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Hired by two wealthy merchants, your job is to guard their ship while they make a routine delivery of supplies. Their destination is a remote island fortress, in waters frequented by pirates. They pay well, though they have an unusual condition for the job—no matter what, you cannot look in one of the crates.
The merchants are stern men and surprisingly well built. If you ask about it, they will explain they run a small operation and do all the heavy lifting themselves, which is why their bodies haven’t run to fat. They also have more weapons on them than expected, though they will be incredulous if you ask about it; saying their shipments run through incredibly dangerous waters and only fools would go poorly equipped.
If you sail with them the journey will take a couple of days. It will be fairly uneventful, but one of them is always with the mysterious crate. If you wonder the ship late at night, you might catch the two of them whispering. But if they notice you they will hush and stare with unwelcoming eyes, stating it is none of your business and you have been paid fairly for your work.
When you arrive at the island the merchants direct you where to land. It is ringed with sharp coral that would tear their boat to shreds, they tell you, and only a small patch has been cleared for passage. As you sail in you can see the wrecks of other boats stuck on the coral ring, while the island itself is bordered by steep cliffs. This beach is the only safe place for landing the boat.
If you take a small dingy out with the crate and other goods to the beach, a group of guards will approach you from the fortifications as you land, while others remain manning the ballista. The group tells you to state your business.
The merchants will call out who they are and inform them that they have brought the promised supplies. You will then be directed to carry the goods up to the middle of the beach, then step 5 meters back while they inspect it before payment.
Should you do this, the merchants will begin to look uneasy. ‘I don’t recognize these men, something’s not right,’ they will tell you, but by then the guards will have finished prying open the crate. Looking up from its contents, the inspecting guard will grin and yell ‘it’s finally him,’ to their leader, who will nod and look to his men. ‘Well then, boys, you know what to do.’
Then the guards in the surrounding fortifications will start firing at you with ballista and arrows, while the small group of men pick up the crate and begin to carry it up into the main building.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? The merchant vessel was really a disguised prison transport on a top-secret mission, taking a pirate king from a maximum-security prison to this fort. Once at the fort, the King would have been taken by guards and escorted to a different high security prison known to house the most dangerous and manipulative criminals.
However, the guards were killed by his fanatical pirate followers, who had learned of his transport. You can find the bodies of the actual guards, stripped of their amour, in the bushes at the top of the cliff.
Within the main watchtower you will find letters from the prison regarding three decoy vessels, each holding a lookalike in shackles. Two of the three vessels, the author of the letters writes, have been lost at sea—and that the fact the third had been left alone, alongside the sudden silence of the King’s fanatical followers, was of great concern.
The King himself is within the crate, which is actually crate of holding. The interior is a large and empty cell, within which the filthy pirate leader is shackled to a wall amidst some hay and refuse.
The “merchants” are really two disguised guards sent to ensure the transport doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and can fight like demons when they see their charge slipping away from them. They have a personal vendetta against the pirate king after he destroyed their village years ago, and would sooner see him dead than escape alive.
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