Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 3))
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 1), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 3), with familiar Dirty Bird, riding hound Stinky Dog, and henchman Mumbles (Specialist/Thief 1)
Torak (Cleric 1)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)
It was a tense voyage from the crystal caves back to the anchorage. Yorik was almost apoplectic with rage when he found out the party had destroyed the Kalandrian cosmic computer before he got a chance to probe it's memory banks for the lost knowledge of that advanced civilization. Only Rold's cooler head, and the reluctance of the crew to tangle with hardened adventurers, keep him from ordering everyone thrown over the side in mid ocean. But once back at the anchorage, the party was booted off the "Loreman's Passage" forthwith. And they were joined by Beuford and a couple of other crew members who had gotten a little to friendly with, in Yorik's words, "the enemy"; Xavier the swashbuckling sailor and Mubbles the mostly mute mate.
Now stranded ashore, the party made the rounds of the anchorage to see what was going on. Ships at anchor and associated rumors and job opportunities included:
- "The Magnificant Marios" - A merchant, Marios is a bit full of himself, can't be trusted, and has prices higher than anyone else. But he usually has a few potions and scrolls for sale.
- "Nalco's Rowboat" - A tiny rowboat with a cabin on it is the home of the mage Nalco. Rumor has it the inside of the cabin is actually a full wizards tower. Nalco sells scrolls and potions, can ID magic items, and can provide anything alchemical. He is also looking for a party to go explore "The Magical Isles", a weird archipelago of cursed islands, bizarre wizards, and lots of neat magical stuff. He wants magic items, not interested in the gold, and will supply transportation.
- "Serpents Revenge" - Back at the anchorage again, having bought the commission from the "Divine Providence". Left and came back again, but the crew is staying well away from the rest of the ships and not being social. No indication if Thorgrim actually found the lost ship or even went looking for it.
- "Divine Providence" - The captain, Yorgam of Tarsk, has had a terrible time finding an away crew (probably because he is a bit of an ass). Sold his original commission to the "Serpents Revenge" and lured an away crew aboard with promises of a better deal. This time has a commission to find a different lost ship, but this one is loaded down with gold nuggets.
- "Two for Trouble" - Sailing for the bronze door in the jungle. Looking for an away crew. Standard split of treasure, but captain gets first pick of magic items and lotus.
The party also picked up a few other potentially useful/interesting bits of information:
- The abandoned shantytown is a little less abandoned this time. A group of adventurers has set up a bit of a tavern/gambling racket. Rotgut ale made from ... well, you probably don't want to know. Along with the few refugees who didn't leave before, and a few others that have drifted in, it's almost looking like a little village. A dirty, ramshackle an generally lawless one, but a village just the same.
- Many of the sailors report encountering an increased frequency of ghost ships.
- Pirates have been encountered lately, but not coming from the mainland. They seem to hail from some as yet undiscovered lands to the east.
- An excessively drunk sailor claims to have see a huge floating island of seaweed, miles across, populated by mermaids and unicorns.
Weighing the options, the party decided Nalco offered the best combination of loot and excitement. So they mooched a ride over to his rowboat, and indeed there was a full tower inside that cabin. Nalco, they found, looked and sounded like a 13year old boy. That was a bit odd, but he seemed to know his magic stuff. Nalco repeated the offer; he wanted unique and powerful magic items. The party could keep the gold and any minor magics such as potions and scrolls. And depending on how much they brought back, he might even let them keep some of the good stuff. When asked, the adolescent mage was a bit vague on the details of transportation, telling the party to essentially wait and see.
Deal sealed, the party went shopping for supplies; Nalco indicated they'd have to supply their own basic items such as food and water. Chaff was able to turn the eyes of petrification into store credit with Nalco, who provided a continual light coin and identified Chaff's wand (a wand of paralyzation) in return. Chaff also snagged a new spell, bonewarp, for his spellbook from Marios. Kwinsea meanwhile went on a bit of a dipsomaniac bender, and had to be physically restrained from marching off to pick a fight with Bellaphrone the Incontatrix.
A few days later, the party met with Nalco again, ready to head out to the Magic Isles. The mage now had a small sailing boat in addition to his own rowboat, and he turned to two vessels towards the open sea. Once out of the anchorage, Nalco pulled out a huge brass horn. He blew it, and after some time, a great baleen whale surfaced next to the rowboat. The mage explained the leviathan would carry them and the sailing boat to the isles and deposit them there. Handing the horn to Abdul el Abdul, Nalco explained they needed simply to sound it again to summon a whale to bring them back. Once the party was in the sailing boat, the whale proceeded to open it's maw and float the vessel onto it's tongue. There, amid the smell of whale breath and rotting krill, the party passed a number of days, feeling the beast moving through the depths. And were suddenly blinded by bright sunlight when it vomited them forth at the end of a chain of islands; the Magic Isles presumably. As the whale dove and left them floating there, Abdul el Abdul used his directional crystal and estimated the Magic Isles were probably 4-5 days voyage somewhere to the north-east of the anchorage.
