Sunday, July 31, 2016

Far Isles Session #40 - The Pale Lady

Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5), with henchman Otock (Dwarf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 4), familiar Pretty Bird, and henchman "No 7" (Halfling 1)

Pushing on, the party continued up the winding river, having to make a few decisions along the way about which channel to follow. Late in the afternoon, as they were coming upon another branch in the river, they first had to deal with a threat from above. As they passed under a grove of overhanging swamp cypress, three black snakes dropped onto the boat and raft. One each landed on Kwinsea and Jaz. The aquamancer escaped with just a small scratch, but the one on the elf bit deep and injected venom. Jaz dropped like a stone, frothing at the mouth. Kwinsea jumped in the water to avoid getting bitten again, and Chaff used instinct to force all three serpents to flee into the river. Otock bravely jumped from raft to boat, and successfully sucked the poison from the fallen elf, leaving her limp but hanging to life.

Fire Pig
When that ruckus died down, the party was forced to once more make a choice about direction. The northernmost channel became quite shallow, with mudbanks and sandbanks making it a difficult stream to navigate. It was also teeming with crocodiles. Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to scout, and the bird reported back with a bewildering array of possible paths ahead. In the end, the party decided to take the widest channel, which led to the west. They did not go far, however, as night was falling. Finding a suitable spot, they pulled the raft and boat up on a bank and got ready to kindle a fire. Before they could do much, they saw a small canoe come around the bend, silhouetted against the setting sun. Everyone went silent, and waited to see what danger approached. It turned out to be three men and a pig, the porcine occupant hogtied and with a heavy leather bag over its head. The men seemed to be talking about hunting or searching for something, and were headed back to Xin after having no luck in their search.  At this point, Abdul el Abdul shouted a challenge. The three men turned with  start, and the pig let out a low squeal. Relived to see there was no immediate danger, but still quite vary, the three (Jaro, Murl and Goz)  fell into conversation with the party. They remained coy when questioned about what they were doing here in the back swamps. And everyone was quite curious about the pig. They were told it was a decoy, and when pressed about the hood, Jarro whipped it off the creatures head for a demonstration. Under the hood was a regular boars head, but when it opened it's mouth, a gout of fire shot out. This was no regular pig. The three men were obviously quite knowledgeable about these swamps, so Chaff tried to convince them to join up with the party. When they showed no interest in this proposal, the party instead pumped them for information on the swamp and The Pale Lady. The swamp, they learned, was crawling with chameleon-men, crocodiles and pteranodon. Of the Pale Lady, they knew nothing. But did mention a weird spot further upriver, populated by midget adventurers in the services of some 'lady'. Pleasantries complete, the 'hunters' continued on, tracked for a while by Pretty Bird, who learned they were looking for plants or something similar.

After an uneventful night, the party pushed out into the stream once more and continued on their way. There were fewer channels now, and the land was getting higher and drier as they approached mountains on the horizon. They passed a chain of ox-bow lakes that seemed to lead north, but elected to continue along the river instead.This proved to be a poor choice when they were attacked again, this time by a band of chameleon-men who dropped on them from the trees above. The chameleon-men tried to take a captive using nets, but the party's swords and a meld flesh spell from Chaff ended that plan, leaving two of them dead on the deck, and the rest fleeing through then trees. 

Just a few hours later, they finally poled the raft to their destination. Off on the left bank, a man-made canal joined the river, and waiting there in the tall grass were two tiny figures. Dressed and equip as adventurers, but only 2' tall, the pair challenged  the party in their high squeaky voices. Once informed of the delivery from Bellephrone, the pair waved the raft and boat down the canal. It led into a long narrow bayou, at the end of which stood a massive cypress. Height-wise, it was impressive but not particularly notable. The roots, however, spread wide and high, formed a large entrance leading under the tree. As it was dry ground under the roots, the party carried the box ashore and headed deep into the tangle. It didn't take long before they came to a shimmering curtain of light, like sunlight reflecting off a spray of water. Chaff cautiously pushed his staff through the curtain, and it came back unharmed. That made the party feel a little safer, so they marched straight through. To their surprise, they found themselves standing in a field of flowers under bright sunlight. Scattered throughout the fields were pairs of the midget-adventurers, overseeing strange emaciated rabbit-creatures that were tending the flowers. At the end of the field stood a structure, a series of interconnected domes formed out of rose briers. Intercepted once more by midget-adventurers, the party stated their purpose and were directed to see "The Lady" in the brier structure.

