Thaerin's Raiders

Rescue At Serpent Hills
Bobbing for Yuan-ti Booty
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Ilessa Slithers Away
Sssssee ya

To recap the reunion of Ellie and her brother, Devry gave her two things their mother left for Ellie. One was an enchanted feather that would lead her to her magic hat, the one stolen by Micah still missing. The second was a simple brown stone rune on a leather strap.

Since the plan was to head west to Hammerdale, the party took the job of transporting Bago to Ft. Ste. Anne for trial and subsequent hanging. Thaerin was shocked to find a note slid under his door the next morning from Ilessa. Having spotted a pureblood yuan-ti, Ilessa decided it was too risky traveling with the party and slithered off, taking on the world on her own.

After bidding her long-lost little brother goodbye, Ellie the party set out on their journey. Opting to shun the main road, the party traveled along the river, skillfully evading any rescue attempts by Bago confederates. Upon arriving in Ft. Ste. Anne, the party collected their reward and headed south to Kel Ta, a small kobold village known for nothing in particular.

Only their finely honed senses allowed the party to avoid being drugged by a rather unseemly kobold of questionable motive. As they were heading out of the village however, they heard the muffled voice of a struggling prisoner. Investigating further, they discovered a naked monk. They untied the poor fellow and invited him to join them on their travels. Dante the monk was glad to meet new friends since he wasn’t too sure he’d get along with his old kobold friends.

Traveling west, the party encounted a somewhat side and very deep canyon. A rope bridge had been cut, leaving no obvious way to traverse the void. They also discovered a young elven boy who had obviously been through quite an ordeal. Reviving the boy, the party learned that he and three friends had been searching for treasure in the old, thought-to-be-abandoned yuan-ti temple. With the key adjective being “thought-to-be-abandoned” they were ambushed by snake people and fled for their lives. Only the young elf managed to make it to the canyon, cutting the ropes as he crossed the bridge. Further questioning revealed that one of the boys was the son of Otis Swatternick, Regional Governor.

Of course, that had nothing to do with the decision to track the boys and rescue them if, of course, they were still alive.

With much skill and a pinch of luck, the party managed to restore the bridge and crossed with their mounts as the young elf continued his hasty journey home to Ft. Ste. Anne.

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Perle deMagi Back Story
The long road home...

Pearle deMagie

The air was heavy.  The sea breeze was absent today, and the
humidity was oppressive but that didn’t stop Devry LeChar from whistling as he
walked to work. 

“GOOD MORNING DECRY!” screamed an old woman as she sat in a
rocking chair petting a chicken.

“GOOD MORNING MRS. ULOK!” Devry screamed back at her with a
smile. 

“If that woman’s hearing gets worse, I’m going to go
deaf!”  He chuckled to himself.

Devry loved his town.  These were his people.  Born
and raised here, Devry knew most everyone in Pearle deMagie and often stopped
to chat with folks on his way to work.  It was not uncommon for him to spend
two hours on his journey each way to and from home, which wouldn’t have been
significant if he didn’t work a hundred feet from his house! 

It was a lot of responsibility being the mayor of the largest
port on the Niwaega Sea and the economic focal point for eastern half of
Gorainne but Devry knew and vowed never to forget that the people of Pearle
deMagie were its greatest treasure.

Walking along, he saw Lucas Schott talking to one of his
drivers.  Both men were clearly agitated.  As he approached, he could overhear
the men.

“…someone’s gonna pay!  They broke his arm!”  The driver
hissed “We’re…”

“You’re gonna do nothing!  Not a damn thing.” Lucas
commanded.  “Your gonna do your job and I’ll handle…”

“Good day mayor!” the driver interrupted as he noticed
Devry’s approach.

“It’s a fine morning gentlemen!”  Devry said with a smile.

“Off you go now, and remember what I said.”  Lucas said as
the driver snapped the reigns.

“Is everything alright Lucas?”  Devry asked.

“Oh, sure mayor, everything’s fine.” 

“Mayor?  Didn’t we go to school together Lucas?” Devry
demanded.  “Now call me Devry or I swear I’ll tell Adelene Porian you write
poems about her!” 

Lucas was speechless then took a deep breath as it dawned on
him what his old friend trying to do.

“Relax!”  Devry said with a grin.  Then seriously “I heard
there was a little trouble last night outside the Anchor Point.” Little
happened in Pearle deMagie without Devry knowing about it. 

“Well Devry, some of the boys got into a bit of a scrap at
the tavern.”  Lucas said, running his fingers through his hair nervously.

“Well the way I hear it, that Terreault boy who works in
your warehouse got the tar beat out of him.”  Devry put his hand on Lucas’s
shoulder.  “I assume it was…”

“Of course it was.  The boys want to head down to the Anchor
Point but hell, someone’s gonna get killed before it ends.”  Lucas sighed “I
can’t stop them if it happens again.”

“I’ll think of something.”  Devry promised.  “I’ll think of
something.” 

Devry arrived at the office to find Louiginald Bago waiting
for him.  “Come on in Mr. Bago.”

Bago was an imposing man, nearly six and a half feet tall,
and with no neck to speak of.  He looked even taller standing next to the
Halfling mayor. 

“Mayor, have you come to a decision regarding the
transportation contracts?” he asked calmly while cleaning the dirt from under
his nails with his dagger.     

“Mr. Bago, I have no precedent for granting any such
monopoly.  The Schott brothers are legitimate competitors and I have no reason
or right to interfere with their business.  You’re just going to have to
compete.  Have you thought of lowering your fees?”  Devry said, trying not to
smile.  “They are quite a bit higher than the Schotts.”

Bago kept his composure, but the throbbing vein in his
forehead betrayed him.  “The Schotts are nothing!  Rank amateurs.  Look mayor,
someone is gonna get hurt if things don’t change.  I’d hate for that to
happen.  I really would.  It would be tragic.”   His face red, Bago had a
reputation for losing his temper but he was usually smart enough to have others
do his dirty work for him.  Starting life as nothing more than a street thug,
Bago now controlled most of the overland shipping three quarters of all wagon
transportation.  If it shipped, it shipped with Bago’s wagons and more
importantly, Bago’s security.  Many a highway bandit met his end at the hands
of Bago’s expert transportation security. 

Across town, the Schott brothers kept Bago on his toes.  A
smaller company, the Schotts ran an honest concern, and were easily able to
offer better prices than Bago.  A virtual gutter war between the two competitors
had existed for nearly five years.  Occasional acts of vandalism, theft and the
occasional beating forced the rivals to spend almost as much on security as
they do on actual wagons and horses. 

Devry locked eyes with Bago.  “Mr. Bago, are you threatening
me?”  The law was very clear on these matters.

Suppressing the desire to carve the Halfling up like a fish,
he sheathed his dagger and stood up.  “Mr. Mayor, I’m not threatening anyone. 
I’m simply saying that it’s dangerous world out there.  Bad things happen every
day.” 

