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The boats are all next to the ship about ten feet away from where the snake monsters bodies emerge from the water.
Round 2 ______________
__As Bryson’s air elemental self roars toward the ship like a tornado, a rumble of thunder in the distance heralds a lance of lightning into the Hydra, which screams in a many toned rage.
__(NPC) Ghirrak takes the whole round to balance his boat, prevent it from overturning and stopping his passengers from jumping overboard.
___(NPC) Annie, surprised at the attack, recovers and whips out her rapier. As a head comes down to attack, she slashes at it.
___(NPC)Dgrim, surprised at the attack, recovers and unlimbers his axe. As a head comes down to attack, he chops at it.
Spinnaker Jon roars out orders to send the landsmen downbelow and the crew to take ups arms. The deck erupts in even more chaos as people run into each other trying to get to either the hatchways below or the arms racks.
You see the damage done by the lightning and Annie's rapier heal rapidly until there is nothing of it left.
The creature again lunges to make his attacks.
Our story so far:
Having seen a meteor hit the island of Devil’s Elbow, the crimelords of Riddleport send expeditions to recover the skymetal.
What do you do now?
Samaritha helps Sola up to the encampment.
Looking around, you see traces of where the expedition members made a short trip to the edge of the crater. Pitons fix several knotted ropes that lead into the smoke shrouded crater.
Looking across the nearly one mile diameter, you see the lights of a larger encampment across the way. The ridge top trail, miraculously undamaged, is the only reliable way around the crater's edge to it.
You see that the encampment here is dreadfully exposed to any enemies, especially Akatas
Out of the corner of your eye, the smoke swirled; and for just a moment, you could feel the hot gaze of a dark figure on you. But when you snap your head around to look at it, the smoke swirled around it and it's gone. As if it had never been there at all.
Quickly searching through the encampment, you find only one usable tent. The rest of the equipment and personal effects are either smashed, ruined or missing.
Reading through the papers...:
You discover that this was the encampment of the expedition led by Avery Slyeg, Riddleport's most successful smuggler and black marketeer. You know his reputation as one of the lesser crimelords.
He wrote of being first to the crater and finding a great deal of the green skymetal, several hundred pounds at least.
He later wrote of seeing the lights and activity of several other expeditions, and how they were sneaking around them at night.
His last entry was that of a man paranoid; speaking of burying his horde and attacking the other expeditions.
And that was the last entry.
You couldn't actually see the creature itself, so were unable to target it.
With a horrid multi-toned roar, a cluster of seven snake-like creatures erupt from the water next to the Savage Kraken. They are each about as thick as a tree trunk and reach about twenty feet above the water.
Knowledge:Nature DC20 or Knowledge:Arcana DC25:
This thing is actually an aquatic Hydra! If you cut off a head without using fire or acid, two more will grow back real quick!
Almost forgotten in the fight, Llaen remembers what he saw and picked up off the ground.
Opening his hand, you all see the small, penny nail sized shard of strange pale green crystal.
Specificaly, the kind known as Noqual. It is very rare, (despite it's appearance) able to be worked like iron, light, strong, and resistant to magic.
And immensely valuable.
Details on the Campaign Info page.
Zane swung and missed.
Llaen dodged and rolled around his void zombie to get into flank, but the zombie flailed at him...
But behind it, Nakoda slashes her blade sharply. And the void zombies tongue, head, and body fall in separate arcs.
[npc]Bron: attacks the last void zombies.
Out of combat.
You have been in the Vestibule a couple of times before, and you do kind of know what to expect there.
Agrimar or Knowledge:Religion DC15:
You know that with the Haunt in the Vestibule (a Door Slamming Haunt), in order to lay it to rest you must sprinkle a bottle of Holy Water throughout the area and doors, and cast Bless.
You press forward and enter the high ceiling and elegant appointments of the Vestibule.
Detects reveal only background Evil and no magic or traps.
When you get the door open, you realize that both the NE and SE doors lead to the same chamber.
You see no sign of inhabitants, living or dead.
Number 2 faces Zane and lashes out at him.
Number 3 faces Bron and lashes out at him.
The zombies have gone, it's your turn. Take your turn in order of posting.
(The creatures attack.)
Llaen, despite his injury, whips his shortsword out and attacks, putting a deep wound in the zombie that bleeds sluggishly.
