Protecting the Shield

Scavenger Hunt

The Great Escape

Ricter Ironflow and Jarek Zimno are locked in a prison cell. They are shoved in the center of the room by armed guards before the barred door closes behind them. They are without weapon or clue as to why they are imprisoned.

Besides the fairly common looking windowless cell that obviously shows the standard hospitality of a lock-up— (i.e. : cold, damp floor ; walls made of stone; the constant drip drop of some unforseen water source ) the entires jail reeks of skylar fat-burning torches. The smoke is a bit thick in the hallways and tends to gag you at times.

Also, locked up inside with them is a giant of a man with an endless scowl and a need to be in charge. He’s almost as fat as he is tall with thinning greasy limp black hair and a general lack of hygiene ( B.O.)— VORT wears only a stained loin cloth and a half wrap that reaches around one shoulder. He’s not the brightest torch in the room but what he lacks in brains he makes up in brawn. He also has an overbearing need to bully and to fill his belly. He also shows signs of glowmadness—is it an act or is it real?

(Jarek & Ricter take a few moments to introduce themselves before the clanging of gates and a rattle of keys brings them to focus…)

Escorted by two guards Marlow Fontaine walks down the darkened corridor, unbeknown to him, to his cell in the makeshift jail. As he passes one particular cell he notices a wizened, older gentleman with a dusty beard and a shock of white hair locked inside. The man looks like he’s seen better days—maybe a decade or more ago. The man harshly whispers: “You’ll need more than one to fell that tree. “ & “Sometimes cloth makes the best noose.”
These supposed warnings make no sense to the ex-pirate at the time for he is quite vexed by his whereabouts and why he is even being manhandled by these strange “guards” in the first place. Marlow is then tossed into the same cell as the other three. Another introduction ensues.

After the three question each other about the reason behind this perplexing imprisonment (to no avail) they turn their questions towards Vort. The seemingly dull-witted man gives vague answers but declares all bugs and any rations doled out will be his to eat. With that a brittle old man appears at the gate with a steaming bucket of stew and three bowls. He tosses the bowls into the cell and begins to ladle out portions—all while ducking the characters questions.

Vort determines that no one else should possess a bowl besides himself and makes to grab the other unused containers— a cheap ploy to bully the PC’s. A brawl unfolds.

The characters step into action as Ricter uses on bowl as a blunt weapon against Vort. Marlow jumps into the fray as well but becomes a bit overwhelmed by his surroundings and misses his mark on the big brut. The calculating, one-armed mage uses his spells of water divination to snuff the only torch in the room—giving the 3 PC’s an upper hand in the melee. After a few more well placed blows with the bowl, Ricter levels the Vort. The shaken giant bellows a surrender by shouting out a man’s name—Tomas.

Instantly, Tomas Hawke appears—-the same old man who was locked in the adjacent cell— but now cleaned up and dressed in finer garb. Tomas explains the reasoning behind the rouse to the PC’s. (He thought they were hired assassins for Merkas Gladwing— a ruthless crime-lord in Gateway, a member of the Trade Council, and a crooked merchant who would like nothing better than to monopolize the salvage trade within the bustling city.)

Hawke, apologizes profusely and offers the trio some coin for there trouble, a bit of food & drink, a warm bed to rest upon and a quest….

The Lost Son

The somber Tomas Hawke needs to find the whereabouts of his son Allon. He and his crew were lost seven years ago after leaving Gateway on his frigate “The Raven” in a salvage run. Tomas explains that after the death of the young man’s mother Allon became more reckless and sailed great distances for larger hauls, fancying himself a pirate of the skies. However,in this last endeavor all communication between father and son ceased. Tomas fears the worse and just wants to have the boys remains returned to him for a proper burial. He states he will gladly pay 1000 cogs for the venture and provide means for travel. Through investigative skill, Jarek uncovered clues as to possible whereabouts of Allon by checking the family shipment logs and travel records. Tomas agreed that is as good as any place to start—hands the scholarly magus some different island earth samples for a ships waysphere and bids them good luck.

