The Land of Corra

The Tower of Trials
Sessions 32 and 33

While the others were swinging picks in the light of Altons lantern, Aldo went back to check the door. He found the charred, ashen remains of Janiiras body. He looked around finding her boots, flaming rapier, and a blob of gold that had been the coins she had on her. Aldo took it all and went back to his comrades.

He gave the rapier to Theia, since it was too big for him to wield effectively. It was her turn to rest, so she gave it a quick test. She stopped suddenly and perked her ears up. Alton and Solvi stopped picking as a mechanical noise echoed down the hallway, followed by footfalls. Everyone grew tense, wondering what had come from the door this time. To their releif, it was the ever enigmatic Balvilli. He asked them what they were doing and informed them that a massive army had gathered on the other side of the stone. Aldo inquired about how Balvilli managed to get into the corridor. Balvilli had them follow him as he lead them down the corridor.

About halfway to the door he stopped, used his pack as a step stool and felt along the ceiling. He soon found a secret release and opened a passage on the ceiling, which he quickly climbed into. He motioned for someone to toss his pack up to him, then asked them to follow. One by one the party climbed up into a small crawl space and rushed to keep up with the quick moving dwarf.

They followed him for several minutes. The crawl space soon gave way to a tunnel network. Balvilli didn’t slow his pace for an instant. It was all Aldo could do to keep him in sight as he took corners suddenly. When Balvilli finally did stop, they found themselves at a well lit camp of some sort.

“Come out.” Balvilli said. A female gnome stepped out of what passed for a tent in the Underdark. She wore leather armor and carried two daggers, but played a high quality lute. The part of her appearance that made everyone in the party groan was her bright pink hair, held back in pig tails. She introduced herself as Pindlefoot, a minstral.

They discussed how she had survived down here for six months and how Balvilli could help them escape. Balvilli proposed an assault on the tower, since he couldn’t take it alone, in exchange for his assistance with opening the door. With everyone on board with the plan, all of them set off through the tunnels toward the tower.

At the final leg of the journey, an open approach to the tower, everyone who could hide did. Solvi alone proceded openly. As they approached a duergar at the top of the 80 foot tower called out to Solvi asking him to surrender. In response, Solvi threatened the total genoside of the duergar race for them “laying (their) dirty, filthy, grubby, discusting hands upon (him).” The cheif duergar sent a telepathic threat to the others who were hidden, but that only hardened their resolve.

Pindlefoot cast invisibility on Aldo. They waited a few seconds for him to get near the tower before they moved in. The four guards at the door fell quickly and they entered the tower. The circular tower was about twenty-five in diameter, and there was six more guards waiting for them inside. They posed little challenge to the party and after a quick fight, they moved up the ladder on the opposite wall from the door.

On the next floor, there was seven more guards, one of them was dressed like the clerics they had fought previously. The fight took awhile but little harm was done to the party. They looted bodies quickly and climbed the ladder up to the next floor. The ladders seemed to be staggered from one side of the room to the other. A process which repeated all the way up the tower.

As they climbed the tower they were faced with more and more enemies. Alton fell as they were clearing out the second floor. Pindlefoot cast a healing spell which stabilized him, but didn’t revive him. Solvi argued against using more spells on him, they left him and moved on.

The next two floors were so packed nobody could move. The other thing which made things difficult was the appearance of more clerics. They fought one on one until weaknesses appeared in the duergar ranks. Aldo quicklly exploited those weaknesses and caught many duergar off gaurd with his hammer. They eventually cleared the third and fourth floors.

On the fourth floor, one of the two clerics had used a wand of healing during the battle. Solvi grabbed it, using it to heal Aldo, Theia, and himself. The next floor was much the same as the previous two; fighting until Aldo could gain advantage. Clearing the fifth floor had taken a toll on Balvilli, he could barely stand and was having difficulty breathing. He stubbornly refused healing.

Attempting to climb up to the next level proved very difficult. A five foot walkway was all the room they would have as the tower reduced in diameter. Aldo bluffed a siege. They responded with incoming reinforcements. Balvilli set up a makeshift blockade on the other wall as Aldo climbed up the ladder.

Once the first enemy fell, Aldo made room for Solvi to climb up. The two of them fought their way around the tower, making room for Theia behind Aldo, firing arrow over his head, and Pindlefoot behind Solvi, playing an inspiring tune on her lute.

They soon enter the upper part of the tower, Solvi is hit with a psionic bolt as he opened the door. Three duergar stood before them in a fifteen foot diameter room, two of which were holding psionic energy in their hands. The battle was fierce and bloody. The one percieved to be the leader had just recieved a devastating blow from Theias flaming rapier when he shouted “MERCY!” He gave into their demands, handing over a large key and asked them to just leave Svittlehelm, apologizing repeatedly. Solvi fought the urge to kill him anyway, but decided against it.

When they tell Balvilli what happened, Balvillis face turned grim. “You fools!” he stated as he willed himself forward to accomplish his goal. The party, now with Pindlefoot in tow, made their way down the tower. Each floor was now flooded with duergar, which parted as they passed. Theia picked up Alton and they made their way out.

A sea of duergar awaited them, a single pathway flanked by dwarves lead them to the now open tunnel they had been in earlier. Aldo tinkered with the key and door. To everyones surprize, on the first attempt, Aldo had angered the door which sent what could only be discribed as three golems made of magma at the party. They ran for a bit. Solvi, being the slowest, was the first to turn to face them. The others turned to aid their comrade. The battle was over quickly as the spell which manifested the golems wore of. They take awhile to rest before trying their luck with the door again.

Alton woke up moaning in pain, which turned to screems of fright when he saw where he was. Theia calmed him down and explained what happened since he fell in the tower, as Aldo attempted to decipher the door. On his next attempt the door opened and they leave Svittlehelm, Aldo took the key as he left.

Just beyond the door, Theia spotted some tracks which were poorly covered. Solvi wanted to not follow them, everyone else wanted to. Reaching a compromise they rested in a nearby cave until they felt ready, then headed in the direction of the tracks.

After several periods of walking until they were tired then resting, they came upon a stone bridge. It was well lit along its length, even Alton could see better. Another period of travel had them stopped on the bridge. They set off again and reached a sixty foot long gap in the bridge. A voice called out from the otherside and asked what business they had. “Trade and rest,” replied Aldo. A metal latice bridge was used to allow them enterance.

“Welcome to Rido,” said the dero guard. “You’ll need to surrender your weapons before entering the city.”

They complied and were taken by lizard drawn cart into the dero city of Rido.

All Hands
Session 31

The party had just started to catch their breath after the tiring battle whith the duergar, when they started to hear a low rumble. The noise grew steadily louder until the mines erupted with hordes of duergar. The last words of the lieutenant echoed in Solvi’s memory, “All Hands”. Janiira launched a few fireballs, into the sea of dwarves, roasting many but not stopping the onslaught.

Our heroes tactically withdrew into the barracks to funnel their enemies. They setup their defenses in the stairway and waited as the sound of pickaxes chipping at the door filled the hall. A great crash was heard upstairs as duergar breached the second floor. Theia and Alton split off to battle them. That wave of dwarves was dealt with quickly. Alton warned the others of more trying to climb up ladders while Theia pushed some of them over. Aldo and Solvi rush to assist their comrades, Solvi told Janiira to launch another fireball to signal that the door was breached and then run to them.

When the front door finally gave way, Janiira threw her fireball at the advancing miners and retreated upstairs, to her protection. The dwarves began to throw flaming bottles at the party. They had managed to set the first floor on fire and smoke rolled out of a nearby window as more bottles smashed on the fort walls. The battle was paused breifly allowing the party to escape over the parapet using the ropes left from the previous battle, unnoticed in the chaos.

The party make haste and flee quickly from the fort. They decided to try going the other direction and made substantial progress. Thier current path was illuminated by a lava lake that was just close enough to make travelling uncomfortable. As they travelled, the path became narrower until they were walking with their backs up against the wall of the cave. They were elated when they stumbled apon a cave with sitting water in it. As they began to question if they should fill up their water skins with the water, Solvi, who was now able to think of something other then the army that might still be following them, brought up his devine water spell and began to fill everyones waterskins. With fresh water for the first time in a while the party sat down and tried to rest near the cave entrance, this was quickly interrupted by what looked like a scouting party.

They retreated down the tunnel until it split, where they camped for a while choosing to douse their lights and sit in darkness. The scout party was by another force and had started marching their way. The count of the duergar was eight warriors, including a larger bald dwarf who seemed to be the leader. The party retreated further into the tunnel network following the wall until they reached another branch. It lead to a dead end, where our heroes took refuge and hid as a detachment of duergar scouted that tunnel.

They managed to stay out of sight, hiding behind some rubble. The duergar took notice of some odd whistlling, following it down another side tunnel. The party stayed put until a distant scream was heard from that tunnel. Survival outweighed curiousity as the party remained hidden and rested here, their first full uninterrupted rest for a while.

Their rest was disturbed by the strange whistling again during first watch. Unlike before, the whistling seemed to grow louder. They hid and waited for several minutes and were relieved when the strange dwarf from before appeared out of the darkness. He stopped to chide the party for not leaving, and called them fools for staying in the fort. As he walked away from them, heading the way they had come, Aldo shouted after him “How do we get out of here?”
Without stopping or turning the mysterious dwarf shouted back, “You’ll have to sneak through Svittlehelm. Follow the tracks. Oh and, Watch your step!” The last part was followed by boisterous laughter as he disappeared in the distance.

The party prepared for travel and followed the footprints from the duergar army they had hid from. After some miles, the footprints lead the party to a great pit, spanning the tunnel. At the bottom were several spikes impaling four duergar. Aldo eagerly climbed down and looted the still warm bodies. He returned to the party with his little treasure and they vaulted the pit.

At the end of the corridor a set of rails laid before them. At this point it was uncertain whether the dwarf meant tracks from footprints or for railcarts. They figured he meant railcarts, much to Solvi’s displeasure, and followed the tracks until they came to a “Y” intersection, of which they were approaching from the right branch. They found a crude signpost here in dwarven. Solvi read it quickly, doscovering the left branch led to a platinum mine, the right branch led to an iron mine, and the main branch led to Svittlehelm. There was some arguement here as to whether the party should escape or plunder the mines. Aldo won and Solvi led the way to Svittlehelm, all the while fighting the urge to take some liberty with the translation and go to the platinum mine anyway.