Nakoda begins her War Chant.
[npc]Zane: Saving on magic, Zane moves up behind one and uses his cane on one.
[npc]Bron: runs up and attacks one of the void zombies.
Only two remain.
Finding food and water is an easy task for this area. You can easily spot enough food and water for several ships worth of people.
Bonden, Ghirrak and Phillip either jump, climb or slide down into their respective boats, Venkali waiting behind to guide the passengers down from the ship.
Behind them, they hear young Lord Meravachi get into an arguement with Spinnaker Jon, he wanting to lead an expedition himself.
A couple of things catch your eye.
The first is that you see what you had thought was some branches sticking out of the water under the waterfall; you realize now are the main and mizzen masts of a ship.
The second is the peculiar water distortion in the lake is actually the wake of a large underwater creature moving towards the Savage Kraken.
The peculiar wake is 30 yards from your ship. You are 200 yards downrange and 400 feet altitude from your ship.
Making your way through the overcast gloom the courtyard and around to the NW wall. When you climb the stairs up to the execution deck, you see nothing has changed; except fragments of the executioners scythe are no longer there.
North you have not explored.
There are two doors you haven't taken there, one NE and one SE.
Llaen was not surprised, as the sound of a Magic Missile striking flesh behind him.
Two more come at him, but with a rush of barely heard footsteps, Nakoda is suddenly next to him as well. The three zombies face Llaen and Nakoda.
The zombies have gone, it's your turn. Take your turn in order of posting.
Bryson, you see while scouting around…:
You see this little five mile wide (north-south) and one mile deep section of coast is protected very well by the ocean to the east, the cliff to the west, and impassable swamps to north and south.
The area is lightly forested, with none of the triple canopy you would find deeper into the jungle.
With the light forest, the frequent shadow of the cliffs and the onshore breeze, the area is cooler than the tropical norm.
There are also fruited trees and berries available in the undergrowth as well.
You see no sign of large predators; which is kind of a shame as there is an overpopulation of northern wild pigs, probably escapees from a visiting ship. Left unchecked, they could wreck the whole ecosystem here.
The water is mostly clear, you can see a lot of fish, small sharks and gar, with sizable crab.
Two Perception checks please.
Everybody except Llaen:
Standing fifty yards away, you see Llaen proceed up the side trail to the ruined camp. He stops and turns his head this way and that. He seems to notice something; he steps forward and stoops, reaching for something you cannot see.
Behind him, several broken figures stand up from the ground and reach for him...
With general acceptance, Spinnaker Jon nods and has the cabin boy, Tavey Nask, pass the order to Booker at the helm.
The next day the Kraken comes inshore again and searches for the river outflow. After a couple of hours, Bryson tastes freshwater and the ship turns into a well concealed inlet.
With the crew using poles, the ship slowly nosed her way through a shallow river alluvial fan (remarkably well concealed from the sea) before finally emerging into clear water again.
You see a great freshwater pool nearly a mile in diameter, the water a brilliant azure. To the north, south and east, the pool was bounded by low hills with open forests, long grass and flowering bushes. To the west, the continent lifts up more than a hundred feet of cliff. Over it pours the crystal clear waters of the Atikula River in a kaleidoscope of spray down into the pool below. This is a perfect place for a ship to water.
You can see a lot of local plant life bearing all manner of fruits and berries, and you are certain that there must be a fair number of game about as well.
You see no sign of any buildings, or even any sign of people at all.
The ships drops anchor in the middle of the pool, and the colonists (and not a few crewmen) start clamoring to go ashore.
The crew rows you back to the ship quietly, sensitive to the tension amongst the ships partners.
The days pass peacefully as the crew works to repair the battle damage, then the thousand and one tasks a ship needs to stay clean and shipshape.
At night and in clear weather you see strange new constellations rise above the southern horizon, the light hard and brilliant. A mysterious blue-green phosphorescence lights up the Savage Kraken's wake, tracing her sweep through the night.
Occasionally dolphins would play in the foaming bow wave, and once you could swear a mermaid poked her head above the surface to wave at you. Despite the crews demand they circle back, Spinnaker Jon refused; saying it was a very bad idea.
The coast was endless unrelieved jungle. There was no sign of even native barbarians. Only one thing marred the endless green; a giant burned out area, perhaps half a mile wide.