The Chance’s captain and lone crew is a superstitious orc named Karr Luckfinder, named after all the charms he carries. The journey was uneventful but Ricter made fine time between bouts of glow sickness to scour the ships lower cabins to a much needed gleam. He sails the cloudskiff for three days before a smallish island is spotted in the distance. Through the ships looking glass Marlow discerns a splinted Frigate with the name Raven that has crashed into a tower just beyond the shore. As the party begin rowing towards the crash site in an island hopper Karr warns them that he will only stayed anchored for three days—beyond that they’re on their own.

The Tower

While approaching the island the party is attacked by four stone-throwing barnacle apes. The party quickly dispatches with three of the foul creatures before the fourth scurries off into the ruins. After reaching shore the group search the exterior of the crushed ship hull before surmising the only way to get a better look is scaling the side. Marlow quickly makes the climb and discovers a pyramid of human skulls—obviously left by the islands baranacle apes. He soon finds rope to help haul the curious dwarf and one-armed mage up on deck. After Ricter’s obsessive tour of the ship’s upper deck the trio decide to descend through a opened hatch into the belly of the wreck.

A nauseating wreak of decomposed flesh fills the party’s noses as they reach the lower deck. Marlow, overwhelmed by the stench, dashes back up the ladder to fresher air. Meanwhile, Ricter (with the aid of his bulls-eye lantern) and Marlow scan the wreckage below (to no avail) before the curious dwarf uses his keen eyes to detect five pairs of glowing eyes in the dark. Another group of barnacle apes, led by a much larger corrupted ape, quickly leap into action by attacking the two infiltrators. A nicely thrown glue bomb by Ricter roots two of the apes keeping them firmly stuck to the deck while the two other barnacle apes scramble across the debris, thirsty for blood. The corrupted ape stays back and hurls stones while his minions use teeth and claws to try and dispatch the intruders. Although still recovering from nausea Jarek’s wits are unaffected and casts a spell heightening Marlow’s fighting prowess. This boost was just what the party needed. After a mechanical failure stunted Ricter’s glue bomb abilities it was up to Marlow’s blades to the cull the threat. Hacking apes like knives through butter the barnacle apes were no match.

Jarek, feeling invigorated, soon made the descent back down the lower deck just in time to join the fray— for the corrupted barnacle ape frenzied from the loss of his brethren rushed the party in search of revenge. Although the corrupted ape put up a good fight, doling out as much as he got, it was the well placed ice bolts of the Magus that felled the simian beast.

After a much needed rest (and a quick tally of salvaged goods from the ape’s nest) the party ventured forth through a hidden tunnel snaking through the debris of the crumbled tower inside the lower deck hull. The tunnel opened up onto a partially collapsed platform where the group was once again greeted with the stench of decaying flesh. This time from the lifeless body of an engorged, half-eaten humanoid. By the looks of the creature’s swollen body the group surmises that it most likely was overcome by glowmadness but was killed during transformation. With Ricter’s medical training the group realized the being was feasted upon by an ape——- obviously the same ape that was corrupted soon thereafter by the flesh of the glowmad human.

Stepping past the corpse the party descends a crumbling stairway into a room flooded with void light. Racks of old, corroded weapons line the walls of the tower’s basement room— a room that most likely housed the fortification’s armory. Facing the farthest wall is hideous abomination who gouges deep grooves into the stone while wailing crys of torment. At the creatures feet are four skeletal remains—one which wears the black gloves and mask of Tomas’ lost son Allon. As the heroes enter the room the creature twists around to engage its foes.
The Grisly Puppeteer instantly snaps into action animating the four corpses to do it’s bidding. Through group effort the trio concentrate all blows towards the monstrosity bypassing its skeletal puppets. For they sense if he is killed, so to will they be defeated.

Despite having a strong constitution the creature is no match for the many blows of Marlow’s blades, Ricter’s blows, and the sheer force of Jarek’s spells. With a final bolt unleashed from the Mage’s palm the puppeteer is left a heaping pile of gelatinous mess while the skeletons crumble.

