Sunday, June 30, 2013

Encounter at Sea #1: Dilemma at Croy!

The sun sets as the Dragon boat sails into TInker cove on the southern coast of Croy Isle. The first thing you note is the great Rune Arch that spans the entrance of the cove, you are also surprised at the number of ships that are not only docked here, but the unusual amount that are also anchored just off shoe as well. The crews of many ships hail you as you pass them, "Haloo Heroes!", "It's them! It's them!!", "Save Modron!".

    The port is bustling with activity and you actually have to wait to dock for about an hour, as other merchant craft clear away. Upon docking the Port Master states that you must resupply and ship out in 2 hours since you have no cargo to unload. If you plan to stay any length of time you must anchor offshore and use a smaller boat to ferry crew back and forth or hire one of the many lads with a dingy to do so for you. The docking fee is 10 ten gold coins payable now.

    "Two hours should be more than enough time to get what we need." says Hookah, " Our problem may be cost, I've never seen so much activity here before."

    "Port Master, why are there so many ships here?" asks Alexander stepping onto the dock.

    "Most of the ships are waiting to sail on to Modron, the lot anchored offshore have arrived from there earlier today. Story is a curse has been laid upon the city and its destruction looms near! I heard tell that the Heroes of Eros are even now at sea looking to prevent this terrible thing from happening." 

    The Port Master suddenly steps back as he looks at Alexander, then sweeps his gaze across the rest of the party. " A young Wizard, a white-haired Elf girl, the Scarlet Tiger, a cunning Rogue, Mesha's chosen, Lars the Shark, the Iron Chef Moep, the Hawkswood Trio minus one, and assorted henchmen...... I.... it's YOU!" Taking two steps backwards he cries, "By the pruned balls of Trameron! The Heroes of Eros have landed in Tinker Cove!"

    Everyone in earshot turns to see what the Dock Master is yelling about. Then as if someone set a torch to a puddle of oil, the fact that the Heroes of Eros have landed in Croy blazes across the docks. Within minutes a group of heavily armed Skandiks arrive and shove their way to you past the crowd that has gathered. 

    "I am Onrei," says a tall blonde shield Maiden, "Captain of Croy's battle fleet. Jarl Melrik requests you join him for audience. The Royal Guard are here to escort you all forthwith."

    Leaving Gilligan and Farhoud with the boat everyone else goes to meet the Jarl in his fortress. Walking through the streets you are greeted with much enthusiastic praise as well as a few stares and looks of suspicion. Soon you all find yourselves in a great Mead hall standing in front of Jarl Melrik himself.

    "Greetings Heroes of Eros and welcome to Croy." the warrior-king looks over the group. Neither young nor too old the Jarl of Croy is obviously not a man to be toyed with.

     "It seems the Fates have smiled upon me at last. As you MUST know by now the news of Modron's plight has preceded you here by only a few hours. Three days ago, my Sorceress had a vision that an opportunity of great value would present itself to me. I believe you are that opportunity. You need supplies to carry on and save Modron. I have these things and could ask a hefty ransom for them. I also in my own way, hope you fail in this endeavor. I will not bar you from completing your quest as long as you give me what I want. In return your boat will be supplied and you may leave as wish, or stay till dawn."

    "What do you wish of the Heroes, my Lord? If it is our aid in some manner we will gladly give you a discounted rate, but only after we complete our quest for the Sea-Queen and fair Modron."  says Lars, calculating with his mental abacus how much he may be able to gain from the coffers of Croy.

    Standing, Melrik motions to his left and a blonde woman steps out from a hidden alcove. "Cannar! Do they still have it? I don't see the man you described amongst them."
    "They do my lord, the reek of it permeates them all." Her eyes glow with a soft golden flicker, as the Sorceress slowly circles the party. "There are even those among them who would be glad to be rid of it."

    "If you have not guessed by now what it is I seek from you, then I shall name it!" The Skandik Jarl towers over you like a giant, his ice blue eyes piercing you like a spear. 

    "Give me the Axe of Felan, and I will see you supplied and on your way. Refuse me, and you will be my guests as Modron falls into the sea and Croy becomes the greatest sea port in the Wilderlands."

    Returning to his throne the Jarl tips a goblet of wine to his mouth then looks back upon the group, "I await your answer...."

     DM: after hearing what you all have to say (your comments below), the Jarl rises from his chair and approaches Tyrrian.