Bago had been pressuring Mayor Devry LeChar to assign
exclusive transportation rights to his company, and of course, Devry had to
refuse.  Bribe attempts were rebuffed and Devry threatened Bago with arrest if
he didn’t back off.  Devry knew that arresting Bago on a minor charge would be
useless though and likely result in retribution against civil authority and potentially
ignite a turf war, risking the good people of Pearle deMagie. 

As a child, he’d seen firsthand the terrible results as criminals
brought untold suffering to those he loved the most.  For that reason, above
all others, Devry honored the law for it was the order borne of law that
allowed civilized society to flourish.

Devry had just arrived home from work.  Blood streaked the
door of the mayor’s residence.  He spotted a torn piece of silk.  Was that from
Alexia’s dress?  On the porch, he grabbed the broom and burst through the front
door.  The room was empty.  It was quiet except for the pounding of Devry’s
heart.  He dropped the broom and grabbed his rapier from the mantle.  He wheeled
quickly as he heard footsteps on the stairs behind him.  His knees nearly gave
out at the vision that greeted him. 

“Devry, whatever are you doing?” she smiled as she descended
the stairs gracefully.

Alexia LeChar was a vision.  Fair skin and golden hair, she
looked more like a fairie than the half elf, half Halfling that she was. 

The smile left her lips as she realized something was
wrong.  Devry slumped into the chair and she rushed to him.  Kneeling by his
side, she put her hands on his arm.  His heart was racing. 

“Devry, what is it?  What’s wrong?” She asked.

He dropped to his knees and they held each other.  Devry
kept nothing from his wife as he explained the situation to her and left
nothing out.  She took it well but paled when her husband related the veiled
threat Bago made.  Devry refused to let her look at the front door but Alexia
insisted.  She understood why her husband had been shaken so as nausea
overwhelmed her.    Devry sent for the city guards.  Posting six at the mansion
and four as Alexia’s personal detail, Devry knew for the first time he’d do
whatever it took to rid himself of Bago.  But maybe there was another way. 

That night he wrote a letter to Otis Swatternick, the
regional governor for the southern territories, based in Ft. Ste. Anne. 

Bago had a man always watching the mayor’s residence.  His
job was to record who went in, who went out and how long they were in there and
if certain people went in to notify Bago immediately.  The next day, the Schott
brothers visited the mayor’s house.  They were there for nearly an hour and
they were in a piss of a mood when they left.  Bago was elated over the news. 

That afternoon, Devry sent for Bago.  He offered the
contracts and both men signed.  The terms included a provision that the Schotts
and their men were to be given jobs and no one would be harmed.  Bago would
have given them free ale for life in exchange for the papers he held in his
hand.  Besides, he would need more workers now that he was the only game in
town.  The money was nice but the power was what Bago wanted.  Now at last it
would be his!

Now while this was going on, a minor problem seemed to be
growing into a significant concern.  Several ships due into port never
arrived.  The seas are a treacherous place.  Sea monsters, pirates and the
elements make sailing a career choice for the stout hearted.  But the loss of
four ships in two weeks was unusual and the timing was couldn’t be worse.  The
Schott’s men were less than thrilled about the new arrangement working for
Bago.  Devry needed an overwhelming force of guards throughout the city to
prevent violence from breaking out.  Anything less and the powder keg Devry
created could explode into all out war, and that wouldn’t do.  No, that
wouldn’t do at all.

Devry sent a small squad to reconnoiter the Serpent’s Eye
lighthouse.  He hoped the caretaker might be able to shed some light on the
missing ships.  Five days later, the still hadn’t returned.  Devry sent a dozen
men, including Sacha Perrin, Captain of the Guard.  Devry was in terrible
distress when they didn’t return after five days.  His town, his people were in
jeopardy.  He prayed for an answer. 

Devry went to his office.  On a day like any other, when the
morning dew sparkled in the sunlight like so many astral diamonds, something
was out of place.  A scroll sat on his desk.  As he handled the scroll, afraid
to read it, a faint ringing could be heard.  It seemed to come from all around
him.  This was followed by a slight vibration.  The scroll, they began to
glow.  The scroll became as a wisp of bright smoke, and drifted towards the
room center.  As the smoke began to coalesce, an image of his mother appeared
before him.  “Travel to the woods north of Perle de Magie, to the shrine of
Ceates.  There you will meet the oddest assortment of characters.  Hire them
and send them to the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse.  They are your best hope and a
light shines among them.”  With the last word, the apparition faded into darkness.   

What manner of sorcery was this?  Devry felt strangely
calm.  He did as instructed.  Though the apparition did little to prepare him
for just what characters he would meet.  He’d heard of the Yuan-ti.  They were
legend.  Folk tales passed from generation to generation, often used to produce
a scare.  This was the first time he’d met one.  He wouldn’t mind if it was the
last.  Devry was really in too much of a rush to dwell on the adventurers.  He
quickly offered them a reward and they barely haggled.  He gave the necessary
instructions and a wagon and dismissed them.  “Great” he mused “discount
adventurers.  I certainly hope for the all our sakes they’re more competent
than they look.” 

The next morning, Otis Swatternick and six squads of Fort
St. Anne soldiers rode into town and went straight for the mayor’s residence. 

“Devry LeChar!  By order of the King, you are under
arrest!”  Swatternick bellowed.

“On what charge?”  Devry asked.

“Embezzlement for starters.  I’m sure there will be more
once the investigation is concluded.  Take him away.” He sneered.  Four
soldiers marched up to flank the Halfling.  Devry was marched down the street
to the jailhouse and handed over to the stunned warden.  Devry had appointed
the man and they were close friends. 

“It’s alright my friend. “  Devry calmly told his friend.  
“Please honor me by doing your duty.”

His friend straightened and took custody.  Devry was locked
in the largest cell.  He was alone with Swatternick’s four soldiers stationed
outside the cell.  Clean blankets were delivered promptly and fresh water
brought in. 

Swatternick plopped himself down into Devry’s chair.  Alexia
remained in her room.  Her part in the ruse was simple. 

As evening fell, and while the adventurers were struggling
to wrest control of the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse from the pirate brigands,
Devry looked at the stars through the window of his jail cell.  Across town,
Bago lay awake wondering what Devry’s arrest would mean to his contracts. 
Certainly Swatternick would have to honor them. 

Two mornings later, Perrin arrived at the north gate with
the survivors from the lighthouse.  Upon hearing of Devry’s arrest, he
confronted the governor. 

“This is outrageous!”  The captain fumed. “You, of all men
know there’s no way these charges have any basis in fact!  I wish to review the
evidence at once!”

“You will be permitted to review the evidence in due time
captain.  If LeChar is innocent as you believe, he’ll be acquitted of the
charges.”  Swatternick declared.  “Now sit down and deliver your report.”

