Game Date: 6 Kuthona 4707
Synopsis: With the help of the last of the Black Arrow rangers, the party plans a daring assault to take Fort Rannick back from the depredations of the Kreeg Clan of ogres.
Game Date: 6 Kuthona 4707
Synopsis: With the help of the last of the Black Arrow rangers, the party plans a daring assault to take Fort Rannick back from the depredations of the Kreeg Clan of ogres.
Synopsis: In which the party rescued the remaining Black Arrow rangers, and learned what has befallen Fort Rannick. Also: giant spiders.
Synopsis The party explores the terrors of the Graul Farm’s cellar, but do not find any living prisoners. Then they find out what the Grauls had been doing in the barn…
Synopsis: The Sandpoint Heroes continue their exploration of the degenerate ogrekin Graul Family’s farmhouse of horrors. They have a pitched battle with the matriarch of the family and one of her sons— a grossly obese necromancer and a creepy silent killer!
Moonday, 5 Huthona 4707, late morning
Cointinueing to explore the reeking and decaying farmhouse, the party approached a door at the end of a corridor. As Zandu leaned in to listen at the door, a rune in the doorframe suddenly glowed with a bright malevolent light, and everyone near it was suddenly wracked with severe shooting pains throughout thier bodies! Zandu threw open the door, and was assailed by a putrid stink that caused his stomach to turn.
Beyond the door was a bedroom with a luxurious-looking canopied four-poster bed. It seemed out of place given the rest of the furninshing: Human skulls decorated the walls, the floor seemed sticky with wet, dark stains, and flies buzzed throughout the room. An easel stood next to the bed, with a half-finished piece of artwork depicting a monster devouring a human, in lurid reds, yellows and browns. A palette was on the nightstand, on which were unidentified internal organs that were apparently being used as paint.
Three obviously undead ogres suddenly lurched toward the door, arms flailing at Zandu. Charrone and Halfred also burst into the room. As they fought the ogre zombies, they heard a short chanting from the bed, and a ray struck Halfred. The rest of the party heard the sickening cracking bones from within the Ulfen warrior, and he gasped in pain as bruises appeared on his flesh. He managed to hang onto his ranseur, but the pain of merely grasping it with his broken fingers was excruciating. He found it hard to walk on his broken legs.
A voice from behind the curtains called out, “Hucker Graul! Ger yer sorry butt in here right now! Dinner’s gettin’ uppity agin!” Charrone felt a strong presence of evil from the bed. McGregor, using detect magic saw that the curtains radiated Illusion-type magic. “I think those curtains are an illusion!” he called out, as Declan channeled the power of the Dawnflower to burn the zombies with holy flame.
The voice behind the curtain chanted again, and suddenly everyone in the room felt extremely tired. At that moment, Declan felt a blade penetrate his armor, and he wheeled to see another ogrekin drawing back a nasty-looking knife that dripped with his own blood. “That’s fer messin’ with Mammy!” snarled the ogrekin.
McGregor cast dispel magic, and the curtains around the bed disappeared. The bedframe strained to support the immense bulk of a grotesquely obese female ogrekin, half-dressed in an old curtain that served as a mumu. Her stingy and greasy black hair partly obscured her warty face, and she grinned showing black teeth as she cast another spell, and lifted off the bed into the air. By now, Halfred, Charrone, and Zandu had successfully chopped up the zombies. Durrok had spun to shoot the ogrekin attacking Declan, and managed to hit him once, but Declan fell for a feint and was stabbed badly.
The female ogrekin attempted to cast another spell, but McGregor countered it. With the zombies down, Charrone called the holy power of Iomedae to her sword, and smote the flying ogress, causing her next spell to fizzle. Halfred skewered her with his ranseur, and Zandu circled her to hit her from the back. She attempted to cast another spell, but McGregor countered that one as well, and she fell to the heroes’ blades. Durrok managed to get between Declan and the other ogrekin, switching to his adamantine battleaxe. And that gave Declan the chance to blast the ogrekin with more holy magic, dropping him.
A search of the room turned up some treasure, the most notable of which was the female ogrekin’s spellbook.
To be continued…
Synopsis: The party heads north to see the Rangers of Fort Rannick, but encounter a house of horrors in the woods.
Mooonday, 5 Kuthona 4707
The Heroes of Sandpoint decided to head up to Fort Rannick to meet with the Black Arrow rangers. About an hour into their journey, they encountered a wounded bear that came out of the woods: one of its paws was caught in a beartrap. Strangely, the bear wasn’t threatening; Durrok could tell that it was both friendly and wanted help. Not long after that, a very ugly overweight man approached behind four leashed mastiffs. He was bare-chested and wore tattered trousers, and carried a savage-looking hooked weapon in one hand. His other arm ended in a stump where his hand should have been. He identified himself as “Rukus Graul,” and challenged the party, saying that he was hunting “bar” and if they didn’t surrender the creature to him, he’d hunt them too. When the party refused, he set his dogs on the party, then attacked with the hook, but the party counterattacked and made short work of him and his hounds. Halfred said he was pretty sure that the man was an ogrekin, a wretched and vile offspring of an ogre and a man. The bear seemed to want the party to follow it, and led them through the woods to a poorly-maintained farmhouse surrounded by a tangle of half-overgrown cornstalks.