    "Young Tiger, I do not fear Sashu's gaze upon my actions. Your courage to speak plainly to me is noted." The big man places his hand on the warriors shoulder and nods to him knowingly. Turning then towards the rest of the party he raises his thick arms to the air and bellows, " IMAGINE yourself with this WEAPON!" Then drawing a stony gaze upon Alexander he continues, " Only a FOOL or a small minded peasant would believe that Felan's Axe will bring one respect and stature among his peers. You seek I think to stoke the flames of ego which do not burn here. Oh you are correct that one will get much treasure, tithe and conquest from its use. Only from those who fear you, and those who would seek to usurp you, while blood stains your hands at the behest of the Lords of Chaos!"

    "You ask me to REWARD you! When I should have you all killed for unearthing it in the first place. But, I excuse your ignorance , for how could you have known what it truly was." The Skandik King turns to face Lars and Sally.

    "As for my generosity, you witness it first hand. My harbor and coast brim with the refugees of Modron, as well as those ships that would have sailed unknowingly into that coming danger had my people not warned all the sea captains once we heard the news. I'm sorry to tell you Bard, but the fate of Modron lies squareley upon the shoulders of you Heroes of Eros. You chose to champion those people, not I."

    Once again Melrik ascends the steps to his throne and turns to face you all. " I want the Axe to destroy it! As should have been done long ago, without it both Chaos and Law lose the chance to embroil us in their endless war. I offer you participation in the rite of destruction after which you may leave Croy with supplies to see you through your quest. Or you can refuse me and go as you came here. The decision is yours."

    Cannar responds to Sally, "Little sister, the Jarl can himself get a bit zealous. Though Trameron is our chief diety, Mesha holds sway here as well. You are welcome to commune with her in the Temple of Trees."

    "Come Heroes, join me for food and drink! Help me settle my mood and cut through the tensions I have raised. Cannar, take the priestess to the Temple and we will await her return." The Jarl signals and tables are set with food an drink.

    "You lot are a bit opportunistic, but I suppose that is to be expected. I had to push you to see where your hearts lie, I needed to understand how deep of a hold the AXE had upon you. As for how one disposes of such a thing, well my little friend. That takes something special, something I have that came to me from the far north. It was discovered buried in the great glacier near Valon. Have you ever heard of the ancient Hyperzephyrians and the fabled Fire Lance?" Melrik eyes you all from the rim of his mead horn, "I possess one and will use it tonight in concert with Cannar's spells and you shall be witness to a rite that has not been performed in a thousand thousand years! That is, as long as your Priestess agrees when she returns from her commune with the Goddess."

DM: Sally soon returned from the Temple of Trees, she agreed to let the Axe of Felan be destroyed. With great haste the Jarl led all those present to a ring of standing stones on the cliffs overlooking the sea. They watched as Cannar the Sorceress started an hour long ritual that began drawing down lightning to the stones. Nearing the rituals completion, the Jarl asked that Sally and Tyrrian place the Axe upon the center stone. As our two heroes complied a long thin ornate coffer was brought to Melrik. He opened it and revealed the ancient Fire Lance. The twelve foot long weapon seemed to be cast from mother of pearl and fitted with
pure silver connectors, it was also inset with dark rubies the size of Moep's fists. The Jarl lifted it from the coffer and was able to grip by a handle much like that of a crossbow. A long flexible pipe of unknown manufacture dropped from the base of the grip and its end was placed in the center of specially prepared mystic circle. Asking everyone to stand well behind him, the Jarl aimed the lance into the air above the Axe. Then calling out in unison with Cannar to the Sea God Trameon, the Celestial Arishem and the Great Balance a bolt of white coruscating energy tore into the sky! The stones themselves were feeding the lightning they had into the sky as well now and a great tear opened in reality, through this hole reached a crimson hand that had a span of at least 100 feet. The great hand reached down and plucked the Axe from the stone altar and it instantly began to turn white hot and melt in the entities grip. The chaos forged metal steamed away into nothingness and a clap of thunder so powerful it knocked everyone off their feet concluded the night!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prelude to Encounters at Sea!

As the Dragon boat heads South East following the "pull" of the Red Metal Key, Captain James calls attention to a few things.

Capt. James Hook (Hookah)
  "Since we set out early this morning from Modron with only a single day's worth of supplies, we have a few things to think about. I understand the Sea Queen says time is short, but we need to try to supply ourselves as best we can. I will out line our choices, slim though they are."

1) Isle of Croy: We could make landfall there before dark tonight in Tinker Cove. The place is ruled by Jarl Melrik, he pays tribute to Ossary but does not follow their ways. Supplies could found there easily, but not cheaply, and we could be on our way again by morning.

2) The area we sail in and must pass through is plied by the Red Brotherhood, pirates of the worst kind. It will take all my sailing skill for us to not fall afoul of those reavers. If we do it will be no quarter, fight or die.

