We head for the Port of Spiders, since apparently there might be some trouble with Sparkletooth if we put in at Freshwater Harbour. Sailing up the western side of the island, we can see the inhospitable inland of the west. We can also see people on the shore here and there, but not much. The westernmost part of the island is the driest, sheltered by both mountain peaks. We can even see a little snow near the peaks. As we round the northern coast, we can see progressively more vegetation, savannah, then almost abruptly changing to forest. The captain tells us that the Port of Spiders is just around the next headland. There is a 10ft bronze statue of a spider on the headland.
As we approach the headland, the water becomes cloudier (up to that point, it had been crystal clear). We see a small harbour, with warehouses close to shore, and people in the town. The cloudiness seems to be from the sediment in the river.
The crew wouldn’t normally stay here, but we ask them to stay for a day while we establish if this will serve as a starting point for our explorations. Mel gives them a few GP for expenses, and we go ashore.
We meet the harbourmaster Howard, who takes us up to a warehouse. A small door opens, and another guy comes out, wearing a comical spider-shaped hat. He offers to show us the spiders. When in Rome…
He ushers us into the warehouse. We go in.
The interior of the warehouse is several floors high, piled high with cages. The cages are designed to keep spiders contained, and to allow one to lift and move cages without being bitten by the contents. Many of the cages are full… so many beady eyes. We can also smell something… agricultural. Pig manure. There are sounds of pigs, too.
We then ask to go see the traders. We’re met at the local tavern by a human woman (Annelie) and a heavily-pregnant dwarf. They ask if we are here on business, which we say we are, We ask them what they have to offer. Just the usual: rooms, etc. Cog also wants to go see some silk. Kedrigor takes us to a back room to show us some silk, Annelie goes to get us all some ale.
When she returns with the ale, Annelie begins to tell us about what has been happening recently in and around the Port: about a year ago, after Kedrigor got pregnant, the beer started going funny (not the ale, the beer) – it wasn’t fermenting right. Then people started getting strange too. It was gradual at first. She wants us to help, but also wants us not to hurt the people – they’re good people, just affected by… something. We’re going to carry all our things back to the ship. And we’ll use that pretext as cover to visit the boat before returning to shore.
We tell the captain to set sail (and not to take on any provisions first), but that we’ll take Sparkletooth with us.
We then wanted to make our way into the forest (to investigate what is going on), but the townsfolk insisted on accompanying us. We therefore ask Howard to take us up to the headland, and once we have him away from the town, Al puts him to sleep. But then we notice other townsfolk coming up towards the headland – we really don’t want to be forced into a situation of having to fight them – so we duck down the other side of the headland and head into the forest.
Where we find a couple of nasty raptors. “Clever girl.”
We beat them, but only after they do a LOT of damage to Aloeine and Mel. After some healing, we head further along the forest trail… and find a large spider. An ogre spider [“ogre ogre ogre spider ogre ogre…”].
We fight and kill the spider, and decide that its cave is an opportune shelter to spend the night… a night during which we are passed by a search party of about a dozen people. They find the corpses of the raptors and the spider and evidently conclude that those had fought and killed each other. After the rest of the night passes uneventfully, we get up and follow the trail, until it intersects a road. We decide to follow the road inland, and in case we encounter townsfolk on the road, we’ll just claim that we encountered the spider on the headland, fought it, and then got disoriented.
Also… wait, what happened to Sparkletooth? We must have left her behind in town! Oh well, by now she must at least have got herself to the tavern and eaten something… so she’ll be under the same mind control as the rest of the townsfolk, so we’ll just have to try to save her along with everyone else.
Can’t believe we just forgot about a party member…