If you go investigate...:
You can see that the surrounding jungle has had several decades of regrowth; but the burned area remains burned. Nothing grows there at all.
Eventually Spinnaker Jon calls the partners to the Captain's cabin.
OK, looks like Llaen approaches alone.
Cautiously, Llaen makes his way along the trail leading to the camp.
At the edge, you stop at look around more closely. Half of the tents are collapsed, and many are torn and shredded (but no cuts or piercings). The sole lantern still gleams fitfully in the overcast daylight on a pole, and the sole campfire is days cold.
You see a number of crates, all smashed open and overturned. You don't see any contents. Were they here to be filled, or were the contents taken?
You see several humanoid bodies laying around the camp, their clothing bloody, dirty and torn. Some without heads or an odd limb and obviously pecked at by carrion birds.
That is an excellent question. I used to use photobucket for maps, but they started shrinking them to the point of unreadability so I abandoned mapping.
Again you face the gates of Harrowstone, and again the weather turns against you. A grey drizzle blankets the area, cold and dank. The same oppressive feeling drapes over your feelings. Nothing else seems to have changed in your absence.
Where would you like to enter? Front door, executioners door, rooftop? Make a hole?
Warily, your party sets off down the Eastern trail. It is overgrown enough to restrict your speed to 3/4.
Track (Survival) DC12:
Aside from infrequent small animal tracks, you see signs of human sized traffic along here, and within the last week.
Nothing jumps out at you.
You note that some of the tents are collapsed and at least one has been burned to the ground. You see no sign of human life.
The smoke smells a bit like... ozone. This usually indicates works of tremendous arcane power.
The track continues east from here as well.
Who, if anyone, is going to go visiting the camp?
The wounded Cyphermage groans as she comes slowly to consciousness under your ministrations.
Hunger gnaws at you. There was no opportunity to eat since you started up from the docks yesterday and there is nothing convenient to eat in the buildings around you.
Along with the switchback trail leading back down to the docks (where you came from), there is an overgrown trail leading eastwards towards the other camps and the crater.
What's the plan?
It is a quiet dawn.
It's unusual that no birds cry to wake with the dawn. In fact, the only avians you can see are some high flying gulls and albatross.
Climbing to the peak of the roof, you can see a panoramic view of the green and verdant island as the early morning mist is swept away by the rising onshore winds. The arc of the island sweeps east and then southeast away from where you are on the rise of land that the little hamlet of Witchlight was built on.
Nearby, about half a mile away, you can see a cluster of tents in a clearing. No movement or other signs of life there that you can see.
Beyond that, more than a mile away, you can see an enormous crater; as if a titan had taken a bite out of the island. Burned foliage surrounds it, and a thin trail of black smoke still drifts up out of it.
Beyond that, maybe a couple of miles, you see a trio of thin white smoke trailing up from the forest.
Survival, any ranks:
Campfires, you're pretty sure.
And at the uttermost end of the island, you can just see the abandoned lighthouse at the far eastern end of the island.
From the peak of the roof in the dark, you can see little except a single light to the east a ways, and a cluster of lights way further east.
The fire eases your aches and warms the chill from your bones. Any temp strength damage taken from swimming in the chill water is healed. You are able to clean a space for each of you to rest and recover for a few hours until dawn. Nothing disturbs your rest.
Despite your best interrogation techniques, Gibs maintains his ignorance of defacing the monument and his unreasonable hate/fear of yourselves in particular.
You feel certain that that with Gibs' capture, the ceremonial magic that was aimed at destroying Vesorianna's ghost has been interrupted at the very least. The escape of Harrowstone's evil spirits has been staved off for the moment.
If someone (or some thing) takes up the bloody letter writing again, all bets are off.
At the top of the slope, the remaining houses of the little hamlet of Witchlight lay around you. It seems smaller somehow with the bulk of the tower now gone, the vastness of the sea now clear under the starlight. It is deathly silent. The shriveled husks of several Akata lay around you; It looks as if they had been trampled during the fight.
At the moment, there are no threats in this area.
Any ranks in Survival:
It is the work of a minute to find a fireplace and fuel in one of the abandoned houses, and a lit fire out of easy sight is enough to warm yourselves up. It will take ten minutes of warming per point of strength lost to recover all the temp strength damage.
