State of Play - Shnecke's Wolves - November 26th, 2012

3/8/1472 – 09:00 – The SC makes the slow and frightening journey into the massive sea lock and up towards the surface, the pool of dingy blue light above seeming to take forever to embrace them. Almost an hour later, it reaches sea level, emerging in the middle of a huge lagoon in the middle of a coral atoll, surrounded by unfamiliar blue ocean. A single stone channel leads to a small port, crowded with an array of customised ships, many of which bear the marks of pirates or slavers, whilst the atoll itself is home to a ramshackle settlement of leaning stone and wood buildings, walkways, and hovels, which stinks of humanity and burnt meat.

By the time the SC arrives at the surface, the sun has been up for a while, and already the air shimmers and stinks, carrying the reek of the town towards the party, and the group get their first glimpse of the pirates, outcasts, vagabonds, slaves and slavers that make up the ever changing population of this place – the freeport of Dhenz'Vashal, a famous stopping point for all kinds of scum that lies some 300 miles to the southwest of the Auric Isles.

With a command from the assassin (relayed via “Captain” Shnecke), the SC limps towards the harbour, where the party pay to berth it for three days.

09:01 – 17:30 9/8/1472 – The group actually end up spending the next six days in the town, hiring a new crew, drinking (Shnecke finally finds a brew able to overcome even his cast iron constitution; a horrible spirit called “Festercrabs Brown Eye”), gambling, and in the case of the assassin and warlock, purchasing substances both lethal and intoxicating from a local Inn owner named Deezel. They stay at one of the tumbledown “inns” - a place called “The Fighters Gift” - who's sign is decorated with the lost teeth ripped free in the many fights that break out in its disorganised, stinking tap room, and conduct their interviews for new prospective crew members next to its sticky, fly haunted bar.

On the morning of the 9th, the party finally managed to secure enough men to sail the SC, as they obtain a large number of slaves from the captain of the Shackled Lord (a vast and powerful vessel with an armoured hull, potent weapons, and an elemental engine capable of giving it immense speed and manoeuvrability); one Tenubi Akrai. The men are all sailors, and as soon as they are taken on board the SC, are given a stark choice – “Serve on this vessel, work off the price we paid for you, and you will have your freedom. Foment mutiny, or try and shirk your duties, and you shall find death.”

Not a single man disagrees to serve on the group's ship, and despite being set free of their shackles, non try to escape...

...This saves all of their lives, for later that day the reality of the post-sundering world comes crashing down on Dhenz'Vashal with terrible, brutal force.

17:31 – 17:40 – The day has been long, hot and humid, so few have given any notice to the tropical storm brewing to the south. As the winds quicken, and the skies darken, people gives thanks to Tungart, for the breezes take away much of the oppressive stench and clammy heat of the township, and the rain that will soon fall will be a refreshing chance for all to clean themselves thoroughly of their accumulated filth. Inside the Gift, the party are celebrating their successes in the town, and are planning the next leg of their journey. As the first, fat drops of warm rain begin to hammer the roof, the air thrumming with the continual booming roar of thunder, they order drinks, and prepare to enjoy their last night on the isle, before heading off in search of Takeshi and the Moon.

Soon the storm arrives, and the tapping of rain becomes a constant din, itself barely audible over the bellowing thunder, the creaking of the inn's structure and the howling winds. Suddenly another sound – an indescribable shrieking that tears at the nerves and drives men to their knees with dread – cuts through the cacophony of the storm, accompanied by a blast of fiery light and a sudden wave of crushing heat. Horrible screams briefly flicker through the deafening morass of sounds, and the night outside is suddenly filled with dancing orange and red light, as hissing clouds of steam, whipped into spectral forms by the storm winds, leap past the windows.

The air tastes suddenly of metal, and a strange pressure infuses the atmosphere with its alien power. Realising that more than a normal storm is raging outside, the group push past the other howling patrons, and throw open the doors, the screaming winds immediately slamming, scorchingly hot into them, their skin reddening at once in the forge like heat.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?” Screams Varracuda, his eyes barely open against the drying bite of the storm winds.

