I am going to attempt a play by email campaign with my gaming group. We all live in Minnesota but can not get together more than a couple times a year. So, this is going to be an attempt to fill in the time between gaming sessions.
I mainly use Greyhawk but have dramatically changed the NW corner for my own campaign. I kept the mountain ranges but changed the people north of Ket and Ull and west of the Vesve. Perrenland geography and people were changed. North remains the Wolf Nomads. West of both is the northman (see Breymeer below). They migrated over from Mystara area and are Suel blooded. (Long story). The area around Ull remains Baklunish people. The area on the western portion of Darlene map changed to fit into the eastern area of Mystara map.
This adventure takes the characters into the Amedio and Hepmonoland. We have not previously used this area.
I do not know how much feedback I will get from the players, but figured we could try. I am not going to hold my breath.
I thought I would post the results here. We are going to begin after the holiday season.
I will post my introduction to the players for now. Sorry, it is a bit lengthy and hopefully not too far from canon to bring about corrective lashings from y'all.
Last edited by Sheepdog on Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
As a child, you remember fearful stories of capture and death at the hands of pirates and slavers in the Pomarj area; specifically Highport.
Somehow, that nightmare has come true. Whether you were grabbed from your village in a midnight raid, an abducted poor souls not killed in the attack on your caravan, captured by roaming humanoids, born into slavery or captured by pirates, here you are, bound and chained into a stockade on the docks of Highport.
You have been stripped of anything a starved goblin would consider valuable. Your remaining clothing is tattered and soiled. You are among men and women; children are noticeably absent. People are from a multitude of races and ages, from mid teens to middle-aged. The elderly and weak have been removed from your company. Judging from the little rough common you overheard, they were likely eaten by the orcs.
Orcs, no doubt about it. They are the most numerous of your captors. They guard the stockade and beat on the prisoners; taking obvious care not to disable them.
The only solace you have found is the weather. Being early summer (you lost track of what day), the weather is comfortable enough. The sea air would be refreshing if not spoiled by the body odors of this stockade.
Escape? Yes, you would like to. But the orcs have beaten and killed anyone that has looked to be an escape risk. Besides, the little you have picked up from conversation, you are being moved soon. It sounds like you will be auctioned off as slaves to the highest bidder.
There must be two score of prisoners in this cage, and so many cages along the docks. Something big is coming. Judging by the incoming ships the last few days, you will not be on these docks long. The orcs are restless too. Fights have broken out. But before any general mayhem breaks out, human controllers come out and whip the orcs back into order. For orcs, you are surprised at how they cower to the humans. The humans look to be of Oridean or Suel blood. Maybe a mix. They seem to be mercenaries either way.
As the bidding starts, the docks are a wild and chaotic place. The pace is dizzying. Prisoners are bought and sold. Branded and shackled. They are loaded onto ships or hauled away in carts and wagons. The fear of a slow death lingers on faces.
Each of you is brought up for bidding. In each case, a tall man in a heavy cloak and robes eyes you. He is pale, albino even with grey hair. A Suel, no doubt. He appears thin, sickly thin. With him is another man. He also appears Suel but is of normal height. He is also wrapped in a cloak. Several hired thugs are near them; obviously armored and armed with swords. They carry spears outright. The tall, thin Suel does not speak but bids with body motion and gestures. Fear grips you and you are nearly frozen with terror when his bid wins. You are quickly loaded into a ship and brought into the hold. Another stockade is there along with rows of oars. Each seat equipped with chains and shackles.
But worse than that. More orcs. The crew appears to be a rabble of orcs and men; pirates all.
You are led below deck, not fed, and locked into the stockade. The number of prisoners grows as the bidding on the docks continues into the evening. Light fades with the setting sun and the ship's stockade fills slowly. The docks were miserable, this seems to be certain death . . .
Dawn on the Dead Sea Troll
Dawn comes slowly. Sleep does not come at all. As the first beams of the sun peak into the oar slots, you get a moment to collect your thoughts.
The ship is a galley, not large as galleys go. The hold you were placed in last night is less of a stockade and more the open guts of the ship. There is two levels of oars. The bottom level has benches lining both sides with a walkway between them. In the bow and stern are closed doors, quarters maybe. The benches are equipped with shackles. The upper row of oars also have benches. The benches are on small catwalks that run the length of the port and starboard sides. There is 18 oars per level per side. There appears to be about 100 slaves on board.
From what you remember from the deck above, there are two main masts and a cabin on each end. A ram is mounted on the bow. The mast is cut into the shape of a snarling wolf's head, teeth clenched and bared.
The ship is cleaner than you would have expect, especially when compared to the lot you share the hold with.
The crew is predominately orc and human rabble. They all appear weathered and seasoned. All carry some type of knife or weapon at hand. They do not appear to wear much for armor. From what you can hear above, they are already starting to busy themselves above.
A trapdoor above opens to the hold. It is at the aft of the ship, near the rear cabin. A wooden ladder is lowered into the hold. A motley looking crew decends.
The lead is a half orc by guess. He is average built, strong and not repulsive to look at for a half breed. He has brown hair that falls braided to his shoulders. His eyes are green, intelligent and piercing. He has a necklace about his neck displaying approx. 1/2 dozen ears; elven by appearance. He has a short bone in each ear for an earring. He wears a leather jerkin and has a rapier on his belt.
The second one down is an orc, full blood it appears. He wears black leather armor and has a dagger and broad sword in scabbards on his belt. He has black hair and dark eyes.
The final one down is the tall, thin Suel from the Highport docks. He is a full 6 1/2 feet tall and sickly thin. He has short shaved grey hair and pale grey eyes. He wears a goatee for a beard, matching his hair. He is dressed in light loose trousers and end in his leather boots. He wears a light red shirt under a leather vest.
The 1/2 orc knocks on the stern door, "Big John" he says in common; his voice clear and commanding, low in pitch. "Get yourself out here", he continues, "Bring the gimp too."
The door opens within seconds. A monster ducks under the frame of the door and steps out into the hold. The oak boards groan under his weight. He stands a full seven plus feet high and weighs more than two grown men. You would think he was a full blood ogre if not for the more human facial features. Muscles show everywhere on the giant. A strange type of leather armor adorns him. A necklace of large teeth and claws hangs on his monstrous chest.
Almost blocked from view behind the ogre stands "the gimp". The gimp appears to be an oversized orc. He stands in the shadows of the cabin so you can not make out his details.
"Welcome aboard the Dead Sea Troll you maggots," the 1/2 orc addresses you. "I am Captain Tok, I command this fine ship and crew. Big John 'ere and Slitter are me mates. What we says, goes."
He continues, "Anyone can ride on this ship for the right price. My employer," he nods towards the tall Suel, "has paid for his voyage. You shall row for yours. If you can no longer row, you will be eaten, it is that simple. You shall row from sun up to sundown. Talking 'mongst yourself is not allowed. You will eat and clean and then sleep. You sleep in the hold. Any foul play or funny business and it is back to feeding us, it is."
"Big John has killed more men with his bare hands than the Keoland Army (he spits on the floor). Big John even killed himself a Sea Troll. He beat it to death on this very ship, he did. You may have noticed we have more slaves than places to row. That means we can eat a few of you if you don't follow the rules. By the time Big John is done with ya, we will have to stuff you into sausage tubes just to keep the parts together (Big John chuckles at the idea)."
"Lock them to the oars, boys . . . and pick out one for supper. We eat well tonight" He throws a small bag of coins to the tall Suel. "It is tradition Mr. Ker Zan, brings good luck. Consider him paid for." With that, Capt Tok and the Suel man ascend the ladder to the deck above.
A string of sailors come down the ladder and begin placing you all onto benches. Your legs are both shackled to an iron loop bolted to the floor under each bench. Your arms are short chained to an eyebolt on the oar. Some of you are led to the bow and climb a short wooden ladder to the catwalks above, one ladder per side. You are also chained to your locations.
Quickly things get busy. A crewman opens the bow cabin door. It appears to be an equipment room. He pulls a wooden chain and a drum from the room and sets it up in the isle near the bow. "Row to the beat you meatheads". Whips crack around you and your rowing lessons begin. It is obvious that most of you are not sailors by trade. Almost all are bleeding from welts and cuts. One poor fool that looks as uncoordinated as a newborn foal stands out among the rest. Big John spotted him too. Big John moves up behind him and like a farmer dispatching stray cats, snaps the man's neck with one hand
With than, your maiden voyage on the Dead Sea Troll begins. You begin to row out to open sea as the sun rises on Highport. The ruins and burned out buildings looking like bones on the battlefield. The once grand seaport was overrun by humanoids fleeing the Lortmils Mountains ahead of the hateful wars. What was a blessing to the elves of Celene, the dwarves of the Lortmils and the Kron Hill gnomes, became the bane of the menfolk that lived in Highport. Now chaos and evil rule the land.
The ship is guided south and the beat of the drum becomes a contant reminder of death. Like each beat of your heart as you slowly bleed out, each pull on the oar takes strength from your body. Although death surely awaits you, rowing to it seems better than being cut into steaks for the crew . . . at least it sounds better for now.
It is only a few days travel east and south around the edge of the Pomarj but it is the longest few days of your life. You wake, you row, you eat a sparse meal and then try and find some sleep.
The death of the first prisoner set deeply in the minds of all. Fear has kept you in line. There has been much whipping and beating but no deaths. You are in no doubts getting weaker. You have improved slightly on your rowing skills.
On the fourth day, the ship anchors outside of a harbor. From what you can make out, the town is called Blue. It appears to be on the southeastern shores of the Pomarj. You spend the next day cleaning the ship and the hold. Splashing out the filth and grime with buckets and scrubbing the surfaces. The crew is all armed and you are only unshackled in small groups at a time. In the end, you are allowed to clean yourselves with seawater.
A small craft sets off from the Dead Sea Troll and heads into the port. It appears to contain a few of the ship's humanoid leadership. The two Suel remain unseen during the day of rest. On its return, the small craft appears to include an additional number of humanoids. May the gods of mercy help you . . . gnolls. Gnolls have been said to eat their victims while they are still alive. Could this nightmare get any worse? Your will wanes and your hope for walking on still earth again fades.
Your journey starts again the next day. The torture continues and you slowly but steadily grow weaker. Sores begin to form from sitting on the hard benches and rowing all day. The splashing of the seawater through the oar ports compounds the problem.
The gnolls appear to have been hired mercenaries. They have arms and armor. Luckily, there is only a few of them or they would likely seize prisoners for meals at will.
"Why is this floating tree called the Sea Troll and yet has a wolf's head for a ram?" questioned one of the gnolls to Big John. Big John coldly replies, "'cause I ain't strangled any dogs on the deck yet, that's why!" The dog faced gnoll grips his weapon and snarls at the ogre, spit dripping from his jaws. The ogre punches him so fast and furiously the gnoll didn't have a chance to draw his weapon. He falls unconscious to the floor of the hold. "This ship was the Sea Worg until Captain Tok seized it as his own. And then I strangled a Sea Troll on deck. Captain Tok was impressed so he renamed the ship. You draw a weapon on me again and it will be called the Dead Gnoll's Coffin".
Your southern direction holds for several days until a large threatening storm turns your course more southeast. From what you can interpret from the crews conversations and mood, this direction may not have been ideal. For about one week you continue on. Your health is beginning to suffer. Some prisoners are beginning to look ill.
The best you can estimate, you have crossed much of the Azure Sea, generally heading towards Keoland or the Sea Princes territory. The ship turns back south and the gnolls get rewarded with a meal as the second prisoner finds his death; found dead at the rising of the sun.
Or maybe this horror is coming to an end. There is much commotion and the gnolls are ordered to their arms. There is much activity on the top deck. Men scurry back and forth. You are not yet unshackled and secured to your oars. It appears a ship closed on the Dead Sea Troll during the night. You can see it out the window closing on your ship. You can see clearly the flag of the Sea Princes. Are you about to be freed or sank? Who will win the battle?
Many of the crew secure weapons and guard you while the others prepare for battle on the top deck.
Just as you thought the ship was set to ram you, it slowed and coasted within hailing range. For a second time, the Dead Sea Troll sets out a small craft. Inside the craft is the tall Suel, Captain Tok, Big John and two gnolls. A small chest rests on Big Johns lap. The small craft closes on the other ship and its occupants climb aboard the ship. They are not gone long. All hands return to the Dead Sea Troll and the other ship sails off.
When Big John returns to the hold he is heard to mutter under his breath, "I knew we got too close to shore. Damn storm just cut into our profits."
Your brush with freedom ends in depression but if your lives were paid for by Captain Tok, just maybe you are indeed worth something and you may reach land and a chance at some form of life just yet.
You are shackled to the oars and the sails fill with wind. Southward you sail . . .
A few more days go by in this hellish hold. You could just as well be in the belly of a Sea Troll. Lack of nourishment and overworking your weakening bodies is slowly taking its toll. You have sores on your bodies from the bench, the oars & the continuous dousing in sea water. Let alone the whip marks. You do your best not to have your will broken.
