Session 12: Like a Fish on the Hook

The presumed leader of the raiding pirates stepped upon the main deck of the Primo Santos Family ship and began to mutilate the boarding party from the Steelsnout with a flaming greataxe. Men fell rapidly to the brutish leader as he cleft men in twain. Avaniel Cerelion taunted the burly pirate, causing him to rush his way to the boarding ropes while hacking those in his way. Seeing his chance, Bu-Jinwen Nivaye attempted to lull the pirate into a cursed sleep. The pirate steadied his resolve and managed to cross the rope before Avaniel could move to sever it. Seeing the dangerous combatant cornering his allies, Jozan retreated back to the Steelsnout to help manage the carnage that the flaming axe would surely bring, leaving Aldrazan and Captain Telletar Jacob to fend off the mob of murderous buccaneers on the other deck.

Pushed to a corner and hurt badly from the searing flames of the wicked pirate’s weapon, Avaniel jumped from the side of the ship. With pursuit an ill suited option, the pirate leader turned his fury upon Jozan, who was quickly hacked down to helplessness. Meanwhile, Avaniel struggled in his metal armor to make progress towards the accommodation ladder a crewmate had thrown down to him. Bu-jinwen thought quickly about his next move and settled on summoning a swarm of spiders to assail the fearsome opponent. Infuriated by this action, the pirate stumbled his way out of the swarm towards the son of Nivaye. Jacob and Aldrazan continued to battle through the swath of enemies on the other ship, gathering wounds from their greatly outnumbering opponents. Bu-jinwen required time for something to happen in the Steelsnout’s favor, and so he issued a command imbued by magic which forced the pirate leader’s actions. Struggling to control his body, the brute was forced to run back from the warlock before regaining his composure.

Suddenly, the cargo hull door blast open upon the deck of the Steelsnout as Kaspar Ottokar fired off a Drachen Darm. He encouraged Bu-jinwen to lure him closer or buy some time so the weapon could be brought to bear on the fearsome pirate leader. A pair of siege engineers rushed upon the deck and began dropping harnesses into the hull of the ship to bring the mighty weapon up. On the opposing ship, Captain Jacob fell to the final pair of pirates left. Aldrazan, fearing for his captain’s safety, pressed on and successfully defeated the duo. Rushing to Jacob’s side, he assisted in helping the captain recover. The pair then made their way back to the Steelsnout to deal with the ravenous pirate overlord. Bu-jinwen ran about the ship as the Drachen Darm was brought on deck. As the pirate leader chased the warlock, he cut down a pair of Steelsnout sailors before being bombarded in synthetic dragon fire. Bones and organs laid bare, the pirate trudged his way to cover behind a main mast and drank a potion which rejuvenated his body somewhat.

Continuing the chase to Bu-jinwen, the pirate was very careful to place himself behind the mast and out of the line of fire of the dangerous siege weapon. Jacob and Aldrazan had made their way on to the ship and moved to corner the demon of a sailor. Jacob took the lead, drawing the pirates attention with measured strikes from his keen blade. Luring his opponent to the edge of the ship, the captain hopped over the side of the ship, holding onto the bulwark, as the Drachen Darm let loose another stream of fire. Only a pile of fat, ashes, and gear remained of the fierce opponent.

Another boarding crew was assembled to delve deeper into the deck of the ship. After a cursory loot of the pirates, the group went into the hull of the ship to find the officers and captain tied up. The captain of the vessel, Diegas Altresca, said that the boat’s name was the Lady in Waiting. The ship was returning to Ailead from a prolonged trip at sea and was unaware the pirates on Easthaven Island had become so bold in their absence. He also mentioned that the pirates referred to a leader named Adaxus whose orders they had been following. Avaniel continued further below deck to find a locked cargo door with voices coming from within. Questioning Diegas, the captain assured the ranger that the sounds coming below deck were indeed his men. Prying the hinges from the deck with the help of some of the officers, and dodging a trap, Avaniel was able to free the crew. Jozan went on deck to start sorting out the useful gear from the pirates before casting the bodies overboard.

Altresca and Aldrazan pondered at the possibility of a spy being on the Lady in Waiting. The ships on the water had moved expertly to block the path of the Primo Santos vessel, buying time for reinforcements. The progress of the ship itself seemed labored as small things kept breaking from sail ascent ropes, to problems with the rigging, to a jamming at the helm. Searching the recruitment logs, Kaspar and Avaniel seemed to note the odd nature of one of the crew’s name. Realizing the very real possibility of a false identity, the group moved to the quarters of the man in question. Finding a puzzle book in the man’s room, Avaniel was able to decipher a code among the puzzle (in Items section). After some thought, the group decided the Blues mentioned could possibly be the frost giants of the Molagona Mountains that Roger had mentioned at the grand aqueduct. Who were these Grays though? Who was CR?

The questions continued to to gather as Altresca presented the group with a trio of magical items to assist them in the rough climate of northern Urima. After looting the pirate’s gear aboard the Lady in Waiting, the group returned to the Steelsnout to access and distribute the loot of the fearsome pirate leader. Although the ship was damaged, the captain and passengers decided it would be best to try to continue the journey and race to Northlight for repairs. The companions then settled in for the night.

Awakening the next morning, the crew was surprised by a giant anchor protruding from a black rip in the prow of the ship, near the water. Though no signs of damage appeared on the ship, the chain was holding the Steelsnout in place on the water, only a few hours distance away from the dangerous Easthaven Island and its pirates. After discovering a strong magic at the heart of the anchor’s existence, Avaniel tried his best to melt the chain with magic acid. Failing this, and discovering no way to deal with the anchor on the top side of the water, Jozan decided to make his way into the depths to try and discover what the anchor looked like on the sea floor.

