Session 22: The Mansion of Count Wells

Avaniel Cerelion, Jozan, and Kaspar Ottokar returned to Northlight following their excursion into the goblin den with Saluhul Zephyrpaw. The men went about the business of selling their loot to vendors in the indoor market, and they sold back their ponies to the stables. Returning to the Steelsnout, Jozan informed Captain Jacob of the mass of new recruits that would be arriving soon to bolster their lacking crew. The captain seemed pleased with the performance, and he mentioned another influx of recruits, most likely those conscripted by Kaspar.

The captain mentioned a herald of Count Wells had come to search for the adventurers. The trio were somewhat confused by the sudden interest, and the captain assured them the herald would come later to speak with them. The group rested for a bit as the night was fully underway. Aldrazan sent word to the group that the herald had returned, and all three went to address the herald.

The herald was a peculiar man flanked by a pair of guards. The man wore a form fitting suit patterned in black and white. The courtier’s outfit alternated the contrasting colors at seemingly every fold, creating both a playful and sophisticated look. It was the mask of the man that garnered the trio’s focus though. The charcoal colored mask was smooth and shined like a porcelain pot. The design was that of a bald man with a stern, furrowed brow and long, curled mustache. The mask was highlighted in deeper blacks of ebony that showed the detail of the face.

The person approached and addressed them directly by name, introducing himself as Herald Chris Abaun, servant of Count Harlan Wells. Jozan asked how the Count knew of them, which brought about a rather rough, mechanical, labored laughter from the herald. In a struggling deep voice that would continue throughout the affair, the herald explained that the Count had been made aware of your deeds via messenger from Faldrin. He had also heard of some of their exploits in Ailead apparently. The Count requested their presence at a masquerade ball he had been hosting every night since the Festival of Fools began. He wished to see the heroes of recent memory be rewarded for their efforts with some much needed celebration. The herald was sure the guests would be delighted to have Jozan and Avaniel regale them with tales of their adventures.

Jozan seemed confused about what a masquerade was. Chris Abaun explained it as a costumed party with a particular theme. This year, it was themed as a reversal of the sexes. Men and women would dress as opposites for the events. This was somewhat off putting to Avaniel, but he and Jozan become keenly interested when they discovered a variety of dignitaries, including Augustin Gonzalo, would be in attendance. Avaniel asked how they might reach the Count’s manor, and the herald worked out arrangements for them to be picked up at dusk the following day near the port district square by the Count’s private carriage.

Avaniel and Kaspar returned to their quarters to rest, and Jozan went to the captain to inform him of their plans. The captain granted the druid an extra day to handle his affairs with the count. Jozan thanked him and said he would speak on his behalf if he could. The captain seemed agreeable to the concept, if a bit skeptical. Jozan turned to leave, but the captain stopped him. He asked the druid if he could find some navigational stars that appeared to be missing. Jozan could indeed see the constellations the captain mentioned , but he could curiously not find the missing points of light either. Slight chills went through his spine as he settled in for the night as well.

The next day, the companions made their way to various places to prepare for the masquerade later. A midnight blue, sleeveless dress was bought by Jozan. A Lavender silk dress with teal accents would costume Avaniel, and Kaspar would adorn a wine colored, billowing dress. After purchasing masks, make up, and bathing, Kaspar suggested buying presents for the Count. Learning he was a fan of the arts, the group went to a dealer to find gifts. Jozan bought “Passing of an Age”, a painting of an aging dragon resting (or perhaps deceased) in his cavern. Avaniel bought “The Triumph of Perias”, a painting of a hero of children’s myth. Kaspar settled for something a bit different, as he picked up a music box, “The Muse of the Sea”. The pieces were left at the art dealer to hold until they were needed.

Returning to the Steelsnout, the group finished their costumes. Avaniel had great difficulty organizing his outfit, and he needed extra help to seem even remotely passable. The group donned jewelry, and Jozan decided to wear the emerald pendant retrieved from the drake’s cave outside Faldrin. Afterwards, the group traveled to the port square, where a carriage soon shot through a seemingly uninterested crowd unhindered.

The ivory, green and pink coach was drawn by a team of six black stallions. It seemed to stop far more abruptly than its speed would suggest, and the coach driver came down to greet the costumed adventurers. Confirming their identities, he allowed Avaniel and Kaspar to enter. Jozan seemed uneasy about the driver as he was covered head to toe in garments. Gloves covered the man’s hands, and a thick scarf and tall hat covered his head. Jozan asked the man to show himself, but the driver thus declined. He stated he was ordered by the Count to not reveal himself. Jozan asked if he had worked for Harlan Wells long. The driver responded that he had only just started his work for the count, and he would most likely not work for him again. Jozan seemed very wary about the curious driver, and he asked him once again to reveal himself.

“My coverings are a courtesy of the Count,” the driver said. “He felt it would be better if I remained as presentable as I am now. He does this only out of respect for your comfort, and I am bound by duty to not disobey his order.”

Jozan wearily boarded the carriage, and the transport moved. Looking outside the cabin window, The group noted the carriage moving at an astounding speed. Dreadlocks, costumes, and faces of the populace blurred by as the raced by seemingly unconcerned citizens, all of whom parted as through instinct. Jozan called out to the driver to stop at the art dealer to pick up their gifts.

At the dealer, the trio recovered their purchases and went outside. The driver offered to place them on the luggage rack, and the group approved. As the driver moved up to the head of the coach, Jozan attempted to sense magic about the man when his back was turned. He noted a magic all about the coach as though its very nature was not of this world.

“Forgive me, madame,” the driver spoke, startling the druid. “I had already informed you my identity was concealed by order of Count Harlan Wells. He had made this decision in order to put you at ease with my assignment to this post, and it is quite rude to question your host, let alone an aristocrat, regarding his methods. I have been as forthcoming as I can be. My lord only asks for your trust.”

Jozan stopped his investigation and apologized, stating he was only cautious given the challenges of the past few weeks. The driver politely acknowledged the sentiment, but stated that it was probably more appropriate to give the apology to the Count at a later time. The trio reentered the carriage, and once again it raced off toward the Count of Northlight’s manor as the dusk faded into night.

Session 21: Lair of the Goblinoids

Avaniel, Jozan, Kaspar, Saluhul Zephyrpaw, and Talei worked their way down the secret path to the goblinoid hideout. The terrain became rough to travel in, but Jozan managed to draw upon his experience trekking the forests of Sinohi to keep his normal pace in the overgrown forest.

A guard patrol hidden on the path to the cave was spotted by the party and carefully ambushed. The dense forest proved to hinder the attempts of both Saluhul and Avaniel as they fired into the thicket at the evil creatures. Though the struggle was brief, it was quite loud, and jozan moved quickly to the cave mouth to check the conditions inside.