Could it be, an answer to your prayers or just another step further into hell.
The Sea Troll parallels the shoreline of a land heavily forested with jungle. You can not make out much of the land. Amedio, it has been called by the crew in the common tongue. You sail along its coast for several days.
"We will be pulling into port today you sea scum!", says Big John. "Do it right and I won't bash any of you too hard! Don't you forget, gnolls must eat or they get awful vicious."
Big John spoke the truth. Although he didn't spare the whips, you guide your ship into a shallow bay and weigh anchor. There appears to be activity on the beach. There are many men moving around. They are of many different skin tones, from dark skinned humans with short frames and rounded features to taller bronzed men; many with freckles. There are even a few albinos like the one on the ship.
Several crafts and rafts are launched from shore and start ferrying supplies and slaves to shore. There are many armed mercenaries on shore to keep you in line. Some are human, some not. There is a small fortified structure in from the beach. It is surrounded by a wooden wall with an earthen re-enforced base. The material for the base dug out of a shallow trench running on the outside of the wall. You can not make out much for details inside. The air is hot and humid.
You are sorted out and inspected. It appears to be some type of health inspection. Looking for bugs and general strength. You are chained to posts inside of wooden prisons built outside of the fortification and surrounded by an additional low wooden wall. It is guarded.
Night comes and with it drifts in cooler air and strange sounds from the jungle. Other than being watch continuously by guards, this is the most peaceful and comfortable you have been. The sand is a feather bed compared to the hard wooden benches and you are far out of the reach of the master's whips.
What tomorrow brings, Istus knows. The Dead Sea Troll, once unloaded, was reloaded with something and sailed off into the deep blue. You are free of Captain Tok and Big John. The two Suel came ashore with their gnoll hirelings. By the sound outside the fence, it is the gnolls that have taken up patrol there.
Through the apprehension, you find sleep in the cool sea breeze.
Days go by at the jungle fort. They turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months. You have watched several cycles of the moons since you arrived on the shores of Amedio.
Life here is better than on the ship. The jungle supplies more fresh food and you are fed better. You have traded your oars and rowing for jungle clearing. You have slowly cut your way into the jungle, creating a path south from the garrison on the shore.
The people here are a mixed lot, several hundred by rough count. There are the two Suel men, an odd group of hirelings (orcs, gnolls and humans). The manfolk appear to be a mix of Oeridian and Suel. Judging from the accents, they come from the Wild Coast and the Pomarj. Men for hire with less scruples. There is also a small group of men that come and go by ship. They appear to be from the Sea Princes. The rest are the slaves.
The work crews are made up of human prisoners and slaves. There is a large number of islanders included. They are bronze skinned and most are freckled. Some, strangely enough, are almost light skinned for such a tropical area. They appear to be no more than work slaves like yourself.
The jungle work presents you with the thought of escape. There is no doubt that if timed right you could flee into the jungle without getting killed by your guards. You have gotten the impression that if they do not kill you outright, they are likely to not chase you far. Although they appear to be loyal to the paycheck, they do not appear to be overzealous.
The sounds of the jungle have kept your escape plans at bay for the time being.
And then the attack came. Not like the jungle spiders and snakes that have poisoned and killed a few workers. This was an assault from jungle people of some kind. They were dark skinned with black hair. They attacked this blowgun and spear. The hit fast and hard, killing slave and guard alike. After a few minutes of chaotic attack, they fled into the jungle and disappeared like a hunting cat. They attacked without fear or mercy.
Escape now seemed more suicidal that working around the gnolls. Pray their food ration holds.
The work continued and guards numbers were increased. You hack your way many miles into the jungle and cut a clearing for another small garrison. You help build the outer wall and a simple inner structure.
You do not know what the end plan is for this foray into the jungle but someone has the determination and the gold to pull this off. The freckled slaves do not speak in common although it isn't completely unintelligent either; having a somewhat Suel hint to it.
The creatures you have seen since going under the canopy boggles your mind. Critters of all shapes and sizes. Some of the other slaves speak of large reptile like beasts that walk on two legs and have huge teeth filled maws. The ground shakes when they walk. They stand many men high. It almost sounds like more children's tales if you hadn't have found yourself in this nightmare.
It seems it rains every day. And when it rains, it comes down in buckets. The humidity is as much a constant as the bugs. A few workers have gone down with strange bites and illnesses. Some have called it jungle fever. They soon perish.
After many moons, you are brought back to the beach garrison. There are several ships in the harbor. Many of you are being separated out. There is a fresh crop of slaves coming ashore. Poor souls.
By the next day, only two ships remain. You have been set aside with about 10 dozen other slaves. You are split between the ships and loaded aboard. You had not paid much attention to the ships until you got closer. They are both galleys. But one of them has a familiar voice barking down from above as you get close.
"Welcome back aboard you stinking turds," Captain Tok's voice is unmistakable, "Welcome back to the Sea Troll. I told you anyone can ride, for the right price. Time to pay your share. Get in the hold and find a bench. You get to row my **** into the rising sun."
Big John is in the hold and quickly has you all shackled and place on benches. "Good news maggots, there is less of you this time. We won't eat you for fun. The bad news is, no rest from rowing . . . except death" with that Big John cracks his whip and the drum begins to beat out the rhythm for the oars.
At least there are no gnolls this time. The ships set sail as you row into the eastern horizon, following the shore of the Amedio jungle for some days and then passing by what you heard called the Olman Islands. Out into the Azure Sea you sail, for what good or ill you can only guess.
The man and woman from the dock enter the hold. They, without question, have the grace of the elvenkind.
"I am Ledego." I have purchased your freedom. As he speaks, the anchor's grip on the seafloor is released and soon you are guiding away from the docks.
"This is Peylae", Ledego points to his companion.
"You are now freeman again . . . with a catch. You see, I have purchased you from slavery and you will all be released as freeman, once the task is done. I am from the Spindrift Isles. I have sailed about and have learned many things. I am now interested in exploring the jungles near Thunder Keep. It is not overly far from here. You have been", he pauses, "hired to be my laborers and if needed, defenders. Our completion of this exploration will award you your freedom. If we are successful and you wish to keep on with me, you will be paid help from that point forward. I know this offer is acceptable to all of you for if you do not wish to continue on with me, I will return you to the slave trade we have just left."
"You will soon be fed. You do not have to row for me but you do have to work. You will help my crew keep this cog clean and in good working order. Welcome aboard the Nir Nen."
With that, he and Peylae exit the hold.
With you in the hold is a smattering of mainly humans, some elves and a few dwarves, halflings and even a gnome. There are fifteen of you in addition to the crew of the Nir Nen and Ledego and Peylae.
The days flow much quicker aboard the Nir Nen. Your time here is almost pleasant. The crew is kind, a serious lot, but kind. The crew is mainly human other than Ledego, who is obviously the Captian, and Peylae, who appears to be his first (and only) mate.
From the crew you learn that Ledego has been sailing longer than most of them have been alive. The oldest among the crew has been with the Nir Nen for going on 20 years and yet he is young in the stories that Ledego tells.
It appears Ledego loves exploration and drags his ship and crew off on a new grand adventure on a regular basis. Ledego has a reputation of being kind. He is also said to be a man of magical powers. Peylae, you learn, is his daughter. Story has it, her mother, Ledego's wife, also shared in the adventures but was fatefully lost to old age. She was human after all.
You sail along the southern shore of the Tilvanot Peninsula passing many forts and port towns. You follow the land mass east past the Spine Ridge Mountains and through the shark infested Tilva Strait. You round the northern edge of the Hepmonaland land mass and begin the follow along the Pelisso Swamp getting ever closer to Ford Thunder and your chance at freedom.
While passing one of the countless riverways that cut this way and that through the swamp, you find yourself in dire danger. Those above deck had the first signs of danger as a large shadow swept over the ship and out across the waves. Awe was quickly replaced with screams and fear. Sailors jumped overboard and fled across the deck as the jet black shadow came down from the skies towards the ship. A deafening roar arose and shook the air from one's lungs. When the roar stopped, it was replaced with the sounds of a heavy liquid hitting the boards of the ship, the mast and the sail. The smell of acid burned your eyes to tears and men and ship began to dissolve.
Ledego and Peylae came out of their cabin. Peylae went immediately back in. Ledego muttered something you did not hear but in a flash of light, a bolt of lightning coursed out to the dragon, striking it as it climbed out of its dive. The smell of ozone battled with the acid smell.
The crew attempted to make order of the chaos. Ledego ordered the emergency rafts launched. Peylae came out with a chest. The hold was emptied of people and most began to jump overboard.
The dragon turned and came back for another pass. It make like an arrow straight down towards Ledego . . .
*** End of introduction -- Once we get rolling, I will post updates periodically. Since this is play by email, there will be weeks or more between posts. Hope you like the story, I am trying to set up multiple adventure hooks with it. Obviously, I am not a writer by trade so please ignore my grammar, etc mistakes and typos ***
I have not DMed anything in the Amedio or Hepmonaland. I wanted to give leads into the Needle (I dumped the module but stole the idea of the monolith for my own purposes. I liked the module but didn't fit my campaign well). Working on hints for the Slave Lords, Scarlet Brotherhood, Lost Temple, Forbidden City and Fort Thunder. Thanks to Osmund-Davizid for the Gouthogg idea and tie in.
Will try and post some character information this week.
Also, will try and update the adventure. The characters survived the black dragon encounter (as did the dragon). The encounter was designed to destroy the ship and send the characters into the swamp.
Southar - Human Suel/Oridean mix Ranger from the edges of the Gnarley Forest. He grew up in a woodcutter family; harvesting wood products from the Gnarley Forest under guidance and protection of the local rangers. On day, returning home, he found his family missing. They were likely taken into slavery by a roaming band of humanoids or bandits. Southar was taken in by a local Ranger Knight named Sylor the Swift. He taught Southar the ways of the ranger. Unfortunately, once Southar set out on his own he explored the whereabouts of his parents captors and was taken himself. That is how he found himself on the docks in Highport.
Grimlock - Half-elven Fighter, Thief, Mage. Grimlock grew up in Celene after his human father died. He was never really welcome there because of being a half-breed. As he matured he decided the Celene life was not for him. You said goodbye to your mother and crossed the Welkwood and headed to the town of Safeton where he took on as a bouncer, town guard or whatever paid. He got restless and started guarding caravans to and then out of nearby Hardby. Hardby can be a bit rough and he fell in with the wrong crowd to make easier money. He had not made it into the thieves guild of yet but was running with a few members and was picking up a few of the skills. He figured he was a shoe in. Then one night, he tried to do some freelance work on his own and found himself in an oddball shop of potions and spices, until the alarm went off . . .
Instead of turning Grimlock in, the kindly old man that found him took pity on him and took him in. Grimlock spent much time with the kindly old man. Grimlock did all the labor around the place and eventually worked off his debt. By this time, he and the old man had become friends. Veccory was his name. Over time (several years), Veccory took Grimlock in as an apprentice and found he were able to pick up on the ways of magic, although Grimlock struggled to do so. Grimlock continued to work for him to pay for your schooling, room and board.
Grimlock was on his way overland to Verbobonc for some items from the gnomes of the Kron hills when he were waylaid and taken prisoner.
Steve - Elven Mage from Celene. Not sure exactly why he is the way he is. The player wants to run him a bit of a party animal. Steve is a son (of several children) of a Duke. The Duke is a cousin to Queen Yolande. Steve found taking life seriously (as serious as an elf can anyway) to constricting. His playful moods and interest in wine and woman found him unwelcome in the elvish courts. His father sent him out into the world to mature. He was ambushed and made a slave. Steve has taken his non-elven name to hide his heritage. His family is unaware of his downfall.
The black dragon came in swiftly back around and landed on the ship; crushing the cabin under its weight. All of the crew cowers in fear but somehow Grimlock, Southar and Steve all hold their resolve together and fight through the panic that grips them.
Southar distanced himself from Ledego and began looking for a bow; finding only a dagger, belt and scabbard.
Steve went to the captains side to aid him. On his way, Steve also was able to grab a dagger and belt. The delay saved Steve. The dragon turns to face Ledego, pulls its wings back and sucks in air.
Peylae asked Grimlock to help her throw the chest overboard. The chest appears to be sealed with a substance (wax?). He does and then he pushes Peylae overboard and jumps in behind her to avoid the acid he fears will soon follow.
What is left of the crew is in utter chaos. Folks are hiding where they can or jumping overboard. Southar, in a fit of insane bravery, decides to move up to attack the dragon to defend Ledego. Southar makes it to a rowboat still on the deck and intact. It is sheltering several crew members who are obviously paralyzed with fear. Steve dives for cover near where Grimlock and Peylae have just abandoned ship. One crew in the water is trying to right a rowboat that is half filled with water after being carelessly thrown overboard.
The dragon tosses his head back and lets out a deafening roar that thunders the air and rings your ears. Ledego bursts forth into several copies of himself; mirror imaging across the deck.