Transforming into a gar, Jozan swam down the length of the chain. he grew closer and closer to the dark depths when he heard a tapping resonating through the metal of the chain. Jozan slowed and gathered in his surroundings, turning just in time to spot a ghastly, sickly looking humanoid covered in tattered clothes and seaweed racing towards him. Jozan shook off his initial shock, swimming quickly to the surface to escape, and struggled through the clawed hands on the creature on many occasions. Seeing that capturing the slippery druid would prove difficult, the creature ripped at the scales and fins of the fish. Once Jozan reached the surface, Avaniel was able to discern the danger his companion was in and let fly an arrow. The missile pierced the water with no efficacy against the waterborne creature. The creature moved to escape as it conjured an image of dread in Jozan’s mind. Luckily, Jozan again reasserted his steely will to escape the attack, and he was quickly pulled aboard.

The danger in the water was menacing. With little options at their disposal for removing the anchor, the crew thought to prepare for a hasty escape. There was a strong likelihood that the pirates of Easthaven would come to retaliate against the Steelsnout, and there was no doubt they would catch the Ryin ship given the anchor weighing them to the ocean floor. Reluctantly, Bu-jinwen suggested perhaps bargaining with the pirates. With much weighing on the group’s mind, they settled in for the night. In the middle of the night, a call came out that the anchor had disappeared. The companions and crew worked rapidly to raise the sails, but just as the wind filled the sturdy cloth, a sudden shock brought the boat again to a halt. After some thought and exploration, Bu-jinwen surmised that the new anchor was probably on the bottom of the boat. Looking out in the night sky, Jozan could only look nervously to Easthaven, where signal lanterns were being lit and boats streamed steadily into the caverns in Molagona bearing supplies.

Session 11: Departure

While loading the final cargo into the hull of the Steelsnout, Aldrazan and Captain Jacob spoke concerning a last minute passenger for the trek to Urima. The captain commented that this new acquisition was bringing with him exotic weaponry that would surely aid the crew during the voyage at sea. Aldrazan seemed uneasy at the prospect of taking a passenger who would pay a great sum, but the captain seemed unmoved by his concerns or unwilling to pass up such a sum of gold.

A half dozen rowboats plowed through the waters to the boat, each bearing a long crate bound in metal. The final passenger made his ascent up the accommodation ladder, and Avaniel, Bu-Jinwen, and Jozan were relieved to see the usual bumbling figure of Kaspar Ottokar step aboard. Greeting the men, Kaspar called the captain and siege engineers together to display the new inventions bound for Thiminoor. After a startling display of the Drachen Darm siege weapon, the group took to the deck to watch the royal escort of the Court Dancer, Star Serpent, and Ivory Crest depart from the docks of Ailead.

Looking back at the great skyline and rich buildings of Ailead, the companions felt as though they were leaving a bit of yourself in this town. There, the grand statues of Farmourn and Yueya could be seen atop their respective twin minarets. Farmourn’s gaze looked to the north, as though bidding the group farewell on a new journey. Yueya’s back faced away, almost saddened to see the heroes leave to new places. Through the walkways of the Noble District nearby the temples was the great aqueduct. There, the faces of the line of Eldenberry stared out to sea. Though difficult to see in the greatest of detail, the companions felt the stone eyes upon them on their voyage. The quality of the traveler’s ambassadorship would be tested in time, they were sure.

The marble structures of the Republic Authority rose gracefully and uncluttered on their plateau. Looking at the statues of the pantheon about the perimeter, Jozan, Avaniel, and Bu-jinwen recalled how nervous they had been going there. They remembered the grand stacking arches, the packed waiting galleries, the sheer presence of the Tribunal Council with their eyes upon the trio in the midst of the Republic Amphitheater. They recalled back to the marvelous statue they had first beheld returning to the city after dealing with Bertram Garret, the crazed huntsman. They remembered the statue that seemed its twin in the halls of the amphitheater.

Nivaye, Cerellion, and the surnameless druid reflected on the people. Augustin Gonzalo, who gave them their first steps towards this new freedom. Alexander Scipio, his young student, who’s keen wit and consideration had brought them further into the paths of the nobility. Captain Junipero Olegario, who seemed so busy, not out of malice, but out of genuine concern for the citizens during the attacks of Ludovic and the dark creeper incursions. Ludovic… what were his masters planning? Would the group ever discover? The noble son of Primo Santos came to mind as well, the man concerned with handling the great charge of his family.

The reflection pulled a bit at the adventurers. At the very least, Kaspar would accompany them into new experiences. New experiences… the trio wondered if they might share them with Roger sometime as well? The mystery of the huntsman still weighed heavily on the seabound companions. They wondered why in their stomachs, in their hearts, Roger elicited the same feeling as the one they had looking upon Shalecore in his final moments, or when they looked upon the sketches of runes they still carried. Those runes… a war of night… a symbol of magic more ancient than the incantations used to decipher the most powerful of scrolls… It was all unsettling. Maybe the answers to everything, a rune outside a cave that drove men mad, a stone leader cast down from the sky, an intriguing and anguished huntsman, could all be found in Urima. They could only hope. The coast faded off, Ailead shrinking from view, but the memories would always be there. Only the pristine waters and the Molagona Mountains would be home for now.

Passing a small outcropping of the mountains, the group discovered an alcove sheltering a small island. Small huts and makeshift docks could be spotted on the sandy shore. Behind the tiny sandbar, A large cavern lie dark in the mountainside of Molagona. Enormous and mysterious as it was, Jozan was taken from his revelry by the sight of a Primo Santos family ship under attack from a trio of ships. Taking charge, Captain Jacob commanded the crew of the Steelsnout to action. With the aid of the Drachen Darm weaponry, the crew was able to sink the pirate vessels while Jozan, Avaniel, and Bu-jinwen worked to clear the decks of opposing ships, deal with fires, and tend to the wounded.

Preparing to storm the deck of the Primo Santos ship, the boarding crew grew concerned at the surprising silence. With their boarding platforms ruined from the siege warfare, ropes were set on the friendly ship to get people aboard. Upon making it across, Captain Jacob quickly found himself in serious danger after it was discovered a pit in the middle of the deck concealed a squad of raiders. Avaniel began to open fire from the deck of the Steelsnout to lend support. As with the open water combat so soon passed, he was having particular difficulty firing past the bulwark of the huge trade ship. Jozan called upon his new ties to the natural world, warping his form into an eagle to provide harassment. Many of the Steelsnout crew found it difficult to cross the makeshift rope bridges. Many fell into the dark water. Bu-jinwen tried to rally more Steelsnout crew inside to fight or help. The nimble Ryin sailor Jacob dodging many blows buying time until Aldrazan could cross the ropes and assist him. Much to the concern of the First Mate was a pirate whom had taken to swashbuckling on the rope with him.

