Federation-Apocalypse Session 181b – The Crimson Permanent Assurance Trust

Vulcano Island

Fresh water? You'll drink seawater and like it!

As the convoy moved into deeper water again the temperature dropped significantly. It seemed that the reefs covered the top of a mid-ocean mountain range, creating a seascape of scattered islands surrounded by mile upon mile of barrier reefs stretching across a multi-thousand mile arc – and had inhibited exploration and trade for a long time before routes through had been found or carved out with magic. Apparently the rich waters on the far side were cooled and fertilized (at least where there wasn’t any volcanic activity) by a deep ocean current converted into an upwelling by its collision with the undersea mountains.

Marty found that quite interesting! So the land and water and such wasn’t just THERE like it was in Battling Business World and volcanoes (despite his personal experiences) weren’t out to get anyone in particular in most places!

He spent some time looking into “geology”, “hydrology”, and “oceanography”. It was really rather fascinating… All that stuff had reasons behind it, and a sort of life of its own, and wasn’t always just “drawn in” like it was in the toonworlds!

Raphael wondered too… Warm air blowing into a colder zone and meeting a cold upwelling current meant weather disturbances; they’d been lucky – and no wonder the reefs had blocked off exploration for centuries. A little fog or rain would make them extremely dangerous. A storm – even a small one – would make them a deathtrap

As the day turned (rather suddenly given a flat world) into night, the sunlets circling other disks glowed like stars, and the blue of the sky faded enough to reveal the outlines of the giant flying turtle-realms which flew slowly between the branches of the world tree. The waves lapped at their hulls, as the phosphorescence of the sea answered the lights of heaven.

First Marty, then Raphael, and then others began to hear a deep echoing sound that seemed to reverberate through the ship and the water – and flashes of colored light that seemed to come from the stygian depths below.

That seemed unlikely to be good! There were reds, blues, greens, yellows, purples, oranges, and more. Each flash was a particular color. They didn’t seem to be magical though…

Raphael promptly had the Thralls pass the word up and down the line – and asked for an update from the swimmers.

Well, none of the sailors were saying anything along the lines of “Well, that’s just old flashy again!” so Kevin sent some of the swimmers down to have a look…

They reported the presence of something massive deep below, further than they could dive. It was stirring up the waters, and was the source of the sounds. In it’s wake, it appeared to be stirring up something that was giving off the flashes of light.

According to the sailors, the lights were probably spores from fungal things that were believed to grow along the bottom. They tended to be a bit dangerous if they breached the surface, but usually only came up one or two at a time. They had no idea what the large creature might be though.

The spores were filled with a volatile mixture of methane ice, alcohol, and other flammable compounds. Upon exposure to air, they tended to catch fire and begin zipping around as the methane ice melted and expelled methane gas which propelled the spores and spread them across a wide area.

A bit of divination revealed that the creature was an immense fish-like animal that was skimming along the bottom and filter feeding on the spore clouds. In it’s wake it was kicking up an immense number of spores – which we re steadily rising to the surface.

Kevin sighed and added more wards – protections from fire, spore-diversions, and air-cleaning spells.

Raphael set up his bottle-spells to catch some.

There was a rather impressive display of fireworks as the spore clouds rose to the surface, caught fire, and then zoomed around the area like deflating balloons with fiery contrails. Thralls were busily running around using telekinesis and abjuration spells to defect the fireballs zipping about while ensuring that the fire protection spells held out. Raphael caught a number of spores with his bottles – and then, as Kevin, Marty, and the Thralls ducked and weaved across the decks, caught one right in the face.

It wasn’t that damaging, but it was annoying, and nearly pushed him overboard, and it spewed burning gas and slime everywhere – and the SMELL was quite atrocious! Like someone had been burning rotting eggs in a furnace for weeks!

Marty batted it away for him while the Thralls handled protecting the sailors. It tore off into the distance with “pfffffffft” sound.

Marty went “pfffffffft” back. Stupid fireball getting in Raphael’s face…

(Raphael, while holding his nose and looking for a way to get the smell out without bothering with magic) “We need depth charges next time those things show up. That is annoying. Pine scented depth charges with soap.”

After much dramatic pyrotechnics, the scene calmed down as the stirred up fungal spores started rising in other locations along the ocean’s surface.

Kevin contemplated the possibility of unusual depth charges – while Raphael got a bright idea for a far smelling spell that replaced the normal sense of smell.

Meanwhile, the Thralls healed the minor injuries amongst the crew and helped clean up.

The rest of the night will go smoothly enough after that. Come morning the crews found the water to be lightly dusted with colored dusts giving the water the look of a fine sheen of oil.

(Marty) “That’s interesting. Now, if only it hadn’t been from those damned spores!”

Raphael checked… Hm. Not flammable unless dried and ground into a fine powder.

Well, who knew? Somebody might find it useful.

They had the Thralls skim up a load for the mostly-empty ship – storing it quite carefully, with containment measures and spells. They didn’t need any explosions aboard!