The dragon beats and rakes at Ledego with claw and wing defeating several of the imposter Ledego's. Finally, with a swish of its tail, it sends Ledego flying like a discarded sack over the side of the ship.
With Ledego no longer in his way, the dragon begins moving forward on the ship, gobbling down crew members along the way. It gets to the remaining rowboat on the port side. The ship lists hard to port. Southar and Steve are able to stay upright with their natural elven grace. Southar and Steve realize that all "resistance is futile" and jump overboard, Steve to the starboard after Grimlock and Peylae; Southar to port after Ledego.
Grimlock and Peylae make for shore keeping themselves buoyant with the chest. Southar finds some floating debris and makes his way toward where he saw the Ledego's body impact the sea and then disappear.
The dragon moves back to the cabin and digs among the rubble. It soon takes off, its wings grappling with the air as it climbs. In its claws are two more chests. The dragons taunts you, “I am Gouthogg, most powerful son of Quagmire, queen of the Pelisso Swamp. You are right to fear me for I am greater than you all.”
The dragon circles a few more times seeming to enjoy the panic and mayhem he is causing. He pauses momentarily to gobble down a few more of the folks that were floundering in the water trying to get the life boat in order. He finally takes flight out over the water and out to sea. Just as you are losing sight of him and gaining some confidence that you survived, Gouthogg suddenly climbs and falls backward in flight, turning his body and lifts high in the air as he returns to you. He is coming in from the sea side (port on the ship) very fast, diving out of the sky. At the last moment, he disgorges a fresh wad of acid onto the deck of the ship. Immediately after, he drops his hind quarters and knocks the floundering boat hard mid ship. Strained timbers finally crack and the ship lists hard to starboard and begins to take on water and settle slowly down into the water. Gouthogg lifts back into the air, “The sea can have the rest of you. Or the swamp if you make it that far. You are all going to die here.” Gouthogg disappears into the horizon over the endless swamp that is now your only hope of survival although it more promises a slow and lingering death.
Southar gets to Ledego's location and dives underwater. To his surprise, he finds Ledego floating amid a stream of bubbles. Ledego motions Southar over and mimics to him; advising him to breath. To Southar's amazement, he finds he can breath quite well. In fact, he feels almost like he is walking on solid ground. Southar's elation is dampened by the realization that Ledego is gravely injured. Southar does what he can to bandage Ledego and once the dragon is not overhead, he pulls him to some floating debris.
Peylae and Grimlock continue for shore. Peylae reassuring herself that her father is alright and that he would want her to find safety. They have made it through worse after all. She sincerely thanks Grimlock for pushing her overboard.
Steve keeps his distance from others in order to avoid becoming a target. With the passing of the dragon, he comes upon the floundered row boat. He musters the crew and raises their spirits. They make for the disabled ship to salvage supplies as best as they can.
Southar makes it to the shore-side of the sinking vessel to find the cast off rowboat. He is able to get Ledego into the boat and they make for shore the best they can.
All make for the mouth of the river as the last of the Nir Nen settles upon the surface and drifts father out to a grave at sea. Ledego holds his shattered ribs together while he watches his ship drift off hoping his life force doesn't follow just yet.
The characters get to shore and organize. They introduce themselves. "Steve" drops his false name and identifies himself as Cirdan Saralonde.
The fourth player character joins the group. He is Breymeer, a human ranger from the north. IMC I have altered the West and NW sides of the Flannaes so as to attach it to the Mystara map. Without going into long details, trust the NW barbarians are similar (actually distance relations) to the Suel and similar to the Suel barbarians. They settled east from Mystara.
The group debated a bit about what to do but decided to head up river using the two recovered boats and some recovered foodstuffs.
The elvish crew memebers get into the boat with the crates of food. “Amdir” they name it. The human crew get into the boats with Ledego. “Nestad” is now its name. “’Hope’ and ‘Healing’ in your tongue.” Peylea says to the humans.
The half orc gets into Amdir along with one of the elvish prisoner. She sits quiet, her eyes giving away more intelligence that you would normally credit to an orc-blood. The elf begins to gather boards and lay them in the bottom of the boat. He goes near the dwarf and begins to fashion oars with the use of the dwarf’s axe, “If anyone is better at this than me, feel free to give tips or help for I am not a carpenter by trade”.
Both of the half elf prisoners stays with Peylae in Nestad and assist her with her father.
The remaining elf prisoner gets into Nestad.
“I am Berry Hairycheeks,” says the halfling weakly. “I am a merchant by trade. I travelled in the same caravan as Tanin the dwarf. If fact, I believe I saw that man there coming and going as if scouting for the same caravan. Breymeer they called him I believe. We travelled down from the north. We were waylaid by orcs and sold into slavery.” The halfling was pointing at one of the human prisoners. He has light brown hair and blue eyes. He is tall, over six feet, but of average build. Hairycheeks slowly sits himself into Amdir with his dwarf savior. “I wish I hadn’t lost my smoking pipe,” he says softly. The dwarf, Tanin, grunts in agreement without looking up from his assisting with paddlemaking.
"I too was part of your caravan little man”, says a strange man. Obviously from Ket or farther west, possibly Ull. He comes from the barren lands north or west of the Bramblewood Forest. "I am Alip. I too am a merchant. Since we obviously did not get to speak on our previous journey; I shall sit with you now and pass the time." He climbs into Amdir.
You pass some time working, thinking and having some discussion as to the future plans. Peylae seems to be getting impatient and her father is none the better in regards to his health. Others have caught their breath and dried off a bit from the swim.
Peylae’s voice catches the group’s attention, “The sun will be setting within a few hours. We must get inland a bit, hopefully to some dry ground. We are moving inland by my orders. Consider yourself free men and women. You may leave the group whenever you wish. Just keep this in mind. The boats and supplies are the property of the Nir Nen and therefore belong solely to Ledego and myself. We will share freely with those that assist us and travel with us. Those that want to leave may take a two day supply of food and our best wishes; but I do not think you will survive long.”
The human caravan guard, as identified by the halfling, climbs into an open spot in Amdir with the elvish crew members. The final human, a few inches shorter but obviously a bit stronger with blond hair and blue eyes, follows and finds a seat. The final human was the one that helped rescue Ledego.
“You have all survived Gouthogg. You have looked a dragon in the eye and have the right to tell this tale. Do not let it end here. We shall tell this tale, the full tale, to our grandchildren. When this human, she nods to the blond man in Amdir, willingly risks his life to save that of an elf, our bond has roots already,” as Peylae speaks, you find your strength and confidence begins to grow inside of you. The crew readies oars and points the boats upriver.
“You already know Ledego and I. Our crewmaster is Comus”, Peylae points to the dark skinned human crewman. “The other human crewmembers are Varze, Ment, Nedwyn and Tiz. The elvish are Larrig (the male) and Ersan. We have wondered too far to call anywhere home now. Please, tell us who you are and where you are from.”
Peylae then whispers to Grimlock that Ledego acknowledges his special abilities and will help as soon as logistics permit. He refused to open the chest until it is safer to do so. Needs may change his command but for now, the chest will remain shut and sealed.
“Let the occupants of Amdir start”, says Peylae, raising her voice and speaking to the group again. “The man that saved my father can start.”
“I am Southar from the Gnarley Forest”, says the blond man. “I am all that remains of my family; taken by slavers. I was bushwacked looking for traces of them.”
“And I am Berry Hairycheeks. I got my name from the strange ability to grow long sideburns. I am not sure where it comes from. I am a trader from Kenderton, north of the Bramblewood forest. I trade mainly in household goods but my passion is spices.”
“I also travelled with Hairycheeks”, says Tanin the dwarf. “I am a gem trader.” He is an average sized dwarf with brown hair and eyes. His mustache braided down the sides of a braided beard. His hair worn down past his shoulders, tied into a ponytail. He is strong, like all dwarves, but not overly so. He eyes are keen like one would expect of a gemcutter.
“And I am Alip. I am from Ket. I too am a merchant. I do not specialize in particular goods. I trade to and from the Greyhawk City area and Ket. I gather goods from farther west to sell. A rough land it can be”, says Alip as he wraps his head in a piece of loose cloth.
“And I am Breymeer”, says the bearded northman. “I too was with the ill-fated caravan. We were set upon by an organized group of brigands. They appeared to have been more interested in plunder than murder as so many of us survived to be sold into slavery. I was shot in the back with a bolt. Somehow, I survived.” He shows a scar on his back. “They did not finish me off. They should have. I, one day, hope to repay them their unkindness.”
“Breymeer, I should like to help you repay that debt if indeed our tormentors are one and the same”, Southar of the Gnarley Forest nods to Breymeer of the wild north.
“And now, for those of you in the Nestad. Please speak of yourself,” adds Peylae.
“I am Grimlock”, says the half-elven man who swam ashore with Peylae and the chest. “I too have travelled a bit, from Celene to Hardby and other places. I may have met the same bandits as Breymeer for I was taken on a trip to Verbobonc.”
“I too am from the great elvish kingdom of Celene,” adds the elf that rescued the food supplies. His speech and dialect that of a nobleman. “I do not doubt you found times restless in Celene my half elven friend”, he addresses Grimlock, “for it is an ELVISH kingdom”, he stresses the word to give attention to Grimlock’s half breed status. He continues, not pausing long enough to see if he had insulted Grimlock, “I am Cirdan Saralonde and I am from Celene.”
“I am Chimae”, says the remaining half elf. “I am from the Welkwood forest and share the same fate as the rest of you in regards to our capture. Although my captures were not brigands but hobgoblins from the Pomarj.”
“I am also from Celene, although I am not of such noble birth as Cirdan Saralonde”, finishes the last elf. “I am Cerdio. I was travelling away from Celene and I was abducted also by human bridgands.”
Ledego then gave a short "we are the world" speech to unite the group in its common purpose.
With that, oars cut into the water and your journey up river begins. You find the current mild mostly. There are numerous side and back channels but at this point, the main riverway is easy to follow. There is fowl in the air and likely fish in the water. Survival is possible.
You put your boats into the stream. Ledego's boat slightly behind the other. The Nestad ahead of the Amdir. You travel the rest of the daylight but do not find suitable ground for going ashore. Nor do you find any healing vegetation. You sleep in your boats pulled out of the main river amongst the bog. The night passes very restlessly as you have not become accustom to the sounds around you. And the occasional splash or slap in the water continues to put you on alert.
The second day of travel, Ledego condition does not look likely to improve without help. You continue up the riverway. Not much changes although the bog begins to look more like quicksand that floating bog. Still, the land does not support much for weight. Hairycheeks attempts a short foray ashore but quickly returns defeated.
You begin to see the more than occasional disturbance in the water. A ripple here, a snake there. So far, all creatures have remained unseen or have allowed you to pass without much notice. The crocodile or alligators, whichever they may be, have made their unnerving presence known to you.
As day two comes to a close, you realize that you will be sleeping in the boats again. You eat a meal of dried meat and fruit. The darkness brings no more relief but the days labor causes you to sleep a bit more in between alerts and swamp strangeness.
Day three brings more heat, more bugs and you have noticed the water continues to darken a bit as you travel farther into the swamp. The smell of the place is constant. Like rotting vegetables but not as sharp to the senses. The land continues to increase in density. Larger brush, vegetation and small trees are cropping up.
At one point, about midday, a larger than normal ripple appears around a bend in the river not too far off the bow of the lead boat. It appears you have come upon something and gave it a bit of a start. What caused the sudden six inch ripples is unknown but the disturbance is greater than that of one of your boats.
You hesitate for a moment and the ripples begin to lick the bow of the lead boat. Two small eddies suddenly appear in the water just to the front of the lead boat. A large dark shape appears to be moving towards you. It is too hard to make out in the water but appears to be the size of one of the boats and moving swiftly. The dark shape in the dark water is roughly circular.
The shadowy creature rises to the surface underneath the lead boat. Breymeer stabs downward into the water as it passes under him at the bow of the boat. The makeshift wooden "spear" he picked up meets its mark, unfortunately, not stopping the creature.
As it surfaces, the incredible size of it stuns you. The shell must be all of twelve or more feet long and nearly eight feet wide. The beasts head protrudes on a leathery neck. The turtle surfacing and the sound of the beasts impact with the boat sends a few crocodiles scurrying into the river from water's edge.
The impact caused the bow of the boat to rise into the air as the shell pushed it off the surface of the water. Breymeer bear hugged the bow while the other occupants scrambled to hold onto anything they could to remain dry.
Saralonde, in an amazing feat of elvish dexterity, spun rearward as the bow of the ship went up and stood on the aft section as the turtle passed by underneath. In a split second, he drove a long dagger deep into the creature’s neck drawing forth blood.
The reaction of the creature was swift as it spun in the water causing the boat to lurch to the port side and crash back down to the water almost capsizing.
The giant turtle now faces the Amdir from the rear. The Nestad is directly behind the turtle no more than 10 feet off its shell. The crocodiles that popped into the water are not seen. Maybe they are hoping for leftovers when the battle is done.
