Part III: The Sea Wyvern’s Wake
Chapter 13: Journey’s End
Poddle (Connor) Kobold Rogue
Jericho “Striker” Moonscar (Seth) Demon-Blooded Human Duskblade
Nimlar Sumel (Lance) Elven Ranger
Daelis Eagleheart (David L.) Half-Elf Swashbuckler
Duerak Gildas (Nate) Half-Dwarf/Fire Giant Fighter
Sunday, September 19th, 1234 AY
When we last left our heroes, they were in the Olman village of Renkrue, getting ready to set off after two days of shore leave on the island (which Renkrue lies on).
The various passengers, heroes, and crew-members boarded the Sea Wyvern, all going to their various jobs and niches on the ship.
As he boarded, Nimlar noticed that something was wrong with Kurgol. He seemed downtrodden again, and he sported a large black bruise on the side of his face.
“What’s wrong?” Nimlar asked, approaching the half-orc sympathetically.
“Nothing, nothing.” Kurgol mumbled, shrugging off the elf’s attempts at comforting him.
“Did you get punched in the face?” Poddle asked, also seeing the half-orc and approaching.
“No,” Kurgol assured. “I just hit my face on a pole.”
“Would you like to come with me and chat about it?” Jericho asked, seeing the situation.
“That’s alright.” Kurgol mumbled.
“I’m here for you if you need me…”
“It’s alright, I’m fine.”
A moment of silence.
“I don’t feel so well,” Kurgol stated, looking tired. “I’m going to go…sleep. See you guys later.”
Then he walked off.
Later, Poddle brought the heroes together to announce something to them.
“Alright, I have something to tell you guys,” Poddle said. “I haven’t told this to anyone else (except people). In the kobold tribe I used to be in back on the Isle of Dread, we had this crazy chieftain. Now, he would make up these freaky holidays, and one of them happens to be today. It’s called ‘Free Day’. Now what you have to do is everyone has to give away something for free… and you have to give this thing to a kobold. If you don’t accept my holiday, then I will call you racist.”
Nimlar gave Poddle some vials of urchin poison that he had (but had just been lying around collecting dust), but Jericho wouldn’t respect Poddle’s holiday, refusing to give him something.
He finally relented, though. He gave Poddle a free bath.
By pushing him into the ocean of course!
Poddle (after getting back on deck) complained that it was a violation of his contract, but Amella decided to let it slide. Poddle had demanded to be given something free.
After an argument, the heroes dispersed, each going to their respective places on the Sea Wyvern. Nimlar retired to the crow’s nest, and was looking out over the horizon, when he saw something. Not on the horizon, but below, on the deck of the ship.
He saw Kurgol.
The half-orc walked up to the rigging, and began to climb up, somber and grim.
“Is something wrong?” Nimlar shouted down to him, puzzled.
Kurgol paused momentarily in his climb, but then continued.
“You’re kind of scaring me!” Nimlar exclaimed, very confused now.
Kurgol didn’t even pause this time, slowly but steadily climbing, higher and higher. He got to a high point in the rigging (but not high enough to be near the crow’s nest) and then stopped. He turned around, and that’s when the heroes realized.
Kurgol was trying to kill himself.
“Kurgol!” Jericho yelled in Orc, trying to stop the half-orc from ending his life. “What is wrong? Maybe I can help!”
“Nothing can help me now,” Kurgol sighed. “I just need to end it.”
Nimlar began to inch down from the crow’s nest to where Kurgol was, using the conversation between him and Jericho to distract the half-orc, allowing him to get into position.
“I’ll give you money if you come down!” Poddle shouted, but no one listened to him.
“I’m trying to be your friend!” Jericho exclaimed, frantic now. “I can assist you, teach you a new life as a duskblade!”
Kurgol shook his head. And then he let go.
The half-orc’s fall was stopped however, by one elf named Nimlar.
“Every life is worth living!” Nimlar said, saving Kurgol’s life.
The half-orc started to struggle, shouting, “Let me go! Let me go!”
Then he broke down and sobbed.
“You’re sure you don’t want any money?” Poddle asked.
Nimlar brought the half-orc down to the deck, where he stopped sobbing and started just sniffling.
Jericho leaned down next to Kurgol and comforted him, saying in Orc, “We are your friends and we’re here to help.”
Kurgol looked up at the heroes. His gaze was one of deep thanks.
“On Renkrue,” Kurgol said softly. “A group of humans, they took my aside… and beat me.”
The heroes realized then that the half-orc’s wounds didn’t stop at a bruised face. He was cut and scarred in many different places all over his body.
The heroes were angry, really angry. They turned around the Sea Wyvern and started to head back to Renkrue, intent on giving those intolerant humans a piece of their minds. Lavinia, however, disagreed, saying that although it was sad, they needed to continue on with their mission, they had no time to waste. Nimlar backed her up, but the rest of the heroes didn’t.
Lavinia won out. And they continued…
Wednesday, September 22nd, 1234 AY
The next couple of days past uneventfully, and on Wednesday the heroes found themselves bored, to say the least.
When the water below them became more violent and quick, Jericho guessed that they had reached a stretch of ocean named “The Pearl Current”. This swift flowing oceanic current sweeps up from the southern Shimmering Sea to the Tarrian Gulf, and though Lavinia’s charts indicated the presence of the current, determining when and where it started and ended was a trickier prospect, as the Pearl Current’s exact shape and width vary.
Jericho noticed that it was harder to keep the ship on course, but he managed to do it anyway, with no mishaps.
Meanwhile, Nimlar played with an elven toy that he had had since childhood and Duerak practiced his fighting, but they ended up talking to each other.
They chatted for a bit, and then parted ways.
Now, Jericho was feeling irritated at Poddle again, so he decided to try to kick him into the water.
Instead, he fell in himself.
Tuesday, September 28th, 1234 AY
After nearly two weeks on the open sea, land once again loomed on the horizon. For a moment, the heroes thought they had reached the Isle of Dread ahead of schedule, but in truth they’d only spotted the island of Ruja, an uninhabited island surrounded by perilous thousand-foot-high cliffs and crowned with a tangle of thick jungle.
Rumors had long held that Ruja was the lair of some form of terrible monster, but the difficulty of even reaching the jungle peaks above had ensured that the isle’s interior remained unexplored.
The heroes looked at each other slyly.
After clearing it with Lavinia, the heroes prepared to set out to explore the island of Ruja, intent on finding and killing this “terrible monster” if they could find it.
Hey, they’re adventurers, what do you expect?
After several hours of clambering up the perilous cliffs (aided by Nimlar’s rope skills, Jericho’s teleportation spells and climbing abilities, and Poddle’s boots), the heroes finally reached the crown of the island.
Waiting for them was a gigantic bird, feeding its smaller (but still gigantic) hatchlings.
It turned to them and screeched: the battle had begun…
…And the heroes sprung into action.
Daelis acted quickly rushing towards the avian and conjuring (using his recently acquired bard abilities) a spear, thinking that if he could get the bird to charge him, he could stab the weapon and injure the bird.
Duerak charged forward as well, drawing his bow and climbing a small hillock, then firing an arrow. Unfortunately, the missile was just dodged by the roc, and only succeeded in making it angry.
Jericho ran to within ten to fifteen feet of the huge roc, pulling out his bow as well and firing off a shot. This one hit, but it seemed to do little at all to wound the terrible monster.
Nimlar fired off a volley of arrows from behind his comrades, hitting and slightly injuring the bird, but not much.
They could all tell it was going to take something big to take this bird.
Poddle drew his hand crossbow and fired off a bolt… which bounced off their avian attacker harmlessly.
