Savage Tide

Chapter 5: Kraken's Cove
The party follows Vanthus to Kraken's Cove, but what they find is unexpected.

Savage Tide

Part II: The Bullywug Gambit
Chapter 5: Kraken’s Cove

Our Cast:

Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue

Striker (Seth) Tainted Human Duskblade

Daegoth (Trevor S.) Lizardfolk Dragon Shaman

Daelis Eagleheart (David L.) Half-Elf Swashbuckler

Sunday, June 27th, 1234 AY

After learning of Vanthus’ location, the heroes hurried to find how to get to Kraken’s Cove. They quickly carried their loot to the Vanderboren Manor, leaving the Lotus Dragons to infighting in the wake of the consequential disarray. Poddle had plans, however, to return and retake the Lotus Dragon guildhall. Jericho striker moonscar

The heroes began researching where Kraken’s Cove actually was, and word of their interest reached the ears of a loner named Striker. Striker approached the heroes with an offer:

He would show them the way to Kraken’s Cove in exchange for an equal share of any treasure they acquired. After a short discussion, the party accepted.

Kraken’s Cove was a small cove along the northeast side of Blood Bay, but access to the cove itself (by boat) could not be obtained unless one had specific sea charts. Instead, Striker suggested they hire a fishing boat to take them to a secluded shore a few miles away from the cove, then he would lead them on a trail to the cliffs overlooking the cove. Crazy pete

The party had a old fisherman fondly nicknamed “Crazy Pete” by the folk of the Azure District to take them to Kraken’s Cove on his ship, the Hairless Bonobo, for twelve gold pieces a person round-trip, plus an additional ten gold for each day it took them to finish their business there.

It was late in the night by now, but once the party informed Crazy Pete of the urgency of their business, the kind old fisherman and his crew decided to acquiesce their request of sailing through the night to reach the cove.

It took approximately sixteen hours to reach Kraken’s Cove, setting out at Ten O’clock on that Sunday night and reaching the cove by Two O’clock in the afternoon the next day. In that time the party slept, rested up, prepared spells, and fished a little (in the case of Daegoth and Poddle).

The party was as the following: Daegoth, Poddle, Daelis, Striker, and Metallica.

Verael had still not returned from wherever he was, Nimlar had been following a lead on an opportunity to gain a large amount of wealth (which he would use to help his country), Rapton was investigating a disturbance in the nearby jungle, the heroes left Gut Tugger in a cage at the Vanderboren Manor, and Churtle had been hired by Lavinia as a cook.

Monday, June 28th, 1234 AY

At Two O’clock in the afternoon the next day, the party reached Kraken’s Cove. The entrance to the secluded rift that was Kraken’s Cove in the coastal cliffs that line the eastern coast of Blood Bay was riddled with dangerous reefs and submerged threats. As a result, only sailors who knew the region or possessed sea charts of the waters dare approached the cliffs here—the ship the party was on had access to neither.

Striker suggested to put aground a few miles north of Kraken’s Cove at a secluded beach. From there, it was a fairly short hike to the cliff tops and then south along a narrow path that eventually led to the cove itself.

As soon as the party came in a few miles of Kraken’s Cove, they could see that something was wrong.

Plumes of smoke rose into the sky above the cove, visible even from several miles away. Worse, as the party carefully traversed the trail that led to Kraken’s Cove, they saw swaths of dead wildlife, from parrot to gull to monkey to snake, lying dead on the ground, their bodies horribly distorted and deformed. What few wild animals remained alive were shockingly aggressive, and the party witnessed numerous animals tearing each other apart.

At one point, a group of four spider monkeys attacked them, flopping and writhing down from the trees with shocking speed. Their jaws were filled with tiny fangs, and their bodies were covered with open sores from which hooked bone spurs protruded.

The first monkey, flinging itself from a palm tree above, landed on Striker, who was in the lead, and bit him fiercely in the arm, drawing blood. Striker managed to pry the savage creature off of him, but he felt dizzy and shaken. He managed to shrug off the effects, but still felt slightly dazed.

The second monkey similarly launched itself, this time at Daegoth, but could not penetrate the hard scales of the lizardfolk. Daegoth snapped at the beast with his powerful jaws and slashed at it with his axe, tearing the animal to shreds.

Poddle, whipping out his hand crossbow, fired off a bolt at the monkey attacking Striker, hitting it squarely in the side, but not killing it. The creature didn’t flinch.

Suddenly, a rock hit the same monkey directly in the head, killing it. Metallica stood nearby, his hands already searching for another rock.

Daelis, seeing an opportunity, grabbed out his crossbow as well, firing at a monkey who was rushing at him from the ground, striking it in the chest. The beast howled and came on with deadly endurance.

The last monkey, popping out from a nearby fern, dove at Poddle, its eyes showing its ferocious hunger. Before it got to the kobold, however, Striker struck it down with his dual swords, laying low the savage animal.

The remaining monkey, still intent on Daelis, latched on to the duelist’s leg, sinking it’s teeth into his exposed flesh. Daelis cried out in pain, but managed to shake off as well the effects of that bite. A hard blow from Daegoth’s axe brought the last creature down, its vital organs spilling out onto the jungle floor.

As the party tried to sort out the mystery of these strange occurrences, they continued on to Kraken’s Cove.

Once the party reached the cliffs overlooking the cove, they were greeted with a tragic and horrific sight.

In the sheltered cove below, an inferno raged atop the water. Several ships, including a two-masted caravel, a sizeable frigate, a long barge, and what might have once been a schooner were all ablaze. Further out, a three-masted caravel seemed to have escaped the fire—for now. A shiny slick on the water itself burned as well, creating a wall of wood and flame. The heat rose in searing sheets, and the roar of the flaming maelstrom mixed with the crashing surf masked any other sounds that might be issuing up from below.

Looking around for a way to get to down to the beach, the heroes found two routes: a climb down the cliffs themselves, or a more tempting path down a rickety walkway. After a quick discussion, Daegoth headed down the cliff, since he was a much better climber, and everyone else headed down the walkway.

Daelis went first, testing the walkway. The surface was slick and slippery, but Daelis, trained as he was, traversed it with ease, literally running down the walk. Striker and Poddle went down at a more careful crawl, not as adept at balancing themselves as was their duelist friend.

Metallica, since he had no need to breathe, dove into the cove and walked along the surface of the water, eventually coming to a strange patch of about forty feet where no vegetation was growing. In the center of this area, the warforged found the remnants of a black pearl the size of a man’s fist.

When everyone met on the beach below, Metallica told Poddle of the black pearl and the area of no vegetation. Poddle told the others and they wondered if the pearl had something to do with the chaos in the cove.

A fifty-foot wide beach separated the burning water’s of Kraken’s Cove from the cliffs to the north. A ten-foot wide cave opened up at the base of the cliff to the northwest, while to the northeast several planks provided a crude bridge across a tide pool to a second, smaller cave entrance. The swaths of blood and ragged body parts strewn across the beach testified to a terrible and recent battle upon the sands here. Broken crates and bamboo cages littered the area, blood and bits of bone sprayed across bolts of silk and cracked barrels of ambergris seeping into the coarse rocky sand. A number of mangled corpses, each stripped nearly clean of flesh and bones cracked open, laid strewn across the beach. The casualties were staggering, with a quick count putting the dead at nearly twenty.

The heroes quickly searched through the twisting wreckage, finding a few items that survived the chaos: a leather sack of saffron, a crate of fine dishware, and a case of potions, which, by the color, the heroes recognized as healing potions, but most likely of more potency than the ones they carried with them; only three of these remained intact.

The heroes went through the larger cave entrance, coming to a fork in the tunnel and taking the right corridor. They ended up in a chamber in which dozens of bolts of once-fie brocaded silk hung from lines of rope stretched across the ceiling of the chamber, making it difficult to accurately judge the size of the sandy-floored cavern.

Poddle, being knowledgeable in the value of items, appraised the worth of the silk. Most of it was badly water damaged, but he found three bolts of silk that were salvageable. Daegoth took these, and began looking around for other valuables.

A split second before the attack came, Daegoth sensed something, something that felt familiar…

A huge raptor, it’s back writhing with wriggling tentacles, several of which wept puss and left a disgusting trail of yellowish smears on the silk it just came from, pounced from behind the hanging silk onto the lizardfolk, it’s talons slashing at the dragon shaman. Ripclaw

Daegoth managed to get his shield up in time to block those deadly claws, but the raptor still had him pinned. Poddle, in a puny attempt at heroism, charged the dinosaur, but his mace just bounced off the raptor’s hard scales.

Striker said a quick incantation, and fire shot from his fingertips, but the blast did little if nothing to stop the giant beast. Daegoth, slashing the raptor with his axe from beneath it, scored a hit against the beast, digging deep into its flesh.

The raptor tried a quick bite at the lizardfolk, but he managed to fend off the attack with his shield. He wasn’t so lucky when the beast took a swipe with his great talon.

Daegoth screamed as the claw tore through his exposed flesh, rending skin and muscle alike. Daelis, charging with his rapier, took a swipe at the terrifying beast, but his light blade was blocked by the hard scales.

Metallica also charged the raptor, and attempted to push the beast off of Daegoth, but the warforged could not move the great raptor. Poddle tried to hit the raptor again, but his attack was deflected once again.

Striker attempted a flying-jump kick at the raptor, but failed miserably.

Daegoth, heaving with all his strength, managed to shove the horrible dinosaur off of him, and got in a quick swipe with his axe in the process, though he missed. The raptor, already disinterested in the tough lizardfolk, pounced on an unsuspecting Daelis.

Daelis, in a futile attempt to get the raptor off, tried to stab the beast, but failed. Metallica, in a moment of strength, pile-drived the raptor and crushed its back, causing the raptor to screech in pain. He held on fast.

Poddle attempted yet another puny strike, but missed once again. Striker, starting another incantation, seemed to weaken slightly as he drained a part of his life force away to power his spell. His blades glowed with arcane power, and he hit the raptor with a massive strike powered by arcane and martial might.

The raptor screeched in agony.

Daegoth, taking his opportunity to strike from the raptor’s moment of weakness, struck the raptor, digging into its arm. The raptor withdrew from his attackers, leaving Daelis prone on the ground and taking Metallica with him, holding on for dear life. A bite from the raptor’s powerful jaws tore through the metal of the warforged slave.

Daelis tried to hit the beast, but his attack was redirected by the scales of the raptor. Metallica dropped off the raptor’s back and managed to scramble out of the crazed beast’s path, withdrawing to the side of the battlefield to nurse his wounds.

Poddle, finally getting a successful attack, took down the great dinosaur with a blow to the head.

The raptor crumbled to the sandy floor.

After the battle with the raptor, the heroes continued their search of the hall of hanging silks, finding a collection of five tomes, with topics ranging from lizardfolk cuisine to naturalist studies of the Amedio. They were slightly water damaged, but Poddle still figured that they would be worth at least 200 gp as a lot.

After Daegoth took the books and stuffed them into his pack, a sound alerted the heroes to the presence of another being. Attached to ceiling of the cave was a creature that looked half-raccoon half monkey. Poddle and Daegoth recognized the creature as a phanaton, an arboreal sentient from their homeland. Unlike those creatures, however, who were rarely ever hostile, this savage being was twisted and deformed. His fur was matted with blood and bits of gory tissue. Sizzling drool dribbled from his fanged, misshapen mouth, and he slavered as he grunted and hooted before finally managed to snarl out in Common: “Come to me, meatbags! Just give me a mouthful of your tasty, pink flesh!”

