Aldrazar

Varsa Baalim is a hell of a place Pt I
"You can trust them as much as you trust Desini."

Following the capture of Israna, Content Not Found: monk-rogue and Rend by the Dread Pirate Eliah Stormbrace, Dirkle and Maiara managed to escape Shackleton. They commandeered a worn out, patchy, leaking rowboat that took them just far enough to bring word to the rest of the Stormcatcher‘s crew. Naturally, they were treated with a measure of suspicion and incredulity, but were eventually convinced of the truth behind Dirkle’s tale of kidnap and ransom. They were still wary of the strange, wolfish newcomer was standing in the corner, measuring them all with her lupine eyes.

Alain, concerned about his first mate, decided that immediate action was required and had Rune and Rion plot a “safe” course to the ancient ruins of Varsa Baalim. Unfortunately, Rune was thrown off a little by the realisation that their destination was but a short distance from Calrossie, the original site of Rune’s encounter with Stormbrace and the undead.

The journey, which should have taken approximately 10 days was extended by poor plotting to 5 days. Rune only realised that they were instead a week off course as they were sailing directly into the teeth of a storm, which Rion had not seen coming. Acting quickly, they managed to get the ship turned around in an attempt to outrun the storm, but lost two crewmen ( Redshirts) while doing so. Maiara’s unusual control of the winds and Rion’s prior experience with motivating a crew managed to win out, and they soon left the storm behind them. After following a new course, avoiding a strange ship with a black flag, the Stormcatcher finally pulled into Baalim Bay one month after setting out. The crew lost some morale, but the addition of a skilled ship’s cook had maintained everyone’s spirits.

During the intervening time, everyone on the ship had plenty of opportunities to interact. Owing to their common friend (Aramond) Rune and Nymira became fast friends, much to the chagrin of Desini. Also during this time, there were two more deaths on the ship: one had overdosed on herbs prescribed by Nymira to an entirely different crew member, and one from apparent suicide, explained by a note he left in his bunk. The death tally is now 4.

All of these deaths could actually be laid at the feet of the Gehennas onboard the ship, who have a powerful need to cause death, motivated by the small print on their blood oath with Mephistopheles. Desini, cutting through the social intrigue on the ship like a polite shark through a swimming pool, had manipulated three of these crewmen into providing the deaths she so needed, and expertly covered her tracks. Rune, on the other hand had accidentally caused the death of only one by not securing a safety line and has recently started exsanguination (unpleasant bleeding from orifices), despite his belief that he was still protected from the negative aspects of his blood curse.

Captain Al, always the people person, attempted to assuage the fears of the crew with a rousing speech. Misjudging their temperament spectacularly, he instead caused widespread discontent and did irreparable damage to their morale.

Sullenly bringing the ship into the bay, the crew were greeted with a vast volcanic island, wrapped in thick tropical growth, studded with the exterior ruins of a once grand complex and surrounded by colonies of Skinwings and Chuul who had made the upper caldera and shoals their home respectively. The crew was part way through regaling each other with tales of Kelleron, the Goliath Ranger who flew his tamed skinwing in an aerial battle with a dragon when they noticed a strange hut standing on stilts in the bay, constructed out of a wrecked ship and the site of a desperate plight of an elderly man who was beset on all sides by Demons.

Throwing their arms into the air at the old man’s plight, the crew went below decks to discuss their next move, while the demons also threw the old man’s arms into the air (followed by several other body parts). Dirkle, who had surreptitiously managed to plant a homing device on Israna, declared that they had 2-3 days before Stormbrace arrived with an expectation that they would trade the Sword of Tyr with him in exchange for their compatriots.

After much arguing, the party settled on an away team of Alain, Rune, Rion and Maiara; leaving Nymira in charge. Impressed by her friendly and helpful personality, Al put Desini in co-charge of the ship while they were away. Rune is happy with this arrangement because he remembered that it was his birthday, so he is now expecting a surprise party.

