Thaerin's Raiders

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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New Blood or What's Better Than Pirates? Zombie Pirates
Unfortunately, when the DM has a bad night, everyone has a bad night

So what do you get when your DM spends two weeks thinking about the next game night and decides 10 minutes before game time what to do? @$$&*(^, that’s what.

Our intrepid party rested up below decks during the storm and awoke refreshed and ready for a new day. They found some cool pirate booty too! The search of the captain’s quarters turned up a magic chest, several riddles and his log with entries to his lady Verdanna Smithfield, complete with arguably some of the worst poetry since …ugh, damn, just the worst crap ever. Luckily for the lady Verdanna, the captain was killed, sparing her from actually having to read this crap and pretend to like it.

The party didn’t even have to share the booty, since Eldak and Styx turned up missing, presumed washed overboard. Well, nary a tear was shed for the young ranger and his dire wolf pup. Anyway, a voice from off the port side of the ship beckoned to the party. Turns out it was the quartermaster. Having observed the party he determined that maybe he could help his position by offering his seamanship skills to our party. Well, his attitude sucked so the party told him to piss off. So he did. But not before pointing out to the party a ship on the horizon off the starboard side and closing fast.

So the party worked together, figured out some basics and off they went with their sails unfurled.

As the new ship closed in, it was apparent that there would be a confrontation. Bristling with cannons, the new ship drew in close before it’s shabby crew of ZOMBIE pirates (yes, that’s right! ZOMBIE pirates) launched several ropes across the deck of the Carnage, including one particularly large and menacing combo that proceeded to hook onto the main mast. Tied off on the other end to the main mast of the ZOMBIE pirate ship, this would have been just another boarding until the ZOMBIE pirate ship slammed into a reef, causing a sudden stop. The Carnage, however, continued forward when the slack in the mast hook ran out. The Carnage suddenly lurched to starboard as it cut wildly around the bow of the ZOMBIE pirate vessel. As it came around to starboard, a zombie with an itchy trigger finger fired a cannon shot, blasting an eight foot hole in the bow of the Carnage. In the mean while, as the Carnage circled around, the rope proceeded to destroy just about every structure and disgusting ZOMBIE on the top deck. Slowing to a halt, the Carnage is now pointing south, with the ZOMBIE pirate ship to starboard, a mere fifteen feet away. The remaining zombies magically teleport to the deck of the Carnage and commence their attack.

Four weeks earlier, on the other side of the sea, a sleek sailboat makes its was along the coast. On board are two very special passengers. They say you can go your entire life without meeting a deva. So what are the odds of two of them finding each other? That’s what happened though when Fynn and Adara discovered each other in Shamarok, just north of Abha. They decided to travel together, both anxious for the opportunity to interact with another of their own kind. And so on a day like any other they booked passage to Abha. The short three hour run down the coast was usually faster and easier than the overland journey because the desert was a particularly dangerous place and water travel always appealed to Fynn. The first sign of a problem was when Adara noticed Fynn fall asleep suddenly. Confusion turned to alarm as Adara’s vision blurred and everything went gray.

When they awoke, they quickly learned that they were onboard a different ship. Stripped of their armor and weapons, Fynn tested the bars and found them solid. Adara checked the window and confirmed the same. Banging on the bars caught the attention of one of their captors. At that moment something else became clear: the crew were ZOMBIES! For over a day Fynn and Adara worked on finding a way out of their predicament. Just when they were ready to give up, they heard the sounds of footsteps running overhead. Shouts and taunts from the crew lead them to believe something was up. And then came the terrible lurch. When the ship slammed into the reef, the lone guard was pitched forward with such force that his head was removed by a low hanging chain. Luckily, the cell key was tossed off the peg to within reach of Fynn, who quickly snatched the key and opened the door. Adara searched the closet and found their gear. Suited up and particularly pissed off, the devas headed for the stairs.

Reaching the top, they were amazed at the sight before them. A thick cloud covered nearly all of the deck of the ZOMBIE pirate ship. It looked like something had destroyed just about everything that was recognizable on the deck. Several zombie body parts lay strewn about intermittent thick streaks of dark blood. entrails and various internal organs.

The battle was on! The party was dealing with the magically transported zombies. Adara quickly engaged one in front of her. Fynn decided to climb over to the Carnage. Unfortunately, she slipped and fell into the drink. Well, she deftly recovered and climbed back up to try again. And she fell again. Ok, so for party actions go it was a less than stellar start. In Feziwick’s fog, several pirate ZOMBIES fell overboard. As the pirate ship listed, one unfortunate ZOMBIE was caught between the ships as they brushed against each other and found himself crushed like a grape, complete with the squishy sound and all the juicy goodness one would expect from something so ripe! Adara managed to get to the Carnage without teleporting and the party cut the massive mast hook rope, freeing her from the ZOMBIE pirate ship.