With chaos all about, and danger flowing freely through blood, who would triumph?

Session 10: Off to Sea

With transportation secured to Urima, Bu-Jinwen Nivaye, Avaniel Cerelion, and Jozan took a moment to examine their spoils of the last few days. Jozan was able to determine that a scabbard and cloak he had been carrying had magical properties. Although the scabbard remained a mystery, the cloak had protective properties. Surprisingly, Jozan noted that the sketches he had been holding of the runes of the Mouth of Chaos and Shalecore had very strong magic in them as well. With this knowledge, the group went out to sell their items, and Jozan left to bid Jang farewell.

Taking the camel to the Aperture of Dom’s Dignity, Jozan asked his companion if he would make the journey with them somehow. The camel saw great danger in the path Jozan walked and questioned if the druid understood how much peril he might be in. Jozan agreed it would be a difficult road ahead across the ocean, but it was a journey he could not ignore. Jang then commented that he worried for the druid. The worry stemmed from the runes he had made and showed around to others. The camel felt uneasy, scared even, of the things every time he saw them. Jozan found this odd but put it aside to have a more happy departure with his friend. Jozan returned to his life of wandering. Jang returned home.

The group neglected to follow up on the clues given to them by the spy earlier in the day and settled on camping outside the city until their journey the next morning. After an uneventful night, the group made their way to the docks and were transported to the Steelsnout just off the port. There the group settled in and awaited the anchor to be raised and their journey to begin.

Session 9: To the Sea at Last

Seeing little left to do the day before their big meeting at the Republic Amphitheater the next day, Avaniel Cerelion, Bu-Jinwen Nivaye, and Jozan spent the next half of the day in rest. Upon waking, they took in a meal and went to the Primo Santos Estate to find Sosimo Primo Santos. The house guards remarked that the young master had went to the Republic Amphitheater earlier to wait for his appointment.

The group went to the grand seat of the Tribunal Republic and went through the halls, noting a statue of a man that resembled the same person portrayed in the Fountain of Indomitable Spirit. A clerk at a reception area escorted the group to the waiting gallery where they met with Sosimo to discuss the senators they had rallied to their cause.

With the senators taking their first recess, the group wandered about to find any more senators that might be out to lunch. They learned that typically during public assembly days, the senators take meals in the amphitheater rest areas to avoid angered petitioners. However, the group did track down Horatio the Red once again. After talking a bit with him, he agreed to give support to the Primo Santos cause if they could win a game of Bathort against him. Luck was not on the side of Jozan in the first game, but Avaniel managed to edge of the foreman dwarf in a close match to garner his favor in the Republic of Ailead.

The group returned to the waiting gallery. After a short time, a clerk came in to escort the group to the awaiting Tribunal Republic. Avaniel thought it prudent to use his magic to disguise his heritage. After spending a few moments to clean themselves up in a small preparation corridor, the group was announced and pleaded their case. The group based their arguments on the need for Primo Santos to maintain financial stability through continued exports to Urima. They also mentioned the good works of the family through the knightly orders and the employment of many individuals. A few senators argued that Primo Santos could maintain his livelihood easily on their textile business, a fact that the representatives stumbled upon to answer appropriately.

They decided to shift their argument slightly, stating that limiting trade to the far ports in Western Daramis and Ryin was hindering the growth of Ailead and punishing worker wages. If costs increased due to longer travel distances and prolonged terms between payments, it was reasonable to assume many workers would lose pay or lose work. This particularly seemed to intrigue the Merchant Quarter senators. Another rebuttal was posed. If the exception based on exporting was allowed to Primo Santos ships, then how would the Republic respond to scrutiny of favoritism from the other major exporting concerns. Bu-jinwen stated that the Primo Santos had be honorable in their dealings with Ailead and the affairs of Eastern Daramis and should be rewarded. He also stated that the adventurers should be trusted as reputable judges of character given their writs of recommendation from various people of Ailead. The Republic convened.

The group waited in the wash hall. There, Roger waited in a chair with a pair of guards at the entrance door. The old huntsman remarked that he too was seeking exemption so that he and a friend could meet other friends of his in the far eastern lands. The group found it odd that Roger knew of their arrangement with Sosimo, but they dismissed it readily given how much the man had aided them in this strange time of their lives. Avaniel, fearing the reaction of the senators if his true heritage were known after his magic wore off, excused himself.

Going back into the amphitheater pit, the verdict was announced to the representatives. The civilians, seeing fairly little benefit to their own concerns, judged the cause unworthy. The merchants seemed to have great concerns both directions and were unable to reach an agreement. That left the Tribunal Council member serving the Merchant Quarter, Gazanfer Ulfi, to issue a decree of worthiness. The count was one to one among the assemblies. The adventurers waited to note the outcome of the Noble District vote. The nobles voted the cause worthy. Two to one in assemblies, the only thing left was to see if the Tribunal might vote conservatively to disallow the exemption. A huge elation washed over Jozan and Bu-jinwen as the Tribunal unanimously approved the proposal.

Sosimo was equally excited to hear the news. He thanked the group and issued them their writ, offering a place to work if they so desired. Bu-jinwen declined, stating he needed to return to Urima in all haste. Jozan found the pull of wanderlust to great to ignore, and Avaniel was excited at the prospect of a place focused on magic. Sosimo understood and left the offer withstanding should they decide otherwise. He bid the group goodbye.