As the party approached, two more men challenged the party and told them to get out “if they knew what was good for them.” When the party didn’t back down, he threw what looked like a ball toward the party— when it hit the ground, it shattered— releasing a swarm of hornets that attacked the party. While he managed to get a lucky strike against Halfred, the party overwhelmed him too.
The front door to the house was trapped: a section of the ceiling of the overhang swung down, bearing several blades, and at the same time, saw blades scythed through grooves in the floorboards, cuttting the ankled of several party members. Entering the house, thy place was vile: The entire house reeked of carrion, body stink, and urine. In what must have been the parlor, human skulls and sculptures of human bones and tanned skin adorned the walls. A high-backed chair appeared to be made entirely of bones. The centerpiece of the dining room table was a severed human head crawling with flies. In the kitchen, smoked human legs hung from the ceiling like hams. The doorways to most rooms were also trapped, but Zandu disarmed them before they could spring.
Three more ogrekin attacked the party, but were not much of a challenge to the Sandpoint Heroes.
To be continued…
Synopsis: After an 11-day overland journey, the party investigates the mysterious Lucretia. She had a surprisingly high profile in town, but is now believed to have gone down with the wreck of her floating casino. But why do so many townsfolk have the same tattoo of a familiar symbol?
Sunday, 4 Kuthona 4707
After an uneventful night at the Turtle’s Parlor, the party started asking around the village of Turtleback Ferry about someone named “Lucretia.” To the party’s complete surprise, everyone in town knew Lucretia: she ran a casino on a converted barge called The Paradise, which was usually docked about a mile from shore on Claybottom Lake. Everyone also seemed to know that the barge had caught fire and sank with all hands (including Lucretia) not quite two weeks ago! Only a handful of people had managed to escape the fire and make it to shore.
The party then introduced themselves to the mayor of Turtleback Ferry, a cleric of Erastil named Maelin Shreed. Shreed was an old man, but still strong and spry, and his demeanor seemed stern but friendly. He said that he didn’t approve of Lucretia and her gambling house, but he did like the amount of revenue it brought to town. He wasn’t sad to see that it hurt the business of the other gambling house in town, the Lucky Snapper, which he was sure was run by the Sczarni (although he can’t prove it). He said that the Snapper’s business has bounced back since the loss of Lucretia and her casino, and thought it smelled fishy, but the sheriff wasn’t able to find any links.
The party then went to the Lucky Snapper and played a few games while chatting up the staff and patrons. The staff was happy to see the Paradise gone, but all expressed sorrow at the loss of life. Then Zandu noticed that one of the gamblers had an odd tattoo on his forearm that he seemed to try to keep hidden: the Sihedron Rune, in blue-black ink! After buying the gambler a few drinks, he explained that the tattoo was a secret symbol that Lucretia used for favored customers of the Paradise. “Well, you paid her 25 ducats for the tattoo, which she inked herself, and then you could just show it at the door to get the cover charge waived and 10 shillings in free chips.” It also apparently granted access to the VIP lounge, which had a bar that sold top-shelf liquor and had other pleasures available for sale: drugs like flayleaf and pesh, and also harlots. “Not that I ever partook of those, of course…”
Synopsis: The party finds a new clue that might lead to the identity of Xanesha’s mysterious “Master,” which leads them halfway across the land of Varisia.
Toilday, 22 Neth 4707, Magnimar, early evening
During dinner at the Shield and Sheepdog, an emissary from the City Watch came by, telling the Sandpoint Heroes that General Odinburge wanted to see them at their earliest convenience; it involved something found at the Shadow Clock.
An hour later, in Odinburge’s office at the Arvensoar, Odinburge told the party that a letter had been found in the rookery of the Shadow Clock earlier that day.
“Turtleback Ferry is a protectorate of Magnimar. Geographically, it’s our farthest holding. The town came to us a few decades ago to ask for help against the monsters and giant vermin that live in the nearby ogre-held Hook Mountain and the haunted Ashwood Forest. We built a fort in the foothills of Hook Mountain and created a regiment of rangers called the Black Arrows to man the fort. The Black Arrows are pretty self-sufficient and independent now, but are still under our nominal command.
“I don’t have that many men to spare right now, especially with the weather getting on toward winter. I was wondering if you’d be interested in heading up there to see what this Lucretia is up to, and hopefully put a stop to it. I’d suggest that you meet with both the mayor of the town and with the Black Arrows to let them know that you’re acting on our authority. I can give you a letter of introduction. We would also cover reasonable travel expenses, of course, plus a stipend.”
The party agreed, and began preparations to set out.
Wealday, 23 Neth 4707, Garret’s Landing
The party geared up and set north along the Lost Coast Road, making it to Garret’s Landing by nightfall.
Oathday, 24 Neth 4707, Sandpoint
The Sandpoint Heroes returned to Sandpoint in the early evening. One farmer recognized them about two miles out of town, and raced to town to let everyone know— a small crowd gathered at the South Bridge to applaud and to welcome the heroes back to town. Ameiko Kaijitsu comped a night’s stay at the Rusty Dragon, and the Sheriff Hemlock came by to catch up. The Heroes were also treated to a performance of the ballad “The Heroes of Goblin Day,” performed by the theater owner Cydrak Drokkus himself. Everyone was disappointed to hear that the Heroes would be leaving the next day.
