A massive natural amphitheater stretched out before them to a large underground lake. Directly in front of them was a huge ancient walking dock that crossed out to the water about 40 feet in front of them. The dock floated up and down on the clear blue water. Ringing the Cave was a naturally formed ledge roughly twenty feet up.
A bluish glow seemed to light the great cave but it was impossible to tell where it was coming from. At the very end of the dock was a large stone platform that jutted up and out. The platform had strange markings on it. On the far end of the platform across from where the dock exited was a body, a once great pirate captain now sat on a throne of bones, long dead and decayed.
Halfway down the dock before the platform, the dock split off to the left and extended to a large, Massive building sized stalagmite that had grown up from out of the lake. A doorway was carved into the side.
Titus was, for once, at a loss for words.
“Well, that settles that. Dead guy in the cave, that’s Corginostro, right? Doesn’t look like a lot of gold kicking around, honestly.”
Asyi ignored him, “try again, where is it, Savë?”
Savë was lost in the moment. Titus watched the woman’s face curve into absolute satisfaction, her father was not crazy, she was not crazy, at least not about this. The situation seemed to melt away for her and she was lost in the culmination of two lives.
“Cognagstro. I found you.” She muttered.
“Indeed.” The voice turned the trio around bringing them back to reality.
Dufrees stood behind them, a pistol in each hand hung at her side.
Nine pirates had spread out on the ledge above giving them a bird’s eye and an easy kill shot on anyone one the dock.
Asyi pulled her mace ready to fight but they were clearly outnumbered.
Titus leaned over towards Asyi. “If your poisoned needle was going to jump in, now would be a good time,” he whispered.
Raising his voice, he called to Dufrees. “Good day to you, madame! Did you resolve everything at the good mayor’s house? You were both somewhat distraught the last time we parted ways.”
Dufrees grinned…after all what did she have to be sad about?
“Ah, you must give me your name,” she began stepping forward, A tenth pirate stepping out behind her rifle raised to cover her, “I mean after all my struggles with these too who would have thought the person who would cause me such pain was a loser party boy just trying to get his dick wet.”
As she closed in she raised one of the guns and made a gesture ushering the trio off the main dock and onto the side dock that led to the building sized cave.
With a quick glance at Savë to make sure she was following along for now, he gestured grandly. “Ah! You cut me to the quick! I should have you know that ‘try’ is not usually the operative word, madame; nay, it should be ‘did get.'”
He backed down the dock slowly, next to Savë. “Keep moving, love, and we might not die yet.” His whisper to her was harsh but quiet. “My name, of course, is not particularly important, is it? This ‘loser party boy’ business is a bit awkward, though. Unless you are fond of having a mouthful, and I should not be one to tell you otherwise, call me Victus.”
He glanced to see what Asyi was doing, but stayed close to Savë.
Savë gave Titus a confused look, “Sure… you have a plan? what are you going to kiss her to death?”
She moved with Titus, as did Asyi, Asyi’s eyes constantly scanning the lake waiting for something, preparing for the fight only She, Titus and Save knew was coming.
Dufrees jumped in on Savë’s counter, “Oh kiss me to death?”
She eyed Titus, “He appears too dainty for me… but I do like to destroy something beautiful now and again… alas our situation does not allow for such indulgence. I’m here to win a war after all.”
The last part is directed at Asyi who cannot resist, “The gold won’t help you… nothing will, we will take our lands back.”
Dufrees smiled, “I’m not after the gold… and I never was.”
Titus grinned at Savë, his eyes a little wild. “Plan? Heavens, no. Just keep moving is all.”
Back to Dufree, he continued. “Dainty? Really? It’s the hair, isn’t it? This coif is elegant, but not suited for travel. Ah well, perhaps next time.”
They’d moved most of the way to the opening, so Titus stopped moving for a moment. “Out of curiosity, what are you here for? I can’t imagine you’d let whatever gold was here go in any case.”
Dufrees Grinned as she began to walk towards the platform in the center, her men began to move with her but backwards, the rifle always trained on the trio as if that mattered with the firing squad above.
“Most pirates are thieves, yes, so it makes sense you would lump me in with them. You don’t know any better.” She said walking down the dock and stopping just at the edge of the concrete platform, her man a step behind her gun still on Titus and the women.