The group went to the port authority and turned in their writs. the harbormaster told them it would take a day to settle their affairs and suggested the group find a ship to ferry them. Many ships were stuck in Ailead given the embargo, enough to flood the docks and the surrounding coastal waters. Four ships were available. Three of the were the royal escorts for King Nerod Eldenberry and thus unusable. That left the Steelsnout. The portmaster told the group the captain’s surname of Jacob and suggested searching the bars in the Port District for signs of the crew. After learning a bit about their journey and some of the close northern ports of Urima, the group was off.

After a short foray to the Salty Catfish, the group learned the crew of the Steelsnout frequented the Sturgeon’s Stein. Jozan recalled passing the bar and led. At the bar, the group quickly learned of the captain. Bu-jinwen wasted little time talking with the captain and setting his travel preparations in order. When Avaniel tried the same, he was met with a reply from the captain labeling him a dirty, treacherous drow that he would not speak to, let alone offer passage. Jozan, unknowing of this style of bigotry, was flustered. Going outside, Avaniel spoke briefly about the difficulties of being half drow and what of his history he recalled.

Jozan offered to look for different avenues to Urima, but Bu-jinwen insisted he would not be able to wait. He argued that if his companions wished to go to Urima in any type of speed, they would not be able to wait on Sosimo’s ships to prepare. Jozan was frustrated, but he knew the warlock had a point. He once again went into the bar to speak with the captain. He tried to be amiable to the man, learning he was from Ryin and a sailor for quite a while. the druid said he wished to see the world, but he would not do so while abandoning Avaniel. The captain thought the proposition of befriending anything associated with the drow was foolish, but he agreed to ferry the group for a fee of two hundred gold coins, over three times the amount which the others would pay. Jozan acquiesced, paying the fair.

A new issue was discovered when Captain Jacob stated his boat could not ferry animals. Jozan was greatly saddened that he might lose his good companion, Jang. After speaking about where the group would travel to, it was decided either Conception or Thiminoor would do. The captain would not sail the dangerous waters near Citadel North. The captain parted with Jozan, telling the druid to watch his back around the half drow claiming friendship.

Outside, the group prepared to move out to sell their horses, and Jozan pondered what to do about his camel, Jang. Roger greeted the group as a royal carriage rolled passed the streets deeper into the city. Roger pointed out a spy on a rooftop looking down upon the group. The adventurers tried to pursue. Bu-jinwen was quickly left behind trying to flag down a carriage to chase. Avaniel had trouble finding stable footing to climb up to the rooftops for ease of following. Jozan climbed up a building and jumped about on the rooftops to catch the spy. He read the cloaked figure’s movement tendencies. The druid climbed down and cut into an alley to cut off the spy. Avan finally made his way onto the roof, leaping about the structures. Unable to see where Jozan or the quarry went, he was at a loss. Jozan entered a small area occupied by a crowd of people. He managed to spot the creature trying to blend in at a cafe.

The two continued the chase up an oceanside building. Jozan drew his weapons to threaten the cloaked creature as it was cornered, thinking it might be associated with the dark creepers. He demanded for the meaning of the humanoid’s presence. The creature replied by falling off into the ocean and escaping under the docks. Jozan picked up a note in an unfamiliar language the spy had dropped. Avan found a flier to Renard’s Sextant dropped by the creature as well.

Returning to the Sturgeon’s Stein to a Roger coming out, the group considered their next move. Roger voiced sympathy for Jozan regarding Jang. The veteran said that perhaps it was best that a person should stay where they felt at home and at ease. Perhaps it was time to see Jang off for new adventures. The hunter then was off. Bu-jinwen questioned if he truly was only a hunter. The other companions thought perhaps he was merely a war hero in retirement like Augustin Gonzalo given their relations.

Session 8: A War in Hand

After arranging their deal with Sosimo Primo Santos; Avaniel, Bu-Jinwen, and Jozan began their journey to the Republic District in Ailead to speak with senators in order to rally support. While the group knew they would get their writ of recommendation regardless if they managed to assist the noble, the group understood that working with the senators would be much safer than assaulting the pirates stationed at Easthaven Island. While making their way to the Republic Amphitheater to discover where some senators could be found in a public setting, the group encountered the supernatural.

Three objects sped across the skies above Ailead, raising alarms across the town as they went. Covered by a cloud of white that trailed far behind them, the objects were unidentifiable and approaching quickly. The group tried their best to arm, hide behind a fountain, and prepare as the object crashed into the courtyard near them. Upon a thunderous collision, a cloud washed over the surrounding area, causing many in the vicinity to become sick from inhalation of a dirty, fine salt. Three large stone bodies lie on the floor motionless when the cloud cleared, surrounded by small pillars of salt and demon-like creatures sporting jagged protrusions of the white crystals.

Guards made their way from the barracks to the north of the scene, weapons drawn, prepared to do battle with the demonic looking figures. Jozan quickly concealed the party from view with a spell of magical mist, but it also blocked the vision of all within. This made assessment of the situation much harder. Avaniel peeked out from the cloud to catch the guards engaging the beasts, who seemed to be working in a defensive formation around the three fallen rock creatures. See the battle ensue with swords, poleaxes, crossbows, and purifying salt breath, Avaniel let fly an arrow that bounced off the flying monster’s rocky hide. Bu-jinwen stayed in the cloud since he had little information on what was truly happening, but did cast a spell to try to listen to what the creatures might say.

Jozan’s mind continued to fumble with how to deal with the situation at hand. He grabbed for his armor quickly, and he began to try to don it. Avaniel tried again to shoot another arrow to the same effect as the previous. The guards noted the inefficacy of their weapons and suggested the crossbowmen use their magic bolts instead. The salt monsters continued to breath their salt shards and rend the soldiers with their wicked claws. Bu-jinwen had seen little use in staying in the fog and left it, calling out as guards well around him to the group. He then bolstered his defenses with all haste.

