Kingdom of Isles
308.10AM* The party of adventurers, consisting at this point of Din’dae, Khaine, Magus Enoreth and Brother Palomar spent just over a month in Rann’s Grotto following a huge, thwarted Goblin attack on the city. Exploration of the country side and attempting to find adventurer work in the city proved fruitless at this time and although the party of heroes decided such a city as Rann’s Grotto would be a perfect place to set up their chartered adventurer’s guild, they decided that it would be good to tie up loose ends, gather belongings, and say good bye to family and friends back in Akadimar. The party boarded The Sea Otter, a well fitted merchant vessel which would take them home after a short journey South to Finn Harbor. Three days out of Finn Harbor the band of heroes awoke, sickened and disoriented, upon a tropical beach under attack by three dog sized Sea Scorpions! Besides the party, there are five other castaways from the The Sea Otter and their gear had been stacked roughly in a pile nearby. After gathering their wits it is revealed by one of the other passengers that they are stranded on the treacherous Sailor’s Hook, an uncharted island steeped in sailor superstition and grizzly stories.
The party explores the shattered remains of The Sea Otter and finds the body of the cook, hidden in a pantry and the body of first mate, Valita Danvers dead from old and fresh wounds. The adventurers surmise that it must have been Danvers who saved all their lives from drowning and collected their gear before it was lost to the shark infested waters of Sailor’s Hook.
After searching the wreck of the Sea Otter the party returns to the beach with some rations, building tools and materials, Captain Kovack’s Log, a ring of keys and treasure of gold and rare wood carvings. They must figure out how to gain the trust and support of their fellow castaways, signal for a rescue or build transport that can withstand the treacherous waters and reefs that surround The Hook… and of course, survive!
After taking stock of their situation and the information at hand, the party decides the best course of action would be to head to the South-West portion of the island with their Fellow Castaways and seek out the old lighthouse that was rumored to have been abandoned just prior to completion. With the sun setting fast upon a hard day of exploration, and gathering supplies amid oppressive heat, rains, biting flies, and stinging ants the party decides to work on gathering the trust and cooperation of their Fellow Castaways. During the evening meal of fire grilled Sea Scorpion and some story telling by “Nik”. Din’dae bagan not feeling well and developed body aches, slight fever and shooting headaches, all symptoms of mindfire. Night erased any thoughts that the island was merely a bit of tropical land in the Kingdom Sea. Magus Enoreth noticed the very ocean itself taking on a greenish glow with slightly brighter points just under the surface of the waves flowing against the tide. Palomar, for but a moment, noticed a pair of watchful red eyes some distance away in the jungle during his watch. Many party members had strange dreams including seeing strange glowing red eyes, snakes and attempting to save The Sea Otter with … spoons? and the clearly dead first mate, Valita Danvers who had saved the parties life.
The next day, the adventurers and Fellow Castaways set out South until they reached the inner shoreline of The Hook and then followed it as best they could. Given the rough jungle terrain, Din’dae’s suffering from mindfire and Ness Ramora secretly suffering from alcohol withdraw, the party only covered roughly four miles.
At the end of the second night on The Hook the group sets up camp near a river with a large growth of Viper Nettles growing on its banks. Khaine remembered this plant and its uses were briefly described in the Celia’s journal and Palomar deemed it important enough to brave its six inch sharp red thorns and harvest its fruit. Fully harvested, the berries provided medicinal benefits against illness, curing Din’dae of his affliction and easing Ness Ramora alcohol withdrawal. Feeling grateful for the aid on her behalf, Ness decided to trust Palomar with an epic poem she had been crafting for some time now and asked for his opinion of the unfinished work. Also while setting up camp, Din’dae noticed the tracks of two humanoids and, surmising that they were the tracks of Celia and Captain Kovack. The group, after talking with the other castaways and sharing their theories that they were shipwrecked on the island on purpose, decided to force march after them the following morning in the hopes of catching up, getting answers and finding a way off The Hook.