She looked up and seemed to lock eyes with the dead captain, “I am not a pirate because I am a pirate… I am a pirate because I am a patriot.”
She turned to Titus, “I am a pirate because my country needed a thief, a killer. They needed someone to help them do the things they did not have the strength themselves to do. They found, in the naval academy, that I had both loyalty and an ability to see that the common rules of morality do not matter in the grand scheme of things, that only the results matter. Only winning matters”
She suddenly spun snatching her man with a looping arm around the throat, Off balance and surprised she hip tossed the man onto the platform.
“The Affiliation is going to win.” She finished. and almost on queue the pirate soldier began to wretch Blood spewing forth from his mouth, The blood itself, called froth from the unlucky pirate, moving along the platform floor, filling in the runes as it headed for the skeletal remains of the long dead captain.
Titus watched in horror as the man twitched and spasmed, blood gushing and flowing. “Lady… You are damaged goods.”
He shook his head at her. “Honestly? I don’t think you care two coppers who you’re fighting for, as long as you can be a psychopathic killer without the law breathing down your admittedly elegant neck. Not that you care what a little mouth breather like me thinks, really, but I think you should stop fooling yourself.”
Backing up a few more steps towards the cavern, he leaned to Savë. “I think that,” gesturing towards the currently dead captain, “is our cue to get moving.”
“Eh.” Dufree shrugs then spins a pistol in her hand pointed at the trio, “You say tomato…”
Her finger eased onto the trigger, but the moment was broken as a new scream sounded outside the retching pirate on the platform, this one from the ledge above.
Dufree turned, On the upper ledge the pirates were falling one by one as Kufi, the poison needle and his trio of assassin’s moved through their ranks. The scream had come from one of the pirates who had lost their footing just as Absiday had closed and toppled before he could be silenced
The pirate in the center of the platform stopped moving as the blood had begun to pull from his ears, and eyes as well.
The captain on his throne took a breath.
No one saw that though as Shots rang out, the fight was on.
Grabbing Savë’s arm, Titus took the opportunity to start running.Tearing down the dock, his only thought was to get the hell out of there. With the melee up top the shooters on the ledge no longer had them covered, he hoped that in the fight everyone would take Titus and Save for what they were, not a threat.
Titus ran dragging Savë. He was at the end of his desire to see how this played out, magical undead, pirates and Izwe assassin’s had helped him to the conclusion that it was no longer worth it… Whatever it was they were here for.
If Titus had turned he would have seen Asyi charging Dufrees while Dufrees opened fire on her. He would have seen splashes and plumes of blood. He might have also seen the unlucky pirate sacrifice cease to move while the long dead captain began to stand.
Titus, however, did not turn to see any of this… And no one could make him. If they could get back up the cave, hopefully this fight would last long enough to get them out of here.
Halfway down the dock though they had to pump the brakes as a Hili landed in front of them. The short blue creature was armorless in dark tight clothes everywhere but his head. His pupil-less eyes locked on them and two large knives came up in either of his hands. They had a wavy shape to their double edge and a circle ring at the base of the hilt allowing the Hili to spin them like impromptu buzz saws. He was a third of Their size, but no fear or doubt showed on the creature. After all, if you know how to kill, what does your height matter?
“I’m not afraid of him but I feel like we should be” Savë said, eyeing the mean looking Izwe.
Titus stopped reluctantly, his mind whirling. He took a leap of intuition. “Do you know where to find Poison Needle? Asyi needs help with that Affiliation psychopath. And whatever terrifying madness is happening on that dock. Can you help?” His tinge of panic wasn’t really feigned, but this man needed to get out of his way right now.
The Hili watched them for a second, then sprinted towards them, Titus read it not as an attack though. His gambit had worked or the hili had decided they weren’t worth it. Whatever the reason he pulled Savë out of the way and the Hili blew past them looking to enter the fray and aid Asyi against Dufree.
Titus wasted no time again rushing down the docks Savë in toe, just barely dodging a falling pirate as they hurried past and up the cave back the way they came.
The Last Tea Shop. A solo TTRPG playthrough. Written by Ash Alder and narrated by Zachariah Van Sluyters