Rushing ahead proved immediately dangerous. A hulking bugbear joined with a pair of hobgoblins and their goblin minions to surround the young druid. The crushing blows of the bugbear rattled the bones of Jozan through his armor as he called for help. The bowmen of the group continued to struggle with the cover of the overgrown branches of the treeline. Kaspar rushed in after a desperate escape from Jozan, and the pair worked desperately to stem the aggression from the diabolical humanoids. Noting the heavy armor of the bugbear and his hobgoblin companions, Saluhul closed in with sword and shield after the goblins had be dealt with. Blood continued to flow from Jozan’s wounds, and Kaspar received some superficial damage as well. A crushing blow from Jozan’s axe, some arrows and sword strikes from Saluhul and Avaniel, and some rather ineffective attacks from Kaspar were able to finally crush the opposition faced by the four.

Entering the cave, both Denega Deepwallow and Herana Zephyrpaw sat bound in the corner of the lightly lit cave. After their release and some slight pleasantries, the trio of adventurers began to loot the remaining surroundings. Jozan offered some recompense to Saluhul for the damage to his home and for his help. Saluhul accepted, but only on the condition he be given what he would truly need. After finishing their acquisition of spoils, the group returned to the Zephyrpaw home, and Denega left to find the children at their “secret hiding place.”

At the Zephyrpaw home, the adventurers answered some questions regarding their involvement in Faldrin and their ambitions to go to Urima. Jozan asked Saluhul to make the way safe and clear for the new recruits to the Steelsnout from the small farming community, and the archer agreed. Asking of Zephyrpaw’s background, the archer revealed he originally had been part of the military force tasked with guarding the observatory of Austraris. He then explained his shield’s markings. The dual arrow representing his rank, High Archer, and the star showed his role in a war with the mountain goblins and orcs of the area. He talked of his connection to Urima and his desire to live out a new life away from battle.

With the new revelations, Jozan and Avaniel asked of the path they would take from Thiminoor to Desov. They learned they would travel through the brutal Cairnlands, but that the path would be much easier going when they had left the desolate place behind. When asked where the group could find out information on magic and anomalies, Saluhul mentioned the both Desov and Austraris were excellent places to find men of intellect and wisdom. He told them of a sect of mystical artists at the Austraris observatory who “paint the night sky and all the stars therein”. He told the trio that a journey there would be difficult, but much information could be garnered there on events of the past, present, and future.

When asked of Iberum, Saluhul was unable to give a clear course to their goal. He thought for a moment, and he decided it would probably be a smaller town near the middle of the continent. The trio of adventurers then continued on the path back to Northlight. Tomorrow, they would leave Northlight and continue on the Wellcliff, if fate was on their side. For now, the day was still young, and Northlight was not far off.

Session 20: The Long Road to Northlight

Avaniel, Jozan, Kaspar, and Talei continued to explore the final sections of the Molagona cavern after divided up the drake’s horde. After some difficulty getting the heavily armored Avaniel through the deep pond’s waterfall, the group went ashore to acquire their gear before investigating a pair of eerie lights on the pond edge.

When they approached closer, the group encountered a small party of fey, brownies. The fey appeared to be overjoyed that the drake was no more. With the beast out of the way, they were once again free to cause their carefree mischief and chores for the people around Faldrin. They seemed particularly impressed that the trio had bested the famed creature despite not having access to a magical milk the brownies had brought. The liquid was said to protect against an initial attack of the drakes acidic breath. Jozan then asked the fey some questions regarding the cave and the Pit of Yearning the creature inside had mentioned. The small creatures were at a loss, but they mentioned that King Brightcedar might know more. The brownies said the party could not reach their king the way other fey of Molagona could, but if the party desired, they could go to the outlying areas of Wellcliff. In a grove of purple blossomed trees, they would find entrance if they could pass a series of tests.

Leaving the fey behind, the group informed the watchful sentries outside the cave of the drake’s demise, hoisting the creatures head up high. Trumpeting horns of celebration carried the message to Faldrin. The guardtowers along the road continued the message as they packed up their equipment to return to Faldrin at long last. The town seemed timid during the gathering outside The Oaken Shield until the skull was presented to them. A boisterous cheer erupted over the populace. The trio then went about expressing the peril of the Steelsnout to the farmers, asking for their aid as the trio had aided them. Confident in the response of the citizenry, but being informed it might take a few days for people to set their affairs in order, the adventure’s and townsfolk celebrated. The skull was turned over to the innkeeper of The Oaken Shield to be mounted upon the wall along with the collection of battered shields.

The group awoke the next morning and began the trek back to Northlight. Along the path, not far from the edge of the forest containing Faldrin, the group spotted an archer over the corpse of a dead goblin. The man told the adventurers that he was returning from a week long hunt. He noticed goblins about and was worried for the safety of his family and neighbor in the woods. After deciding the path to Northlight would not be safe for the new recruits from Faldrin with goblins raiding the roads, the trio decided to help the archer. He introduced himself as Saluhul Zephyrpaw. The man wore extremely potent gear for a simple hunter, but the group decided it was not important to investigate at this moment. The archer seemed skeptical of trusting a half-drow, but he seemed far more concerned about the goblinoid presence near his home than a single drow traveler. Avaniel’s image did not improve as a disgusted Zephyrpaw heard the ranger’s proposition at making the hunt a competition.

Coming up to the Zephyrpaw home, the group was uneasy about the damaged state of the front door. Jozan and Saluhul entered ahead of the group. Jozan slipped slightly as he entered, stomping loudly. He was gretted on an opposing wall by the roar of a grizzly bear, who promptly chased the pair out of the small home, crashing through the door frame in pursuit. Despite difficulty for Avaniel in his spellcasting, the group managed to finish off the animal with volleys of arrows and swipes of blades. Entering the home again, it was clear that the home had been attacked. From the blade wounds on one of the creatures, it was a clear a fight had taken place. Saluhul speculated that his children had escaped through an open window in their bedroom and the lack of struggle signs.

Progressing to the small hut of Denega Deepwallow, the group heard the sounds of invaders inside. Zephyrpaw crashed in on the goblins still looting the small dwelling. The short skirmish was made easy with the advantage of surprise, and it was determined the elderly halfling woman had probably been captured as well. Fortunately, it appeared her grandchildren had escaped as well. The group the tied up a pair of the goblins, healing one to consciousness. Avaniel boldly suggested executing the knocked out goblin in front of his companion if they would not talk. The idea seemed to bother Jozan slightly. Saluhul questioned the goblin of his wife’s whereabouts. With the goblin unresponsive, he thought it necessary to acquire information before it was too late, cutting the ear from the bound creature. This prompted a fast confession.

After discovering the location of the enemy’s lair, Saluhul brought the creature outside with Jozan, stripped him of weapons, and cast him into the forest to let nature decide the fate of the bloody creature. Meanwhile, Avaniel executed the other goblin and looted the others. With a goal in mind, the group journeyed back to the road, then off a secret path mentioned by the goblin.