For days the party forced them selves to march forward, only stopping for short breaks and to camp at night. The heat, terrain and constant bitting of insects made this not only difficult but near torture. Twice the party encountered bands of canniblals along their path. Evidence of other shipwrecks dampened their hopes of getting off the island on their own by water. Every few nights a mysterious flying creature would torment them while staying out of sight.
Finally the survivors of The Sea Otter made it to the old lighthouse on the islands Southern coast only to find it had become the long time home of the Red Fang Cannibals. After arduously picking their way through a no mans land of traps that ringed the camp, designed to hobble any man or beast approaching from any direction but the road, the party rushed the camp and attacked the eaters of flesh by surprise. Molgusworshipers poured from the huts like angry ants from an anthill. So great was the cannibals desire for the parties death that they threw themselves in to the frey without care, even chopping threw the walls of a near by hut which blocked the way. At one point a pillar of utter blackness shot from the earth to the sky and those that were within could see nothing but they could smell the rot of the grave. Enoreth suspected that a spell caster of foul magics was inside a lone hut but walking skeletons joined the combat preventing a quick search. Even the wild eyed leader of the flesh eaters eventually joined the combat and the jungle echoed with shouts of rage, the ring of steel and cries of death.
In the end, after despatching crazed leader of the Red Fang Cannibals, the camp was explored, secured and renamed by the adventures “Camp Soverign”.
Early the next day “Nik” got to work on dismantling, so as to repair, the light at the top of the lighthouse while Din’dae, Khaine, Enoreth and Palomar decided to explore a hole that decends in to the earth located net to the lighthouse.
The hole decended some twenty feet into the earth as a gapeing tomb entrance. The first large chamber thay cam to held the smell of decay thick in the air with a series of small low alcoves and two undead feral guardians known as Festrogs. After defeating the twisted creatures cursed or favored by Molgus the pary descovered a scrawled message left, it seemed, by Captain Kovack.
I am Captain Landru Kovack, betrayer of my crew and destroyer of the good ship Sea Otter. Hell would be a welcome escape from what hideous unlife looms before me, but it is no less a punishment than I deserve. That I was enslaved mind and body to a serpentine demon who wore a Sands woman skin does not pardon me. It is my weakness that led The Sea Otter , her crew, and her passengers to their doom. It was my hand that took up arms against my first mate Danvers as she fought to change course away from this cursed spit of land. That Celia has abandoned me here is nothing more than the fate I deserve. I do not beg forgiveness, but I despair that she lives still, and that she seeks something dire on this forsaken isle—she seemed particularly interested in Red Mountain. If you read this and you be a kind soul, seek out what I have become and destroy me, and then seek out Celia and slay her as well. And to those whose lives I have helped destroy, I can only apologize from this, my dark cradle and darker grave.
In the next cavern, twisting downward into the earth like some twisting throat, the explorers granted the first part of Captain Kovack’s last request and destroyed the Molgus raised creature he had become.
A few more caverns remained and the party found evidence of a cave in caused by the clashing of powerful magics. More undead ghouls of an aquatic nature were found already destroyed with large holes blasted through their rotted rib cage as if stricken from behind as if in ambush or surprise. One long chamber evoked the feel of an ancient, hideous cathedral. The walls carved with images of humanoid serpents coiling around and eating hapless women and children, and stranger scenes. In the northern end, an immense carving of a snake’s head loomed with an ash-caked door clenched in its jaws. On the floor are several empty glass vials. The now temple to Molgus had been transformed from an earlier temple to an unknown God, later descovered to be Sithyiis. In the inner sanctum the party found wall carvings showing images of anthropomorphic serpents using strange, pointed megaliths of
stone to work great feats of magic—transforming an army of humans into zombies, calling down flaming bolts of lightning from the stars, or parting the waters of the sea to dash human
ships upon the exposed rocks of the seabed below. Thie final image seems to have been recently cleaned of dust, and several lines of text have been made more legible via the application of inks and perhaps blood. Near at hand the party discovered a hasty translation in which read…
To Command the Very Tides to Rise Up and Eschew What Lies Below:
Empower the Four Sentinel Runes with the Blood of a Thinking
Creature Tempered by the Kiss of a Serpent’s Tongue.