They travelled down a crude side tunnel. Solvi thought he heard a screech but paid it no mind thinking if he heard then everyone else had heard it. After it was heard a second time and everybody asked what it was did Solvi tell them that he had heard it moments earlier. They went down a branch in the crude tunnle and discovered a giant cave lizard, which Theia identified, with a large chunk taken from its side. It would surely die if its wound wasn’t treated shortly. After cautiously approaching it, the party decided, against Theias arguements, to let it die in peace. “What if the thing that attacked it comes back to finish the job and find us.” Solvi stated. With images of frightful deaths in their minds, the party headed back to the rails.

Hours later, with no further interuptions, they arrived at Svittlehelm. They paused near the entrance to plan their next move. From their vantage point, they could see the railway continue down into a great basin. A large round tower in the dead center of the basin seemed to draw everything toward it. The walls of this perfectly round cavern were carved in relief with images of ancient gods. The doorways were engraved with enigmatic runes on stunning arches. They guessed the spherical city had a radius of about a thousand feet, with the monolithic tower in the dead center. It was an architectural marvel. Even Solvi admired the craftsmanship of his foes, a pity he would have to kill them all.

Suddenly, an explosion was heard. A huge gout of flame was seen bellowing out of an upper window of an outer watch tower. Duergar warriors nearby scrambled on the ground level. A scene of utter chaos ensued. The party mused that Balvilli must have beaten them here. They waited several minutes to see what happened.

The sound of plodding feet could be heard behind them. They hid and waited to ambush what ever was coming. A train of railcarts came down the tracks, pulled by two giant cave lizards. It was being driven by an unarmored duergar, but had four warriors guarding him. The crew ambushed the group, an arrow killed the driver where he sat. The rest of the warriors were taken down with ease, and the party uncovered the load.

They discovered unrefined, unidentified ore. They devised a plan to sneak into the tower using the ore carts as cover and Solvi as the driver. They dumped the load, Alton picked up a cut gem as it tumbled out of the cart and quickly pocketed it. The party hid themselves in the mine carts while Solvi donned the drivers cloak. He struggled with the stubborn lizards before finally getting them to move forward.

They were stopped at an outstation, and a gruff duergar said something to Solvi in a lunguage he didn’t understand. Solvi was stunned, he, and the rest of the party, were expecting dwarven. Solvi doesn’t know what to say, which seemed to piss off the duergar and draw the attention of other duergar nearby. They were discovered. They engaged in combat, and defeated the nearest duergar before running to the opposite side of the city. They passed through an open arch and down the long tunnel. It led them to dead end with a strange door in a small room.

The door took up half the wall it was centered on. A large six branched device was mounted in the center of the door. On each branch was a different rune. Next to the door were two chains with large rings at their ends and a lever in a centered position. Below the lever were the same runes found on the door, seemingly divided randomly between left, center, and right. They examined the door further and fiddled with it a little. They discovered that when one chain was pulled the branches on the door would spin and land on a random rune.

They tried going back the way they came to find the dwarves had sealed the portal. The only way out was now figuring out the door mechanism. They went back to the door. Janiira used comprehend language to read the runes at the top of the door. “By the divine providence of Laduguer, enemies of Duergar shall not pass,” she repeated back to the others. Another arguement about whether Laduguer was a god, a man, or a mangod ensued.

They eventually discovered the door needed a large key which was needed to release the activator chain. Aldo was able to pick the lock and the chain was freed, it was pulled. But not before Theia and Solvi backed off about fourty feet. The stone dial read a rune that resembled two lines pointed at the top. The lever was in the left-most position, where the same rune could be seen beneath the lever.

At first nothing happened, but then Aldo noticed the fine stonework of the door getting slick and discolored. Then a thick vile smelling pool began to form from the ooze seeping from the stone. Alton lept back when the ooze burned his bare feet as is slowly began to fill the room. It writhed and squirmed as it grew. The grim visage of screaming faces occasionally bubbled to the surface. It lashed out and grabbed Aldo and Janiira. Aldo struggled to free himself, but freed himself with Altons help. The two tried to help Janiira, but the oozes smoldering pseudopod burned painfully as it pulled Janiira toward it and she collapsed from the pain. Regretfully, they made the decision to leave Janiira to die.

They made their way back to the sealed door, grabbed the picks they had grabbed earlier, and started chipping away futilely at the sealed portal. The party was out of ideas, morale sundered by the death of another comrade. They picked their way to exhaustion and drove the plaguing thoughts from their mind, for now…

Captives of the Deep
Session 29 by Anderson2

Eventually the party woke up to find themselves suspended in metal cages over a lake of lava. The sound of pickaxes hitting stone echoed through the cavern. Solvi was barely able to catch the lyrics of a miners hymn being sung. With nothing to do but wait, they waited and were eventually visited by three of their captors. They were lowered to a platform and taken one by one out of their cages, chained together, and then separated. Solvi and Targ were taken to a holding cell. One of the captors mentioned an intruder to the other, Solvi took note but remained silent until after they were gone. Aldo and the elves were taken to dais,he slipped free of iron manacles and promised to return with some help.

Targ turned into viper to free himself and hid as Solvi was dragged off for “information retrieval.” Targ attacked the one dwarf who stayed behind to search for him. A battle ensued, during which Aldo was able to sneak up on the conflict, steal a hammer off a nearby wall, and kill the dwarf.

Aldo knew Targ could use wild shape, and guessing that vipers weren’t common in the Underdark, he headed back to the girls with the keys he found on the dead dwarf. On the way back he encountered four more miners and went down in a fight. Targ hid as he was still a viper and wasn’t much use against the one dwarf so four was out of the question. Aldo was dragged to a large central compound while Targ made his way to the dais. Not being able to see in the dark, Targ explored a few corridors before he accidentally hit a hidden switch, which revealed a small pool of lava and lit up a small room with a dais with two elves chained to it.

Targ reverted from viper-mode and briefed Janiira and Theia. Janiira asked why he didn’t grab the keys? Targ answered “I was a snake at the time!”

Their first attempt to free the elves failed. Janiira offered to use an acid splash. Theia got upset. “We’ve been chained here for all this time, and now you tell us you could’ve freed us after the dwarves left!” Janiira splashed the chains with acid and they tried to free the elves, nothing happened. It took them two more tries to finally free the elves from the dais. they quickly broke the links binding thier hands and were free. Thiea looked towards targ as the groups temperary leader and asked what they should do, Targ replied calmly " I am of the opinion we should rescue our friends." Targ used some of his druid magic to heal the groups wounds and the set off to find thier missing commrads. They fallowed Aldos blood trail to a small room littered with mining equipment and quickly armed themselves with picks and Targ grabed a chain. As they continued down the corridor Targ mentioned that there was another intruder in the camp.

The party soon found a massive compound with high walls and multiple towers, this was the obvious place to find thier friends. They could see guards walking around up on the wall and decided they needed to get them down to their level inorder to get inside. Targ had the idea to create an obscuring mist and wait in ambush. The plan work as well as he thought when the investigating dwarves found themselved ambushed.

after the mist dissapated, Janiira poked head out, trying to see if there were any more dwarves. There were and she was noticed. More dwarves were sent to deal with the three companions. Targ created a fungal patch to make travel difficult for the new wave of dwarves and another fight ensued. The battle was difficult. Eventually all were defeated, except the sergeant who escaped back to the compound invisible.

As he approached the gates his invisiblity ended so the party caught a glimpse of him as he entered. Theia, from her vantage point could see a shadowy figure along the top of the wall grab a guard from behind and slice his throut.

Heading back into the hallway, the party stumbled across a pair of miners. In the miners attempt to flee, one is killed by Theia. The other escaped into a side passage and as the party pursued he reemrged confidently with a flaming rapier, Janiiras flamming rapier. The party quickly dispatched the fool and went in the store room. They found the rest of thier equipment there and armored up. They then decided to storm the citadel in an attempt to rescue thier allies.

Theia tried a long shot which fell yards short of the wall. The shadowy figure killed another guard, throwing him off the tower this time. That act got him noticed by the other guards who begin pursuit. The party take this opportunity to attack. Janiira cast mirror image and walks into the open. More dwarves were sent to dispatch the group. They were led by the gold chain wearing sergeant from before. He manages to keep them in a formation as they approach. Targ tried to divert their attention away from Janiira and Theia by mooning the oncoming dwarves.

The sergeant displayed a clerical skillset, and had some other unique abilities. During the frey, he grew to large size, but even that wouldn’t save him. Most of his men went down, and he once again vanished from the melee. Targ is killed by the single remaining dwarf. Janiiras attempt to stabilize him crushed the life from his body.

Archipelagic Pursuit
Session 27 by Anderson2

Njord’s Blessing was sandwiched between two Wherrian vessels. The ship to port was a two masted sloop with two ballistae per side, while to starboard was a large galleon with more equalizers than would be needed to end this fight quickly. The main party was tired and had used most of their spells after slaying the werewolf, Aldo shouted out “The werewolf is slain, all able men on deck if we are to escape with our lives!” He skillfuly slipped Njord’s Blessing into an archipelago, as he tried to avoid a costly battle. The galleon, unable to follow, turned and sailed off, while the sloop pursued.

The sloop turned and and fired a broadside against Njord’s Blessing. Two bolts sank into the hull. Aldo maneuvered for a volly, Sturla and Solvi returned fire before they went to man the aft ballista. A second volly from the sloop ended with one bolt sailing over the ship, and one hitting the stern hull. Afterward, the enemy ship was close enough to grapple Njord’s Blessing. Aldo surveyed the enemy. At this point a fight was inevitable. He counted ten enemy sailors and their orc captain. Orc archers fired on Solvi and Aldo, Aldo orders point blank shot, then the enemies boarded.

Targ casted obscuring mist, to hinder the archers. The crew tried to beat back the attackers, cut the hooks, in an attempt to escape. But, the enemy cast more hooks and sent everyone at our heros. The ferocity of the battle that ensued was massive, and grew with each second that passed. At the climax, the enemy ship inexplicably exploded at the waterline. The enemy captain ordered one last push to try and take Njord’s Blessing, which epicly failed. Aldo offered the survivors a chance to join crew. Those who wouldn’t join would get dropped off once they got to port. Fim, a Ruhnaheim dwarf, accepted the offer to join, as long as they stayed away from Ruhnaheim. Kor, a human warrior, declined. Aldo asked Kor why Wherry was suddenly so aggressive, and learned that Wherry asked Ryelle for an alliance, and Ryelle declined.