The phanaton swooped down upon Daegoth, its kukri poised to stab, but Poddle, in an amazing feat of initiative and agility, jumped and intercepted the gliding creature with his mace, hitting it to the ground. Daegoth, without a word, adeptly beheaded the phanaton, ending the fight rather quickly.

On the phanaton was a red potion, a clear oil, a masterwork kukri, gold nose ring and chain piece, some interesting feet wrappings, and a ruby ring. Striker identified the feet wrappings as Slippers of Spider Climbing, so Poddle took them.

The heroes went beyond the cave through a tunnel going to the southeast. The bodies of three strange creatures laid in a mangled heap in the center of the cave, their bodies torn apart and gnawed down to the bone. It’s difficult to tell what manner of wolf-like of hyena-like creatures they once were. Spiked collars laid empty beside the decapitated bodies, chains running from each to iron hooks in the wall. Two of the same type creatures remain, their visages deformed and disfigured. At the approach of the heroes, they snarled and charged, but were unable to reach the tunnel, as their chains permitted them access to the entire chamber, but not beyond.

The heroes stood in the tunnel and shot them to death.

The heroes continued, going left and entering a sandy-floored cavern that seemed to be some sort of trophy hall. The centerpiece of the displays was an enormous reptilian skull, nearly six feet in length, mounted on a wooden display. Daegoth and Poddle both recognized this skull as belonging to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or “Thunder King” as it was called by the various tribes of the Isle of Dread. Other trophies lined the walls—nameplates from ships, battered sea chests, mounted heads of sea monsters, and weathered figureheads, each doubtless carrying a sordid history of theft and betrayal. On one stand sat a shrunken head… Jimmy do

As the party approached the strange shrunken head, it suddenly blinked.

“Son of a monkey!” Daelis exclaimed, while Poddle screamed aloud. After he recovered, Poddle ordered Metallica to grab it.

“I wouldn’t do that,” it said. “I have magical abilities!”
“Yeah, like talking when you are just a head,” said Daelis.

Daegoth reached out and grabbed the shrunken head by the hair, while it tried to bite him.

“What’s your name?” Poddle said as Daegoth held it, looking quizzically at the strange effigy.
“Jimmy Do!”
“That’s a strange name.”
“What’s yours?” The strange head said.
“Poddle.”
“Now THAT is a strange name.”

“Do you know where Vanthus is?” Poddle inquired, trying to get some useful information out of this strange head.
“He came through here a couple of hours ago,” Jimmy Do said. “And he made all the ships go BOOM!”

After a lengthy conversation with Jimmy Do, the heroes realized that Vanthus had attempted to steal the valuable cargo (the black pearl found by Metallica), but in the process had activated the magical object, causing everything that happened here. They also learned that a woman named Harliss Javell was in charge of the ships that were razed, as she was one of the captains. After getting all the information they could from the shrunken head, Daegoth made the head into a necklace (Jimmy Do apparently doesn’t feel pain), looted the room for treasure, and then the party headed out.

The heroes found some ancient nautical charts, which Striker said to be much more accurate than even most modern maps. Daegoth recognized the area (it was the Isle of Dread), and so did Jimmy Do (when he was alive he was an Olman warrior living on the Isle of Dread).

The heroes also found three locked sea chests (which Daegoth managed to bust open) with a sizable amount of gold, silver, and gems.

Next the heroes followed the screams they had been hearing since they had arrived to Kraken’s Cove to a prison.

Dozens of five-foot-wide iron cages were built into the walls of the large cavern. Some were empty, while others contained the partially eaten remains of men and women. Yet most horrible were those cages that contained thrashing, wailing figures. Each of them seemed more deformed than the last, twisting legs, writhing arms, vestigial heads, and jaws agape with too many teeth were all on display as the mad prisoners howled and slobbered and threw themselves against the walls of their cages in a cacophonous attempt to break free. One prisoner had retained his life and sanity, a lone lizardfolk who seemed to be in a sort of solitary confinement. This alone had saved him from the rest of his fellow prisoners. Zagon

“Daegoth?” He said, recognizing the lizardfolk.
“Zagon?” Daegoth said. “What are you doing here? We all thought you were dead!”

Zagon had been a member of Daegoth’s tribe, who had seemingly been killed in a hunt a couple years ago. Zagon explained that Krazog had sold him into slavery, and used that as a cover story. Apparently, Krazog had been secretly supplying the Dragon Armada with slaves.

The party released Zagon, gave him some weapons, and planned to head to explore a southern corridor.

Before they left, however, Daegoth put the screaming prisoners out of their misery with his javelin.

The heroes headed down the southern corridor that exited the room, and came to a barricaded door. Daegoth knocked it down, and they entered.

A fairly even layer of sand covered the floor of this musty-smelling cavern. Large pottery urns lined the walls of the cave, and within each grew a riot of strange mushrooms, fluted toadstools, phosphorescent molds, greasy-looking fronds of pale lichens, and all matter of strange fungi. Several large glass terrariums, their walls beaded with condensation, stood along the west wall. One of these was shattered, the loamy soil within spilling out onto the sandy floor near a long but low table heaped with flasks, jars, bottles, and tools. Protruding from under the table was a pair of small boots, perhaps those of a gnome. Fungus violet

The heroes, cautious as ever, took Jimmy Do and threw him in the room. They told him to sing if he needed help. Immediately, a large Violet Fungus showed itself and grabbed the shrunken head with its tendrils.

“DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’!” Jimmy Do sang frantically.

Poddle, acting quickly, used the magical slippers he had gotten from the phanaton to climb up the cave wall, onto the ceiling, and hang directly above the fungi. He then dropped and came in hard with his mace, sending the Violet Fungus rearing and sending Jimmy Do across the room to land in a large jar.

“Ow”, said Jimmy Do.

Daegoth rushed into the room and crushed the Violet Fungus in one strike, killing it.

The heroes found a large collection of various herbs, poisons, and medicines, which Striker identified. They put them away for now.

After retrieving Jimmy Do from the jar, the heroes continued along the southern corridor, eventually the reaching the first chamber they had started in. They retraced their steps back to a section of the caves they hadn’t explored yet, a collection of winding tunnels.

Within, they found a mutated pirate, apparently a Dragon Armada crew member. It attacked the party immediately, but was finished off quickly. Savpirate

Another savage pirate appeared from a different tunnel, but a thrown rock by Metallica took it down.

The tunnels eventually led to a cavern which had been outfitted with the finest in stolen furniture. Thick rugs covered the floor, and fine silk tapestries and masterful seascape paintings hung from the walls, giving the place an almost regal feel. A four-poster bed took up much of a large nook to the south, and nearby stood an oak desk with a matching armoire. Alas, much of the furniture was ruined, splattered and stained with gore and deeply scarred by swordplay. A skeletal body dressed in the ruins of a once-fine suit of studded leather lay in a red heap at the foot of the bed. Five more bodies lay about the room, horribly deformed men and women who seem to have perished on a rapier’s point.

The heroes searched the room, finding three silver bars in a lower drawer of the desk, as well as a vial of vermillion ink sitting atop it. A search of the skeletal body turned up a golden ring set with several aquamarine gemstones on his finger and a darkwood buckler strapped to his arm. Underneath the bed, Daelis found and claimed a fine rapier with a bronze hilt in the shape of an eagle for himself.

As the heroes were finishing up looting the room, a shout from down the corridor that led to the east caught the party’s attention, sending them down the tunnel towards the commotion.

The sounds of combat, the unmistakable slobbering cries of rage and hunger from several savage pirates, and a woman’s voice shouting profane threats and curses became more audible as the heroes came closer to the chamber.

The floor of the cavern sloped downward to the southeast, finally ending in a large tide pool. The waters seemed to be surging from a submerged passageway leading to the southwest. A hammock strung between two stalagmites swayed gently to the south, next to an overturned table and a broken chair.

Backed into the corner stood woman using the overturned table as cover to fend off a half-dozen savage pirates. She was a bold beauty with raven-black hair that flowed like the deepest shade of midnight against her deeply tanned skin. She wore tight leather armor studded with fire opals and pearls and wielded a curved rapier and dagger in a blinding display of swordplay.

Over a dozen more savage pirates lay on the ground, yet for all the woman’s seemingly impossible skill at swordplay, she seemed to be tiring.

“Oi! Get in the fight or stay outta me way, buckos!” The woman said when she caught sight of the heroes. These things are lookin’ to die, and I plan on obligin’!"

The heroes rushed into the fight, quickly cutting down the remaining pirates and saving the strange woman. Harliss javell

After the battle was over, the woman wiped her blade and re-sheathed it, then looked at the heroes with a cold gaze.

“What manner of driftwood do we have here?” She said, looking them up and down. “Your names, lubbers! If only so’s I can cut ‘em inta’ yer chests and save the undertaker some asking ’round!”

The heroes introduced themselves, and the woman reciprocated, introducing herself as Harliss Javell.

After the introductions, Harliss demanded to know their business in this “little piece o’hell”. The heroes told her that they were tracking down Vanthus—which immediately sent her into a tirade. After, she recovered, she turned the table upright and began to explain.

“All this ye see here,” the flamboyant woman said as she waved her hand at the slaughtered deformities, "and what nightmares ye must have fought through t’get t’me; t’was all Vanthus Vanderboren’s doing! That vomitous pig came t’me with his hussy’n asked t’see our wares; made like he were a black marketeer lookin’ fer some fur or scale t’move. Told him we had a ship coming in today what were full of exotica for him ta’ shop, so he stayed on a few nights. Seemed a fine enough chap, but then not an hour ago, he dumped a hold full of whale oil into the cove and lit it up. I was on th’Slippery Eel at the time, and that’s when I was caught the two of them on board, fixin t’rob me! Can ye imagine that? A pair of base curs tryin’t’rob Captain Harliss Javell? Anyway, I stuck the fool in the arm with me blade, he yelped, and then as he ducked aside he dropped what he were tryin’t’rob. Were a black pearl. One th’size o’a man’s fist, mind you! Was going to make some fair coin off that bauble, but as it fell, the thing cracked like an egg. Some o’Vanthus’s blood from my blade spattered the pearl, and it boiled and flashed with light. This foul, choking green gas started spewin’ from it, burning through the wood like it were acid. I grabbed th’thing, ran up topside, then threw it inta’ the water, but as it struck, the thing exploded!

“After that… things got a bit weird, mind ye. A green mist filled my vision, and I felt strange. Like someone else were in my head. Someone…someone hungry! And the rage! Rage like I never felt ‘afore! And then, just like that, it were gone. Vanthus were on deck too by then, but he and I were the only humans left. That pearl, it did something to me crew. Ta’ Vanthus’ little girly too! Turned them bad, like something ye might find in a net and throw back on account the sun got no purpose lookin’ upon it. These things!” She kicked one of the deformed pirates in distaste. “Whatever were in that pearl turned over three score men into… into man-eating freaks!”

“Vanthus, he seen what his friend and the rest turned into. He dove into th’water t’get away. I did the same, only I swam for shore. Found me first mate Drevoraz there. He’d resisted the change too, as had some others here and there, yet they were nothin’ but the banquet for those things. We fought our way into th’caves and managed to hole up there with Captain Kigante, the man who keeps these caves for us. Only, Kigante’s freak food now; he got jumped by a mob of them not twenty minutes ago. Tore him apart like they was sharks!

“And one more thing. I think they got the sick in their maws. The places they done bit me still burn, and it’s hard to think straight… But hey! You fought yer way in here! That means there ain’t much left of them out there, yeah?”

The heroes confirmed this fact, and after a short discussion in which they got no more information than they already had, they asked Harliss about Vanthus—which sent her into another tirade.