Anoint the Tide Stone with Waters Brought from the Sea in a Vessel of
Invoke the Lord’s Sacred Name to Wrap His Coils around the Sea Itself
that He Might Lay Bare What Lies Below and Cast Down Your Enemies
on the Waves above.__
The party was able to identify that the mountain in the carvings was one located on the South East end of the island and remembered seeing a bolt of lightning arch into the sky the morning they attacked the cannibal camp. This filled the explorers with a since of urgency and dread that the foul Celia was STILL a step ahead of them and may have gained access to a great and ancient power.
Quickly returning to the surface the party made hasty preperations to make haste to Red Mountain while Nik continued to work on the lighthouse light. upon reaching the mountain, the adventurers recreated the ritual which takes the better part of an hour, and watched as the entire bay drained of water to reveal an old submerged shipwreck and a double doored entrance to a truely ancient temple complex.
But before they can advance in to the unknown, they are set upon by a winged horror that resembles the Old Kingdom myths of a creature known as a Harpy. They also believe this to be the red eyed lurker in the night that has stalked them since the first night on the island. After a quick fight, Enoreth uses his magics to blind the beast and it flies off over the bay and beyond the explorers reach.
Inside the first chamber the party finds and defeats ancient skeletal serpent guards and finds long forgotten, but tiny tunnels. upon exploring more of the complex, they find pivoting pit traps and come to an odd room with a stone tub filled with softly rippling warm blood. Just after they enter the room a trap is sprung that causes red streaked bronze doors to seal the room as a blade swings down from above and slices through the room 3 times until the locking trigger is found and activated.
Celia continued to flee from combat deep inside the submerged temple of Molgus/ Sithyiis that had lain hidden below the waters of Sailor’s Hook. Magus Enoreth and Palomar gave chase, all three in a form of whispy vapor due to the influence of the ancient, now failing, magic of the temple. Leaving Khaine and Din’dae battleing the vile Seed of Molgus withen the inner sanctum, Celia led the heroes across the main temple and passed as mist through iron bars at the far end of vile chamber. Water born minerals had calcified and hidden all but the faintest traces of craftsmanship in this mostly flooded chamber that had served as the lair of the Seed of Molgus for decades but Celia seemed to know where she was going and ascended to the ceiling and in her gaseous form passed through small fissures in the stone. Magus Enoreth and Palomar continued pursuit and despite not being able to perceive where Celia had gone due to the twisting, non-linear nature of the natural cracks through which they passed, Palomar had faith that traveling ever upwards would leed them to their quarry. Reaching the surface on the hills of The Hook, sunlight passed through their vaporous bodies where the thick jungle canopy did not completely block it out and the heroes could see they were a mere score of paces apart with the misty form of Celia between them and heading East at the slow pace her smoke like body would allow. Through trees and brush, down into gullys and over deadfalls she led them. Even Enoreth’s quick thinking could not figure out her end game. It was now clearly apparent that she could not loose her pursuers or travel any faster than they. Did she have some allies near or some raft or boat that she hoped to reach and escape on? At the slow pace the chase seemed to last much longer than it actually did but eventually the two adventures found themselves above the sea, salt spray passing harmlessly through their vaporous forms. Both knew the spell could not last long enough to get them to the mainland or even one of the other known islands of the Inner Sea and Celia would surely know this as well. Perhaps she realized she was trapped for her form stopped, now beyond the dangerous reefs that seemed to ring the hounted Island of Sailor’s Hook. A silent standoff between the heroes and the one responsable for the deaths of the crew of The Sea Otter, the bespelled Captain Kovack and First Mate Danvers who had lost her life after saveing all the survivors from the cold grasp of the islands haunted waters. Without warning the reptilian form of Celia coalesced from the gaseous cloud and splashed head first in to the sea below. In a moment she was off, Quicker than any Human of Elf could swim, her sleek, scaled form naturally allowed her to be faster in the water and much faster than they could float in their current form. With little choice remaining the pair loathfully floated back to the shoreline, just in time before the spell effect wore off. Now, back in solid human form with the sun setting in a few hours they wove their way back up the hill and would make their way back to the temple entrance. They had no indication that Din’dae or Khaine had followed them out of the complex, and though they would get there after dark, it would be the most likely place to find the pair and camp for the night, if the waters of the bay had not rose back to their natural levels and once again covered the entrance to the ancient structure. Even carrying the weight of frustration, having lost their prey once more, with the source of evil on the island destroyed, travel through the twisted undergrowth was more easy than their first few days on the island.