Targ spotted two survivors floundering in the water. Aldo was lowered by a rope to rescue them. Targ wildshaped into a dolphin to help, and once both were on board he left to scout the surrounding waters.

One of the survivors was an unconsious human male, the other, a wild elf female. She had a small cat that clung desperately to her soaked rags. She introduced herself as Janiira, and told her escape story. She said there were others below deck that were captured in the blockade that did not survive. Aldo soon realized that she was a sorceress and recruited her for the upcoming trip into the underdark.

Targ came back with reports of clear waters for miles around. The crew did some quick carpentry, and bilging, then rested their very very weary bones. they slept from dawn to noon before plans were made to abandon Solvi’s armor search, and head back to Walgrims Cliffs.

In Hostile Waters
Session 26 by Anderson2

“Where the hell are we?” Solvi asked Aldo as the Njord’s Blessing pulls into dock. As they went through a strict customs search, the Port Authority officer confirmed Aldos best guess, they had arrived in Ryelle.

Solvi asked Aldo for a chance to talk. The full party looked for a tavern, and found “The Salty Swine Saloon.” Aldo noticed that there was no division between Port Authority guards and City guards, they were all dressed with the crest of empire. Solvi cracked open a bottle of frostwine, in celebration of a defeated giant. After a couple of swigs, he begins to talk to Aldo.

Solvi decided that perhaps sneaking into Ruhnahiem from Ryelle might not be a good idea, a fact that Aldo agreed with. Solvi was willing to put a hold on his search for the dwarven armor he wants temporarily. He also thought the party should stay the night, and head back to Walgrim’s Cliffs in the morning. If he could get in good with the seabeards, they might make him some.

Three orcs sauntered through the doorway. Targ and Theia eye them with alarm and suspicion, respectively. Aldo and Solvi were too deep in their discussion, and didn’t pay them any attention. Aldo stated that since they were there for the night, why not see what they could get, then asked Solvi about what the supplies looked like.

Solvi flipped out a small log, and reported they were good. With a change of heart, Solvi requested that the party leave Ryelle quickly. Aldo wanted to see what the city had to offer, thinking that they might be able to get something here that can’t be found anywhere else, and they might not be coming back. Targ stated that anything he needed he can get anywhere.

“Ok, so what are we looking for,…captain…?” Solvi asked. The hint of insubordination in Solvis tone did not go unnoticed by Aldo who gave in to Solvis request.

As they stood up to leave, the tavern doors burst open. “Call to arms! all navy to the docks!” Shouted the guard in the doorway. The mobs of sailors rushed outside and headed for the pier. At the pier, the party could see a blockade of at least 25 vessels had blockaded the port. The enemy ships doused blockade runners with fire and acid from massive equalizers.

Solvi appologized for getting them into this mess with his search. Theia wanted to know what they were going to do now. Aldo stated that they were not helping them. Solvi just wanted to get the hell out of there. Aldo knew they had no chance. Njord’s Blessing might be fast, but it’s not blockade runner-fast.

Solvi noticed the flag on one of the blockaders and thought it might be Illyrian. He pointed out to Aldo who determined it to be a Wherrian flag. Since they’re not bombarding the pier, he sat back for a bit and watched how things developed.

Four hours passed, the navy was mobilized, and battle was engaged between the forces. The sea swarms with Ryellan vessels from all sides. The two sides squared off and blasted one another with equalizers, which light up the waters horizon with hues of reds, orange, greens, and blues.

They watched until the sun was low on the horizon. The skirmesh showed no signs of slowing, and Ryellan forces were waning. The crew decides to hit the market district before it closed. To their surprise, the vendors were all still doing their buiness as if they were oblivious to the cranage only miles away.

Solvi thought that being blockaded must be a regular part of their day, but wanted to find out if anyone knew better than they did.

Aldo found someone to ask, but soon realized that he had walked up to a slave auction. He went to turn around, not wanting any part of it. Solvi was interested and convinced Aldo to at least watch for a minute. They saw three orcs, two elves, and three humans all in wrist and neck shackles, chained together, one of the orcs stood next to the human auctioneer, who called out translated bids from the orcs in the crowd. The first orc is sold for 100 gold, and an arguement ensued once again between Aldo and Solvi. Solvi wanted to purchase as many as possible to round out the crew. Aldo was insistant that they were NOT BUYING PEOPLE. Ever quick witted Solvi spun it as not buying them, buying their freedom. So Aldo, hesitantly, began bidding, but soon got into a rythm and beat everyone on each subsequent auction. Aldo got all papers and keys from the auctioneer and the party took them back to the ship. The crew used their varied languages to explain to the slaves that they just bought their freedom and they would be set free at the next port of call.

Only Aldo and Solvi went back to the market to get the answers they were looking for. They find a general store after they passed by people openly selling sannish and vodare, two of the most restricted black market drugs. Solvi bought food, while Aldo asked the vendor about blockades and the frequencies of their occurance.

The vendor explained that they used to be a regular event back when Ket had an active interest in the political dealings of Ryelle, but they’ve never been attacked by Wherry before. And that the wherrians haven’t been involved in war for almost 90 years. He believed that the wherrians were simply biding their time. A customer interrupted with news from his brother who lives in Wherry. He said third handedly that they got a new ruler overnight! No one knew how he came to power, but everything was… different. The convesation took a slight turn as Aldo tried to gather info about how to slip past their navy. Solvi asked Aldo to speak with him outside and they left.

In the distance and closing quickly, they saw a young woman. She was barrelling down the street in a panic, her neck constantly craned to see behind her. Aldo tried to see what she was looking at. As she approached they saw she was wearing a filthy rag that only scantily covered her. Her hair’s dark and matted. About 50 feet behind her, four armed men emerged from an alleyway. One pointed in her direction and the group takes chase.

Aldo decided to let her pass. The woman closed quickly, still looking behind her. Not looking, she slammed into Solvi. The impact didn’t faze him, but the girl bounced back, staggered a bit before falling on her ass. She screamed and started crawling backward away from him. Aldo stepped between girl and chasers. She seemed to understand that Aldo was trying to protect her and whipsered “help me!”

The leader of the chasers spoke with Aldo briefly. Aldo gave them the normal one chance to walk away unharmed. They didn’t take it. Solvi cast ice slick, caught the entire group off guard and on the ground. They tried to regain their footing and turn the tide, but are sorely outmatched. Aldo and Solvi were victorious. Aldo and the girl, Aurelia, quickly looted while Solvi finished off any survivors, with Thor’s blessing, and the three went back to ship. Once back on Njord’s Blessing, Aldo asked about what he had missed and introduced Aurelia to Targ and Theia. They pointed out that Wherry was winning the blockade. They went below deck to get healing and sleep for the night.

They popped their head up in the morning to see the Wherry fleet had been reduced by half, but the Ryellan navy has been decimated. The blockade remained and began to open fire on the harbour. A mixture of chiseled stones and ballista bolts smashed into the docks and buildings nearby. Aldo, feltit would be safer to surrender, and decided to fly white flag and meet with the Wherry forces. Njord’s Blessing is intercepted by a sloop. The captain shouted “throw down all of your arms and prepare to be boarded.” A party boarded and Aldo is told his vessel was property of Emperor Droxalus of Wherry. Aldo tried to negotiate passage for Njord’s Blessing past the blockade, but his pleas were ignored.

The party was taken below deck and chained. Aldo hid his lock picks on his person, before someone came down to strip them of their poseesions. Once he was gone, and Aldo was sure that he wasn’t coming back, he took out his tools and got out of his cuffs. After releasing the other members of the crew and the slaves, they hit armory and armmed up. The party and slaves
split up into two parties and raided the upper decks.

During the first minute, Aurelia got hit badly and started to suffer a breakdown, as she began to turn into a werewolf. She attacked everyone in a rampage, and even Aldos attempts to reason with her fail. She killed most of the slaves that the enemy crew didn’t. The party retreated into the fore and aft castles, were Solvi finds his silver dagger. Once he handed the dagger to Aldo, Aldo was able to defeat her easily. As she morphed back into an elf, Solvi crushed her skull with his hammer.

Sticks and Stones
Session 25 by Anderson2

The party awoke the next day feeling the after affects of last nights drinking. Solvi, most of all had a nasty hangover. Falrak invited them for a quick breakfast and then offered to show them around the city. Their first stop was Lake Azkral where Falrak told them the story of Azkral Stronghold and the dwarves who held back the invading Tusmin armies. “It was here our last and greatest line of defence, the brave and mighty dwarves of the Nororil, held back the tusmin savages that sent wave after wave to die in these waters.”

Their next stop was at Kerallasrath Keep. An impenetrable fortress with impossing features and towering walls. Falrak informed them that only seacliff dwarves are allowed inside, and even then only higher caste dwarves.

Their final stop was a blacksmiths shop, owned by Gimias Rakaz, Falrak’s brother. Falrak offered the party a discount on Gimias’ wares and took his leave. Solvi inquired about purchasing a unique dwarven armor. Gimias explained that only royal guards were permitted to purchase that armor without royal approval. Aldo informed Gimias about the groups objective in the underdark, but learns nothing from Gimias that helps. One customer overheard Aldos convesation and introduced himself as Ergal Giliral and asked Aldo and crew to meet him by Lake Azkral.

Once concluding their business with Gimias, the party made their way back to the lake were Ergal met them. Ergal told them that he would help them get into the underdark if they would help him with a problem. He told them that his brother, Fim, had lost his whole family to a hill giant wearing an eyepatch made from a bit of goat hide. Ergal would have avenged his brothers’ family, but to do so would be dishonorable, as it would be considered robbing Fim of his vengeance. However, he knew that Fim will soon go out seeking vengeance, and doubted his ability to kill the giant on his own. He asked them to slay the giant before Fim died in his quest for vengance. Aldo asks if he wanted proof of the accomplishment, and Ergal said no, he just wanted his brother to discover the corpse, not knowing how it died. When his brother returns with the news of the discovery, he will know the deed is done, and he will show the them the way to the underdark, through the salt mines below Kerallasrath.