Session 19: The Lair of the Covenant

Jozan, Kaspar, and Avaniel continued to creep into the innards of the forest drake’s cavern. The dark confines combined with the low rumble of the falls through the stone to create an atmosphere of uncertainty around every corner. Avaniel was sent ahead to scout with his sharp vision as the three silently made their way through the cave. Rounding a corner, the group encountered an out of place wall.

Coming up to it carefully, Jozan looked upon its surface to discover it was not the same stone as the cave. The discolored rock bore runes at irregular intervals upon sparse, flat sections of the stone. Was this formerly a wall? Who made it? For what purpose were the runes created? Looking at the symbols more carefully and reaching out to them, Jozan received an odd sensation of displacement, dizziness, and general spatial confusion. The runes themselves belonged to no realm of magic either Avaniel or Jozan could distinguish. It was not as though they could not decipher the origin of magics using their fair grasp of magic, but these symbols held a power that was all too foreign to them. Foreign like the Mouth of Chaos.

After some experimentation, Jozan deemed the characters safe to touch. As he did, he was bombarded with noise of voices. He concentrated to grasp what he could of a particular conversation, hearing these words from a disembodied voice while echoing them to his companions.

“This is a mercy. Every creature has a need to die. Everything must be able to be destroyed. The greatest of cities should be brought under heel by the majesty of creation, and none should have divinity but those which are gods, not even us.”

The words were uncertain in context to the druid and his companions. The sensation and experience was definitely similar to that which Jozan had in the Mouth of Chaos. An unsettling notion crept in the group when they considered the madness that had overcome the Mouth of Chaos Cult. The group climbed up the wall, ascended higher up a steep incline and over another of the same, rune covered barrier before finding an exit high above the ground level of the grove. Jozan called to Talei, and the bird quickly joined the would be heroes into the cave.

The group continued on, the fall’s rumble fading into a low hum, then disappearing entirely as the adventurers continued. The lack of noise, of any stimulus unnerved the group, and Avaniel finally took a moment to break the monotony by posing a question. If the runes on the wall were similar to those of the Mouth of Chaos, could there be a leyline to the nightmare realm in this cave? Had they already activated one by casting magic near the wall? The group dismissed the notion for now. The cavern and exterior of the cave certainly had not seemed different at least.

The group came to another decline marked by a wall of the same material as those earlier in the cave. This one had with it a peculiar being. The thing towered only a scant bit shorter than the wall itself. The creature was a shimmering cloud of vaguely humanoid form. Its four arms seemed to move as it chanted, manipulating a symbol upon the wall. The creature paid little mind to the travelers until Jozan attempted to pass it. The creature’s interest materialized on the druid at that moment, and it would stare at him, then the wall, and back again a great many times.

Kaspar seemed to descend the cliff with no such attention, but the creature was equally attentive to Avaniel. At this time, the creature began to question the pair. It asked where something known as the Pit of Yearning was. When pressed for an explanation as to why the being cared for their presence, the creature stated that something clung to the druid and ranger. It said that any who looked for the darkness of men would see it on them.

“You do not belong here,” the creature said, but then it added oddly “But you do.”

The group had the aura of this Pit of Yearning all about them it seemed, and the creature demanded answers about it. Jozan asked the being after some consideration what the place was he spoke of. From the cryptic responses of the creature, Jozan thought the runes marked places that held back this place from Fonoros. The creature said they held the Pit of Yearning from Monad, and that the realm itself was without Monad. Jozan knew not what this Monad was, but he imagined the Pit of Yearning might be where Yogir was imprisoned.

“Yogir is at harmony with Monad,” the storm bodied creature said. “He will be let go from the Pit of Yearning!” the creature demanded. “Not all is in balance with Monad.”

“But what is Monad?” pleaded an exasperated Jozan.

“Monad is… Monad,” was the creature’s only reply.

Thinking to get a better grasp of the situation, perhaps gain favor with the creature for information, Jozan exposed his back to allow the creature to read the message to be sent to Iberum. It was a list apparently, a list for those on some type of trial. The accusation leveled against them, being without Monad.


Upon the short exchange, the creature’s swirling body stopped. The coloration of the storm-like clouds making its form changed to a deep, flaring red and black as ink. The creature began to move once again, and in a new, raspy, otherworldly voice, recited a familiar verse.

Hail the four lords
Evil fleshed true.
None innocent.
Stage settled,
Millions for night,
Hundreds for moon.
When all is gone,
A new king be crowned.

The companions backed away, unnerved by the display. As suddenly as it had occurred, the creature’s form stopped once again and resumed its previous hues. The creature had an aura of discomfort, fear perhaps, as it regained its senses.

“Plagued, against Monad now!” The creature shrieked in horror. “Can not seal the realm now.” The creature began to flare with light, and the companions ran away to avoid what seemed a certain catastrophe. The creature’s light faded, and none was left in its wake. The companions cleared their minds for now of this chance encounter, and they refocused on the task of slaying the drake.

The group used Talei to scout a good portion of the surrounding areas, discovering more rune walls and a huge wall leading to a natural over passing bridge. Climbing up and surveying the platform, it seemed badly cracked and dangerous to cross. After climbing up the other side, the group continued deeper into Molagona. After rounding a bend, Avaniel signaled back that another large wall obstructed the group’s path in a large, open chamber. Coming closer, Avaniel was ambushed by a ball of smoldering acid that dispersed into the air around him.

The sting of the acid cloud was the first of many worries with the attack, as the cloud left behind made sight through the caustic mist difficult. Jozan ran past to search for any weakness of the dragon, calling upon his magic to increase his strength. Kaspar followed the druid, and the two pressed up against the wall awaiting their next move. The drake swooped into the cloud and began an onslaught on the half drow.

Avaniel continued to give up ground to the creature, getting bit relentlessly on his way back. Jozan sent Talei in multiple times to attack the drake, but the bird found it hard to find the creature about the hazy air. Kaspar vanished from sight suddenly as Jozan scaled the wall to look at the remainder of the den. He was greeted by the sight of a great deal of silver and other coins. The creature’s latest meals lie rotting about the floor. Jozan saw no clear magic sword or enchanted scroll to battle the beast after scattering the pile of coins, but his mind went racing for answers when he saw what seemed to be dry, flaking, green skin cast over the silver coins.

Avaniel continued to struggle with the drake, and Kaspar appeared to strike a vicious attack on the long neck of the beast as it pursued, vanishing soon after again.Avaniel went into full retreat to escape the creature, getting bit along the way. Jozan jumped from the upper platform to help with the battle at hand, and Kaspar again plunged his weapon into the creature. The acidic cloud faded, and the dragonkin bit at Kaspar, who deftly dodged and vanished again. Avaniel, now far removed from the fiend’s dagger toothed maw, began to fire arrows at the creature as it stormed to attack Jozan.

