The Return to Gateway
After the party returns to Gateway (battered but in tact) they meet up with Tomas to break the bad news of his son’s demise. Tomas, heartbroken but thankful that he finally can close this chapter on his life, shows his gratitude by paying the heroes with coin and giving them The Chance.
The heroes tell Tomas about their findings of the charm and their interaction with the Lightbringer. They also ask the whereabouts of Joeseth Truthsayer — they are told “the Mad Wanderer” can be found at God’s Parade — a district in Gateway, an area that is home to various temples and religious types.
Jerak also probes Tomas for more information on Merkas Gladwing. Tomas says Gladwing continues to cause problems and his power is only increasing. Jerak suggests that if Merkas’s hired assassins could be brought to testify, it might be enough to force Merkas off the Trade Council. This information gives Tomas pause and much to consider. On a closing note
Tomas also mentions that threats have increased on his Merchant business and his life by whom he thinks is Gladwing trying to strong handing him and force him out of business. The party promises to keep tabs on Tomas’ safety and will jump in when needed. Tomas bids the party farewell and tells the party to also stop by Anya Brightclad’s shop (she’s a dealer in fineries and housewares) and Mystikk’s Emporium (a potions and magic shop run by Myrlak, son of Mystikk and, the party soon finds out, the Athenaeum representative in Gateway.)
The party first heads to the God’s Parade to sort out Ricter’s glowmadness. The go to the artificer temple and meet Brother Darius Quellen, a dwarf with fiery red hair, chainmail armor covered by robes. He greets the party and his fellow artificer and heals Ricter of the void glow effects. They question Brother Darius about Joeseth Truthsayer and is pointed in the direction of his usual whereabouts.
The Mad Wanderer
The party finds Truthsayer preaching on a street corner to a few followers. The party stops and listens for a bit before Joeseth notices the charm held by Jarek. The question Truthsayer about it’s purpose and are asked to join him for a drink at a place where things are a bit more private.
The party arrives at the Windblown Flotsam—-a business run by the elven brothers Jeche and Jarle Birchstaff. Truthsayer is well-known at the establishment and is shown to his favorite table. After a few moments of small talk the party learns of the charm, it’s purpose and the beginnings of a much bigger quest—the path to the next artifact to save the shield. Joseth tells the heroes of his plan to deceive and destroy the Bone Queen—an ancient rotting liche and the high priestess of the Bright Cabal. Her body has decayed so badly that she cannot leave the cabin of her deathbarge—The Soulflame. This terrible vessel is the hollowed corpse of a dragon crewed by zombies and ghouls, and commanded by vampires and wraiths.
Joeseth explains that the Bone Queen sends her minions to comb the battlefields of the nearby Shattered City for fresh corpses which she uses to build up her crew and feed her ghouls. His plans involves the party imbibing a potion that renders the heroes unconscious while also giving them the appearance of death. They are to drink the potions while on the battlefield, be taken on board the Soulflame as “corpses” and then when revived roam the ship as an “undead” and seek out the fuel in the ships engine room. Hopefully, once they destroy the ship the party can use an escape skiff to sail back to Gateway using earth for the skiff’s waysphere that is sewn into their trousers. Leary at first, the heroes agree to set forth to a battlefield but ask to visit the markets before they leave.
The heroes stock up and sell goods. Jarek convinces Marlow to get a dragon tattoo on his forearm. Jarek tells Marlow that not only will it build up his Pirate cred but may also prove beneficial in their quest for the Queen’s barge fuel. Marlow, although skeptical, agrees. The party also finds Myrlak (an ancient Glowborn) who, after some study, reveals to Jarek the activation word for the Ring of Aranae (yurumek). Mrylak cannot determine the use for Tsurak’s Ring but suggests that it may indeed be a key. The party buys a few scrolls. Jarek inquires about the Athenaeum and then part ways.
The party meets back up with Truthsayer who takes them to the battlefield….