Turning, the last tree shrouded bend in the trail leading to the base of the falls, the pair could see by the pure white light of Palomar’s Sovereign Crosier a small camp near the waters edge. Khaine was wearing a half dry common undershirt with his armor and most of his belongings propped up to dry by a small fire and Din’dae… Din’dae was there but twisted and wrong looking somehow, as if he and the Snake like form of Celia had been forced together by a cruel hand. This nights tales by the camp fire would not be happy, even if Nik were here to tell them.
The four brothers in arms decided not to stay where Khaine and Din’dae had started their fire fearing the return of the Harpy while they slept unawares. At sun up the next day they awoke and returned to Camp Sovereign. Din’dae made himself busy checking the no-mans-land of snares and spiked pits that ringed the camp as he would each and every time they returned while Palomar spent time with each and every Castaway to make sure they fared well during their absense.
The next morning, having decided that they would seek other adventure, as they still could not escape the Hook , the heroes as well as Shiro Gokset off in search of a fabled treasure indicated on one of Shiro’s many maps. Spending four or Five hours of the morning to climp to the top of Bald Mountain they could feel the chill air in the late Fall breeze, a stark contrast to the sweltering heat of the rest of the island. True to the Map, a shaft was discovered, roughly ten by ten and another ten feet down lay a wooden plug made of logs as well as a dead body of a Dwarf engineer. After examination, it was descovered that the shaft continued much further down beyond the wooden plug. Khaine decided there was no other way, and so he lowered himself in to the utter blackness of the shaft. Once at the bottom he found bones, blackened with age, rot and mold as well as two bodies later determined to be undead which had lost their spark of un-life due to the actions of the party destroying the alter in the Serpent temple. More exploration found one of the lost treasures of Quelg Lemar and Shiro, true to his word,took only an equal share to those that helped him find this treasure.
On their way back to Camp Sovereign the party was confronted with an illusion of a ten foot visage of a portly halfling who, after a brief scuffle with the party, introduced himself as Jemmrand Sorrowtongue. Dressed in rags and seeming slightly … askew of mind … Jemmrand decided to join the party and went to Camp Sovereign with them.
Despite being a bit “touched” from months of isolation, and terror Jemmrand actually was good company for the other Castaways.
The next day the adventurers set out again, Din’dae was reluctant, even if there was a way, to leave the island. First they discovered a ruined, but some what inshrined clearing and hut. This spot was a mystery until they found the log of Captain Leven Berkocci. A tale of shipwreck and cannibalism is decyphered from inside.
Jemmrand tells the party about an area of the island shunned by the Red Fang Cannibals. The party climbs this other rarely used trail and encounters the spirit, Aycenia.
Some type of exotic Dryad. This nature spirit seemed to speak with power, yet warmth and made a deal with Din’dae to destroy an “evil blight” to the North that she herself could not face for fear of being destroyed. Returning to Camp Sovereign for the evening the entire company is in high spirits due to “Nik” finally getting the lighthouse beacon in working order.
The next day Aycenia, true to her word, performed a ceremony which would releive the horrific curse suffered by Din’dae for up to ten days. And so they set out North, along the coast and after several more hours spotted the Silent Island of which the Dryad spoke.
The islet was covered with what at first appeared to be rotted vegetation but on closer inspection was a vast variety of fungi, Tall stalks of grey fleshed fungi grew seven and eight feet tall, wispy tendrils hung like leaves, slime coated carpets of mushrooms grew in great abundance, all seems to wriggle and ripple even when there’s no breeze to
stir its filaments and dangling sheets and all smelled of rot.