Perrin started with the assignment and the missing squad. 
“We noticed right away the light was not working.  We approached the lighthouse
cautiously from the front and the south along the beach.  I led the men in the
frontal approach.  Three men approached the door but there’s no cover so
nonchalance was the plan.  Dressed as poor travelers, the plan was to see if
anything was out of sorts.  The boy answering the door seemed nervous and it
wasn’t likely that his parents and grandfather would all be away, so the three
barged in.  We rushed to follow.  We were outnumbered.  Hoping the others had
successfully entered the lighthouse from the dock door, we let out a war cry. 
Initially we were encouraged to hear the response, but then alarmed and
frightened when we heard the screams of terror as the men were savagely
murdered.  The bastards had a Cyclops chained in the anteroom.  Six men were
torn to pieces.  Good men.”  Perrin continued “Three of us were tied up, and
they were torturing the lighthouse keeper’s son.  The sorcerer in charge was
definitely looking for something but I’ve no idea what.”

Swatternick listened intently “Go on captain.”

“When a knock was heard at the door, the villains put a
knife to the throat of the boy and had him answer the door.  I couldn’t hear
everything but a fight broke out.  The boy went down and I feared he was dead. 
I’ve seen a lot in my years, but the characters that saved our lives that day
were a sight!”

Perrin went on to describe the defeat of the brigands and
the rescue of the survivors. 

The following morning, the alarm was sounded at the northern
gate of the city.  A group of refugees had arrived, exhausted and frightened. 
As Perrin had his me fetch food and water for the survivors, they related the
horror of the attack.  They also told Perrin of the adventures they met.   

Swatternick had no choice.  He immediately dispatched Perrin
and six squads to La Rose Noir with general orders to eliminate the threat,
secure the town, assist survivors and establish a temporary garrison until a
permanent presence could be established. 

Perrin departed that afternoon, vowing to carry out his
orders quickly and return to stand by his leader.

The delicate silence just before daybreak was shattered by the
screams.  The screaming drew a crowd to the mayor’s residence.  A grisly sight
lay on the walkway to the porch.  Many recognized Alexia’s favorite yellow
dress, torn to shreds lay in a pool of fresh blood.  On the blood-stained
stones, twisted bone and gore presented a terrifying image.  When word reached
Devry LeChar that his dear Alexia had been brutally murdered, all self control
left the man.  “Bring Bago here now!” he demanded.  “I must see him
immediately!”

By now everyone in Pearle deMagie had heard of the hideous
slaughter of Alexia, including Bago.  He had no idea who killed her.  Worried
about what this might mean to his business dealings, Bago made his way to the
jailhouse. 

“Bago, you bastard!” Devry spit, trying to reach the man
through the bars. “You said you wouldn’t harm her if I gave you the contracts! 
I did and now you killed her?  Why?”  Tears streamed down Devry’s cheeks. 

Bago didn’t know who killed her.  The only reason he cared
at all was that he didn’t want to be implicated in any scheme now.  He needed
Swatternick to honor those contracts. “I didn’t kill her!  I was straight with
you.  I said I wouldn’t harm Alexia if you signed the contracts and I didn’t.” 
He exclaimed. 

A strange smile crossed Devry’s lips.  Bago was confused. 
Swatternick walked into the room.  “Thank you Mr. Bago for admitting your
extortion.  Guards, open the cell.  Let the mayor out and install Mr. Bago
please.” 

Bago, realizing that he’d been set up, was furious.  He
wheeled to Devry.  “I’ll kill you LeChar!  I’ll kill you and I’ll kill your
wife!”  He lunged for Devry, wrapping his hands around the halfling’s throat. 
Devry threw his hands up, breaking the larger man’s grip.  Bago quickly
regained his balance and as he delivered a punch to Devry’s face, Devry drove
his knee into Bago’s groin and swung around clockwise, driving his left fist
into the Bago’s chin.  By now the guards had jumped into the fray, shoving Bago
into the cell. 

“Swatternick, this isn’t over!” He ranted. “I swear you’ll
all regret this!”

“Mr. LeChar” the governor asked “What’s the penalty for
attempted murder of a duly appointed representative of the King and threatening
a regional governor?

“Death by hanging, I believe.”  Devry announced.

Bago was finally silent as the blood drained from his face
and the seriousness of his situation became clear. 

Alexia was waiting outside the jail as her husband rushed
out to meet her.  Word travels fast in a town like Pearle deMagie, and by the
time Alexia made the short trip from the residence to the jail, most of the
town learned of the charade and the crowd travelled with her.  Upon seeing
Devry they erupted in applause for their favorite son had fought for them and
won.  Lucas Schott and his brother were there. 

“I can’t believe that worked” Lucas said, shaking his head
as he embraced his friend.

“It wouldn’t have worked without you!”  Devry said “And we
must also thank Governor Swatternick for supporting the plan.” 

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Adventure, Excitement, Betrayal!

So our intrepid heroes were traveling south along the road to Pearle deMagie, hoping to cash in on a job well done. Along the way they were waylaid by spectral panthers and more dark ones, allies of the shadowy assassin dispatched back in the temple of Pelor. Traveling along the deserted road, we came upon a bush rustling beside the path. Upon investigation, the rustling turned out to be a scraggly man, introducing himself as Finious Weathershed. The newcomer joined our band of glorious heroes, as there is always added safety in numbers in dangerous forests. Just before nightfall, the party came across an abandoned two-storey house off the road, and after a quick investigation decided to make their rest for the evening indoors. Fezwick, in an effort to stymie any potential attackers, turned himself into a goat to keep watch outside. As the party drifted off to sleep, the howls of wolves were heard nearby. Fezwick took it upon himself to investigate, for as he was a druid, he had the best chance of making the wolves go away. Alas, these were not ordinary forest wolves fit to befriend a druid, but evil werewolves, bent on the party’s destruction. A fight ensued once Fezwick fled back to the hold to warn the others. During the combat, Fynn decided to surprise the party. “Surprise,” she said, as suddenly her angelic deva’s form was replaced with the slightly smaller, more gray-skinned body of a doppelganger: her true form all along. The werewolves were dispatched and skinned for Thaerin was chilly and wanted a cloak. But the success of the party was soon diminished as Adara had finally had enough. This true deva was horrified at her previous companion’s deception, and the generally evil motives of certain party members, and felt she would be best served living out this current life as a benevolent tea saleswoman. The following morning found the party once again heading south, bereft of Adara’s companionship. Upon reaching Pearl deMagie, Finious said that he could not enter, and some parley ensued. Turns out he was Bill, friend of Skittles, and just the man the party had been looking for. Bill decided to trust our fair adventurers, after hearing of their daring exploits with Skittles and other acts of piracy upon the high seas. He would await the party’s completion of business outside the city, near the western gate. Going into town, the party met with the mayor Devry LeChar and then decided to trick Bill and capture him. With Fynn’s newfound morphing abilities, the deception was child’s play, and Bill was soon in the custody of the authorities. After celebrating their successful job, Ellie went to the inn to get rooms and play some music, while Ilessa was quietly stalking the streets of the town, followed by dog-form Fezwick and Thaerin to ensure no trouble ensued from their crazy antics. An important discovery is made! Thaerin and Fezwick visit the mayor again to learn more about a potential job, and Devry is distressed. Upon listening to his story, they both realize that he is in fact Ellie’s long-lost brother, and perhaps holds the key to her mysterious past! Thaerin hastily finds Ellie and brings her to the jail, where she confronts her old nemesis, asking for her mother’s name, and the whereabouts of her precious hat. While not forthcoming with the information she wants, Ellie will not rest until she has what she wants, and is also gladdened by the knowledge that she has a younger brother! The party ended their adventure on the high note of much excitement, and rounds of drinks bought with hard-earned money.