Well, the battle was soon over and the party with two new members quickly resumed their journey.

Some additional searching turned up a couple of children. A cute little girl and her foul-mouth whelp of a brother.

Determined to catch up with the dastardly Skamos, our party makes a deal with the unmanageable brat in exchange for his help. Ilessa just wanted to eat them. Well, the little hellspawn manages to sabotage the anchors, and as the party is busily dropping sails, the anchor chains unwind and the ends fly off their spindles into the drink. When an angry Thaerin chases the boy into the galley, he finds they’ve abandoned ship and are swimming furiously toward the island. He dives from the window himself as Feziwick zots them to within an inch of their lives. Thaerin catches up with them and offers them one chance to live, which they wisely accept. But the quartermaster is rowing quickly toward Thaerin and when he’s close enough, swings the oar at Thaerin’s head. He misses and quick as a bunny Thaerin climbs into the boat. With a menacing stare, he asks the quartermaster if he really wants to get into it and the quartermaster, already not having the best of weeks, surrenders. Everybody gets back on board the Carnage and the two badly injured children are tossed below decks. The quartermaster tries once again to assert himself and Ilessa bitch-slaps him into next week. So he sucks it up and makes the best deal he can. He’ll get the party to La Rose Noir in two days, which should be a full day ahead of Skamos!

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Carnage
It's what's for dinner.

As the party figures out how to row the boat (yeah, there was a learning curve here), they again find themselves in hot pursuit of Skamos. They have the island in sight and are really, really sure that’s where he has gone. They are sharp. They are focused. Gods help anyone…hey look! A pirate ship! Let’s attack it! And they do. Survival clearly in jeopardy, members down for the count, some near unconsciousness, Ellie unleashes a can of whoop ass of gargantuan proportions. Insults, songs enough attitude to inspire the dead, the halfling sliced and diced her way through the ranks. When the warden went down and was nearly lost to the unforgiving sea, it was the minuscule bard to the rescue. But the best was yet to come. It is said that inspiration flows from wildly divergent sources and on this day, and in this place it flowed in the form of a hat. Yup. When the captain joined the fight, his cockades on display for all to see, Ellie knew right then those cockades belonged in her hands. And no one would keep her from her prize. And no one did. In a mighty and unexpected fury, Ellie dispatched the captain with extreme prejudice and no remorse. The fight over, Ellie would sleep well tonight with the captain’s cockades in her bed.

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Get Skamos! or What Damn Crystal Are We After Anyway?
Because ambiguity is the dm's friend.

Having avoided a slow and boring death in the flood trap, the wizard Einer, of Goblin Ambush fame, uses magic to release the portcullis leading into the cavern beneath the lighthouse. Illuminated by a series of mirrors placed strategically throughout the huge cavern, our heroes are immediately beset upon by a hungry Otyugh, thick tentacles reaching out to find its next meal. With poise and precision, they free themselves from the vise-like grip of the sewer denizen just in time to deal with the orcs and hags. As the battle rages, the party sees Skamos head up the staircase into the main section of the lighthouse. Quickly dispatching the last of the grotesque hags, Ilessa darts for the stairs, only to come upon a shimmering wall. Luckily, Einer knows that this is a trap, an exploding wall. A quick decision is made to toss a dead orc into the wall. The body detonates the trap, makes a nasty mess and our party is off and running. By the time they reach the top, Skamos is gone. The window is broken and as they peer out, they see him rowing north in a longboat. The smell of smoke turns out to be the rope, set on fire by Skamos to prevent the party from following. Quite satisfied with themselves, our heroes return to the basement to find another way out of the lighthouse. In a room in the basement they discover the father of the lighthouse keeper. They found the son too, but he had no head and the hags had been working on him for a while so that was kinda gross and pops didn’t take it well. But the party told him the crystal was safe. Well, it turns out that the bright and shiny crystal everyone sees shining bright from the top of the lighthouse isn’t the Dragonstar crystal. And Skamos got that one. They are told how to get to the lighthouse boat and off they go again.

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Is Pulling the Red Lever Ever A Good Idea?