Poddle stared for a second, then exclaimed: “Come on man!”
Duerak fired off another arrow from his position on the hillock, but as before, he missed his target.
Jericho as well, fired an arrow, but his connected, as before, doing some more damage, but really…the roc didn’t look wounded…at all.
The roc stretched it’s great wings, screeching angrily, then, in a blur of motion, swooped down from it’s nest and grabbed Jericho with its talons, digging into his flesh and lifting him into the air.
Nimlar fired off four different arrows in rapid succession at the roc, but missed all four.
Poddle, not caring about Jericho’s welfare, went for the roc hatchlings, intent on capturing them. He climbed atop the rock that the roc nest was on and saw the roc babies.
They were bigger than him.
Daelis, although he didn’t care THAT much about Jericho’s well-being, he did care somewhat, and he wasn’t just going to let him get eaten. So he discarded his now useless soear and used his bard abilities to daze the roc, hoping it would fall (but not off the cliffs) so they could grab Jericho.
The roc stopped its flight and just hovered for a second, blinking.
But that was all.
Duerak followed the roc with his bow, getting ready to fire off another arrow… which he did, to great effect.
The roc screeched and started to shake off the effects of the spell, as blood trickled from its many wounds.
Jericho struggled to escape the roc’s claws, but then he decided to do something desperate. He slashed himself with his longsword, giving his sword an arcane glow, and then stabbed the weapon as hard as he could into the wing of the roc.
The roc screeched in agony and then started to fall out of the air… towards the perilous cliff face.
The creature crashed into the cliff side, barely missing the ten-thousand foot drop to the ocean below and instead landing on a small ledge only five feet below the top of the cliffs.
Jericho was dropped in mid-fall, and he managed to tumble out of the way of the falling avian… and survive himself.
Nimlar acted quickly, using a spell to entangle the roc in a nest of vines. It wasn’t going anywhere.
Then he fired an arrow at the bird, barely having to aim, since it was very vulnerable in its current position. The arrow thudded into the beast, wounded it even further. It began to thrash about underneath its vine layering, and fear was very evident in its eyes.
Daelis, intent on ending this battle, rushed towards the downed beast and tumbled down the cliff face (gracefully, as only a swashbuckler could do), and landing right next to the roc.
He readied his rapier.
An arrow sliced into the bird’s hide, fired from the bow of Duerak, further cementing the roc’s fate.
Jericho, however, was the one who got the killing blow. The duskblade raised his sword… and then brought it down into the roc’s neck.
The thrashing stopped.
Poddle’s thrashing, however, had just begun. He struggled to try to capture the huge roc babies, lunging and grabbing at them, but they easily dodged his clumsy attempts.
Nimlar ran to help the kobold with trying to tame the beasts, since the main battle was over with, and used his power over nature to change the roc’s attitude.
The hatchlings stopped trying to escape.
The heroes knew they couldn’t keep all of them, so they killed two and Duerak kept the last one.
They sent WAR back down the cliff with the roc strapped to his back, telling him to bring the new pet back to the Sea Wyvern.
The heroes then decided, since it was getting late anyways and they needed rest from the long climb and hard battle with the roc, to make camp at the base of the cliffs and set out to explore again the next morning.
They went to sleep with eagerness about the next day…
Wednesday, September 29th, 1234 AY
After an uneventful, but slightly creepy night, in which various noises bombarded the party from the jungle animals that roamed the night, the heroes awoke and set out into the jungle, ready for adventure.
They traversed the wild for about an hour before coming across a pack of three terror birds, giant predatory birds, flightless, that were known to be very aggressive (as Jericho informed them).
Jericho and Nimlar were the only ones of the party that weren’t surprised when the great birds came crashing through the trees to ambush them on the small game trail they had been following, plowing into the party and attacking.
Jericho acted quickly, and imbued his longsword with an otherworldly enchantment, then charged the nearest terror bird, weapon aglow.
The bird bit at him, but he dodged it and then came in hard with his weapon.
Nimlar drew an arrow and launched it at the second terror bird, hitting the beast in the shoulder, but not slowing its charge.
He drew two arrows, then fired them as well, and they were quite a bit more deadly. Both hit square in the neck, sending the terror bird to the ground. It thrashed about, then weakly got to its feet, but the terror bird looked like it was on its last leg… literally, as it had broken a leg in the fall as well.
Nimlar managed to get another arrow off as well, striking the wounded terror bird again, but still not killing it.
Daelis remedied that situation with a quick slash.
The next terror bird also charged at Nimlar however, and attempted to bite him, but the elf managed to dodge out of the way of the beast’s attack.
Poddle charged the nearest terror bird with his warmace, but… he missed.
Nimlar drew some more arrows, firing them off with almost mechanical efficiency.
A terror bird fell dead.
“Hey!” Poddle yelled, as the bird crashed to the ground before him. “That was my kill!”
The last terror bird fled.
The heroes continued on towards the center of the island… though Poddle still grumbled about “kill-stealing”.
After exploring for about four more hours, they came upon an encampment.
It was crude, obviously not created by a highly-civilized race, but it was civilization, something the heroes were not expecting on this deserted island.
There was a small group of huts and tents in a clearing not far from a small plateau which contained a large hole, or pit, in the center of the ground of the bluff.
Standing around the pit were five revolting creatures, which looked like a cross between a gangly human and a bloated spider with long, slender arms and legs protruding from a rounded, fleshy body. They had spider’s heads each with a pair of bulbous black eyes. One, which the party assumed was the shaman (because of his various ornaments and his long slender black staff) was chanting something and waving around his staff in some sort of ritual.
“They’re summoning something evil,” Nimlar said calmly.
“We need to kill them…”
“Wait, what?” Daelis said, confused.
“They’re ettercaps,” Nimlar informed the party. “And the shaman there seems to be summoning some sort of evil beastie.”
“Should we attack them?” Duerak asked.
“We should at least kill the shaman,” Daelis recommended. “Before he summons up some sort of demon…”
“A demon?” Poddle said, eyes growing wide. “Why is they’re always a demon…?”
“So are we attacking them or what?” Duerak asked.
The heroes looked to Nimlar.
“Why are you looking at me?” Nimlar asked.
“Well,” Poddle responded. “You’re kind of the leader… I mean, if we had a leader, you’d be it. We’re technically a democracy, but you just have the responsibility of being the leader, without any of the actual power.”
Nimlar stared at him.
“So…?” Poddle said.
“Yes!” Nimlar said. “Yes, we’re attacking them!” He grumbled and began to set his bow. “How did I get mixed up with these illogical suicidal maniacs?”
“Adventurers,” Daelis corrected.
“What?” Nimlar asked, looking at him.
“Adventurers is the word you were looking for. It takes too long to say ‘illogical suicidal maniacs’.”
Nimlar allowed a grin.
Then the battle began.
The ettercaps were indeed summoning something, and it was indeed evil. The bulbous spider-people shrieked as they noticed the heroes, and hurried the ritual to its completion.
Poddle, who had managed to escape notice of the ettercaps by sneaking around their encampment, (since all of the creatures were at the ritual pit) did just that, snuck around their encampment, ready to deliver a sneak attack when he got in range.
Nimlar, who had found a good position behind an outcropping of rock, began to fire off arrows at the ettercaps, who—unfortunately—had the high ground.
It was gonna be a hard fight.
Nimlar’s first arrow hit the ettercap closest to the party squarely in the back, causing the spider-creature to shriek in agony, but holding its ground as they finished the ritual.
“Washa’kashi, yasha!” The shaman yelled out in its spidery tongue, apparently completing the ritual.