“I’ll learn that cur what it is t’foul my business! I know who he is! Th’Vanderboren name’s no secret to me. I know he’s got family’n holdings in Sasserine! I sent me right hand Drevoraz t’deal with yer friend, I did. Drevoraz is on his merry way to Sasserine as we speak. He’ll do for Vanthus’ sister, his mum and pop, and any other family or friends the cur has in that dunghill city. Cross the Dragon Armada and we take everything in your life from ye. Best not forget that, boyo.”

The heroes slowly realized that Harliss’ first mate, Drevoraz Kabran, was on his way to attack the Vanderboren Manor and take revenge on Vanthus…who wasn’t there. Lavinia was in danger!

The heroes immediately explained the situation to Harliss, who realized what she had done and apologized for any trouble that her first mate might bring to the Vanderborens. She encouraged the party to make haste back to Sasserine and the Vanderboren Manor if they wanted to get there in time to warn Lavinia about the coming assault.

The heroes set out to save Lavinia

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Chapter 4: The Lotus Dragons
The party tracks Vanthus down to the Lotus Dragons thieves guild.

Savage Tide

Part I: There Is No Honor
Chapter 4: The Lotus Dragons

Our Cast:

Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue

Daegoth (Trevor S.) Lizardfolk Dragon Shaman

Rapton (David S.) Killoren Cleric of Obad-Hai

Nimlar Sumel (Lance) Elf Ranger

Daelis Eagleheart (David L.) Half-Elf Swashbuckler

Sunday, June 27th, 1234 AY

Our heroes return from their leave of duties refreshed, though Verael had still not returned, and had not been seen since the party returned from the tunnels underneath Parrot Island. Daelis Eagleheart, who was searching for the person that killed his family, was offered work in the employ of Lavinia, an offer that he accepted. Nimlar Sumel, as well, who was working slowly to gain enough money to go back and free his people from the tyranny of the nobles of his homeland, was offered a job and he accepted.

The party (now consisting of Poddle, Daegoth, Rapton, Daelis, Nimlar, and of course Derek and Metallica the slaves) set out straight away to tracking down Vanthus once again. From the note that Penkus wrote, they figured out that Vanthus could be found if they head to the Taxidermist’s Hall. So they did.

The heroes headed into the modest-looking Taxidermist’s Hall and were immediately confronted with dozens of expertly stuffed and preserved animals, ranging from parrots, monkeys, and bats to more exotic creatures like a monstrous centipede, a stirge, and even a black dragon wyrmling. A bell near the door bore a short sign—“Ring for Service”. Nemien

The party rang the bell, and a jolly looking man with a handlebar mustache and a feathered hat came out from a side door to meet them in the showroom.
“Hello there!” He said pleasantly, though the pleasure seemed to be partially faked. “I am Nemien Roblach, owner of this fine establishment and taxidermist of Sasserine. Would you be interested in anything here in the showroom? We have many curios available, as you can see, and the prices range from five to five-hundred gold pieces.”
Poddle was interested (of course) and asked a couple of questions about the various items, but it became obvious to Nemien soon enough that the heroes were not there to buy anything.
“I’m sorry, but I am a busy man, and have no time for solicitors!” He exclaimed rather loudly, and immediately changed his expression from pleasant to annoyed.
Poddle ordered Metallica to intimidate the taxidermist.

He talked.

Nemien lead them to a cluster of abandoned buildings called Dead Dog Plaza, which he claimed lead to the Lotus Dragons guild hall. He had apparently been their appointed eyes and ears, (as well as a portal to get back and forth from the city to the guild, but Nemien didn’t tell the heroes that, since he knew that this entrance was much more dangerous) and was paid by the guild for services rendered. He told the heroes that the Lotus Dragons were lead by a human woman who was called the Dragon Mistress or Lady Lotus (depending on her mood), and who had a dragon (or something) that he’d love to stuff. Nemien showed them a secret entrance to the guild hall through a well in the center of the plaza, which had a ladder running down into some sort of cavern.

The heroes volunteered Nemien to go first, followed by Derek and Metallica and then the rest of the party. They climbed down the ladder through a circular cavern which consisted of a large pool of brackish-looking water, its surface greasy with filth and rotting seaweed. Dripping lead pipes protruded from the walls of the twenty-foot-high cavern, including one that was nearly two feet in diameter to the east. To the west and south was a five-foot-wide beach of grit and gravel, and a narrow tunnel led up at a shallow angle to the west and out of sight.

At the bottom of the ladder was a small wooden platform and a small rowboat docked beside it. The heroes allowed Nemien to return to the surface, since they were done with him, and set about figuring out how many people they could fit in the boat. Extraordinarily, they managed to fit everyone but Daegoth into the boat at one time (Poddle, Daelis, Nimlar, Rapton, Metallica, and Derek), so Daegoth took off his armor and swam beside them through the water. Half-way through the pool, they started to see ripples in the water, and Daegoth started to feel uneasy about being so vulnerable and out in the open. Crocodile

Suddenly, a huge crocodile lunged out from the water and sent his enormous jaws snapping towards Daegoth’s head. Daegoth caught a glancing blow and managed to dodge most of it, though a slash down his shoulder was visible. The lizardfolk wrestled through the water with the great reptile, until finally Daegoth’s strength and Nimlar’s archery took the beast down (though Daegoth was injured).

They rowed much faster the rest of the way.

The party reached the shore, and headed down the narrow tunnel to the west, but it was a dead end and the party was forced to back track. They decided to go through the south exit, and took a left, which led them down a short winding corridor before reaching a door. They were cautious, so they listened at the door to make sure there was no one inside before entering. There wasn’t.

It was a small circular room with an exit to the north and a trapdoor leading up into the ceiling. The heroes decided to go up the trapdoor, but found that they just came back to where they started: the door led to an abandoned building in Dead Dog Plaza.

They decided to continue through the north exit, and went down another short corridor before coming to an entrance to the great cavern they just came through. They continued down the corridor and reached another door, which the approached with the same caution. It was exactly the same as the last one. It seemed that there were several circular rooms surrounding the great cavern which led to abandoned houses.

The heroes continued, this time through a west exit. On their left there was a door, but they ignored it and continued through the corridor, which led to another door. They opened it up, with less caution this time, and found themselves in another circular room. But this time, Nimlar felt a slight nagging feeling towards the western wall of the room, and went towards it. When he touched it, the wall slid open, revealing a passageway going to the west. It was a secret door.

The party went through it, and found another door at the end of the corridor (a secret door), and listened first. They heard screaming sounds, followed by machinery moving, which suggested that the room ahead was some sort of torture chamber.

It was.

The heroes entered the room and were confronted by a gruesome scene. The purpose of the macabre chamber was obvious. A stretching rack dominated the northwestern corner of the room, and an open iron maiden its southeast corner. A sizzling brazier of coals sputtered in the southwest corner, giving the chamber a hellish red cast. On the stretching rack was a man in torn, ragged clothes, screaming for mercy. Torturing this man was a tall male in black leather holding a branding iron. He seemed to be poking the ragged man atop the rack with a white hot metal bar. The man in black leather, a thief of the Lotus Dragons by the tattoo on the shoulder of his exposed arm, cried out as the heroes entered the room, and dropped the branding iron and pulled out a rapier. Then he charged.

The heroes slaughtered him.

They untied the man stuck to the rack, who was grateful to the highest extent, and were immediately bombarded with answers before they had asked the questions.

“Thank you so much for saving me!” The ragged man said, whimpering all the while. “I am just a humble silk merchant, I would not hurt anyone. They captured me from my room at the Bent Goblin Inn weeks ago, and having been torturing me…Oh the torture! Please! Bring me out of this terrible place!”

But Poddle wasn’t buying it. He was suspicious, as was his nature, and sent Metallica to intimidate the man. When the man wouldn’t cooperate, Poddle ordered his slave to use force. Metallica picked the man up by the neck and lifted him two feet off the ground, but the man (now not so ragged) kicked off of the warforged and back flipped, landing softly five feet away. His “rags” shimmered and faded away, revealing them for what they really were, magical chain mail that could change its form.

The man scooped up the fallen branding iron and charged, hitting Poddle with a white hot backhand. Poddle was knocked back and hit the floor, sprawling awkwardly across the flagstone. Nimlar whipped out his bow and started churning out arrows while Daelis charged the man and engaged him in a duel, rapier versus branding iron.

He won.

The heroes looted the corpses of the first thief and then the pretender, taking a blue colored potion, which Daegoth recognized as a potion of cure light wounds, ten gold pieces, thieves’ tools (which Poddle took), a sap (which Daelis claimed) and two vials of milky white liquid, which the heroes were puzzled by but then decided to put away and figure out later. Nimlar claimed the magical chain shirt, even though all of the characters were fighting over it, and was rather pleased with its comfort and ease of use.

The heroes exited the chamber via the south exit and headed down a long corridor. To their right were numerous cells where prisoners of the guild where likely kept. They passed them by and came to a door at the end of the hall, which the listened at. They heard a low growling sound, like a wolf, and prepared for a fight.

The floor of the room was cluttered with partially eaten bones and clumps of dark fur, giving the air the smell of wet dog. Worg

Daegoth kicked the door in with a resounding crash and charged at his foe, which was a huge wolf-like creature with pitch black fur and a cruel face (a worg). The worg charged the lizardfolk as well, so they collided in an epic clash. The heroes piled in the room and proceeded to take out the worg with not much difficulty.

After a long argument on whether or not to rest (in the middle of the guild), the party finally decided to continue, though Daegoth downed a potion.

There was only one exit from the room, and that was continuing south. The corridor winded a little and ended up going east before coming to a door. The heroes opened it and continued to where the corridor continued but a door was to the left. The heroes listened at the door, heard snoring, and then burst in.

The walls of the room were lined with dual bunks, eleven in all. The bunks sported sheets spotted with mildew, but appeared to be well slept in. In three of the bunks, two men and a woman (all humans) slept (or at least were sleeping). The thieves started awake, clumsily trying to fumble for their weapons, but the heroes took them down before they could do anything.

The heroes went out of the room via the eastern exit and headed down a corridor, passing numerous doors and side passages on their way down, but paying them no heed. The passage ended with a small chamber that held nothing but two doors, one on either side. The heroes went through the left door, listening first, but hearing nothing and entering, finding nothing as well. They continued through a door straight across the room, and entered another corridor which continued north. The heroes continued, passing by a side passage to the left and continuing straight, finally coming to a door. They listened, heard nothing, and entered.

The room contained a single long bench pushed up against the north wall. A door to the north was marked “Lavatory”. The heroes searched through the room very thoroughly, but found nothing of interest, so continued through a door to the east and down a corridor north and to another sea cavern.

The sound of lapping waves filled the chamber, a natural sea cave that incorporates a large sloshing tide pool. To the north, a low sandy beach seethed with brightly colored crabs. The beach the characters were on sloped up to a glistening wall. A short wooden pier protruded from this beach into the pool, and the cavern wound around the corner beyond. To the north, a large wooden door blocked the cave exit, although the waters flowed unimpeded through a large space under the door.

The heroes went on to the pier and scanned the waters of the huge cavern, looking to see if there were any creatures or hidden dangers in the murky depths. They saw glimpses of a huge manta ray creature poking through the dark waves, so decided to back track and come back here later.

The heroes back tracked through the corridor and the previous rooms back to a yet unopened door. Inside, the room felt a little drier than the others in the complex, and the air smelled slightly less musty. The room itself was furnished as a lounge, complete with a stuffed couch and a low table.

There was nothing of value in the room, so the heroes continued through another door to a similar room. This room contained two fairly comfortable-looking bunks. The sheets only sported a few spots of mildew.