You have a clear mental overview of where the western lighthouse is (where you came ashore), the Harbor on the north side is (where the dwarven contingent and your Captain forted up in a Tavern), and here at Witchlight (where the tower used to stand before you rolled down the slope in it).
Less clear is where the other mining encampments are; Samaritha mentioned at least two further to the east, another abandoned lighthouse is supposed to be on the far eastern point of the island, and somewhere is the crater where the star fell.
This is one of the highest spots on the island. If only you could get a look from a higher position than the foliage.
Wait, that roof peak on the old store would be perfect to see the rest of the island from. You would, of course, be able to see a great deal more in daylight than now (about 1 a.m.)
There are overgrown pathways leading north (a switchback down the slope to the Harbor) and east.
With the administration of a potion of healing, the unconscious Cyphermage breathes easier, but is still out cold.
With the Endurance feat, a character would take 10 minutes to lose 1 point of temp Strength loss.
The tower is 90% filled with water; and while it rocks sluggishly back and forth, it shows no sign of rolling any farther into the sea.
When you cross the shallow water to the slope, you find there is no beach; just impassable cliffs to either side and a steep scree covered slope up 200 feet to the top. There are plenty of handholds for climbing, they're just really loose. And it's really dark this time on a moonless night.
For a minute the companions catch their breath on the rounded part of the tower out of the water, rocking gently back and forth in the surf. As the only spot guaranteed safe from the Akata, they are reluctant to leave. But every seventh wave or so washes completely over the tower, soaking them and stealing the heat from their bodies. Eventually, you conclude you have to move.
Kendra confirms that the man's name is Gibs Hephenus, a local farmer.
When awakened and questioned, he seems repulsed at your very existence. He rails and curses at you, screaming for help from the other villagers.
Visiting Gibs' house, you find it to be a filthy shack on some hardscrabble land and stunted crops. He is clearly unmarried and has no farm animals aside from some chickens. A search reveals he is poor even by the standards of a depressed county of poor farmers.
You find under a loose board in the henhouse a bloody straight-razor and a water skin filled with blood.
The tree limbs *creeek* as they unwind under Bryson's spell. A wax sealed bone scroll tube drops free into Bryson's hand.
There is a sheet of foolscap paper with Kaskus Kiel's bold hand inscribed.
Bryson; I'm putting this here just in case you're able to shake free. Liamae scryed for you, but what little she saw said that you got caught by the pirates.
We had no problems getting through the gauntlet. But after we saw what happened to Fort Greenrock, Tolin persuaded Lavinia that you were dead; and without the supplies here we have to move on to the next port at Renkrue.
Myself, I'm not betting against the crew of the Savage Kraken.
Looking at the closest one, you can just barely see a crude manlike fetish made of sticks and twisted vine. You recall the design is much like the wild shamans of the lizard folk. You feel a palpable psychic pressure as you near it. Antipathy perhaps?
Desparately, you try to lift the case pinning Samaritha before she drowns under the inflow of water, but Bron just doesn't have an angle to lift it.
Searching what you can of the tower you find only one of the other Cyphermages still alive; she is severely battered and unconscious though.
Climbing out of the cold water through a windowslit, you emerge on the rounded part of the tower still out of the water under the starlit sky.
What do you do now?
There's a bit more light here, where some trees have been burned and are just now growing back. Flowering vines and bamboo grow everywhere inside the fort now.
The workmanship of the primitive weapons and arrows are lizardfolk. The tribes along the coast here are infamous for their savagery.
Despite hope, no stores remain in Fort Greenrock, nor are there any sign of bodies or survivors of the approximately forty or so monks who had manned the fort here. The battle occurred months ago.
The spell is a very wide area Emotion spell keyed to creatures of less than 4 intelligence. The magic sources up under the tree branches anchor it; removing them would weaken and eventually break the spell.
You realize that's the reason there are so few animals here, and the ones present are so aggressive. When the spell was first set, it would have been impossible for the monks to leave without being eaten. And after the battle, the animals under the influence killed each other. Their carcasses are everywhere.
There is also something odd about the tree blocking the gate.
Druid Level check DC10 or Int DC20:
The branches are twisted into the sigil of Kaskus Kiel, one of the Jade Ravens! There is something trapped in a ball in the middle.