As the small craft that is the Amdir crashes back down onto the surface of the water, all its occupants hold tight with the exception of Ide Odneaux. As the boat hits the water, she is dumped out into the river. As the Amdir bobs back to center, Breymeer is off the bow and reaching his makeshift spear into the water to help pull Ide Odneaux back on board.
Meanwhile, the turtle plunges his head into the craft looking for dinner. Its giant trap slams shut onto an empty seat splitting some wood off the edge.
As it does so, Cirdan Saralonde again buries the dagger into the creature’s neck, this time near its base. The dagger bite deep and the turtle instantly retracts it head. Cirdan Saralonde, with elven grace, dodges the head as it comes back past him. The turtle, feeling the pain of two deep gashes from Saralonde, dips below the surface and the shadow of it begins to head for mid river. The second hit caused the turtle obvious pain.
“There goes some good eating. Nice try Cirdan,” spits Ide Odneaux, along with some water she took on in her plunge, as Breymeer helps her back into the boat. The frame of Ide Odneaux is taut with muscles, tendered by her female characteristics. For a mix-breed orc, she fairs well. One could only imagine the beauty she would have been otherwise.
The occupants of the Nestad let out a collective sigh of relief at the retreat of the turtle.
The crocodiles must have realized there would be no free lunch as they do not appear to threaten either boat.
After some discussion, the group decides the best action is to put distance between you and the turtle so you continue on.
You travel a few more days without interruption. Ledego is maintaining but death seems only prolonged if something cannot be found. Quick explorations into the jungle edge revealed some helpful plants and Harrycheeks and Peylae give Ledego some medications that seem to ease his pain.
On day six, about midday, you discover a muddy bank with an obvious trail into the jungle. The ground has hardened up a bit and larger trees now grow. The bank appears to have been muddied by much use and the trail is used frequently enough to be obvious.
Breymeer tells the group, “I volunteer to lead the group and follow the tracks/trail. I am not sure what the creature is but it appears to be smaller than a man but heavier than an elf. It coming to the water and not from the water. I believe it lives in the jungle. It appears to be coming to water’s edge to fish or hunt or similar. Before we go, I wish to get supplied.” With that he begins probing the forest edge for material. He gathers a short pliable stick and a longer, stouter branch. The branch he asks Tanin, the axe wielding dwarf, to sharpen for him. Tanin goes to the task without complaint and Breymeer begins stripping vines into very thin cords.
Cerdio, one of the Celene elves, grabs a short sharpened wooden stake/dagger, “I will flank the group. Although I am not accustomed to this type of woodland, I should be able to blend into it nearly as well as my homeland. I will be just off left flank.”
“And I will join you!” says Barry Hairycheeks. “I am not as sneaky as an elf but I used to play many hiding games in my youth. I may be of some help here as well.”
“This may surprise you,” says Tanin, “but us dwarves are not known for our sneaking. I am not as well trained in combat as I am in gem appraising, but I am stout and unafraid. I will come with you Breymeer. I like your confidence.”
“I will go with Breymeer as well,” adds Alip. “I am not sure if I will add any skill, but I can help carry and items or supplies we may get. I, too, have an eye for value in an item.” Alip takes with him a makeshift javelin.
Ide Otneaux grabs an oversize chunk of wood for a club. “It seems all I have done in life is fight. I am unafraid. I will cover Breymeer up front. Tanin, please watch my flanks but give me space to swing this brain bat.”
Breymeer does not seem to be too upset the muscled giant of a woman is next to him.
Grimlock adds, “I will help with Tanin with the flanks.”
Chimae steps to Grimlocks side, “I guess us half-breeds will stick together, my friend. I will help where I can.” Chimae picks up a sharpened stick to use as a javelin.
Cirdan Saralonde and Southar are busy at woods edge but agree to go with the group. Each is scrounging individually.
Peylae and crew meanwhile were busy hiding the boats and putting up a makeshift camp. She and the half breed elven crew return to the muddy banks. They have some items in a small blue velvet sack not previously seen. You assume they had opened the chest.
Larrig and Ersan fall in with the other half elves. Each is armed with a dagger.
Peylae announces, “Larrig and Ersan will accompany you. Return by nightfall if at all possible. If you do not return, we will attempt a rescue if possible. I have the following gifts to offer you for your group’s success.”
With that Peylae pulls out a four vials from the sack. She hands one each to Breymeer, Ide Otneaux, Cirdeo and Cirdan Saralonde. Once the gifts were handed out she proclaimed, “These are potions to heal your ills. They are going to be worth their weight in mithril out here, so please only use them in the most dire need!”
To Grimlock she hands a leather scroll case. As with the potions, this is not easily replaceable. Please use it wisely.
Peylae whispers again to Grimlcok, this time in elvish, as she hands you the scroll, "This is for your concern for my father. This is all we can assist you with in channeling magic. We have no spellbook for you. The scrolls are for you to use as needed or save to put into your own book later. Good luck and thank you."
Peylae walks to Southar and hands him the final vial from her collection. She says something to him and walks back to the middle of your group. Privately, she tells him, "This gift is for saving my father. It will give you great strength for a time. Do not squander it. Save it for when no other options are available. You must drink it all at once. Be wary, you will have enormous strength for a time."
To the group, Peylae states, "Good luck, may no harm find any of you." With that, Peylae departs back to the boats secreted into the vegetation at water's edge.
The area you are heading into appears to be a higher ridge of land with solid ground and larger trees. The swamp is getting more and more populated by such "islands" similar to aspen groupings mingled in tamarack swamps.
You begin your walk into the high ridge of the jungle/swamp. Everyone falls into line with Cerdio and Hairycheeks flanking to the right. The skill of the elf and hobbit is impressive. They move as quiet and undetected as any thief in the night. The trail is obvious at this point but Breymeer still pays it close attention for any slight changes undetectable by the untrained eye. You feel some confidence, although under equipped, as you head into the unknown.
Breymeer walks cautiously along the muddy track watching each side for movement as well as the trail for signs of danger. Ide Otneaux is about five feet behind him, club resting on her shoulder. Tanin and Alip behind her with Grimlock and Chimae in the mix. Larrig and Ersan behind the other two half breed elves. Southar and Cirdan Saralonde taking up the rear. Somewhere to the right creeps Cerdio and Hairycheeks.
You move in such fashion down the winding trail. It moves around waterlogged areas and pitfalls. The ground rises and falls only a little bit. The trunks of an occasional large tree lays upon the ground slowly rotting back into the soil. The leaves of the vegetation are massive . . . and concealing.
As you move farther into the ridge, Breymeer silently freezes and holds up an arm. The column stops moving. He crouches down and slowly moves up the trail reading the story it is telling him. You get the feeling you are not alone.
As Breymeer turns his head to whisper something to the column, a sudden shout from Cerdio erupts to your right, “Ambush!!!”
Before you could fully walk into a death trap, Cerdio’s shout forces the creatures from hiding. Instead of being surrounded, Breymeers caution has kept you out of the kill zone.
Two of the creatures appear from the sides of the trail in front of you. They are generally shaped like frogs but waddle on two webbed feet. They stand four to five feet tall, but crouch forward slightly. In their webbed hands they hold spears with stone tips. Both wear turtleshell breastplates and the larger one has a shield and a short sword scabbarded on his belt. They both have pouches on their belts and have turtleshell covers on their thighs. They move at you slowly.
From the left flanks, you hear a thrashing in the thick vegetation and something comes quickly at you. Three creatures explode out of the lush green growth. They are in mid-air in some form of vicious hop. Their bodies are in tight, leaning forward and they try and drive their stone tipped spears into you. These creatures lack the breastplate and are naked other than a belt and pouch.
On the right flank, the sound of battle erupts. Shouts and croaks are mixed into weapon upon weapon as the halfling and elf catch the attackers by surprise. Of the three creatures, two continue the attack on Cerdio and Hairycheeks and the third continues the flanking attack on the group. Hairycheeks is gashed across the left arm by the frogman’s spear.
The flanking frogman from the right bursts through the vegetation and is met by Ide Otneaux club. The tough hide was unable to stop the overhead downstroke of the massive club. The force of the blow breaks bone and splits skin open as the creature is driven into the ground lifeless. Breymeer’s spear thrust falls short of the mark; it would have impaled the frog had not Ide Otneaux crushed it prior to arrival.
The stout dwarf swings his hand axe at one of the frogs from the left flank. The axe catches it across the brow splitting its skull and felling the threat.
Alip crouches low and sets his javelin into the ground and blindly points it in the direction of the threat.
Chimae also attempts to ground his javelin against the rush. He sets in near Grimlock attempting to form a makeshift picketline. Grimlock thrusts at the second green flash from the left as it comes crashing in towards Chimae but the speartip bounces off the tough hide.
The frog’s spear pierces Chimae’s chest and flattens him back against the ground at Grimlock’s side. The life force in his eyes fading while the offending frog removes the speartip and squares off intending to make Grimlock his next victim.
The final threat from the left flank misses its mark at Cirdan Saralonde rolls nimbly underneath the attack. The creature now finds itself near the end of the column between Cirdan Saralonde and Southar. Southar spun with his weapon but was parried by the recovering frog’s spear.
Larrig and Ersan take defensive positions and move to the rear of Southar and Cirdan Saralonde. They are now at the end of the line of adventurers.
The final two armored frogs take a couple quick steps and then a charging hop to attack, covering the near 30 feet in one bound. The come in, as the others, in a front leaning crouch with spear tips set to run you through. Their nearest threat is Breymeer, Ide Otneaux and Tanin, the dwarf.
Breymeer turns to face the new threat of the armored, leaping amphibians. He is not quick enough and the shield wielding frog’s spear narrowly misses and darts past his left shoulder. The weight of the frog behind his shield smashes into Breymeer sending him stumbling backwards although he retains his feet.
Ide Otneaux’s club is brought down on Breymeer’s attacker. Its rush not allowing it time to bring shield or spear to the defensive. The club crushes into its head and neck dropping it lifeless to the soil.
Tanin’s hand axe fails to connect with the remaining armored frog. From behind Tanin, Alip leaps forward, spear set to charge and a wild look in his eyes. Lost in fear and panic, he charges forward and drives his shaft into the tutle shell breastplate of Tanin’s attacker. The shell is shattered as the full weight of both frog and man collide onto the tip of Alip’s javelin. The wooden shaft comes clean out the other side of the frog before snapping in half. The skewered body falls dead at Alip’s feet.
Cirdan Saralonde rushes to Chimae’s side pulling one of the vials of healing trying to get life back into the half-elf.
Grimlock’s spear thrust pierces through the rubbery hide and the frog in turn slashes forward. The spear tip bites deeply into his left thigh. Just as the fight looks grim for bleeding Grimlock, his half-elven brethren, Larrig and Ersan, jump the frog as it pulls out the spear and draws it back to give the death thrust to Grimlock. Daggers bite deep into the frogs back and neck; one protruding out the front of its neck. The frog slides off the knife and drops dead.
Left alone in the rear, Southar faces the remaining threat. Trying to beat the creature to the attack, Southar moves into the fight and tries to dagger the critter. The dagger fails to bite into its hide but Southar, showing impressive evasive skill, avoids the beasts spear.
The beast on Southar thinks the better of the battle and withdraws attempting to hop away. It is croaking and making all kinds of noise as it goes.
Meanwhile, Cerdio cuts deep into his opponent with his makeshift dagger, killing it. Hairycheeks skulls the remaining frog with his little club knocking it dead.
As the sole surviving frogman withdraws and flees, Cirdan Saralonde shouts above the din, “Kill it before it gets reinforcements”. Cirdan continues to kneel next to Chimae.
Even before Cirdan’s voice reaches him, Southar is thrusting his wooden javelin forward at the retreating green menace. The javelin sinks into its back near where a man’s kidneys would be. Blood leaks onto the green vegetation as the frog leaps forward in a clumsy fashion, disappearing into the growth as Breymeer’s spear thuds into the ground where the frog was last seen.
Ide Otneaux has talked Tanin out of his axe momentarily and is hacking at one of the dead creature’s legs, “You elves can live off of berries and fruit. I want some fresh meat. Looks like overgrown frog legs to me. I hear tale they are a delicacy”. She shows no sign of embarrassment. Tanin almost appears to think the idea appealing.
“I’ve eaten worse,” adds Alip, “cut some for me too please.”
Grimlock tears some of his tattered clothing and makes a bandage to wrap around his leg. The wound is deep but not more serious than a flesh wound. Grimlock is in obvious pain and favors his other leg. He is a little pale looking but it seems he will power through.
Larrig and Ersan kneel before the fallen Chimae and appear in prayer or similar lament.
Cerdio and Barry Hairycheeks walk unto the trail. Hairycheeks has a little blood evident on his left arm from a very minor spear cut. Cerdio looks worried, “Something other than amphibians stalks us now. The sounds of combat may have betrayed our location. I caught a swift flash of a dark creature dropping from a branch. It is nearly as large as a man but agile. I know not if it is alone.”
Seeing Chimae down Cerdio continues, “Half breed or not, the elves mourn.”