Fireday, 25 Neth 4707, The Moors
The party left Sandpoint mid-morning and headed east along the Nybor Trail, a minor road, for the three-day journey to Nybor. After an uneventful but cold and rainy day, they found a decent campsite on the Moors and night passed without incident.
Starday, 26 Neth 4707, The Moors
The rain turned to sleet, but the day otherwise passed uneventfully. As the party set camp for the night, three horse-sized giant insect-like creatures burrowed up out of the ground to attack, but the party made short work of them. They did pick a different campsite, though.
Sunday 27 Neth 4707, Nybor
The party arrived at the village of Nybor shortly after noon, and found an inn. It was nice to be able to hang wet clothes and gear by the hearth to dry them out, and to have a well-cooked meal.
Moonday 28 Neth 4707, Wartle
The adventurers made the day-long journey to the trading village of Wartle without incident, and stayed at a precariously-tilting inn called the Lean-To. Halfred dared to try their local drink called Bog Grog— and reported that it tasted like a strong, peaty, smoky beer.
Toilday 29 Neth 4707, Sanos Forest
After talking with some locals, the party decided to take the Old Sanos Trail north from Wartle through the mysterious Sanos Forest, considered by many to be the homeland of the gnomes. At the suggestion of several locals, they hired a female gnome guide named Flijit Frothelthimble, who had indigo hair and pinkish skin, to lead them through the forest. Durrok noted that he’d never encountered anyone who used so many words to say so little, but Flijit was an able guide, leading them to an excellent campsite.
Wealday 30 Neth 4707, Sanos Forest
Flijit led them off the Old Sanos Trail at midday, following what appeared to be a game trail for a few miles, before returning to the main trail. She was a bit evasive, but said that she shouldn’t bring outsiders to that village on the 30th of Neth— it’s a sacred day for her people. She wouldn’t say much more about it. The party camped in a log shelter that night. Flijit said that such shelters are built for travelers, and are common along the trail— although none of the party had seen any others.
Oathday 1 Kuthona 4707, Sipplerose
The Old Sanos Trail led to the gnome town of Sipplerose, and the party made it there by late afternoon. A cold blast of winter had settled on the forest, and the first snow started falling. Flijit led the party to the Longfellow Inn, which catered to human-sized guests. While the decor was a bit garish for most of their tastes, the inn was comfortable, and the food was excellent.
Fireday 2 Kuthona 4707, Sanos Forest
The party left the odd but comfortable gmomish town after an excellent breakfast of eggs and smoked fish, and continued up the Old Sanos Trail. That night, the party camped in another wayfarer’s shelter.
Starday, 3 Kuthona 4707, Turtleback Ferry
Flijit led the party to the edge of the Sanos Forest, to where it met the cypress swamp known as Shimmerglens. Decades ago, the gnomes had built a three-mile-long long causeway over the swamp called the Wicker Walk in order to foster trade with the humans who lived on the shores of Claybottom Lake— named because it appears to be woven out of reeds. Flijit bade the party farewell and took her payment, and the Sandpoint Heroes made their way across the Wicker Walk, which eventually crossed the Willow River to the human hamlet of Bitter Hollow. There was still an hour of light left, so the Sandpoint Heroes continued along Turtleback Road to a ferry station on the shores of the Skull River. A ferryman was waiting there, and took the party across the river in a boat made of the shell of an immense turtle. On the other bank of the river, where the Skull River empties into Claybottom Lake, lay the town of Turtleback Ferry. The party found the only inn the town had to offer: the Turtle’s Parlor, and got rooms for the night.
Synopsis: In which the party frees and chats with the power source of the ship, and faces down the leader of the Xill ether pirates.
Starday, 19 Neth 4707, night, aboard the aether ship
The party stood in what was apparently the control room of the aether ship Emperpr Xin. McGregor continued to examine the strange sigils on the mysterious rotating brass cube, while the rest of the party checked out the rest of the room. Two sliding doors led aft. Zandu didn’t see any obvious traps, so he opened them. Zandu, Larissa, Charrone, and Halfred followed, while Durrok and Declan remained with McGregor in the control room.
One door led to a small featureless chamber, which itself led to another larger room. The larger room contained no furnishings save recesses in the walls, including one that would easily hold a reclining human. “Is this a bed?” asked Charrone. Zandu examined that recess, and found a secret panel in the wall. It took him a few moments to figure out how to open it, but he managed. Inside were two objects: a very large sapphire, and a strange egg-shaped object. The object was about the size of a goose egg, but weighed several pounds, as if it were made of solid lead. Etched onto its surface were indecipherable Thassilonian runes. Larissa cast a spell, but didn’t say anything. When asked, she said, “Oh, yeah, it’s magical. Can I take a look?” Zandu handed it to her.
At that moment, they heard McGregor’s voice from the control room. “Hey, guys, I think I’ve figured some of this out!” They exited through the other door in this room, which led back to the control room. McGregor pointed to one of the schematic diagrams. “These here seem to indicate the ship’s energy source. I don’t think I can turn it off, but I’m pretty sure that I can access it. And these symbols,” he pointed to another set, “seem to open a set of security doors in this room. I think I can open that too. Nothing else seems to make much sense, though.”