They had to resort to wind-creation spells that afternoon; the light breezes weren’t getting them very far – but the magical wind got the ships moving again at a steady clip.

They did pick up a school of dolphins though – which promptly began to follow the boats and to leap out of the water alongside it as they swam along.

Marty thought they were friendly little guys and telepathically hailed them.

(Marty) “Hi! How are you today?”

(Dolphin) “Hi! You sure are moving fast for such a calm day! I bet you are using magic aren’t you?”

(Marty) “Yep? Hey, see anything interesting or dangerous in these waters? I’ll give you food either way.”

(Kevin) “Yep! Magic is fun to use anyway!”

Huh… It seemed like a mixed bag of normal and neodolphins. Were the Neodolphins out upgrading the dolphins in the dolphin manifold to their level of sapience? That would be a BIG project! The Cetacea were FAR older than humans! Or Neanderthals! Or even the early primates!

(Dolphin) “Not much around here beyond the big smelly thing that passed a while ago. It stank. Lot’s of fish to eat though.”

(Other Dolphin) “Although not all the fish are good to eat. Don’t eat the yellow ones. They’ll make you sick.”

(Marty) “Anything else we shouldn’t eat or touch around here?”

(Dolphin) “Yellow fish, big smelly thing, the grassy islands are dangerous too. Most of that stuff though you can tell by the smell. We think they come from elsewhere and are settling into the deep waters here.”

(Marty) “What’s with the grassy islands?”

(Other Dolphin) “Weird plants from the bottom that break free and float to the surface when they die. I think they eat off the volcanic vents at the bottom. They don’t seem like typical plants per se and are highly toxic to eat as we’ve seen from the fish near them. The gases they give off as they decay are unpleasant to breath.”

(Marty, handing out dolphin snacks) “Huh. Well, thanks.”

The place was definitely getting things wandering in though. Had they started that by – in effect – putting the place “on the map”?

For the night they had a fight breaking out aboard one of the merchant ships with lots of shouting, weapons drawn, and alcohol.

Naturally enough, they had to stick their noses in.

(Raphael) “All right you guys, you can fight and drink or you can have weapons out. No weapons where they could damage good alcohol or bad alcohol.”

(Marty) “I agree! It’s wasteful… Seriously though, what’s all this about?”

(Wolf) “This creep has been secretly meeting with my sister before we left port! It’s a disgrace to my family’s honor!”

The “creep” was a dog member of the crew. Apparently the two were drinking and telling stories until the wolf found out that the girl the dog was bragging about was his sister.

Oops! Marty had definitely been there.

Currently the wolf wanted to kill the dog to preserve his family’s honor, while the crew was busily trying to keep the two separated. The fact that large quantities of alcohol had been consumed wasn’t helping matters.

Kevin sobered people up.

(Raphael) “Shouldn’t you take that up with her? I mean she did it as much as he did.”

(Wolf) “Are you saying that my sister would willingly debase herself with a crettin like him?!”

(Kevin, who – being from Core – really did not understand at all) “Isn’t that their business anyway?”

(Raphael) “Are you saying you have proof she didn’t?”

(Wolf) “My family is a most honorable one and would never engage in such relations with riff-raff.”

(Raphael) “Then obviously it didn’t happen so it’s not a problem. This guy obviously got drunk and got carried away telling a story.”

(Wolf) “But these baseless accusations simply cannot stand! He would tarnish the name of my family and my sister in order to boast of his own “conquests”.”

The dog was busys backpedaling on the extent of the “conquest” but was NOT backing off on his relations with the girl. He was refusing to stop seeing her and was quite willing to fight for the right.

(Kevin, to the Wolf) “Sorry – but it sounds like she may like him, which is entirely her business. So do love affairs make fools of everyone!”

Marty guessed… Dog wanted to see her, Wolf’s family wasn’t too happy, and he did it on the sly anyway. That was absolutely classic.

(Marty) “And if she wants to see him, what can you do to stop her other than lock her up forever?”

The wolf looked like he was really considering volunteering “kill him” as a possible solution, but is holding that comment back at the moment.

Marty sighed. The two should probably be on separate ships for the duration.

(Raphael) “She’s not on the boat with us right?… can’t this wait till you get back and she can tell everyone how she didn’t do anything with him.”

(Kevin, to the Wolf) “So what’s your problem with him anyway?”

The wolf’s problem was that the dog was a lower class peasant with no major family name and thereby wasn’t suited for someone as well stationed as his sister… They got the impression that the wolf’s family wasn’t as well to do as he was trying to make out though.

Kevin had figured that; no major aristocrat would be crewing a down-and-out merchant ship!

The wolf ‘s attempt at carrying himself as an aristocrat was coming off as rather comical.

(Kevin) “Piffle. Why don’t the pair of you wait until the voyage is over? You’ll find out how much money you’ll have then – and both of you might make your families rich. If one of you gets killed early, your family won’t get as much!”

That line of logic didn’t really work, but it was easy enough to keep them separated on different ships anyway.

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