Picking through the remains of the room the heroes find a worthy haul of weapon salvage listed below:
Adventurer’s Tinderbox – Waterproof flint & steel used to start fires. Can also be used with a touch attack against flammable creatures (1D10 / round); check to see if fire spreads (pg 104 in SWEX)
• 2 Wound Seals – potion cures one wound
• 1 keg of black powder (12 lbs; 60 rounds (pg. 33 of SS)
• 4 remnants of Leather Armor – can be pieced together to make one usable set
• 2 Rusty Muskets
• 2 Long Swords – (Jarek sensed that one sword had magical properties. (+1 damage)
• 2 Spears
• 1 Battle Axe & 1 Flail
• Allon’s pirate mask – grants wearer +1 to all notice rolls Mask of Notice
• Allon’s gloves – plain black gloves with gold Hawk embroidery
• An circular charm with the embossing of a floating behemoth over water

The Return

Upon return to the Chance the heroes are greeted by Karr who questions them about their findings on the isle. He is quite taken with the charm that Marlow found and tells the group he will forgo any claim to a stake in the salvage in exchange for the small trinket. The heroes decline the gruff orc’s offer and ask that they rather just set sail for Gateway. (The voidglow-susceptible dwarf once again heads below deck.)

On the third night of their return trip the heroes are startled by blood curdling screams. Luckfinder’s body is engulfed in voidglow which intensifies until Karr cannot be seen at all. A booming voice is then heard from all around:

“I am the god Lightbringer, but before my insanity I was Oceanius, Lord of the Oceans. The disk you found was a holy symbol of my priests. I have not seen its like since before the dawn of the world.”
“Seek these artifacts of the Souls in preparation for the final battle. The fuel that burns in the Queen’s barge; the armor of Orcbane; Festival’s Harp, ignored by my followers; the hammer of the damned dwarf; and the raven staff. Recover them all for soon the Shield will fall again.”
“Begin your quest by seeking Joeseth Truthbearer in Gateway…”

The glow then disappears leaving an enraged ogre where Karr once stood. The heroes quickly jump into action. Despite the efforts of the glowmad ogre to best his enemy passengers his aim falls short and is little match to the mastery of musket, sword & spell. Kerr is quickly dispatched (despite doling harsh wounds) and falls to the deck. A search is then conducted on the remains of the fallen captain— the following “charms” are found:

Tsurak’s Ring – A gold and jade ring (use unknown)
Anklet of Nimble Tasks – grants wearer +1 to Agility based rolls
Ring of the Araneae – grants wearer the Wall Walker ability for 1 round once a day
Beauregard’s Beetle Brooch – when tossed onto ground brooch animates into a swarm of beetles (medium template) for 2 rounds – acts as difficult terrain – 3 charges

The heroes then take a much needed break before setting sail back to Gateway……

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A Dragon's Rage
March 26, 2011

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…..

The Plan

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.

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Weapon's Run
April 16, 2011

The Flight Back…

The heroes flight takes several days before returning to Gateway’s port. As they pull up to dock the party realizes they’re receiving a smattering of raised eyebrows which is only natural since their arriving in a skiff that once was on the death barge.

After docking the group takes note that their is a presence of gang-types roaming the port area. All the riff raff of this particular gang don facial tattoo’s and go by the moniker, The Ferals. One particular “leader” of this motley crew takes a great interest in Ricter and engages him in talk— by demanding coin for docking at “their” port. Ricter, never one for subtley, agitates the leader but the matter is quickly smoothed over by the diplomatic Jarek.

The heroes seek out Tomas and see if there has been any news on Merkas’ dealings. Tomas assures them that he is still safe but had a slight run-in with some supposed hired hoods but nothing came of it. The party inquires about a locksmith who might be able to open the locked chests they secured from the Soulflame. Tomas points them to an ample dwarf in the market. Tomas also tells the party that news of the defeat of the Bone Queen travelled quickly to the ears of many upon Gateway— and undoubtedly throughout the Sundered Skies because of the cosmic rift created by her demise. Tomas reveals that Joeseth Truthsayer has already begun his amass his own faction of The Beloved followers, who are even more pacifist than the main cult.

The trio set forth to the market to find Gruin Lockhammerwho is sitting behind the counter of his dusty shop. The group challenges Gruin to open the small chests, which he successfully does and reveals three chests filled with cogs (200; 200; 300 c.) and the fourth containing a silver whistle and a Blood Rosependant.