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Midnight in the Camp of Good And Evil
Fezwick, On Watch and...

Victory! The taste of sweet victory lingered on the lips of our heroes. With Skamos, an assassin and the vampire Rosa Floren all dead and the Dragonstar Crystal safely in the possession of Ellie, everyone’s favorite bard, it’s Miller time! Did I forget to mention that there’s now a ten story statue of Pelor smiling out over the countryside? Yeah, our guys did that! Uh hu! Sounds like someone is building a little street cred. As a little icing on the sweet cake of success, a squad from Pearle deMagie showed up lead by none other than Captain Perrin, the very same Captain Perrin saved from pirate thugs at the Serpents Eye lighthouse by, you guessed it, our heroes. That’s right babeeee. More street cred. Pretty soon kids will be wearing frocks with the likeness of the Yuan-ti Ilessa. They’ll be getting tattoos to look like the coolest cinder-soul around. One can already imagine little girls getting their I Love Adara buffs and the little bad girls with their Fynn Rocks leather collars. Ellie hats will be all the rage. Soon everyone will be wearing them. And of course, arcane geeks everywhere will all want their Fezdisk from Ronco.

But I digress.

Elistina, after long life and a phenomenal adventuring career, passed into the great beyond. Before passing though she provided a journal covering most of the story of Varxious and quite a bit on the Six, plus there was booty that included new toys for our heroes. Ilessa managed to get her weapons enchanted and after a rest the grateful captain provided our party with a wagon and horses.

The plan is simple. Head to Pearle deMagie. Collect the promised reward from the mayor, who Captain Perrin says is now in jail. Then head to Hammerdale. Find Jamice the sorcerer, who was also one of the six and see what he can suggest about disposing of the crystal. Yup, that’s pretty simple.

So on night one, with Fezwick the Alert on guard, the group is attacked. Now I could just cut Fezwick some slack here but that just wouldn’t be my style now. There was growling. Then there was more growling. “Hmmm, I’ll turn into something.” he says. “And I’ll just nudge Thaerin until he gets up.”

Now as DM I’m not usually one to place blame on others, but Ilessa rolled a damn good initiative. But being asleep because the guy on watch didn’t wake you up doesn’t do much to counter the surprise factor. It sucks but hey, maybe there should be a “Taking Watch for Dummies” book or maybe “Guard Duty: What You Should Know About Sounding the Alert.”

At any rate, the attack by the shadow brigade was intense. Aside from inherent abilities like invisibility and becoming incorporeal, they laid out “dark fog”, creating a zone of -dark-fog. Anyway, the battle looked like it was going to be a rout. The party was doomed. And these guys were clearly after the crystal. Could their victory, the taste still lingering on their lips, be snatched away just like that? No dammit! Once again our heroes rose to the challenge and laughed in the face of their foes. Ha! Or something like that.

Finally snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, the group astutely notices that the dead Shadar-kai warriors had a tattoo identical to the tattoo on the dead assassin in the colossus. A small serpent coiled on a helmet. Hmmmm.

What does it all mean? Could it be a coincidence? I can’t wait to find out.

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Skamos
Backstory, not required reading.

As a young Tiefling, Skamos was remarkable. Not for his skills as a sorcerer, which were indeed obvious from an early age. No, Skamos was most remarkable for his utter disdain for anything and everything important to anyone other than himself. His narcissism was particularly disturbing to Koyus and Tryyn. As a master weapons crafter, Koyus worked hard to build his reputation. A Koyus blade was one of the finest anyone could possess. Though mildly disappointed that his son wasn’t interested in learning the skills to be a master craftsman, he nevertheless encouraged Skamos and his interest in sorcery. After all, his mother was a skilled wizard, though she only pursued wizardry as a hobby.

Tryyn was concerned though. Skamos was defiant. He had a stubborn streak that was formidable, even by Tiefling standards. She wanted to encourage her son in his sorcery, but being Tiefling in this modern age carries certain burdens. After all, the ancient’s poor judgment left its mark on the entire race. Distrust was rampant. It was bad for relations and it was bad for business. So the vast majority of Tiefling parents worked hard to ensure that children understood the scrutiny they were all under from the other races. Try as she may, Skamos fought her at every turn. Koyus couldn’t even control the boy. The decision was made that Skamos would be sent to the guild house to learn from those who could control him. Surely they would be able to shape him into a respectable sorcerer and an upstanding Tiefling. They were wrong.

Self-absorbed and obsessed, Skamos worked for years to increase his powers. While reasonably skilled in the arcane, from an early age he always viewed teachers and mentors as a means to an end. Far from content to learn the lessons taught by his superiors, Skamos developed a habit early on sneaking into the forbidden libraries and dabbling in spells and rituals that were off limits to sorcerers of his level. In fact, some of his earliest successes were with spells to circumvent the locks and barricades barring access to those libraries.

The night air was cold and the sky sent icy rains from the heavens. Skamos was in the guild library at Genwah when he suddenly found himself confronted by one of the young librarians working late and alone. Knowing her duty, the librarian turned to alert her master. Skamos impulsively attacked her and beat her brutally, knocking her to the ground. Kneeling on her back, the young woman was helpless as he viciously slammed her head repeatedly into the floor. Skamos regained his composure as he observed the pool of blood flowing from under the young woman. Skamos fled the library, leaving the young woman for dead. Unfortunately, it was just one more failure in a long line of failures. Soon after his hasty departure, the injured librarian was discovered, and she was able to identify Skamos as her assailant. Word quickly spread of the assault on the librarian and of Skamos’s treachery. Faced with imprisonment or even death for his crimes, Skamos knew he had no choice but to flee.

Unable to return to his room and uncertain as to how best to escape, Skamos hid in the barn of a herdsman. From this barn he could keep watch over his rooming house. Skamos reflected on his life as he sat in darkness. All he ever wanted was to be a skilled sorcerer. Respect and rank within the guild were more valuable than any gold. Lesser sorcerers received opportunity and reward. Why not him? In a word, trust. But even as the answer eluded the young sorcerer, sleep did not. Like an assassin, weariness crept up silently and overtook Skamos.