Once Bandu departs, the party manages to open a large oak door. Beyond it seems to be rocky walls as the tunnel leads into the rock beneath the lighthouse. Well, they find themselves in a large room with a door blocked by a portcullis. There is a red lever on the wall so they naturally pull the lever. Which springs the trap. Which lowers steel doors over the entrance and the door in front of them. Which starts the water pouring in through small fissures in the wall. They do try lot’s of things to get the water to stop. They do get the water to stop finally by prying open drains. But not before Ellie , the halfling loses some dignity points by riding her little 2’8” self on a floating barrel to keep from drowning in three feet of water.

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Bandu or Oh Shit, What's the AC for a Cyclops?

After a painfully slow progression, our party meets Bandu. Bandu the cyclops to be precise.

Usually myopic, Ilessa decides to jump in with both…well, she takes a whack at the cyclops. Well, as you can imagine, that doesn’t go over well with Bandu and he proceeds to whack Ilessa back in what can only be described as a shining moment of enlightenment for her. Talking suddenly moved up on the “List of Preferred Methods of Dealing With A Cyclops”. (what, you don’t have a list like that?) Well, it turns out that Bandu isn’t happy. He is having separation issues and doesn’t like being cooped up in the lighthouse. In a deluge of bullshit unequaled, at least so far, the party talks Bandu through his issues. He really does start to feel better about himself, and realizes that his new friends like him for who he is. He decides to follow his own dreams and heads out to return to the woods. (Give it two hours and he’ll be in a Calgon bubble bath with scented candles and mandolin music in the background.)

Before he departs though, Bandu let’s slip the name of his employer: Skamos.

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The Serpent's Eye

As they approach the lighthouse, they observe that the lighthouse is actually part of a larger complex. A long set of stairs leads to the main house. Well, always cautious, the party marches right up the front steps and knocks on the door.

A young boy answers the door and tells the party to go away. He’s not allowed to talk to strangers and, to be honest, there aren’t many stranger than the lot of them. The boy shuts the door. Always thinking outside the box, our party tries a different tactic. They knock again. This time, the boy doesn’t even open the door. Eventually though, he does open the door and the party more or less forces their way in using the Jehovah’s Witness encounter power. Apparently the 12 year old boy is no match for our level 4 heroes. Unfortunately, the boy is a hostage. The upside is that not one member of our party gives a damn about the boy, which has a tendency to reduce hostage value significantly. They attack the eight assorted bandits along with their mage boss. Luckily the perch chosen by the mage was only eight feet high, so Thaerin just yanked his magical ass to a severe beat down. Ilessa found a new squeeze but as usual, the relationship didn’t last. They managed to subdue one of the bandits but he makes a run for it and leaps through the front window. This was actually a pretty good plan for the bandit, you know, getting away and all. He just didn’t know that the window was forty feet above the jagged cliff rocks. C’est La Vie. Luckily the boy survived. So did his mom and several of the city guards but dad was tortured and killed. An unconscious bandit lay on the floor. The party binds him, frees the hostages, scopes the room and returns to question the bandit that killed the father. Unfortunately, mom decides to dole out a little “you killed my man” revenge and now they have a dead bandit where once was an unconscious one. They do find out from one of the hostages that the boss is after the Dragonstar Crystal. Not too sure yet what that is but hey, it’s good to have goals. A glowing barrier prevents our party from investigating the loft so off they go into the middle section of the lighthouse complex.

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Einer's Shining Moment or How To Spring an Ambush

Our party heads to the shrine of Caetas, just north of Perle de Magie, Gorainnes major port city and the conduit for virtually all international trade.

When they arrive, they meet a greasy, twitchy little fellow named Devry LeChar, the mayor of Perle de Magie. He quickly appraises the party and decides his options are limited. It seems that nearly half of the expected cargo ships have failed to arrive. This is unacceptable. He sent several groups of city guards to the lighthouse to investigate but none have returned. Of course, he doesn’t mention that part to the party. “Just check out the lighthouse.” he says “Make sure everything is ok and I’ll pay you 200gp for your trouble.”

Being unemployed and looking for something to do, the party agrees and heads off to the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse. As they travel through the woods, about a mile from the clearing leading to the cliffs where the lighthouse sits, Our party notices a tree blocking the road ahead and someone or something skulking around the tree.

Always on the alert, the party stops the wagon. The wizard Einer leaps from the wagon and, pulling a page from some dead guy’s playbook, shouts “Ok, we know this is an ambush, you can all come out now!” So they do. A dozen goblins pour out of the woods on both sides of the road and, believe it or not, attack the party. In a disgusting display of luck, the party rather quickly dispatches the ambush party and manages to resist killing Einer.

They manage to get the wagon around the giant tree and continue on their way to the lighthouse.

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