The largest rock creature began to stir slightly as Jozan dropped his armor to pull another weapon. He was clearly unfocused in his attempts to deal with the scene. Avaniel finally achieved the first bit of minor success in damaging the creatures slightly, while the guards continued to struggle to put an offense together. The demons began to unleash a terrifying attack which ripped the very liquid from the bodies of those surrounding them. Bu-jinwen called out as more fell, and he attempted to cause misfortune upon the creatures since he thought them demons, as thus resistant to forms of sleep. Shock caught Bu-jinwen as he noticed the creatures speaking in a strange method of scratching their hard, crusted skin together to communicate. His previous spell allowed him to understand they were clearly trying to defend the larger rock creatures. He learned that the largest was named Shalecore.

Jozan regretted his decision and attempted to don his armor again while running out of the cloud. He finally gave up on the proposition and determined to fight the creatures with little protection if necessary. Avaniel was able to stop one of the salt creatures that had been absorbing the full brunt of the guard’s assault at this time. Jozan threw a spear to try to assist the troops around, and Jang moved to enter the fray. Bu-jinwen called out for the guards to halt their attack, but to little effect. He then fell from his horse and feigned death to avoid being attacked. Avaniel tried to stop the guards as well, but to no effect as well. The demons started to finish off the current force of guards using their dehydration ability with greater frequency.

Shalecore began to stir, and the great giant issued an order to fall back that only Bu-jinwen caught. With the guards still engaging, Shalecore gave the order to fell the men but not kill them. his servants did so, and the rest of the group took the Nivaye heir’s advice and attempted to show no hostility to the creatures. Shalecore crawled to Jozan, leaking quicksilver from a large fissure on the being’s torso. He crawled up to the druid, and tried to make his plea as his servants went to intercept a new force of troops.

The large rock man showed Jozan a symbol carved in pyrite on his hand. Not fully understanding, Jozan said nothing. The great rock creature then struggled to indicate the sky. The group was still somewhat perplexed. Lastly, he ground obsidian from his hand and drizzled it, moving his hand across the sky as he did so. The creature then perished, crumbling into a pile upon the courtyard as his servants were slain and turned into salt pillars. Jozan copied the pyrite symbol, and the group was off. Bu-jinwen questioned Jozan about the scroll. When he viewed it, he claimed the symbol meant something close to “war” in Common. He also surmised the beast was trying to indicate night with his gestures. A war tonight, a war of night, night war, warring nights? The group was unsure what the significance was of Shalecore’s message.

The group went to the Amphitheater, and they were informed the senators of the Republic of Ailead were on their first break of the day. They were indicated to try the communal garden, the meeting halls, and other places to find senators. The group did so and worked to try to rally Adalet al’Asuman, Horatio the Red, Leticia Sancha, Rodrigo Ojuegas, and Kieran al’Jabal to the cause of the Primo Santos family. They managed to get support from all but Horatio. Feeling satisfied with their performance, the Republic’s break had ended. Avaniel traveled to Augustin Gonzalo’s estate to speak with the old man about copying some spells for study. The others contemplated any next moves before their meeting with the Tribunal Republic occurred near midday tomorrow.

Session 7: The Monster Within

After that had completed their exploration and mapping of the dark creeper cave, Avaniel, Bu-Jinwen, and Jozan gathered their loot, Jang and horses and began the trek back to the city of Ailead. Once there, they reported to Junipero Olegario about their success. The group found him in the middle of organizing his troops to scour the sewers for explosives and assessing weaknesses in the city’s defense structure. He was particularly worried by the premise of a new type of mundane explosive. Such a thing would be difficult to uncover without extreme care. The captain then informed the group he would dispatch outriders to examine and verify the group’s work before he would issue them the writ they sought.

Bu-jinwen became very distraught and impatient with the whole process of acquiring passage to Urima. He was very much in a hurry to discover what happened to his mother and wanted desperately to be on his way, even going so far as to suggesting stealing a boat to Urima if necessary. Cooler heads prevailed, for now, but Bu-jinwen still made it a point to acquire a map that they could use to get their bearings. Going to a travel cartographer’s shop, he obtained a map that showed the major cities and layout of Daramis, the northern part of Perosh and the Urima western coast.

Concluding with their side trip, the allies made their way to the noble district to speak with Sosimo Primo Santos. Making their way up the hill that bordered the Hospitality District and Noble District, the group saw a pair of grand, tiered minarets dedicated to Farmourn and Yueya. The two were connected by a stacked pair of arch bridges, the topmost one connecting to the grand aqueduct that stretched towards the east to the Molagona Mountains. Upon passing the temples, the group encountered Roger and a traveling caravan carrying exotic animals to a new attraction, a “zoo”, created by a dwarven noble, Baranzar. Jozan studied the strange animals as best he could until wonder turned to terror about the roads.

A group of frost giants atop the aqueduct let loose a volley of stones which broke open one of the covered cages, releasing a dire hyena. Roger called for the group to address the hyena while he boldly leaped onto a building and scrambled up to a third story window with amazing speed. The giants levelled their aim to intercept him when next he appeared. Avaniel fired a mighty shot at the Hyena which flew cleanly into the beast, and Jozan tried his best to land a scraping blow with a thrown shortspear. The dog retaliated by rushing to Avaniel, and Jang was unable to stop the creature as it bit deep into the half- elf ranger’s stomach and pushed through, tripping him. Avaniel’s horse assisted in the assault as best it could by biting about the hyena. Bu-jinwen attempted to twist the fate of the beast, but the creature proved too resilient. Jang came to the aid of the fallen ranger by unleashing a sickening spit on the large beast.

Meanwhile, A loud scream from the woman’s dressing room Roger had jumped into indicated he was on the move. The huntsman got a running start and hopped from the windowsill of the building he climbed into. The blue skinned invaders unleashed a brutal payload towards the bearded, beret wearing huntsman. To the allies’ amazement, the wily veteran managed to evade the attacks and land upon the side of the temple to Farmourn. He continued his ascent up the new structure while digging in his belt pouches for a rope and grappling hook.

Avaniel struggled to his feet while the sickened hyena snapped ineffectually at his feet. The ranger backed up and fire, commanding his horse to take the front. Jozan quickly produced the healing wand he had and began treating Avaniel’s deep wounds. Unfortunately, Avaniel’s horse was no match for the strength of the enemy as jaws ripped at its front leg quarters and dragged it to the ground. Avaniel’s horse attempted to stand and was quickly injured by a bite to the neck. The mount started to bleed out. Bu-jinwen tried to fire a crossbow at the creature to little avail and pondered his next action. Jang continued to assault, biting powerfully on the skull of his prey.