It is definitely easier! I pretty much do the same thing, though I try to just make little changes to get tenses right and such. Still, I think it's good enough. One thing that more or less straight cut/paste does is maintain the "feel" of the action, in a metagaming way. You see what the players were doing/thinking in a "real time" kind of way.
And yes, it reads fine. I REALLY like where you're going! It's making me want to bring my party south!!!
Southar works fast. Along with the javelin he was carrying, he moved over to group near Chimae, “I am going to get that critter before he gets away. He is wounded and should be slowed. I should be able to track his blood trail. If I am not back shortly, I think the rest of you should head back to the boats with the wounded.” With that, Southar grabs Chimae’s javelin and the frog man’s spear. He moves quickly to the blood trail with a spear in one hand and two javelins in the other. He slips into the jungle and quickly disappears from site. You also note, he moves with stealth for he is hard to hear him once he is out of view.
Grimlock continues to tend to his wound and moves more toward the center of the group.
Cirdan Saralonde leaves Chimae’s side and starts collecting items. He gathers up the remaining turtle shell breastplate and the thigh guards, the remaining 6 spears and the shield. “I think there is wisdom in a strategic retreat back to the boats. Let us return there with Chimae’s body. And the human crew may want some ‘meat’”.
It has only been a few minutes since Southar entered the woods alone. From the jungle, forward down the trail and an undetermined amount of space to the right of the trail comes a loud growl, that of a cat, a large cat.
“WILDCAT!” warns Breymeer.
Southar walks cautiously up the trail attempting to move silently and hide amongst the leaves. The blood trail is easy to follow but your prey appears to be less injured than previously thought for it is making good progress by bound and hop, occasionally stopping.
Southar feels he is closing in on the creature when just ahead there is a great growl causing the hair on his neck to stand erect. Something rushes through the jungle thickness at an angle to Southar’s left and he sees a quick pounce of a dark colored spotted cat. The cat is about six feet long, sleek but very muscular. The victim of the charge, judging by the sudden croak of fear, is the wounded frogman. It appears nature’s instinct to hunt the wounded over the healthy has saved Southar for surely the big cat had the drop on him.
The cat is much larger than the frogman and it drives him into the ground raking claws down its front and biting into its neck. The frogman goes limp as the cat shakes him back and forth, neck broken.
The cat looks back at Southar as if judging his intent, strengths . . . and weaknesses.
“I recommend that we carry some frogman meat with us. We may be able to divert the cat with food. I am not familiar with a cat that likes to kill for food when free, already dead, meat is available. I will carry the half-elf since I have the strength”, states Cirdan Saralonde more of a statement than any type of order. He continues to collect goods from the dead frog creatures.
Alip, watching Saralonde, comments, “Great find Noble Saralonde!” Alip moves over to Saralonde’s location and starts examining the belts and pouches he is not piling up; seven of each. “Those buggers are crocodile skin. Look to be in pretty touch shape but interesting non-the-less.”
Tanin, possibly pushed by the scent of precious metals and gems that dwarves seem to smell, moves quickly over and opens one of the pouches, tipping it into his hand, “Cirdan, sir, you are positively turning out to be a delight no matter what I thought of you elven types previously. I am really starting to like you!” Coins and small rough gems come out into his large thick fingers and palm. “There is copper, silver and . . . GOLD! Even these rough gems I could polish up into a luster and cut them good I could.”
“Not worth the life we lost though Tanin!” scolds Cerdio, “I understand your excitement my dear dwarf but that treasure came at a cost.” Seeing the anger in the dwarf’s eyes, Cerdio tries to soften his words, “Tanin, I did have my eyes open during the fight. I am well aware if it were not for your strong arm we may not have been so quickly victorious and Chimae may not have been our only loss. I am glad you are here Tanin dear dwarf.”
Breymeer moves closer and examines the haul, all the while keeping an eye and ear up the trail for activity.
Hairycheeks moves to Grimlock’s side, “Dear man-elf, please put this herb I found within your bandage. If I am right, it will help it heal and keep out infection. See here,” he points to his own injury that he had bandaged, “I have done the same.” Hairycheeks hands Grimlock some leaves.
During this, Ide Otneaux continues to hack meat off bone with the indifference of a butcher at her trade.
Ersan asks, “Where did that man calling himself Southar go?”
Almost as if conjured by Ersan, Southar walks back into camp. “There is a large cat out there with strange markings upon its coat. It is feeding on the frogbeast that fled us. The cat is larger than a man and tore through that frog’s tough hide with the ease I cut bread.”
During your conversations, you find yourself circled around Alip, Tanin and Saralonde examining the pile of goods. The general consensus of the group is to return to camp.
Inventory shows you have 6 spears, a short sword and scabbard, a shield, a turtle shell breastplate (small 4 to 5 foot framed creature will fit), turtle shell thigh plates (4), 7 belts and 7 belt pouches (each containing an uncounted number of coins/gems).
As far as you can tell, no frogbeast escaped you. The cat is assumed to be feeding not far from you. The trail you followed continues from the ambush point deeper into the ridge. You are unsure how far the ridge goes yet.
Breymeer warns, “The trail and tracks lead me to believe we met a scout party or listening post of a much larger group. I am estimating there are scores and scores more of these creatures. Easily more than fifty. I am brave enough but wisdom tells me we should leave now.”
You quickly split the pile as follows and begin towards the boats.
Spears – Grimlock, Breymeer, Cirdan Saralonde, Southar, Ide Otneaux and Alip (he broke his javelin).
Short Sword – Berry Hairycheeks
Shield – Tanin
Belts & Pouch – Grimlock, Breymeer, Ide Otneaux, Tanin, Berry Hairycheeks, Cerdio, and Alip. (Southar and Cirdan Saralonde had acquired belts while vacating the Nir Nen)
Turtle breastplate - Grimlock (for makeshift shield)
Those that had the cheap wooden javelins, excepting Southar, have dropped them and taken on better weapons.
No one in the group objects to a tactical withdrawl back to the boats. The great cat appears to have let you go. Or, you do not notice it stalking you.
The trip back down the trail seems much faster (as the return trip tends to). No other creature or trap befalls the group. You hail Peylae and the crew on arrival. To your surprise, Ledego’s voice, stronger than it has been since Gouthogg’s attack, beckons back, “You quick return warns of danger.”
You quickly regale the others of the brief encounter with the frogs and the battle that followed. Also, you tell him of the cat with strange markings. “A black jaguar it appears. Rare. The island folk see them as omens and such. Hopefully the beast’s presence brings us no ill fate.”
He continues as you make your way into the shelter of the camp, “I have taken some healing liquid but am beyond its help I fear.” Ledego still rests in the boat. His color is poor but improved. He does not look on death’s door but far from healed. “I need medicine or stronger clerical aid I fear. Therefore, upon your return, I order we continue up river. Peylae has told me of the last week’s travels as they were a hazy dream to me. I feel our hope lies with trying to find a friendly tribe and parley with them for aid. I see you have gathered some gear and pouches. With hope, we have enough to gain aid. You do not disappoint me. Well done.”
Peylae orders the boats prepared. You notice the paddles have been re-worked or replaced. They promise a faster travel.
You shove off before the tribe of frogmen discovers the loss of their scouting party. You continue making your way up river. Ledego states you are travelling southeast and not the due south you had figured; not that it makes a difference to any of you.
The new paddles help greatly, easily doubling your speed. By the end of the day, you can see the ridge that contained the frog trail has grown considerably into a good size rocky hill. A good sign says Ledego for more solid ground increases our chance of finding others; for better or for ill.
The second day from the trail encounter, you can see significant sea type birds circling at various heights ahead of you. They are not bunched; covering miles of airspace. The high mound of the ridge has remained on your right side. A bend in the river reveals the birds haven. A large open area of water, a lake amongst the swamp, opens up ahead of you. The lake, inland sea maybe, stretches nearly as far as the eye can see to the southeast; twenty miles or more. It is almost equally wide. Ledego estimates you have entered near the northwest corner of the lake. The shore extends to your south along the high ridge. The ridge appears to continue to the south, tapering off as it goes and disappearing into jungle only to climb again. Far off in the distance are, what you believe can only be mountains. Jungle covered as they are, they climb high into the sky. The north side of the lake is surrounded by bog and swamp before gaining ground to jungle. The east side appears to be higher ground also but not mountainous. You can see low ridges upon the water. The south side appears to begin low but climbs to the east and west. It appears a valley exits. Likely the river way that helps feed this lake.
Unfortunately, the water of the lake is dark stained and still smells more than your would like. So far, you have gotten by drinking the water in the bottom of the boat after the daily rains. You find it easy to believe drinking this water will have its toll on you. You can only imagine the flukes and worms you may be acquiring. Oh, for good water!
Ledego orders the boats south along the high western shore estimating it has the best chance of encountering men of some type. The area is chained with jungle topped islands. You bob and weave around them hoping to avoid any contact with creatures on the lake shore. You also avoid the islands for Ledego fears what may use them as home.
You cover much ground, endure the rain that comes down. Nearing nightfall, Ledego allows you to camp on the smallest dry island you can find. You are guiding your boats close to shore in the lessoning light.
A sudden rush of air startles all of you. A huge bird takes flight from the shoreline to your right. It appears to be a stork but must be twelve feet tall. “That damn Boobrie just about made me soil me pants!” grunts the crew chief Comus. “The black cat you spoke of maybe gave us some luck, for that bird is a bird of prey. Usually eating catfish and the like, some claim they also hunt spiders and snakes. I fear our little friend Hairycheeks could have been confused for food. And Tanin, an entire course.”
As your adrenaline empties out of your systems, you pull the boats up onto shore and begin to make a quick camp. Ledego leaves the plans up to Peylae and he lays down and is quickly asleep. Hairycheeks attends to him for some time.
Peylae asks for night watch, “I do not fear much here but just in case something comes crawling out of the dark of jungle or water . . .” she trails off for a moment looking across the lake in thought, “. . . Do I have 8 volunteers? Two per two hour watch.”
The crew begins chopping down vegetation to clear a small camp area. Grimlock graps a pile of the debris and heaps it near the middle of the camp. “I need rest, I am sorry I can not help clear a campsite or help with watch.” With that, he lays to rest while re-working the straps on the turtle breastplate turning it into a makeshift small shield. Hairycheeks tends to Grimlock’s wound.
Southar and Breymeer each take a side of the camp and begin investigating the ground and surroundings for whatever tales they will reveal. “I will take first watch,” announces Southar.
“I will take a later watch,” adds Breymeer. “Just wake me when needed.”
Cirdan adds to Breymeer, “Breymeer, you may wake me for the night’s last watch.”
Ledego allows a small fire and those of you that chose eat frog legs. The human crew join you gladly but the elven types stick with the preserved food.
Camp is pretty much ready when Southar and Breymeer finish their investigations and report back to camp. They report the island is no more than the size of a football field from what you could tell when you came ashore last night. It is shaped nearly like a football with points to north and south. You are near the northern tip. It is covered end to end with vegetation. There appeared to be a small rise in the middle or taller trees; it was too hard to tell. Southar and Grimlock had explored back to the small rise discovering it was just a small tree and vegetation covered cut of rock; maybe 30 feet high and 75 to 90 feet across. In the failing light, they had searched for tracks or clues to the island inhabitants, finding nothing, so they returned to camp.
They report some giant frog prints estimating the frogs to be the size of Hairycheeks or larger. Otherwise, the area appears free of large threats. Strangely, there appears to be no signs of smaller beasts such as birds, monkeys, etc.
The sun dips behind the ridge to the west. Shadows lengthen and the jungle sounds increase; especially frogs. Ledego orders a large fire maintained during the night. Breymeer and Southar, without speaking to each other, both rise and walk to the inland side of the camp. Breymeer makes his bed and Southar disappears into his chosen listening post.
Peylae tells Tanin, Ide Otneaux and Cerdio respectively to take watch with Southar, Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde. She then makes her way around the camp chatting quietly with each of you thanking you for your dedication and hard work.
Cirdan Saralonde, When Paylae speaks to you, she quietly slips you a bone scroll case, sealed on both ends. She tells you she may have initially misjudged you for an arrogant fighter. She appreciates your many talents and hopes you can put the scroll to good use. "Things do not come as easily in the jungle as they do in Celene, my noble elf."
It isn’t long before you begin to see very large frogs milling around the shore. It sounds like a few have made landfall and are moving around past the exterior of the camp. The appear to be avoiding the area you are in. The campfire is big enough to give vision to the whole ring of the camp; roughly 30+ feet across. The activity picks up a bit as the frogs appear to be hopping in and feeding on something you can not see. A flurry of activity begins as more frogs come ashore. A distant sounds becomes clear, first to the elves and hobbit and then to human ears too. A constant din, growing louder and nearer . . .
Southar, from the southern post near the jungle, comes back in a rush beating about his shoulders and rubbing his weapon over his back. He has a bit of a disheveled look. “Spiders, that sound is a swarm of spiders. Get near the fire! If the fire doesn’t keep them back, we need to get back in the boats and to open water!”
