Skull & Shackles
When Aashaq commanded her followers to build a base for the turmoil she planned to unleash on the region, the result was Dragonsthrall, a collection of jumbled structures made of stones, wood, and mud gathered on a broad-mouthed bay open to the perilous Straits of Aashaq. Over the centuries, this settlement has been destroyed many times by Aashaq, her minions, its own residents, and crusaders deluded in their belief that the despicable cult can be eradicated, and just as many times a new town has been rebuilt on the rubble of the old. The current incarnation of Dragonsthrall has grown rapidly since Aashaq herself torched the last one beyond recognition 17 years ago.
Today the settlement is built around a temple made of precariously balanced limestone slabs salvaged from the last burning ruin. Its chief priest is Anneshalli Suwaat, a squat, beady-eyed bully of Osirian stock who abuses his authority over the town’s inhabitants. He answers only to Houkna Bewul, brutal master of the town and captain of the frigate Black Dragon. Her ship is one of the few seaworthy vessels in the cult’s seedy fleet, which mostly consists of barely floating tubs, ramshackle rafts, and rickety launches. Houkna’s primary goal at this time is to acquire sturdier vessels, and so many of her bandit parties patrol the waters around the Teeth, looking for foolish merchant ships that stray close enough to assault. The cultist-pirates have recently netted a small sloop, but little else to date. Should they experience greater success, they may eventually become a more significant threat to the region’s tenuous equilibrium.
The docks of Dragonsthrall are a muddled collection of piers and waterfront hovels strewn with sea-borne debris, discarded trash, and inexplicable corpses. Two taverns do brisk business here. Smoky Embers has burnt down and been rebuilt more times than any of its many proprietors could count; its current owner is Hashal Ballock, former second mate on the Ollo-berthed sloop Philo’s Fortune that shipwrecked here years ago. She has managed to survive in this evil place through brute strength and sheer force of will, though she often secretly hopes for an opportunity to escape the dreaded isle once and for all. The other tavern, Bagog’s Roundhouse, brews its own potent eponymous liquor; the stuff is infamous for the speed at which it intoxicates and the deleterious effects of regular consumption, which seem to vary from drinker to drinker and include blindness, idiocy, madness, and worse. Bagog himself has never tasted the stuff, but prolonged exposure to the fumes of his still has left him blind.