The heroes then seek out Joeseth in God’s Parade. He is at his same corner but the listeners of his sermons have grown considerably. Adults and children alike huddle around the charismatic preacher to hear his words. He greets the party as they approach and congratulates them are their good deed. He asks them to elaborate to his flock the entirety of the quest, which they do, along with a climatic finish with Marlow shooting his dragon pistol in the air. The crowd gasps and cheers.
Marlow finds that firing the gun has changed his mood and he has become more aggressive. Joeseth reveals that the transformed gun is actually the “fuel artifact” the heroes need to use towards protecting the shield.

The heroes also learn of the various gangs located throughout Gateway:

  • The Godless, a group of troublemakers plaguing God’s Parade by preying upon the temples. They usually resort to petty vandalism, but sometimes going as far as assaulting priests or worshippers.
  • The Ferals, a gang of thugs, who operate in the Port area. Gang members sport facial tattoos, which give them a bestial appearance. Their leader claims to be a non-wildling Untamed, though whether his claim is true is yet to be discovered.
  • The Chosen, Not a gang of drakin, but a gang that claims to be led by a dragon, although whether this is true or not is unknown. The Chosen are currently locked in a vicious turf war with the Savages. Their weapon of choice is a bone cestus.
  • The Savages, An orcish gang who have carved out territory, as well as a nasty reputation in the Undercity. Their favored weapon is the stamp hammer, though few have the strength to wield it effectively.
  • The Glowmad, A truly vicious gang who are battling the Godless for territory around God’s Parade. Their dress apes the appearance of the glowmad, and they fight with a wild abandon.

The Birchstaff Brothers

Joeseth invites the heroes back to the Windblown Flotsam to treat them to a victory meal. While all are dining Jarle and Jeche Birchstaff stop by the table to congratulate the trio on their latest victory and tell them they are developing quite a name for themselves in the bustling town.

A note is slipped to Jarek by a bar maiden while being served. The note asks the wizard to meet with the Brothers later that evening to discuss a possible job. The trio retire to their perspective rooms at the lavish inn. A treat for their adventure-weary bones.

A sharp knock at Jarek’s door comes several hours later. The brother enter and discuss their need for the capable heroes to deliver some “goods” for them in Roseport— the market district in Heartland. The brother’s reveal that they are, in fact, Boughbreakers, who aide the resistance to free Wildlings from their oppressors, the Willow Queen and her Oakthorn army. The brothers suggest, if the heroes accept the quest, to visit Anya Brightclad in the market. Anya, who uses her shop as a front, stores weapons for the brothers that are used in the resistance. They ask that these weapons be delivered to an elf named Gareth in the Roseport Market Garden of Heartland. To make assure Gareth that they were sent from the Birchstaff’s the heroes must use the code, “The light bleeds through the trees.” Upon delivery Gareth will send back with the heroes a token and sealed note detailing the value of the weapons.If the letters and token are returned to the brothers, they pay the heroes twice the value of the goods. They also recommend to Jarek that The Chance can be modified by their friend, Jared Nilsenn, down at the Gateway shipyard to create hidden compartments for smuggling in the hull of the ship. Jeche mentions that if the heroes have plans to disappear with the haul and sell it elsewhere, then they had better never return to Gateway. He never forgets a business deal, and those who have broken a deal with him live to regret it…but not for long.
Jarek says he will present the offer to his compatriots and will give them an answer in the morning. The party discusses…and agrees.

Preparing for the Journey

The group rests overnight before heading to the shipyard to find master builder Jared Nilsenn so he can fabricate the hidden compartments in the Chance’s hull. Nilsenn agrees to the work at a price of 250c. for work that will take several days time. Jarek also tosses a few coins to Jared to disappear the Harbor office so the wizard can investigate shipping records. It is revealed that Merkas Gladwing has his hands dipped into the coffers of all goods floating in and out of the port. It appears that he’s taking both for the Trade Council and then a share for himself. He has also been making notations on Tomas’ activity and has gained a more than curious interest in the Heroes of the Chance.

While the party waits for the construction to be completed they pay a visit to Tomas. He offers to buy the undead skiff from them for a fair price of 6,500 c. The price is lower than usual because of it’s need to be blessed to remove the cursed taint before it can be resold.