The heroes decided to circle the isle as best they could and eventually found A fifty-foot-high pillar of fungus-covered rock thrusting up from the surf, angling away from the main body of the island to the west. The rock was connected to the main island by thick tangles of fibrous fungus, that provided a way to cross the churning surf below. Inside a small cave in the spire lay the remains of the brave Captain of the Nightvoice, here he took a fungal bulb to hide it away from the world and keep humanity safe, but not long after he arrived at this location, the bulb finally burst and covered him with its spores. Feeling the burning of the sun’s rays, the quickly changing captain staggered into this cave, where
his fungal transformation became complete. The captain still lived, after a fashion, although he was now a bloated tower of foul purple fungus growing along the wall of the cave, little more than a skeleton covered with a thin layer of violet fungal “flesh” that periodically twitches and writhes and moans. The Vegepygmies of the island hear his moans in the form of dream-like urges, and worshiped the once-human creature as a sort of God. Their offerings lined the cave entrance, but none of them dared venture into
the cave to dishonor their God’s privacy. In fact, the Vegepygmies were not far off from treating the creature as a God, for what was once the good Captain was transformed into what is essentially a malformed, fiendish violet fungus, a semi-anthropomorphic monstrosity linked to Molgus, from whom the strange fungal bulb was long ago excreted. The bulb itself was long gone, having fulfilled its purpose by transforming the captain and his crew into fungal monsters. This mindless fungal monstrosity has no memory of its previous existence as a man, and was content to grow in peace until its lair was intruded upon. Ripping free from the cave wall with a hideous, wet tearing sound. It appeared as a drooping, vaguely humanoid mass of purple fungus and twitching violet strands, pulling itself along with its tendrils. This was the source of Evil, which Aycenia spoke of and shortly after it’s death, all fungal life on the island began to rapidly die off and “melt” into masses of green, brown and grey sludge that would evaporate or wash away with time.
Continuing around the Isle, the party also found the remains of a ship. This once proud exploration vessel of the Farstrider Society was now a wreak covered in a soft grey coating of fungus, it’s “sails” now pale sheets of a slimy membrane. It had been used as the lair for a small tribe of Vegepygmies and in it’s eerie, sticky depths, the party found some of these creatures including their chief, a larger, more disgusting version of the rest, as well as the remains of the enshrined Human bodies the Vegepygmies had originally come from. In the Captains cabin, a moldy log was found the positively identified the ship as the Nightvoice which “Nik” had suspected but was unsure, was on the island, as well, it records the captains efforts to hide the source of the evil that turned his crew in to the horrid creatures they had become.
_“ … carry the
blasphemous pod up to the top of a rock spire to the East of
this island in an attempt to hide it away from the prying
eyes of humanity… _
on the way back to camp, the party was also able to find and capture a young “flying lizard”, known to most as a fangbird, a creature she had expressed an interest in attempting to train many times since being on the island.
A few days later, as the party was returning from daily exploration, it turned out a ship had indeed spotted the light from the repaired lighthouse and sent a boat to investigate. Captain Alrik Tegerton agreed to take the heroes and the rest of the Castaways back to the city of Akadimar on board his vessel, the Lazy Gull.
Upon arriving back in the city that most of the heroes grew up in, the Jewel in the Isles crown, the learned city of Akadimar, the heroes as well as the crew of the Lazy Gull were shocked and shaken to discover that during the time they have been away, the city was assaulted by massed forces intent on destruction and chaos. Much of the waterfront district had been heavily damaged and burned to the ground during the assault. The city was on High alert, soldiers, recruits and militia were on every corner attempting to keep order and looking out for suspicious characters. After getting clearance to disembark, the party quickly ran in to an old acquaintance, Evana, during the battle of Rann’s Grotto she was unsure of every move she made though she was willing to risk her life to protect wounded soldiers. Apparently she was in the waterfront district during the assault and showed much greater resolve and courage to protect helpless non-combatants. From her, and many other sources the party hears that those who nearly succeeded in burning the city to the ground were a mixture of Pirates from Darkharbor, large “hairy, muscled, horned demons” and “scaled walking lizards from the sea”.