After deciding to try the front door first or otherwise seek ingress through the underwater caves, the crew of the Stormcatcher settle down for the night, in preparation for the exploratory expedition tomorrow.

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Brother Vincent's Almost Adventure Part 1
"Don't open the door without me."

After the climactic culmination of a ritual that put Erevan in contact with the Raven Queen and the Spear of the Skylord in his hands, Those Darn Elves took some much earned time off.

Meanwhile, Kendall assisted Bertok and Dallan with the construction of Dallan’s new Inn. She formed a fast friendship with them, being both more knowledgeable and likeable than the other healer in the Town, Mika. As a vital contributor to everything that made it possible, she was given the honour of hanging the sign as the final finishing touch before the Dwarven Stout was broken out.

Erevan spent his time in meditation, sometimes accompanied by Mika (who proved to be much less annoying while silently meditating). Over time, a sense of respect developed between them. They recognised that each had the same depth of devotion, but to different gods. Van became more sure of his faith, and his ability to turn the mighty primordial weapon into an instrument of his goddess’ divine will.

Torva, well Torva went hunting.

While she was several days away from Seahaven she came across a strangely diseased, half-rotting corpse of a buck she had been tracking recently. It had fallen into a stream and despite her efforts, the corruption had started to spread through the nearby area. After investigating the immediate area to the best of her ability, she decided that getting some samples (which may have cost her some exposure to the corruption) back to her friends for immediate study was the most pressing matter to attend to.

She returned to Seahaven, but unfortunately the samples she showed to both Kendall and Erevan were beyond their experience. This, plus the rapidly approaching deadline for Officemaster Pendleton’s demand for “new settlement paperwork”, eventually made it clear to Kendall that she could not put off heading to Riva City any longer.
However, while they were in Seahaven, they decided they should really check out what was behind the door that poor Corky traded his life to discover.

Brother Vincent, being the ever curious sort, was incredibly excited to be one the first in eons to see deeper into the Stronghold. He accompanied the party to the location but then had to run back to town to get some note taking supplies. His appeal of “Don’t open the door without me!” barely faded before the door was opened and the party descended down a trap-filled stairwell. That same stairwell that nearly cost Kendall her foot, and more.

The stairwell eventually deposited them (some faster than others) in a small square room, with large battleaxe-wielding statues guarding locked doors on each side of a central plinth. The side of the plinth was adorned with several small openings and a button, and surmounted by an ornate set of scales. This entire mechanism was surrounded by Arcadian runes, which translated to “Nine are given, Eight are false, Truth lies heavy.”
By correctly arming the two southern statues with battleaxes, found lying nearby, they located a secret door to the south and proceeded to investigate.

The secret room was dominated by a large orrery, a desk covered in mould-eaten tomes and a single mirror, that was lit by a single burning candle. As Torva investigated, a secret compartment was discovered, containing multiple gems. The slow burning candle turned out to be a powerful holy symbol that illuminated more than just what light usually reveals. Using the ghostly reflection of the room, from far in the past, to guide them through the process, they aligned the planets to a celestial event that is due to happen shortly. This revealed a large necrotic force staring down at the planet with many hungry eyes.

The alignment triggered the strange figure in the mirror to attempt to communicate with them. After much mistranslation, they discovered that the upcoming celestial event was being targeted by Khirad (the necrotic entity), that it had happened before, and that there was some source of power buried beneath the complex.

Leaving the mirror wizard and his depressing warnings behind, the party decided to investigate the western room. Upon entering the room, they discovered what seemed to be an elaborate container for several keys and some more gems, but was in fact a trap containing a Gelatinous Cube.

