Hanging from the steel torque that dangles around the scrawny neck of this fiend,are numerous Amethyst stones. These provide it with an ever present source of magic for it to unleash against any who would seek to slay it.
Like the rest of its foul kind,it resembles from a distance an extremely thin, hunched man with whip-curved spines and a long neck. But if confronted up close,it becomes abundantly obvious that this is no man; its hide is clad in glimmering bluish scales, and the scoliated spines are crowned in rows of complex spines. The grasping hands are small and sly, and have six long fingers with curved nails; these hands he constantly rubs and wring together, in the sly and sycophantic motion that so characterizes its kind. Short and bandy-legged,the draping tail it possesses is half-again as long as it’s body. What passes for its face is reptilian and long, with a long solid dental ridge rather than separate teeth. The brows and jaws are bearded with flexible spines, and the throats possess fanning fins.
All in all, an extremely loathsome thing to behold, but in a morbidly amusing attempt to command the respect due to the self proclaimed lord of Shorto Bay, it has taken to adorning the top of its head with a soiled purple silk turban surmounted by a large ruby that perches precariously on top of his narrow skull. This, apart from the tarnished silver torque encircling its neck that always seems to have a variety of Amethyst and other precious gems trailing from it,are the only articles of human finery to clothe him. Otherwise, it is quite naked, clad only in the sapphire scales that it has its minions polish till they gleam so brightly as to catch and reflect the fire of the sun in them. The source of its vain pride, it treasures them greatly,meaning that anyone who damages even one of them, be it by accident or purpose, can expect to be ripped into bloody shreds while still alive and then be devoured.
There was a time when this foul thing was not always the monster that inspires the darkest nightmares of the unfortunate folk that live along the Shorto. Nay, in another life that it now can only dimly recall in scattered fragments, the Fiend of Shorto Bay was once Captain Hiroto,a dashing and charismatic noble of Banhosea hailed by many as a quickly ascending star destined for great fame and glory in the more elevated ranks of the DeMadden Company, that enormously powerful mercantile institution that is rightfully described as the heart of Banhosea by the citizenry of that nation.
It is a respected tradition among the nobles of Banhosea to enlist their best and brightest scions in the service of the Company. It seen as a vital rite of passage by their elders, that these privileged young men prove their mettle and strength of mind by serving onboard the vessels of the Company as senior officers. It is there, in those narrow and confined enviroments of wood, that they will find themselves undergoing one of the most brutal and dangerous trials by fire imaginable when plying the seas of Acqua with all their assorted horrors that range from the human loathing Shura with their ‘‘demon lights’‘, to ravenous Krakens that haunt the seas in search of easy prey to devour, some of these gigantic monsters capable of devouring the entire crew of a small ship. Added to the difficulties that they are faced with on the open ocean, is their vital responsibility to maintain the morale and discipline of their crew, a sometimes difficult task, but nevertheless one that are expected to perform to the best of their ability. Rare is the noble family that does not have its name tarnished when a crew under the command of its heir, mutinies.
But immense will be the reward for those that rise up to the challenges that arise in the service of the company and vanquish them with a greatness becoming a Captain of the Company. To these luminaries, an entire world of possibilities beckons, including the much cherised chance to one day occupy the throne of Shogun, ruler of Banhosea and Lord High Admiral of the Company.
And there was no doubt in the minds of many that Captain Hiroto would one day scale the ladders of power to occupy that lofty seat some day. Born the eldest son of a powerful trading family supplying the needs of the Company, he joined it at the realtively young age of twenty two.
Within the span of a short five years, it soon became abundant to his superiors that this comely and endearing young man had the potential to become a powerful force within the Company. As the dashing, courageous and sometimes reckless Captain of the Sea Rider, one of the sleekest and most speedy galleys the Company had to offer, he inflicted many a crippling strike against the numerous nests of corsair Regulators that plagued and harrassed many of the Company ships ferrying precious cargo such as Amethyst to and from Banhosea. Fortunately for numerous of the Company merchants, he was so succesful in the battles he waged against these raiders of the sea, that by the third year of his career, piracy in his sphere of operations had dropped dramatically, with the Regulators preferring to quitely sail away to a quieter haven rather then face almost guaranteed annihlation at the hands of ‘‘Demon Hiroto’’ as they had taken to fearfully calling him . But the victories he chalked up in the service of the Company did not end with mere naval encounters. A consummate and shrewd diplomat amply endowed with what most called his sincere charm, he proved to be an important player in helping the Company establish trading ties with many of the Amethyst rich island city-states ruled by Krakens that had been inspired by the fabled if somewhat notorious Big Red, to rule over their own domains. But the biggest feather in his cap by far, was his successful wooing of the eldest daughter of one of the Admirals directly serving the Shogun, in his eight year of service. With their wedding expected to be held soon,this was his crowning achievment, the one widely seen as that master stroke of genius that would propel him into the glorious ranks of the Barons advising the Shogun and from there, hopefully ascend to the top job itself, an ambition that those who knew him well,were aware that he held dear. This then, was the man who would on some auspicious day, become supreme ruler of Banhosea and unquestioned master of the Company.