The druid called upon the primal fury within to battle the creature, taking some cursory bites before landing a devastating blow with his flaming great axe while Talei ripped at the wings of the horror with his talons. Kaspar again appeared to slash at the reptilian monster, but the forest drake was ready to deflect his blow this time. Avaniel let fly a pair of arrows that laid low the monster for Jozan to decapitate soon after. After some consideration, and looting, the group concluded that the dragon might have had some sort of allergy to silver. The group’s attacks had much weaker results when fighting the beast, save Kaspar’s silver blade. The monster of Molagona slain, the group prepared for the journey back to Faldrin.

Session 18: The Monster of Molagona

After their gory run in with the invasion of cockroaches, Avaniel and Jozan realized they would require rest before anything else went wrong in Northlight. Before that, the group tried to garner an audience with representatives from the Urima Embassy of Northlight. Seeing no initial value in what the duo had to say, and with no proof of citizenship to Urima, the group was denied access. Returning to the Steelsnout to rest proved something of a chore without Kaspar guiding the pair. After some wandering, they managed to return to the docks after a confrontation with an angry boat captain at the harbormaster’s shack. After resting, the group was told by Aldrazan that any assistance they could give in the recruitment drive would be helpful.

After a brief run in with another group of pranksters attempting to throw the pair off the docks, the pair returned to the markets to scavenge some crew. Aldrazan had mentioned the Steelsnout had probably garnered all the support from the docks that it could, and this could be a valid place to check for more recruits. The group wandered into The Flying Mug for information and to seek sailors.

Upon entering, Jozan was once again berated for his loose sleeves. Having been fed up with the holiday in general, Avaniel decided to use some magic to tighten Jozan’s clothes for the time. The patrons seemed uneasy about this, and the eye patch wearing bartender asked that such antics be kept to the confines of the Urima Embassy. As they ate, the group heard rumors of undead sightings near Iberum, and whispers of an ancient curse being dug up by dwarves in a mountain fortress near the Vacric-Ryin border. Jozan attempted to be clever in his pitch to the patrons, but his comments sounded more insulting than inspiring.

Moving on to The King and Rose, the group was able to glean some interesting information. The barkeep there spoke of perhaps recruiting with some of the outlying villages near the Molagona Mountains. Rumor had been spread the the people of Faldrin had requested aid from the count regarding a monster living near their town. She then suggested perhaps talking with some of the more religious sects of the village. Perhaps some could be swayed.

Going into the Sinoan shrine to Farmourn and Dom proved interesting to the pair but fruitless. Emerging from the building, the pair noticed Kaspar making a case to the gathering people to join the Steelsnout in its journey. Using language conjuring up images of a wild, untamed journey that the town’s matron god, Issindrius, would favor, he spoke of the duty of the people to learn of the world about them and their place in it. Afterwards, the group noted a change in gear for the courier. Jozan tried a feeble apology, but he fumbled over his words. Kaspar, thoroughly unimpressed by the display, remarked that he had requested transfer and was denied. He wanted to get to Thiminoor and be done with this errand.

After talking it over, the group decided that perhaps Faldrin could garner the crew they needed. After discovering where to go, the group accosted both elves and halflings in an attempt to learn more about this monster plaguing the town. After a few tries, two things were fairly clear: this beast had been bothering the populace of Faldrin for quite some time, and it was such a terrifying creature that many hesitated to even speak of it. The group considered talking to the count directly, but they had heard that he would be holed up in his manor during the festivities of the Festival of Fools, and the guest list to his parties there was quite exclusive.

The group came to the realization that no information could be gathered at the coastal town, and resigned themselves to buy ponies for the journey to Faldrin. As they entered the village, they noted the forlorn look on the elven faces of the populace. Having been mistaken as a festival goer earlier in the day, Avaniel was fairly certain his heritage would not cause issue for now. The buildings, trees, and fields of Falldrin were marked by spots of discoloration and deformation, as though the material had been burned or melted. The group walked into The Oaken Shield inn to secure information and rooms. Stepping inside, the group was instantly drawn to the circle of melted shields about the walls of the establishment.

While there, they gathered enough information about the creature to guess it might be a forest drake, a creature known for its caustic breath and taste for elves. Something was odd, though. According to the inhabitants, the drake had slaughtered a man for every shield on the walls of the inn, many of whom seemed much stronger, and in greater numbers, than the their trio from the Steelsnout. The townsfolk had resigned to creating guard towers equipped with great horns to send a message across the miles near the beast’s lair to warn of its arrival in town.

Paying for their rooms, the group was stopped before resting by a purple and black robed figure, who told them to sit with him a while. The man told the adventurers not to squander their lives on the monster of Molagona, that they had important work in Iberum to deal with. Knowing this to be a follower of Yogir, Jozan asked what he knew of the creature. The man scrawled out drawings showing them the location of a waterfall that drew its waters from Molagona itself. There, they would find the entrance to a cave where the beast resided. The person warned the beast was invincible in any place save this cavern, and that perhaps the group could find allies to help them battle the dragon among the forest.

The group set out the next day, spanning miles and passing the warning towers. Coming to the section of forest the man of Yogir had mentioned, the group noted the discoloration of the leaves on some of the trees. A thick spray of mist impaired vision of the pool of water near the bottom of the falls, and this fog would lightly carry out over the whole of the area. Sneaking about, the travelers found and briefly spoke to some of the watch posted from Faldrin. Their talks were cut short when one of their number blew their horn, and the monster of Molagona descended upon the sentries. The drake ripped two of the elven scouts to pieces. Carrying the corpses in its talons, the flying beast flew away towards the mountains, letting forth a deafening roar as it went. After some investigation, Jozan and Kaspar managed to find an opening that they surmised would lead into the mountain. Avanial caught the group in time to see them plunge into the cool water. The trio continued to swim down and then in the cavern. They emerged a short time later, ready to discover what weaknesses they could of the drake, and try to defeat it.

Session 17: The Festival of Fools

The Steelsnout coasted on the waves of the sea hobbled, poorly manned, and with morale low for such a short journey. The ship had been under constant duress from Easthaven Island for days, the threat of merciless swords cutting down the crew a constant burden. Just as it seemed the trials had been passed, more emerged, and more men lost their lives, in the attack of the dark folk. Though glad to be alive to reach Northlight, a quiet disapproval of Avaniel Cerelion and Jozan permeated the ship. Word had probably reached the crew at some point that the target of the attacks had been the adventuring pair, and everyone was uneasy.

Rounding the last bend of the Molagona Mountains continued to unnerve the crew. Small creature tribe settlements could be seen on the coast, and it was uncertain as to their aspirations, morality, or hospitality towards the Ryin vessel. The trading ship would creep by them, far out to sea, half expecting another improbable attack. It would not come however, and as the towering lighthouses outside the port city of Northlight became visible, the whole of the crew cheered and rallied into songs of praise and good cheer.

As was the case in Ailead, it appeared Northlight had a congested port due to the edicts against Urima. The Steelsnout would find a place to hold port though, and soon your feet would be on the unmoving stone of the Northlight piers. The crew looked past the wooden masts of the docked vessels to the small city itself. The town almost glowed; The bright stone of the city buildings cut through the green of the fields, the surrounding trees, and the black background of Molagona. It was difficult to spot any sort of wooden material outside of the sea. It was a cobbled, stone block floating on the coast.