Breymeer agrees and he grabs a flaming piece of wood from the fire and holds it aloft, “To the fire! Get our injured near! Keep you back to the fire! Ready your weapons but do not attack! They are not attacking us, it is just a feeding frenzy! I think we have just camped in the middle of their nightly ritual.” With that, Breymeer keeps a close eye on the frogs. When any come too near for his liking, Breymeer becomes less aggressive, lowering his weapons and speaking softly.
Grimlock crawls himself in closer to the fire. Trying to avoid putting stress on his injured leg. He readies his shield and spear.
Your firelight covers the area where the boats are moored. Paylae shouts to those gathered around the fire ring, “Please protect my father, we will secure the boats in case retreat becomes necessary.” She rushes down to the boats and begins organizing the crew.
Comus, the crew chief, takes position near Ledego. He draws his weapon, “I do not have much love for spiders.”
Ide Otneaux sticks her spear in the ground next to her and hefts her large club onto her shoulder.
Alip, Tanin, Cirdan Sarlonde and Cirdeo all follow instructions and get into defensive positions. The elves standing next to each other.
Berry Hairycheeks moves near Grimlock, “I shall not let these little beasts undo my nice work.” He prepares himself for attack.
Whether by design or natural instinct, Southar, Breymeer and Ide Otneaux have each taken a side of the fire nearest the danger (south, east and west accordingly). Paylae and crew have the gound covered to the north including the boats. The humans are amongst the boats and the half elves are near Paylae. Cirdan Saralonde and Cirdeo are at the SE corner and Tanin and Alip are at the SW corner. Grimlock, and Hairycheeks, next to Ledego and Comus, are at the northern point of the fire; being the most protected spot.
You watch a very interesting battle unfold. Just as Breymeer predicted, the spiders and frogs each have no interest in coming close to your fire ring. Instead, they appear to be after each other. Frogs hop and gobble spiders at will. The spiders in turn try and overcome the frogs; occasionally getting enough bites into one to bring it down. When a frog goes down, the spiders swarm over it en mass until it stops moving. In this fashion, the frogs, strangely not appearing to have problems eating what you believe to be poisonous spiders, get their stomachs full and eventually retreat back to the water.
In the end, the living frogs retreat and what is left of the spider swarm moves in and around the fallen frogs. You cannot tell how much area the battle covered but you can see the three frogs that perished at the edge of your firelight. Small spiders, about six inches across, still move about.
You begin to relax slightly. Paylae tells the crew to stand down and secure the boats.
What begins as a glint of red reflection quickly becomes an utter horror. A nightmare. Fear and disgust. The hair on your neck stands up, your heart beat races and adrenaline dumps into your system. From the dark, a silent creature moves to the edge of the firelight. That it is a spider is obvious. It is the size that stresses you. And those unblinking red eyes.
The spider is jet black and hairy. It is hard to judge the actual size of the creature but it towers over all your heads. The body must be ten feet across and disappears into the darkness. The reach of its legs must double that. It rears up threateningly towards you revealing two grey stripes down its belly.
The swarm of the original spiders still creeps and pokes around the edge of your firelight. The do not appear to have any interest in you or your fire.
The great spider moves carefully towards you. It is menacing. Although fear grips all of you, it is not overbearing and you may act.
Grimlock grabs a burning ember from the fire and struggles to his feet. He keeps the makeshift torch ahead of him, raised in the air while leans down to grab a strap of his new turtle shield. In the same hand, he grabs his spear. He straightens back up, wincing as he does, and leans into his spear for support, the butt of it in the ground like a walking stick. The shield hangs from his hand, to be ready quickly if needed. The torch he holds out in front of him, trying to guess the spider’s next move.
Southar says to the group, “Back up! Let me try and stop this creature.”
At the very same moment, Breymeer turns to the group and says, “Give me a chance to calm this creature. If we leave its young alone and I can get through to it, we may be able to avoid more injuries. If the beast attacks, then give it hell with torch and spear!!!”
Southar and Breymeer move forward as one, cautious, but as non-threatening as they dare. They keep their weapons lowered and Breymeer sets his torch down in such a way that it is near to him and it keeps burning.
The group follows the two woodsmen’s commands. The close in nearer the fire and get their weapons ready but do not show them in too threatening of a manner. Peylae and the crew slowly move the boats to the water if needed. Comus begins helping Ledego towards the boats while Ersan and Larrig create a defensive line between them and the spider as they all move slowly towards the boats.
“Frogs you must take, great spider.”
“Food we are not.”
“Harm we no mean you.”
“Enough to eat you have. Peace you should leave in.”
And other quick calming statements are heard as Breymeer and Southar continue to move boldly and confidently towards the spider. They continue to lower their voices until they are just above a whisper. They have moved up to the very edge of what you estimate is the spider’s reach.
The red-eyed beast moves his front legs in the air and begins to circle slightly to the east (counter-clockwise as oriented to the fire; that is the side that Breymeer came from, leaving Tanin and Alip there).
“This had better work you crazy forest friends. By my beard, that beast is as fearful as the drow elf’s demon queen!” shouts Tanin.
Whether it be a fear of the flame and fire or that the crazy human woodsmen actually convinced the great spider to not attack, you may never know. However, the great hairy arachnid moves slowly around the circle, stopping at each dead frog. It wraps the each frog in webbing and moves onto the next one until all three frogs are trailing behind it in webbing material.
The beast moves silently back into the night, heading south away from your fire towards the center of the island. The small critters slowly dwindle in numbers until none remain around the area.
After some consulting amongst yourselves, you decide to keep the fire going and stay the night with the previously arranged people on watch. The wounded need rest. Southar scouts the perimeter a bit and brings back what he could find for additional wood. The jungle wood is damp and burns poorly, creating a lot of smoke. Being dark and in need of fire, you use it. The drier wood scavenged from the Nir Nen keeps the fires hot.
The night passes without further incident. Due to your raised tensions, there were a few false alarms but after waking the group and arming yourselves, you find no threats enter the fire ring. Sleep was disturbed but you survived the night.
In the morning, as Ledego commands, the group continues weaving among the island chain on the western shore of the lake.
Prior to setting out, you have a burial service for Chimae. You are able to scratch out enough dirt to get him buried. You do not feel the frogs or spiders will dig for him. Ledego manages to preside over the ceremony and bids the half-elf farewell.
Thanks. I just hope my players are able to stay involved.
I have started reading the journals of the likes of yourself and others. One of Lanthorn's was among the first I read and inspired me to give it a try. So you either have him to thank or curse for my journal addition.
Thanks. I just hope my players are able to stay involved.
I have started reading the journals of the likes of yourself and others. One of Lanthorn's was among the first I read and inspired me to give it a try. So you either have him to thank or curse for my journal addition.
I think it is great that several of us are journaling our campaigns. I love reading yours, Lanthorn's, Ragnar's, Cebrion's, and others when they post. It gives me great inspiration for my own campaign as well as some entertaining reading.
(The group came up with a good plant to raid the spider's lair while she was gone. I found this an excellent way to add elements to the storyline guiding the characters towards the lost city. It is pretty long, sorry. They are about to start the next leg of the journey. I am going to start a new post at that point.)
Cirdan Saralonde careful interrupts Ledego’s order to take to the boats again, “Ledego, without questioning your command, may I make a suggestion?” Ledego nods his head at the young noble. Cirdan Saralonde continues, “It stands to reason that ‘big momma and company’ will leave their den again this coming night. There is a good chance that if someone else came this way, they may have faired poorly and if so, their corpses may have been dragged back the same way the frogs went. If we can locate the lair, wait for them to leave tonight, we may be able to quickly explore it and find discarded weapons, supplies, equipment, gold and gems.”
“I really truly am starting to like you elf!” exclaims Tanin. “Gold and gems, a sure thought. I like it.”
Ledego makes his decision immediately, “One more day of rest would benefit some of us, myself included. I will not send my crew but if some of you wish to explore for the lair tonight, you have my blessing and good will. Be very careful. We do not need to continue to bury comrades. We will secure the camp and make it ready for a hasty retreat in the event the great spider becomes unfriendly!”
Breymeer offers this advice, “I see no reason to harm the spider but if you think we can sneak in and out of the lair while she is away, I am willing to help. Some real weapons would be a benefit worth the risk. I suggest we send a small group of our quickest and quietest. Also, it sounds as if our intent is to camp on the island tonight. May I suggest that we think about moving the camp to a nearby island. The spider may not have the same patience tonight if we are still hanging around or she catches us searching her lair.”
Southar also offers, “Against my better judgment, I will join the fools in the raid. I request that there be at least five of us.”
Ledego says, “I do not wish to divide the group to two separate islands. Only the jungle knows what fell creature may inhabit the other islands. We shall camp here. If Southar is going in search of the lair, I would like Breymeer to stay at the camp and help keep the spiders and frogs at bay.”
Grimlock volunteers for duty, “Spider lair it is!”
Cirdan Saralonde adds, “I am glad one of the rangers is going for I would not risk it without a tracker. Being my idea, I suppose I have to go also. Tanin, I thought you would be interested if there be gold and gems involved.”
“Gold and gems indeed!” says Tanin. “Plus, if this lair is beneath the soil, you elves may need the judgment and skills of a dwarf.”
“I make five!” pipes up Hairycheeks. “I can sneak well enough.”
“And I shall join you my little sneak. I will join the group Noble Saralonde although I question the ability of a dwarf to sneak through the forest, I agree that your underground skills would be greater than anyone here my dwarven companion.” Cedio, the Celene elf, adds himself to the lair raiders.
Ide Otneaux bluntly says, “I will stay back at camp in the event they need muscle. I do not fear that overgrown pest!”
Alip will stay back at camp with the Captain and crew.
You pass the day with rest for the injured. The able bodied secure the camp, clearing the undergrowth out farther and finding as much wood as possible. Your supply of dry wood was used up last night. You do, however, have a good base of coals and have been able to continue keeping a fire burning. It remains smoky but you fear you may not be able to get the fire re-lit if you do not keep one burning all day.
Grimlock adds to the plan, “I recommend we send out a stealth group to search for the layer during the daylight. The same group can find an alternate route, mostly along the shoreline, with the shortest distance to the entrance. When the spider leaves for the mighty hunting, we should leave our hiding spot along the shore and expedite our coming and going. The lake can be a fall back point. We can see if there are any rocks we can swim to if need to. I wish to rest during the day for tonight’s venture.”
Ledego agrees, “I am fine with it. I do not think we will need a ranger at camp during the daylight.”
Grimlock’s position in the daylight search party is replaced by Breymeer. Tanin also stays back until nightfall as his underground skills should not be needed and he is less than stealth. “A dwarf breaths so loudly he could be shoot in the dark,” as the elves say.
The group consists of Breymeer and Southar leading the group, walking side by side, one along the shore and the other a short distance into the plant growth. They are followed Berry Hairycheeks, the spice trading halfling. Hairycheeks picks various plants as he goes. The rear guard is Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio, the two Celene elves.
The scout group moves counter-clockwise around the small island. It is pretty consistent around. It has no beach to speak of. The shore has some soil over rock ending at the water’s edge. The ground slowly rises until the center when it peaks up quickly at the rock mound in the middle. The rock rises approx. 30 feet and covers 75 to 90 feet. It is generally covered on top with growth and vegetation clings to the exposed rock at the sides of the rock mound. Periodic trees grow from and cling to the walls hiding them in shadows.
You arrive at the south end of the island and both Breymeer, now along the shore, and Southar, inland, motion for a stop. Breymeer has located an area where a boat came ashore. Strangely, all signs of the boat disappear once ashore. There are no drag marks more than necessary to board it or come ashore. There is no boat in sight. It was a small boat, more of a large canoe by the marks.
Southar comes out of the wood and reports he is backtracking mantracks. The tracks appear to lead from here into the jungle towards the center mound.
You follow the tracks for a distance and see they indeed headed toward the center mound but vanish near the base of the mound. Either they were experience climbers and climbed without any trace for either Southar or Breymeer to find, or something else caused their trail to end. Neither Southar nor Breymeer will agree they lost the trail. They claim it just stops.
It appears very rational that this mound is the only structure on the island that can hold the great spider concealed. Not wanting to provoke an encounter with the spider, you continue your perimeter sweep of the island; finding nothing more of interest.
At camp, Ledego rests with Peylae checking on him and Grimlock. “Hairycheeks has instructed me on what I should do for your leg,” she tells Grimlock.
Grimlock rests as instructed.
Ide Otneaux stays on guard and patrols the perimeter of the camp.
The crew checks on the boats, continues to work on the oars and clears the camp a little wider. They will have it out to about 50 to 60 feet by nightfall. They also gather as good of wood as they can find and keep the fire going.
You cook the remaining frog legs.
Alip and Tanin assist with the clearing and wood gathering.
Peylae spends so time down by the shoreline with her crew while they work on the boats.
Satisfied with the scouting of the perimeter, the scout crew returns to the center mound. It must be the location of the lair for there are no other areas on the island that can hide such a creature.