But fate can be extremely cruel. Tragedy struck when he least expected it, a tragedy that would reduce him from his lofty perch as a veritable god among men, to something scarcely even human.
Great indeed, was the irony that his downfall swoop down upon him in a place widely regarded by the Company as one of the safest places in Acqua.
A month before the tour of duty that he and his crew were currently serving was to end, Captain Hiroto was assigned to collect the annual tribute owed by the people of the Golden Isles to the DeMadden Company. It was a simple and tame task, one that his future father-in-law had ensured would fall to Hiroto, by pulling a few stings here and there. It would not have done to have Banhosea’s most eligible young man get slain on a perilious mission but a month before he was planning to wed one’s daughter. No, in this crucial period, it was vital that young Hiroto return alive.
And so it was that the crew of the Sea Riders was dispatched to the sleepy Golden Isles for their final task of the year. Most of them were looking forward to spending a very comfortable week on the golden sands of the Isles, especially Hiroto who had just recently completed a very harzadous mission to slay a rouge Kraken that had terrorize a little fishing village for a total year. Now he like the rest of his men, could smile as they let their minds drift to the famed island beauties that would undoubtedly greet them once they arrived there.
This pleasent thought was immediately dispelled form their minds as the Sea Rider finally reached its destination one warm night. A ghost town greeted their eyes. All the houses in the little settlement located some distance away from the shore, were devoid fo any kind of activity, their windows and doors heavily barricaded by rocks. It was the kind of thing that one would expect to see in a town expecting to be flooded by a tide of dangerous invaders any moment, a hardly plausible possibility in a place known for being the most idyllic place a mariner of the Company could serve in. Most odd indeed. Much perturbed, Hiroto ordered two of his men to disembark off the ship and investigate this peculiar situation. Half and hour later, they returned with frustrated expressions on their faces. According to them, none among the villages had allowed them entry into their homes, choosing instead to hiss warnings about how something called ‘‘The Black Tide’’ was imminent and how it would carry them off if they didn’t turn around at once and leave.
Hiroto scoffed. He had heard tales of this so-called Black Tide that supposedly haunted the Golden Isles every year,an army of monsters rising out of the ocean to carry off any and all they saw. To this day, not a single mariner had come back carrying tales that would verfiy this old folk tale. Well, not any reliable ones anyway. It was just another silly superstitious myth these islanders had concoted to scare themselves. To make the situation worse, his ship had picked up rats at their last stop five days ago, and now the vermin were simply everywhere. There was no way they would spend the night in those unsanitary conditions. No, there was no help for it. He and the rest of the crew would have to rough it out by pitching camp on the beach and passing the night as best as they could.
The horrors came as they were all nodding off to sleep, their weapons left in a pile at the far side of their little makeshift camp. Senses and fighting edge dulled by fatigue, the men of Hiroto’s crew were utterly helpless when the malformed monstrosities fell upon them, slashing open tents with their huge, curved claws and dragging off their screaming occupants into the darkness. Hiroto jerked awake as the terrified cries of terror tore him from his restless dreams. Only to be greeted by the chilling sight of hediously twisted appendages ripping into his tent and closing over his limbs, crushing his desperate efforts to break free with their awesome strength. And then he too was pulled into the shadows with the others, giving forth to frenzied shrieks as the most horrifying thing he had ever seen in his entire life slowly rose up to fill his entire vision like some inexorable omen of doom. There was a vast, seething mass of wriggling little black things covering the entire shore, for as far as his terrified eyes could see. Even as his bestial captors dragged him towards it,the entire body of squirming things seemed to shiver violently, as if in fiendish anticipation of the fresh meat that they would soon enjoy. Then his head was forced down on the soft sand by huge, repellent fingers, and as if that was the signal it had been patiently waiting for, one of the slithering little things detached itself from the rest of the seething mass and scurried towards him, making straight for the mouth that gaped open in a silent scream of terror as it were some long awaited haven. Numbed by the resigned despair now coursing through him, Hiroto barely felt it make its foul way down his throat, all his mind bleakly fixed on an old tale told by the islanders of the Golden Isles about monsters that snuck out of the ocean to make away with the unwary..