In a very short time the members of the party saw to various personal errands seeing old family and friends.
Finding that their old haunt The Adept had been appropriated by the remains of the Golden Gryphons, the party met at a seedy, but now very popular tavern across town, The Pit Fighter. Din’dae and Khaine announced that through their military contacts they were able to determine a reasonably accurate location for the lost city referred to in the ancient writings back in the ruins on Sovereign Isle. The two friends also revealed that although rumors abounded that Crown Prince Veritar had attempted to overthrow his father, Bernhardt III, they had been told this was completely false and believed that forces within the government had been compromised.
None the less, they had managed to get themselves and the rest of the party members assigned to locating this lost city, claiming any lost treasure and or knowledge in the name of the crown and determining if any dangers presented a danger to Kingdom interest. Two days later they were once again on a ship bound for new horizons.
Upon arrival in the city of New Denwhich, The Alliance set out right away searching for a local guide to take them to Temple of Ebonpool where it is believed a cure for Dindae’s curse may be found or that perhaps The Oracle of Ebonpool may be able to point the heroes in the right direction if not. In the mean time the troops assigned to be under the heroes leadership would continue on directly to Fort Pliskin via river transport.
After asking around town, the party located and obtained the services of a tracker who went by the name of Dirty Deetz. Deetz had amazingly expensive prices for his services and had amazingly bad hygiene as well, but either by luck, or through skill, the old tracker lived up to his reputation and led The Alliance straight to the very doorstep of the Abbey at Ebonpool where they came across a small group of undead and a self proclaimed “undead hunter” and orphan, Khamahn Spadesmen who had been raised by the monks since he was found roaming the woods after his family had been killed.
After climbing the dangerous Cliffside trail up to the Temple, the heroes met some of the brothers as well as Father Abbot Brophius. He agreed to let the party meet with the The Oracle. Through her visions and the translations of the priest, the the party is told that indeed, a cure for the ancient curse that Din’dae had been afflicted with existed. Although not set as a condition for the cure, Father Brophius beseeched the party to help the Temple. He explained that they were fighting a slowly loosing battle against an unknown evil that existed in the old salt mines that ran through the heart of the mountain. The party agreed and set out the next morning. Deetz offered to assist the party but was only allowed to guide them to the entrance of the mines. Inside The Alliance faced undead creatures bursting from the ground, walls and even the ceiling of the old mine, desiccated from the salty environment, their very touch seemed to drain both vital fluids stamina out of the body. Deep inside, the heroes came upon a hollow sphere that had been broken decades before, that pulsed with a sickly blue light. After finishing off the salt crusted abominations, the party destroyed the sphere as well determining that this was the source of the evil in the mines and also a regenerating area for the undead.
On returning to the Abbey with the good news, Father Brophius was delighted but subdued and distracted. Some members were granted private audiences with The Oracle of Ebonpool. Palomar was led to the chapel and told the contents of an old chest, now belonged to him. Inside were some old clothes and mundane personal belongings of the long dead Simeon the Exemplar as well as the Holy Mantle of the Exemplar. Khaine was bid to dip his heirloom weapon in to the waters of the Ebon pool and after so doing, the sword was transubstantiated in to Ebon Fang. The Dirge Bard Jemmrand Sorrowtongue spent many hours alone in the caver of the Ebon Pool, and though the details are fuzzy, when he emerged he had the Mark of Kandhara which he didn’t share with the party, but took no pains to hide it either. had acquired a Book of lost lore and retreated to his room to study it’s pages in solitude.
The next day brought triumph and heartbreak. Upon gathering at the chapel, the party was informed that The Oracle of Ebonpool herself had passed away during the night after giving detailed instructions to the Father Abbot. He had no answers for the heroes, he did not know why she had to die, only that she said it was a price she was willing to pay.
All of the monks, pilgrims, local guardsmen and a few woodsmen all took place in the ceremony to cure Din’dae, and although some lost consciousness, no permanent harm was done and Din’dae was cured. Some who were in attendance reported seeing Brophius in a ghostly, spiritual battle with deadly Aspari.