By quietly and slowly circling the center mound, you finally find it. There is a heavily vegetated area against the center mount. It lays adjacent to the center mound and a smaller jut of rock creating a small overgrown hollow. The hollow appears to be natural and not worked stone as far as you can tell without Tanin’s opinion. The hollow is approx. 8 to 10 feet across and high. It rises upward as far as you can see in the hollow. There is evidence of spider webs within. The area in front shows signs of passage.
The sides of the mound are rough stone mostly covered with vegetation. It appears one could climb it with moderate difficulty. Those with climbing skill would find it relatively easy. Because of the smaller jut of rock and the slight angle it lies to the center mound, there is a platform about 15 to 20 feet up on top of the jut of rock. It is up to ten feet wide and tapers back out of sight. From the platform, it would be an additional 10 to 15 feet higher to the top of the mound. Trees tower above you on and about the mound. The top of the mound does not have large trees but is not void of vegetation from what you can see.
Cirdan Saralonde is first to speak, “I am concerned about the disappearance of the footprints and the boat. I would like to consult with the group. We should go back to camp and wait for evening, then get into position before the spiders start mobilizing.”
Breymeer agrees, “We have accomplished exactly as intended and the chosen group can return tonight. I think it is a fool’s errand to enter the lair while she is home. When you return, we will need a fast escape plan ‘cause if we are caught in her lair the big hairy bitch is gonna to be pissed and looking to destroy everyone on this tiny island.”
Cerdio concurs with a nod.
Hairycheeks chimes in, “I agree, there is no need to fight her for any gifts she may have.”
Southar makes no comment.
The scout group returns to camp without incident and prepares for the nights venture.
Meanwhile, back at camp, Grimlock, you start chatting Peylae up as she tends to your wounded leg. You start with compliments and kind questions about her that are not invasive; kind, curious questions. “I have been at sea or adventuring with my father for a long time now. We have been through some tough times and I will do all I can to help him get well. You and the others have been most helpful and I am thankful for all you do.” Peylae smiles warmly at you.
Just as you think you are making some ground, Comus comes over at a run. The others are taking cover or covering the boats with reeds and ferns. “Dragons! Two dragons far out east.”
You follow Peylae moving quickly to the perimeter of camp and then moving quietly alone the edge of the cutting. Comus moved back to the boats. You are very impressed at the ease she slips into the growth and disappears. Every sight and sound of her is gone right before your very eyes as she melds into the cover and shadows of the thick vegetation. You attempt to keep up but make more noise than she so you slow your pace. You continue moving forward until she motions to you from just a few feet away. She points to the east, “One is smaller than the other.”
You direct your attention east out across the open lake. Far off, miles and miles, you can see the distinct dark shape of two dragons flying lazily to the south. You watch them for several minutes. One breaks off toward the east and disappears while the larger one continues northwest for long moments before leaving your vision.
“Damn this swamp!” is all Peylae says. You know your moment has passed; but she smiled at you!!
The camp returns to normal and it isn’t long before the expedition crew returns. There is some friendly jibing as Alip comments to several of the other merchants how Grimlock was being friendly with Peylae.
Nerves are high as the day crests and the preparations for the night’s adventure begin. The boats are readied and all equipment and food is stored; paddles are at the ready. A large fire is maintained. Ide Otneaux and Breymeer take up posts on the jungle side of the fire. Alip volunteers to maintain the fire.
As the sun heads for the western jungle horizon, the raiders are ready. Southar with the lead, Cirdan Saralonde, Grimlock, whose leg has healed significantly, Cerdio, Hairycheeks and Tanin.
“My hobbit-footed Hairycheeks,” says Tanin much too loudly than anyone would like to hear, “do you think you would be able to brew some ale one of these days?”
“We shall see Master Tanin. But first, your dwarven whispers must not get us killed.” With that, the two merchants fall quiet and follow along.
You near the mound quickly enough.
While closing in on the mound, Cirdan Saralonde expresses his thoughts, “We will need a sentry to warn us of her or her children’s return. We will need some type of warning call. Also, we will need a call to warn the sentry that those in the lair are in trouble and need help. Finally, what is everyone’s thought about the missing human tracks or boat?”
Southar agrees, “I like the idea of a signal caller. Also, we could have a small fire that we cover and enough supplies nearby to make it a big fire for when we run underground and search around. We need to be as close to the hole as we dare. Once the queen leaves, we rush in with large fires. We should spend no more than 15 minutes in the lair. As far as the humans, I think they were killed and the boat floated off.”
Grimlock volunteers, “I will go with the party who is entering the mount. I will come in last and pass the signal to the sentry.”
The sun settles down into the horizon across from the large lake. The air is still and heavy; as if it holds its breath in anticipation. The humidity is heavy and sweat is unavoidable.
The first sounds of the frogs croaking in the distance sets your mood. All are tense. Darkness is taking over the land.
At camp, the scenario from the previous evening repeats itself. Frogs do come ashore but they give you a wide berth. They hop lazily around looking for a meal. Here or there they appear to be feeding on something but the sounds of a swarm is not heard. Could something have gone wrong? It is yet early. Maybe they haven’t left the lair yet.
You eye each other nervously. Alip is by the fire doing his best to keep makeshift torches ready. Ide Otneaux and Breymeer continue to patrol the perimeter, weapons ready. Comus and the crew also have weapons out as they guard the boats and shoreline. Peylae stands nearby her father who is resting in his boat.
The frogs are ashore but outside your fire light. You can hear them hopping and milling around.
You wait for something . . . anything.
The raiders gather near the mound and make their final plans. Grimlock will go partially in and be the signal passer. Tanin will lead the way in, “I certainly miss the comfort of solid rock surrounding me.” Hairycheeks will follow, “I can fit in small spaces if need be.” Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio taking up the rear. Southar, with his lack of dark vision, and no way to light a fire he desperately wanted, will wait outside as guard.
Grimlock suggests, “Tanin in the lead and Cirdan Saralonde with Cerdio next. I will doddle behind a bit. I think Southar may be a poor choice as outside guard because he doesn’t see well outside or underground. Maybe someone should stay outside with him. But that is just my opinion.” With that, Grimlock climbs a tree near Cirdan Saralonde.
Cerdio scales up a tree also.
“Oh sure, skinny little elves scurry up trees. I couldn’t get up that tree for a mug of ale!” complains Tanin. He manages to find a slightly elevated boulder to hide on top of.
Hairycheeks follows Southar up the side of the mound.
And so you wait for darkness to fall. It creeps over the jungle like a smothering fog. The croaking of frogs becomes very clear. The first sign of small spiders appears just ahead of a swarm. The small spiders spill out of the hole and scatter onto the island floor in waves slowly breaking off into separate groups. The come out by the hundreds.
And then she appears. Silent and quiet as death she emerges from the lair. She pauses at the entrance and moves slowly over to the rock that Tanin is hiding above. . .
(Back at camp) They come silently this time. First one, then another. The spiders arrive slowly and individually. There is not swarm at his point. The few frogs in the area hop about attempting to capture and eat their hairy meals.
You hope all is well with the raiders. It is not after dark and you have heard no sounds or seen any signs of them.
(Raiders) (WThe spider’s legs wave in the air; reading and interpreting signals. Tanin sits frozen in place above the stone. The dwarf turns red holding his breath. Not even a whisker on his beard quivers to give away his position. He looks nearly like a stone upon a stone.
A change of events brings breath back to Tanin. There is a series of sounds, croaking and such, from nearby to the south (where the boat marks and footprints were found). The spider stops checking the air and moves off into the dark. Silently she moves. She quickly disappears into the darkness. You can only hope she continued into the dark after her amphibian meal.
Cirdan Saralonde compliments the dwarf, “I was wrong about your breathing dear Tanin.” Grimlock and Cerdio can hardly hold back smiles.
“Well, enough about it, I am looking forward to the feel of some rock around me. Do the three of you giggling elves wish to join me?” With that, Tanin moves towards the hole cautiously.
Southar moves to a position overlooking the area ahead of the hole. Grimlock takes the rear of the party. Hairycheeks climbs down and joins the raiders.
Tanin walks in first with Hairycheeks near him. “Hey Tanin, this sure isn’t a caravan trail, is it?”
“No, Mr. Hairycheeks, there will be no spices to trade here I am afraid.” Tanin moves into the hole. The little halfling follows him in.
Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio close in behind while Grimlock pauses at the entrance and follows slowly at a distance.
Spiderwebs are evident very quickly. They cover the walls, floors and ceilings. There are a number of the little six inch spiders wander to and fro but pay little attention to you. They seem content working on the webs and scurrying around.
The hole opens slightly into a recess, hardly twelve feet wide at it greatest. The rock is natural and rough closing in and widening out as you go. It almost seems to be a separation or crack in the rock. The ceiling varies from about eight to almost twenty feet in jagged fashion; tapering against the mound, to your right, as it climbs to its peak.. Some stones, covered in webs, have fallen to the floor. The crack you walk through twists slightly as it curves around the main portion of the mound. It is very dark and your eyes completely change over to the dark vision of your kind.
You move very slowly so as not to get tangled up in webbing. Grimlock drops off and stays about ten feet in from the door; weapon ready. Tanin and company move in further.
About twenty feet in you begin to see objects hanging in the webbing. The crack is about fifteen feed wide at this point. The shapes are mainly fastened near the left wall. They appear to be the large frogs mainly. Some of the fresher ones still have small spiders feeding on them. An occasional bird, of normal size, can also be identified. Behind, there appears to be two man sized shapes bound up in webbing. One has a something large protruding from it. A pack maybe? It is hard to tell.
The shapes rest near a protrusion from the inner wall. The protrusion rises to about ten feet and then flattens on its top. The chamber is about twenty feet wide at that elevation. You cannot see much past the protrusion because of the webbing. The crack narrows to about eight feet wide at ground level as it turns past the protrusion.
Cirdan Saralonde moves up to the man shaped bodies and cuts the webbing. The others follow you up. You find cutting the bodies down and working on the ground much quicker. The bodies are fresh albeit drained of fluid. They are dressed in leather armor. One has a pack on its back. Each has a couple weapons on its belt.
Cirdan Saralonde asks, “Pilfer these bodies quickly. I am going to scurry up the ledge and see what I can find on it.”
With than, Tanin, Hairycheeks and Cerdio carefully begin taking items from the bodies. Cirdan Saralonde climbs up the ledge.
Cirdan Saralonde, you find the climb up the ledge quite easy. Once you reach the top, you see it flattens out and leads a short distance deeper into the tunnel. Not far from you, further into the tunnel, is a mass of webbing that you cannot see through. From nearby a large spider, about two feet across, drops next to you on the ledge as you reach the top of your climb. You can see several more moving on the mass of webbing.
As soon as Cirdan Saralonde reaches the top, a black spider, about two feet across, drops from the dark and charges at him. Cirdan immediately shouts, “Two foot spiders, grab what you can and let’s get out!!!”
The spider, lunging at Cirdan Saralonde. Cirdan ducks and begins a controlled slide down the side of the wall. The spider misses in its charge and falls off the side of the ledge, catching itself near Cirdan’s shoulder. Cirdan is able to get by it before it recovers and he hits the ground running.
Tanin shouts some dwarven profanity and gathers what he can, weapons first. Hairycheeks also plunders what he can quickly and Cerdio grabs the pack. All three get to their feet as Cirdan Saralonde leads the retreat out.
Grimlock hears Cirdan Saralonde shout, “Two foot spiders, grab what you can and get out!!!” You hear shuffling from within and some profanity from the dwarf. The group appears to be fleeing your way.
Southar hears something from inside the tunnel that sounded like Cirdan Saralonde’s voice. You couldn’t make out what was said or what happened.
Grimlock camouflages himself as quickly as he can and tucks into a position against the wall. The group runs by him without apparently noticing him. They do not have any spiders on their heels so you fall in line at the rear and cover their retreat as you come out behind them.
Tanin, Hairycheeks and Cerdio lead the retreat. Cirdan Saralonde is right behind them. Somehow, the group bypassed Grimlock in their retreat as he is now moving with them covering the rear.
You break out of the hole into the fresh night air with some relief. Grimlock confirms he covered the retreat and nothing was pursuing you out of the hole.
Southar is above you on his ledge watching for danger. He reports nothing suspicious.
“What caused the retreat?” asks Southar from above.
“Good question,” replies Grimlock, “for I saw no spiders following them. Are we out for a nightly jog or did your shadows get the best of you? Or are you just testing how fast you can get out of there? How many spiders were in there. Let’s head back in and get what we came for if there is only a few to deal with. Running from a couple spiders . . . I tell you!”
“I only saw the one critter,” answers Tanin. It was a doozy but nothing like that monstrosity we saw leave. I recovered this belt and only left the clothes and armor on the one poor sap.” Tanin holds up a leather belt. It has a scabbard on it with a machete. Also, wrapped around it is a sling and there is a belt pouch near the sling.
“I have the other belt,” chimes in Hairycheeks. This leather belt has a hammer/axe attached to it. It is the size of a warhammer but one side of the hammer is a hammerhead and the other is an axe the size of a handaxe. There is also a small beltpouch. “I have no intension of going back in there for anything else. Who knows how many more crawlers could be in there.”