Two months passed and still the crew of the Sea Rider had not returned. Worried for the safety of the crew, the Admirals of the DeMadden Company dispatched a team to the Golden Isles with the aim of finding out if the islanders had any knowledge pertaining to the grim question of what had become of Captain Hiroto and his men. They returned fruitless. The islanders when questioned, had insisted that the Sea Rider had failed to show up on time to collect the tribute owed to the Company. This account was consistent with all the people, not a single person varrying from the story of his neighbours by the slightest degree. The only feasible conclusion they had drawn from this was that tragedy must have befallen the Sea Rider on the open sea. Distraught by this news, those who had known Hiroto held a massive funeral service for the vailant Captain. His loss was a painful one indeed to the Company.
Five years after these tragic event,a most bizzare thing happened in the little Amethyst mining village of Holstar, one out of a string of little costal settlements that are scattered around the lode-stone rich Shorto Bay, a piece of land that Banhosea lays claim to.
On the night of the local festival held to thank the Godess Ulamnia for the blessings She had showered upon the folk of the town, a monster of most fearful aspect emerged from the ocean just as the priest was about to offer a sacrifice to the alter of Ulamnia. Clad in the tattered remains of what might have once been the garb of a Company Captain, it begun to speak to the horrified onlookers. Though no sound that could be remotely described as speech sprung from its maw,there was a sibilant voice dripping with foul rot that seemed to fill the heads of everyone present, demanding that from henceforth, they would worship only it as their god. Utterly overcome with terror, they dropped to their knees and proclaimed it their new god.
It wasn’t long before the unwelcome new guest was forcing the frightened residents to obey its every whim and lavish upon it the best meals of the finest fish it called for, as well as all the riches that the headman and local shipwright had to offer. And as for the Amethtyst, it demanded that a certain portion be handed over to it, leaving the rest for the purpose of trading. And so for a time it was content, basking in its dominance over these wretched people, wallowing in the luxury of being their god.
But eventually, dissatisfaction crept in. From what seemed to be another world away, a strange consciouness slowly crept into the fiend’s thoughts, a little voice insisting that ruling this drab little town could not be all it was ever meant to savour. And then the mysterious consciousness would proceed to show it searing images of the immense luxury it suggested that the creature had once enjoyed. As this forgotten spark begun to present itself ever more and more frequently,a thought begun to make itself clear to the fiend:Rule Banhosea as you were once meant to. Be the Shogun that you once dreamt of being.
As these these images of glorious success from another existence gradually took root,it begun to scheme and plot away, calling for envoys to be sent forth to the other villages, demanding that they recognize it as the true Shogun of Banhosea. Those villages that refused, it would visit and raze to the ground by enchantments most dire, sparing the thoroughly cowed populace so that they could now pay homage to it. Very soon, all the mining villages and towns of the Bay fell under its sway.
Now,with all mineral riches of the mining towns at its disposal, it begins to scheme and plot,inviting other vicious outlaws of the ocean like renegade bands of hungy Regulators to share its success if only they joined it in forming an army to seize one by one, the possessions of a certain nation until only the coveted prize of the Shogan’s throne stands before it.
Filled with delusions of grandeour,this creature will offer the players reward untold,if only they join it in its quest to topple the goverment of Banhosea. Persuassive and determined, it will heap grand praise on them and try to entice their loyalty with gifts of precious gem stones and other riches,even going so far as to swear an oath that when it finally succeeds in its quest, the players will rule alongside it. Any promise the players ask of it, it will make, as long as they flock to its standard.
Should they refuse it however, it will use its considerable mental powers to pry into their minds and dig free the secrets that leave them most vulnerable, intending to use them as tools of coercion.
Investigation:Alerted by the sudden cessation of tribute from some of their more remote domains, the Company sends a small fleet to investigate the situation. The PCs are leading it.
Double Cross:The PCs help the fiend to seize a large town formerly belonging to the Company. Unfortunately, the fiend has made extravagent promises to them that it has no intention of honoring..
Fiend Of The Shorto Bay
Human in a previous existence,one thing about this former Captain’s life has been left unchanged by its brush with the Black Tide.