Having emerged from the deeps to resume our search for the elusive Lady Floriane, we decided to return to Northport. After all, we were looking for leads, and there was someone we need to see if we can find more about – Allutia.
Arriving at the Bestiary, we were met by Wenton. He had just begun to tell us that there had been a druid (from some backwater on the mainland) asking after Lady F, when who should appear but – what a coincidence! – Aloiene. Aloiene had been seeking Lady F, because Lady F was implicated in stealing dryad trees (and murdering about a dozen druids) from Aloiene’s home region. Autumn Grove in Northern Mestra (not far from some of the territory we had passed through) – was a circle of (formerly) 12 dryad trees, before 3 of them were pulled up and taken away. Lady Floriane was seen at the scene (her greenish skin and hair were recognisable). Although the local druids followed Floriane’s tracks to the main roads, it was there they lost them. A few months later, Aloiene heard rumours that led her to Northport.
We then decided to seek out botanists at the Bestiary, who were entirely disinterested in talking to members of the animal kingdom, until they heard we wished to talk with them about a new fungus. At that point, they became obsessively interested: wanting to know all about the Lord of the Deep. Fungus are usually parasites, so an ecological arrangment wherein the fungus was the food source for everything else was very unusual. Based on our visions, it could have been feeding off plants, which in turn have been drawing from the sun… but such forests would have to be a long way away from the fungus (or at least, the parts of the fungus we saw).
We further learned – apropos of nothing – that the bestiary had put a ban on dragon research.
Aloiene then asked us if we had heard of a sea captain with diamonds in their teeth. This seems the sort of thing of which one should have heard, but it’s news to the rest of us. It seems Lady F handsomely paid Captain Sparkletooth to transport dryads from point A to point B (what’s your point?). And… that captain had recently been seen in Northport. Let’s track them down!
Captain Sparkletooth turns out to have quite a reputation: as quite a skilled sea captain, but with not a lot of common sense, and certainly not above doing some dodgy work (including sailing through some risky waters to avoid Northport). She had been in and out of trouble a lot, but hadn’t been heard from in quite a while… until about three days previously when she showed up, having been picked up at sea by another boat (without either her ship or her crew).
Time for some further intel gathering: we headed first to the Squatting Dragon, but nobody had seen her in the past couple of days (which it seems is unusual). So… we decided to head down to the Undercity to find out whether Mistress Ann has any information.
Mistress Ann is a bit busy, so we wait, and pass the time chatting with her goons. “Seen anything interesting lately?” “Well, there was that guy who owed Mistress Ann money and didn’t pay….”
We’re led in to see Mistress Ann, and we tell her that we’re looking for Sparkletooth. It seems that Sparkletooth had borrowed a lot of money for a ship, then returned with neither money nor the ship. Apparently Sparkletooth’s story had been that the ship simply fell apart (“the front fell off”) while she was returning from a voyage – Sparkletooth had claimed that she had cargo on board which would have paid off the ship, but that the crew had all drowned, and that the cargo sank with the ship.
Being a true entrepreneur, Mistress Ann made us an offer: if we were willing to take responsibility for this sea captain, Mistress Ann was willing to reduce Sparkletooth’s debt to a paltry 10,000GP (down from 20,000GP!), and give us plenty of time to recover it. Or… we could owe Mistress Ann a favour. Al was much more inclined towards taking the latter deal, and after some discussion with Mistress Ann, the others reluctantly agreed. Mistress Ann told us that she has an interest in the faith of Zon Kuthon, so she wishes us to tell her anything we learn on that subject in the course of our travels. There seems to have been an upsurge in activity of Zon Kuthon’s followers lately, and that’s not conducive to good business.
And so we agree to take Sparkletooth, and Mistress Ann’s guards lead us back out (hooded as always to prevent us learning the location of Mistress Ann’s hideout); at some point along the way of being led back out, we’re joined by someone else (being carried in a sack), and shortly after that we’re unhooded. Whereupon we find Sparkletooth – gagged, and looking at little the worse for wear, but not yet subjected to any involuntary dentistry.
We then took Sparkletooth with us back to the Squatting Dragon, where she immediately began telling tales to the local sailors. How did she end up on her last job? Sailing back from a job they’d done – then within a day the ship contracted some sort of rot, and within a day it fell apart. We buy her a decent drink, which seems to convince her that “maybe [we’re] not so bad”. Cog asked her about previous jobs: her previous job was a year ago, and she had been marooned for a long time before she was able to get back.
It really sounds like Sparkletooth was convinced that her previous “special client” tried to do her in, and is now her enemy. Al suggested that our interests therefore align, and we can help each other. And while Sparkletooth seems to agree, we’re still keeping her shackled to one of us (or the bedpost) at all times. Trust in Norgorber, but tether your wyvern.
And so it looks like we’re headed to Green Island in the Dragon Isles (since that is where Sparkletooth last went)… and as luck would have it, Lady Elamnea already has a ship headed that way in a couple of days. Green Island is near Pearl Island, but doesn’t have a lot of pearls or tradeables itself. So next time… a sea voyage!