When the heroes searched the room, Nimlar came upon a scrap of paper wedged between one of the bunks and the wall, on which a map of the Vanderboren vault was sketched along with row upon row of failed combinations. The heroes were puzzled by this, but Nimlar just put it in his pack and forgot about it.

The heroes backtracked more when they came to a dead end, and went through another door they had passed by. It was just a small room that looked like an empty guard room, but it had a door that led further towards their goal.

The door opened into a corridor that went south, then turned west, and had a door that led south on the side of the passage that continued west. The heroes kept going for now and the corridor ended in a large chamber.

A long banquet table filled the room leaving barely any clearance to the east and west. A large cage filled with listless tropical birds stood to the northwest. The birds started to sing as the heroes came into the room, their melodious tones filling the room.

Poddle, of course took the birds, numbering half a dozen, giving them to Metallica to carry, but nothing else of value was in the room. The heroes continued through a door to the south, with Daelis going first. The half-elf barely made it to the threshold of the door when a pot of boiling hot white liquid was catapulted out of the fire place it lay simmering in, barely missing Daelis, who managed to dodge out of the way in time, but hitting Daegoth squarely in the chest, burning the lizardfolk with the liquid.

The heroes realized that the milky liquid was the poison they had found on the Lotus Dragon members earlier, and they had no idea what it actually did. Daegoth seemed to not be too injured, aside from slight burns, and he managed to resist any effects the poison may have had, but the heroes had no idea how the pot shot at them.

A battered wooden table sat in the room, its surface covered with knives, pots, and other cooking implements. A fireplace to the south kept the room relatively dry, if smoky. The pot of white liquid came from this fireplace, and from the looks of it, someone rigged the cauldron to catapult at the door purposely.

Two doors in the room led to other rooms, the first to a pantry which held nothing of value, and the second to bedroom. A layer of sand and countless seashells covered the floor of the room, and a small hammock was hung from hooks driven into the wall to the southeast, just above a heap of blankets and cushions.

The heroes heard squirming and whimpering, seeming to come from behind the door, the checked behind it and sure enough a small figure was covered with a blanket as it hid behind the portal.

“Please don’t hurt me,” it said pleadingly. “I was just afraid, I did not mean to hurt you with the big pot. Don’t kill me!” Churtle

The heroes gave the figure, a female kobold named Churtle, mercy, and Churtle vowed to stay with them and help them as much as she could, though her pledge was little assurance to the heroes, who kept an eye on her.

The heroes moved on, with Metallica carrying Churtle, since Poddle had ordered him to, determined to get on the good side of the new ally. The party backtracked once again, reaching a door that went south after they retraced their steps down the corridor they came from.

The heroes listened at the door, as had become their routine before opening a door, and heard grunting and thudding. Daegoth decided to bash the door in yet again, and the six thieves that were training in the room were surprised to see the heroes charging at them.

The floor of the large room was covered with thick padded mats. Throughout the room stood all manner of target dummies made of clothes and armor and stuffed with straw, some of which wore bell-studded coats numerous pockets, and others which were draped with manacles and chains hung with cheap-looking padlocks. To the west, a wooden stage sat a foot off the floor, which held a padded throne flanked by potted plants upon it.

The heroes charged, with Daegoth leading the fray, Daelis valiantly charging with his rapier in hand, Poddle more cautiously heading towards his enemies, Rapton drawing his mace and attacking, and Nimlar staying behind and bombarding the thieves with arrows.

The heroes quickly finished them off and looted them, finding the same items that they had on all the thieves before them. It seemed like the items were all standard to the common scoundrels in the guild.

The heroes went through the only exit to the room, a door to the east, that led to a small room that held a single chair and a table. The chair sat in one corner of the room while the table, which held several target dummies which were heaped upon it, was in the southeast.

There was nothing of interest in the room, so the party headed through another door, which, after a small passageway, led to another room.

In this room however, was a huge beast, a gigantic spider, which Poddle recognized immediately as the same type of spider that they had found in the hold of the Blue Nixie. The spider leaped forward to attack, but was taken down in short order by the combined might of the heroes.

The next room, which lay just beyond this one, looked like a planning room of some sorts, sort of like…a war room.

A large hexagonal table made of oak took up the majority of the room, surrounded by six chairs. The north wall bore a huge map of Sasserine, on which dozens of tiny flags had been placed. To the south, a five-foot tall and ten-foot wide slate bore a scrambled mess of chalk scribblings. A winch handle protruded from the northwest corner. Lotus dragon map

With a closer inspection of the map of Sasserine, the heroes saw that the many different locations of Sasserine were marked with blue, red, and gold flags. Some of the places the heroes recognized, such as the Islaran estate, which held a red flag, the Kellani estate, which had a blue flag upon it, a few of the city garrisons, including the Sunrise garrison, had both blue and gold flags on them. The heroes were intrigued to see a gold flag flying from the Vanderboren estate, but the color system was unexplained and the heroes did not have the time to take a closer look, since they wanted to find Vanthus in a hurry.

The slate to the south was apparently used to keep notes and track records. The primary piece of information currently on the slate seems to track the comings and goings of the ships in the harbor, as well as notations of which ones have been (or are scheduled to be) “holed”. A note in the lower left hand corner was written in a script that no one could read, but a list in the center of the slate was easy enough to decipher.

The names “Daegoth”, “Verael”, “Poddle”, and “Rapton” were written on the list as well as a notation in bold letters: “VANTHUS, FIX THIS NOW!”.

After a cursory search through the room, which yielding nothing of value, the heroes exited through another door, which led to a long corridor going east. The heroes headed down and eventually reached another door, which the listened at, heard nothing, and entered.

Inside the large, bare room was a corpse of a bugbear. When the corpse rose to attack them, it was obvious that it was a guardian placed here to protect the room. The heroes took the undead creature down with no trouble, and headed out another door to another corridor, which led north, turned east, and then continued north, where it ended at another door. At the turn there was also a door, which the heroes entered first.

The opulence of the chamber’s decor was a bit jarring. The smooth plaster walls were painted violet. Delicately crafted silver lanterns flickered softly on the wall, lighting the room. A shelf to the north held several books, statuettes, stuffed animals, a crystal ball with a smoky red light at its core, and two coffers: one of darkwood and one of iron decorated with tiny jade bats. A five-foot wide landscape of the city of Sasserine hung on the eastern wall, yet all the ships in the harbor flew flags depicting a serpentine dragon coiled around a lotus. A pair of overstuffed chairs sat beside a low table heaped with fruits and bottles of wine. To the south stood a lone wooden cupboard. The floor itself was adorned with a thick, deep purple carpet. An open door to the south led to what appeared to be a bedroom. Rowyn kellani

Inside the room, relaxing on one of the chairs, was a red-haired woman wearing black leather and bearing a the Lotus Dragon tattoo on one shoulder. Standing to the side of the chair was a bright-eyed and hungry-looking monster, a dinosaur-like dragon with green scales and a bright yellow crest on its head.

The woman rose as the heroes entered the room, and regarded them with an appraising look.
“Ah, Lavinia’s flunkies,” she addressed them sarcastically, seemingly amused. “I am Rowyn, the guildmistress of the Lotus Dragons. Welcome to my humble abode.”

She then boldly offered them a job.

“You are obviously resourceful folk with strong skills in a fight,” she said, her attitude now one of seriousness. “Would you be interested in working for me instead of Lavinia?”

“How much money would you be willing to pay us?” Poddle said, stepping forward and slowly inching toward Rowyn.

Poddle and Rowyn bargained for a little while, but eventually the other heroes decided to just attack her, since the negotiations were going nowhere and they didn’t want to join Rowyn anyway.

Rowyn sighed and said, “Gut Tugger! Do your thing!”

The drake rushed forward and attacked, and the battle was underway.

After a tedious battle, the heroes had Rowyn surrounded. She desperately grabbed out a potion strapped to her belt and downed it, and to the frustration of the heroes, slowly became less solid and eventually turned into a smoky haze, which then slid up a nearby pipe.

Gut Tugger, now completely surrounded and over-matched, surrendered (well, after the heroes tackled him to the ground and Poddle turned the felldrake reluctantly over to his side).

The heroes searched the lounge and the nearby bedroom, and found some items of value, including jewelry, perfumes, and clothing. They took this and searched other nearby rooms, a bath chamber and a vault. The bath had nothing of value, but the vault, which was trapped, was tricky to get through. After dodging darts and spikes in the floor, the heroes got to the treasure. Inside they found a large number of chests, after breaking them open, they found a large amount of money and goods in most of the chests, but in one they found coins and gemstones in bags holding the Vanderboren emblem upon its surface.

It was the money Vanthus had stolen from the vault.

Searching Rowyn’s bedroom for a final time, Nimlar stumbled across a cache of letters from Vanthus to Rowyn.

They were love letters, but going through them, the party found some key pieces of information.

Excerpts from Vanthus’ Letters to Rowyn Kellani

Dated May 25th (Two days before the fire that slew the elder Vanderborens)

“…My parents have grown soft. I’m not worried in the slightest that they suspect anything my delicate flower. The funds you’ve trusted me with have been more than enough to pay off the locals guards, the harbor watch, and the ship’s crew to say nothing about the new cargo. Heck…they even offered to help load the barrels! Of course, I didn’t tell them what was inside—I’m sure they’d sing a different song if they knew just how much alchemist’s fire we loaded into the hold of my father’s new plaything. I’ll be following the ships’s progress for a few days to make sure the fire does the trick, so you’ll not be seeing me for at least half a week…”

Dated May 30th (Three days after the fire)

“…It’s unbelievable! Sure, she’s the eldest sibling, but she knows nothing of life! She spent the last half of her childhood in Thenalar learning how to fold napkins and play the violin! It just goes to show you how insane my parents really were…leaving everything in her care like that! Whatever. She’ll need the house to live off of, I suppose. Lavinia’s not a bad lass, really… I kind of miss our time together, to tell the truth. Think she’d be interested in joining the Lotus? I doubt it. And anyway, a second Vanderboren tragedy might get too many people curious. No, for now, whatever’s in the vault will have to do…”

Dated June 20th (Five days ago)

“…I really wish you could have been there, my little dragon, to see their faces before I closed the door! Lavinia’s never going to get anywhere hiring fools like them. I wonder if they’ve found Penkus yet? I hope they didn’t die too quickly.
“In any case, on to the purpose of this letter. Brissa’s in the other room, getting ready for a night out on town, so I’ll have to be quick. Remember that thing she hinted about to me? About the pirates who were supposedly using Kraken’s cove as a base for their smuggling operation? Turn’s out she wasn’t spinning tales—I’ve heard that they’ll be arriving within the week with a particularly rich cargo. I’ll bring her with me on the pretext of joining up with them, get their guard down, and when they’re not expecting it my men’ll get light the ships on fire! It’ll be a simple task to pluck the treasure from the water once all those fools are dead. Should be more than enough to make up for what we lost when Lavinia inherited rather than me.
“I tell you… burning people to death on their own boats? It’s the best way to make money yet. Wish I’d though of it years ago!”

Rowyn had escaped and Vanthus was never here.

The heroes decided to head out as quickly as possible to this Kraken’s Cove to intercept Vanthus.

They just hoped they could make it in time…

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Chapter 3: The Big City
The adventurers traverse Sasserine in their two days of free time...

Savage Tide

Part I: There Is No Honor
Chapter 3: The Big City

Our Cast:

Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue

Daegoth (Trevor S.) Lizardfolk Dragon Shaman

Rapton (David S.) Killoren Cleric of Obad-Hai

Nimlar Sumel (Lance) Elf Ranger

Daelis Eagleheart (David L.) Half-Elf Swashbuckler

Friday, June 25th, 1234 AY

Our heroes, being given two days of leave from their duties at her estate, went on various different missions.