3) Isle of Slumber: We can reach this place as well before dark. Though I would advise against it. The likelihood of fresh water, fruits and whatever could be scavenged from the ancient ruins along the coast would not equal the dangers presented by the rumored apes that guard the fabled Well of Wishes.

4) Isles of the Shadow Serpent: As the name I think makes plain, we should give as wide a berth to this place as we can without losing time in our quest. This pair of close set isles lies just south of us as well and could be reached just after dark.

5) Eerie Isle: We could arrive here by dawn if we continue sailing now. I have anchored here once before and was able to procure a ration of fantastic; almost magical; fresh water by appeasing the nixies that rule the island. If we go there, we MUST abide by very specific rules to not raise the ire of the fay peoples.

6) Isles of Wight: Can be reached by late in the day tomorrow if we sail now. There are no permanent settlements that I know of and at least three other Captains I trust have made landfall there to resupply, though they all said they stayed no longer than needed.

7) Tomb Isle: A place I shall avoid at all cost, there is nothing more to say.

8) Vortex Isle: Lies close to Tomb isle and would be our last chance to get fresh water or food of any kind before making for the Lone Ait. The drawback would be that a large tribe of Reptile men rule this place. I have heard they can be traded with, but never met anyone who has done so.

9) Lone Ait: I fear I know of this place, and I have avoided all my life, as have all those who sail the Winedark Sea. Noxious vapors obscure the place from view, and the sea is slick with an oily tar that traps both sea birds and fish. Sailors give this place wide berth and shun it. I know it is where the she bids us to go, and I will take you there though it frightens me to my very bones.

 "Now that you know what lies before us, how would you have me sail?"

The results:
Votes for Isle of Croy: Tarek, Tyrrian, Alexander, Sally, Lars

Votes for Eerie Isle: Capt. James, Gilligan, Moep, Max, Chauncey

Swing Vote: Chi, who stated she would go to Croy if Alexander and the rest of the party wanted, but she'd like to go to Eerie as an alternative.

 *DM: We will take one more round of comments to decide our destination for the "Encounters at Sea" portion of Blog adventures. I would suggest either PC's name and destination choice, or a short "In character" argument or statement for your choice of destination.

FINAL OUTCOME:  We sail for Croy!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chapter 13: Sea Queen Escapes part 2

    The Dragon boat sailed away from Modron under a gloomy sky. Chi waved goodbye to those who chose
to stay behind. Emily decided at the last minute to stay with Alan, as he could not shake his new found fear of sea creatures. Also Ruby did not join her cousins for this leg of the quest. Under the directions of James Hook, first mate Gilligan and sailor Farhoud, the rest of the Heroes of Eros settled in for the days journey to deep waters and the sounding of the strange horn they were now in possession of.

    Moep was able to keep 3rd breakfast down as he prepared a hot lunch for his companions. Tarek remarked on the new studded leather worn by his friend Tyrrian. "I did not want to sink like an anvil should I find myself in the water!" replied the young Warrior as he stowed his breastplate with the other ships gear.

   At last Captain James felt that with land out of sight they should try the sounding. Chauncey brought out the
waterproofed sack and handed it to Lars. Drawing the horn out of the sack Lars ran through what type of note he should try to sound. After a few moments of silence as the others looked on, Lars raised the horn drew a breath and blew......

   A bass primordial roar seemed to reverberate through the collected adventurers. It caused even the calm water to ripple in time with the blast. Instantly followed by an infinite moment of utter silence, each of the heroes could hear his own heartbeat. Then the sea began to churn.......

    The ocean darkened as something began to rise from the depths, Moep white knuckling the gunwale as the boat rocked in the churning water. Something was coming to the surface, something very very large. Then white spray bursts into the air like a geyser drenching everyone in the boat.  The party then found itself gazing into the eyes of a sea turtle the size of a small island. At the apex of his shell a barnacle encrusted capstan could be seen. Also indentations upon the shell itself formed a sort of natural staircase leading to the mysterious protrusion.

    The boat is quickly brought alongside the giant sea creature and loosely moored by the bronze cleats at the shells edge.
    "Everyone be careful, and watch your footing. I'll go first." Nimbly leaping from ship to shell Tarek began to ascend the turtle.
    Moep began to proclaim that someone should stay behind and guard the boat, he was quickly ushered up the shell by Sally much to his dismay. Lars bent down and whispered to the halfling, "Rumor has it that treasures of the deep await us. I don't think you'd want to miss out on that."
    Pointing to the three barrels stowed in the ship Moep proclaims, "Treasures you say! Well I do like collecting odds and ends. Maybe I should wear one of those jelly suits we brought."
    Picking the halfling up by his belt and tossing him onto the turtle Sally says, "No need for that now, and if the turtle goes under we'll all need more than a jelly suit anyway."