Darkness. A warm damp muskiness filled the air. A wave of nausea roiled through Skamos’s body as the stench quickly took him off guard. But the nausea just as quickly gave way to panic. “I must have fallen asleep.” He thought. “Now I’m in a prison cell. Great.” He cursed his stupidity for apparently failing to ensure the librarian’s silence and began crafting the lies that would be the cornerstone of his defense.

After nearly two days though, alone with his furtive imagination, images of the oubliette filled his thoughts. Fear spread through him like the rot. He could smell his own body beginning to decay. Visions of the rats eating away at his flesh tormented him. Was he simply discarded, dumped in a cell to die, forgotten? Summoning what remained of his fortitude, Skamos decided he had enough. “I demand to speak to the guild counsel!” He bellowed. “What charges are being levied against me?” But there was no reply; he heard not a sound.

In those ever elusive moments when his mind was free of panic, Skamos was preoccupied with formulating his deposition, But the image continued to haunt him. If he indeed was in an oubliette, he knew he had at most two to three days to live. Few creatures can live for long without water and unfortunately, Tieflings are not among them.

Though he couldn’t tell how long he’d been sitting in darkness, it was the fourth day when he first heard sounds, first light footsteps outside of his cell, then the sliding of a bolt. As the door opened though, hope quickly fled as a new fear gripped the sorcerer. He was obviously not a prisoner of the guild or local law enforcement. Four small humanoids, hooded and armed stood outside the cell door. Dark ones, he recalled. Was he in Shadowfell? How could this have happened?

“Come,” one said in common. “Be quick about it!” Another continued “Master doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” He struck Skamos in the lower back with the butt of his dagger to emphasize the point.

Skamos noticed that it was barely light enough to see where he was going. It was still better than the complete darkness that threatened to consume him for the last four days. “Where am I?” he asked, “and who is Master?” From behind, he received another sharp blow to his back that nearly knocked him to his knees. And that voice, smooth but menacing “Get up, and keep your mouth shut! Master has special plans for you.”

As they passed many cells, he could hear no sounds from them. None of the moans and pitiful cries one would expect from a place such as this. “Where am I?” he wondered. “Are there any other prisoners here?”

Stopping before a large door, one of guards pounded on the door. Slowly the door opened. Two more Dark Ones parted and made way as they enter the room. The smell of roasted pheasant reminded him of his hunger after four days in that pit. Could that pitcher on the table be ale? As he began to speak “What…?” he was immediately gripped by an invisible hand. Clutching in desperation at his throat, he could feel the hand that wasn’t there squeezing. He struggled to breathe, to gasp but found no breath. His hands found no fingers to peel open and no hand to pry off. Gray yielded to black as the darkness once again embraced Skamos.

Falling through the sky, spinning faster and faster, Skamos screamed in terror as he plummeted to his death. He awoke with a start. It was a dream, just a horrible dream! As he tried to stand he stumbled. The floor was moving. Then he heard the sound of the ship cutting through the waves. He found his footing and headed out the door and for the nearest stairs. Climbing onto the deck he found himself blinded momentarily by the brightness of the midday sun. As his eyes adjusted to the intensity he quickly noticed that the deck hands were not uniformed. In fact, he noticed no recognizable flag flying from her mast. “Be out of our way landie!” One snapped at him. From behind him, a powerful deep voice “We been paid, but keepin’ your arse in the way of runnin’ my ship is the surest way to find yourself swimmin’ the rest of the way.” Skamos turned to the voice and stepped out of traffic. “Captain I presume?” He said. “How did I come to be here?” The captain replied “Unable to hold your spirits I presume. Although I’d be pleased as punch to never meet your little friends again.” He continued “We were paid to get you to Perle de Magie. No questions asked and none answered.”

Thoughts filled his mind like so many dragonflies flitting to and fro. The specifics eluded him though. Like a dream barely remembered he couldn’t recall the conversation or with whom he spoke, but he remembered the cell and the darkness. He remembered his jailors escorting him to a door. What happened next? He couldn’t remember! He felt his neck. No pain or bruises. What was real and what was a dream? Dream, surely it was more of a nightmare. Those foul creatures. He certainly remembered them. It frustrated the sorcerer but what he could remember was the instructions. Obtain the Dragonstar Crystal. Send word back through the pirates. Locate Rosa Floren in the cemetery in the south of Seabend. Ascertain the location of the colossus of Pelor and wait for my arrival. My arrival? Who’s arrival? If only he could remember.

Returning to his cabin, Skamos rummaged through his bag. He didn’t have a bag like this before. Opening the bag, he wondered why it was so heavy. He was shocked to find a bag full of gold. If there was one there were several hundred. He knew his instructions. He also knew a little about Gorainne, but not much. He decided the captain was a good place to start when he heard a knock on the door.

“Enjoying the accommodations, I hope.” The man said with a grin. Unsure whether the man was being sarcastic, Skamos replied “Its fine.” He continued “I have much work to do when I arrive in Gorainne, but as a stranger, I find myself in need of…assistance.” He paused for a moment. Judging that the pirates might be just the sort he needed for his mission, he continued “I’m tasked with acquiring a certain artifact for my master.” As the word escaped his lips, he was astonished. He couldn’t remember this “master”. “I’m going to need men able to do what needs doing without asking a lot of questions. Arrange for me to talk to the captain at his earliest convenience.”

“You won’t be talking to the captain about business, friend. I handle all the business dealings on this ship. Aboard the Carnage, Quartermaster Edward Skittle makes the deals. The captain, well he just runs the ship.”

“I need to take control of the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse.” Skamos was somewhat unnerved that he knew what to do though he’d never done more than hear the name of the lighthouse. We need to secure the road to the lighthouse. I’ll need time, possibly a week or more to work uninterrupted.

The plan was made. The goblins would be an easy bribe. Skittle dealt with their ilk before. He could even skim a bit off the top. They’d watch the road from Perle de Magie. No problem there. They would be able to bring the others. And just as well. Edward Skittle was not squeamish or fearful but no man of right mind wasn’t afraid of the foul hags. He’d hear tale of the horrors they wrought on the poor souls who fell into their traps. And the only good Cyclops to his way of thinking was a dead Cyclops. Yes, he’d take care of the goblins and let them handle the rest. His crew could deal with the occupants. Nobody there but the keeper, and his family, and they’d surely be no problem at all.

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The Colossus of Pelor
Gimme the damn crystal!

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Riders on the Disk
It was inevitable.

In any world and in any time, there are many truths. Some of these truths can be flexible. Cosmic, divine or arcane forces often toy with the true nature of things to provide life with chaos. Sometimes it’s enough chaos to make life interesting. Sometimes though it’s suffocating deluge, sufficient to drive a proud man to his knees, a stoic man to tears and a pious man to throw up his hands and scream at the gods themselves. Beneath the surface of these trials, however, is where we find the wellspring of inner strengths. Will, fortitude, perseverance, honor flow from this place inside each of us. These strengths drive us to fight on when hope wanes. Death becomes secondary to our effort in the struggle that thrusts it upon us. Remembered or forgotten, when we fight with honor defeat is robbed of its bitter sting.