The trio also visit Anya Brightclad to acquire the crates of weapons in a hidden compartment in her basement. They also meet Anya’s adopted human son, Tal and a cat-like wildling companion, Kaa-Lin. She tells the heroes that she rescued Kaa-Lin so he has pledged servitude to the elven woman. She tells the group to hire a cart to transport the crates back their ship..

The group also meets back up with Myrlak to puchase more wares. Jarek acquires two fire burst scrolls for 200 cogs. Plus a Dispel Magic scroll for 150. He also gets a prosthetic arm created 50 cogs. The artificial limb is hollowed out and can carry small items. Jarek keeps the arm tucked in his robe— concealing it’s true nature.

A quick visit to HONEST HAYRI’S DIRT CHEAP EMPORIUM is also on their “to do” list. Hayri offers the lowest prices for waysphere dirt in Gateway. They purchase a pouch of Heartland soil and are wished safe travels by the merchant.

The heroes also get their ship outfitted with a cannon and 30 cannon shots and purchase 12 more bolts for the ballistae - Ricter uses his skills to convert some of the ballistae bolts into explosive harpoons using the black powder they found from their previous quest at the tower.

Where are you going!?!

With the hidden compartments built the heroes are ready to begin their run…
After loading up the cart from Anya’s Shop the trio makes its way to the docks. Before long they are stopped by the town militia led by Marcius Valerus, the human commander of the town militia.
With a slight show of force, Valerus questions the party on their comings & goings. He also makes it apparent that if goods are to be shipped to and from Gateway that his liege, Merkus Gladwing, should be involved. Valerus offers to look the other way just this once if the party agrees to pay a “toll” of 100c. Jarek, showing foresight with reasoning, agrees to the terms and pays the fee. Marcius smiles, accepts the toll and smugly divvies up the newly acquired coin amongst his fellow guardsmen. The heroes vow to kill Marcius at an appropriate time.

With that conflict resolved the party continues towards the port only to be stopped a second time— by the same Feral gang member who was harassing Ricter several days prior. This time the party acts. With one devastating pistol shot, Ricter’s slug explodes the assailant’s kneecap, severing a major artery and causing the thug to bleed out. Half-a-dozen fellow gang members come to their fallen comrade’s aid only to be dealt with swiftly by pistol, sword and spell.

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Weapon's Run (part 2)

CASTING OFF ~

With the Ferals defeated Ricter and Marlow decide the best way to clean up the mess is to idly drop the bodies off the docks into the void. Some of the other sailors and merchants in the vicinity cheer, others go about their business as if nothing has happened. Usually the thought is: keep your head down and mind your business. The heroes have forsaken such nonsense and made a spectacle of the situation. Jarek watches from the Chance wanting no part of the activity.

A young lad arrives in a huff just as the heroes are about to depart. Apparently he is a courier delivering a note to “Master Jarek.” The sealed note (from the Birchstaff brothers) says the following:

“Heroes of the Chance~
You will meet Gareth at his shop in the Roseport Market Garden. Roseport is the only place on Heartland where non-elves are welcome— to be found elsewhere brings a swift death.
May the Lady of the Winds fill your sails and your endeavor be a safe one. Remember the code and destroy this letter once it has been read."
  • Marlow and Ricter question Jarek on the note which he reluctantly shares. Finicky wizards….

WE WILL ROCK YOU!!

Three uneventful weeks into the journey the heroes suddenly find themselves navigating through a dense rock field. Captain Marlow avoids most of the giant debris with only a few rocks bouncing off the ship’s hull. Despite this rock field going as far as the eye can see Jarek notices slight movement off the starboard side and quickly bellows a warning. This floating speck amidst a sea of stone turns out to be a pirate ship in waiting. Using cover behind a massive rock the raider’s ship seemingly attacks unsuspecting travellers caught up in the rock field.

Marlow screams battle stations while trying to outrun the pursuers. Jarek and Ricter man the cannon on the starboard side in case the chase becomes an attack. The pirate ship navigates through the rock field seemingly as well as Captain Marlow— slightly gaining on them by the second.