The party left Kerallasrath and headed back towards Nimdum. As they arived at the port authority, they were informed that the pirate Black Davy was opperating in the waters to the west. After a discussion the party decided to ere on the side of caution and took the long way around, eventually ariving at Port Bastion. They made their way towards Ket, traveling northeasterly. As they crossed the boarder they ran into a customs checkpoint, from there they made their way into the wilderness.

They continued travelling up into the foothills for a few more hours. After enterring a forested area, Aldo heard a noise in the underbrush. Aldo charged toward the source with Targ, Tusk, and Solvi walking after him, Solvi mutterring about the importance of it not being a giant. Aldo barrelled into a small clearing to find a startled elven woman, who drew her bow in responce to Aldos sudden arrival. With his friends not far behind him, Aldo tried to talk the elf down from killing him, and he figured that she might be a useful ally if she would join the crew. After the party introduced themselves, she introduced herself as Theia. Aldo told her about the giant that they were hunting. Theia told Aldo that she had recently seen that giant and offered her assistance to track and kill it.

Tracking the giant was easy as it knocked over any tree that stood in its way. They soon found a second set of tracks that joined the first and headed over a peak. The party gazed over the peak to witness two giants in the middle of a fight. Aldo thought that the giants might take each other out, which would make clean up easier. After some time passed in which the battle didn’t seem to have progressed any, Aldo, Solvi, Targ, and Tusk advanced on the two giants. As they did, the battle shifted and the giant with the eyepatch fell on his back and the other giant jumped on top of him with her breasts exposed, it then dawned upon them that the giants weren’t fighting, but were, in fact, procreating.

Aldo started the battle by striking the one-eyed giant in his good eye. A fierce battle ensued. The female giant flung boulders at Theia, while the others handled the male. The fight ended with Aldo, Targ, and Theia unconscious, Theia having been knocked out when Solvi hit her when the female flung him, and the male giant bleeding out threw a head wound.

With one giant down, his comrads unconscious, and his prey gone, Solvi set to work healing the group. After the group regained consciousness, they made their way back to Port Bastion, where they heard more rumors of the pirate Black Davy patrolling the coastal waters nearby. Aldo didn’t seem to concerned about the rumors, after all it was only one pirate ship in an enormous ocean. The odds of meeting that ship were one in a billion at best. At Solvis request, the Njord’s Blessing would set sail for Ruhnahiem in the morning.

Many uneventful hours passed as Targ, Theia, and Willem manned the sails. Sturla suddenly called out, “Ship! Ship off the port bow!” Aldo steered the ship to intercept, as the unknown vessel didn’t have any sails. Solvi, Targ, and Theia felt very uneasy about the situation and prepared themselves for battle, and once the pirates sprang their trap with several dozen grappling hooks the three set about disheartening the attackers, Solvi with his trademark ice slick, Targ through the use of lightning, and Theia with a volley of arrows.

The pirates held the advantage of numbers, but the crew of Njord’s Blessing had the better trained fighters. With his crew in jeopardy, the pirate captain ordered his men to stop and challenged Aldo to a duel. As he approached, Aldo thought his eyes were playing tricks on him, the man before him he had personnally seen get swallowed at the sinking of the PV Cuttlefish.

“You aren’t Jeffrey Davis, are you?” Aldo asked as Black Davy approached. At the mention of his name, he dropped his rapier and asked Aldo how he knew his name. The two former crewmates talked about some of the events that had transpired since the attack. Aldo eventually asked Black Davy to help spread the word about Njord’s Blessing. Black Davy promised to tell the tale about “the only ship to face mine and survive” to help Aldo with recruits.

After Black Davy and crew departed, Njord’s Blessing continued towards Ruhnahiem. When they got to the coat, there weren’t any ports that they could see, so they travelled down the coast until they got to the nearest port in Ryelle.

A Search for Buried Knowledge
Session 24 by Anderson2

As morning broke in Davinport, Targ found himself still outside the house of the man he believed to be the killer. He wanted to catch the suspect in the act, believing it’s safer to face a predator as a larger member of the pack. Feeling confident that the man was still asleep, Targ returned to his camp site on the outskirts of town. He retrieved his training pole then went to the watchmen barracks for more info on the suspect. Not long after, a guard burst in shouting they had found the killer. Targ followed the captain and found himself back at the house he so recently left. There was a large crowd gathered as murmurs of the scruffy, scarred man taking a young woman into his house began to circulate. A lieutenant and another guard waited outside the home. They informed the captain of the suspect’s threat to kill his hostage if the guard made any attempt to enter.

The Captain spoke briefly with Targ, and asked if he was willing to root the murderer out while he dispersed the crowd. As he did so, Targ approached the door and tentatively knocked. He received no reply. “Are you in there?” He shouted through the door. Still no reply. “You don’t stand a chance, you’re completely surrounded,” he bellowed. He was again met with silence. He tried the door, finding it locked. He shouldered it a few times, but it held solid. He shouted to the captain, who ordered a few of his men to get the ram. Quickly they returned, and with one well placed slam, the door fell in. Targ entered. The house looked the same as it did the last time he was there except that the rug had been pulled back revealing a trap door. Having some trouble with the door, Targ began stomping on it until he heard a loud snap and tried again. Having broken the latch, the door opened easily and with it came the sickening smell of rotten flesh.

Disregarding the stench, Targ slid down the ladder. As he turned around, he noticed the small, blood stained room was filled with numerous torture devices. At the far end of it there was a small altar, where, it would seem is where the monster had murdered all his victims. Between Targ and the altar stood the man, holding the young woman in one arm and a large dagger in his free hand. It was large for a dagger, and had a wicked curve to it. Both sides of the blade looked razor sharp, and were lined with jagged serrations. The twisted madman looked Targ in the eyes and spoke, hiding behind his hostage. “Ylang the Ichor Demon from the 17th coil of the abyss is always watching me. The blade I found at the water’s edge was cursed by him, and try as I might I can never relinquish it. The blade screams… It screams…” Targ was visibly uneasy. He watched in horror as the man suddenly drew the blade along the woman’s throat, opening it wide. He leapt at Targ, howling wildly. He issued a quick slash that Targ leaned to avoid. He counterattacked with his quarterstaff, striking a sound blow. The man retaliated with a wild backhand slash which caught Targ off guard. The blade bit into his temple just above the ear, shearing the flesh of his face all the way down to his upper lip. Targ howled in pain and smashed his opponent in the top of his exposed head. He heard the crack of bone, and the killer slumped.
As he fell, his hand opened,and the blade he held skittered across the floor, coming to rest by the evil blood-stained altar.

With the fight finished and the Davinport Slasher dead, Targ spoke with the captain before being escorted to the temple of Pelor for healing. When the priests cast their healing spells however, they had no effect on his injuries. Targ was certain there was some ill magic in the killer’s dagger. Being orc-blooded, Targ decided that a scar would be a good memento for his efforts and asked to get stitches. The priests took him to a chirurgeon, who was kind enough to offer his services..

Meanwhile in Issyc City, Solvi and Aldo awoke and began to discuss how to find passage to the Underdark. Solvi wanted to ask the dwarves who already dwell in subterranean kingdoms for information about any run-ins that they might’ve had, while Aldo argued that the sages in Gresden City might have some information on the subject. Both believing that their best option was to get back to Davinport, they left on their ponies and headed east along the King’s Road.

As the Border Mountains grew on the horizon the two saw a solitary figure headed toward them. It wore a dark robe and leaned heavily on his staff. As they passed by the stranger, they could see he was clutching his midsection. With a strained and trembling voice the traveler said, “I require healing…” and collapsed. The companions leapt off their ponies and Solvi cracked his knuckles. He set to work healing the stranger. He moved the man’s arm to get a better look at the wound. It was a gaping circular hole, through which his entrails were visibly hanging. Solvi petitioned his god for healing magic, and laid hands on the stranger. His cowl had fallen back, revealing his filthy face. It was familiar to both Aldo and Solvi, but they could not place from where. The healing done, the two stepped back and waited. A few moments passed before the man’s eyes fluttered open. “Where am I?” he gasped. “The King’s Road,” Aldo replied, “You were badly injured, but we healed you.” The man placed his hand where his wound should have been, muttering something about blasted paladins always getting in the way. “What happened?” asked Aldo. “I had a run in with a halfling to the south,” the man said, rather vaguely. “Why were you fighting?” Aldo pressed. “If I provide any further details, my master would be rather… displeased… with me,” he replied. “In any case, I suppose I am in debt to you. My name is Andrinor, and I thank you for sparing my life.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a small, smooth, gray stone. On it was inscribed a curious symbol, matching one that decorated each end of the man’s staff. He handed it to Solvi. “It is a sending stone,” he explained. “Use it to contact me when my services are required. I am powerful in the arts, and my specialty is necromancy.” Aldo translated this to Solvi, who was still struggling to learn the common tongue. “Actually,” Aldo mentioned, “There is one thing you may be able to help us with now.” “Name it,” spoke Andrinor. “We seek passage to the underdark. Do you know the way?” “Why in the world would you ever want to go there?” Andrinor asked, dryly. “We have our reasons,” Aldo replied. “I do know the way,” said the necromancer. “My master dwells there. And if it is your wish to waste my considerable talents by telling you the way, I shall.” Aldo thought for a moment, and changed his mind. He couldn’t be sure from looks alone, but this man seemed formidable, and Aldo felt his services might be of more use at another time. Solvi took the stone, and they bid the strange fellow farewell.

The two continued to eastward through the mountain pass to Gresden City. Arriving very late at night, they took a rest at the Copper Penny Inn and Tavern. In the morning Aldo and Solvi headed to the Gresden City Library to ask the sages about the underdark. The sage they spoke to dismissed the underdark as a mere rumor. He completely denied it’s existence. As Aldo started out the door however, he heard “Wait.” The sage beckoned him over and pulled him into a back room. Inside, he lit a candle and spoke very softly. “The underdark does not exist, at least not officially. It is treated as a rumor to those that have even heard of it, which are few. I take a great risk in telling you this, but I think it is real. The rulers of the ”/campaign/corra/wikis/four-kingdoms" class=“wiki-page-link”>Four Kingdoms have taken great strides to eradicate any and all knowledge of the underdark, and they have done so quite efficiently. Were knowledge not my profession, I admit I would be as ignorant as the next man. But I must warn you against seeking this knowledge. People that do tend to… disappear." Aldo took all of this in before asking, “There must be a way. Are there any books or tomes on the subject?” The sage thought a moment. “There was one book. It was written by a gnome named ”/campaigns/corra/characters/skorgar" class=“wiki-content-link”>Skorgar Ravenackle. It is called The UNDERlying DARK secret, but I haven’t seen a copy in twenty years. A few decades back, about 3 weeks after it’s publication, all known copies of the book were gathered up by the kingdoms of Issyc and Drodund, and were burned. Since then, possessing the book, reading the book, and even talking about the book will get you thrown in the dungeon. Like I said, I take great risk in telling you all this, but I could not let you wander all around town asking about it. Just be glad you came here. Were you to ask around in Issyc or Drodund, you surely would never see the light of day again." The man got up and opened the door. Solvi and Aldo got up and thanked the man. “There is no such thing,” he said loudly. “Anything you might have heard is surely just a rumor, and I will not have you spreading lies to our customers!” “My many apologies,” Aldo replied, understanding what the sage was doing. He and Solvi left the building.