Some truths are constants. Through the chaos, the trials and challenges we face, love, friendship and teamwork provide strength beyond even that indomitable spirit within ourselves. When we question our motives, our beliefs or our own hearts, we find the answers in those around us. Encouraging and challenging us, we are all beings in need of each other. We need to be loved. We need to be liked. We’re willing to give our very lives for those we love. A friend’s call never goes unanswered. As part of a team focusing our strengths we will conquer the unconquerable, pass the impassable and achieve what a single heart could only dream of achieving.

But friends, lovers and teams face their share of challenges too. To often time and destiny come between people. Sometimes a druid needs someone to ride his disk in order to attain that sense of completeness. Fezwick had been yearning, nay, begging for someone to ride his floating disk since…forever. “You can ride my disk!” he’d say hopeful that someone, anyone would take him up on his offer to bring them to new heights (about three feet or so above the ground). Ilessa would give an incredulous look followed by a sneering “I’m not riding that thing!” Others simply ignored the offer. Discouraged maybe but Fezwick was not deterred. With a persistence any stalker would envy, he sought every opportunity to flaunt his disk, to whip it out in front of anyone. “It’s this big!” he’d announce proudly. “It follows me everywhere I go, and look! I can make it move with my mind!” This dogged perseverance finally paid off. Faced with a scatter trap loaded with teleportation glyphs on the floor, Fezwick finally found a use for his disk. Mounting upon it the body of the dead sorcerer Tesla (and his detached head), Fezwick skillfully maneuvered his disk to a door, gently thrusting against it repeatedly, attempting to arouse those on the other side. Perhaps they weren’t concerned, perhaps they just weren’t in the mood but they were just not stimulated to action. But when Fynn said she would mount the disk, the entire group was astonished. The Deva would ride Fezwick’s disk? And ride it she did! Sitting high and proud astride Fezwick’s magical disk, Fynn rode that disk to the farthest reaches (of the room). Doors were opened and a squeal could be heard (from the hinge). Fynn saw visions (of the shadow assassin)! And Fezwick kept it up the entire time. Even when he asked her if she wanted to go farther, her words said “No” but Fezwick pushed and took her where she’d never been. The anger at being pushed against her will quickly gave way to acceptance as she realized that she was really safe on the disk of Fezwick. He gently pulled back to safety and she eased herself onto her feet. She could already imagine her next time riding that magnificent disk.

Sometimes team members just don’t see eye to eye on something. This can happen when opinions clash. One is driven to prevent the end of the world and another isn’t. Ilessa just wanted a nap. “But it’s the end of the world!” you say? “It’s not likely, since my god is going to devour the world.” Ilessa said mater-of-factly. “I really need a nap.” Well, no nap was had. Ilessa pouted, clearly unhappy and an unhappy Yuan-Ti can be somewhat uncomfortable to be around. Especially if you’re a cinder-soul Genasi and the Yuan-Ti has a yearning for something hot and spicy…

Entering the lower crypt, and after battling swarms of poisonous spiders, the party enters the dark, dank room lined with burial slots in the walls. A black cloaked shadow assassin is spotted in the back of the room, threatening a black-robed man. As soon as the black-robed man betrays his master, the assassin brutally slashes his throat. Before the man hits the floor, the assassin slips through a secret door at the rear of the room. Seconds later, a thunderous roar heralds the destruction of the secret staircase. As the party invades the room, they notice that several undead have been dispatched. Miraculously, though, the black robed man isn’t dead! Shaml Barumon is quickly healed, and the party begins questioning him. He said “I told the assassin Skamos was going to the chapel at Seabend and he tried to kill me anyway!” “Where is Skamos going?” demanded Thaerin. “Why did you lie to the assassin?” Shaml replied “I didn’t want to betray Skamos, but this is getting dangerous. You healed me when I thought I was dead. Skamos obviously crossed the wrong person to have everyone after him.”

In the mean time, Fynn searched the room. “What’s this?” she asked, fondling a black onyx skull. “It’s an Onyx Skull.” said Fezwick expertly “It used to be part of a staff.” Continuing to flex his arcanic acumen, “It is used for necromantic purposes, like raising undead and stuff.” “I want to keep it!” said Fynn. “We should destroy it” said Fezwick. Fynn pouted in a very un-Deva-ish sort of way. It can be funny how sometimes democracy and mob rule are so very similar. Ellie asserted herself and ordered the destruction of the skull and Fezwick obeyed. Thaerin also burned Shaml’s ritual book, which represented his life’s work. Shaml was clearly upset at the loss. The necromancer snapped to attention quickly though when the conversation turned to dispatching him. “Whoa, whoa, I can help you!” he exclaimed. “I know where the colossus is! I’ll take you there.” After ascertaining that the assassin would be at least a day out of his way by heading to the chapel, everyone agreed that keeping Shaml alive as a guide just made good sense. Fynn, always the humanitarian, wanted to put him on a leash. “Like a pet?” asked Ilessa. “Yeah,” answered Fynn “Like a pet!” Heads shook. “What!?” she said, wondering why everyone is against her having a little fun.

The group finally agreed on one thing. They definitely needed an extended rest. Fezwick decided to spend the night in a tree. In the outdoors. In the creepy graveyard. The one with the roaming undead. Where no one was there to assist him if trouble reared its maggot-ridden head. Only by god’s good graces (and that won’t happen again for the idiotic) did this ill-advised decision not result in a tragedy.

As the group neared the colossus, they came upon a beautiful glade with a cottage grown within the trunk of a majestic ancient willow tree. Fezwick rushed up to the door and knocked. “Is anyone home?” he asked cheerfully. Receiving no reply, he opened the door and wandered in. He did discover a journal while searching written mostly in incomprehensible script. Of what he could read, he discovered a description of a magical spring to the north. “Fezwick! Let’s go! Remember, saving the world and all that?” Thaerin yelled, obviously annoyed at the lack of any sense of urgency demonstrated by the druid. As Fezwick headed back to the group, however, he noticed blood on the path, and it was fresh, and it was leading north. Shaml had told the group that to reach the colossus they would have to continue west. In yet another ill-advised decision, Fezwick ran off northward, following the blood trail. The remaining party, exasperated by Fezwick’s apparent lack of concern for both his own safety continued west.