A horrific shriek came up from the pit, and something began to crawl up… something big.
Duerak charged up past the encampment, heading for the ettercaps on the ridge, but was met by one of them, who charged down. They clashed in a mess of steel and claw, but neither one seemed to damage the other much.
The summoned creature finally appeared from the threshold of the pit. It was an enormous spider, bigger than a house.
Daelis, who had been in the middle of a charge, stopped dead in his tracks, frozen with fear.
He was deathly afraid of spiders… especially ones four times the size of himself.
Jericho charged as well, towards the ettercap attacking Duerak. He swung both of his swords, but only one connected.
A thin line of blood appeared on the ettercap’s arm. But it wasn’t a glancing blow. He had torn through half the creature’s limb, almost severing it. The ettercap clutched his wound in pain, exclaiming in its native language.
Poddle decided to forgo a sneak attack, and instead weaved through the ettercaps and used his enchanted boots to walk along the rim of the pit, behind the spider.
Nimlar pelted the poor ettercaps with more arrows, but only one connected on the one he had hit before, drawing fresh blood.
Yeris swooped in from the skies to claw at the ettercap shaman, creating a nasty scar on the thing’s forehead, but doing little else but annoy it.
The shaman retaliated with his staff, but fortunately Yeris dodged the clumsy blow.
“Ish-ish, paa!” The ettercap screamed.
Duerak, given an opportunity to attack by Jericho, swung his battleaxe at the wounded ettercap.
He slaughtered the poor creature, beheading it and blasting the skull halfway across the clearing, to fall into the ritual pit.
“Your head has been removed from your body,” Duerak said to the corpse of the ettercap matter-of-factly. “That is unfortunate.”
The ettercap that was wounded by Nimlar charged down the ridge, intent on murdering the annoying little elf who had shot it with pointy sticks. The creature vaulted over the outcropping Nimlar had been taking cover behind and attempted to slash the ranger with its claws.
The swift elf easily dodged the swipe however, and was now in perfect position to kill the clumsy beastie.
The elf smiled.
The ettercap nearest to Poddle launched itself at the kobold, even though it would be jumping head-long into the gaping chasm Poddle just happened to be right next to.
“Ess yra vsani-giis!” the ettercap bellowed as it missed Poddle completely, dropping into the pit and falling to its death.
The enormous spider noticed the pitiful kobold killing its summoners, and so it turned towards Poddle and bit into him, almost dropping the rogue right then and there.
Poddle felt poison seeping through his veins, rendering his muscles almost useless. The only thing that kept him from falling into the pit was his magical boots.
Jericho turned away from Duerak and the beheaded ettercap and charged the huge spider, determined to kill the horrible thing before it could kill him.
Or at least, that was the plan.
Poddle somehow managed to crawl away, using the charging Jericho as a distraction to keep the spider from finishing the job. He hid behind a jumble of boulders behind the encampment and was collapsed.
Nimlar fired at the ettercap point blank, slaying the creature instantaneously, then turned his aim towards the spider.
He managed to score some blows, but it wasn’t much.
“Adventurers…” Nimlar murmured.
Duerak charged at the spider as well, bringing his battleaxe to bear and digging into the arachnid, but unfortunately not hard enough to penetrate its thick hide.
Daelis finally shook off his fear, knowing that his companions would need his help, and managed to fire off a crossbow bolt, which penetrated the spider’s flesh and sent out a shiver of pain up the arachnid’s body.
Daelis smiled weakly, still shaken by the ferocious beast.
The spider swung its huge leg at Duerak, but the half-dwarf dodged out of the way, almost being knocked to the ground.
Jericho slashed the spider with his swords, cutting off one of the legs and making the spider’s body lurch in protest, almost collapsing.
Nimlar aimed an arrow, then fired, hitting the spider in one of its eyes. A blood-curdling scream filled the air, and birds flew from nearby trees in fright.
The elf drew another arrow.
Yeris and the ettercap shaman still fought it out, and the bulbous shaman got in a hit, cutting the harpy eagle with its poisonous claws.
Yeris felt weak, but he kept fighting.
Duerak swung his axe again and again, chopping into the arachnid with reckless abandon. He wasn’t going to let this beastie get away.
Not this time.
The huge arachnid bit at Jericho, striking flesh and jarring the duskblade with the razor-sharp fangs.
He felt… so weak…
The duskblade reached for the potion he kept on his belt, popping the stopper off and downing it.
A wave of strength flowed through him, negating the previous poisonous effects of the spider bite.
He swung and took another of the arachnid’s legs out.
A smirk came to his lips.
Nimlar let loose.
Two arrows connected with the spider’s body, sending spurts of blood in every direction. The third missed, but the ranger could tell the arachnid would be dead soon.
Yeris ended the little duel he was having with the shaman by soundly ripping out the ettercaps’ throat, effectively killing the thing.
The harpy eagle landed on a nearby tree, watching his companions finish off the huge spider beast.
Duerak cut off another of the arachnids legs, almost bringing it down, and Daelis slashed at the thing with his rapier, but neither actually killed the spider.
Jericho cut himself, drawing power into his swords, and then grabbed on to the arachnid’s legs. He climbed up on top of the spider, crawling on to its head, and then stabbed down with all his might.
The spider fell dead.
“Good riddance,” Jericho spat as he climbed off of the mangled corpse.
The heroes looted the rest of the encampment, finding two-hundred and twenty gold pieces for each of them. The shaman’s staff turned out to be magical, made of dark slender wood with depictions of crawling insects carved onto the wood. It had the ability to summon swarms of insects to attack your enemies, which Jericho revealed.
After gathering the treasure, the party headed back to the ship, reaching the cliff-face by nightfall. The heroes decided to camp out the night on the island once again, and climb down to the ship in the morning.
Thursday, September 30th, 1234 AY
The morning dawned, and the heroes returned to the Sea Wyvern, their itch for exploration sated and their eagerness to reach the Isle of Dread rising further.
“Welcome back,” Amella said cheerfully when the heroes climbed aboard the deck of the Sea Wyvern that clear morning.
“Anything interesting happen while we were gone?” Jericho asked curiously.
“Has Tavey been doing his exercises?”
“Yes he has. He followed every instruction you gave him.”
“I hate to break up the conversation,” Nimlar interrupted. “But we have people who are poisoned here, could someone call the cleric?”
Rapton came from below deck and healed the various wounds and poisons the heroes had entitled themselves to while they’d been off.
“I’m glad I decided to stay behind,” Rapton said, wincing at the nasty injuries. “Sometimes I wonder why I ever joined with you illogical, suicidal—”
“Don’t,” Nimlar interrupted. “Just, don’t.”
They set out on the stretch of open sea that lay before them…
Monday, October 4th, 1234 AY
The days passed and the expedition drew closer to the Isle of Dread. But unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be a walk through a meadow the rest of the journey.
Journey’s end had begun, but so had the hardest thing the heroes had ever faced.
Up to this point the expedition had been lucky, they had seen relatively clear weather without a storm in sight (except for the slight gust they had experienced near Fort Blackwell, but which had been easily weathered).
This luck was about to end.
Late Monday night, the wind whipped into a frenzy, and by dawn, the ships were caught in a full-fledged storm.
Waves crashed, winds buffeted, and lightning seared the sky with its arcing blasts.
Jericho couldn’t manage to keep the ship on course, and accidentally went off the intended path. It could take days to realign their expedition.
The Sea Wyvern still manages to weather the storm, and in the morning the waves die down and the sky is clear once again.
There was still one problem however: the Blue Nixie was nowhere to be seen.
