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!