Verael, left the main group and went off on his own for his portion of leave, and wasn’t seen even after the time he had been given. No one was sure where he had gone until much later…

On the morning of the first day that the party had off, Poddle heading to a shady gambling house named Fishlip’s Games. As soon as the kobold walked into the establishment, he could tell that kobold’s were not common in Sasserine, as everyone in the gambling house stopped what they were doing and stared at him. After the initial shock, a charming young noble named Avner Meravanchi approached the kobold and challenged him to a card game. The two played, and Poddle ended up winning a total of forty gold.

Poddle then decided to contact the local black market and try to get a place in the local hierarchy. He asked around and found the black market pretty easily, and then met with a sly rogue named Maverick. After Poddle asked about setting him up with a black market operation, Maverick offered him a deal: if he could capture three dangerous exotic creatures from the surrounding Amedio Jungle, then he would set Poddle up with his own branch of the Sasserine Smuggling Circle, focused on smuggling animals.

Poddle headed out to the nearby coast and began to search through some of the various tide pools that lined the shores. He found a glowfish, a strange little fish that emitted a bright light when in danger to ward off predators. He brought it back to Maverick, but the black marketeer refused to take it. Apparently Poddle had misunderstood and thought that Maverick had just said “exotic” and not “dangerous”.

Poddle, determined to find a creature fitting of the description, bought a fishing net from a peddler in Sasserine and headed out to the coast again, searching in the shallows for a dangerous creature. He found an aquatic snake and managed to capture it, but when he brought it back, Maverick said it wasn’t dangerous enough, and would only count as half an animal. Poddle decided to call it a day.

Rapton, Daegoth, and Poddle (who was taking a break from his search for exotic animals) headed over to the Sasserine Arena to watch a tournament between gladiatorial teams. The heroes started to grin foolishly at each other. Then they headed to the sign-up booths.

They were still short two people, however, since Verael was gone and the tournament called for five in a team, so they headed out to search for candidates. Nimlar sumel2

They met up with two adventurers, Nimlar Sumel (an elven ranger from Azatharia) and Daelis Eagleheart (a half-elf who was a traveling duelist), who they found at the Six Swords Tavern. With almost no introduction, the two unsuspecting companions were dragged into the party, unaware of what they had just got themselves in to. Daelis

Our heroes then headed for the sign-up booths, signed their party up, and waited for their chance at the spotlight. While they waited, they practiced, Nimlar shooting targets with his longbow, Daelis dueling with another swashbuckler, Daegoth hitting a practice dummy, and Rapton praying and memorizing his spells. Poddle, however, wasn’t practicing his martial skill; he was practicing his commercial skill. He walked through the stadium, selling trinkets and illegal goods to unsuspecting customers. He amassed quite a profit, and brought a few ne’er do’ wells into the fold of the SSC (the Sasserine Smuggling Circle).

After an extensive wait, the heroes were finally ready for their chance in the spotlight. They were pitted against the one of groups sponsored by the Iron Brigade (the people who owned the Sasserine Arena), which was actually fairly rare, since the Iron Brigade’s group was the undeniable champion of the Sasserine Arena. The two parties sized each other up, checking for weaknesses. The opposite party was made up of a crude-looking gnome with a scarred face and a short sword, a haughty elf wearing a robe and holding a spell book, a savage human (an Olman) with bone armor and a bone sword, a muscular dwarf with heavy armor and a holy symbol hanging on his neck, and another human wearing earthen-style clothing and carrying a spear. Then the fight began. Ironbrigade

The rules were simple, use any means necessary to defeat the other team. You could not strike at a fallen combatant nor intentionally try to kill another combatant, but powerful healers were always on hand in case of an accident. Nothing else applied. It was all out war.

OOC: The following description is not exactly how the fight took place, because I really can’t remember the details. It is mostly made just for dramatic quality.

Poddle charged, rolling at the last second right next to the gnome and hammering in hard with his warmace. The gnome easily blocked it aside however and came in fast with his short sword, a sneer on his face. Poddle fell to the ground to avoid the fatal thrust and used the momentum of the gnomes’ strike to throw the now not sneering rogue up and over him, with the gnome crash landing about five feet away. Poddle quickly got up and readied his warmace. Then he charged.

Daelis drew his masterly crafted rapier, shaped into the likeness of an eagle by his own hand, and flew into the thick of the combat, his light sword whipping like the wind. He simultaneously fought off both of the humans in the enemy party, holding back the deadly tip of the druid’s spear and the bone carved sword of the barbarian.
“Nimlar! Now would be a good time to start firing some arrows,” the half-elf shouted to his elven companion, now sweating profusely.
A thud and then a grunt from the druid made him smile as he saw the wooden shaft of an arrow protruding from his enemies’ torso, making him fight on all the harder.

Nimlar worked furiously with his bow, often firing two with one shot, but was rarely rewarded with a hit. He seemed to be off his game today. With the shot to the druid his spirit’s lifted, and he got a nick on the barbarian as well, causing the elven ranger to shout in merry glee. A sharp pang caused him to flinch however, and he looked down at his torso to see a trickle of blood flowing from his stomach. A shouted “Huzzah” made him look up, and he saw the enemy wizard smirking haughtily. He would have to save an arrow for that one.

Rapton, his lips mouthing incantations and phrases that no common man could understand, raised his hand as he finished his spell, causing a glimmering object to appear at the rear of the enemy party’s formation, which then quickly shaped into a bird-like figure. The great hawk, twice the size of a normal one, swooped down onto the wizard who was in the back of the enemy party and clawed and bit at the elf ferociously, receiving a piercing scream from its enemy as his robes and flesh were torn to shreds. The hawk screeched and clawed more ferociously, but the wizard fired off a quick spell and then dove off to the side, moaning in pain. Rapton smiled.

And so did Daegoth, as the taste of battle came so easily to his lips once again. He sent his heavy mace crashing down onto the unsuspecting head of the enemy barbarian, who barely managed to get his own weapon up in time to block the attack. The barbarian sent his fist barreling into the stomach of the great lizardfolk, but the attack barely stunned the great creature, let alone wounded him. Daegoth kept pounding away at the enemy, his thoughts (what little he had) washed away as the adrenaline pumped through his veins.

Poddle smashed his warmace into the gnome’s chest, knocking the wind out of the rogue and sending him sprawling. Surprisingly, the small figure started to glow and then he leaped back at the shocked kobold. The dwarf cleric, who had been as of yet unnoticed, laughed a hearty laugh as only a dwarf could do and spit in his hands, chanting up another healing spell. Poddle’s face darkened as he continued combat with the now healed gnome. He was getting ticked.

Daelis was now pitted in combat against the druid, nicking the human once in a while, but rarely getting a good hit. Back and forth they fought their contest, a complex web of strikes and parries. It was a new challenge, since Daelis was unaccustomed to fighting against a spearman this adept at dueling. The druid seemed to know exactly where he was striking, and timed his fluid attacks effortlessly. Finally, amidst the endless routine of their battle, the druid did something unexpected. He sent a bolt of magical energy arcing towards Daelis, barely missing the stunned half-elf, but giving the druid enough time to make a strike with his spear. Daelis cursed his bad luck and grunted through the pain, now getting tired of this contest. He was determined to end it quickly.

Nimlar smirked when his wizard enemy was sent diving by the sudden appearance of the hawk Rapton had summoned. He fitted another arrow into his bow and pulled the string back, letting loose on the barbarian fighting with Daegoth, careful not to hit the lizardfolk. He was rewarded with his enemy’s cry of pain and his now not so effortless struggle to fend off the lizardfolk’s attacks. The elf kept shooting.

Rapton telepathically ordered his hawk to redirect its attack towards the cleric, who was now becoming a major problem. The dwarf was using his healing magic to make their attacks worth naught. Rapton started to chant a new incantation while his hawk started to rain down on the cleric, slowly wearing him out. He finished chant with a shout, when suddenly the ground began to shake. Great tendrils, roots in fact, shot out from the ground grabbing hold of the legs of Rapton’s enemies and holding them fast.

Daegoth was starting to win the battle, as he hammered down at the barbarian with everything he had. The great lizardfolk’s muscles bulged, stretched to their limit as Daegoth kept up his relentless attack. The barbarian cried out in shock as the tendrils that Rapton had unleashed grabbed his leg, causing him to slow and giving Daegoth the opening he had been waiting for. The dragon shaman hit in hard and fast, sending the barbarian tumbling into the waiting roots, which held him down fast.

Poddle was in trouble now, trying to block the quick gnome’s strikes while attempting to get his own attacks in. The gnome suddenly reversed his momentum right in the middle of a swing and sent his short sword slashing across Poddle’s torso, creating a deep gash. Poddle cried out in pain, but kept fighting, determined to beat this belligerent gnome. Then the gnome stopped coming on, held down by the magical tendrils of Rapton’s spell. The gnome cried out and tried to get clear of the roots, but for naught. Poddle smiled and attacked.

Daelis finished off the druid with a well placed backhand swing, sending a team of clerics to collect him. The half-elf then ran towards the next enemy, who happened to be the wizard, who had waited at the side of the battle (out of range of the tendrils) for a chance to strike. The wizard started to chant and pointed his fingers at the swashbuckler, sending darts of magical energy blasting towards the surprised duelist. Daelis took the hit, grimaced, but then tripped and went sprawling. He corrected himself with a roll and was quickly back on his feet, still coming on at the elf. The wizard grabbed out his puny dagger and tried to brace himself for combat, but Daelis hit the tiny blade aside and came in with a piercing stab, effectively taking the wizard out of the match.
“I always thought magic was overrated anyway,” the half-elf smirked.

Nimlar started raining in arrows at the enemy cleric, determined to take him out of the match. The missiles just bounced off the dwarf’s heavy armor, however, and he laughed heartily.
“Bah!” The dwarf said, as another arrow bounced off his armor. “Ye couldn’t hit a dragon with those shots elf!”
“We’ll see about that,” Nimlar said under his breath, drawing another arrow.
He let loose, and the arrow flew into the dwarf’s shoulder, causing the dwarf to be suddenly less sure of himself. To make things worse (for the dwarf, anyway) the magical roots grappled with the dwarf’s legs, seriously hindering his mobility. The cleric was in for a bad day.

Rapton was glad to see that his spell had done its work, as the cries and shouts of the combatants confirmed to him (if not the sight). His summoned hawk had disappeared by now, so he started to chant again, aiming his finger towards Poddle, and sent a wave of healing energy towards him, rejuvenating the Kobold.
“It’s about time, Rapton!” Poddle exclaimed who was still slightly grimacing from the pain of the wound.
Rapton shrugged and started to chant again.

Daegoth smashed his mace down on the barbarian, finishing him (and sending a team of clerics out). Daegoth stopped however, wary of going through the thick tendrils, and looked towards Rapton. He was in the middle of casting a spell however, and the lizardfolk still couldn’t be sure if he could safely tread through the magical roots. He grunted and plowed through the thick vines.

Poddle jumped atop his enemy, bringing his warmace down on the scarred gnome. The gnome sent one final curse his way before he went into unconsciousness. Poddle smiled and surveyed the battlefield. It looked like it was almost over. Poddle could just smell the rewards.

Daelis was also looking over the battlefield, taking in the cheering fans and the fading smell of battle. The only enemy left was the cleric.
“Why did we leave him for last?” Daelis said aloud, puzzled by his newfound companions’ strange strategy.
He shrugged and went in a run towards the dwarf.

Nimlar was almost out of arrows by now, so he waited for precise moments to fire his precious missiles. Seeing an opening as Daegoth and Daelis fought with the cleric, he loosed one of his last arrows, satisfied to see it hit the dwarf’s thigh. The ranger waited for another shot.