Zandu suggested that he access the energy source first. McGregor took a deep breath, and slid several of the sigil-marked plates around the face of the cube. He then sat in the throne facing the cube. The wizard felt a questioning presence around him, as if it were seeking confirmation of something. He then cleared his mind, and mentally confirmed the order.
The cube quickly stopped rotating, and then reversed its direction. The blue crackling energy across its surface turned red, and McGregor felt a strong objection. Several bolts of the red energy arced at the seated wizard, and he felt a painful electric shock. He stood up, and the cube returned to its slow counterclockwise rotation. “Well, it really didn’t like that, but I think it’s because it didn’t accept me as its commander. Maybe I can try again.” He sat down and felt the same questioning presence, and again confirmed his command. The cube sped up its clockwise rotation, and more blue energy crackled across its surface.
A golden glow began to emanate from the plinth below the cube, and the faint golden outline of a humanoid began to appear next to the plinth. Swirling golden motes of light formed within the humanoid outline, which also emitted a high-pitched whining noise. The humanoid form gained substantiality, and as the glow ebbed, a tall, dark-haired woman stood there. She was naked, and had large black-feathered wings like a bird of prey. She regarded the party warily, and took a staggering step forward, then collapsed to her hands and knees, as if she were physically exhausted. At the same time, a simple grey dress appeared on her body. McGregor recognized it as a simple glammer.
“Free at last,” she said in the guttural language of Infernal. She then struggled to her feet again, and again regarded the party warily.
Charrone instantly recognized the type of creature this was, as she had studied them extensively during her training as a Hellknight. “Be wary,” she whispered to her companions, “this is an erinyes devil. But she looks severely weakened, so the advantage is ours. She’ll want to negotiate, not fight. We can probably hold her to her word.”
“You are not xill,” stated the devil in perfectly-accented Thassilonian. She turned to McGregor, “You freed me. For that, I thank you. I don’t know how long I’ve been trapped in this vessel. This is Golarion, is it not?" The wizard nodded. “Tell me,” she asked, "in what year of Emperor Xin’s rule is it?”
“I fear that you have been trapped here a long time. It has been at least five millennia since ancient Thassilon fell.”
If that news surprised her, she didn’t show it. McGregor asked, “How did you come to be aboard this ship?”
“I was conducting some business on the Ethereal Plane. I saw this ship in the distance, and, having never seen anything quite like it, I investigated. However, as I approached, I was attacked. One of the crew was a Thassilonian binder, and I was captured, and placed in a cell. I was trapped in that cell for a long time, but could not tell how long. About two years ago, I was suddenly transported into a space below that cube. it was… unpleasant, but I was able to learn more about the ship. For one thing, I had a sense of time again. The Thassilonians were gone, and the crew is now xill. They are using this ship to lure treasure seekers aboard to capture as slaves.”
“And what are the xill doing with these slaves?”
“I don’t know— whatever xill do with slaves. They had been attacking travelers on the Ethereal Plane for a long time, but they got bolder once they figured out how to shift this ship back to the Material. This is their fifth jaunt to the Material Plane.”
“So, they aren’t fully in control of the ship?”
“Not exactly. They use some kind of psychic plant to communicate with the ship’s magical intelligence.”
“How is it that you didn’t escape? Can’t you travel extradimensionally?”
“The holding cell and the… torture chamber, for lack of a better word, both have binding magic in place. It’s inescapable, as far as I could tell. And believe me, I tried.”
“Are there any others of your kind aboard?”
“As far as I could tell, there are at least four others in the holding cells: a night hag, an efreeti, a hydrodaemon, and a vrock. Even if I knew how to free them, I’d recommend against it. Even if they offered you a boon.”
“Yes. For freeing them. Normally, one asks for it first, but I shall offer you one in appreciation for freeing me.” She took several strands of her long hair, and quickly tied them into a tight braid. “May I ask for a dagger?” McGregor handed one to her, which she used to cut off the braid, and then tied it to the hilt. She handed it back to the wizard. “Untie the braid, unravel it, toss the strands in the air and call for me. I will come, and will serve you for one day. However, I need some time to regain my power, and will not come if you try to summon me before 60 days have elapsed.”
“And what name should I call?”
“You can call me… Sakarja. McGregor noted that ‘Sakarja’ meant “She who has been freed” in Infernal. “And again, I thank you.” At that, she disappeared. “That was a greater teleport effect,” said McGregor.
MgGregor returned to the rotating brass cube and manipulated the sigil-plates again. “I think this will open an accessway to the lower hold.” He at in the chair, and felt the same questioning presence again, and confirmed the command. The cube spun faster, and a large image appeared on the fore-facing wall. The image showed the top deck of the ship, looking out across the harbor. Two Magnimar naval vessels could be seen in the bright moonlight, as could the two crystal obelisks that the party destroyed. “Hmm, that’s not what I wanted it to do…” muttered the wizard. He changed a few of the sigil plates, confirmed the command, and a door slid open, revealing a narrow set of stairs leading down.
