Midnight’s ebb tide
The tower and the rope
They came to the clifftop. A tower stood there, next to an iron ring with a rope hanging down to the ocean. Skagharin lowered himself down the rope while Dintari stood guard above. Skagharin kept an eye out for caves during his descent, but saw nothing. The rope trailed in the heaving waves below. Skagharin returned to where Dintari waited. The others had gone into the tower, except for Freilen, who stood quietly at the cliff’s edge watching the sea. Dintari and Skagharin shrugged to each other and entered the tower.
Near the dim entryway was a pile of driftwood. Skagharin selected a piece with a label: ‘The Black…’. The Black Pearl had been the drunken captain’s ship, thought Skagharin. He and Dintari ascended the spiral stairs and found Lorien Moonshadow, Brutarl and the new sailor Adlek Veltani standing over the corpse of a rock-thing, possibly a gargoyle. There was a large unlit signal fire built from driftwood on the top of the tower nearby. Although it was late afternoon, Skull island was only barely visible through raggedy clouds.
A drab meal
There was nought to be done until the tide turned, so the adventurers returned to the Silver Halyard in the village. The mad captain was gone; only the sour barkeep to serve them a tasteless meal. At midnight’s ebb tide they ventured back to the cliffs, pale in the moonlight, and this time the rope touched dry land.
Down among the Teeth
They descended, one after the other, to the moist sand dune and the sharp peaks of the rocks known as the Teeth. The wrecks of various ships lay marooned among them. They passed first one, then another, seeking the Black Pearl. From one hulk they heard noises and saw footprints leading from the water. They hurried on.
The sea cave
With the tide out, Skull Island was now a peninsula rather than an island, and it loomed up in the darkness ahead. Lorien Moonshadow saw a huge cave in its near side, and drag marks and footprints indicated a wreck had been towed inside. The androgynous elf disappeared into the darkness to investigate, shadowed very closely by his ugly friend Freilin.
The Black Pearl, discovered
Moonshadow returned, saying the cave was large and the ship was within. Not wanting to linger for the tide to take them, Skagharin and the others entered the cave, which was wide and sandy-floored. They marched for some time, following the boat tracks. At length they arrived in a subterranean lake, lit dimly by glowing fungi. In the lake was the wreck they sought — the Black Pearl.
Adlek swam out to the boat and climbed up to the foc’sle. Before he could take a look around, shambling zombies emerged from belowdecks and shuffled towards him. Moonshadow and Freilin drew their long bows and began to rain arrows on the hideous crew. Brutarl and Skagharin immediately headed to the water. Skagharin was a good swimmer but the barbarian shot past him and clambered effortlessly up the side of the hulk. Dintari, none too good a swimmer tried hurling a rock, then shrugged and waded carefully into the water.
Adlek was holding off the zombies at the stairs to the forecastle when Brutarl arrived. Brutarl wielded Peacemaker and chopped zombies left and right, while arrows rained down from the elves on shore. Dintari and Skagharin arrived. Dintari charged to join the fight while Skagharin hurled belaying pins at the undead. Soon, their corpses were dismembered and still.
The ship had been stripped of all valuables except an intact barrel of rum, which Skagharin broke and doled out to the others. It was good rum, but where was the treasure they sought? Deeper in this sea cave, no doubt. Skull Island held more mysteries.