“And I have a pack from the other one,” finishes Cerdio, “I did not have time to get his armor off either before the spider arrived. Although, I did not see much else obvious other than the armor to grab.”
Cirdan Saralone adds, “I'm all for not being greedy. Let’s get away to a safe spot, start a fire and make our way back to the camp when it looks like the coast is clear.”
Grimlock ducks back into the hole and as he does says over his shoulder, “I am going back in for armor.” And with that, he slips into the dark.
Grimlock sneaks carefully but quickly back into the hole doing his best to be silent and hidden. It appears no one has followed immediately behind you. You reach were you were previously posted without encountering any spiders of significant size. Small ones move about the webbing not paying much for attention to you. As you move deeper into the lair about twenty feet in you begin to see objects hanging in the webbing. The crack is about fifteen feed wide at this point. The shapes are mainly fastened near the left wall. They appear to be the large frogs mainly. Some of the fresher ones still have small spiders feeding on them. An occasional bird, of normal size, can also be identified. Behind, there appears to be two man sized shapes bound up in webbing laying on the ground. The shapes rest near a protrusion from the inner wall. The protrusion rises to about ten feet and then flattens on its top. The chamber is about twenty feet wide at that elevation. You cannot see much past the protrusion because of the webbing. The crack narrows to about eight feet wide at ground level as it turns past the protrusion.
A spider, about two feet in diameter, is moving about the floor between the bodies and the rock protrusion.
Grimlock, the bodies have already been cut down from the web. As you grab one of the bodies and hoist it onto your shoulder, a large spider, about two feet in diameter, drops from the darkness above. It is swept aside by the corpse as you bring it up on your shoulder and the spider drops onto the ground next to you. You begin your retreat immediately and make for the exit and freedom!
While you are getting the torches burning, Grimlock went caving and now returns with a body. The body is that of an Oeridian male the best you can tell. His age is hard to determine but he was likely not over 30 yoa.
Grimlock strips the body of the armor, puts it on, and gets his torch lit from the rest of you.
You begin your trek back to camp with Southar backtracking your trail.
(While the raider go caving, back at camp . . .) How a creature so big can move so quietly amazes you. The great spider queen has moved along the shoreline and now sits at the edge of your firelight just off to the west side of your boats. She feels the air with her legs curiously.
Peylae gives a whistle, “Breymeer, we have company!”
Comus and crew move to protect Ledego. They prepare the boats for launch. Comus shouts, “If we launch, you may have to swim out to us. We will hold unless she charges. Do what you can Breymeer!”
Breymeer - Hopefully the spider remembers from last time that we were not a threat. Breymeer will do what he can to get through to her that we still are not a threat and are only here to allow rest for the wounded.
Breymeer moves toward the spider cautiously yet confidently employing his calming and southing energy towards the spider.
For added protection, Peylae approaches the fire speaking some arcane language and making strange gestures. The fire begins to gain in strength and intensity becoming a very large bonfire. Alip throws a bit more fuel on the fire for precaution.
The crew maintain their watch near Ledego.
Ide Otneaux moves up behind Breymeer at some distance. She prepares to close the gap and attack the beast if Breymeer finds himself in need of assistance.
As with the previous night, the spider backs away from the approaching Breymeer and the light of the fire. I moves off into the dark.
From behind the spider, Breymeer can see a faint lighting heading toward the camp in the dark. It looks like torchlight.
(Raiders returning) You are nearing camp. You can see the bonfire. There is a commotion. You hear Breymeer and Peylae speaking and the bonfire is suddenly increased in size.
Grimlock hands his torch to Cerdio and move ahead into the jungle. The rest of the group stops to analyze the situation.
Grimlock sees the great spider moving away from the camp and towards you. Somehow, she ducks down in between you and camp and you can no longer see her.
Cerdio holds the torch that Grimlock hastily handed him before Grimlock darted ahead into the dark jungle. You lost sight and sound of him quickly. You are not sure if he went far ahead or if he is just ahead of you.
The light from the bonfire suddenly increases greatly. You can almost see as if daylight. The range of light extends out into the jungle lighting the perimeter and much of the darkness beyond. Peylae’s voice is clear as she commands the flames higher and higher. Alip steps back from the fire in amazement, no longer adding wood.
The returning raiders stand near the outer ring of the firelight.
The great spider comes up from her hiding spot between the returning raiders and camp. She quickly begins moving away from the fire again. Also, sensing the returning party and their torches, she moves around them. She is last seen moving towards the raiders flank on the interior side of the island.
Without notice, the spider queen is engulfed in a white light as she flanks the raiders. This startles her even more and she makes a hasty retreat toward the center of the island. Her light can be seen illuminating branches and vegetation almost to the center of the island.
Cirdan asks Southar to hold while they watch the spider maneuver around them. Once it appears she is routed, the group agrees to return the rest of the way to camp. Tanin and Hairycheeks plot down and rest. “We were prepared to catch her in a pincer movement if she had attacked camp,” advises Cirdan Saralonde.
Breymeer inquires, “So what was that mystic light on the old spider? Did it slay or harm her? Did you make it into her lair and recover anything? If so, maybe we should get to movin’ on before she seeks out some revenge.”
Grimlock appears from the jungle nearby, dressed in his not-so-shiny-but-rather-stinky leather armor. It is mainly just protects his abdomen, shoulders and back/chest. Armor made for hot weather. “What was with all the light displays?”
Tanin looks to Peylae, “You must have some of your father’s abilities m’lady. Can’t much say I trust magic but it was certainly nice to see that bugger flee. Thank you.” To Breymeer he says, “We made it in and our. Got this belt. It isn’t too bad a shape. Has a nice machete here I see [in a scabbard]. Looks like this string here is a sling. The pouch, I peeked earlier, has a bunch of sling bullets in it [18 total].”
Hairycheeks adds, “Yes indeed Miss Peylae. I do not suppose you could conjure me up a pipe and some pipeweed sometime?” Peylae just smiles. Hairycheeks tosses a belt onto the ground. It is made of leather and has a hammeraxe attached to it along with a small leather beltpouch. He looks into the beltpouch, “some really small darts with weird fins on them. And a small glass vial. That is all it has in it.”
The fire begins to fade back to its normal campfire size and Alip looks to Peylae, “I am most glad to find myself in your company my Lady. I know not how many times you shall save my life but I shall, by my life, protect you and your father until they day we are free of this jungle and swamp. My people have a long history of the use of magic. I truly cherish you and your father’s abilities. I do not share the distrust of our dwarven comrade.”
“Aye!” adds Tanin, “until the day I can get back to my gem trade, you shall have my axe, little that it may be. Ide, I never thought I would ask this of one from Highport, but maybe you could help me knock the rust off my combat skills.”
Ide Otneaux snorts, “Huh, that old beast reminds me of a lost gnoll . . . all bark and no bite! I do not think she dares try and harm us.” She looks to Tanin, “I will spar with you; do us both good m’sure.”
Cerdio holds up a leather backpack, “This is the last item we grabbed, other than the armor that Grimlock courageously recovered.” He begins to pull items out of the pack, “There is this hollow bamboo shoot [blowgun, approx. 2 ft long], this wooden box [one foot wide, ½ foot deep and ½ foot tall, complete with lid but no latch or lock], a black leather sap [weapon], looks like a four weeks of dried rations and two waterskins.” He sets the items down one by one and then returns his attention to the box, “And within the box we have . . .” he reaches in and pulls out a piece of cloth. He carefully unwraps it revealing a glass vial with a light blue liquid in it. He sets it down and pulls one more piece of cloth from the box. As he unravels it, his eyes get bigger, “Tanin my friend, take a gander at this.” He holds a copper mask in his hand.
“You see, you go underground and come back with good solid minerals.” Tanin is smiling wide.
Comus and the crew seem rather impressed. Ledego even appears upbeat, “I was hoping I wouldn’t lose one of you foolhearty gents. Well done. You have certainly helped our cause.” He looks to Breymeer, “I am finding you have wisdom my woodsman friend. However, I believe Ide Otneaux may be correct. I feel we are safe tonight. We shall set guards as last night and leave at first light. For now, I dare say we try the rations. That mask I believe may become important. Please keep it safe.”
Southar looks over the pile and grumbles, “All that and no true weapons.” He wanders around testing out various wood products. Both he and Breymeer have been experimenting with creating a workable bow. No attempts have been successful as of yet.
Grimlock shows interest in the blowgun. “I usually take up a rear guard position. This weapon may be useful from there. Hairycheeks, do you think you can analyze this vial to determine if it is a toxin?” He hands it to the halfling who examines it for a short time, “That would be my guess. As to what its effects are, I do not know.”
Cirdan Saralonde gives his opinion, “I would venture to guess that the men were here to harvest venom and this is what is in the small vial. Blowgun, darts and poison. I am not sure who could use it best but I do not want for it. Nor the sap. The food and water should be communal property.”
Breymeer looks at the sap, “Since I am up front a lot. I will take the sap in case we find the need to take someone down without killing them. Ide can probably hit hard enough without it.” Otneaux only grins.
Alip walks to Grimlock and asks, “May I have the belt attached to the pouch of darts? You have a belt already.” Grimlock agrees and moves the dart pouch to his crocodile leather belt.
Hairycheeks pipes up, “I am a natural at the sling. Us halflings play many games with stones and slings. I think I can be of some talent with it should no one object.” No one objects and Ledego comments, “Indeed I bet you are Mr. Hairycheeks . . .” He then begins coughing. A little blood is witnessed at the corner of his mouth. Peylae and Hairycheeks go to his aid and get him back to resting.
Peylae returns to the group. This backpack we shall put in the Nestad for now. The vial one of you can carry. I will analyze it if I can with Hairycheeks help. I do not think the Oeridian fella would have carried it with his foodstuffs had it been poison.”
Peylae returns to her father saying, “Camp now. Guards are as set. We leave first light. If there are Oeridians nearby, there could be hope for a settlement. We will continue up the shore in the morning. It appears my father’s wounds are becoming infected again.”
The night passes peacefully although a weak thunderstorm rolls in and darkens the skies.
I missed it in the previous post but Cerdio claimed the machete.
The dawn comes dark and wet. The night’s storm did not produce great wind. Just the steady rains you are getting used to.
Peylae tries to brighten your spirits, “It is nearing the summer equinox in a few days. The real heavy rains and tropical storms should hold off a few more months.” Her voice is kind but her smile is tainted by concerns.
You get the boats out into the water and continue your journey south along the shoreline. The Amdir leading the Nestad. The weather clears as the day wanes into afternoon.
You paddle along in the rain for most of the day. Nearing the end of the day’s journey, a large island reveals itself ahead. It is nearly a mile across and nearly a mile from the shoreline of the lake. The shoreline itself remains heavily forested and rises to the west into a low ridge. That ridge continues south and appears to grow in height near the horizon. Two moons are revealing themselves as they near fullness in a couple days.
The island is irregular shaped and hilly. The north end (closest to you) of the island has a low hill covered with trees and vegetation. The south end of the island has two peaks. Both peaks rise a couple hundred feet into the air. The northern peak is somewhat rounded and covered in green growth. The other peak slopes to a sharp peak of exposed rock. A much smaller rock exposed spine rises to the west of the twin peaks. The hills taper to the island’s edge. There are two natural bays. One on the east side (facing out into the lake), and the other on the west side (facing the shore). The circumference of the island is protected by exposed rock that climbs out of the water about five to fifteen feet. The exception is the small bay on the western side. The bay has a short beach of small stones and soil. An area has been cleared of lower vegetation. The larger trees remain, shading a small ruin. A central pyramid made of stone is visible and there are several other buildings near it. Some made of stone and some of wood. There are scores of people milling about.
From the western (shoreside) bay, three boats are paddling out towards you. They are about the size of your boats but narrower and swifter looking. They have speed to them. Each is loaded with about eight to ten people. They look savage with the exception of one. The savages are tan skinned and the exception is pale skinned. The savages wear little and the pale male is wearing a tunic and appears civilized.
They appear to carry arms but have them stowed and do not show them outright.
Ledego mumbles, “This may be a sign of hope. I am tired, explain Peylae.”
Peylae holds the boats and awaits the arrival of the savages, “We cannot outrun them and the encampment outnumbers us greatly. I hope we can parlay with them. They appear to be the Suel descendants who arrived here ages ago. The fled the Rain of Colorless Fire into the lands east of the Hellfurnace range. From there, they scattered a bit, fleeing the Oeridians who eventually founded the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. Some Suel settled in Tilvanot area and remained civilized. Others fled to Amedio and Hepmonaland and lost their touch with civilization. The digressed into a more savage culture. The pale man is likely a Suel from the Tilvanot Peninsula we passed by on our voyage. They have been exploring the jungle in search of antiquities. I believe this is an exploration camp of the Suel. Let us hope they are friendly.”
Thus ends this thread. I will start a new one for the next leg of the adventure.
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