Aldrazan informed the travelers that a recruiting drive would be needed in Northlight and most likely Wellcliff as well. The ship was working with 70 men, some of those even injured and in need of long rest. The group prepared to take in the sights of Northlight for a time. They had heard around the ship of hearty yam dishes, lax night watches, a bizarre hair style that was common in the city, and fine swords as they coasted to dock.

Upon stepping on the pier, Avaniel and Jozan decided to sell some of their spoils over the last few days. Asking Kaspar for assistance, the courier began to lead them to a market district in the city where they could purchase and sell their goods. The group thought it odd when people made jest of Jozan and Kaspar’s loose clothing until they noticed it was highly unfashionable in this town. Tight clothes and dreadlocks covered the streets as the dominant features of style in Northlight.

The group’s confusion continued to mount as they noticed pranks and tomfoolery abound as they continued down the busy streets. This continued throughout the journey until Jozan noticed a young man running through an alleyway towards the group with a metal horn. Covering his ears quickly, Jozan barely avoided the blaring noise of the horn being blown close to the group. The sound rattled Avaniel’s ears, and both he and Kaspar became startled and dashed across the street. Awaiting them was another young man who threw a bucket of slop upon them. Though putrid, the two managed to keep their stomaches about them. Unable to chase the pranksters, the group cleaned off to jests from the townsfolk.

“Festival of Fools!” they shouted.

As they neared the market district, Kaspar wondered if perhaps the trio should help with the recruitment drive. The group agreed to keep an eye out for people, but for now, it was time to seek a magic shop to purchase a new wand of healing magic. The revelry of the local festival seemed to disappear in the market; it was all business. Going into Maddock’s Magnificent Magics, the group met a energetic salesman. Kaspar didn’t care for the man, and left to another area while the salesman got them set up in short order with a new wand and some trinkets for the festival.

The ringing continued in Avaniel’s ears, making communication with others difficult. With this in mind, he convinced Jozan to assist him in selling some of his older gear. Deciding on the enclosed market for more stable pricing, the group passed by a small tent. Much to the pair’s surprise, A trio of massive cockroaches and a veritable swarm of tiny pests crawled from below the tent flaps. Avaniel was quickly taken by surprise, and Jozan could barely react to the swarm covering the adventurers, causing much pain and a wave of sickness to wash over them. The group contended the best they could with the pests as onlookers fled. Kaspar came out of a local bar to join the fray as it was fully underway.

The giant pests proved easy prey, but the swarm was more problematic. The group stamped and swatted, but to little avail against the sheer numbers of the roaches. Jozan backed away to a bottle of oil near a cooking stand. he thought to throw it upon the swarm, but the bugs kept turning his stomach and focus sour. Kaspar moved to help as Jozan fled, and the swarm was upon him. After he ran out, the druid managed to get the oil upon the creatures, the in turn attacked him. Kaspar came forward to let the bugs ablaze with a torch. Jozan once again fled, leaving Kaspar to fall prey to the swarm once again. The druid called for retreat, but at that time, Kaspar had already been grievously hurt.

He was felled while trying to escape into a bar as the town guards and some mages from the Urima Embassy came out to assist. After a rough few moments, the creatures were defeated. Kaspar left immediately, obviously angry with the inequity the group had displayed towards saving those in danger. Letting him go, the pair asked the guards what could have caused the attack. Some jested, and were reprimanded, that it was part of the festivities. With no clear answer to the attack, the group sold their goods and wondered what their next move was.

Session 16: Rise of the Barbaroi

Avaniel, Jozan, Kaspar, Captain Telletar Jacob, and Aldrazan rushed to the captain’s cabin of the Steelsnout. Though absurd to stay in the boat as it was sinking, the group could only hope Jacob had not gone mad. The group piled into the small cabin along with two crewman, the captain taking swigs from a flask in his quarters. Jozan demanded an explanation of whay they waited in the hull of a sinking ship.

“The ship shall not sink,” the captain again reaffirmed. He went on to explain that the ship was magical in nature. It was given to him at a great price with the assurance that it should never be without captain or a sea to travel. The ship had almost sunk previously on a shallow, hidden reef before the Steelsnout showed its true nature to the captain and crew. Aldrazan spoke of how the ship changed, mending its wounds with ghostly magic, dragging the vessel below the waves in what he described as a “bubble holding within it a storm”. A crew would then appear, murderous, undead, and savage. The ship Jacob had bought had formerly been known as the Barbaroi, and its wicked crew and captain had been housed within the cursed, magical wood. As time went on, more of the haunted crew appeared aboard the ship, making scavenging for supplies impossible after a time. The crew had lost many men in scouting and slaying the grotesque Captain Paras to regain control of the ship.

With an objective in hand, Avaniel, Jozan, and Kaspar decided to scout the ship for Paras. Killing the captain and ordering the crew of the newly risen Barbaroi to repair the ship and begone seemed the only option. Jacob and Aldrazan said they would wait in the cabin for the trio to report back, saying a number of protective and cloaking magics had been placed upon the cabin to guard it. Creeping around the corner from the cabin, the group alerted a pair of draugr tending to the deck. The disgusting, putrid, rotting sailors rushed to attack the group with great sword and massive axe raised high. Aldrazan and Jacob heard the battle and quickly moved from the cabin to help. A savage battle ensued, pouring wounds accumulating among the Steelsnout elite. Avaniel was nearly laid low by a vicious swing of the undead husk at his hip, crimson lifeblood poured over the wood of the boat. A third creature crawled up from the lower section of the boat, claiming the lives of both of the sailors that followed their captain to his cabin. The group managed to defeat the creatures with some well placed blows and some quick thinking from Aldrazan to use furniture as bludgeoning weapons.

The group retreated back to the captain’s quarters, healing the best they could before continuing the hunt. Jozan headed to the crew quarters briefly. Noting all entrance to the room blocked, he silently was able to confirm that a good number of the crew were alive before continuing. Heading to the lower deck, the group trudged through the water flooding the area, noting a glowing aura covering the holes in the ship, blocking the waters surrounding the vessel from entering. Jozan bravely slooshed ahead while Avaniel and Kaspar checked rooms and did their best to cover their presence. Jozan was ambushed soon after, facing the merciless sabre of Captain Paras and another draugr’s mighty sword. Panicking, the druid fell back into a corner, and was beset by the wretched captain’s devilish weapon. Kaspar rushed to help Jozan, and Avaniel rushed to bring Jacob and Aldrazan to arms. A brutal strike plunged deep into the breast of Jozan, blurring his vision from the pain of the wound. He brought his shield high and prepared to weather the onslaught as best he could. Kaspar, seeing the desperate situation, tried to hold the captain to assist in Jozan’s escape. A pair of slashes left Kaspar in a dire state as well, and Jozan was unable to bully his way out of his corner. Jacob, Aldrazan, and Avaniel arrived just as Jozan was brought down with another cunning sword strike from Paras. The group fought furiously and managed to overwhelm the draugr captain with their numbers. After healing Jozan to consciousness, the group went topside.