Lavinia’s standing orders in this case were to continue to Farshore and reunite there, so the heroes had no choice but to continue on… alone.
Fang was sent to find the other ship, and make sure Lavinia was fine. He flew away on the morn and wasn’t seen until days later.
Jericho asked Amella to call a ship meeting, to make sure the passengers of the ship didn’t overreact. She consented, and the passengers and crew were gathered on deck before noon.
The people began to panic, but Nimlar, with a stirring speech, managed to calm them down and boost morale.
He assured them they would make it to Farshore and they would find the Blue Nixie again.
But the ranger wasn’t sure he believed that himself…
Friday, October 8th, 1234 AY
On the 8th of October, the heroes awoke to a disturbing sight.
As the grey dawn broke, burning fitfully through the morning fog to light the sea, something seemed strange about the waters below. They seemed almost solid, as if the sea had formed some sort of strange skin. The air seemed dead as well and the sails hung limp, heavy with moisture from the receding fog.
Finally, the mists began to clear, and what was unveiled was not the gently rolling vista of the sea, but a wet, green field of weed. The swath of dirty green stretched flatly in all directions. To the stern it extended for perhaps a half-mile, beyond which lay the open the waters of the mocking sea. In all other directions, the weed extended to the horizon. Trapped within its vice were dozens of other long-dead ships, their hulls protruding from the sargasso at odd angles, masts askew, sails hanging in tatters. One such ship lay mired only six hundred feet to the port, and it seemed to be in better shape than the others. Perhaps most unnerving however, was neither the sight nor smell of so much sun-baked seaweed. It was the unnatural silence, for the thick choking green has robbed the Sea Wyvern even of the strangely comforting sound of water lapping against her hull.
It was not a healthy silence. It was the silence of a graveyard.
“What is that?” Amella said, shocked at the sight.
“A sargasso,” Jericho replied, walking to the railing of the Sea Wyvern and looking at the horizon. “It is a treacherous patch of vegetation often driven by storms only to collect in regions of the ocean that even the wind and currents seem to fear. A path a mile across would be unusual… yet this swath stretches to the horizon.”
“It’s unnatural,” Amella shuddered.
“I think I know what it is…”
“Yes, it’s unnatural! I just told you!”
Jericho narrowed his eyes.
“Sailors call it Journey’s End.”
Amella gasped. “Journey’s End? But that’s just a legend.”
“Could a legend do this?” Jericho asked, his face serious.
“What’s Journey’s End?” Nimlar asked, also shocked at the appearance of the sargasso.
“A living island,” Jericho replied. “That appears after storms. This living land is said to have a black soul that fuels the hunger of children rumored to live within its green embrace.”
“Sounds delightful!” Poddle said sarcastically. “Have I ever told you how cheerful you are in the morning, Jericho? In all seriousness, you really need to stop being so jolly.”
“Journey’s End is one of the sea’s more terrible blights,” Jericho continued, ignoring Poddle. “And is said to be able to crush ships in its grip. Its children are awful creatures formed of the weed itself, and are said to rise by night to slake their hunger upon any their green mother has caught in her grasp.”
“Real jolly…” Poddle added.
“So,” Daelis said, walking into the conversation. “What do we do?”
The heroes began to formulate various plans to try to escape from the sargasso, such as having Daegoth try cutting away the weed with his lightning and axe.
The seaweed, however, grew back with unnatural speed, almost as fast as they were cutting it. They didn’t get far before they grew tired, and then the weed grew back to full strength, making the past hour of hard labor yield nothing.
They did discover that the weed was solid enough to traverse however, and so after the failed attempt, they (Nimlar, Poddle, Duerak—not Daelis, who didn’t trust the weed to not suck him under—and Jericho) decided to head to the nearest wreck to possibly find some answers.
As they strode across the seaweed, they felt the dampness of the weed and the disorientation of walking on unsure ground, well, disorienting. There also seemed to be strange currents in the puddles that swirled around their feet, almost as if the fronds of the weeds themselves were stirring.
It felt… alive.
The wreck was strangled with weeds and vines, almost as if immense green claws held the ship in their grasp. In many places the caravel, a ship hauntingly similar to the Sea Wyvern, had been torn apart by the vegetation’s rampant growth. A plate near the stern gave the vessel’s name—the Rage.
“It looks to me like a Dragon Armada ship,” Jericho observed, as they neared the vessel.
“If it is,” Poddle said. “I’m going to laugh and spit on it.”
“Yes, it serves them right!”
“No, people died, I was gonna laugh at that.”
“So are we going in?” Duerak asked as they arrived at the ship, and stood there, not moving.
“No, of course not,” Nimlar joked. “We’re just going to look at it from afar!”
They climbed aboard the deck of the Rage, made of timbers that were rotting and squelched nastily underfoot as the heroes walked across the surface of the wood. Ship beams had been ruptured by the vines, which clung to every surface. As the heroes explored the Rage, they noted signs of combat—a swath of dried blood, a broken rapier’s blade lodged in the mast, and signs of frantic fortification.
The upper deck was wreathed in slippery seaweed and swaths of what appeared to be thick green mucus. Although almost everything had been smashed, the remains of three dozen burnt torches and an upturned cauldron that seemed to have recently been filled with oil were still visible.
They headed below deck, through doors that had been barred with timbers, but to no avail, as they laid smashed therein along with a broken ballista, into the crew room of the ship, lined with smashed and tangled beds.
Beyond the crew room laid the captain’s cabin, which the heroes headed to. A large hole was in the floor, through which the green of the sargasso could be seen.
As the heroes entered the room, they noticed a tattered journal lying on the edge of a table across the room. Unfortunately, the ship’s deck had sunk, and the journal lay precariously perched at the table’s edge.
As soon as the party started towards the journal, the floorboards twisted and buckled, sending the journal into the sargasso five feet below.
Jericho rushed to the hole and tried to leap down, but he was suddenly caught by the foot and he fell flat on his face.
He saw the journal—it had landed in a small pool of soggy water—as he hung over the hole, only kept from falling by the vine now wrapped around his leg.
It was alive.
Jericho beat at the vine with the hilt of his sword, and the vegetation let go, retracting to the wall, which was covered in now writhing vines.
The duskblade jumped to his feet and readied his weapons.
Another vine shot at his exposed legs, but he quickly brought down his swords to deflect the blow. The vine writhed back.
Unfortunately, while he was focused on that vine, a third vine hit at his neck, and this one hit.
The vegetation wrapped around Jericho’s soft neck and began to constrict him, choking the last bit of breath from his lungs.
Jericho slashed at the crushing vine with his longsword, cutting into it but not making it let go or even doing any lasting damage.
Nimlar, who had stood in shock as the events had transpired, finally shook off his surprise and pulled out his bow. He launched a volley of arrows with blinding speed.
He connected two arrows with the vegetation, causing the plants to writhe, but not loosing their grip on Jericho.
Duerak charged in with his axe, yelling out a Dwarven battle-cry as he chopped one of the vines into oblivion.
Two more remained.
One lashed out at Duerak, but the flimsy vine just bounced off the half-dwarf’s heavy armor. The second continued to choke Jericho, bringing him down to his knees. He fought it however, and finally pried loose the constricting tendrils of the vine, and the plant writhed back to lunge again.
But Jericho did a back-flip into the hole, intent on landing gracefully to the ground and saving the journal. Instead, he was hit mid-air by the vine again, causing him to fall out of balance with his flip and land painfully on the soggy weed below.
Jericho groaned in pain, but then crawled and grabbed the journal. It was a little waterlogged, but it was legible.