With nothing else to learn at the library, the two headed back south to Davinport. They ran into Targ at his campsite near Davinport. Noticing his scar, Solvi asked in his usual gunnish accented orc, “Hey Ugly, what happened to your face?” After filling them in on the details of the past few days since parting ways, Targ rejoined the group and headed into town.

As the three entered Davinport, a town guard approached them and asked for Targ’s assistance in cleaning up the grisly mess in the murderer’s torture chamber. Targ volunteered the three of them, but only Aldo and Targ had the stomach to clean up the torture room. Aldo, having been warned by Targ not to touch the large dagger, managed to slip and tie some rope around the cursed thing and took it, the torture devices, and Solvi with him to the watch captain. He repeated Targ’s warning about the dagger being cursed. Targ was left to bring up the swollen putrid corpses.

They rendezvoused at the Last Ditch Attempt Saloon to discuss other matters before splitting up again. Solvi and Targ went to shipyard to check on “Njord’s Blessing”, only to discover a problem. They were informed by a carpenter at the drydock that they ship had been ready for two days, and they just needed the captain of the vessel to show his deed before they could move it back to the harbor. This was concerning. Their current vessel was attained from Ryelle Empire Ryellan smugglers after a brief skirmish. They found no deed when they first searched the vessel, and now worried that it may have been on the captain when they kicked him into the surf. Solvi showed the man some of figures as quartermaster, and they were allowed to board. Solvi tore the captain’s quarters apart looking for the deed. He finally found a second hidden compartment in the captain’s desk. Inside was the deed. Solvi breathed a sigh of relief and returned to Targ. “I found it!” he said in orc to Targ, handing him the deed. Targ looked it over. “We still have a problem.” “What now?” asked Solvi. Not being able to read common yet, he did not see the line at the near top of the page; The line that said, Vessel Name: IRN Wrasse

Aldo spoke to Barley Breath, inquiring about ‘The UNDERlying DARKsecret’. Barley Breath told Aldo that Slinker might’ve owned that book, and Barley Breath believed that Slinker might’ve even been to the underdark. Slinker seemed to brag about it enough, anyway. So, with that knowledge, Aldo looked for Slinker in the markets. Solvi ran into Aldo just before Slinker arrived and told him about the deed problem. Slinker told Aldo that he had owned thebook, but only for a brief time before he sold it. He claimed to not have read it at all. But he said he had been to the underdark and stated that the rulers of the Four Kingdoms used the underdark as a political prison. He gave them a brief rundown of the history surrounding Muogamarrah as a land of exile. He wouldn’t say how to get to the underdark,and in fact seemed to dance around the subject. When attempts to gain more information failed, Aldo and Solvi returned to the Last Ditch Attempt Saloon.

Targ, Sturla, and Willem (a young man interested in signing on as a part of the crew), were well into their third, fifth, and second flagons respectively when Aldo and Solvi arrived. They spent all night drinking, and loudly recounted tales of their heroics. In the morning, Aldo went to the captain of the watch, to tell him about their deed problems. Having been so helpful to the town and the port authority, the captain pulled some strings, and helped them out by getting them a new deed with the right information on it.

On the day of departure, bad weather and gale force winds forced all harbor traffic to a standstill. Aldo decided to wait one day, which gave him time to scour his private library for info on the underdark. His only discovery of the day was a hollow book with a bronze ring hidden inside. Believed to be magical he stuck it in his pocket and continued his futile search.

The next day, they left. They stopped at the lighthouse, where Alastair had setup his shop. Aldo dropped off the ring for him to identify, and told him the entertaining results of the love potion he asked them to test. They had tested on Targ which surprised him, considering Alastair was uncertain of the side effects. “It only worked on one woman?” Alastair sighed with disappointment, “Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.” With that, they set sail to Walgrim’s Cliffs. Aldo’s navigation was slightly off course, and they hit the back side of Ket, and had to travel fifty leagues more to get them to Nïmdum. They got to there near sundown, and Solvi quickly looked around for a set of dwarven armor better suited for him than his current. Aldo ran out to find a library, only to learn that the only one is in Kerallasrath.

They spent the night on the vessel, to save some gold. In the morning, Aldo and Solvi rented donkeys, and with Targ and Tusk in tow, headed to Kerallasrath. Upon arrival, Aldo was denied entrance momentarily until he stated his intention to inform Norvi‘s family of his passing. Many moments passed until they were allowed to pass the outer gate. They walked down a grand hall, their path flanked by mighty statues of dwraven champions, toward another gate. Passing through this gate they found themselves awestruck as they passed by houses hewn from the stone, with no brick and no mortar. The walls and roofs of the buildings were one flowing piece of stone. Aldo had never seen it’s like. His neck was craned at the massive braziers that hung suspended from the ceiling of the cavern, illuminating the city. Targ was impressed at how the dwarves could create an entire city so at one with nature. Solvi was largely unimpressed. Though he could tell the craftsmanship was of great quality, this city did nothing to rival the great seat of the glacier dwarves in Gunnbjorn.

They followed the directions they were given and eventually arrived at a standard home of the area. Announcing themselves, they were greeted by an old dwarf, which Aldo could picture Norvi looking like if he had lived longer. With solemn respect, Aldo informed him of Norvi’s passing. They were allowed to enter the house, and the dwarf introduced himself and his wife as Falrak and Norgret Rakaz. Falrak asked if Aldo had anything personal of Norvi’s. Aldo gave him Norvi’s warhammer. Falrak placed it on the mantle and invited them to spend the rest of the night celebrating Norvi’s life. Stiff drinks and slightly embellished tales of Norvi’s valor were shared until everybody passed out drunk in the late night hours.

Will the party find the information they seek among the dwarves of Walgrim’s Cliffs? Or will the impending hangover from a night of dwarven revelry deter them from their goal? Find out next time!

A Salty Skirmish
Session 18

Chapter 18

If Aldo Lightfoot was concerned, he didn’t show it. The cutter was coming at him fast and hard, and Skidblahdnir had a full belly. Her small hold was packed with everything Aldo had taken from the lighthouse, and she was low in the water, slow to turn. The orcs on board looked determined. They manned heavy crossbows mounted on the ships rail, and chanted something that was indistinguishable over the crashing waves. The boats neared each other and the first bolts flew. One stuck the mast, the other hit only the wind. The orc captain shifted the rudder and swept his vessel to the port side. 2 more bolts were loosed, but did not find a target. Aldo didn’t know which god favored him, but he was thankful all the same. He ordered his crew to prepare to be boarded.

Two more bolts would miss their mark before the orcish captain would roar in frustration, and order the crew to board. The crude hooks were effective despite their appearance, and snared Skidblahdnir readily. Orcs streamed over the rails coming at the crew 2 to 1, but they held their ground. The three beat the orcs back, creating a hole in their line. Sensing an opportunity, Aldo ordered his men to board the cutter. He and Targ Orngart leaped the rails with a battlecry, and began cleaving orc flesh back to back.

Solvi Mithrilfist tried to follow his comrades by heroically leaping the rail, but his dwarven legs could not carry him the distance. His knees collided with the wood, and he remained dejectedly in place. He cursed in Dwarven under his breath with a remark that Dwarves were not made for jumping. To his relief, the battle came to him. Orcs crowded the rail swinging wildly at him with broad, crude blades. He struck one in the face and it teetered over the rail, falling between the vessels into the shifting space below.

Aldo looked about, expecting to see Solvi joining the melee. He was surprised and a bit worried that the cleric of Thor hadn’t charged headlong into the fray. Suddenly, in his search for his comrade, he spied a hairy green orc pointing a heavy crossbow in his direction. He was shoulder to shoulder with the enemy, with nowhere to go. If that orc’s aim was true, Aldo was surely in for a bad day. Just then, Targ’s scimitar cut through the air to strike the foe in the neck. Blood poured through the orc’s fingers as he clutched the wound in vain, eventually tumbling backward over the cutter’s rail into the merciless sea. Aldo glanced backward to see his savior. He gave Targ a silent nod of thanks, and continued the assault with his gnomehammer.

Targ’s new scimitar was being put to the test as he vanquished one foe after the other, coating the blue blade in the thick dark red blood of his enemy. He may have been half-orc himself, but he had no reservations about cutting down these monsters. Slaying one, he was struck in the back with a heavy blade that cut through his hide armor. He whirled, catching the orc in the face with the tip of his sword, removing a great deal of it. Blood poured down the orc’s makeshift chain shirt in sheets, filling his boots and pooling on the deck. He was finished and knew it. He dropped to Targ’s boots, who kicked him into the open trapdoor where he fell below deck in a heap.

The numbers were thinning. The orcish captain looked nervous. He shouted a command and a big, burly orc threw open the wooden door of the forecastle. He stepped out and began swinging an unusually large mallet in Aldo’s direction. But the hammer was slow, and Aldo was a Whisper Gnome. For those that have met a Whisper Gnome, not much else need be said. Aldo rolled about the deck, making a mockery of the savage orc and his unwieldy hammer. Aldo had even enough time between attacks to see how Targ was faring. He soon wished he hadn’t, for Targ was being overwhelmed.