Entrance to the Realm of the Pale Lady
The party came to a pair of bronze bound wooden doors guarded by a pair of midget-adventurers. These opened the portals and let the party inside, where they found a most unusual sight. In the centre of the room, flanked by more midget-adventurers, was The Pale Lady. White of skin, hair, and even eyes, she sat on a cascading throne of water, wearing nothing but a crown of thrones. Haughtily and sharply, she demanded to know their business. Informed of their burden, she accepted the box from Bellephrone, "the one who sees all in the Isles", and then brusquely ordered them out. Chaff engaged the frightful lady in conversation, asking if there might be some boon for fulfilling their task. First of all insisting that 'the cattle' (Abdul el Abdul, Otock, No 7) leave, she did deign to engage Kwinsea, and especially Chaff, in a terse conversation. She offered a boon, either a look in her mirror (which would allow them to locate anything they desired in the world), or teaching a spell. Or a chance to learn the word of creation, which she frankly did not recommend, noting that mere mortals cold not handle the power. In the end, Chaff and Kwinsea took the easy route, and choose to learn a spell. While they discussed which of them would accept the boon, the Lady spoke again. She offered to teach a second spell, in return for Chaff spending the night with her. That sounded OK to him, so while Kwinsea bedded down in the audience chamber and the rest of the party in the fields, Chaff spent the night with a fairy goddess ...

The Pale Lady
... and awoke in the morning, in a haze reminiscent of cheap wine and expensive perfume, to find that she was very visibly pregnant! And not interested in further companionship; she taught the spells to Kwinsea and Chaff, and then abruptly forced them to leave. Picking up Abdul el Abdul, Otock, and No 7 on the way, everyone trudged silently back to raft and boat for the journey back.

The journey back was largely uneventful, until the pteranodon attacked just before they reached the ruined fort where Rodrigo, Corvus and Captain Solond awaited. The prehistoric creature dove from the sky and at the raft, which everyone was frantically trying to get in under the trees for protection. After a few unsuccessful passes, the boat and raft were safely hidden, and the creature had been pummeled with missile fire and rope work by Kwinsea. It crashed into the water, and as it flailed about and tried to rise back into the sky, a final burst of missile fire finished it off.

The rest of the journey was likewise uneventful. They transported Captian Soland and several of his men back to the Palace of the Faceless Inquisitor in Xin, where the officer arranged for more transport to go back and get his men. The party, meanwhile, scattered again about their respective urban business:
  • Chaff went looking for apprentice mages, so he could get them drunk and drain some blood (to pay for the spells he wanted from the vivimancer Volana).  He was successful, but took too much blood from one poor fellow. He was on his way to dying of shock until Chaff forced a potion of healing down his throat, before rolling the unconscious mage into the alley with his companion;
  • Chaff and No 7 then went on a bender, the vivmancer to wipe the memories of his night with the Pale Lady from his brain, and No 7 to celebrtae being out of the gods-forsaken swamp.  Chaff ended up arrested for some bad prank involving removing someones toe and putting in their drink. But thanks to the intervention of Captain Solond, got away with just a small fine. No. 7 ended up with a tattoo of "Smoke if You Got 'Em" with  a rather limp and phallic looking stogy beneath;
  • Kwinsea also went looking for spells, hopefully without having to sacrifice anyone. She did track down a scruffy, smelly old aquamancer on the docks who agree to teach her in return for gold and a live octopus. Gold delivered, but octopus still to come. 
  • Abdul el Abdul was the sober one this time, and went looking for rumors of the "San Lorenzo" and the shape shifting Captain Moncada. He found out that the ship was in port and captain-less, Higo de Moncada having disappeared just after they delivered their dinosaur captive to a buyer in the Decadent Menagerie
The party also hit the taverns to hunt down rumors of the Far Isles:

  • A new archipelago had been discovered and was open for exploration to the north-east. Well populated by humans, and overrun by pirates. And a dragon in the service of the pirates. 
  • Several vessels were still plying the Jungle Isles to the south, bringing back dinosaur parts and outlandish treasure. And leaving behind a few lost ships and men.
  • One drunk sailor, who claimed to be a former crew member from the "Waverunner", told them of a miles' wide cluster of sea stacks, grottoes, and arches, studded with secret shrines, hidden treasure vaults, and walls of gems. And something about pink fluffy unicorns, so who knows if he's talking the truth ...

A few new spells, courtesy of The Pale Lady

2 chameleon-men
1 Pteranodon

Jaz (temporarily)

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