Charrone led the way, followed by Zandu, leaving Halfred and Larissa to bring up the rear. At the bottom of the stairs was another sliding crystal door. Zandu didn’t notice any obvious traps, but suddenly remembered the metallic egg-shaped object. “Hey, Larissa, send that egg thing back down. I think we need it here.”
Larissa appeared not to hear, as she continued to study the brass cube. “Hey, Larissa,” said Halfred, “why don’t you hand me that egg.”
“Sure, I… hey, do you hear that?” Halfred then heard the sound of several clomping boots on the stairs that led to the teleportation chamber they’d used to get into the control room. “I think the xill are coming back!” As Halfred turned to look, Larissa dashed toward the same exit! Halfred tried to grab her, but she unexpectedly dropped to the floor, tucked into a roll, and somersaulted away. As Halfred tried to grab her again, she did a handspring, and bounded into the teleporter.
Simultaneously, the door in front of Charrone slid open of its own accord. Beyond was a large chamber that smelled strongly of damp vegetation. Filling the room were coils of vines, large leaves, and small oddly-shaped purple flowers. The vines and leaves were all off-white in color, and the tendrils appeared to grow directly into the walls of the chamber. At the far end of the chamber was a gallery of sorts that was raised ten feet from the floor, accessed by a wide stair. Atop the stair was the apparent trunk of the plantlife that filled the room— eight thick branches extended from the trunk, two of which were at least two feet in diameter. In the center of the trunk was a large, toothy maw. Sitting atop the trunk was a xill.
The party entered the chamber, and were immediately attacked by more xill. These didn’t try to grapple: they all used deadly force. The xill sitting on the trunk revealed itself to be a divine spellcaster, and seemed to be able to direct the plant to grasp enemies. It managed to grab hold of Charrone and drag her toward the , but she managed to keep her sword in hand, and stabbed the cleric before it could attack her. Two of the xill were each armed with a weapon that could fire bolts of electricity.
It was a tough battle, but the party was victorious, and slew all of the xill that showed themselves. With its rider down, the plant stopped attacking as well. After the battle was over, the party found that this room had several of the shelves or sleeping berths cut into the walls, and that many of them held clothing and adventuring gear, much of which appeared Tian in manufacture and style. Durrok recognized one pile of gear that belonged to the gnome.
Examining the gallery section, they found that the plant had nine roughly human-sized lumps inside tendrils behind the maw. Using a dagger, Halfred cut one open and found a living but unconscious human of Tian ancestry. Cutting open the other lumps found seven more Tians… and Wadincoast. All had been stripped of their equipment.
Within about a minute of extraction, all of them woke up. None of the TIans spoke Taldan, but several spoke Draconic and/or Celestial, and were able to tell their stories: five were from the city of Akafuto, in the Minkai Empire on the continent of Tian Xia; three were from the city of Zetang, in the nation of Tianjing, also on Tian Xia. These two groups apparently did not speak the same native language. Both groups told a familiar tale: a strange crystal ship appeared at night in their cities’ harbors. They were part of a team sent to investigate the ship, but were captured by the xill who manned the ship. When shown the recovered gear, each claimed what was theirs, but several pieces were unclaimed.
At that, a loud alarm sounded throughout the ship, and a loud female voice spoke in Thassilonian: “Navigation override disengaged. Programmed course laid in. Helmsman to the bridge. Ethereal shift in three minutes.” McGregor quickly translated, and added, “I think we’d better go, now.” The voice repeated it warning every thirty seconds, with each repeat the time remaining dropped by half a minute. The party, the gnome, and the eight Tian refugees made it to the Harbor Patrol boats with seconds to spare.
From the deck of the patrol boats, the party watched the ship: The runes that covered the exterior of the ship all glowed with a pale blue light, as did the huge blue crystal prism at the bow. Crackling bolts of arcane energy arced across the surface, and the whole ship began to glow. The glow became brighter, as the lines of the ship became less distinct, and as the glow faded, so did the ship. In less then ten seconds, the Emperor Xin was gone.
Synopsis: After defeating the ship’s defenses, the party encounters its crew.
Starday, 19 Neth 4707, evening. Aboard the aether ship
After defeating the second crystal golem in the galley below the main deck, the remaining marines gathered up the dead and wounded. Charrone ordered them back to the harbor patrol boats, and cwarned them to stay away from any obelisks on deck. They did so.
The room appeared completely barren, with perfectly smooth, seamless walls of the same translucent milky-white crystal that comprised the rest of the ship. The only feature was a flat panel on the fore side of the room, which was obviously a doorway of some kind, but the door did not seem to have any handle or mechanism to open it.
On the floor, near the ruined remains of the golem, was an axe. The haft appeared to be extremely solid wood, carved with images of sea life. The head of the axe was of a strange dark, lustrous metal, and it seemed just a bit heavier than it should. McGregor examined the blade and said, “Well, I’ve never actually seen any before, but I think that this axe is made of adamantine.” Durrok claimed the axe.
Zandu approached the door, and it began to shimmer, as if he were looking at the door through a pool of rippling water. Seeing no obvious traps, he reached out his hand. The door seemed only partially there: it gave some resistance to pressure, but did not seem completely substantial. Zandu thought that he felt strong points and weak points, and finessed his way through the weak points, and found himself on the other side of the door.