Nimlar fired off a single arrow, cutting into one of the vines, and then grabbed a potion from his belt.
“Jericho!” Nimlar yelled. “I’m throwing you a potion!”
He launched it gracefully into the hole.
A vine launched for Duerak again, but once again, the half-dwarf’s armor pushed it aside like it was nothing.
Poddle charged the vine with his warmace, smashing into it but not killing it.
The other vine attacked Duerak, and what do you know? It missed.
Jericho grabbed the potion that was thrown down to him and strapped it to his belt.
“Nimlar!” He yelled back, getting ready to throw the journal. “Journal!”
The elf caught the journal and then turned to escape the ship, worrying that there would be more vines.
“Jericho, we’re retreating! Get out of there!” He yelled as he sprinted out of the room.
Duerak finished off the second vine with a hack from his battleaxe, but the third vine attacked him. Fortunately, nothing hits Duerak, so of course, the vine was deflected.
Poddle swung at the last vine, but missed.
Duerak, however, finished it off with his axe.
Jericho was luckily out on the sargasso (the hole led to the outside), so it was easy to retreat and join up with Nimlar and the others.
When they had met up outside the Rage, they looked through the journal. It chronicled the tale of a monk named Anhelm and his journey along the southern coast of the Amedio to visit the natives of the Isles of Axuxal. The document told of a fierce storm that drove the Rage far out to sea, but it was the entries on the last few pages that were of the greatest interest to the heroes.
The pages are written down in the following paragraphs:
This foul green land is stained with blight. We tried to cut away the weed, but to no avail, and soon had to abandon the tools we had used, their edges dulled to misery.
At noon I ordered Carus and Twaid out onto the weed to explore. How large can such a place be? The crew grow restless.
It is dusk. Efforts to destroy the weed have failed. I have explored what I could, but this is all mists and weed. When will Carus and Twaid return? Despite the calm, the night is not stil, and I feel eyes watching me.
The night brought noises but no attack, but I fear for my brothers, I heard cries in the night—was it them? I feel something is alive here, but what can it be? Captain Grough claimed the land had a black heart—maybe Carus and Twaid will have some useful information when they return.
Afternoon. I have decided to find my brothers, and have taken Ranis and Pale with me. They are good brothers, and will aid me as best they can. We shall find the land’s black heart.
We headed east, making good headway as only brothers can. By night we had covered many miles but nothing but more of the green.
It is night, and I can hear life. Something moves at the edge of sight. Why do they not show themselves. I can hear them whisper one word, over and over, “Outsiders…”
It is afternoon. We have come to a terrible place, a forest of weed grown in mockery of real life, a mire of skeletal ships. How many souls have been lost here? Our supplies grow wan, we must return by the morn to the Rage.
It is dawn, and we have returned to the Rage too late. The crew are gone and the green holds her ever fast. Where have they gone?
I can hear them in the day now. They are outside. They are watching. They want me to join them, but I shall not.
Ranis and Pale are dead. They came through the mist, yet they were not the same. I knew them by the tatters of clothes draped over the green that took their flesh. What wore their bodies has been vanquished, but I know now that these were but the children of what dwells at this land’s heart. I must seek the mother at this heart, for to destroy the mother is to destroy the brood. If only I had…
The heroes were slightly disturbed by the haunting journal, but went to work as soon as they reached the Sea Wyvern, thinking of some new courses of action.
They eventually decided on the following: they would wait out the night and stand ready for any creatures that would attack them, taking it in watches and sleeping with their weapons beside them, and then in the morning, head east, where they assumed would be the heart of the sargasso.
As the sun set, Nimlar noticed shapes stirring in the distant green, and as the last light of day faded and the mist rose once again, the heroes saw the shape of horror rising from the weeds.
The children of the sargasso arose.
These plant monsters were vaguely humanoid, fatted on the bodies of the sargasso’s victims and hungry to add more to the hive.
The vine horrors crawled and writhed, climbing and slithering up the hull of the Sea Wyvern, intent on murder.
It was going to be a long night…
Nimlar drew his bow and fired off four arrows at a vine horror which reached the deck. All four connected solidly in the body of the horror.
Unfortunately, the vine horror looked undamaged.
It was going to be a long night…
Jericho charged and jumped off the railing from his position at the wheel, landing next to a seaweed creature and stabbing his short sword into the vegetable body of the deformed vine beast. Seaweed spilled from its abdomen, possibly intended to represent guts, landing on the deck with a disgusting sound.
Duerak charged at Jericho’s vine horror, intent on cutting its head off.
If that was a head…
The half-dwarf cut into the seaweed of the body with his axe, almost severing the thing’s arm. The arm, however, reformed with surprising speed.
“Outsiders…” It whispered as it relentlessly came forward.
It was going to be a long—well, you get the picture.
Daelis charged a nearby vine horror, stabbing with his rapier and connecting with the thing in the gut. The creature kept coming forward, not caring about the blade jammed into its torso, whispering the same haunting mantra… “Outsiders…”
Another vine horror started to crawl up the side of the Sea Wyvern, and the heroes looked out over the sargasso and realized that there were several, if not dozens, of weed monsters slowly marching towards the ship, seeking their deaths…
The vine horror reached a point on the deck where Poddle happened to be, and attacked the kobold with its fists of seaweed.
Poddle adeptly dodged the strikes from the alien beast and then brought up his own weapon, smashing the heavy warmace into the head of the vine horror.
Seaweed guts splattered across the deck, but the sargasso monster, face half-gone, still came on.
“Nothing will kill these things!” Poddle exclaimed, dodging another blow.
A vine horror shambled towards Daelis, joining the one already attacking the swashbuckler in its mindless war.
The weed beast slammed into the half-elf with surprising speed, knocking Daelis off balance and out of position. Then the vine horror came in hard, punching Daelis in the chest and knocking him halfway across the deck, to crash into the railing and almost fall off the edge.
“You can say that again,” agreed the swashbuckler as he slowly got to his feet.
Nimlar launched an arrow from his elven bow, cutting through the thick neck of a vine horror and poking out the other end. The vine horror seemed stunned for a moment, which was a victory if there ever was one, but it regained its composure and continued on its deadly march.
“Nothing will kill these things!” Nimlar shouting down to his companions, his keen elven ears picking out the conversation between Poddle and Daelis, and his keen sense of humor (which wasn’t exactly elven) causing him to make a joke.
Daelis grinned at him.
Nimlar strung another arrow and repeatedly shot the thing, determined to bring it down. They needed it…
Three arrows plunged into the horror’s back.
It was dead… and that meant that they could die.
After that, the battle really begun…
Yeris swooped down from the crow’s nest and sliced at one of the vine horrors harassing Daelis. Ribbons of sausaged seaweed fell to the ground, but the vine horror seemed not to feel it.
The vine horror finally noticed that its flesh was falling off, and then proceeded to bat the eagle away. Yeris flew around and shrieked at the unnatural thing, trying to get his claws in to attack.
Jericho slashed into the horror in front of him, cutting of chunks of seaweed as he furiously cut at the thing with his swords. He wanted these things to die. Really bad.
Another vine horror slammed into Poddle, knocking him to the floor and punching him repeatedly. The kobold protested loudly, and proceeded to slam them with his warmace.
“There!” Poddle said, leaping to his feet as his attackers stumbled back. “You look much nicer without a face!”
Duerak hacked at his attacker, chopping off neatly sliced pieces of soggy seaweed, which just happened to be animate. Duerak found this very amusing. He was fighting (and winning of course) against seaweed monsters. He concurred that they were very creepy and dangerous, but still… it was rather… whimsical.