Rapton shot another wave of healing energy at Poddle, effectively healing him back to full strength, then drew his heavy mace and headed to help fight the cleric. His magical tendrils had disappeared by now, but he had a feeling the fight was already over.

Daegoth and Daelis made hit after hit against the dwarf, but it seemed like he wouldn’t go down. He kept healing himself and managed to fend off their more serious attacks with his warhammer. But finally, Daegoth got a hit in, right between the dwarf’s eyes, which took him down. The lizardfolk shouted a hearty laugh and a cry of victory. It was over. Metallica

Our heroes had just knocked off the first place champion of the Sasserine Arena, and as of such, they got many rewards. The Iron Brigade allowed each of the heroes to make a request of what they wanted. Poddle got a warforged slave named Metallica (since slavery was legal in the Amedio region), Rapton got a Olman slave named Derek, Daelis got five hundred gold, Nimlar got a magical longbow and one hundred gold, and Daegoth got training with the Dwarven Waraxe from an Iron Brigade member named Urgor Warbeard (he bought a Dwarven Waraxe with his own money however). Derek

After the battle at the Sasserine Arena, Poddle headed out to the Amedio Jungle to search for more exotic creatures. He found a nest of five fire beetles, snuggled in a hollow log, which he managed to capture without too much difficulty. Because Poddle wasn’t in shape (and he was small anyway), he could not drag the net in which was the captured fire beetles very fast, so he was caught in the jungle in the middle of the night. A huge centipede appeared from a nearby shrub and attacked Poddle, but he managed to kill it.

While he was dragging his prize through Shadowshore to give to Maverick, two gnomes attacked him, trying to steal his fire beetles (which were slightly valuable). Poddle managed to knock them both out, so he tied them up and left them in the street naked, laughing all the way back to Maverick’s base of operations. He was wounded however, with two crossbow bolts to the shoulder, so he took the fire beetles to Maverick and then retired to the Vanderboren Manor, getting bandages on his wound and some healing from Rapton.

Saturday, June 26th, 1234 AY

Early in the morning, Poddle got up and had an idea. He bought thirty nets, went through the streets and hired thirty laborers, and set out into the Amedio Jungle, looking for dangerous animals to capture with his helpers.

They found a huge toad, and managed to capture it with only minor injuries to the laborers. Five of the men dragged the creature back to Sasserine, while the rest kept on going through the jungle with their employer.

Next they found a gorilla, which Poddle wanted to keep for himself. The laborers captured without difficulty and dragged it back to the Vanderboren Manor.

After a while, they found a giant spider and some smaller monstrous spiders, which killed two of the men before they could seize them. But seize them they did, and the remaining laborers still headed out with Poddle. War

The last encounter of the day, one with a deinonychus, was disastrous. The dinosaur slaughtered all of the remaining men. Poddle managed to escape, and still had all the other animals in his custody, so he passed the slaughter off as business and went back to Maverick’s place.

He took all of the animals he had captured to Maverick (except for the gorilla, which he kept for himself) and got his go-ahead for starting his own smuggling branch. All he needed now was a base of operations…

Poddle took the gorilla back to the Vanderboren Manor, found a trainer that he could pay to domesticate his new pet, and placed the animal in the basement.

View
Chapter 2: Tracking Down Vanthus
The party tries to track down Vanthus, but end up trapped in haunted tunnels!

Savage Tide

Part I: There Is No Honor
Chapter 2: Tracking Down Vanthus

Our Cast

Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue

Tahlavel Maran (Seth) Elf Ninja

Tarathial Nightstalker (Trevor S.) Wood Elf Ranger

Maxel Journey (Ian) Human Druid

Drakon Striden (David S.) Human Sorcerer

Alraer (Trevor M.) Raptoran Scout

Verael (Jared) Red-dragon Blooded Fire Elf Paladin of Freedom

Daegoth (Trevor S.) Lizardfolk Dragon Shaman

Rapton (David S.) Killoren Cleric of Obad-Hai

When we last left our heroes, they had just defeated the guardian of the Vanderboren vault and reached the area where the Lavinia’s inheritance was stored. To gain access to the treasure, however, a puzzle of some sorts had to be solved. Ring note

Maxel Journey, using his keen intellect and wisdom, assessed that the note they had found in the hold of the Blue Nixie (which described a set of monsters facing towards either sunrise or sunset) was key to uncovering the combination which he believed was necessary to gaining access to the treasure. He realized that the monstrous statues situated about the room were the connected to the monsters in the note, and also that the combination had to do with two things: the number of eyes the creatures had, and the pillar in the center of the room.

The pillar in the center of the room had the ability to turn the eight pointed star on the top of the ceiling in any direction (pointing the star point colored red at one of the monsters). The party eventually figured out the combination number by turning the pillar so the red star was facing the monster that had the same number of eyes as the one in the note. The number was 6-1-2-4-2. After they inputted the correct number, the indentations in the sides of the chamber slid open, revealing a number of chests.

When the party helped Lavinia open them however, they were shocked to find that all of the chests were empty save for the ones in the last indentation. In those chests they found a small fortune as well as an iron coffer holding a journal. This journal was penned by Larissa Vanderboren, Lavinia’s late mother. It contained many entries and some sketches, all describing or depciting a strange island with exotic creatures. This island was called the Isle of Dread. Journal lv

As the party was preparing to leave Castle Teraknian, Lavinia asked the clerk in charge a question.
“Has anyone been to the vault recently,” Lavinia asked, still puzzled at the lack of money in the vault.
“Why yes,” the clerk said evenly. “Your brother Vanthus has been here multiple times over the past month or so. Hasn’t he told you?”
“No. My brother has been missing for over a month now,” Lavinia said, shocked again by her brother’s changed behavior.
“He has?” The clerk said, shocked as well.
“Will you make sure he does not try to take anymore?” Lavinia asked, after explaining the situation to the clerk.
“Of course, Lady.” The clerk replied, making a quick bow.

The party returned to the Vanderboren manor, where Lavinia met with them.
“I have decided to hire you on as full-time mercenaries, if you agree,” she said, barely concealing hidden anger at Vanthus.
The party did, so she continued.
“I will give you permanent lodging here and provide you with meals, as well as giving you bonuses for individual missions. You’re first task is to track down my brother, Vanthus.” Vanthus01

“Vanthus and I were quite close growing up, since our parents were rarely around. We grew to depend on each other, and got into a fair amount of trouble together. After one particularly complex prank involving several elixirs of love being emptied in the nearby water tower, our childhoods came to an end. I was sent to the Thenalar Academy to the north to live out the next five years of my life, and Vanthus was shipped out to work on our Uncle’s plantation. When we returned to live in the family manor a year ago, we had both changed.

“I know I benefited from my time at Thenalar, but Vanthus apparently thinks this is not true for him. He no longer spent time with me as he had when we were younger, he slept all day, and spent his nights with associates of doubtful character, to put it lightly. Eventually he moved out of the house entirely—I believe he took up with a lover in the Azure District, but I never learned the details.

“When our parent’s died, Vanthus returned for a week to live at the manor, but he had changed even more. Gone was the easy sense of humor I recall fondly from our childhood, and in its place was a bitter cynicism and a morbid streak that sent chills up my spine. After several arguments, Vanthus struck me with his fist. I was shocked, and for a moment I though Vanthus was as well, but an instant later he was back to his new self, all scowls and menace. He gathered his belongings and left—I haven’t seen him since.

“I know something profound happened to my brother at some point to change him, but I’m not sure what it was. I believe he’s fallen in with a bad crowd, perhaps smuggler, or thieves or even killers. Although his attitude might speak otherwise, I hope that it’s not too late, that if he can be brought back to my side I might be able to talk some sense into him and redeem him before he passes forever out of my reach. The problem is, I don’t know where he’s gone. That’s where you come in.

“I want you to find Vanthus and bring him to me unscathed. I recommend asking around about him throughout the city: I doubt he’s hiding in the Champion’s or Noble District, but even those locations may hold clues. My suspicion is that he’s been living with a woman in the Azure District, but even that arose from half-heard rumors. Still, it remains the strongest lead I have.”

Drakon Striden decided that he didn’t have the time for this and left the group, even though his childhood friend Maxel was staying. He bid the group farewell, but seemed angry at Maxel for something. Poddle met a pair of adventurers in a tavern, and decided to recruit them into the group. These adventurers were Verael, the fire elven paladin, and Alraer, the raptoran scout.

Tarathial Nightstalker and Tahlavel Maran decided to stay behind and help Lavinia put her estate back together while Verael, Alraer, Maxel, and Poddle searched for clues to Vanthus’ whereabouts. Poddle and Maxel asked around in the Merchant’s District, but came to a dead end. Verael and Alraer asked around the Champion’s and Cudgel Districts but but turned up nothing as well. It was then that Maxel and Poddle picked up something. Someone they talked to in the Azure District claimed to have saw Vanthus with a woman named Brissa, a pick-pocket turned semi-legitimate artist. Meanwhile, Verael and Alraer asked around in Shadowshore, and got some results. There is no honor

It seems that Vanthus was seen in the company of a known smuggler named Penkus. Penkus was apparently a semi-notorious figure in Shadowshore, known for his drunken binges and violent temper. Recently, the pair were spotted at a boat ship known as “It Still Floats!” It looks as if they got into a heated argument with the owner, a pessimistic dwarf named Panchi.

Verael and Alraer payed a visit to Panchi, where the pair grilled him.
“Okay, okay I sold a boat ta them, but I swear I don’t know where they went! Somewhere ta the west I think…” Panchi admitted nervously, twiddling his thumbs. “They seemed really excited and loaded lots and lots o’ lamp oil, lanterns and rope onta their boat”

Meanwhile, Maxel and Poddle searched for Brissa, the woman whom many had seen with Vanthus, but were out of luck. They had just decided to give up on their fruitless search when a figure appeared from the shadows.

“My name’s Shefton,” the shady-looking half-elf told them. “Are you looking for Vanthus?”
“Yes we are,” Maxel replied, looking at the half-elf suspiciously.
“I can show you where he is, for just five gold pieces,” Shefton said, looking around nervously.
“Wait just a minute,” Poddle objected, extremely suspicious. “Show us where Vanthus is right now, you’re payment is your life.”
“I have guards all around me that will kill you if you try anything,” Shefton said, though not all as confidently as he ought to have.
“I think I’ll take that chance,” Poddle said smugly.

Shefton was bluffing. Shefton

After stopping to pick up Verael and Alraer, the party took Shefton back to the Vanderboren Manor to question him. They got him to talk, and he offered to take them there himself. Vanthus was in some smuggler’s tunnels underneath Parrot Island.

Sunday, June 20th, 1234 AY

Shefton paid for a boat (though not willingly) and the party headed to Parrot Island, which was a small island situated in Sasserine’s harbor that was renowned for it’s parrots (hence the name). When they arrived on the island, Shefton led them down a rarely used path to a trapdoor. The heroes lowered a rope down into the smuggler’s tunnels below and started to descend. Shefton led the way, of course, followed by Verael, then Tarathial, Tahlavel, Maxel, Alraer, and Poddle.

The party reached the bottom of the rope and started to look around, when suddenly the rope they had came down on fell away, leaving them trapped. Our heroes looked up in horror to see Vanthus standing at the trapdoor with a sneer on his face.
“Say hello to Penkus’ ghost for me!” He taunted as he slammed the door down, leaving the heroes in darkness.
Above they could hear rocks being pushed over the entrance, blocking their way out even if they could reach the trapdoor.

They had no choice but to continue through the tunnels and try to find a way to escape.