A fierce battle ensues as the two airships clash in the rockfield. Each exchanging fire while also navigating through the dense scape of floating debris. A crushing blow from The Chance’s cannon wreaks havoc on the pirate’s skysloop. The pirates return fire with blows from their ballistae which strike home doing considerable damage.

Close enough to see the white’s of their eye’s the heroes notice the skysloop’s crew as a group of short, reedy humanoids lead by a human lieutenant and their stout captain. The pirates think of boarding the heroes skiff but are met by Jarek’s icy bolts which knock the pirate captain away from his helm causing the skysloop to spin out of control knocking most of their crew prone…..
Marlow then brings The Chance around for a shot from the his ship’s ballistae since loading the cannon would take too long during this critical time. Manned by a tethered Ricter a shot is sent off but the it bounced off the pirate’s hull causing no damage.

With the skysloop finally under the guidance of a battle-weary pirate crew member their vessel soon gains altitude to get a better tactical advantage over The Chance squashing all attempts to board their unsuspecting victim’s and now just wanting revenge. Another volley of ballistae bolts from above by the pirate’s vessel seemingly causes the final blow that would destroy the heroes ship. The Chance spins out of control and is about to forever descend into the void when an act of sheer luck coupled with Marlow’s determination and years of captaining sky ships causes a successful last-ditch effort to guide the tailspin onto a gigantic floating rock, halting their plummet.

With the battle not yet over the pirates soon turn about their crippled skysloop to rain down a final volley of ballistae bolts upon their helpless victims. Caught up in his bloodthirst the inexperienced crewmember piloting the raider ship fails to spot a giant mass of stone hurtling towards his sloop. Just as the command to fire is about to be bellowed a silent scream takes it’s place as a calamitous impact from the stone breaks the pirate ship in two, killing most of it’s inhabitants onboard and plunging one poor soul into the void—- only that particularly fortuneless dolt is held in place by loft oil and stays floating amongst the rock field.

OF ALL THE HAIRBRAINED IDEAS….

The heroes have a plan. Not a good one albeit, but a plan nonetheless. Tethered to the ship by a rope Ricter volunteers himself to climb atop a ballistae bolt which will be fired from The Chance towards the direction of the floating pirate. If he can reach him, Ricter will grapple with the pirate, overcome him and the two will be hauled back to the stranded vessel. The thought by all is if they can rescue the pirate information may be gleemed. If not, at least they have a captive to help repair their damaged ship.

  • Ready, Aim, Fire! Timing the spin of the anchored ship with the loft of the floating victim, a dwarf-ridden bolt sails through the void towards it’s destination. Unfortunately, the bolt is headed straight towards an aimless rock that is crossing the bolt’s trajectory. Unable to negotiate the obstacle, Ricter collides with the rock and is knocked unconscious. Jarek and Marlow haul the limp dwarf back onto the ship while the pirate is left to bask in the glow of the void.
  • After several days, Ricter regains conscious and recovers from his wounds. He begins to work on their damaged skiff just enough to deem it able to leave the rock and sail towards Heartland. Jarek studies the floating rock their have crashed on and takes a soil sample. The crew sets sail for Heartland.

LIMPING TOWARDS OUR DESTINATION

Approaching the Heartland docks of Roseport the heroes are intercepted by an Oakthorn patrol. After asking the purpose for the heroes visit (“we’re merchants with cloth to sell”) the captain asks if he and some of his men can board The Chance to inspect the cargo. With keen negotiating skills Jarek convinces the Oakthorn captain to only glance over their shipping records and simply allow them to enter the port. The captain allows passage but inquires why the heroes and their ship are so battered. Jarek offers a vague tale of what occured. The captain explains that pirates, quite possible from the same rock field, attacked one of their galleon’s a few months back and the only Oakthorn’s sailor who survived came back telling tales of a pirate crew consisting of smallish men.