Looking up from the top deck, it did appear as though a bubble stopped the surrounding ocean water from pouring in to consume the ship. streams of water fell like rain inside the dome from above, and thunderous undulations of the ocean crashed upon the barrier, mimicking thunder.

“I’m the new captain around here, scallywags!” yelled Jacob. “Bring this hulk above the waves and then all night in! Fly the absentee pennant; the Barabaroi has no captain but I. Leave my Steelsnout to its master.”

The crew complied, draugr yelling to and fro, “Aye aye, Captain!”

The Steelsnout ascended in the waves, the light of early dawn visible through the tides. Emerging from the depths, the undead crew set about repairing the ship with an unknown energy guiding their work. Though in poor shape, the ship was repaired to be seafaring once again. Upon completing this task, the crew faded off into the structure of the ship, sealed away once again.

For now…

Session 15: A Fire on the Water

The Steelsnout sprang to life, and the trading vessel raced through the northern ocean throughout the night. Waking up the next morning, Jozan considered the dangers the group had faced thus far on their journey. Though Avaniel Cerelion and Kaspar Ottokar were trustworthy companions, and Captain Jacob and Aldrazan could be counted on to defend their ship, Jozan could not help but think more assistance would be needed in the journey ahead. Calling to Pomit with prayers and meditation, Jozan had hoped the tales of the elder druids in Grove of Lamatus proved true and a guardian might be given on to him.

Elsewhere on the ship, Avaniel began repairs on the dart trap he had salvaged from the Lady in Waiting. Asking around the ship, he managed to gather many of the more mundane material for the trap, but he found many pieces irreplaceable, requiring exact, specially crafted pieces to complete the mechanism. Jozan shut out as much of the action about the boat as he could, even ignoring the caution from Kaspar that a boat may be following their vessel. Seeing Jozan unresponsive, Kaspar found Avaniel, and the pair tried to spot the boat Kaspar had seen to no avail. Informing Aldrazan, the first mate called to the crow’s nest to spot anything odd. The sailor reported back seeing a boat fairly close to the coastal cliffs, seemingly no bigger than a fishing boat. The group thought it odd that someone might have such a boat, but Aldrazan reasoned that perhaps it was a boat for a tribe of humanoid monsters, goblins or orcs perhaps, that had taken a home in small caves on the mountainside.

Late that night, after the crew had all retreated to the hull of the ship for much needed rest, Jozan heard what sounded like clicking and tapping coming from behind him, perhaps midship. Ignoring the noise, Jozan was instead alerted minutes later to the sound of boots upon the deck of the Steelsnout. Sitting motionless, Jozan waited for the door leading below deck to open and close before racing to the bell at the aft of the ship, ringing it loudly. The crew emerged moments later from the stern door of the ship, cursing at Jozan. The druid was more focused on the grappling hook and rope leading to a small, gray boat attached to the side of the ship. After pointing it out to the crew, a painful yell could be heard from the aft door. Captain Jacob was under attack on his way to the deck it seemed.

Avaniel awoke to commotion above the adventurer’s tiny room below deck. He rose and grabbed his weapons to head to the upper decks. Jozan spotted the assailants as they retreated further into the ship after the skirmish. Dark folk. Avaniel flew past the group of creatures,only barely spotting the trio as he was ascending the stern of the ship as the cruel humanoids dove into the bowels of the aft. Jacob was badly wounded from the engagement, but with help from Jozan’s healing wand, he was able to recover his bearings and begin donning the armor and weapons Aldrazan had brought from the captain’s cabin. Jozan raced below deck to pursue.

Avaniel discovered to much shock that a pair of boxes in the ship had not been there before. Surmising that they could very well be the explosive globes that threatened Ailead, he instructed Kaspar and two crewman to toss them out the hull port holes. Struggling with some sort of paste holding the boxes down, the Steelsnout inhabitants were finally able to pry the boxes up. Together, Avaniel, Jozan, Kaspar, and the two crewman threw the boxes into the water below, Hoping the crisis had been averted. The group had scant moments to gather themselves before a series of fiery blasts came from below deck, shattering pieces of the Steelsnout. More explosives! The group watched panic spread throughout the ship. The captain opened up the cargo door to the deck of the ship.

“Rush to my cabin,” Jacob called to the others as water flooded the ship. "The ship will not sink, and there is much more dangerous things ahead.

Session 14: Bartering with Easthaven

Aldrazan, Avaniel Cerelion, Jozan, and Kaspar Ottokar continued their journey to Easthaven Island to barter with the pirates there. Short on manpower from the mysterious disappearance of Bu-Jinwen Nivaye, tensions ran ever higher, and they would only grow as the small rowboat pulled into a small dock squarely in the line of fire from a huge contingent of bulwark protected archers.

Pulling into the docks, an imposing bald pirate in a midnight blue coat waited for them at the dock. Establishing the groups intent to barter, the pirate, Adaxus, demanded the group disarm before being allowed to speak with the authority of the island. Seeing little options in their situation, the group relinquished their arms and was escorted deeper into the island.

A constant stream of heavy gray smoke rose from the center of the island, its source obscured from view. Against the backdrop of crude shacks, tent settlements, and wooden huts displaying flags, the contingent crawled in deeper and deeper until they were brought to halt before a particularly large hut of sun bleached wood.

Once escorted inside, the group came to meet Captain Rudo. The man wore a captain coat of lavender and black, and he sat at a table of other individuals with their own coats denoting them masters of their own ships. The shrewd captain and the group began negotiation for the safe passage of the ship. During early talks, the group discovered the island was cursed to those who use magic near it. Those who use magics in the area are said to disappear forever on the ever changing tides of chaos surrounding Easthaven. The group was quickly put into rough territory when they discovered the dark creepers of Ailead had put out an entire city’s bounty upon them. Also of note, the pirates seemed to have ties with the frost giants of the Molagona Mountains.

The group was unsure how they could offer a better deal to the pirates. After some thought, Rudo asked the whereabouts of a man in a red beret seen with the adventurers. Feeling the captain was referring to Roger, but unsure where exactly he was at, or going to in Urima, the group was at a loss. Jozan questioned what they could want with a simple man. The captain responded with an outrageous claim that Roger himself was a man of countless centuries in age. He claimed that a number of statues in Ailead, including the Fountain of Indomitable Spirit, were actually of the man at another time. Unfortunately, Rudo himself felt the group’s suggestion on where to look for Roger to unspecific for “frost giants seeking revenge on a monster.”

The group struggled to find something of use to give the leader of Easthaven. Jozan tried to offer the pair of symbols he had acquired on his journey. Taking them in hand, it was apparent Rudo could glean no useful information from them himself. He then sent Adaxus to show the papers to a “guest” of the island. After Adaxus returned empty handed on information, and visably shaken, Rudo thought to take the group to the Shaman of Easthaven Island.