They started to head out, walking down the only corridor, when they ran head-first into a group of three ravenous-looking shark-headed zombies. The heroes charged valiantly at the zombies, with Verael and Poddle rushing to engage them in melee while Alraer and Maxel shot arrows and threw spears, respectively. Tarathial and Tahlavel started to bombard the zombies with arrows, but to no effect. Verael and Poddle were taken down by the zombies, who proceeded to start eating them alive. Verael and Poddle were on the verge of dying when Shefton of all people showed his true heroics, rushing at the zombie on top of Verael, knocking him off and giving Verael just enough time to recuperate. Zombies

The heroes finally managed to kill the rest of the zombies, but since Verael and Poddle were seriously injured, they were forced to rest at the entrance.

After the rest, they set out to explore the rest of the complex. They took a left and ended up in a large chamber. Four great wooden pillars rose up to support the ceiling, which sagged dangerously in places and was thick with hanging strands of fungus. Several doors lined the walls—one to the west (from which came a muffled sloshing sound), two to the north (the western one of which was badly damaged and hung askew on its one remaining hinge), and two to the east. To the south, the ceiling had collapsed, leaving the southern part of the room choked in debris. A rippling pool of water reached halfway into the room from the wall of stone and rubble. It seemed that a wooden pier once extended into the pool, but all that remained now were several rotting wooden pilings protruding from the water. A man’s body floated face down among them.

The party started to explore the room, and, as they got near the pool of water, were attacked by five huge kelp crabs.

Alraer jumped into the air, aided by his wings, and landed on one of the crabs, riding it crazily in an attempt to kill the being. Tarathial pulled out his longbow and started to rain down arrows on the huge crabs, while Maxel tried to stab a creature with his spear. Poddle charged towards the crab, intending to jump on it and capture it, while Verael and Shefton moved into position with Verael’s fishing net, set on capturing two of the crabs. Tahlavel drew his short swords and attacked. Poddle, seeing Alraer trying to kill one of the crabs, charged and knocked the raptoran off of the crab, while jumping on the crab himself. Verael and Shefton tried to capture the crabs in Verael’s net, but failed miserably and just ended up tangled in their own net. In the end, all the crabs were dead except for one which Verael and Shefton had managed to get in their net. Almost exactly after the battle finished, three more zombies stumbled on the party.

The adventurers managed to fight them off, but were more than a little wounded, so they decided to hole up in this chamber to rest. Verael, calling upon his paladine powers, searched for evil presences in the complex, hoping he could get some information on just what these zombies were. He sensed that the entire complex radiated a faint aura of evil, as well a large number of pinpoints for the stronger auras (he guessed these being the zombies), and a particularly powerful aura that caused his to power to reveal a vision of the creature to him. He saw a horrifying undead creature, wrapped in cloth and holding an unholy symbol, marking him as a cleric.

After the rest, the party headed through the next door, and upon seeing the room, realized the source of the sloshing sound they had heard. The sound came from the churning waters of a sea cave. Fueled by what must have been powerful submerged currents, the water lapped and splashed against the walls of a twisting natural cavern that led to the west. A sandy slope descended from the door down to the edge of the subterranean tide. Dozens of purple and red sea urchins glistened in shallow divots along the ground and lower walls there, their spines glittering with water.

As the party navigated through the sea caves, they realized that different areas of the caverns had different water levels, from eight feet deep at the lowest to ankle deep at the highest. At the end of the caverns was another door, which the heroes went through.

The smell in the chamber was horrific, a cloying stink of rotten meat rose from a bloated seeping body slumped in the middle of the floor. The corpse’s dark, almost black flesh bulged against its armor, ready to burst at the slightest touch. An intricate tattoo of a dragon was barely visible on his shoulder against the diseased flesh, and clutched in one hand was a crumpled scroll.

It was Penkus.

The scroll was a parchment that Penkus had apparently written before his death. It read:

Penkus letter

After reading the notes, the party took Penkus’ armor (though it obviously needed some cleaning), but then the elves in the party (Verael, Tahlavel, and Tarathial) sensed something in the far wall (a secret door). Inside the room after the door were three large sea chests. Poddle managed to jimmy the locks, and the party found inside a large amount of treasure.

There were eight potions of varying color, a wand, and a small jade coffer. Inside the coffer was an earth elemental gem, as the description (in the form of a slip of paper underneath the cushion holding the gem) told them.

After looting the chests, the party started to look for a way out of the caves, since they had searched every room in the complex and still couldn’t figure out a way to get out of the caverns. After about a day of this, they finally set up camp, waiting it out.

Monday, June 21st, 1234 AY

That’s when they heard the gnashing of teeth.

All the zombies that were left in the complex—apparently they had all been hiding in the west wing—were coming for them, lead by the undead cleric Verael had sensed. The party barricaded themselves in the room they had found the treasure, and tried to hold off the tireless zombies. They held them off for about two more days, before they came up with a plan based on a hunch…

Wednesday, June 23rd, 1234 AY

Tarathial had seen one point in the sea caves where the water was deepest, topping off eight feet deep. He speculated that the water in the sea caves came from an outside source, the ocean. There should be a tunnel that connected the waterways, and even though he only guessed, it was their best bet for survival.

They broke down the door and fought valiantly through the swath of zombies, Tarathial leading the bold charge for freedom, when they came face to face with the cleric. The battle was long, hard, and gritty, with Maxel and Alraer going down in the first few moments of the battle, and Tahlavel getting wounded by the cleric, so finally the heroes were forced with desperate action. Tarathial volunteered to stay behind and fend them off while the rest of the party—along with Tahlavel who was wounded and had seemed to contract some sort of illness from the cleric—found the waterways and escaped.

With Tarathial bravely fighting the zombie horde, the other members of the party made it to the sea caves and found exactly what their brave leader had guessed—an underwater passage. They quickly threw off their armor and proceeded to swim through the small passage. Slowly, their air supply began to run out and they realized that the passageway wasn’t going to end anytime soon. The last thing they saw as they drifted into unconsciousness was a strange dolphin swimming at them at high speed…

OOC: The players were switching characters here, since Trevor S. was getting sick of playing a ranger character (he had been one the last campaign as well) and wanted to try out a dragon shaman—an interesting character class from Player’s Handbook II—, Seth (who’s character dies soon after escaping the tunnels) wanted to try out an arcane-type character (a duskblade), David had rolled a really bad character up and wanted to have a chance to roll up a good one, and Ian had moved away (so we killed his character off).

Thursday, June 24th, 1234 AY

Our heroes awakened upon a tropical beach, battered and bruised, but not seriously injured. Tahlavel however, had taken a turn for the worse with the disease he had contracted from the undead cleric. Verael and Poddle looked up to see a strange green-skinned humanoid watching over them. This strange creature was carrying a heavy mace, a green-tainted chain shirt, and the holy symbol of nature hanging from his neck. Amedio shore

“Who are you?” Verael asked, his vision slightly blurred from the trauma he had endured.
“My name is Rapton,” the creature said, inclining his head slightly. “I am a Killoren. My people call these jungles—which your kind has named the Amedio— home.”
“I’ve never heard of Killoren’s,” Poddle said, confused. “And I have lived in this area for many years. Did you’re people just move to this area?”
“No. We were born here,” Rapton said, but before anyone could ask another question, Rapton stood up from his kneeling position. “We should not stay in this area. Many predators call these shores home. Wake your companion.”
Verael stood up and went over to Tahlavel, but when he looked over the elf, he could see the disease spreading across his skin. Rapton

“Do you know where we are?” Verael said, after he had tended to Tahlavel.
“The wild,” Rapton said, looking off into the distance.
“Well I know that,” Verael said, slightly angry at this strange humanoid. “But WHERE?”
“We are about twenty miles from a settlement, if that is what you mean,” Rapton replied. "A port city your kind call “Sasserine” is in that general direction." He pointed down the beach. “If you like, I can lead you there.”
Verael accepted his offer, him and Poddle helping Tahlavel to his feet.

They walked for about an hour when they saw another figure washed ashore by the tide. It was a giant lizard. Daegoth

The creature was huge—humanoid in shape— and probably stood about seven feet tall. The creature’s muscular arms were as thick as Verael’s waist—and Poddle’s head. The lizard only wore a slight loincloth, and seemed barely alive, judging by his shallow breathing. Rapton, calling upon the healing powers of nature, healed the huge lizard, who then opened his eyes.

“Brother, what did you do!?” The lizard exclaimed, speaking in Draconic, which both Verael and Poddle understood. “What did you do…” Then he drifted into unconsciousness again.

After a couple of minutes, the lizard woke again, to see an elf, a kobold, and a fey looking over him. His eyes bulged and he sat up, reaching for where his weapon would be.
“My weapon!” The lizard said, distraught. “What have you done to my weapon!?”
“You didn’t have a weapon on you,” Verael said, helping the lizard up. “My name is Verael, this is Poddle, Tahlavel, and Rapton. Do you remember anything?”
“Yes, me and my brother were taking my father to be buried at sea and—HE TRIED TO KILL ME!”
“Whoa, slow down there partner,” Verael said, holding the crazed lizard down. “Are you from around here?”
“Where is here? This place does not look like my homeland.”
“This is the Amedio, we are a couple of hours away from Sasserine.”
“Those names mean nothing to me. I come from my tribe’s homeland, Gala re Zathos
“The Isle of Dread?”
“You know of my homeland?”
“No, but—well its a long story. Lavinia might be able to explain it better. Let’s help you up. What’s your name?”
“Daegoth”

The party, now including Daegoth, set out for Sasserine. When they returned to the Vanderboren Manor, Lavinia was relieved to see them, but was distressed to learn that not everyone had survived. Tahlavel was quickly taken to a spare guest room and put in the care of Kora (the halfling woman who had brought the letter to the party in the first place), but it looked like it was too late. Even Rapton could do nothing, as he was not familiar with this kind of disease. Then Tahlavel woke up from his delirium, and Poddle rushed to his side.

“Are you alright, Tahlavel?” He asked, hoping for the best.
“I don’t think so. Even now I can feel my body dying.”
There was a long silence.
“Thank you,” Poddle said, tears in his eyes. “For everything.”
“No,” Tahlavel objected. “Thank you.”
Then he died.

Friday, June 25th, 1234 AY

Daegoth and Rapton were introduced to Lavinia, and we’re offered employment by Lavinia. Daegoth, after talking with Lavinia in private for a couple of hours, agreed, though there was obviously some other motive, possibly having to do with the Isle of Dread…
Rapton also accepted, since he had grown interested in the world beyond the jungle. Daegoth was commissioned with new armor and weapons, since his old ones had been lost in the ocean.

More in the next entry….

View
Chapter 1: The Beginning
The Savage Tide begins...

Savage Tide

Part I: There Is No Honor
Chapter 1: The Beginning

Our Cast:

Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue

Tahlavel Maran (Seth) Elf Ninja

Tarathial Nightstalker (Trevor S.) Wood Elf Ranger

Maxel Journey (Ian) Human Druid

Drakon Striden (David S.) Human Sorcerer

In the bustling seaport city of Sasserine, a band of unlikely heroes are brought together by a single letter, which will change their destinies forever…

Thursday, June 17th, 1234 AY

Each of the heroes had come to Sasserine lately, and had gained the notice of Lavinia Vanderboren, a minor noble. Poddle “Flip-Flop” had just come from the infamous pirate town of Ahato with his former employee and friend Tahlavel Maran. Poddle had just killed a giant snail in the Merchant’s District when it had escaped its cage and caused a ruckus in the market, while Tahlavel had entered a gladiatorial competition in the Sasserine Arena sponsored by the Iron Brigade, which he had won with great honors.