Halfred touched the door, and physically forced his way through. [[:declan|Declan] touched the door, and instinctively saw how to pass. McGregor used logic to find his way through. Charrone used her panache to will her way through. Durrok, Larissa, and Wadincoast each finessed their way through.
The next room appeared to be another featureless chamber, but this one also featured a large number of rectangular recesses in the walls, of various sizes. Their purpose remained a mystery. Zandu attempted to open the door they’d entered through, but the door did not respond from this side. Charrone used the Sight of the Inheritor, and saw that the door itself was evil. She then attempted to channel the power of Iomedae against the evil in the door, and a ghost manifested out of it! The ghost was humanoid but had small horns growing from its forehead. It was otherwise dressed as an Ulfen warrior, and struck at Charrone with a ghostly warhammer with a shimmering head. Surprisingly, the hammer struck solidly enough! After being surprised by a ghost with a physical attack, the party combined forces against it, and dispelled the ghost for the rest of the day.
The party pressed into the next room, and was unprepared for what they saw: growing into, out of, and through the solid walls of the ship’s bulkhead were thousands of translucent white vines. Some appeared more substantial than others; some vines would pass right through a character, while others were solid. As the party explored the room, eight strange creatures suddenly materialized and attacked! The creatures were vaguely humanoid, but with four arms each. Their red skin was hard and chitinous, and they had insect-like compound eyes and ant-like mandibles. Each had a strange serrated light shield, and three strange serrated blades the size of shortswords. They attacked immediately.
McGregor shouted, “They’re called Xill! They are from the Ethereal Plane, and tend to raid whatever they can find. Don’t let them capture you— they take slaves and use them for breeding stock.”
Charrone slashed at one with her sword. “Breeding stock?” she asked, “I don’t think I want to ask how that works.” The xill reached out to grab her, but missed.
McGregor blasted one with several magic missiles. “I read that they implant eggs in a host, and then the larvae eat their way out. It sounded pretty unpleasant.”
A xill grappled with Declan, and tried to pin him. Declan coudn’t break the hold, but managed not to get pinned. Larissa stabbed the one on Declan, as Halfred skewered one in the chest. Zandu also got grappled, and Durrok and Wadincoast both fired their crossbows at the one on him. Unfortunately, two more materialized next to the gnome, grappled him, and one bit him. The gnome cried out in pain, then went limp! The xill slowly started to fade away, taking Wadincoast with them.
The one on Declan managed to pin the cleric, and the two of them started to fade away. Thinking quickly, Zandu activated his Cape of the Mountebank, and attempted to teleport directly onto the same space as the xill. There was a bright flash, a puff of smoke, a loud “POOF!”, and Zandu and the xill both disappeared! At that, the tide turned, and the Sandpoint Heroes gained the upper hand. The remaining xill were either captured or slain.
Meanwhile, Zandu found himself suddenly underwater. Seeing the light of the moon above him, he swam for the surface, and found himself to be about thirty feet off the port side of the Emperor Xin, and about fifty feet from a Harbor Patrol boat. “Huh. I didn’t think that would actually work,” he pondered, but his reverie was short-lived, as the xill surfaced next to him, trying to grapple. “Hey! A little help her!” shouted Zandu to the marines aboard the patrol boat, and several of them opened fire at the xill with crossbows. A few hit, and Zandu swam for the boat. “I want to capture that creature alive,” said Zandu as he climbed aboard. The crew responded, and rowed to the now-unconscious xill, and pulled it aboard. Zandu then took his prisoner back aboard the crystal ship for interrogation.
Back aboard the ship, the party tied up the other two unconscious xill, and interrogated all three. While they didn’t seem to speak Taldan, the xill spoke Infernal, which both McGregor and Charrone also spoke. so communication was possible. The xill revealed that they had encountered the crystal ship about four years ago, and had been using it to raid the Material Plane ever since they figured out how to pilot it. The strange plant life had something to do with their means of accessing the ship’s controls. The plant, called a “xenophage creeper,” has a rudimentary intelligence and can be used to establish psychic contact between creatures. When asked about the gnome, they said that he was now their slave, as will all of the party shortly. Charrone ordered the xill to retrieve the gnome, and they agreed, fading into nonexistance. Howver, after about five minutes, it became apparent that the now-free xill had no intention of returning.
Meanwhile, Larissa and Zandu explored the rest of the cabin, and found a secret door that led to a strange trapezoidal chamber. The bow-side walls of the room angled toward the bow, converging into a point. Converging were etched into these facet-like walls, which also converged at the same point. Zandu touched the walls near the converging lines, and felt himself being teleported… to an almost identical chamber. This chamber had a set of crystal stairs going up, instead of the door. He touched it again, and returned to the previous room. The rest of the part used this teleporter to further their exploration.
The stairs led to a large, irregularly-shaped room. This room had a palpable sense of arcane power coursing through it. In the center of the room stood a cubic plinth of the same material as the ship. Slowly rotating counterclockwise atop this plinth was a large brass cube, balanced on one point, the axis pointing perfectly vertical. The cube was covered with runes, sigils, and symbols of many different types: many of these runes were in familiar alphabets, but others were not. Some seemed to be diagrams rather than runes. Closer examination of the cube revealed that they were on small brass plates that could be slid across the faces of the cube, changing its configuration. Occasional bolts of blue arcane energy crackled across the face of the cube.