Roger continued his theatrical journey towards the frost giants atop the aqueduct, using his grappling hook to create a climbing path to the top of the aqueduct. While he swung from the side of the temple, the rock throwers occupying the high ground mightily heaved their next volley. Roger defied all odds by spinning upside down to dodge the first stone while lobbing a black ball in retaliation. Continuing his motion, the upside down Roger began pushing himself up the rope with a lightning like speed. Upside down, and climbing up the rope, he moved fast enough to actually avoid the last two stones.

Roger’s own projectile sailed towards one of the creatures, who nonchalantly catched the ball. Laughing, the being reeled back his arm to throw his new ‘rock’ back at its unfortunate owner. Much to the surprise of the creature and its companions, the catcher’s arm detonated under an explosive force, spraying blood, fingers and bits of bone all about. Arm muscles and red fluid plopped down on the street level. Roger seemed to be reaching the top overpass some sixty feet about street level. The onlookers could only marvel at the potential of the man.

Back on street level, the Avaniel staunched the blood flow of his mount’s wound as best he could. Jozan continued to play medic. The hyena continued to rip at the still horse while Bu-jinwen managed to dig deep and hex the creature to sleep. Jang quickly ripped at the beast with his bite, finishing it.

Roger disappeared over the top of the overshadowing structure above. The raiders went to meet him and the loud sound of their brutal, tribal warcry was not missed by any present. This cry was responded to with a murderous, blood boiling roar that those in attendance assumed came from Roger. The sound of it though was so full of pain, so full of strength, so ancient and so primal. The sound after was anything but inspiring. A scream resounded from the giants, it frightened all the living creatures around to hear the noise, let alone see or experience whatever horror had befallen the huge behemoths. Woman started to cry with fear and became silent, quieting their previous screams. The men looked equally terrified, shaking noticeably on rubbery legs. At that moment, all around had a rapport, no matter how slight, with the others experiencing this event.

The sounds died off, replaced with the sound of a man pounding the remains of his foes into paste on granite stone with a hunting axe. Then, there was silence. After a brief moment in retrospect of the events, the surrounding nobles applauded the adventurers. Roger made his way back into the temple and started his descent down. The group tended to their wounds as Roger exited the temple. He seemed to care much less for the events being noble as others were. The grizzly man brushed the dirt and bits of bone from his outfit, an outfit that held onto trickles of blood throughout. He slumped his way to a stone bench not far from the scene and began to smoke from his pipe. Blood ran from fingertip to bicep on his arm in a splashed pattern. The look on his face was tired, weary in the way a war jaded veteran appeared when he retired from the battles of a bloody day.

Roger assured Jozan that it was okay to approach. The druid asked the old fighter if he needed help which Roger assured him he did not. Roger said the giants were probably from Molagona. Roger then decided he would eat and rest, giving the party directions to the house of Primo Santos. It began to become late in the day, but the party continued on to seek an audience with Sosimo. They found their path blocked by the house guards. While they understood that the group was directed here by Alexander Scipio, they barred entrance from seeing the Primo Santos Family to the rugged and slovenly looking adventurers.

The group went into the market to acquire new clothes, sell new gear, and resupply. Avaniel felt the need to pick up more magic was becoming a necessity and invested in a spellbook to study. The group grabbed their recommendation from Olegario, and Avaniel and Bu-jinwen went to make camp while Jozan went to change coins. At the Rule of Gold al’Ailead, Jozan mistakenly included unmarked coins from the adventure in Anvil Crawler Brake. Guards were sent to address the situation with an official. Luckily, a note found with the coins corroborated Jozan’s story, and he was rewarded for bringing the coins and news of the dead individual back. The day concluded, and, for the next two days the group rested.

The party returned in new attire to meet with Sosimo. This time, the guards escorted them right in to the grand estate to speak with their patron. They found Sosimo discussing some sort of business with a man named Anatoly Olnarov. Explaining their desire to reach Urima, Sosimo made a proposition. Currently, the embargo threatened the financial stability of the Primo Santos trade empire. Requiring an exemption from this, the noble offered the group to go in his stead to the Tribunal Republic. He asked the allies to rally enough of the senators there allow Primo Santos ships to escape the boycott.

If the companions failed, they were to use the noble’s writ as influence to acquire passage on a ship. From there, Sosimo planned to orchestrate a halt on the ship’s journey near Easthaven Island. A band of privateers there had been raiding private, secret ports and sinking ships from the Primo Santos private fleet. The group and agent were to deal with the pirates, either through violence or coercion, and stop them from attacking Primo Santos ships.

The group agreed. Jozan openly expressed a concern over their ability to argue the cause of a family they knew little about. Sosimo suggested trying to figure out what senators wanted and play with that. He assured Jozan that his family was genuinely a group of good people, many of whom served in the prestigious knight order, Alariel’s Knights of the Blessed Peace. The group had a new mission, and Urima began to look easily within grasp.

Session 6: A New Type of Weapon

The group of Avaniel, Bu-Jinwen, and Jozan continued their search for the coastline base of the dark creepers that Ludovic had described in his scroll to Captain Junipero Olegario. The group followed tracks and signs of passing travelers to find the well hidden cave among the porous, black, flat boulders to the east, roughly six miles up the coast.

The entrance seemed unguarded, and the howling of the coastal breeze mixed with that of the subterranean air made for good auditory cover for their entrance. Sneaking in carefully, the lack of light in the cavern proved a burden throughout due to the twisting nature of the tunnels blocking much of any light source the party had produced. A scout was discovered by the adventurers, whom was alerted at the same time and attempted to engage with the intruders. Bu-jinwen quickly used his dark influence to crumble the creature to sleep before it was dispatched swiftly.