    At the top of the shell the capstan is twisted open to reveal a hatchway descending into the creature itself. Tarek drops down into the circular chamber, about an ankle deep worth of sea water sloshes back in forth with the natural roll of the ocean. Two dark tunnels are the only exits from the room. A rope is tied off on the capstan and the rest of the party descends to join the thief. Alexander causes his staff to glow with a soft blueish-white light allowing the others to arrange themselves and draw weapons. "Well which way my friends?" inquires the young Mage.
    "Let us take this tunnel to my right, then we will come back and check the other way." says Tarek taking the lead with Tyrrian. They are in turn followed in pairs by Max and Chauncey, then Chi and Moep, then Sally and Alexander. Lars glances about as the party splashes off down the corridor. One last tug on the rope to confirm its set well he follows his friends into darkness.

     The tunnel opened into a long chamber, the walls encrusted with thick growths of coral, barnacles and kelp. The far side of the chamber was still cloaked in darkness as the light from Alexanders staff could not illuminate the room fully from the hall. The group moves into the chamber as a whole waiting to see what is revealed as the staff now begins to chase away the darkness. Stopping together midway the party marvels at the scalloped shell door that blocks any exit from the chamber. The glint of gold from the two massive interlocked lobster claws that seem to be a sort of lock or brace draws the attention of both Tarek and Moep.
 "Solid gold lobster claws?" asks Moep tugging eagerly on Tarek's sleeve.
 Winking at his diminutive companion Tarek steps closer, "They deserve a closer inspection I think."

     Suddenly the room itself seems to spring to life as man-sized chunks of coral seem come alive and surround the bewildered adventurers. Seven terribly malformed and twisted creatures take the party by surprise attacking with rusted cutlass, knife, swordfish bill and various other barnacle encrusted weapons of sea-going make!  The first Sea-Cursed looks to be a barnacle encrusted skeleton wielding a cutlass and
hammer. He delivers a deadly blow to Chauncey with the hammed and slashes Tarek with cutlass! The second is a bloated elf thickened by waterlogged skin, he wields a pair rusty fighting knives and slashes Chi the Elf-child to the bone! The third is a woman covered entirely in a reddish coral, with wicked cutlass and a large sea urchin spike she wounds Sally the Cleric. The fourth is a pair of conjoined sailors with fish eyes each wielding a cutlass, their chest heaves as if something lives inside! The fifth is a sailor melded with a shark using a boarding axe, his left hand a mass of urchin spines! The sixth is a sodden fish eaten sailor using a pair of iron bolos he hurls with deadly accuracy. Lastly the seventh Sea-Cursed uses a swordfish bill as a sword and a sail pulley on a short bit of rope to inflict terrible damage!
    As the surprise of the attack wears off the party is still reeling from the attack and trying to get their
bearings. Both Chi and Alexander begin to attempt to cast spells while the others wail in pain over the wounds that have been inflicted upon them! The Sea-Cursed push in on the party inflicting a few more damaging blows. Worst of all however is the "Critical" to Sally that drops her to the briny floor of the chamber. Max bravely rushes to cover the fallen Cleric and fends off the crusty woman with his blade. Tyrrian who was struck by an iron bolo is able to bash #6 with the hammer of JUSTICE. Moep is able to dodge all attempts to harm him by #7, all the while taunting the Sea-Cursed man. Chauncy moves to aid both Moep and the sorely wounded Alexander. Lars at the rear of the party has been engaged by the conjoined sailors, they have sliced him deeply and the moray eel living in their chest has also bitten the wily thief as they continue to assault him. Alexander has barely survived the onslaught of the Shark headed Sea-Cursed, head reeling from the wounds inflicted the Wizard struggles to cast his spell!
   "If you let me cast, you DIE!" cries Alexander as two glowing blue magical hands appear. The first immediately grasps the Shark Headed cursed in an an unbreakable grip as the second hand grasps the
conjoined sailors. Lars then takes the opportunity to stab one sailor in the fish-eye with his dagger while saying, "I just want you to know this is for what you did to me."
    Tarek begins fencing with the barnacle encrusted cursed while muttering under his breath, "I don't like this, I REALLY don't like this!"
    Chi the Elf-child mutters some strange words, her hands crackle with other-worldly energy. Life force is drained from the barnacle cursed and used to power her attack upon the dual knife wielder whom she severely wounds. "Take THAT!"
    Wielding his short swords with great ferocity Moep tears into his attacker, the swordfish weapon barely keeping the halfling at bay.
    Chauncy then uses his polearm to attack the sea-cursed the halfling is battling.
    The Heroes of Eros are able to gain the advantage and push their foes back. Alexander concentrates and
uses the force of the magical hands to literally squeeze the remaining life from the conjoined sailors and the Shark Headed sea-cursed. Tyrrian crushes the head of the bolo wielder then turns to allow Tarek to roll behind the barnacle encrusted skeleton and deliver a devastating spine slicing attack! Chauncey spears the spike of his polearm through the face of the swordfish wielder killing him instantly. Sally sits up, as she had been faking the effect of her earlier wound and bashes the coral woman. Max then carves his signature into the chest of the coral woman before dispatching her in his flamboyant style! Lastly, Chi drives her elven sword into the black heart of the knife wielder and kicks him off the blade into the bloody water of the chamber.  The fight over, our Heroes lick their wounds and realize how close many of them just came to death.
    The Sea Shell doorway is looked over and deemed not to be mechanically trapped. However the strange script upon it is deciphered and the likelihood of a curse of some type is realized. Opening the door the party sees the giant jellyfish beyond with a chest inside it. No one enters and the wizard uses his magical hands to physically squeeze the chest out of the creature. A spray of jellyfish goo hits the party but no ill effects are suffered. The magical hands then lift the chest and bring it out into the main chamber with the party. Opening it they find many coins and a large red steel key.
 "We should only take the key." states Alexander flatly, "Shadankin always carried keys with him, this is what we need."
  "Just one," remarked Tarek, " there could be another, down the other hall."
Lars slaps the hand of Moep as the halfling was reaching for the gold coins in the chest. "That stuff is cursed little one!"
Stomping off toward the hall from which the party came Moep whines, "Let's go back that other way and find something we can take!"
"Agreed!" the party cries in unison.

