than the clothes on their backs. They collected the most savory treasure chest available in the building, brimming with gold, and made their way into town. On any other day, the gold would have been enough to afford any supplies they needed, but today the city was still afflicted with a touch of fire, a smidgen of smoke.

The party retraced their steps through the town, ultimately aim for the docks, but spotted a supply shop along the way. Deserted, but not yet looted, it held prize sailing gear, all of which was determined unnecessary. Whatever they needed, they could steal, except food. Brut hefted two barrels of hardtac rations, one over each shoulder, while Ka'Ara hoisted their chest of booty aloft.

photo of barrels beside house
Photo by Paul Jarvis / Unsplash

Empty handed, Lupe kept an eye out for how best to provide for the group. She wouldn't be able to carry weight like the Goliath and Barbarian, but maybe she could spot something more valuable- Like books. Sure enough, a few blocks further she spotted a broad banner- Torn and smoldering, but still legible. "Now in Stock: Tusk Love, Matilda Mercia".

Lupe recognized the title and entered the shop. Inside, hooligans had tipped over a bookcase, knocking it into the next one and the next one and so on. There was a grand arc of overturned shelves amid a cloud of debris. However, at the center, the register remained untouched. Lupe grabbed one of the books from behind the counter as she cleared the till- A meager take. Her gut told her there was more to be found.

assorted books in shallow focus photography
Photo by Eli Francis / Unsplash

Picking through the debris, feeling along the wall, she couldn't find any copies of this advertised book. There must be a back room. Leveraging her diminutive size, she slid beneath a bookshelf that lay at an angle against the adjoining wall. Sure enough, hiding behind here was a door with a message emblazoned; "Mature Readers Only Past This Point".

Jackpot.

The inner room was undisturbed. Posters adorned the walls, each a portrait, presumably of a mjor character in the featured book. A dirty, grimy wizard, a bluish green half orc with filed tusks, a swashbuckling pirate with steamy eyes. In fact, each of the portraits featured steamy, longing eyes piercing onlookers.

Promotional material indicated that this was the long awaited first entry in a series, and Lupe had heard of it before. Strange that it had taken so long for this place to get a batch of the first copy- Lupe had borrowed the third in the series while aboard the Gloomhazel. The writing had been compelling, but would certainly be embellished with some back story.

Book in hand, Lupe was almost ready to go, but her nose gave a twitch. Lupe was not one to ignore her nose. She made another scan of the room, investigating anything out of place. Strangely, there was a step stool here that could reach well beyond any of the squat shelves in this 'Mature Readers' section. Stranger, still, was the ring of dust around it.

Lupe climbed the stool, then the counter, then moved the one to the other to gain the last bit of height she need to relocate a ceiling tile. Hidden away inside was a ledger of some sort (probably worthless) alongside three ingots of platinum- A truly epic find. Lupe snagged the bars, books, a decent bag to fit them all in, and headed out to find the party.

She found them by the docks, Ka'Ara foisting a scrawny deckhand like a dousing rod, shouting "MORTY. Find. Lupe". Visibly distraught but more afraid of disobeying the Barbarian, the deckhand stammered "O-Oh-Ohhkay, I guess, uhh...".

Lupe interrupted the charade. "I'm right here, Ka'Ara".

"GOOD, Morty!" Ka'Ara set the deckhand down and slapped his back, driving him into the ground and noticeably harming his posture. As Ka'Ara led the other two aboard the ship Persephone had selected, they overheard her addressing the crew.

black and white sailboat in body of water during sunset
Photo by Katherine McCormack / Unsplash

"Now since we're quite certain the late Captain Roland won't be making his way back, I feel quite confident saying that we're you're best chance at survival. In fact, we won't just survive, we'll thrive! We're your best chance at... Thrivival!"

The shipmates appeared to be second string and easily intimidated or persuaded. As the party shambled in to assume quarters, they heard a distant goblin shouting behind them. "Sapphire Stone Searchers? Sapphire Searchers? Is it you, are you the Sapphire Searchers?"

A toddling goblin with ears as long as its head was wide was calling out as he walked along the docks. His plan appeared to be ill conceived, as the collection of scrolls and books he was carrying obscured his vision. He wouldn't see any Sapphire Searchers he was calling out to at this rate.

Eager to set sail and be done with this town, Ka'Ara leaped from deck to dock, picked the goblin up by the back of his shirt, and threw him aboard- Standard procedure for dealing with Seneca's goblins. The goblin introduced himself as Meerc, and he had the sea charts that Brut would be decoding, as well as some documentation about the Sapphire. He had also been instructed to follow along with the crew  and report back to Seneca regularly by way of sending stone.

Persephone confidently strode over to the goblin and said "Let him know we're on our way".