Jozan moved deeper into the tunnels, discovering a kitchen with two working creatures. His movement was concealed well due to the preoccupation of the creepers with the day’s meal currently cooking, well enough to allow magic that empowered the druid’s muscles with supernatural strength. However, he crept to closely, and the duo was alerted to his presence, calling other creepers to arms from another distant room. Bu-jinwen slept one of the creatures, but the other moved to fight Jozan. In the back of the cavern, the original scout erupted into a flash of stunning light which reveled nothing to the party.

The pair of dark creepers from the storage area moved quickly to the kitchen, and all three of the small humanoids jabbed their poison coated daggers at Jozan. The poison crept into Jozan’s veins, weakening the woodland native despite his magic. From the rear, footsteps could be heard quickly approaching. Bu-jinwen, seeing their cover was blown, and the need for vision as paramount, cast magical light upon the area, revealing a pack of the enemies to the rear.

The group continued to push back the tide of dagger wielding foes until a pair of them, one on each side, erupted into a blinding light which had everyone but Jozan reeling back with blindness. The allies found themselves digging deep into reserves of courage not to run away and to hold the line. As the blindness began to leave the combatants, two of the wretched thieves ran off as they saw the tide going unfavorably. Sword and spear continued to diminish the numbers of the dark creepers until the group noted the absence of two of them. Attempting to follow, they quickly met with the realization that the creatures had escaped into a crawlspace which led into unknown areas of the lair.

The group looted the remnants of the cave, finding many coins and some scant jewelry. A quartet of courtier’s outfits, a spyglass, and some foreign tools were had in another storage crate. The last crate held a wool, navy blue cloak and a worn, well constructed scabbard. With the spoils of battle obtained, Jozan turned his attention to a pile of luminous, glass like globes that lay piled high upon the cavern floor. Stacked upon hay, the orbs looked and felt very fragile, and the interior appeared to be aglow as if by fire.

Jozan threw one far away to discover it shattered, produced a large plume of flame, and shook the cavern with concussive force. Making a note of this, Jozan took one of the globes, wrapped it in the cloak, and placed it in a carrying crate. The group queried if these were the explosives Ludovic mentioned the dark creepers planting. Piling up the last of the globes, the group safely detonated the stash near the entrance to the crawlspace. Shattered, crumbling rock and dust fell down, covering the entrance. Feeling confident this would halt the operations of the creepers, the group felt secure in leaving the cave. All the while, they wondered if their presence would be noted and remembered by the enemies who had escaped.

Session 5: A Messenger From the Tide

After completing their preparations for the rest of the day, Avaniel Cerelion, Bu-Jinwen Nivaye, and Jozan left Marco’s Glass and Compass after a rough night of burglars. With minds still unease at the motivations of the previous day’s attacks, they were bound to meet with Augustin Gonzalo to discover if he had any leads on nobles requesting help. With one recommendation in hand, the group felt confident that with a little more effort, they could quickly make their way to Urima.

On the way, their thoughts were broken by the thunderous booms of cracking rock and smoldering buildings. Not far from their position, a man unleashed torrents of fire upon a plaza while commanding a throng of murderous, disgusting draugr. The sickening monstrosities from the deep swept the swath of civilians about with great axes while letting out great battle cries. The adventurers were quickly forced into the chaotic melee as the sinister caster watched from his perch upon a rooftop. The town guard responded as the battle rolled on, cutting the draugr apart bit by bit as the companions finished up their group.

When the smoke settled, the guard squads quickly moved into the building on which the caster stood atop while archers were dispatched to adjacent rooftops to prevent escape. The caster called out for the troops to come up and receive a message from his masters. Jozan and Avaniel, feeling confident in their ability to defeat the sinister being with the support of the incoming troops, opened fire upon the robed figure. The missiles bounced impotently off of a field of some type. The being retorted by drawing lifting his rod and unleashing a great fiery ball upon the center of the plaza, scorching Jozan, Bu-jinwen, and Jang. All but Jang lay helpless from the onslaught, bleeding profusely as their life drifted away. A distraught Jang was unsure of what to do.

Another boom sounded as the first troops tried to engage the mage. He responded that he came only to deliver a message, not to fight. Avaniel moved to stem the bleeding on his downed companions. Medics began to pour into the courtyard, assisting as best they could, healing the stable Bu-jinwen. Kaspar Ottokar arrived back from his meeting to see the ensuing chaos. He moved to help Jozan after first aid was applied, and used the healing wand Jozan carried to heal him to consciousness. After some short debate, the group quickly retreated from the courtyard to go to Augustin. Kaspar stayed behind to assist the medics.

The group was greeted at the Gonzalo home by a young man. He took them to the meeting hall in the building to talk with the old veteran. While engaging in greeting pleasantries, a man entered the hall from the private workshop of Augustin. The man wore a yellow cape and a red beret with a small feather in it. He introduced himself as Roger, and the young man from before was introduced as one of Augustin’s students, Alexander Scipio. Roger seemed quite agreeable and amiable, a charming personality that took well to the group. Augustin seemed oblivious to the attacks of the last days, and seemed very worried of the implications it hate for the safety of the city.

The gathered group talked of the Mouth of Chaos to Augustin, and showed him the sketching of the illusory runes outside the cave. Roger quickly grabbed it nonchalantly and examined it playfully before giving it to Augustin. The old military man had no knowledge of the rune, claiming it to be too ancient. He recommended taking it to Desov to see if someone at the colleges of magic there would know something. Avaniel noted that Roger seemed very focused on some line of thought in his head as the conversations continued. The companions continued to speak with Augustin. Jozan noted Roger seemingly drawing out the sketch he had made using paper and quill from Augustin’s desk. He precision in making the symbol was much greater than there’s had been in copying it from the outside of the cave. Roger folded the paper and put it away as the conversation shifted to acquiring more recommendations.

Roger set about writing another document using many colors of ink while Alexander suggested speaking with a noble by the name of Sosimo Primo Santos. Augustin thought perhaps talking with one of the guard captains he knew, Junipero Olegario, might garner good results as well. Augustin was somewhat upset when he discovered that Roger had forged a writ of recommendation to the adventurers to rush them on their way to Urima. The writ was signed as Florant Asparago Durigo.

