The lower hold of the ship held not cargo, but the controls. Thunder turtles sparked along the walls, and gnomes madly worked the controls at the far end. The circus barker whined about all his plans being ruined and gave the party the keys to the prisoners’ cages. While Salah concerned himself with completing the mission, Bixby made a break for the controls in a daring attempt to commandeer the vessel. A trap went off, dazing everybody except Salah, safe behind his shield. Then pandemonium broke out.
Alec, concerned the captured Corina might be suffering from the dreaded Helsinki Syndrome, charged her captors and was roundly thumped, ending up blind, deaf, dazed, and dominated. Corina followed suit, though managed herself more proficiently. Salah, to the dismay of the engineers tending the thunder turtles, stalked straight past the jumpy turtles, causing them to spark violently in surprise. The sparks killed most of the engineers, but Salah remained safe behind his shield. The carnival barker made a pathetic appeal for mercy, and as our heroes debated the merits of his plea, he slipped past them. Baal, however, was unimpressed, and when the con man tried laying it on thick, the invoker clouted him over the head with his staff, killing him.
Unfortunately, the remaining gnome set the ship on an irredeemable downward spiral, and the party quickly abandoned ship with the unconscious Nina. They saved as many of the subdued poachers as possible, but some had to be left behind.
From there, the party returned to land and began the trip southeast to the coast. Save for some unpleasantness with some boars, during which Corina made a daring charge from the top of a tree, the trip was largely uneventful. Soon they arrived in the poor port city of Freeport.
Salah headed immediately for the temple, where he stayed for the duration of their stay. While Bixby scoped out marks and sold local well water as the purest of spring waters, Alec checked in with the Alchemists’ Guild. Unfortunately, only menial tasks were available. Baal and Corina hit the bars, learning about a merchant named Hammond who was recruiting help.
Though at first leery, since the primary trade of the city was leatherworking (no doubt due to the preponderance of boars,) Baal visited and found Hammond instead needed guards for a venture known around the city as Hammond’s Folly. It was a stake on an unexplored, violently dangerous island. Hammond claimed the lumber there was far superior to that anywhere else. Baal signed himself on for 50gp and a 5% stake in the profits. He was uncertain he would be able to convince his friends to join for only 50gp, though.
It proved impossible. Salah refused to take any job except ones sanctioned by the Alchemists’ Guild. So Lex, the local Alchemist clerk, obtained the contract with Hammond for an Alchemist squad in exchange for 10% of expected profits. The party received half up front: 50,000gp. Salah sent word ahead to Commander Roland and Lieutenant Faye at the Water Temple that they were en route but had another task to complete first. And so the party set off for the uncharted jungles of an unnamed island.