He then proceeded to own them.
The vine horror being attacked by Yeris finally retaliated brutally, and sent the poor bird flying across the ship, wounded and battered. But alive.
Poddle tried to own them as well, but he failed, swinging his warmace clumsily and not being able to react in time when another of the things hit him from behind, knocking the mace out of his hands and sliding him all over the deck.
The kobold crawled quickly and recovered his weapon, but found himself surrounded by enemies…
Nimlar fired off more arrows, slaying a vine horror and putting a few holes in another, helping out Poddle by distracting some of his adversaries from his sniper post.
Jericho hacked the head off of his vine horror opponent in one clean swipe.
Duerak chopped off one of the arms of the vine horrors… no two arms of the vine horrors, and then a couple other chunks of seaweed. He was getting the hang of fighting these nasties.
Daelis took a swing at his attacker, but only caught a glancing blow on the dodging seaweed beast. He saw out of the corner of his eye Poddle being attacked by vine horrors, but he was too occupied with this dang thing to be of any use to the kobold now. He would deal with this one first.
Nimlar fired off more missiles, lodging three in the torso of a vine horror, but not slaying it.
Vine horrors attacked both Poddle and Daelis, wounding them slightly as the kobold and the half-elf desperately tried to keep the creatures at bay.
Daelis continued to fight the vine horrors, but not very effectively.. He did score a hit, but didn’t slay the seaweed monster, and put him in an awkward position which provoked the vine horror into attacking again. He managed to block the strike, but he was getting annoyed at the non-dead state of these enemies.
Duerak chopped at a vine horror, and shockingly, forgot to cover himself from attack, and the second vine horror got a clean blow in, a serious blow. The half-dwarf was knocked to the floor, gasping in pain, shocked by his mistake.
Determination burned in his eyes.
Jericho chanted quickly and then pointed his palm at the vine horrors, blasting them with a ray of lightning, which arced across their bodies with crackling static.
They roared with unearthly power and came on.
Duerak tried to make up for his mistake by making a successful and effective lunge, but he missed again.
Things were turning fast…
Daelis used his bard abilites to daze a vine horror, then stabbed into another one with his rapier, cutting out some of its seaweed.
Disgusting, the swashbuckler thought.
Poddle swung his warmace and killed a vine horror, adding another body to the layout of the battlefield (aka the deck of the ship).
Nimlar fired off more arrows from the crow’s nest, scoring some minor hits against the vine horrors, but nothing spectacular.
Jericho fired off another bolt of energy, seriously damaging another vine horror. It looked to be on its last legs, barely able to still keep fighting.
Duerak cut into another vine horror, determined to kill the thing, but only succeeded in cutting of an arm, which would grow back quickly.
Another vine horror behind Jericho lunged at the duskblade, who was focused on his spellcasting and didn’t see it coming. Nimlar saw, however, and tried to get an arrow drawn. He knew he wouldn’t make it in time, so he called out.
The swashbuckler reacted with utmost precision and speed. Stepping back slightly from his foes, whipping out his crossbow, and plunging a bolt into the neck of the vine horror, slaying it.
Jericho nodded his thanks.
Poddle charged at a nearby vine horror, slamming it in the legs and knocking it to the ground in a blur of seaweed.
The seaweed monster was quick, however, and recovered, attacking both Poddle and Daelis in a quick motion. Fortunately, the two were quick as well, and dodged the desperate blows easily.
Another vine horror slammed Duerak, and the warrior was still surprised by the well-timed attack. These things were dangerous…
Nimlar continued to stream arrows out from his bow, striking a horror in the chest with three arrows, but not quite bringing it down.
Jericho took a swing at the vine horror, but missed. He cursed himself under his breath.
Duerak slayed another vine horror with a mighty swing from his axe, relishing the combat with the creatures. He loved fighting…
Poddle slammed his warmace down again onto the vine horror, sending seaweed bits flying in every which-way direction. The creature retaliated, however, hitting Poddle with a quick punch but missing Daelis, who dodged the clumsy side-swipe the thing made.
Two arrows suddenly poked out from the chest of the vine horror, and it fell to the deck, dead.
“Huzzah!” Nimlar shouted from his post, giving a quick salute to the pair below.
The elf drew an arrow again and then shot it into the eye of another vine horror, quickly falling back into his rhythm.
Duerak fell back, wounded once again by a vine horror. It looked to be the last one, judging from the emptiness of the deck. An arrow hit the seaweed monster and it fell, felling the last one.
It was over…
Dozens of more vine horrors could be seen gathering around the Sea Wyvern, whispering the word “outsiders” over and over again, but for some reason, no more attacks came. The heroes watched wearily til the morn, and when the first light of the day came peeking over the horizon, the children of the sargasso were gone.
Saturday, October 9th, 1234 AY
The party was now determined that they needed to find and destroy the Heart before the next night, or else they would be overwhelmed. They barely held off the last assault. They needed to end it.
They noticed that towards the east, the swath of seaweed seemed to darken, possibly indicating that there was more than just a seaweed plain in that direction.
The heroes had already figured that east was the direction they should try, and this only strengthened their ideas. They had Rapton heal them and then got their weapons together.
Then they set out to kill the Heart.
They trudged through the swath of seaweed, intent on their target and cautious in their mindset. After long hours of travel, they saw what was making the eastern direction look darker. The normal seaweed plain was replaced with a literal kelp forest, made of large bunches of seaweed clumped together like bushes and trees.
Behind them, the heroes saw the children of the sargasso slowly following them, possibly wanting to protect the Heart from trespassers. Luckily, the heroes were almost there. Unluckily, the vine horrors were cutting off their only route of escape.
They would have to see this through to the end… or die.
The heroes traversed through the kelp forest, and closer to the center of the sargasso, and eventually discovered something lodged at the Heart of the land—the wreck of a caravel called the Thunderer.
As the party approached the ship, they heard a strange whispering voice in their minds—not so much words so much as a mental beacon.
They looked back across the sargasso and saw the entire place coming alive. Hundreds of vine horrors continued to make their way towards them, intent on their destruction.
The heroes entered the Thunderer.
Unlike the other wrecks, the original skeletons of the crew remained aboard, soggy bones mingled with broken chests, weapons, and rigging. The wreck itself was nearly sunken into the weed.
It was a mere five-foot climb to clamber onto the main deck, where the heroes readied their weapons and prepared themselves for the horrors they might find below.
The lower decks were accessible from above, but were located below the level of the weed surface. Along the walls, fronds and feelers of seaweed protruded and twitched.
They did a cursory search of the upper deck, which yielded nothing, and then ventured into the depths…
“Outsiders…” The word was whispered, but the source was unclear.
The heroes searched frantically for their enemy, and were suddenly besieged by all sides by vine horrors.
Six, to be exact.
They all died.
Then… everyone woke up.
They were still standing in front of the Thunderer. It was a dream of some sort, possibly the influence of the foul presence of the sargasso.
The heroes shook off the haunting dream, and entered the ship for real this time. They proceeded to the lower decks and were ambushed by three vine horrors.
Nimlar fired off three arrows—a single and a double shot—almost blindingly fast at a vine horror as it burst from the wall. The plant monster jerked back in pain, three missiles protruding from its chest.
Poddle rushed to the wall, using his slippers to walk along its surface and attack a vine horror. He missed.
Nimlar took a step back and let loose some more arrows, but these were not as fortuitous, and all missed.
Jericho did a blade of blood and cut into one of the vine horrors with his imbued blade, severing a chunk of weed.
Duerak charged at the fourth vine horror, hacking the seaweed monster with his battle axe and letting a sizable chunk of the weed fall to the rotting wood floor.