  • The heroes dock in Roseport and are greeted by a swarm of activity. There is a heavy Oakthorn militia presence to oversee all who enter and leave the port. Wildling slaves can be seen scurrying to and from doing their master’s bidding.
  • The trio seek out the shipyard manager and inquire about repairs. While negotiating with Ricter and Jarek the manager sets a price for lumber, glues, nails, saws, fabrics, along with 4 wildling slaves to help aid in the repair at a cost of 1,400c. Ricter determines the repairs should take no longer than a week. He will be on hand to help and supervise. The group then inquire about an inn where they can clean up and rest. They are told of the Falcon & the Child, a lively establishment for weary merchants and well-to-do clients that is just past the grove. The heroes walk through a seemingly endless 40-foot wide path lined by giant oaks. The oaks, being so large and majestic, create a canopy of leaves that blocks mostly all of the voidlight shining from above. After several moments of travel the path opens up into a bustling market district— shoppers and children roam the streets as more wildlings scurry about delivering messages and carrying heavy loads for their masters—-all under the watchful eye of the Oakthorn guard. The heroes soon find the Falcon & The Child inn. After very little small talk the heroes each secure lodging from the Krell, the innkeep for a week (including breakfast and dinner each day and one hot bath.) at 8 c. per day.
  • They are shown to their perspective rooms by his wife Lydia. Feather beds and silken sheets are a much-needed luxury after sailing for weeks and only sleeping upon the palette beds aboard The Chance. While bathing their clothes are cleaned, mended and left on hooks back in their rooms. After a fine meal of roast meats, fresh steamed vegetables and many flagons of ale the heroes inquire the innkeep on the whereabouts of the merchant Gareth.

TRANSACTIONHAVE WILDLINGS, WILL TRAVEL

Jarek, Marlow and Ricter discover Gareth’s shop and enter. A ring from the door’s chime alerts a middle-aged elf behind the counter that he has customers. This non-descript merchant looks up from paperwork, greets the trio and begins his sales pitch. Jarek counters the pitch with small talk and uses the “code.” A change of expression falls on Gareth’s face as he rushes to lock the front door and pull the blinds. He tells the party that he expected them weeks ago and had lost hope in the shipment. Jarek explains their adventures during their journey to Heartland.

  • Gareth, very pleased that the weapons are still available and are in safe keeping aboard _The Chance _ ,makes arrangements to collect the crates the next day. He informs them that he will assess their value and give them the quote in a sealed letter, along with a token, to take back to the Birchstaff brothers in Gateway. He also offers them another job: Gareth needs the party to deliver a group of recently rescued Wildlings to Timber, a large commune on Canopy, an island to the east of the Runoff Falls. If the Wildlings are delivered successfully Gareth will pay the heroes double the worth of the recently delivered weapons. Interested in the proposition, the heroes say they must mull over the offer before deciding. Gareth understands and bids them farewell and says he will talk with them again the next day when collecting the shipment down at their ship. Before they leave the trio buy several Wound Seal potions from Gareth.
  • With some of the day left to explore, Jarek and Marlow seek out a merchant who can tell them the origin of the dirt collected from the floating rock they crashed their ship upon. They find such a store and enter….For a meager fee the storekeep loads the dirt into his waysphere and details what he’s discovered: The dirt comes from an island many leagues east of Heartland called Paak-Taan. He also tells of several archeological expeditions that took place upon the islands catacombs that were said to have contained riches and historical artifacts beyond belief. Messages sent by couriers between the archeologists and Heartland detail several tremors that shook the island in the past year, occurring more frequently in the past months. The last message he knows of was received last month. None have been delivered since.
  • The next day the heroes all return to the chance to meet up with Gareth. The merchant comes shortly soon thereafter with a few Wildlings in tow to help with the shipment. Although Gareth treats the Wildlings with indifference in public once he is below deck on The Chance, the heroes notice Gareth treating the humanoid animals with compassion and as equals.
  • The party recognizes that items in their rooms have been moved and altered (Jarek’s Journal) while they’ve been away. Jarek’s journal had entries crossed out that dated back months ago. Jarek asked the innkeep Krell if anyone had been in their room “cleaning” but Krell assured them that no one is permitted in the room’s without a guest’s consent. Jarek also cornered a Wildling slave that works at the Falcon & The Child to ask if he had seen anything. The wildling confided that he had heard noises coming from behind the closed door of Jarek’s room but never saw anyone go in or leave. The party is perplexed as to what could be causing these disturbances.
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