March 20, 2008 - May 8, 2008
The evening began as the party boarded the Scarlet Lady, a modest, 3-masted coracle with a masthead of a woman in a flowing red gown. As the characters climbed onto deck, they became aware of a gnawing fear that seemed to permeate the ship. A search of the captain's quarters yielded his logbook, which described a long and fearful voyage north, during which most of the crew became increasingly afraid of something that they sensed below deck, and began to abandon the ship, despite the fact that they had little hope of surviving in the stormy northern waters. The logbook revealed that a storm had pushed the scarlet Lady far north, and that the captain and his few remaining crew had anchored the ship in the shallow bay of the spired island and abandoned it.
The logbook also revealed that the Scarlet Lady had previously made a voyage to Zuwarah, in Iberia, to deliver a cargo of slaves. In Zuwarah, an eminent figure named Lord Bataar had boarded the ship for the return to Kharschum. Pangold pointed out that the seemingly ancient, leather-bound volume the party found in the Northmen's trash heap mentioned someone named "Bataar the Heartless." Could this be coincidence?
As the party explored the lower decks of the ship, it encountered what appeared to be a shifting mass of shadowy ooze. The party positioned itself around the hatch through which the ooze appeared, and dispatched it quickly. The monster was a living spell - a Living Unholy Blight, to be specific - and had apparently killed the slaves that the party found in the lower hold. How it was created, and by whom, remains in question.
While searching the hold, the party discovered that some of the slaves had carved their names and messages into the punky wood of the hull. One of those names was "Cinna Albarran," Alayna's mother.
The party searched the island, which was little more than a rugged, scrubby ridge that rose out of the ocean, and discovered what appeared to be an abandoned campsite beneath a rocky overhang. As the characters searched through the campers' meager possessions, it was attacked by three undead, which turned out to be Icegaunts, and may have once been the captain and two surviving crew members. After a pitched battle, during which Hrolff managed to turn one of the Icegaunts, the party prevailed and returned to the ship.
The characters then had to wait several weeks for the ice to break up and disperse. Fortunately, the Scarlet Lady was well-supplied, so their stay was reasonably comfortable, save for one night when they were attacked by a troll, which taunted the characters and dared them to emerge from the ship. "Come out, little ones," it growled seductively, "Come out and play." The troll lept onto deck when the characters refused to leave the ship, and another battle ensued. The party again prevailed, and after disposing of the troll's hacked and charred corpse, returned to its winter quarters and its long wait.
By April 15, the sea was clear enough to sail, so with Inaki at the help, the party weighed anchor and sailed south, toward the slaver city of Kharschum. The voyage was long, but with the exception of one ferocious storm that actually drove the ship more quickly to the south than if it had been under sail, it was uneventful until the party reached the Gish River Delta. After winding its way through the maze of channels and bays for several days, the party was attacked by a party of orc pirates, which used a Disguise Ship spell to approach the Scarlet Lady. The orcs brought their vessel alongside the Scarlet Lady and began boarding, while a bare-breasted orc sorceress assaulted the defenders with spells. This battle was the longest and hardest of the night, but through a combination of tenacity and ingeneuity, the party again prevailed.
The party sailed on, until the low-slung, hazy skyline of Kharschum came into view. What will the party discover once it docks and begins to explore the city? What adventures await in the infamous city of slavers and scoundrels? This Friday, we will find out.
5,550 for 7th level characters
6,514 for 6th level characters