Daelis took two quick swipes at one of the seaweed creatures—the same one Jericho was attacking—but the vine horror managed to dodge them, whispering the mantra “Outsiders…”, once more.
The vine horror being surrounded by Jericho and Daelis unleashed its fury on the two companions, slamming into them with its powerful “fists” of seaweed. Both were knocked away, stunned and dazed, but relatively intact.
Duerak’s attacker struck him as well, and the half-dwarf gritted his teeth as he heard something snap.
Poddle took another swing at his enemy, but the vine horror moved quickly and avoided the awkwardly placed kobold, who still hung from the wall.
Nimlar launched another arrow directly into the face of the vine horror in front of him, slaying the creature.
Jericho killed his vine horror with a slash with his longsword, and Duerak finished off his a moment later, ending the battle.
Nimlar scavenged a few arrows off of the creatures’ bodies, and then the party set off deeper into the wreck of the Thunderer, except for Duerak, who vouched to stay up top to make sure none of the other vine horrors flanked them.
They came to the hold of the ship, and therein lay what all adventurers love—treasure.
They got about a thousand gold each, four scrimshaw carvings each depicting one of the four seasons, a silver candelabra, and a barnacle-covered shield depicting men being devoured by sharks.
They also found a water-tight bone scroll tube containing arcane scrolls of hold monster, waves of fatigue, and permanency.
As they were gathering up the treasure, another group of vine horrors attacked them, still whispering the chant “Outsiders…”
Nimlar sprung into action, firing off his arrows point blank at the vine horrors and ripping through the creature with fury.
The vine horror roared an unearthly roar, then slammed Nimlar into the wall of the ship, knocking the ranger unconscious.
Jericho slashed into the vine horror, cutting a chunk of plant off, and Poddle slammed the second one as well, hitting also and damaging the two vine horrors considerably.
Nimlar managed to stabilize, so he didn’t lose any more blood, but he was still in danger of being attacked while he was down.
A vine horror hit Pddloe with a back-hand swing, but the kobold took it and continued to fight, slamming into the creature with his warmace.
Daelis slashed the vine horror once, and managed to cause some damage, but nothing considerable.
The vine horror retaliated and punched the swashbuckler with both of its vegetative fists, battering the poor half-elf.
The second vine horror took a swing at Jericho, wounding the duskblade.
Daelis brought his rapier up and stabbed into his enemy with all his might, puncturing the torso and spilling out a pile of soggy seaweed intestines.
Jericho finished it off with a final beheading.
Daelis moved to the last vine horror and slashed it across the back, helping Poddle with his fight.
Jericho finished that one off too.
After giving Nimlar some healing potions, the heroes continued on…
When they finally reached the lowest level of the ship, in the aft hold labeled “the Maw”, the heroes came to the lair of the Mother-of-All.
They had found the Heart of the sargasso.
A huge section of the hull had rotted away there, leaving a stinking pit with walls of writhing green and brown vegetation. These walls writhed with horrible half-formed life, semi-human shapes twisting and spasming from thick tumescent stalks like anthropomorphic fruits ready for harvest. The pit dropped away into a noisome, unseen depth, certainly far deeper than sea level, into an unknown abyss below.
The heroes ventured recklessly to the edge of the pit, and looked down to see the Mother-of-All, a dislocated sack of foul smelling vegetation that was wreathed in screaming humanoid forms that struggled to free themselves from the foul flesh. A vast distended belly bathed in foul green mucus hung from the vaguely humanoid form. Infantile cries echoed from the hideous passengers that slowly pulled themselves from their mother. Twenty feet tall, this grotesque hybrid of woman and plan was a nightmare of mucoid arms and clustered eyes. It was a deviant thing of rot, a pyramidal bulk that rose to a head of eyes and barbed, thorny teeth.
Nimlar aimed his bow down the pit, firing an arrow at the ugly aberration. The missile hit with a furious momentum, striking the Mother in the torso and silencing one of her screaming children.
Jericho shot an arrow down as well, but he missed, not having as good of accuracy as his elven companion.
Poddle squeezed to the rim of the pit as well, and fired off his crossbow at the still-surprised Mother-of-All, scoring a nice hit on the bloated creature.
The heroes thought themselves safe to be at the rim of the pit, since it was a hundred feet to the bottom, and it would take the Mother quite a while to climb up the abyss and attack them.
They were wrong. And that mistake almost cost their lives.
The Mother-of-All sank into the seaweed wall of the pit.
And reappeared at the top of the hole.
Where the heroes were standing.
The Mother sent one of her limbs clawing at Nimlar, striking the elf and drawing considerable blood, almost downing him. She also bit into Jericho’s arm, savagely tearing through his skin and muscle.
This was no cake walk.
Nimlar quickly swigged a potion, but while he was distracted, the Mother took the opportunity to attack the ranger, scoring a vital wound on him.
The ranger retaliated by drawing his bow and firing point-blank into the Mother’s eye.
Jericho took out the staff he had gotten from the ettercap shaman almost weeks ago, and proceeded to use the magic stored within. He attempted to summon a swarm of spiders, but the infantile vine horrors that clung to the body of the Mother attacked him, distracting him and causing him to fail in the casting of the spell.
They tore him apart.
He was almost falling into unconsciousness, but he held on for his life…
Daelis slashed at the Mother, but her hard seaweed-encrusted hide deflected the blow, and it seemed to do nothing at all.
Jericho, in his last attempt to attack the Mother, shot a ray of lightning at her… which did nothing. She was immune to electricity.
Poddle stepped back and drank a potion, but this provoked the Mother into an attack, wounding him even as he healed himself with the elixir.
The Mother-of-All attacked Daelis, cutting a gaping wound across his torso.
Nimlar withdrew, fleeing from the Mother and getting out of range of her terrible claws. He stayed at the doorway, intending to shoot arrows from there.
Poddle rushed forward and attacked the Mother, scoring a hit with his warmace.
The Mother attacked Daelis, scoring more hits on him and felling the swashbuckler.
Daelis lay on the deck, bleeding out…
Poddle smashed the Mother again, but it was deflected by the seaweed hide.
In return, the Mother-of-All killed him.
Nimlar had to choose.
He had to choose who to save.
The elf got out his rope and grappling hook and threw it at his choice, catching the person on the belt with the hook.
He chose Daelis.
Pulling with all his might, the elf got Daelis away from the Mother-of-All.
Unfortunately, Jericho paid for that choice. He was eaten by the Mother-of-All, dragged to a watery doom…
Just then, Duerak appeared.
Nimlar healed Daelis by shoving a potion down his throat, helping him regain his health and his consciousness.
Daelis and Nimlar ran.
Duerak grabbed Poddle’s body, and also ran.
The Mother-of-All followed.
The heroes ran for their lives, the Mother right on their tail, until they reached the deck of the Thunderer. The party saw something flying in the distance…
Daegoth riding on Fang.
Fang slammed into the Mother-of-All, knocking her off the deck of the ship. Then the dragon proceeded to kill her.
The mother collapsed in on herself and died—a writhing mass of rotting vegetation that howls and shrieks until finally it lies still. A moment later, the sargasso itself wakened, as the countless vine horrors that still lived within felt the death of their Mother. Without her to hold their forms, they rapidly fell apart into sludge. A few moments after that, the sargasso shuddered and shook as it began to unravel from the center.
The Thunderer sank into the waves.
Sunday, October 10th, 1234 AY
The party, alive, but now barely holding on to life aboard driftwood and wreckage (and Fang).
The darkness of night dissipated, as the dawn shone out the clearer.