“Well that was arduous and sticky” – Kendall
“I probably should have burnt that deer corpse” – Torva

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Shackleton Shenanigans Part 4
Purple is the Worst Color

Last Time: Maiara put the party in contact with a goblin called Knish who managed to get them involved in a biannual gladiator match between Lord Cyniscus and Darius in the hope they might be able to negotiate the release of Kel’tahn. They were shocked when their opponents turned out to include the dread pirate Eliah Stormbrace and his paramour Tyranny.

This Time: After successfully trouncing Cyniscus’ fighters in a battle that involved young Conri making her second and third kills (Tyranny and a cruel gnoll that had made Conri’s life a living hell), the party found that they had won themselves enough fame and prestige that Darius wanted to thank them personally.

Urkan was literally gobsmacked by Darius’ female orc bodyguard Snak and has stayed with her to ‘court’ her.
Darius provided them with gifts from his personal armory and an unclaimed boon that anyone can claim by telling him that Israna of Moonleth sent them. He informed them that he had been approached by Tyranny who tried to wheedle some muscle out of him, promising him the “Favor of the Lord of the Ninth”.
Lord Cyniscus took Kel’tahn off his hands for some reason and wanted to give the party their winnings in person.

Hurrying along to Lord Cyniscus’ palace, they were ushered into his throne room by K’leah just in time for him to demonstrate the full power of Asmodeus’ Grasp, which he operated by donning a helm very similar to the Helm of Seven Deaths that Israna had acquired.

After his casual use of the lives of two slaves in order to blast a nearby quarry bare of life he offered the party a deal, he wanted someone to venture into Varsa Baalim to fetch what is obviously the Second Sword of Tyr. After some negotiation the deal was struck in exchange for Vyazia‘s freedom, use of his shipwrights and Maiara’s memories. Israna ran her mouth a bit and therefore they didn’t get an opportunity to talk to Helbrek Hiddenbrew, who had been pulled off of the slave auction block several days ago.

The prize purse for the gladiator match was 10,000sp, he provided them with a Bag of Holding to carry it in (finally) and a scabbard for Israna to transport the sword in.

Upon arriving back at Maiara’s house they discovered that it was on fire, surrounded by Imps that had obviously set the blaze and already partially collapsed. While rushing heroically into the blaze they were set upon by a powerful band of Chain Devils, at the beck and Call of Stormbrace and Tyranny leading to their capture.

The Twist: Rend was left conscious, still collared and chained, but suitable for Stormbrace to talk to. Additionally, Tyranny is very dead, so the party has assumed that it was in fact Askavan in disguise.

Some Background:

The Best Part: The interaction with Darius, in which the party got presents and Snak was flirting with Urkan.

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Sea Trek
Shackleton Shenanigans Part 2

Last Time: The party had managed to infiltrate Shackleton disguised as the slaver they had captured, unfortunately this disguise didn’t last long as Conri ran his mouth too much. They were ambushed just after Toh tragically died in the ruins of The Master’s Whip before Israna could ask him about the sword she was carrying.

This Time: During the fight with the Chosen and misc slavers (hobgoblins and gnolls) outside the destroyed inn, Cyniscus discovered Israna was holding the First Sword of Tyr and that she was in the company of an escaped pair of “twins” (Conri and disguised Rend). They managed to fight them off and flee throughout the town, with Rend blowing up several barrels of lamp oil in the middle of the marketplace being followed closely by Maiara, Conri’s bounty hunter.

The Twist: Maiara is unhappy where she is and is doing her job only because Cyniscus has her memories of her family, she has agreed to assist the party in return for a way off the island as part of their crew.

Some Background: Shackleton is a slaver port under oppressive rule by Cyniscus and his Chosen where reluctant gladiators are given an opportunity to fight their way to “freedom”, only to become virtual slaves to Cyniscus in the hope they will get their pre-slave memories back.

The Best Part: Rend copping a hooked net to the face and nearly falling into a pack of slavering hyenas (Gnolls). Conri thinking the trapped secret compartment hid a massage table.

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Adventure log hey
This could prove useful

I guess we’ll see.

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