Twilit Seas

Chapter 4
The Blasted Heath

After the battle in the basement (and some debate) the survivors of the Black Bird made their way upstairs to the church proper. Essaying the situation outside through a hole in the shutters, they saw that the sky was covered with clouds, making it dim enough for the Skrael to fight, and that the town was on fire. They resolved to end a few skirmishes and free up some of the defenders to turn the tide of the battle, then to make their way to a nearby hilltop where it appeared the magical effect on the sky was centered.

Their first skirmish was nearby a barn which appeared to house Phororhacos and some of the town’s other main beast of burden, an exceptionally large and tractable breed of goat. When they reached it the barn roof erupted into flame, the result of an Earth-bound elemental of Fire. However deadly the beast seemed, it was backed up by only a small cadre of spearmen, and the entire enemy group was easily defeated. The adventurers decided to borrow the barn’s Phororhacos to reach the hilltop faster.

On the rocky trail leading to the blasted heath, the party was blocked by a pair of the brutish knuckleduster-wielding Skrael, who when intimidated sprung a trap too early. As the party attempted to scare the Skrael out of their way, a horde of juvenile Kruthik burrowed out of the ground surrounding them and attacked. However, the split second of warning was all that Quick Ben and Empty Mind needed to greatly thin the ravening hordes, and Vimak and Carambys were easily able to overpower their Skrael leaders.

The hilltop was revealed to contain a small force of exceptionally deadly Earth-bound elementals of Wind and Lightning, which blasted the survivors of the Black Bird without remorse at the direction of their Skrael summoner. However, the elementals were bound to totemic staves which made them easier to target and destroy, and once the summoner fell the battle was mostly over.

Upon their return, they were not quite lauded as heroes, but certainly had gone a great way towards improving the public attitude towards them. As such, the priestess announced that they would be able to visit with the local goddess…

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Chapter 3
A Battle On Shaky Ground

After the council meeting, the survivors of the Black Bird were finally able to catch their breath and feel vaguely more civilized. Slave clothes and insignia were traded in for items more appropriate to their status as free people. In particular, Carambys, hobgoblin paladin, spent a good deal of his share of the group’s meager savings to re-equip himself with cosmetics and a silver war mask, while Vimak, the goliath warden, found time to craft the trophies he had taken into practical gear. While it was Omar and Kail that escorted the group about town, it was the elven ambassador Tannah Thyrlen who spent the most social time with the adventurers, mostly in her secondary capacity of town librarian. After a repast at the Golden Sheaf – the local brewery and bakery cum restaurant – the group settled down to rest in the church basement.

They were awoken from their rest by a loud rumbling, and the ex-slaves raced to don armor and weapons as the wall to their chamber crashed in, revealing a number of Skrael with a vanguard of Kruthik beasts digging the tunnels! After defending themselves from the first assault, the characters set to rescue Tannah from other incursions into the church cellars. They found Tannah in her quarters unhurt and sent her upstairs while they dealt with the Skrael stealing barrels of beer, functionally the town’s drinking water supply. Unfortunately, what would have been an easy fight was compromised when a second fully mature Kruthik burrowed up from underground to flank the group, and a few lucky poisoned quills turned a trivial fight into a matter of life and death. After a few close calls on the parts of Carambys and Empty Mind, however, the foes were vanquished and the survivors of the Black Bird made ready to assay the situation on the surface…

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Chapter 2
A Rapid Downriver Journey

In the absence of external stress and pursuit, the survivors of the fall were able to get to know each other better as they rested, waiting out the aurorastorm. After the skies cleared, they proceeded to use wind-felled mushroom stalks and some of their camp supplies to construct a large raft. On their voyage downstream, they ran afoul of the native wildlife that habitually preys on game leaving the tainted lands – luckily, Vimak, the Goliath Warden, was sharp-eyed enough to give warning as three crocodiles swam to the attack. Both he and Carambys, Hobgoblin Paladin, were eventually dragged into the water by crocodiles, while the remaining three members battled the last crocodile and some opportunistic blood hawks. Quick Ben, the Human Wizard, was grabbed by the last crocodile (which was perhaps offended by his piratical garb), but Empty Mind, Half-Orc Monk, beat the crocodile away with bare hands and feet. Digger, Revenant Cleric, used skillful prayer to keep even the most injured alive.