Targ was taking on more orcs than he was used to battling. The orcish quartermaster had Aldo busy, leaving the bulk of the crew to mob on Targ and Solvi. Targ was cutting the savage orcs down one by one, but it wasn’t fast enough. Desperate, and thinking quickly, he conjured a flame and hurled it at the single mast of the Orcs’ cutter. Flames exploded over the rigid wooden mast, climbing upward like elemental serpents. The rigging was the first to burn. Flames traveled along the ropes and ignited a number of sails. Targ fought ferociously and slowly backed toward his own vessel. Aldo was coming too. The quartermaster had fallen, and Aldo was not above leaving a sinking ship. The two bounded the rail, and assisted Solvi with the handful of orcs that had leapt to Skidbladnir to get a better swing at him.

The Orcish captain was barreling down the gangway with a cruel blade drawn. He bounded over to the yawl and delivered a barbaric assault upon her crew. He was faster, and much more skilled than his brethren, and fought with an unmatched fervor. Solvi was the first to strike him true, landing a hammer blow to the captain’s jaw. This stunned him well enough for Targ to slip his blade into the gaps of the orc’s armor, finishing him.

Their captain was slain, and the quartermaster was finished as well. With no chain of command, the orcish sailors were growing nervous. Their grunts betrayed them. Captain Aldo and company took full advantage. Defending the ship became a renewal of the assault upon the orcs, who scatted like ashes. The ones that did not flee into the sea, ran into a hammer or blade trying. Only one remained, and he was near death. Aldo issued an order to sheath weapons, and cease the assault. He personally interrogated the prisoner.

The enemy ship was burning, but still afloat. The flames were still contained mainly to the mast, so Solvi didn’t see any reason to not loot her. He gathered the weapons scattered upon the deck, and tossed them over to his vessel. He then cleaned out the captain’s quarters of a small chest and a few charts. Below deck were rows of timber lined with iron manacles. The sides of the belly were lined with row stations. In the stern was the hold,in which he spied a few gallons of ale. He gathered it up along with as much dried meat as he could carry, and Careful not to drop any jugs, he made his way back to the Knarr before the flames became too intense.

When he arrived on board with the loot, Aldo was finishing up with the interrogation. The grunt didn’t know much, but he spilled what he did. They crew of the cutter were slavers. They would pick up humans from Four Kingdoms, and sell them in Entruag. “I found these is the Captain’s quarters,” Solvi said in gnome to Aldo. He passed him the charts he had hastily gathered from the cutter. They were in orc, but Targ was happy to translate. The documentation confirmed the slavers were docking in Four Kingdoms. Better yet, the chart detailed precisely where the slave camp was located. It appeared to be just south of Davinport, perhaps nestled in the foothills of the Border Mountains. The charts also plotted a course from the camp, to a port called Griznuk in Entruag, and from there to Tupelo in Muogamarrah to resupply. Aldo was a Moog himself, hailing from Tapur, the largest port in the waste. He knew too well what kind of unsavory things go on in Tupelo. He walked over to the orc captain’s body and flipped the corpse on it’s back. Aldo’s small hands quickly searched through the dead orcs pockets and pouches, finding some coins, a tooth, and a bit of meat. He was pleased when he discovered a small scrap of paper, and unfolded it with haste. More orc gibberish was scrawled in an angry hand. Again, Targ translated.

“Before you pick up the new meat, send four warriors to investigate what lies beneath the ruined mountain fort, south of the camp. That babbling meat used to be one of those adventurers, he might not have been lying.”

Aldo stuffed the paper in a pocket and moved his attention to the chest. It didn’t take long to crack it open, and they found over 200 gold pieces inside of Old Kingdom mint. Aldo distributed the booty, and the crew sailed back to Davinport. Docking, they turned their orcish prisoner over to the Port Authority, before heading to the check in station. The harbourmaster’s assistant sat at his desk, checking in a vessel. When his business was done with the human captain, he turned to Aldo. “We’ve cleared the lighthouse of monsters. The wizard was killed by his own experiment. Your port authority guards suffered a similar fate as well.” The assistant’s lowered his head. After a moment he said, “This is dour news, and I thank you for investigating, but the beacon is not lit. The deal we made—-” “Don’t remind me of the bargain I made,” Aldo cut him off. “The beacon remains unlit because it requires a cantrip I have no access to. I am here to ask you where I can find such a mage.”

The pudgy, balding, assistant gave Aldo the address of another wizard who might be likely to fill the lighthouse operator’s vacant role, and Aldo made haste with Solvi in tow. Their directions were leading them into the market, and so Targ stayed behind. The crowds of the market made him uncomfortable, so he only did business there when it was vital. Aldo found the wizard’s shop in the northern square, and pushing aside the flap, stepped inside. The interior was dark and dusty, lit only by the last rays of sunlight streaming through a single window. An old man with a long white beard rocked in a chair in the back of the room. “Alistair the Wise at your humble service, lords”, He said, “what do I owe this pleasure?” Aldo introduced himself and his mate and replied, “We have need of an adept to light the magical beacon in the lighthouse, and to tend to the beacon in the stead of the previous operator.” “That’s a serious task for an aged man such as I,” Alistair replied. “But I will be willing to consider in certain circumstance.” “Such as?” Aldo asked. A sly grin spread across the wizard’s wizened face, all but hidden behind his shaggy beard. “I have been working on a special potion to manipulate the emotions of the drinker. Specifically, the emotion of love. I’ve been through several iterations of the tonic with… limited… results. But now I think I’ve perfected it. I need someone to test it and tell me if it works.” Aldo was curious, “Why can’t you test it yourself?” “That doesn’t matter, what does is that I am willing and able to light your beacon, and am willing to trust your word that you will test the elixir on your travels and report the results to me.” If Aldo was concerned with the mage’s vagueness, he didn’t show it. “Deal,” he said. “Meet me aboard Skidblahdnir in the port. Pier nine.”

Aldo and Solvi left Alistair’s shop and made a few other stops at the market. It was closing and they had a few errands to run before they could find an inn. Buying a few supplies, they realized they still had about a dozen different nations’ currencies in their purse. For the sake of order, they visited a nearby moneychanger.

The Moneychanger’s Guild had representation in Davinport, so Aldo headed there. The guild was reliable, and much less likely to use crooked scales. The moneychanger himself was a stocky, bespectacled gnome. He was too busy frantically searching through every corner of his shop to notice the two approach. Aldo cleared his throat, and it caught the gnomes attention. “What do you need?” he blurted rather rudely. “Well”, said Aldo, I have a number of stones here that I need to turn to gold, and I have some foreign mint as well.
“Let’s see them, quickly now,” the gnome pushed, fumbling with his jeweler’s loupe. He rather unceremoniously appraised Aldo and Solvi’s gems, and exchanged the coins. “Now I am very busy, so please let me close!” he grunted, before ushering them out of the shop and slamming the door. Odd, Aldo thought. But soon after, forgot the strange man. He led his dwarven comrade back to the ship, where Alistair was waiting. They boarded the knarr and ferried him to the lighthouse. They stayed to see the beacon lit, and brought him back to the mainland. Once they were again in Davinport’s harbor, the trio discussed their plans.

The markets had been closed for only about an hour, and dusk was only beginning to set. The night was young, and Aldo wanted to try and find that slave camp. The three gathered their things, and prepped themselves for battle. If the orcish chart was to be believed, the camp was in the borderlands between the valley of Southern Gresden and the foothills of the Border Mountains. Aldo wasn’t sure how difficult finding a hidden orcish slave camp could be, but he set off with his crew anyway. Southward they traveled, under the light of two waning moons. Suddenly,one of them heard the hooves, and another saw the dust in the distance. Riders were approaching them fast.

Aldo ordered the two to hold their ground, and the horsemen quickly closed the distance. They were human, and they wore the navy blue and yellow of the Gresden City Watch. They slowed when the lead horseman noticed the trio, and he signaled the troupe to stop. “Hark,” he said loudly. “Turn around now. Only bloodshed and savagery lie in that direction.” “What happened?” Aldo asked. “Orcs, too many of them.” them man replied. “They killed the Lieutenant. I am all the men have left to lead them. We are badly injured, and if healing is not administered soon, two of the men will die.” The horsemen were indeed injured. Blood flecked their armor and soaked into their tabards. Two men were draped over the backs of saddles, carried by their countrymen. Aldo could hear the desperation in his voice. Those gravely wounded were the leader’s friends. “These two are healers,” he said. We will tend their wounds. Aldo explained what needed to be done to Solvi, who obliged his captain. Soon the men were warily pawing at the skin where their guts used to show, and for all the blood on their armor, the men would live. “You have my eternal gratitude,” the leader said. “You’ve made a friend of the watch this day. If there is ever a way we can repay you, visit our barracks in Davinport. What are your names so we can give them to our captain?” Aldo told him and heeded his warning one last time. He knew there was danger ahead. In fact, he hoped to feel his blood race this night. Once the watchmen rode off, the three pushed southward.

Weaving through the foothills, the party began to smell smoke. Soon after they could see it rising from the hillside. The slave camp was near. Targ cast a spell of camouflage upon himself and scouted the area ahead. His spell allowed him to blend in with his surroundings, which at night made him effectively invisible. He slowly made his way around the obstructing hill to see several orc hovels clustered together in a small valley. The perimeter of the cam was fortified with palisade walls, and several orcs could be seen. Targ counted at least 20 inside and at least another 6 guarding this entrance alone. He reported back to Aldo with his findings. Aldo discussed the matter with his crew, and decided to continue circling wide around the camp and heading south into the mountains.

The orcs were too high in number for Aldo’s current comfort level, and he decided to investigate what was alluded to on the orc captains scrawled note. It mentioned a ruined fort here and perhaps something more. He wanted to make sure whatever it was, he found it before the orcs did. After what seemed like two hours climbing in the Border Mountains, the party discovered the crumbling parapets of an ancient fort silhouetted against Corra’s largest moon. The walls were surprisingly intact, but the portcullis lay rusting and overgrown on the rocky ground. The gaping hole where it was formerly located was badly eroded, and the ground was covered in castle stone in varying stages of crumbling. There was a single fort built into the mountainside, mostly obscured by the wall, and four towers at each corner of the wall. Bricks were missing in various quantities throughout, making the ancient walls resemble Alexan cheese.