On the Ship
When the party wakes they find themselves in a large room and lying amongst several piles of corpses. Sifting through the bodies for weapons and such are three zombies. Ricter and Marlow dispatch the zombies and recover their weapons and goods while Jarek slips through the door to investigate the ship. Jarek passes several undead who meander about their business throughout the ship. None recognize his as anything other than a fellow undead—- Joeseth’s potion seems to be working. Jarek passes a room that is emitting a faint blue glow from beneath the door. He surmises that this must be the Bone Queens cabin. He smartly avoids the room. The group meets back up and devise a plan. Ricter will go to the battle deck and create a diversion—-explosions are a good diversion, right? While the explosions occur Jarek and Marlow will storm the engine room, grab the fuel and the group will make haste off the ship…..
Ricter surveys the battle deck. Lots of canons and lots of undead manning them. Using his slinging skills and his blast scroll the diversion is created by a chain reaction of explosions. Mayhem ensues!!!
While below….Jarek and Marlow approach the engine room. There are two guards outside protecting the door. Though a quick dispatch of the guards proves unsuccessful Jarek keeps the zombies wrapped up in battle while Marlow slips through the door.
The engine room’s walls are ribbed with bone struts and covered in scaly leather. A massive engine engraved with arcane glyphs covers the rear wall. It’s furnace door is locked with a large rusty bolt, and heat distorts the air around it. Six zombies and a ghoul, supervised by a wraith, stoke the furnace with hooked bone poles through holes resembling screaming mouths. The room is filled with an unnerving screaming sound.
A complex device, dominated by a large waysphere, stands in the center of the room. Three ghouls, using an array of bone steering wheels make constant adjustments steering the Soulflame. Their attention never wavers from scrying crystals set in the left wall, giving them a panoramic view around the ship.
A Fierce Battle Ensues
Marlow decides that subtlety won’t work here surrounded by so many undead so he decides to attack. Trying his best to keep the creatures at bay he finds the root of most of his problems comes from the wraith, Soulstoke, and his ethereal flaming gaff. Near death and finding it harder to withstand the onslaught of the undead Marlow stands firm while Jarek enters the room having finally dispatched the remaining guard outside. Crackling ice bolts are unleashed by the furious Magus’ hand leveling the ghoul and zombie minions, crumbling the ghoul pilots and destroying the evil Soulstoke—- but not before the possessed Wraith emits a scream that signals reinforcements throughout the ship.
With the corpses scattered about the engine room floor Marlow first tries his Dragon tattoo. Nothing happens..Uh oh…
Understanding their race against the clock before the reinforcements arrive Marlow and Jarek try to force the rusty bolt free from the engine but to no avail. Marlow isn’t strong enough, Jarek has one arm and Ricter is upstairs trying to secure a skiff for a fast escape. As a last ditch effort Jarek decides to use his magic to freeze the glow-hot bolt to weaken its hold on the engine door. A spell is cast coating the bolt in ice. Marlow then hits the bolt shattering its hold on the door. A gust of ash blows from the furnace and an ethereal dragon is released from the confines within. Whitefire the dragon, who’s spirit was locked inside the engine circles the room breathing ethereal flame. The vampire and zombie horde that arrived at that same moment are enshrouded in the flame and destroyed— Marlow and Jarek, although mimicing the undead via the potion are unaffected by the flames. Once all the undead are killed the dragon turns a knowing gaze upon Marlow and Jarek and with a roar of “Restore My Soul!” disappears in a poof.
The ash setting on the waysphere burns with spectral flames and spreads swiftly through the ship consuming all the undead on board— including the Bone Queen.
Ricter secures a skiff and keeps the few remaining zombies ensnared in one of his glue bombs…that is until he sees a wall of spectral flame that turns the undead around him to ash. With only moments to spare the heroes grab what little they can (four small chests) before they climb into the small skiff and set sail. Safely away from the Soulflame the heroes watch as Whitefire reposses his body. His near fossilized wings beat for the first time in centuries, throwing gun emplacements and skiffs into the void. His body begins to disintegrate as the mighty dragon shakes itself free of the trappings of the undead.
Marlow looks down at his pistol and notices that it’s barrel has been transformed into the neck and head of a dragon while its stock is now covered in scales.
After a five-day journey the heroes arrive at Gateway.