After about three hours of floundering around, the heroes saw something on the horizon.
The Sea Wyvern.
The ship pulled alongside the floating heroes, and a familiar face appeared: Amella.
“Need any help there?” she said, smirking.
Amella (and the rest of the crew) was saddened greatly by the death of Poddle and Jericho.
Tavey was shocked at his master’s death.
Fortunately though, the other members of the party quickly informed the crew and passengers of the possibility of resurrection, if they could find a cleric…
The heroes remembered a powerful cleric on the Blue Nixie, which brought up another question. What about Lavinia?
Fang informed the party that Lavinia was perfectly fine, and they had just been blown off course, like the heroes had. She was fine and informed them to just continue and meet at Farshore.
The heroes decided to strap Poddle and Jericho’s bodies on Fang, and then send them to the Blue Nixie to get resurrected. Poddle’s money was used to pay for the material costs of the raising for himself, but in Jericho’s case, there was a dilemma.
The duskblade had nowhere near enough gold to pay for the resurrection, and the other members of the party weren’t going to chip in.
But they asked Lavinia (in a note attached to Fang) to pay for the duskblade’s raising, in exchange for working for free for her until the debt was paid off.
Wednesday, October 13th, 1234 AY
On Wednesday Fang returned, this time with two alive and well heroes: Jericho and Poddle.
They sailed on…
Thursday, October 14th, 1234 AY
Only five days after the Sea Wyvern escaped the clutches of the sargasso, she encountered her greatest threat yet.
As the sun dawned, the day was overcast and grim, and Nimlar sat in the crow’s nest, watching the horizon.
He noticed something off the starboard bow—land.
The ragged, jungle-choked peaks of the Isle of Dread loomed on the horizon.
The sight of land brought a cheer to the crew and passengers, and consultation with sea charts confirmed it—the Sea Wyvern had nearly reached her goal. All that remained was to sail down the eastern coast to Farshore.
Alas, by the time the morn had become noon, it was obvious that fate had something else in store for the ship. The rain began shortly thereafter, and by two o’clock a second storm was in full force, much more powerful than the first.
Not quite a hurricane, but close.
The _Sea Wyvern crashed around in the storm, and eventually lost their sense of direction, the wall of rain and cloud choking their vision. They bounced wildly through the waves, almost tipping numerous times, but somehow the skill of Amella and Jericho kept them from sinking just yet.
For several hours, they were lucky and managed to keep the ship from rolling or washing, and the Sea Wyvern kept relatively intact. But at about five o’clock, that luck ended.
The ship suddenly rocked violently to the side as it slid down the face of a large swell. The wave was huge, almost impossibly huge, and various people on board were knocked from their feet as the ship hit the swell.
Fang seemed to fall off of the ship, plunging into the depths of the ocean in a huge splash of seawater.
They wouldn’t know the real story until much, much later.
The swell passed, and the ship was still intact, though less a few crew and passengers.
Soon after though, a wash came. The ship plowed into another oncoming swell, causing the surf to wash over the deck, potentially able to sweep anyone off deck and into the ocean.
Daelis slipped and fell, pushed by the water over the edge of the ship… but luckily he managed to grab on to a stray bit of rigging and save himself.
Another wave of surf came, but everyone managed to steady themselves (even Daelis, who was hanging precariously over the edge of the ship), except for poor Banaby Chisk, Avner’s only servant since Quenge was killed.
He was taken by the depths, and was never seen again.
After the ship defeated the wash, another mishap occurred.
Suddenly, a tremendous lurch struck the ship and the sound of splintering wood filled the air. The Sea Wyvern came to a sudden stop, and the heroes, though caught off guard, managed to keep from falling over.
Waves crashed against the ship, which now leaned perilously to the port, and with a side-ward glance down at the waves below, their suspicions were confirmed.
They were stuck on a reef.
Suddenly, a giant eel jumped out of the water.
The worm-like fish measured nearly thirty feet from tip to tail. Its face was a terrible circular maw of grinding teeth, with two beady eyes peering out from the crown of its head. Large spines rose from its sinuous back, shuddering and rattling with menace.
It was Urol’s voice, barely heard above the storm, even though he was yelling, but still enough to get the meaning.
“How do we kill it?!” Daelis yelled back, drawing his rapier as the eel hissed and slithered his way.
“Oh, the normal slice and dice!” Urol answered. “But stay away from the spines!”
The eel lunged for Jericho, who couldn’t react in time and got a chunk of flesh torn from his leg.
Nimlar then attempted to use his ranger abilities to empathize with the animal, trying to make it not attack them.
Poddle came up from the lower deck to see the eel attacking, and went into stealth mode, sneaking around the creature in order to get a good hit against it.
Daelis went into acrobat mode, gracefully leaping on top of one of the rowboats that lay on the side of the deck from his position on the upper deck, then climbed atop the railing at the edge of the ship and balanced across it, landing back on the deck right next to the eel.
And all in one sentence!
Duerak pulled out his shortbow, aiming it up at the worm-like eel and firing. Unfortunately, the storm made it difficult for the arrow to fly correctly, and it fell to the ground harmlessly.
The eel took another bite at Jericho, and this time scored a more serious blow, almost downing the duskblade with its powerful jaws.
Nimlar drew his bow as well, firing off an arrow and scoring a hit, but nothing major.
Poddle was in position by now, and surprised the eel with a well-placed blow to the head.
Jericho, in his last heartbeats before going unconscious, used his magic and teleported a short distance away from the battlefield, just far enough away to get out of the range of the eel’s deadly jaws. Then he fell to the deck as the rain fell around him, unconscious…
Daelis struck at the eel with his rapier, stabbing in deep and drawing good blood from the creature.
Duerak fired two more arrows from his shortbow, but unfortunately the storm was still interfering with his shots, since he wasn’t as good of an archer as Nimlar, so they both missed, falling with a clink to the deck.
The masher, however, had decided that this prey wasn’t as easy as it first took them to be, and high-tailed it out of there. Daelis and Poddle both got passing hits against the eel, but they both missed.
The masher left.
A few tense minutes after that, Amella managed to dislodge the Sea Wyvern off of the reef, but the storm was far from over.
Another wash came soon after that, and the heroes braced themselves for the wave of surf. Poddle was knocked off his feet, carried by the power of the water towards the edge of the ship… but saved in the nick of time by Daelis, who managed to grab him and hold on to the mast, saving them both.
After the wash ended, the storm abated somewhat, but the damage was done.
Striking the reef had holed the ship in several places, and only by putting the entire crew to work bailing can she stay afloat.
As the night grew darker, the Sea Wyvern was in poor shape indeed.
It was obvious to the heroes that their vessel would not reach Farshore—they would be lucky to reach any shore. The closest stretch of land beckoned only twenty-five miles away, where a narrow strip of beach along a thick wall of jungle might afford somewhere safe to land. The heroes told Amella to head for the beach, their best chance for survival.
The storm continued through the night.
Although the winds abated enough that there were no longer any threats of rolls or washes, it was still strong enough that the tattered ship seemed in danger of sinking at any second. Caught by the storm and the tide, the badly listing Sea Wyvern was driven toward the northern shore of the Isle of Dread, closer to the narrow strip of beach that would hopefully be safe.
The primeval vista loomed larger before the heroes through the driving rain, periodically lit by flashes of lightning.
Suddenly, the ship lurched again, throwing everyone to the deck. The Sea Wyvern tilted crazily to the side, lurched one last time, and rolled.
The cold dark sea rushed up to meet the heroes, and in a cacophonous roar of wave and ruin, all went dark…