Maxel Journey and Drakon Striden had just come from doing mercenary work in the outlying jungles. When a group of robbers tried to ambush a nobleman, the duo had come to his rescue and driven off the bandits, with Drakon shooting down the thieves with magic while Maxel healed the wounded and battered noble.

Tarathial Nightstalker was hunting down a pack of wolves who had been acting too aggressive lately, and saved a group of nobles from being killed by the beasts.

The letter that each character received said the following:

Lavinia s letter The carrier of the letter was a halfling woman named Kora Whistlegap. The heroes agreed to the dinner, but Poddle was a little uneasy about it (though he still reluctantly agreed). Maxel recalled that Lavinia Vanderboren had just recently inherited her estate from her parents after their untimely death. It seems they had been killed aboard their own ship when a fire broke loose.

Friday, June 18th, 1234 AY

When the heroes individually arrived at the estate that June evening, the same halfling greeted them at the gate and let them come in. They were then sent to the atrium to wait, while Lavinia prepared to greet them. They did not know each other, so got into mild conversation, starting to form a bond. Maxel and Drakon told the rest of the heroes about the news of Lavinia’s parents, since none of them lived in Sasserine and this was only recent news.

Four figures then emerged from the hall and headed towards our heroes. Kora raced behind these figures, which included a jaunty male half-elf dressed in leather armor and armed with a dozen daggers of different shapes, a dark-skinned dwarf with a sour expression dressed in green and brown robes and armed with a scimitar, an attractive but haughty-looking woman dressed in dark purple robes and with a tattoo of a crescent moon on one cheek, and lastly a tall and handsome man dressed in a polished breastplate carrying two short swords.

The tall man stopped, seeing the heroes, and sized them up for a moment before announcing “Hmm. You must be the help Lavinia’s bringing in to do the chores. Best of luck to ya!”

The heroes were slightly offended that they were being considered as “doing the chores”, but still went with Kora to the dining hall when she said Lavinia was ready.

The private dining hall was comfortable and cozy, softly lit by wall-mounted lanterns. A window overlooked the manor’s central courtyard and the carpet was thick and soft. A large portrait hung on the wall, a fine work depicting a handsome young man with a short beard. Standing before the portrait was an attractive human woman wearing a long, flowing blue dress. She smiled as the heroes entered, introducing herself as Lavinia Vanderboren. Laviniavanderboren

“As you may have heard, I recently inherited my parents’ estate. Along with this fine house, unfortunately, came a fine amount of debt owed The Sanction, the harbormaster, and quite a few guildhalls. It seems my parents, for all their success as adventurers, were not as skilled at finance as one might expect. If I’m to get these taxes paid, I’ll need to access my family’s vault under Castle Terakan.

“And that’s the problem, you see. The vaults are magically locked—keyed to special signet rings. Both of my parents had these rings, at least, until recently. My mother lost hers a few months ago. She arranged for a replacement, but it won’t be done for another month or so, too late for me. Which leaves my father’s ring. He never wore it—he had a thing about men wearing jewelry. He kept it hidden somewhere on his ship, the Blue Nixie. The problem there is that the harbormaster’s seized the ship until someone pays for the last four months of mooring. I’ve paid the fines to the man the harbormaster’s put in charge of my ship, a brute named Soller Vark. Yet when I went to claim my ship, Vark’s men wouldn’t let me on board, claiming that I hadn’t yet paid the fines. I spoke to Vark again and he denied ever receiving my payment. My complaints to the harbormaster have fallen on deaf ears—he’s a doddering old fool who trusts his man and won’t relent.

“Vark and his men are up to something on my ship, I know it. What I need is to find out exactly what they’re up to. Unfortunately, Vark’s not the type to react well to diplomacy or logic. I need someone who speaks his language…which is where you come in. If you can find out what he’s using my ship for, or even better, recover the money I paid him, I’ll pay each of you 200 gold in return once I’ve access to my vault.”

Poddle, the kobold, quickly objected to the part about 200 gold, demanding more. Lavinia reluctantly offered to go to 300 gold. They finally agreed that they would get the signet ring and open the vault, and then decide how much they would get depending on how much was in the vault.

They decided to head straight out, even though it was already at least 9 o’clock at night, so Lavinia told them where the Blue Nixie was docked: pier five in the Merchant’s District, between the Merchant’s guildhall and the Smith’s guildhall. Alas, upon our heroes arrival it became apparent that the Blue Nixie was not docked at the pier at all, but was in fact moored moored to a float about 100 feet from the pier’s end.

Maxel, the druid, sent his owl companion to scout the ship, and his bird reported back that there were about five thugs patrolling the deck, though maybe more. Maxel decided to cast a spell which allowed him to speak with animals for a short period of time, so he called a dolphin to him. He asked the dolphin to take them across to the ship. The dolphin splashed him. Tarathial, being a ranger, also tried to reason with the dolphin. It just splashed them and swam away. It was then that they noticed the fact that there was a rental shop renting out boats for 5 gold. After a lengthy discussion of whether to try to steal a boat or to just pay the 5 gold, the heroes decided to rent it legally and took the rowboat out to the Blue Nixie. They took great pains to be silent and managed to get there undetected.

When they neared the Blue Nixie, Drakon cast a spell that made a huge crashing sound seem like it was coming from the bottom of the ship, sending the thugs that were patrolling the deck down into the lower bowels of the ship in a hurry. The heroes quickly climbed up the mooring of the ship and set up an ambush for the thugs when they came back. Poddle and Tahlavel climbed up on the mast to get good ambush positions. Tarathial and Drakon went on the upper deck over the stairs, and Maxel went on to the ledge on the side of the ship to hide. When the thugs came back aboard the deck, the heroes ambushed them, hitting from every side. Tarathial shot an arrow from his longbow…and horribly missed. Poddle jumped off of the mast and killed a thug with a blow to the head from his mighty warmace. Tahlavel wounded one of the thugs with two well thrown shurikens and Drakon blasted darts of magical energy from his finger tips, killing another thug. Maxel threw a spear from his hiding place and finished off the wounded thug, while the remaining two thugs were systematically taken down.

A foul-looking brute with a scarred face (which the heroes recognized as Soller Vark and also dubbed “Scarface”), along with two more thugs (a woman and a man), came up to the upper deck then, where the heroes were waiting for them. Soller vark

The man was taken to the ground with a mace to the groin, and then had his head chopped off by Tarathial. Vark rushed forward and stabbed Tarathial in the stomach, seemingly taking the ranger down. But Maxel came from behind and healed Tarathial with a spell, keeping him in the fight. Drakon cast another spell, putting Vark to sleep but not affecting the remaining thug. But Tahlavel had already took care of that, and the woman dropped dead, an arrow in the back of her head.

When Vark came to, Poddle decided to interrogate him. Poddle grabbed a dagger from Tahlavel and proceeded to cut open Vark’s arm, then grab a bucket of salt water and dump it on the wound. Vark howled in pain. Finally, after much torture at Poddle’s hands, Vark came clean and admitted that he was hired to smuggle some exotic animals and then sell them to a ship crewed by members of the Cabal of Shadows that was supposed to meet them. Then Tarathial killed him. Blue nixie

They then searched the ship thoroughly, and found Lavinia’s father’s signet ring, as well 100 platinum that our adventurers recognized as the fee Lavinia had paid to Vark. They also found a parchment with the signet ring that listed a weird assortment of monsters, and in the cargo hold they discovered the exotic creatures that Vark had been smuggling, including monkeys, parrots, and a huge spider-like creature. They turned in these exotic animals to the city watch (but not before Poddle confiscated three of the parrots; even though he already had a lemur and a parrot of his own). They took the signet ring, the payment, and the parchment back to Lavinia, who thanked them and gave them a place to stay in her mansion for the night. She asked them if they would accompany her to her family vault the next morning, to which Poddle objected, demanding more money for doing it. Lavinia consented and gave them 10 pp each from the money she paid Vark.

Saturday, June 19th, 1234 AY

The next day Lavinia hired a coach to take them from her manor to the High Market in the Noble District, where the group took a ferry over to Castle Terakan (since it was on an island). They spent little time in the castle itself, stopping only to speak to a clerk who verified Lavinia’s identity and her signet, and who then escorted them down a spiral staircase into a large circular chamber under the castle. Castle

Over a dozen five-foot wide hallways radiated out from the central vault chamber, each of these halls were ten feet long and ended at a single iron door—the entrance to the family vault. The clerk did not accompany the group into the vault; he instead bid them good day and returned to his office in the castle above.

Lavinia led them down the hallway to her family vault, where the short passageway ended at another solid-looking iron door. The portal was emblazoned with a simple rune—an eight-pointed star. Above the door, inscribed in a flowing script on a polished silver plaque, was the name “Vanderboren”. A single handle protruded from the door, just below a circular depression bearing the mark of the Vanderboren signet. Lavinia pushed the signet ring she now wore into the depression, and the door flashed once with blue light, then slowly swung open on creaking hinges.

Inside, the floor of the domed chamber was of polished green marble. Two fifteen-foot-wide alcoves had lower ceilings and featured marble pillars carved to resemble coiling snakes. In the center of the room, five similar pillars were embedded into the walls, rising up thirty feet to a dome overhead. Looking up, the dome bore a huge representation of the same eight-pointed star that was engraved on the door to the south. The vault

From around a pillar, a serpentine construction of metal slithered out. The snake was three feet long and looked like a cobra made of dozens of circular iron bands fitted together to form a snake-like body. The construct immediately attacked Tahlavel, who the first one to enter the chamber. The heroes dove into action, with Tahlavel valiantly striding forward to meet the beast. Tahlavel slashed at it with his katanas, but the hard shell repelled the weapon, causing the elf to bounce back in shock. Tarathial rolled to a safe position behind one of the pillars and proceeded to fire upon the construct with arrows, but they all seemed to do nothing. Poddle charged at the creature, bashing it with his warmace while Maxel threw a spear at it. Poddle’s attack seemed to stun the creature for a moment, but Maxel’s spear deflected harmlessly off the creature’s shell. Drakon, who had been chanting an incantation, set forth a burst of magical darts to fling into the creature, but to his surprise, the attack seemed to be absorbed by the construct. Maxel, assessing the situation, came to the conclusion that the cobra was a construct designed to protect the vault from intruders. “Tell it to stop attacking!” Maxel shouted to Lavinia, who looked at him quizzically, but obeyed. The snake seemed to pause, and then slithered away back to the alcove it had been hiding in, waiting for the next intruder. Iron cobra

It was then the group realized that the chamber didn’t seem to have a door. Tarathial searched the area and found that one of the pillars was slightly different from the others. He felt around it for a moment before finding a small switch, which he activated. The snake designs on the walls suddenly animated, writhing aside like living creatures and forming a coiling archway that opened up to the vault.

The octagonal room was supported by a single large pillar with dozens of deep grooves along it’s sides. The seven walls of this room each bore fantastically detailed bas-relief carvings of exotic monsters in threatening poses. Starting at the wall immediately to the west of the entrance to the room and moving clockwise, the carvings depicted a tentacled monster with a glaring red eye and a mouth full of teeth, a looming dragon, a fish-like creature with three eyes and four tentacles, a two headed giant wielding a pair of immense clubs, a spherical creature with four eyestalks and a bulging central eye over a drooling maw, a gorilla-like beast with a fanged maw and six eyes, and finally a towering black spider with seven eyes. Each monster’s eyes consisted of a glittering red stone. The ceiling above was only ten feet high, with the now-familiar eight-pointed star pattern radiating out from the grooved pillar. The arms of this star were black, save for the one pointing south towards the entrance, which was red.

Maxel assessed the chamber and came to the conclusion that it was some kind of puzzle…

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