Facing the cube was a crystal throne. Carved into the crystal of the back of the throne, and on each of the five visible faces of the crystal plinth was a familiar Thassilonian symbol: the Sihedron Rune! McGregor noticed that these runes were a bit different from the ones that had been encountered earleir: these were more curved and not as spiky. “Hey, these are postitive-aspect runes! These correspond to the original seven virtues of Emperor Xin, not the sins of the later empire,” explained McGregor.
Examining the plinth revealed another disturbing feature: there seemed to be the shadow of a vaguely-female humanoid trapped within the plinth. The shadow seemed to move, as if whatever was casting it was still alive!
[To be continued…]
Starday, 19 Neth 4707, early evening
Magnimar: Dockway district
About three weeks passed after the Sandpoint Heroes defeated Xanesha. The Heroes remained in Magnimar, and while they stayed in close contact with each other, each individual member of the party pursued their own interests. Everyone spent a good deal of their treasure on new gear.
On this cool, clear late autumn evening, the six Sandpoint Heroes had arranged to meet for dinner at the Keel and Kraken, a friendly tavern in Dockway, Magnimar’s busy port district. About an hour after dinner, while watching a bard perform traditional Varisian folk songs, three officers of Magnimar’s navy walked in, looked around the tavern, then came straight to the party’s table.
“Good evening, friends! May we join you?” asked a middle-aged Chelish woman wearing a captain’s uniform. Charrone invited them to sit, and this officer ordered a round for the table.
“Thank Abadar we found you! I’m Captain Raddick of the Magnimar Navy, and this is Commander Breld,” indicating a young-looking Chelish officer, “and Lieutenant Prescott,” nodding to the other officer, a woman of Garundi ancestry. “We have a situation in the harbor that the Navy isn’t prepared to handle. General Odinburge suggested that we ask for your help, given the service you’ve recently done for the City by stopping the Skinsaw Murders.” She looked around again, “I’d be more comfortable discussing this further back at my office at the Wyrmwatch. It’s just down the street. We’re prepared to offer a reward for your assistance.”
The party agreed, and walked the two blocks to the Wyrmwatch. The guards let them pass, and they reconvened in Captain Raddick’s office. She opened the wooden shutters on a narrow window, which looked due north, into the harbor.
“I’ll give it to you straight. There is a strange, seemingly derelict vessel in the harbor, about a half-mile from shore. It appeared suddenly and without warning. It has a configuration unlike anything anyone has encountered before. It does not appear to be hostile, but we don’t want to take any chances. We need a team of experts on the unusual to assess the situation and let us know whether it’s safe, or possibly even useful.”
Commander Breld continued, “The vessel must have appeared just as the Harbor Patrol was changing watches, as no one saw it appear. Neither the Harbor Patrol nor any merchant ships or fishing boats reported seeing the strange ship approach. In fact, the only eyewitness we could find, a fisherman, said that he was pulling up crab traps when the ship just appeared, fading into existence right there in the water. He came to shore as fast as he could and reported it, and we sent a Harbor Patrol boat to check it out.”
Prescott took the story from there. “Our patrol reports no signs of life aboard, and no one responded to repeated hails. The strange ship appears to be made of a seamless opaque white crystal. The outer hull is carved with mysterious glyphys or sigils that no one can read. Instead of sails, it has two wing-like projections port and starboard, that are parallel to the water’s surface: which is very odd, as they won’t catch any wind!”
She continued, “With no apparent threat, we sent another patrol boat with a boarding party. The marines report that the top decks are completely deserted, and the only access to lower decks is a strange crystal door that they can’t open. They say that the deck is carved with more of the strange glyphs, but the bow has actual writing. They took a rubbing of that.”
She unfurled a large parchment to reveal a charcoal rubbing of a line of runes. Everyone in the party recognized the runes as Ancient Thassilonian, which several character could read. The runes said, “Emperor Xin.”
Breld said, “The runes are Thassilonian, and our sage says that it translates to ‘Emperor Xin,’ who was the founder of ancient Thassilon. We believe that this is the name of the ship. He went on to say that there have been stories told over the centuries by planar travelers of a strange crystal ghost ship that wanders the Great Beyond, a magical vessel from ancient Thassilon called… Emperor Xin.”
“We believe that this is the very ghost ship that the legends speak of,” said Captain Raddick. “If it is indeed an artifact from ancient Thassilon, it could prove very useful to us, but it also could be extremely dangerous. I don’t want all of the city’s scholars to get killed by an extraplanar monstrosity from beyond space and time. If you accept this mission, we need you to explore the ship, determine whether it constitutes a threat, and recover anything of strategic value that the city could use. You can keep any normal treasure you find. The Navy will pay you compensation of 250 gold ducats each, plus reasonable expenses.”
The party agreed to the terms, and Captain Raddick gave them one hour to gather supplies, and told them where to meet a Harbor Patrol cutter to bring them out to the mysterious crystal ship.