The group eventually came to a set of rapids too rocky to take the raft through and resolved to lighten the raft and attempt to pull it over and around the obstacles. Unfortunately, this waterline course took them through the domain of a wolf pack lead by a Krenshar, a common type of devil-blooded beast. Though they were savaged quite severely by the jaws of the wolves (particularly Carambys and Ben), the paladin shouted for his god’s aid and was answered, scoring a telling blow on the devilish beast that nearly cleft it in two with one swing. The remainder of the wolves, their unnatural leader destroyed, proceeded to flee at their best speed.

Once the band of survivors was able to return to the river, they made good progress, sighting a fleet of fishing boats at roughly the same time as they saw a smudge of smoke on the horizon. The fishing boats fled from the rafting strangers, and in a few miles a trio of armored knights riding Phororhacos (a sharp-beaked riding bird standing four feet at the shoulder) rode from the town to meet them. Though there was an absence of common language, gifts of crocodile meat and the display of the krenshar skull to the wolf totem-displaying soldiers made a favorable enough impression that the party was escorted to the nearby town peaceably rather than under arrest, though their weapons were temporarily confiscated.

In a meeting with the town council, the party was introduced to five important townsfolk: Kail, the shifter soldier who had brought them in; Bertram, a portly human merchant; Emmeri, an aged gnomish priestess; Tannah, a reticient elven diplomat; and lastly a dark-skinned halfling short an eye and a leg by name of Omar, who spoke Salt, the pirate tongue, and was able to translate to Argot. After some brief speech and introductions, when the conversation got too difficult the priestess Emmeri asked her goddess Amranté, the local lady of the grain, to translate, using the large blue-wooded table as a focus. With the magical assistance the band was able to speak with the town council freely and slowly won over each individual member to at least a grudging tolerance and acceptance that they did not serve Gryfe willingly. The last to be convinced was the merchant Bertram, who acquiesced only when Empty Mind was able to communicate with him via an improptu sign language common to many northern thieves, and in return demanded that Empty Mind see him to work out some sort of deal.

The meeting was interrupted by a rumbling in the earth that heralded the arrival of three scarred and sunburned Skrael, the mole-people that the party had fought immediately after their descent. With the translation of Kail, it was understood that these Skrael demanded the surrender of the party for their crimes against their god, He-Who-Burrows. The council refused their demand and sent them away, then offered to escort the party around town and bed them down in the church basement.

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Chapter 1
The Fall of the Black Bird

The session began when the players awoke from the slave-trances enforced by the Copper Torcs bonded to their necks. As they came to, they realized that Gryfe’s ship, the Black Bird, was slowly falling out of the sky, and that Gryfe the Bonecarver, their captor and master, was likely dead.

They made their way to the escape pods only to be accosted by a Bronze Collar named Dalk the Red, a flame wizard of some moderate skill. He attempted to cause the ship to destroy them completely, but had to settle for summoning zombie and skeleton servitors to try and slow the party down while he readied his escape.

After defeating him and his servitors, the party captured him and threw him into the back of the escape pod (which was in reality a combat troop dropship made from the hollowed-out body of a giant beetle.) During their rocky descent to Koth, a matter made lengthy and complex by the distances involved, they were attacked by Fell Taints, which attempted to eat the magic powering the ship. The party was forced to land on a passing asteroid to disembark and fight off the Taints, suffering only one casualty as Dalk’s unconscious form was consumed by an injured Taint.

They then landed the ship, but unfortunately landed in a cursed area with neither shadow nor antumbra, where neither sun was visible. Attracted to the crash, the natives showed up to investigate; creatures called the Skrael, hairless and malformed, attempted to bring the party home for their supper and were rebuffed with some cunning traps and skill at arms.

The fall of the landing craft, however, dragged some of the Aurora in its wake, causing an Aurorastorm to brew above the party. They were forced to sprint away from the crash site with only what they could carry, dodging tornadoes, hail, and meteors while enduring scorching heat waves and freezing cold snaps varying from minute to minute. Finally they took shelter beneath a rocky overhang, building a wall out of their survival supplies to ward off the worst of the wind and other weather effects.

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