Episode 12 – Lost and Found

 

Knowing a Grik large force will be arriving soon, the residents of Davao begin to improve their defenses. As protection from a large scale attack was not part of the city’s design, there are many areas that vulnerable to attack. The city is surrounded by a ten foot wide, ten foot deep ditch to keep dinosaurs out, but no other serious defenses protected Davao. Taking advantage of the natural crescent in which the city was built, the defenses were concentrated in two forts at the eastern and waster tips of Davao. This arrangement gives the forts the widest possible arc of fire for the thirty cannon emplaced in each and the ability to support each other with cross fire. Built of rammed earth and strengthened by bamboo logs, the fort’s walls are fifteen feet high and twenty-five feet thick.

 

While the outer ditch provides a decent measure of protection against wandering dinosaurs, these defenses were never designed to be effective against a concerted attack. The heavy jungle surrounding the city largely precludes organized troop movement, leaving the beaches that extend from the jungle for several hundred feet on either side of the city as the most vulnerable part of the outer defenses. In addition, to this weakness in the outer defenses, the most gaping whole in the city’s defenses is that the entire shoreline is completely unprotected.

 

The only defense that can be built quickly to cover so much open ground is to construct an abatis out of readily available and abundant graint local bamboo. Even taking the ease of construction of such a simple obstacle into account, building enough abatis to cover several miles of beach is going to be a mammoth project. Supervising this work is a FORMIDABLE Complex Action of Intelligence + Craft / Carpentry or Intelligence + Knowledge / Engineering with each roll taking one day. If a Botch is rolled, the first one is per the rules. If a second Botch is rolled, the project can continue, but runs into a delay that adds 1d3 days to the construction time.

 

While building the abatis along the beach, six days into the construction, one of the workers shouts that they have discovered something. When the PCs rush over, they find that the digging has exposed the remnants of a ship’s boat. Not exactly an unusual discovery, but what sets this boat apart is its extreme age, and that not only are there human bones on the site, there are other antique artifacts including the remnants of a musket.

 

Properly dating the relics is a HARD Complex Action of Intelligence + Knowledge / Archeology or a FORMIDABLE task using Intelligence + Scientific Expertise / Geology with a time increment of two hours. Success will determine that the objects are roughly 200 years old and completely authentic. Examining the bones is HARD Complex Action of Intelligence + Medical Expertise / Physiology of a FORMIDABLE task using Intelligence + Knowledge / Archeology and reveals that they are the incomplete remains of three individuals, two adult males and one adult female.

 

All that remains of the musket is the barrel and the lock, but both are stamped with a crown and the letters H, E, I, C. Remembering that this maker’s mark is that of the Honourable East India Company is a HARD Recall roll (Intelligence + Willpower). It takes a second test of the same skill and difficulty to know that the East India Company did not become known as the the Honourable East India Company until 1708.

The discovery of the boat is the first physical evidence that other humans visited the area long before Davao was settled. The ancient writings of Siska-Ta stated that one of the Tail-Less Ones’ ships insisted on returning westwards. Based on the fact that the Grik clearly use copies of East Indiaman and English on their documents, it is obvious the terrible fate that befell those that made that choice. The ancient texts also state that all the other ships sailed east, never to be seen again. The remnants of the ship’s boat imply that at least one of those ships failed to reach wherever they were headed. However, a HARD Alertness + Perception roll will spot a large lump near what was the bow of the boat. Extracting the ten by ten inch object undamaged is a HARD test of Intelligence + Knowledge / Archeology. On a successful roll, the lump turns out to be an oil skinned packet containing several legible pages of a diary. On a fail, water enters the packet and only a single page is legible. On a Botch, the entire packet is ruined.

 

If several pages of the fragile documents survived, they prove to be part of the journal of one Richard Pettigrew, Esquire a gentleman en route to a posting as a solicitor in Canton, China. There are no dates on the surviving pages as the crabbed writing shows the journal was being updated in great haste. The gripping narrative explains how the eight ships of the convoy were caught in a squall of an ‘angry, evil aspect’ and on exiting the storm, somehow, things had changed, their entire world was no longer as it was.

 

The journal goes on to explain meeting with a ’most curious’ race that could only be termed cat-monkeys where Surabaya was supposed to be, how one ship insisted on attempting a return trip to England, that the others would sail east to Staten Landt, and how their ship was beset by a ‘Leviathan’ of the deep that stove their ship’s hull. Pettigrew and six others were the only ones to escape the loss of the East Indiaman the Earl of Pembroke. What happened to the survivors is lost when the pages become illegible.

 

If only a single page is recovered, the journal covers meeting with a ’most curious’ race that could only be termed cat-monkeys where Surabaya was supposed to be, how one ship insisted on attempting a return trip to England, and that the others would sail east.

 

Understanding the reference to Staten Landt is a HEROIC roll of Intelligence + Knowledge / Geography. If by chance a PC succeeds, that character will have read of the early exploration of the Pacific and that it was a Dutch explorer that discovered a pair of large islands that he named Staten Landt in 1642, later renamed New Zealand.

 

Having a destination for the first Tail-Less ones to reach this world gives the humans hopes that perhaps some have survived until now, but that is will have to be a quest for another day as completing the defenses of Davao is a far more pressing matter at the moment.

 

As the last of the abatis is completed, the last of the scout feluccas returns with a report that twenty-one Grik ships are closing rapidly and will arrive in less than two days. The residents of run out of time and now it is time to make their stand.