Aldo put a hand up to stop the others from entering, but it was unnecessary. They heard it too. Scuffling footsteps coming from beyond the walls troubled them all. But not because they thought the orc may have beaten them there, no. They were troubled because these footsteps could be felt as well as heard. Aldo signaled his crew to remain quiet, and the three crept forward. The moonlight lit the ruins with surprising clarity, and it did not take long to locate the source of the thunderous steps. A massive, two-headed man standing no less than 10 feet tall was lumbering about what was once the courtyard. He seemed to be engaged in some kind of argument with itself. The faces had a seemingly random assortment of tusks point in various directions, and the noses were upturned like that of a hog. Unluckily for our three adventurers, as they observed it the giant’s gaze drifted quite randomly upon them. Surprised, it flew into battle immediately. One hand grabbed a spiked maul larger than a man. The other hand scooped up an uprooted tree trunk. The crew of the Skidblahdnir charged into the fray, circling the monstrous giant. The massive weapons of the beast smashed down upon the ground in thunderous reports. The party was quick enough to avoid the full force of these attacks, but the giant seemed to be able to use both hands with equal skill and matching ferocity. It was as if each head had control of the respective limbs. The crew dodged the blows raining down upon them, but were sustaining damage. Each successful hit form the giant could easily be the one to end them and they knew it, making the melee tense and fevered. Finally, The giant was knocked to his knees, allowing Solvi to smash one of the heads with his warhammer, caving in the dome like a ripe melon. The giant flattened to the ground, his breathing labored. The one good eye of the other head glanced from one of the crew to the next, knowing his end was at hand and waiting for it. Indeed, it was delivered.

Another battle was won, and the party took to the task of cleaning their gear. Tusk had received a grievous blow during the fray, and Targ was rushing to his best friend’s aid. Suddenly, the crunching footsteps of a normal sized person could be heard in the gravel outside the ruins. Quickly, Aldo ordered the party to retreat to the shadows of the nearest tower, and there they waited for the stranger to show himself.

Who is this mysterious wanderer? Could it be the orcish raiding party? Or perhaps something even more sinister? The party is weakened and at much of a disadvantage from this last battle, and if battle is to be met again on these terms, it could spell their end! Find out what happens next time in The Land of Corra!

The Dark Beacon
Session 17

The Dark Beacon

The sun was breaking over the ocean’s horizon in the east, and the knarr, which Solvi Mithrilfist renamed Skidbladni, was steadily pushing through the ocean waves traveling south. Captain Aldo Lightfoot kept the rocky peaks of the Furnace Cliffs in sight off the starboard as he helmed the vessel. The party’s narrow escape from the immortal Sandwalker and the wretched Nasim-ul-Ghani Desert weighed heavily on all three, Targ Orngart included. He couldn’t say if he had found what he was looking for in that place.

The three sailed back to Joharra, where they disembarked and resupplied. Aldo sought out the potter that had helped him find the linguist, and chatted with him awhile. They had the treasure they had found identified and appraised before the sun fell. Aldo visited the kabah of the moon god Hubal, and inquired with the priestess about the runes he discovered. He showed her the crude representation he had made before the Sandwalker returned, and her eyes widened. She demanded to know where he had found them, and Aldo told the whole story. She seemed rather impressed that a foreigner of such small stature could survive the desert and walk away from a fight with Hubal’s servant. She confided in him that the runes he held were the secret to linking this realm with another, and that her order was tasked by Hubal to keep this secret safe. She explained that if the runes fell into the wrong hands, and the portal activated, it would be the end of Corra as he knew it. She was vague about the consequences of activating this portal, but it was enough for Aldo. He tore the parchment to shreds before her, and she seemed relieved. Thanking her for her information, he took his leave and called the others to the boat.

Aldo and crew sailed south along the coast, stopping to port when they reached the eastern shore of Gresden. They pulled into harbor and were greeted by a Gresden Navy Corvette. The captain, dressed in full naval regalia, informed the crew that the port was full, due to heavy trade and congested travel through the strait. Not discouraged, Aldo followed the captain’s direction to the city of Davinport, where he was able to dock. As he approached the pier, he was greeted by some young dockhands who tied Skidblahdnir in place. They pointed the crew in the direction of the customs office, where they were told they would need to check in. One dockhand felt compelled to give Aldo a friendly caution: Davinport’s lighthouse was currently out of commission, and if they wished to dock here they would not be able to leave after dark. Aldo thanked the boy for the information and tipped him a copper piece.

Aldo, with crew in tow, entered the check in building and was greeted by a rotund human with a gruff demeanor. After a short, mundane, interrogation, Aldo asked about the condition of the lighthouse. The man’s face furrowed into a frustrated expression, “That blasted thing has been dark for a week now! You wouldn’t believe how crippling that is for the harbor. And the paperwork! The endless paperwork!” Aldo thought for a moment and asked, “Well what exactly is wrong with it?” The official seemed to compose himself a bit. “No one is entirely certain. The wizard that operates it is a recluse, so few see hide or hair of him in the first place. But as strange as he is, he wouldn’t let the beacon go dark this long. Something might have happened to him. The guard took a rowboat out there 2 days ago, but they did not come back.” Aldo was intrigued, and being a whisper gnome, he immediately smelled an opportunity for profit. “If I said I could clean that place out and light the beacon, how much would a job like that pay?” The balding human thought for a moment. I could spare 250 gold each from the harbor treasury. “250 each?” Aldo inquired. “Oh heaven’s no!” replied the man. “250 total.” Aldo eyed the man and said wryly, "This could be a tough job. A dangerous job that has already claimed the lives of the guard’s best. I think it’s worth at least 150 each. The man thought for a moment, and grumbled an agreement.

The crew decided to resupply in Davinport, and stay the night before tackling the lighthouse problem in the morning. It was already approaching evening, and the deflated sun sat lazily on the horizon, painting the green Corran sky a myriad of yellows, oranges, and reds. The market would be open only another turn of the hourglass, so the crew split up to do some personal shopping. Solvi sold some of the valuables he was able to gather from the Sandwalker’s lair, and bought himself a masterwork warhammer.

The crew met at an inn for the night and woke up early the next morning, refreshed. Aldo led his crew to the docks. He paid his fee for the night and untied the ship. It was only a short distance to the lighthouse, which sat on a lonely island. Waves crashed on a craggy rockface on the south side, on top of which the tower was perched. A quaint 2 story cottage sat adjacent to the lighthouse with a winding path leading down the rough terrain to the southern dock. Aldo docked here, and the crew took in the view. The windows were dark, and the door was slightly ajar. They made their way to the cottage and pushed their way inside.

The main entrance opened into a small sitting room, decorated with the eclectic things that wizards collect; small taxidermy animals, useless golden age trinkets, and other devices of… uncertain… origin. Solvi made his way into the small kitchen area, and peered inside a cabinet on the floor. From the darkness within, dozens of beady red eyes peered back! Solvi quickly shut the cabinet and backed slowly away. Suddenly the door burst open and dozens of filthy rats streamed out, running for the door. 6 of these disgusting rodents were truly of unusual size. They had no fear of the party and gnashed their teeth at their knees! Solvi fought back by swinging his mighty hammer into the ground, turning one giant rat’s head into pulp. The others joined in the melee and made short work of the diseased vermin.

Cleaning the blood from their weapons, the party headed through a wood and glass door on the west side of the room into the lighthouse tower. They followed the winding staircase up the three floors to the beacon chamber. They found a brass brazier with several finely crafted runes inscribed on the side. The fat customs official had told them they would need a wizard to light the brazier by activating the runes. For now Aldo was only concerned with making the place safe and free from dangerous creatures. Just then, a dark shadow dropped from the eaves of the tower’s conical roof and descended upon Aldo! A small, young, green dragon apparently had decided to make this tower his home sometime in the past week, and clawed fiercely at Aldo’s face and head. Targ chopped at it with his scimitar, and Solvi cracked it with his warhammer. The angry scaled beastie bounced off of the banister and disappeared over the edge, falling to the ground below. The crew breathed a sigh of relief. Solvi asked Aldo if he was ok, and Targ began to sheathe his scimitar. Just then, the wyrmling appeared once again, furiously beating his wings and looking extremely agitated. With the best roar it could muster, it blasted a cone of vapor into the chamber, cloaking all three of the crew in a thick green mist. It burned their lungs and their skin and the men sputtered and choked on it. It clawed and bit at a coughing Solvi, who swung wildly at it. Aldo rushed it despite the pain, and landed a sound blow which set the dragon reeling over the edge once again. The party moved to some clean air at waited at the ready for another surprise attack, but it would not come. The dragon appeared again, but it was flapping away from the tower. It had apparently met it’s match, and decided the tower was not worth dying over. Solvi sent an arrow or two after it, but the shots were in vain and sailed harmlessly into the surf as the beast disappeared into the clouds.

Aldo led his men back down the stairs and into the cottage where he took a look inside the washroom. Meanwhile, Targ began heading up the stairs, his hand sliding up a finely varnished railing delicately carved into the image of a serpent. He reached the top of the stairs, and lifted his hand from the rail. He was quite startled to find that, as he did so, the railing sprung to life! It peeled itself from the wall and struck at Targ, wrapping him in hard wooden coils. He struggled against his bondage as the others came to his aid. Solvi and Aldo were able to free him from the animated construct, and the three fought back. Targ hacked furiously at the thing, trying desperately to hit the same spot enough times to chop it in half. Solvi went toe to toe with the creature’s head, trading painful snakebites for thunderous hammer blows. Soon the magic was defeated, and the banister laid in pieces at the party’s feet.

This floor was hometo a master bedroom and a study. The bedroom was rather spartan, but the study had a very nice desk and a hand carved bookcase filled with various titles. Arcane characters covered the many parchments on the desk’s surface. Aldo took mental inventory of the items and moved onward, up a small trapdoor into the cottage’s loft. Dozens of crates were carefully arranged here, and they were carefully labeled. They seemed to contain all manner of spell components. Why, there was enough components to last a wizard a year or more. As much as a ton, by Aldo’s estimate. He headed back down and told Targ and Solvi what he had found. The three made their way back downstairs to investigate the final room in their sweep of this building: the basement.

The lighthouse cottage was indeed built on a solid foundation from which this basement was hollowed. A dusty set of stairs led down into the darkness of the underground, but that did not hinder these men with their darkvision. Aldo confidently led the way down the stairs and into the room. The basement had been turned into some kind of wizard’s laboratory. A dark, moist, stain covered the floor, and Aldo began walking across it to investigate 3 skeletons in the corner of the room beyond some lab tables. Solvi was about to follow when he saw the stain move. He shouted a warning to Aldo as the thing thickened and congealed into a translucent appendage, wrapping itself around Aldo’s leg. It was too late! Aldowas held fast,and the ooze thickened around his feet, trapping him in place. Solvi and Targ could do little as Aldo struggled against the stuff. If they attacked the creature, they could hit their captain! Luckily, Aldo slipped free, and Targ started to prepare a fire spell. “No!,” Aldo shouted, “You’ll burn the place to the ground!.” Targ quickly abandoned the spell and attacked the ooze with his scimitar instead. It struck at Solvi with a different tendril, it’s caustic touch eating away his armor to the point of total deterioration.