   Making their way back to the capstan chamber the party proceeds along the other tunnel. They soon find the way blocked by a rusted iron gate. Beyond they can make out a large chamber filled with furniture. The magical hands are used to wrench the door open and the party moves briskly through the waterlogged sitting room and out the tunnel on the opposite side. Moep is intrigued briefly by the giant manta ray skin on the wall.

    The group finds itself looking upon a giant sea Anemone perched upon half a dozen barnacle encrusted chests. The lure is too great and they approach cautiously. Tarek decides to fire an arrow into the sea creature to see if it lives without being submerged. To his surprise as well as Tyrrians the creature not only
lives but attacks! Slapping both Tarek and Tyrrian for a bit of damage. Moep is able to sever a tentacle with his swords. Deciding that melee may not be the best option with this creature the party backs up and Alexander uses the force of the magic hands to pummel the monster to death. The group scours the the chest and collects and bags many gold and silver coins. Tarek takes a braided rope bracelet for him self.
   "Should we be taking this stuff?" asks Moep as he shovels coins in a waterproof sack.
   "I suppose the warning might have only petained to the treasures behind the shell door." says the Wizard.
   "There is no other key here, perhaps we should get back to the boat." Tarek says while tying the bracelet about his wrist.
   The party returns to the capstan room and begin to climb out one by one. Lars takes the chance and returns to the chamber of the sea-cursed and kneels before the open chest of coins from the jellyfish.
   " I just can't leave this finely crafted sea chest behind." The thief softly closes the lid and lifts the chest from the floor, " So far, so good." He turns and walks from the chamber back to his friends.

   A gust of salty sea air blasts from behind the thief and passes through him with the sensation of clammy death bearing down on his soul!
    "Damn it!" Lars mutters, then runs for the capstan room.
   The gust of salty air passes through the rest of the group as well, turning they see Lars enter the room with the chest.
    "You knew I had to try." he says shrugging his shoulders at his friends, " Besides, the curse might not be that bad."

    The party rejoins the crew of the dragon boat just as the giant sea turtle begins to descend back from whence it came. "What now I wonder?" ponders Alexander examining the red steel key with Tyrrian. The Blacksmith-Warrior is quite taken with the strange red veined metal.
"What is it forged of I wonder..."
    An eerie silence falls over the party and the strange bubbly voice of the Sea Queen rises as if from the ocean itself.
    "You have the key at last, time runs short. I will guide you to us for we are near. Follow the Key to the lone Ait. Do not tarry, Shadankin and I are near death and you are our last hope to avert the cataclysm."

    The key begins to thrum with energy and everyone in the boat feels the urge to sail in the direction it points.