The group snaked through the island on a winding route to a tight row of straight poles encircling an encampment. Looking inside, a haze of burning incense clung to the air around a small tent. Bones and ritual fetishes hung about the campsite. A Dwarf emerged from the tent garbed in robes of purple and black with a featureless mask covering his face. Upon introduction, the shaman asked the companions of their impression of Roger. He claimed he and “his kind” were abominations to the natural order of the world. The shaman cast bones and drew with soot on driftwood as he explained how men should not have the powers and immortality of gods. Proclaiming himself a follower of Yogir, he spoke of how Roger’s presence in this world broke the circle of life, death, and rebirth that was his deity’s charge.

The group grew uncomfortable around the shaman’s presence as he made his deal. He would pay off the debt Rudo had asked for, and in exchange, the group would travel to the cursed land that men went to when they cast magic within the borders of the island. Once there, they would receive a message from Yogir to be taken to a location of his lord’s choosing. When asked why Yogir could not deliver the message himself, the shaman informed the pair that the powerful god was imprisoned within the realm. The shaman assured a worried Jozan that he could direct the group to the appropriate meeting place of his master. All that was necessary was to find a leyline, such as the island, and cast magic upon it. Surprisingly, it was also revealed that the Mouth of Chaos was another of these leylines. The revelation was put on hold as the shaman awaited the adventurers’ response to the proposition. Reluctantly, the group agreed. After being outfitted with gear, the Jozan and Avaniel used their magic and were ripped apart on the oceanic winds.

The group came back to consciousness in a field of white, ethereal flowers. ghostlike petals clung to the delicate stems of the large field. As the group walked, a crunching could be heard underfoot. Looking to investigate, bit of bone lie strewn in the dirt around them. Looking across the blue and purple sky, a huge, monstrously humanoid, stone mountain loomed in the far distance. The size of the thing dwarfed the surrounding landscape in scale. All around Jozan and Avaniel appeared blurred, slightly twisted. The place unsettled the sensibilities of their sight and hearing as a humming breeze carried odd sounds upon it.

The group was broken from the spectacle when a pair of inky tendrils slid through the soil behind them, whipping about. The flowers about the field began to flare a bright pink. The pair watched as the tendrils grew upon them many pairs of misshapen arms that dripped a black ooze. Taking flight towards the massive mountain in the distance, they noted as more inky tendrils began to spring up from the sides of them. Looking back, the first pair of creatures peeled back the tips of the writhing tentacles to reveal skulls which held to the black material as though flesh. A piercing shriek emitted from the creatures as they sprang at the druid and ranger, their motionless lower arms ripping upon the bone dotted topsoil.

The group continued to run through the columns of tendrils, new monsters emerging by the moment. Ahead, just off the road, five shards of glass emerged from the soil on both sides of the road. The flowers blushed a shade of bright red as the glass shards ascended from the ground, revealing the shards to be fingers of a pair of hands. The hands planted upon the floor and pressed upon the now glowing, blood red field. Arms burst from below the ghostly plants connected to the hands, which gave way to a huge sphere that connected the two appendages. The black ball erupted to life with a single, bulbous, bloodshot eye. White stripes began to race over the creatures body as countless, tiny eyes blinked in sequence. The creature walked upon its two arms towards the pair, cutting off escape.

Desperate, Jozan called out, “Yogir, show yourself!”

In the distance, a flood of black clouds rolled over the land like thunder clouds, closing in. The pair raised weapons and prepared for the gauntlet of horrors around them. Many serpentlike horrors closed in as the black cloud carried on an invisible storm.

“Bow before me,” a voice called to Avaniel and Jozan from within.

Falling to the ground, the cloud engulfed the field around the pair. Blacker than the paint of a dungeon cell, The cloud surrounded all around them. The cloud broke after a few moments, and the pair rose to view the carnage. Small, ebony insect-men ripped apart the skin of the creatures bit by bit and began to consume them. the disgusting scene ended rapidly as the creatures fell to the plague that was sent for them. When all was calm, The pair’s savior was revealed.

A certain abstract quality was permeated throughout the whole of the figure. Its magnitude was massive in a scope befitting mythical mountains which would lead to the heavens themselves. The massive creature’s body was a skeleton covered with tattered, loose flesh and muscle wrapped, or perhaps even augmented, by sections of some black substance. In some places, the material was like ooze, others like cloth, mist, ice or any such form of material that the mortal mind could fathom. Its form seemed like that of an upper humanoid torso growing from the very ground below the pair. Two arms folded malevolently in front of the being, partially covered by one enormous wing from the back of the beast. The being’s other wing, tightly covering the head like a thick desert veil, unwinded from its head, a head both draconic and demonic. As soon as the mind could begin to grasp the shape, it would be horrified and sicked to notice this head was sculpted from a collection of dragon necks and heads, writhing in agony. Eyeless sockets, despite their vacancy, showed signs of what Jozan and Avaniel thought were either intense interest in their presence or, perhaps, intense appetite.

Jozan announced their arrival to the great Yogir, who proclaimed himself the master of this realm, despite his imprisonment. After verbally agreeing to the proposition to the deity in person, Yogir charged the group to deliver his message to a hill outside of Iberum capped by a weeping willow and a small, stone well. The behemoth being then vanished, replaced by a figure which walked from the very sky to meet the group. he wore robes similar in design to the shaman of Easthaven Island. Jozan was made to lay bear his back, and the follower of Yogir inscribed the message upon his back with a sharp, metal pen. When this was complete, he instructed the pair to seek a cabin not far from their location. He said that inside they would find a leyline back to the normal world. With the message in tow on Jozan, the follower once again walked upon the air to leave the pair to their fate.

The group quickly found the shack in question. Jozan crept ahead to examine the scene. Listening through a window, Jozan heard a collection of people arguing on the inside about a person, Simon, murdering another person, Sophia. After some heated tension, swords burst from the interior of the cabin, and fierce fighting could be heard within. After a few moments of silence, Jozan entered to find a room devoid of any people or bodies. Inside the dark interior, broken furniture lay untouched. Jozan located the leyline, and, together with Avaniel, the pair prepared to return to Easthaven Island. As Jozan faded away, Avaniel saw the small cabin being torn apart bit by bit by hundreds of grotesque hands. Looking through the window of the small room, he viewed hideous monstrosities of inky blackness call out a prayer, a poem, a prophecy as he used his own magic to escape.

Hail the four lords
Evil fleshed true.
None innocent.
Stage settled,
Millions for night,
Hundreds for moon.
When all is gone,
A new king be crowned.

The pair returned. After a short gathering of the Steelsnout ambassadors, the group was on their way back to their vessel. Late at night, the boat was unanchored, and the Steelsnout continued its journey to Northlight.