Of the Magic Isles themselves, a half dozen were in view. Chaff sent Dirty Bird aloft and observed a few more nearby, and then hints of additional islands towards the south-eastern horizon. On one isle, a black stone tower could be seen. Otherwise there was no sign of civilization. After some debate, they decided to check out the largest island, which lay between them and the isle with the black tower. The large island was long and narrow, essentially a long mountain ridge fringed by shallow salt-marshes and grassy dunes. Getting closer, they spied the remains of a road running through the dunes. And both heard and saw a mass of crocodiles in the salt marsh between them and solid ground. The maneuvered the boat around the reptilian beasts, and sent Xavier and Mubbles over to side to haul them ashore. Once there, they tied up the boat and headed east on the ruined road. After about an hour, they came to an intersection. The road continued along the shore and a branch climbed the mountainside towards a low pass. At the intersection they also found a freshly mounded pile of sand. Abdul el Abdul checked out the path, and found faint signs of booted feet, probably weeks old. They had come from the east, and returned that way in lesser numbers. After an hour long detour up to the pass (which revealed nothing but a better view of the black tower across the channel), the party gathered once more at the mound. The party guessed the mound was a grave, so Mubbles was handed a shovel and told to start digging. He uncovered a body, wrapped in a shroud. Xavier decided to show off by grabbing the shroud and whipping it off without disturbing its contents. Said contents were a body, a few weeks past it's prime and still dressed in armor. It was also missing a leg, chewed off by something it would appear.
Just what chewed the unfortunates leg off became clear momentarily, as a growling sound was heard from the nearby salt marsh and three hungry crocodiles slithered out of the mud and grass. A fumble of attacks ensued, and Beuford once more had the distinction of getting chomped first. Chaff ended it all quickly, however, by dropping a web spell on a pair of crocs, while the third turned and headed back to the salt water. After carving the up the reptiles and rooting around in the grave for loot, the party reburied the remains and proceeded east. Eventually the road came to at a spot that looked like it once held a dock or a jetty. There were signs again that a group of people and and boat had been here weeks before, but nothing remained of interest today. So the party marched back to their own boat (after discovering that the old road petered out a few hundred yards west of their landing sight), and sailed around the island until opposite the lack tower. It was getting late, so they hauled ashore on the north side of the large island (less swampy and crocodile infested than the south side) and made camp for the night.
After an uneventful night, the party boarded boat and head for the isle of the black tower. It was rocky with no obvious landing point, but they were able to get ashore and tie the boat to a good solid rock. Exploring the island, they found it was pretty much bare of plant life. There was a faint path leading from the tower to a flooded quarry, and scattered along that path were large numbers of long-rotted logs. As for the tower itself, it was about 50' high, with no windows. Scattered around outside were about a dozen partly dressed stones that looked like they came from the quarry. With nothing else to check out, the party headed for the tower. There they found a set of double doors, flanked by a pair of huge statues in the form of amazonian warriors holding large maces. Torak cast detect magic, and to no ones great surprise the statues and the door glowed. They also now noted a small brass bell above the door. Kwinsea cast a cantrip to ring the bell, at which point one of the statues animated. It reached for the bell and rang it seven times, after which the doors opened. Nervously, everyone filed through the portal and into the tower.
Inside, they found themselves in a rooms that seemed to take up 1/4 of the tower. A set of stairs wound up the outer wall, and the room itself was filled with statues. All of human warriors, and all moving. Most simply swiveled about on their pedestals, swinging weapons and turning. Two marched back and forth in front of a door in the north wall. Torak's detect magic showed that all (surprise!) were magical. Kwinsea and Xavier walked over to the door, and the two pacing statues suddenly stopped and blocked their way. It looked like they would have to deal with them if they wanted to go any further on this level. But the party was afraid that the rest of the statues might attack if they interfered with the guards at the door. So they came up with a plan. Chaff would web the door guards while everyone else stood watch from the stairs, covering the little vivimancer in case of a disaster. When they climbed the stairs however, the party was surprised to find they could talk. Each riser has a gargoyles farce carved in it, and they were quite mocking and insulting. After numerous comments about the party members weights, body odor, and manners, Kwinsea did manage to speak respectfully to one stair. It revealed that there was nothing beyond the door but a kitchen. Nobody believed that, so Chaff cast his web. That entrapped the guards, and none of the other statues seemed to change. So taking leave of the chatty stairs, the party bashed the webbed statues, then bashed through the door. On other other side of which was indeed a kitchen ...
2 Living Statues