After about one hundred yards, Fezwick found the source of the blood trail. Lady Elistina Thornsword sat with her back against a tree. Well over one hundred years old, beaten and bleeding badly, Elistina told Fezwick of the spring fountain and he helped her to it. “Who did this to you?” he asked. “Skamos is his name. Skamos and his guards” She said. With great sadness she added “and my mother.” Fezwick was stunned. “Your mother?” Elistina related the story of her parents. “I’ve been guarding her tomb, praying for a way to reverse the curse bestowed upon her by my father. Even as she attacked me, obviously under the influence of that villain, I could see in her eyes that she still clung to the last vestiges of her humanity. I should have destroyed her years ago. I see that now. Promise me” she pleaded “that you will release her from this world so that she may finally find the peace that has eluded her.” She continued on, telling an abbreviated summary of Varxious and his imprisonment within the Dragonstar Crystal. She warned Fezwick to safeguard the crystal. “If the crystal is destroyed, Varxious will be reborn into this world!”

Fezwick left her at the fountain and raced back to catch up with the group. As Fezwick related the information from Elistina to the group, they pretty much confirmed that they already knew most of it. (Though the way they learned it was from the handout from the dm…it was meant to represent the information obtained by Fezwick. Sorry dude.) As they crossed a stream, a beautiful woman appeared in their path. With a fetching smile and bright, happy eyes, she attempted to tempt Fezwick with her charms. Ellie rolled her eyes and said let’s go. Ilessa couldn’t resist the opportunity to drop a little snipe into the mix, and for a minute it looked like there might be a scene. But the spring nymph was just a little less than interested that day and allowed the party to continue on their way. “They’ll be back,” she thought mischievously “and then I’ll have some real fun. The short girl with the hat was kinda cute too.”

Finally, our party found themselves standing before a large stone archway leading into a dark tunnel into the hillside. The archway stones were carved with runic prayers to Pelor. Thaerin climbed the earthen mound and whipped out his spyglass. “Amazing!” he thought astutely “If you don’t look at the trees, the knolls and hills appear to form the outline of a giant lying down.”

Deciding that this was indeed their destination, talk quickly turned to Shaml. Suggestions to dispatch him were replaced with the idea to instead remove his tongue in order to prevent him from continuing his necromantic pursuits in the future. Neither of these options appealed to Shaml though. Having appealed to Ilessa’s softer side, she surreptitiously loosened his bonds and whispered “Run!”. And run he did. He nearly escaped without incident but Fezwick, Gorainne’s favorite ADD druid launched himself in pursuit. Of note is that no one else in the party was overly interested in pursuing Shaml. Being the loyal friend that he is, Thaerin took up position to assist if Fezwick needed it. Shaml took a solid hit though and turned and let loose with a Deathwave, not only hitting, but pushing both Thaerin and Fezwick back fifteen feet and knocked on their behinds. Having had a pretty bad day already, Shaml fled the scene like a Yuan-Ti from a boat trip.

To be continued…
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Tesla
First there was a spark...

Adventurin’ in our world means gittin’ to meet new and intrestin’ people on a regular basis. It’s one of the reasons folks take up adventurin’. That and maybe they got no marketable skills and marryin’ inta money ain’t lookin’ like an option.

Ahem.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten the Malcolm Reynolds voice out of my system, we can continue.

The trail of the infamous Skamos leads our intrepid party to the South Cemetery. As the group cleared out the northern crypt, they discovered a woman, her child and an unconscious sorcerer. Thaerin freed the woman and the child but the group decided the sorcerer should remain restrained until they determined whether he was a threat to them. On agreement, Ellie takes the woman and the child to Edward Skittle, who is keeping watch at the cemetery entrance with Wisp and Kira. “Take the woman and the children and try to catch up with Otis and his group enroute to Pearle de Magie.” Ellie says. “What can I do to help once they’re safely delivered?” Skittle asks, clearly feeling remorse over his dealings with Skamos that have likely cost the lives of many of his friends. Remembering the rescue of the Perle de Magie guard captain at the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse, Ellie instructed “When you get to Perle de Magie, let Captain Sasha Perrin know of our progress.” She continued “If he can send reinforcements to help vanquish the remaining undead in Seabend, that would be a great help.”

While Ellie is outside, the rest of the group decide to awaken the sorcerer and discover several things. “My name is Tesla” he says. “What are you doing here?” asks Ilessa. Clearly intent on being cooperative and prepared to ingratiate himself to his rescuers, Tesla proceeds to fire off an acid spell to escape his bonds and several words from his acid tongue meant to impress his new friends. This was followed by Ilessa helping Tesla back to sleepy land with a right hook to the jaw.

By now we know that Ilessa isn’t the most patient lady. Balderdash you say? No really, I mean it! She can be a little short at times. But hey, it was probably one of those “just gettin’ to know ya” moments. You know, boy meets snake girl. Boy insults snake girl. Snake girl kicks his ass. I mean, it happens all the time.

Ellie returns and displays one of those “I have no idea what is going on here but screw it, I have the most awesomest hat in the room!” looks. Fezwick wants to put the unconscious Tesla on the disk, and is clearly disappointed that his first time is going to be with a human male sorcerer, because he had his heart set on a nine foot Yuan-ti half blood. Well, like the man says, “You dance with the date that brung ya.”.

Well at least the bar has been set. Time to wake him up again. I mean hey, who wouldn’t have learned from getting the shit slapped out of him, right? And Tesla did learn his lesson alright! Drawing from his superior intellect, Telsa decides to hit on Ilessa. ‘Cause somewhere in that bruised, concussion-ridden brain, that seemed like a good idea? Maybe I wasn’t looking closely enough, but I missed the part where she was impressed. Poor delivery? Words not quite catching the essence of the moment? Maybe flowers would have helped. Regardless, anyone near enough took five fire damage as Tesla crashed and burned. Big time. He probably would have had an easier time nailing Fezwick on the craftmatic floating disk.

By now, after like fifteen minutes of conversation, including suggestions of having sorcerer for lunch, everyone decides to head off the the remaining central crypt. Even the devas, good, wholesome girls from the bible belt are thinking “Hmmmm, my immortal soul or let the sorcerer live. Clearly a tough choice.”

Everyone’s favorite naturally sneaky snake girl slithers in to check out the central crypt. It’s dark, and maybe no one will notice the bright torch. Wait, she spots a man. He’s facing away. Hide behind the pillar. With the bright light. Wait, another man. Twenty feet away and facing me. Uh oh. Growling from all around. “Shit, I’m outta here!” she says to herself, “I should have sent the sorcerer!” And that’s when everything attacked.

Two incorporeal pale reaver lords reveal themselves as they float into position. Six slathering boneshard mongrels with a hunger for living flesh ferociously launch themselves at Ilessa with undead fury. Flanked on all sides, Ilessa signals to her friends “Get the hell in here!” With a word, the first reaver attacks and dominates Ilessa. Now his puppet to control, Ilessa can do nothing but watch helplessly as her friends come to her aid. Like the well-oiled machine they have become, Each team member takes position and attacks. A pitched battle is now underway, one that could very well decide the fate of a nation.