Starday, 19 Neth 4707, evening. Magnimar Harbor
The night was cool and clear— strangely clear for late Neth, which is a typically foggy time of year. Still, a few small fog banks had formed in the chilly air. The moon was three-quarters full and waning, bathing everything in shadowy silver light. The wind and sea were both calm. Half-foot swells gently rocked the Harbor Patrol cutter, as six sailors rowed the boat toward the Emperor Xin, glittering in the moonlight. They had just passed through a ring of about a dozen Navy ships that had cordoned off the strange vessel: the ship was clearly visible from shore, and Captain Raddick has said that the Navy needed to keep curiosity-seekers away from the potential menace.
As the cutter drew nearer, details of the crystal ship became clear. It only superficially resembled a sailing ship, with a sigil-covered hull made of milky white quartz that glowed with a bluish tint in the bright moonlight. A tall aft castle of strangely-faceted crystal rose from the stern. Sprouting from its sides, giant winglike sails of the same strange crystal hung parallel to the water’s surface. It bore a split bow, between which rose a gigantic blue crystal prism that towered about fifty feet above the deck. It was the only apparent part of the ship not made of the same milky white crystal. The main deck was uneven, broken into four subdecks. Two of these decks were about six feet higher than the others, connected with staircases. The decks had no railings, and were smooth, except for a number of odd cubic plinths and crystalline obelisks that jutted from the deck’s surface. As the party approached, they could see that the tips of the obelisks were of the same blue crystal as the bow prism. The cutter circled the ship, and as they passed by the bow, the party could see that the bow prism extended below the waterline as well, but it was too dark to see exactly how deep it went.
On the ship’s port side was moored another cutter, and the party saw several Magnimar Navy marines on deck. Several marines appeared to be clustered around the one door on the abaft deck, presumably trying to open it. The boatswain suggested that they tie the cutter on the starboard side, opposite from the other cutter. “There’s no mooring post, but we can tie up to one of them obelisks.” The party agreed. While the crew brought the cutter alongside, the party started to hear a rhythmic pounding, as if someone were striking a large stone with a hammer.
The pounding continued as the sailors tied the cutter to the ship, and lowered a gangway. Just as the gangway was dropped, the sound of smashing glass was heard, followed by a loud cheer from the abaft deck. At the same time, a loud bell started clanging, and the blue tips of each of the crystal obelisks glowed bright blue. Energy crackled along the obelisks, and blue bolts of electricity shot out of the obelisks toward the nearest person— mostly sailors. Two fell. At the same time, two of the cubic plinths each unfolded themselves to form a humanoid crystalline creature, each of which marched toward a the nearest marine, pounding the poor sailor with razor-sharp crystalline fists.
McGregor identified the ringing bell as an alarm spell, and the party quicky boarded the crystal ship. Halfred ran up to one of the crystalline humanoids, and attempted to strike it with his ancient Thassilonian ranseur. While the creature’s crystal form seemed resistant to the weapon, Halfred did manage to chip it. McGregor cast shatter at the same creature, and it vibrated, shattering a fair amount of it, but it kept fighting. The other crystal golem marched around to the abaft deck, and went below deck. The rest of the party engaged the obelisks, knocking several out of commission before they could discharge more energy bolts. Still, the obelisks knocked out three more marines, and one zapped Durrok.
While the fight raged on, a fog bank rolled on to the abaft deck. Fearing that it was another defense mechanism from the ship, McGregor identified it as obscuring mist, and cast cast wind wall at it. McGregor’s spell blew the mist away, revealing dinghy bearing two passengers. One had jumped aboard, and was tying the boat to one of the plinths on the ship. It was a blue-haired gnome with a neatly-trimmed beard and mustache. He wore a strange round helmet with lenses that folded in front of his eyes, had a light crossbow decorated with images of dolphins, and a trident. Charrone recognized him: it was Nireed Wadincoast, the proprietor of the Aquaretum! Climbing aboard was a young Chelish woman with long auburn hair, who wore a black cloak. Charrone recognized her immediately as well: it was Larissa the Swift, her old adventuring companion!
An obelisk zapped Larissa, who shouted, “Hey! That’s not sporting!” She cast a spell at the obelisk, and it vibrated violently and exploded. McGregor identified the spell as shatter. She then climbed the stairs to the mid deck, and recognized her former companions. She smiled, “Well, I didn’t expect to see you guys here! How are you doing?” Meanwhile, the rest of the party had surrounded the crystal golem on the mid deck, and had worn it down with weapons and spells. Charrone struck it with her sword, and it finally fell to the deck, motionless.
Zandu had followed the other crystal golem below deck, and found it fighting four marines that had sought shelter from the obelisks. Two were dead on the floor. The marines fought with cutlasses, except for one that used an elaborate battleaxe. Zandu engaged the creature as well, and managed to get a lucky strike in the creature’s back, but the creature seemed intent on pounding the marine with the axe. Bleeding severely, that marine crumpled to the floor.
Back above, the party noticed that the obelisks stopped shooting when there was no target nearby, and they told the remaining marines, who had fled to the Harbor Patrol cutters, to cast off and stay a safe distance. They were more than eager to follow that order. The party then ran below deck to engage the remaining golem before it killed too many more marines. McGregor cast another shatter spell at it, and the golem’s head exploded. It fell over, lifeless.
[To be continued!]