Sunday, November 26, 2017

Far Isles Session #75 - Secrets Revealed

Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and Riding Dog Puppy Whuppy
Torak (Cleric 6) 
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 3)
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6) 
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 5)

Before leaving, the party hid their cache of 5000gp gems in one of the volcanic caves. Over the course of several days, Torak cast animate dead to turn the charred and drowned cannibals into zombie guards, whom the party dressed in the cast off bronze armor and weapons from the stone ships. They also provided a platoon of similar guards for the surviving villagers, promising to return when they next visited the the Jungle Isles.  

Zombie Skaarl
Setting sail, the "Purple Haze" was in the familiar situation of fighting ahead a head wind while trying to get back to Xin. The slow going slowed down even more around sunrise of the second day. They had barely left the isles behind when Chaff, who was on watch, spied a vessel approaching from the stern. It was difficult to see any detail in the dim morning twilight. He had the crew call Lynessa on deck, who on arrival pulled out her spyglass ofr a closer look. She reported a galley or longship riding were low in the water, but the rowers were still bent over their oars, driving inexorably forward. Expecting trouble, Chaff went off to rouse the rest of the party and the musketeers. As the sky began to lighten and their pursuer closed the gap between the two vessels, they could now see potential trouble. The ship was a Skaarl longship with Skaarl warriors at the oars. They were no longer men, however, but undead. Up to eighty of them to be exact, led by a worm ridden and salt encrusted captain.  Lynessa was ordered to set all sail in an effort to outrun her, but the headwind slowed the "Purple Haze"  considerably. The crew started to bring the "Purple Haze" around so she'd run before the wind, but that was a slow process and the undead ship continued to gain. So the party prepared to meet them with force. The musketeers were arrayed at the catapult, ready to fire when the longship came in range. Chaff and Kwinsea both cast some protective spells, and Torak started his holy chant. Chaff also cast a spell on Rodrigo, which resulted in the swashbuckler sprouting as set of bat wings and a tentacle. Only temporary, assured the vivimancer. Meanwhile, the crew had been packing musket balls into a keg of powder. This was handed to Rodrigo, along with the ring of invisibility, who then rose into the air to get ready to bomb the longship when it came closer. Kwinsea then cast summon aquatic monster, and in a few minutes a group of 6 bearded mermen broke the surface nearby and offered their services. She sent them off to attack the zombie ship and to check out its hull, to find out why she was riding so low in the water. 

Preparation complete, combat began when the longship drew closer. It opened with a solid hit of flaming pitch from the catapult, burning 8 zombie rowers at the oars. They were quickly replaced, however, by others standing by. Kwinsea's mermen swam up to one side of the longship and stabbed a few with their tridents before turning away. Torak turned the rowers, affected only a few. Those, having no where to run, cowered in the bottom of the boat. And still the long ship came on, getting closer to the "Purple Haze". At this point, Rodrigo sprang (or rather flapped) into action. He dropped, still invisible, into the stern next to the helms-zombie. He dropped the keg and lit it, now becoming visible. After a quick stab at the helms-zombie, the swashbuckler flew back into the air and as far away as possible. Half a minute later the powder keg exploded, sending a blast of wooden shards and musket balls sweeping across the deck. That not only destroyed about 20 zombie Skaarls, but it obliterated both the helmsman and the rudder. Unable the steer, the longship passed beneath the stern of the "Purple Haze", which had been turning towards the east this whole time. The musketeers raked the ship with fire, but did little damage ('powder's wet', they muttered), and the two vessels moved rapidly apart until the zombie longship finally disappeared over the northern horizon.

The Mermen
The mermen reported the longship had been in good condition; no sign of holes or other problems below deck. It looked to them the longship had just shipped water driving into the waves. They then tuned to dive away, but not before Awg used his charm aquatic creature to get one to stay behind and join the party.  With the merman clinging to a rope trailing behind the ship, the "Purple Haze" turned back to the north-west and continued on it's way. Apart from contrary winds, the only other encounter was with a great sea serpent which Chaff magically converted to vegetarianism; after grazing for a minutes on the seaweed clinging to the hull, the monster slipped away into the depths once more. The next day, the wind shifted to the beam and the "Purple Haze" made better time. After a total of seven days sail from the Jungle Isles, the ship came within view of the Anchorage. 

Fearful that Calcidius might be waiting for them in the harbor itself, the party had Lynessa drop anchor on the opposite side of the island, so they could row ashore and head over to talk to Bellephrone (assuming she was still alive). They moved through the open pine forest easily, at least until they were getting clos to Bellephrone's hut. There they were met by three of her wild boar guards, and they were not happy. Hoping to be recognized, Kwnisea allowed one to sniff her from top to bottom. But the boars' fur rose on their backs and the started to snuffle and shuffle, getting ready to charge.  Kwinsea cast a tidal force to keep them away, and Chaff caught a couple in his web. The party then called out for Bellephrone, and in a a few minutes the witch appeared outside her hut, calling off the boars and gesturing for the party to approach.

She greeted the party, and then laughed cruelly and wagged her finger at them. "You have made some powerful enemies, my friends" and told them of Calcidius' attack on the anchorage. He sank both the "Serpents Revenge" and the "Magnificent Marios" in a flurry of fireballs, slaughtering all the crew and leaving the burned hulks in the anchorage. The other ships fled, allowed to go as the wizard had no quarrel with anyone who'd not interacted with the party. Chaff asked how Bellephone had escaped. She simply laughed and winked, and told the vivmancer it would take more than one wizard to do her any harm. That made everyone's eyebrows rise, as obviously the witch was more than she appeared. So they asked her to tell them her story. And this time she opened up a little more about both her origin and the origin of the Far Isles. She didn't say exactly who she was, but hinted she was both thousands of years old and possessed great powers. The mist itself was some sort of cosmic intelligence that, from time to time, would drop out of the space between the stars and onto an unknowing world. There it would stay for awhile, then usually lift for a short time, before returning and then carrying off some or all of the lands it had covered. By this means, the motley collection of lands the people of Langushur called the Far Isles had been formed. Every time to mist lifted on a different world, people would arrive to explore and make contact with the isles. Sometimes they were also trapped when the mist returned, and these newcomers would  join the Isles permanently. Bellephone also dropped the bombshell that she had been the first to be trapped by the mist.  She, and a few other powerful beings, were permanent inhabitants of the mist. Whereas others could leave if the wished when the mist lifted, she and her beings could not. The party learned that H'sslik the Lizard Wizard was another of these powerful prisoners. 

The Mist
All this gave the party food for thought, and so they asked Bellephone what her wish would be. She wanted simply to stop the cycle, the get out of the grasp of the mist. And so the party offered to help by tracking down the secret of the mist. They asked for information on the other powerful beings of the Isles, and she gave directions to the far east to meet with another of her fellow prisoners in the mist. His name was Empyrius, and was a member of a god-like inter-dimensional race. Bellephone hinted that he would know more about the behavior of the mist, but did note that she had not been in contact with him during this mist 'cycle'. Good information, but first the party had unfinished business in Xin and with a certain crazed Calcidius ...


1 Merman 

20 Skaarl Zombies


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