“I have no idea!” Replies the priest, his hands reaching for a seeing stone he had recently remembered he possessed, “But I'll tell you this. It's way too powerful for us to tackle!”

“It” is a 30' high mass of animate magma and fiery gasses, possessed of some kind of rudimentary sentience. Vaguely anthropomorphic, it is a thing in constant motion, as its molten body hardens into stone where the storm touches it, before its inner heat melts the crust and returns it once more to glowing liquidity. Enough heats radiates from it, even through the storm, that anything within 20' of it spontaneously combusts – men, trees, animals and several buildings – and a number of fires rage around it, adding their smoke and sparks to the maelstrom of flame, lightning and noise ahead. It plods towards the Fighter's Gift, and the group are suddenly jostled as panicking men move to flee to the imagined safety of their ships. The horror seems oblivious to everyone, simply stumbling drunkenly through the heart of Dhenz'Vashal, obliterating everything unlucky enough to get too close.

Realising that even they would be unable to destroy this thing before it burned them to death, the group join the fleeing pirates and sailors, running towards the SC, where a number of ladders have already been thrown down, to allow them, and a number of other panicked Dhenzian's on board.

17:41 – 19:12: From the deck of the their ship, the group watch the Molten Monolith slowly destroy the town. They flinch as it rolls over the Fighter's Gift, and a huge ball of blue flame briefly erupts from it, the last bottles of Festercrabs erupting in the unnatural heat of the elemental's presence. They also flinch when a particularly stupid or self believing group of would be heroes attempt to engage the gigantic thing in combat – all of them dying within seconds as their armour, flesh and entrails are burned to charcoal by its blasting presence.

Eventually, with no precursor to give warning of its happening, with the township in flaming ruins about it, the massive elemental simply disappears in a deafening wash of sizzling noise, and a dull flash of fiery, golden light. Clouds of bitter smoke and the dancing of storm torn flames, are the only things that move within the blackened ruin, and from the few ships remaining that have not fled the stricken port, rise howls of loss and despair.

The group however, are hatching a plan...

20:30 – 20:50: Concealed by the smoke belching from the ruined town, the storm still howling about the island, the group leave the SC, and creep to shore. Cautiously, they make their way to the ruins of Deezel's inn, shrouded in a protective ritual cast by Grigori, which stops the intense heat still radiating from the melted stone from burning them. Deezel, stood as close as he can bear, spots them, and begins to point and shout, his words lost over the noise of the storm, for he has worked out exactly what they up to.

“So,” Whispers Thatari to the rest of the group, “the drugs are kept in a small, reinforced chamber in the basement. Deezel must make a fortune from selling them, as there was a stone golem watching over the place.”

“Do you think it will still be there?” Asks Shnecke with a feral grin.

“Very, very probably.” Replies the genasai with a wince.

Soon the group arrive at the ruin of Deezel's inn – now a mass of blackened masonry, shimmering heat and billowing smoke. With Shnecke taking the lead, the group begin to hammer at the heat softened rock of the floor, and soon it is flaking away, smoking as the winds catch the fragments, and carry them aloft. Still shouting in the distance, Deezel can only watch with joy as something goes wrong; a huge explosion of rock, dust and super-heated air enveloping the group, dropping all but Thatari into a smoke filled crater (actually the basement).

20:51 – 20:55: Agonised, the party find themselves prostrate, blasted, dazed and bleeding, half buried under searing chunks of rock, dropped into the basement of the inn by the sudden escape of trapped, super-heated air, liberated explosively by the first pick to break through the stone of the floor. To make matters worse, something huge lumbers towards them, its potent magics flashing in burst of multicoloured flame from the runes carved into its otherwise featureless face and chest. The Stone Golem, active and in a frenzy as its internal magics turn wild in the planar aftershock of the earlier dimensional breach, strides forth to crush those before it...