Agatha Smee appoints Fletcher as captain over the crew’s choice of captain by committee, of which she does not approve. When L A Smee died, she became the owner and now she needs to entrust the ship to someone who seems remotely qualified. She forbids the crew from going on any idiotic treasure hunts.
The crew immediately starts to expound on how they JUST got a treasure map from Smee in his will, and Fletcher agrees that they definitely must go for it.
The reading of the will:
- The ship goes to Agatha, possessed of a hardy and probably unsinkable crew
- In the will is a map of the Lancairn sea, drawn on a bar napkin
- Several familiar and unfamiliar islands are drawn on it
- Past the maelstrom is an X, to the North East of Volos is a gravy stain
- On the back of the napkin is written: "There once was a Captain named Smee, an unkillable fellow and he, a scout that could fly and a two headed guy made this map to the unfathomed quay.”
Swain knows that the Unfathomed Quay is an Ashkel legend - it was once an elven holy site, with a temple built on it.
Since more captains have been trying to cross the sea, people are returning from the sea by coming straight across rather than going around the coast, because the maelstrom has suddenly vanished, as of 6 months ago.
Fletcher asks about a two headed guy - Cypher knows the librarian, an Ettin named Joh-N-athan. John is friendly and welcoming. Nathan is a hoarder of books and does not want to let anyone have them ever.
Swain asks John about it, but Nathan reminds him that they promised never to talk about it. Fletcher persuades them (using guilt about Smee's DYING WISHES) to talk. Nathan declares that they will follow the captain’s dying wish and take the Unsinkable II and get it sunk.
In the restoration room, there is a larger and older copy of the napkin map. It is in there because there was a break-in where someone took the map down (”MANHANDLED it!”) and, ransacked the card catalogue. They are working on making sure it is in good repair. This means that someone else probably has a copy of the map. Other books are also missing, after the theft: Ranger’s Compendium of Beasts (stolen by Cypher, on display in the front window of the museum), several books on the Maelstrom, a large atlas, a tome on storm magic. Nathan wants to hire a PI, John wants to let the books be free.
John and Smee planned this trip about ten years ago, with some other people they were drinking with. The trip was foolishly dangerous, before the Maelstrom disappeared. New Year’s ten years ago... there was ham in the air, and they were drinking with a druid from the Cormorant, who spends most of their days as an albatross, running the Great Lighthouse.
The marks on the napkin can be fleshed out from the proper map; it is a map of the Lankaeran Sea pre-Maelstrom. The gravy stain has a clear thumbprint in it; it was made there on purpose.
Fletcher says we should get a fucking move on, since at least one person or crew of people is at least a day ahead of us.
Swain sings a song introducing all the bit characters on the ship and getting the ship provisioned for a journey. The song is interrupted by a quartet of strangers loading strange machinery onto the Unsinkable II. Two big dwarves in cloaks, a human and a blue-haired tiefling with the insignia of Frontier Rangers. The dwarves are holding an immense engine, with a series of tubes pumping white gunk, making a whirring sound. Fletcher stops them and asks a bunch of questions; this is a radio transmitter, from Agatha.
The human is a ranger knight; Dame Jacqueline O’Hara. “Jackie to her friends, Jax to her enemies.” (It’s on her trading card; Ant knows all about it.) Their instructions are to scout for a deposit the transmitters at sites of mystic powers for radio coverage on the sea. Cypher rearranges the orlop to accommodate.