Thank goodness Tesla has learned the error of his ways and has grown to appreciate having the support of a party. Oops, premature congratulations. That never happened before baby, honest! I suppose real growth might take more than the ten minutes it took to walk from one crypt to the next. Tesla seems to have a teensy, tiny problem with regard to…I’m looking for the right phrase…yeah, not freakin’ killing his own party! Luckily, he didn’t have the “Splitting the Atom” power or the whole place would be one bloody big crater. But that didn’t stop him from laying our every AOE spell he could find in his bag o’tricks. Again, you might say the group over-reacted but Fezwick was about to have an aneurysm. Actually, he may have had a transient ischemic attack, because there was a noticeable facial twitch and his eyes kept darting to his left.

How bad could it be? Ok, so he’s a little…oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? GOT IT! Insane! Yup, just a little insane. It’s a toss-up as to who is causing more damage to the party after a while. Now, remember when we were talking earlier about how Ilessa could be perceived, possibly, by those who don’t know her that well, as maybe just a little short tempered? She constricts Tesla. She kills Tesla. And just to show there’s no hard feelings, she leaves him with a coups de grace. On the upside, Ilessa showed tremendous self control by not eating him. And she’s got mega booty in the form of his stuff and gold! Not a total loss by any stretch.

Finally, all the nuisances are dead. Deader. No longer animated. You know what I mean. Six survivors. Six is a good number. Remember, The Six vanquished the black dragon Varxious. And beer comes in six packs.

As a humble observer, I’d make just one suggestion. It may be time to take a close look at the “threat to the party” checklist and maybe make some changes. Maybe a background check and an interview process. Some sample questions like “If your mom is about to get eaten by a cyclops, do you help her right away or take the opportunity to negotiate a raise in your allowance? After all, rituals cost money damn it!” I’m just saying…

That’s all for now. Tune in next week when the psychotic sorcerer bakes everyone a cake. Suddenly, I’m very afraid.

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"Land, Ho!" or "Oh, Look At All The Pretty Ghouls!"
Some ghouls don't like to be called ho's

Our story continues with the brazen and bold heroes making sail for Seabend (city of the Black Rose) aboard the Carnage. Astraddle their sturdy vessel thrusting forward through the warm, wet ocean with the wind filling their sails the party continued their pursuit of the dastardly Skamos, Evil Sorcerer Extraordinaire.

Having discovered that Skamos contracted the pirates through an agent by the name of Bill in Seabend, the party decides to <new_jersey_accent>, you know, see if Bill could, I don’t know, be _persuaded _ to provide a little more information</new_jersey_accent>. Quartermaster Edward Skittles, in exchange for continued access to, and use of, air, graciously agreed to introduce the party to Bill once they arrive.

But alas, the best laid plans of mice and, well, you get the idea. All were dismayed to discover that the repairs to the Carnage, while a fine effort, were found wanting. Lacking sufficient materials to affect additional repairs, the only option was to beach the Carnage on the soft sands about 50 miles south of Seabend. The race to catch Skamos must continue!

So with grace, skill and seafaring aplomb, the makeshift crew of the Carnage managed to gently ease the sturdy vessel onto the beach. Dropping anchor, our party stepped off the Carnage and onto dry land. Was it the sea spray of the crashing surf or just a subtle misty tear from those who fought, bled and emerged victorious in the battle for the mighty Carnage? Perhaps someday they will meet her again!

Heading north with a spring in their step, the party, with Edward Skittle, Wist and Kari resume the chase. As they neared the southern edge of Seabend, an exhausted and bedraggled group of refugees heading south approaches the group. Otis Tremblay explains that he and the others were awakened in the night by the screams of friends and neighbors. Some catalyst was raising all manor of foul undead. “We grabbed what we could and fled for our lives.” Otis cried “What horror my eyes beheld.” He continued “It’s the grace of Pelor that spared us the fate suffered by so many this night!” As Ellie questions the group, it’s discovered that Otis’s youngest daughter was playing and spotted someone that could be none other than the villainous Skamos himself. “He went into the cemetery” said the girl. and into the middle building.” Having provided all the information they could, Otis and the others continue south to Perle deMagie.

Ah, perhaps now they will exact justice on this treacherous demon! The party follows the directions to the South Seabend Cemetery.

Upon approach, it’s immediately evident something is amiss. Trees are dying in front of their eyes. The air is still and though it’s in the middle of the day, there is a gloom over the land. Colors are muted and it seems as though even the grass is almost gray.

Ilessa decides to perform some surprisingly skillful stealthy snaky sneaking shimmying among the sturdy Cypress seeking something skulking set to stalk, surprise or spring upon our heroes.

With a surprising level of skill one would expect from any other member of the party, Ilessa’s flawless performance enables the party to approach a group of ghouls loitering around the southern crypt. All that the party needs to do is traverse an itty, bitty stone wall. (Spoiler alert: if you have this episode recorded but haven’t watched it, STOP READING)

Now, before continuing, it’s only fair to point out that Thaerin is definitely one of the top ten members of this adventuring party. Personally, a finer Genasi I’ve never met. But twinkle toes was a little off his game for the deceptively simple mountaineering task at hand. “Oops” said Thaerin as the cap rock tumbled onto the ground.

There was a Genasi named Thaerin,
With smoke hair and red lines a wearin’,
When the rock made a tumble,
The ghouls came to rumble,
And Fezwick commenced with his swearin’!

Well, true to his character, Thaerin made quick use of his “Target On My Ass” power by marking everything in sight except the dire chipmunks hiding behind the wall, provoking a near-fatal assault by four hideous monstrosities. Quick to rush the aide of their comrade, this well-oiled machine, this blunt instrument of retribution, justice and might unloaded nothing less than the family-sized can of whoop ass. As Thaerin took the battering, blow after blow hitting home, Ilessa and Ellie leaped into the fray with sword and fan slashing at the vile creatures. Only Adara’s powerful mind kept Thaerin on his feet and out of the arms of the Raven Queen’s eternal embrace. The force of nature we all know as Fezwick, faced his share of challenges as the fates conspired against him. Successfully zotting between six and seven scary looking blades of grass, Fezwick’s confidence was clearly battered and his ego bruised. “Fuck” he exclaimed in what could only be interpreted as a fierce determination to not roll that shitty next time. At long last though, the party did emerge victorious wearing with a mixture of honor and disgust the pride of a job well done and some assorted ghoul pieces parts and various internal chunkies gouged, sliced and hacked off during the battle. So indefeasible did our heroes look at that moment that the chipmunks wisely chose not to attack but to protect their nuts instead.

At that moment, a scream was heard from the northern crypt! In rushed the party, and there they discovered more vile critters in the form of skeletons and zombies and a blood thirst pale reaver. Quickly the party struck, leaving no survivors. Locating the source of the scream, a woman and her child lay chained to the wall in a trench.

What happens next? Will Ilessa eat the child? Is it really a child at all? Could Skamos be in the central crypt, yet to be searched by our heroes? Tune in next time when we will find out. Same bat-time, same bat-channel!

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