The group left, bound for the defense office where they could find Captain Olegario. Once they tracked him down, the group questioned him about what happened with the sorcerer after they left. Junipero explained that the attacker’s name was Ludovic, and that he represented a group of individuals that he named as Those Whose Names You Are to Impure to Speak. He relayed to the travelers that Ludovic had said there was a war occurring between his masters and a group of dark creepers in the area. The same dark creepers had been the ones to burglarize the inn the party had stayed in the previous night. Ludovic claimed that explosive mechanisms lay underneath one of the civilian districts of Ailead, planted there by the dark creepers for some unknown purpose. The sinister man suggested tracking down the forward base of the creepers via intel he had given the captain on a scroll.

When the group made known their desire to break the travel embargo, Olegario proposed a deal. If the group found the forward base and disabled it, he would give them the recommendation they required. Looking at the scroll the captain had shown them, Avaniel was able to get a fair idea of the region of coast the creatures would be stationed at.

Session 4: A Conflict Amongst Men

After dispatching the demon that was ruining the Gonzalo workshop, Jozan and Avaniel Cerelion took a moment to explore the rest of the complex, taking care not to disturb the barred door in the back. Bu-Jinwen Nivaye absentmindedly left the workshop, too deep in thought over the loss of time it might take to get back to Urima. After a small trek back through the lab to see a large creature through a grate, the original pair relinquished and went up to speak to the aging veteran.

Augustin Gonzalo gladly provided the recommendation that the group had earned. He mentioned his inability to set the group up with more work on the present day with the troubles with the embargo proclamation tying up many of the nobles he knew. He instead offered the group the chance to stay at an inn free of charge until the next day when he could set up meetings with his peers. The group took up his offer and began the journey through the hospitality district of Ailead to Marco’s Glass and Compass, an inn of fair condition.

On their way through the district, the group was surprised to see the drains to the city sewer system burst open and flood the whole of the street with the aquatic, goblin-like creatures known as grindylows. The tentacle footed fiends writhed about, attacking the citizenry around the area as guards blew alert horns. The party worked within the tight confines of the back alleys to fend off four such foes. After successfully driving the quartet to death, the group resumed their journey to the inn. Night began to fall as they reached the inn’s door. The streets were beginning to be lit by city workers while others carted off the bodies of the grindylows.

After settling into their quarters for the night, Bu-jinwen was woken up in the middle of the night to sounds coming from the adjacent room. When he opened the door to investigate, he noted a small creature covered thickly in beat up, black clothing trying to tinker with the lock of another room. The rest of the group woke up to the sound of the warlock casting a sleep hex which incapacitated the creature. As the magic user moved into the hallway to try to recover the body of the intruder, he was ambushed by a second. All about the inn, sounds of panic and hustling filled the air. There were clearly more than two of these creatures inside Marco’s Glass and Compass, but only these two seemed to threaten the companions. After dealing with the menace, Jozan looked outside to see the town guards chasing more of the creatures out into the streets. As they fell, the creatures burst into light and disappeared. After the chaos had ended, the guards took a preliminary assessment of the losses incurred by the inn and its patrons.

After waking the next morning, Kaspar Ottokar attended to business elsewhere while the others prepared for the day ahead. A second guard questioned the adventurers about any motive the burglars might have had since they were the only ones to have been attacked. Being clueless as well, the adventurers could give no help. The guard produced a map and asked if the group could give any information about the location of it. They were unable to, and the guard left back to report his findings.

Session 3: The Decorated Veteran

Fresh off acquiring a new member to their group, Avaniel Cerelion, Jozan, Kaspar Ottokar, and the stoic Jang entered the port city of Ailead. Entering through the production section of the merchant district, Kaspar soon broke off from the group to get a reward for the adventurers as they waited in the grand plaza which held the fountain monument known as the Fountain of Indomitable Spirit. The group watched and listened to an official Tribunal Republic messenger speak about a string of burglaries about the town as well as the trade and travel embargo to Urima.

Meanwhile, another man listened to the announcement as he recovered from a brush with otherworldly forces in a strange, new land. Bu-Jinwen Nivaye listened to the messenger’s announcement with great frustration. He needed to return to Urima with haste in order to secure the safety of his mother.

The adventurers all approached the messenger to question him about the events he spoke of. The group had a great desire to make its way to Urima, and they were told the only way to be exempted from the embargo was to be either military or have favor and recommendations through reputable sources. The group asked about the bandits thinking that some service to the guard could garner a recommendation, but they were quickly downtrodden that for the majority of the day the watch officers would be at the Republic Amphitheater receiving orders on how to enforce the boycott. Kaspar returned with payment slips that the group turned in before resuming the search for Augustin Gonzalo. After finding his location, the group made their way to his home.

During the course of the day, the group had learned that Augustin was a very highly decorated and respected military tactician before retiring. After turning in the package to the older gentleman, the group listened as he briefly addressed the meeting of leaders from Urima, Daramis, Perosh and Sinohi for a intercontinental relations summit. He proposed that, given the state of the world, war was an inevitability. Noting the look of adventurers, Gonzalo offered to help the group with a recommendation and connections to others with pull to get the companions to Urima if they would help him deal with a demon in his workshop.

After the group agreed, Gonzalo produced a magical item that housed his workshop. Inside, the group found many curiosities but found it difficult to locate the demon. A closing of a door alerted the group to the presence of the demon in an art gallery. A pair of the creatures attacked the group with putrid clouds, mangled claws and ferocious teeth. Avaniel was grievously wounded and fainted as the others struggled to recover from the nauseating cloud. Bu-jinwen’s eery hex magic allowed for the group to finish off the rampaging monsters in a magically induced slumber. The group currently stood in the basement, recovering from their wounds. They waited for the chance to claim their recommendation. Jozan carefully pulled out the sketched rune in his bag and his hand trembled slightly at the thought that the old man might have some answers regarding the ancient symbol.


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