2022-03-29 - Carnivorous Kelp, the Tachrosi Navy, a Ribbiting Infinity
Because the crew knows that people are watching and paying attention to where they are going, in the interest of keeping their destination a secret, they are going and doing ranger stuff first, then to the gravy stain.
Nicholas is writing in his bunk with a light spell, which looks like spinning star patterns. Ant goes to bother him and ask what he’s writing; when he finds out that she is 29 years old and not a kid, he tells her: He is writing smutty radio plays about the rangers; the erotic adventures of the Albino Rhino. It gets read on late night radio, but Ant has never listened to the radio before. Nicholas explains what the radio is all about; reading letters from people, covering news and sports events, and occasional smutty late night radio plays. He gives Ant a small radio, which is just an enchanted music box, which will start working once they get the relays in.
There is an aurora above, arcing across the sky. This is a common-ish occurrence; once every few months; it’s an omen of a large and far away bad thing. Beurk, Fletcher and Swain chart the location of the ends of it, which are nowhere near where we are. But something bad is probably happening there.
During the morning watch, the ship drifts off course, and becomes mired in a kelp blight, which is hunting the ship. Cypher wakes the crew, and Patrice identifies the seaweed as carnivorous, and says that it will climb and dismantle the ship, in time. The crew sets all sails in preparation of a gap opening in the weeds, and the PC squad goes down in small boats to try to free the rudder and stuck parts of the ship. The kelp fires needles at the combatants, and the combatants fight the pack from their small boats. As the small kelp critters get wiped out, a giant kelp blight emerges from the water and grabs Swain and Fletcher. Cypher does a big dramatic attack and takes out the giant thing, and the crew frees the boat from the rest of the seaweed.
Tambor was seasick at the start of the journey, but recovers when offered hearty vine blight stew, and the Hill Dwarves bust out table tennis matches on Gregor’s tower shield.
Ant suggests that if we are too good at ferrying rangers around, we’ll just become a mail boat, and maybe we should do a worse job at that, lest the rangers never stop hiring them.
The Unsinkable II arrives at the first location and the rangers get to action. Nicholas and Jacqueline argue about strategy, and the decision is for the rangers to go down with Cypher, a water breathing spell and a rope to signal with, and will let the crew know if they need help. It’s revealed that Jacqueline got a sending from the last crew of rangers to go on this mission, who vanished on the job that said: “Jackie: I didn’t make it, don’t come looking for me. We’ll meet again at the arch.” So obviously Jacqueline came looking. This search for the last ranger group is news to Nicholas, Tambor and Gregor; they are just here to set up the radio relay.
Swain promises Nicholas that he will get his radio plays back to the Citadel if something bad happens.
The rangers descend with Cypher, and most of the crew plays table tennis while they wait. Patrice and Fletcher watch at the signal rope, and Helga is the clear winner of table tennis.
The crew, being preoccupied, does not notice the huge Tachrosi naval vessel approaching. The Unsinkable II fly a flag of Volos and a ranger tabard to attempt to signal that they are not up to pirating business. The Tachrosi vessel signals that they mean to board. The Tachrosi navy basically does whatever they want; they are basically just officially sanctioned pirates. Patrice attempts to signal to the underwater crew that they should come up, and the Unsinkable II prepares to be boarded.
Under the water, Cypher stays by the signal rope mostly, leaving it occasionally to check on the rangers who have entered an underwater cavern. When they check up on them in the cave, the Jacqueline, Tambor and Gregor are flailing against a swarm of infinite frogs that explode when struck. (A “ribbiting infinity”.) They seem to be deafened and/or blinded by the explosions, and struggling, while Nicholas frantically tries to set up the relay. Cypher, also deafened, swims back to the rope to signal for help, just as the gangplank drops from the naval ship onto the Unsinkable II.