Session 13: Without a Trace

Upon rising the next morning, Jozan spotted Telletar Jacob, Cpt. and Aldrazan at the stern of the Steelsnout. They stood looking off to Easthaven Island, weighing their options. The druid could see through his spyglass that the pirates of the island were still preparing supplies and ferrying cargo towards the cavern in the Molagona Mountains. After some thought and consideration of their options, the captain, his first mate, and the traveling companions decided it might be best to meet the pirates on their own terms for negotiation. So the adventurers and Aldrazan were sent out by rowboat to the island.

The trip proved to be unnerving, as both Jozan and Aldrazan kept close watch on the island over the course of the journey. The pair saw that the pirates were preparing for the boat. Men began donning armor, spiked bulwarks were placed upon the beach, and cargo boat departures became slower. Over halfway to the island, both Jozan and Kaspar Ottokar felt extremely uneasy. Anxiety and slight paranoia washed over the druid and the worker.

Their unease was given face when the murderous crone who attempted to capture Jozan under the Steelsnout the previous day appeared again. She leapt from the water and grabbed hold of Avaniel Cerelion with her putrid, black clawed hands. As the creature began to pull the hunter into the water, he managed to barely slip out of her grasp. Failing her initial attack, the creature dove underneath the boat to escape retaliation, a tactic that would frustrate the group constantly. An accompanying seaman from the Steelsnout began to panic and paddle the boat at a fevered pace. The creature rose from the water once again to brutally rake Bu-Jinwen Nivaye on another pass before getting struck by the First Mate, Avaniel, and Jozan.

After a second look at the creature, Avaniel guessed that it was probably a sea hag, a creature renowned for its ability to instill mental fear in prey. He worried that another murderous gaze assault would put Jozan or Kaspar into the “living death” that sailors had spoke of in Ailead. Voicing this, Kaspar quickly dropped onto the deck to be out of sight of the creature. Bu-jinwen cast magic healing upon himself to bind some of the considerable damage he had taken. Finding it difficult to mount an offensive from his position in the small boat, Jozan took up the other oar from the seaman and began to help him move the boat away from the creature.

Another exchange of arrows and claws left the hag seeking a different strategy. Producing a feather from her tattered blouse, the sea hag crushed it in her palm, causing a floating whip to appear. The item rushed at Jozan, tangling about him. The group continued to fight back as the creature broke another feather to produce another whip, this time targeting Aldrazan. Jozan continued to wrestle with the whip, constantly having his flesh rended raw. Kaspar jumped into action to help his companion be freed from the whip many times. The boat had come to a stop with Jozan entangled. With focus drawn to the whips aboard the vessel, the group had thought they had seen the hag dive below the waves. Bu-jinwen called upon his training in the arcane to attempt to track any magic she had with her underneath the vessel.

Bu-jinwen vanished. The companions saw their comrade flicker as a whitenoise of ephemeral energy before being scattered and carried off on the oceanic winds. A wave of shock passed over the vessel in that slightest of moments. The crew of the tiny boat was ripped back to reality by the still perilous whips still drawing wicked marks upon them. After a few more moments of lashing and peeling, the whips’ magic seemed to dissipate and leave the group wondering.

Where did the Sinoan warlock disappear to?

The seaman lay on the deck of the small boat pleading to Dom for deliverance. Aldrazan pulled the man to his wits, and the group uneasily, unnervingly, continued their journey out to meet with the pirates.

The winds of fate ripped the son of Nivaye through the nether with such speed as to tear away all which he was. Spiraling, falling, ascending and twisting, he had made his way into an oblivion unfathomable to him before. As though a string on a minstrel’s instrument, the movement and vibrations slowed when some unseen, clandestine force came upon Bu-jinwen, pulling him towards reality. The warlock’s senses were awakened to an ensemble of voices he found intrusive, thunderous, reverberating, and fatalistic. The whole silent peace, or maybe horror, of the scenery pushed to the back of his mind when he spotted a simple fact. The demon tutored young man was not on the vessel he left upon. In its stead, he drifted about unsteadily on a vessel torn to sunders. The half ship creaked noisily, and a sound like scratching and pounding resounded through the fractured hull.

The landscape around Bu-jinwen was cold in colors. Greens, blues, purples and their many shades permeated as far as the eye could see. From the hand he passed in front of his face, to the distant horizon, all things misshaped, contort, and mutated as though they existed in perpetual vertigo. The only other color of the area came from the rippling tide below him, a tide devoid of water. Looking over the edge of the ruined ship, the nobleman could make out the horror of thousands, nay thousands of thousands, of indescribable creatures reaching up towards the sky with pleading limbs. As they lie piled upon one another as if a mass grave had been uncovered to macabre results, Nivaye felt his eyes grow weak with strain trying to decipher any particular form in this ocean of diabolic variance. He almost felt pity for the creatures until their blood curdling screeches betrayed a murderous intent. A large number of them began their ascent up the side of the wrecked, wooden vessel. With the power of his magic detection spell, Bu-jinwen squinted against the awesome power being released from a point of light upon the ruined vessel. The magic was torrentially powerful, easily consuming any notion of limit the warlock thought magic might have in reality.

The creatures that clambered up the sides on the wreckage and onto the deck all had the same, distinct, but unsettling features. The creatures seemed to assail Bu-jinwen’s sensibilities of what was right, believable, fathomable. The torn flesh of the creatures revealed wiry, tenuous muscles coursing throughout a network of throbbing veins. The creatures gave him only the most passing notion of being humanoid in shape, save a pair of putrid, clawed arms protruding from the waist of the horrors. Elongated limbs pulled the creatures on deck. The second arms of the creature then planted upon the deck, and with scraping thumps, they began to crawl towards the awestruck warlock, legs dragging along. The formless nubs which sat upon the shoulders of the creature held onto skin that folded as wet cloth.

Bu-jinwen had no illusion that he would have time aplenty to work on a way from this place. He thought quickly, panicked, believing that perhaps if he could contact the great magic force on the boat, he would leave this area. He rushed forward to touch the powerful nexus. The creatures stretched their malleable limbs towards him, not quite reaching. worried at this, Bujin-wen backed away immediately after contact with the anomaly but to no avail.

The creatures moved in planting awkwardly upon their sickly legs to attack with all of their arms unhindered, clawing at the demon hunter’s child. They ripped at his flesh from close and afar, grasping with every pull of their animal-like swings. Bu-jinwen pulled back, managing to escape their holds. He looked down to note a black gaseous substance seeping from his acquired wounds. Stepping back, the warlock drew upon his magic to conjure a magical web upon his foes. With that in place he could think, strategize, discover a new way to escape this nightmare. His arms moved up to spread the arc of steel strength material and was greeted by a pair of arms which reached out. Shock crossed the face of Bu-jinwen as the claws of the creatures tore his arms to shreds from shoulder to finger.

There would be no hope, no mercy. Bu-jinwen Nivaye was torn apart. Organs were laid bare and removed. Muscles were peeled from the white bones. Skin caressed with blade like hands that scraped it from the carcass.

They did not feed.

They did not revel.

They welcomed.


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