This ooze that ambushed the crew was quite deadly in it’s own right, but the party was able to overcome it. They defeated it and searched the basement. Aldo theorized the skeletons belonged to the wizard and two guards based on the equipment scattered on the floor. A few potions were found on the lab tables, and they were pocketed. More crates were found in a storage closet. “Well,” said Captain Aldo, “I think that about does it. Lets pack it up.” “Pack what up?” Targ asked, confused. “All of it,” replied Aldo with a smile.

Fir the next 4 hours, the crew hauled crates out of the cottage and onto the boat. Aldo had that place cleaned out of all valuables. He even took the wizard’s bookshelf. Once the boat was loaded up he set sail once again for Davinport. The waters were growing dark and soupy, and the wind was picking up. Aldo wasn’t concerned about the weather, however. His immediate concern was a rapidly approaching vessel. It flew the purple and gold standard of Drodund, but something abut the ship didn’t seem right. As it descended upon Aldo, he could see that it was positively crawling with orcs. 4 of them were arming rail mounted heavy crossbows which were trained on the crew. It was too late for evasion. The orcs had the jump on them. Soon the sea would drink the blood of the fallen.

But who will be the ones to fall? Will it be the orc pirates? Or will the superior numbers of the orcs overwhelm the crew of the Skidblahdnir? Find out next time in The Land of Corra: Legends of the Churning Seas!

Lair of the Immortal
Session 16

Lair of the Immortal

The gaping maw of the immortal’s cavern laid waiting, bidding Aldo and Targ to enter. Inside was dark, but the sights of Whisper Gnomes and Half-Orcs are well suited to darkness, and their vision pierced the veil. Inside, the ceiling was covered in stalactites. On the ground, the occasional stalagmite. The two slowly made their way inside, heads on swivels watching for danger. The cavern was divided into two split-level sections. On the left was what seemed to be the Sandwalker‘s lair. An ancient stone arch dominated the center of the back wall, perched upon a stone stepped dais. Dry, dead, desert grasses were piled on the dais underneath the arch, and seemed to form the beast’s bed. To the right, following a wide ledge, the cavern stretched on angling sharply out after a ways. The natural stone floor here was utterly strewn with the corpses of what were unmistakably sailors. As many as twenty could be seen dotting the floor from where the party stood to halfway down the stretch.

Aldo descended down the short drop which lead to the archway, while Targ began searching the bodies for anything of use or value. He noticed that the majority of the corpses were Dwarven, the rest human. The dwarves had pale skin, and heavily adorned beards. Their armors were furs and hides, and the weapons they wielded were mostly axes and javelins. Targ’s eye was caught by the gleaming pendant in the shape of a hammer, hanging from the neck of a snow-white haired dwarf. He bent over to look closer when he saw the man’s chest move. Startled, he took a step back and watched closely. Yes, There it was! It moved again! “This one’s alive!” shouted Targ to Aldo. He quickly used what harsh life in the jungle had taught him to stabilize the Dwarf, pulling him back from the edge of death’s borderlands. Suddenly, the Dwarf’s eyes fluttered open, looking bewildered. His mouth opened, but only a stream of so much gibberish poured forth, and Targ could not understand.

Aldo caught up with the two and attempted to speak to the dwarf in common. He had little success. He tried his native gnomish tongue, and the dwarf’s wizened, beady eyes lit up. Wincing with pain, he pulled himself to his feet. He spoke with Aldo for a time, introducing himself as Solvi Mithrilfist. He told a harrowing tale which started with him replacing a fallen countryman on a gunnish knarr as ship’s cleric. When the ship sailed, her purpose was to deliver a shipment of grains to West Sephyll, and pick up a crate of powerful scrolls which had been smuggled out of Isric Islar. However, off the eastern coast of Calydon the crew was struck by a fierce sea squall, which pushed the vessel far off course. The captain found himself much too far south, in strange Arabiyyan seas. When a glimmer of light in the distance was spotted by an oar man, the captain made the decision to investigate. He directed the vessel to the shadow of a rocky mountain range flanking the sea. Upon close inspection, a previously hidden alcove came into view revealing the mouth of a cavern. The captain ordered the small knarr shored, and the crew disembarked to explore. The dwarven love for all things subterranean would be their undoing, however. As the captain approached the ancient stone archway, the sandwalker returned to it’s lair. Seeing the intruders in it’s home drove the beast into a defensive frenzy, lashing about the cavern and flinging the crew of the Gunnish knarr about like so many straw dollies. Solvi watched as his captain was pinned to the ground, the beasts massive stinger bearing down on the poor man again and again. Then the beast turned to Solvi. Charging forward, it clubbed him with a closed claw, sending him careening into the cavern wall. That was his last horrible memory prior to waking.

He thanked the party for saving his life and offered to repay this debt by joining Aldo and his comrade on their travels. Aldo accepted. This dwarf reminded him much of his fallen friend Norvi, and he had a good feeling about their new partnership. Solvi surveyed the eerily quiet cave, and remembered the carnage that he only barely escaped with his life. He moved about the cave, reciting last rites for each of his comrades to aid in their journey to Valhalla. Targ looked over the bodies as well, as Aldo moved back toward the ancient arch. The stones were dusty, and cold to the touch as Aldo ran his hand across them. The traces of his fingers revealed the markings of a rune, and he quickly uncovered it. The arch was made of stone blocks, 25 in total, each with it’s own unique rune. Aldo hurriedly copied them to a spare piece of parchment for deciphering later.

Targ and Solvi’s search for valuables turned up a few sparkling gems, a strange blue-bladed scimitar, and a pendant, all confirmed by Solvi to have magical auras. The sword was taken by Targ, the pendant by Solvi. The stones were split between them. Curious, Aldo tried to see if the stones interacted with the archway at all, but with no luck. Taking a shot in the dark (so to speak) Targ fired a spell at the thing. It was a mistake. Although visibly ancient, and looking quite frail, the archway seemingly had a very powerful shielding enchantment. The spell struck the shield, and imploded. The impact created a devastating sonic blast that knocked the whole party off of their feet. The cavern reverberated with the shearing sound, and stalactites fell all around them. Rubbing their ringing ears, they got to their feet just in time to feel the ground begin to rumble. They looked at each other nervously as the rumbling got louder and more intense. Suddenly,the cavern floor ripped open,showering everyone with rubble and debris. They watched in terror as the creature they had just driven off quickly resurfaced. It pulled itself out of the hole and began skittering toward Targ!

Thinking fast, Targ tapped into his divine druidic power, chanting an incantation that turned the floor beneath the monster into a sheet of solid ice. The creatures chitinous legs were not well suited for this obstacle, and it smashed clumsily to the stone cavern floor. As Aldo charged forth to attack, Targ cast another spell which caused toxic fungus to sprout all around the creature, releasing noxious gas. Solvi was determined to have his revenge on this beast. He raised his mighty hammer charged with a thunderous yell.

That battle was monumental. The party had the upper hand, as the Sandwalker could not move from the slick icy surface. But even in the sheltered darkness of the cavern, the heat of the Nasim-ul-Ghani Desert made short work of the ice, melting it in minutes. Soon the beast was mobile again, and none too happy about more intruders in it’s lair. It opened it’s horrid beak and a cone of skin shearing sand erupted forth, showering the crew. It lashed with it’s tail, and tossed the party about with it’s claws. Regardless of the beating it had taken earlier, the beast seemed to have returned stronger than ever. Aldo knew that this fight could not be won. But the creature stood between his comrades and escape, blocking the entrance to the cavern. “We must retreat! Follow that passage and regroup!” Aldo pointed to the cadaver strewn stone hall that wound into the darkness. Targ asked no questions. His ocelot Tusk had taken a bit of a beating, and he was worried for his safety. Solvi held out however. He found it very difficult to retreat, especially against the foe responsible for slaying his brethren. He renewed his attacks with more ferocity than ever. He was rewarded for his actions with a crushing claw picking him up and hurling himacross the cave. “Solvi, I said run!” Aldo cried as he ducked a snapping claw that nearly took his head. “I will hold him off, get to safety!” Solvi took one last look, hesitating for a few seconds. His glance shifted between the immortal creature, and Aldo’s pleading face. Resolute, he turned and fled down the passage after Targ. Aldo fought the beast one on one. His small stature made him a difficult target,and he was able to keep the creature engaged for a minute more.

But then, Aldo misstepped, and the sandwalker struck him with a heavy blow. Aldo was badly injured. Blood streamed down his face from a gash on his head, and he could feel broken ribs setting fire to his insides with each breath. He’d bought enough time he decided, and he fled down the corridor. The echoing chamber was filled with the sound of his pounding feet, his laboured breaths, and the horrible clicking of the sandwalker’s legs on the stone floor. He had no way of knowing how far ahead of the beast he was, and he dared not look back. Soon, he spotted light up ahead at the end of the tunnel. Unsure if this would be a way out or his imminent doom, he sprinted for it.

With the Sandwalker bearing down on him, he reached the light. It was a back entrance to the cavern which looked out over the sea. Aldo sheilded his eyes from the light, but when they adjusted, he could see that Targ was furiously unshoring a small Gunnish knarr and pushing it into the water. Solvi was tearing across the sand to reach him. With no further delay, Aldo followed as quickly as his broken body could muster. He reached the others, and Solvi pulled him in to the vessel. They pushed off, and unfurled the sail. The wind caught it and propelled them away. They had escaped the wrath of the Sandwalker. It could be barely seen in the darkness of the cavern, strafing back and forth. As Solvi cast some divine magic to heal Aldo, he cursed the beast under his breath. Aldo was in dire pain, but happy that he had not lost yet another comrade. Silently, the three sailed away from that terrible beast, and the blasted landscape it calls it’s home.

The party have effected a very narrow escape from the legendary beast of myth, the Sandwalker. What will the do now, and where will they go? Find out next session in The Land of Corra: Legends of the Churning Seas!


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