23:56 - 00:00 (31/8/1472): Initially the group find themselves somewhat on the back foot, as the monsters unleash a horrific amount of pain their way. The soldiers it seems know a little magic, and send out great arcane chains of hooked flame, which draw the warriors closer. The hell hound is a catastrophe of fire and ripping jaws, who's elemental heat sears the flesh of anyone that gets too close. But worse, is the robed gigorim who stays back, the symbol of Zargor clutched in its armoured fist. Chanting in a voice like an inferno, this monstrosity bathes the streets (and the group) in blasting waves of flame and strikes at them with spears of lava.
Worse, before the group can fully adjust to
the ferocity of the attack, the swordmage gives a tiny wail and drops
to the floor; eyes rolling in his head, bloody foam frothing from his
mouth. He convulses on the ground, unaware of the lethal battles around
The warlock flees to the slate roofs of the homes nearby,
the assassin doing the same in a silent burst of shadow, whilst the rest
of the group try to simultaneously stay out of the hound's brutal aura,
and away from the glowing greatswords of the zargorim soldiers. Grigori
is forced to throw almost everything into keeping his allies alive,
whilst the rest of the group fight to protect the fitting swordmage and
to take the monsters down. With the priest pouring healing into them,
they slowly begin to push back at the monsters - though they are
temporarily wrong footed when the obsidian exterior of the hell hound
falls away to expose its blazing guts to the world, its deadly heat
increasing to agonising levels. The fiery canine is the first to go
down, its form vanishing in a burst of sulphurous smoke and sparks. Then
the two soldiers are taken down, one annihilated by a wailing bolt of
raw spite fired by the warlock, supercharged by pain taken from his
allies with Hope's Famine's deadly powers, the other hacked and
chopped to pieces by the priest and barbarian, weakend and disoriented
by the assassin's deadly poisons.
Suddenly outnumbered, the priest tries to flee. He fails.
- 00:25: Gathering up the fallen swordmage (who twitches and convulses
still, his eyes wide open, a thin scream escaping his open mouth), the
group run from the area and head for Narogg's Grogs as fast as they can,
arriving a short while later.
00:26 - 03:00: Varracuda is put
to bed, and Grigori spends time with him, carefully pouring restorative
spells into him. With time, his convulsions stop, and he falls into a
natural sleep. Meanwhile, the rest of the group get stuck into some
drinking....gambling...and, after Shnecke loses a wrestling match with a
fellow Ulnyrr and smashes a stool over his skull in protest, brawling.
Leorn is seems only favors the priest, who, once he has settled the
genasai, comes down to play cards. Whereas everyone else loses money, he
wins a huge amount - and adds several sharp brained card players to the
Narogg informs the group that they have a meeting with Mercurio Giovecci the next day, a Feccia captain.
has come around by the time the group retire, and he hoarsely informs
them that he has seen a "vision of what lies beneath the volcano". He
struggles to compose himself as he continues, "It's ancient. Older than
anything you can imagine. A molten mass of hatred so intense that it
would blot out this universe if given half a chance." He shudders, "It
overwhelmed me. It's.....we have to leave or stop it".
13:00: The group awaken to find that Caleph is waiting for them. He
informs the group that beyond the bounds of Scarathane's port, reality
has shifted, and that the sea has frozen solid. This is interesting for
two reasons. Firstly, there is a distinct line the planar intrusion
stops at around the island, suggesting that the it exists in some kind
of dimensionally secure pocket. Secondly, the Drowned Bell was
seen leaving only an hour or so before the sea froze, heading North. It
seems very likely therefore that it is now stuck in the ice...vulnerable
It is decided that once they have met with the
Feccia, they will head out to find the stricken pirate ship, to add it
and its crew to their list of conquered foes.
The meeting has
been arranged to take place at the "Sword and Sabre", a well appointed
inn that is mostly built into the side of the volcano. After securing
their weapons and implements in peace knots, the group are allowed in
(by the clearly terrified door guards). They are shown upstairs to a
well appointed room, where, instead of the expected captain, they meet
with one Iskarius Faedento; a devilishly handsome man with a warm,
practiced, demeanor of businesslike friendliness. He is watched over by a
hulking humanoid construct of gleaming steel, darkwood and polished
obsidian, that Jaeger recognises as an advanced form of Shield Guardian
being sold by the Order to certain individuals. His name, according to
Iskarius, is Signore Massacrare (Mr Butcher), and he quickly
demonstrates his protective nature when the warlock speaks in a less
than friendly tone during the negotiations, and it rumbles menacingly,
adopting a protective stance over the representative.
(speaking crude tradespeak) apologises for Giovanni's absence, stating
that the Feccia rarely allow "unknowns" to meet their ranking officers.
Grigori realises that their reactions are being measured here, and that
the intention of this last minute change is purely to see how they
react. It is at this point that Thatari begins to voice his displeasure,
the priest stepping in to speak over him and prevent the meeting ending
before it can even start.
The meeting is brief, and the outcome
clear (Grigori enacts a translation ritual, allowing the group to more
accurately communicate with Iskarius). If the group wish to enjoy the
benefits of association with the Feccia Del Mare, they will have to
prove themselves. To this end, they are given a seemingly impossible
There are two rival groups of pirates in the city - the
Figli Putana, and the Cani Mortali. The former group are despised by the
Feccia, and are seen as worthy only of death. The "Death Dogs" however,
whilst certainly foolish to have tried to take a piece of the Feccia's
territory, have impressed them enough that they are willing to try and
absorb them into their syndicate - a proposition they have currently
rejected. To aid in this process, the Feccia feel they need to send a
powerful message to the Cani, without starting a war. To this end, they
ask that the group infiltrate their stronghold in the city - once the
stronghold of Jediker's Collaterals, a mercantile investor and banker -
in order to steal Scheggia; The Splinter; a deadly and potent
dagger once owned by the Feccia, and held by Jediker's as a deposit
against a loan they granted them. To make matters worse, the dagger is
held within the heavily warded vaults beneath the stronghold, created by
a well known local archmage who specialises in such constructs, within a
solid pillar of crystal, built into the vault itself!
if possible, the Feccia would prefer it if there were no fatalities
amongst the Cani, and that they are not made aware of the theft. This is
because they want to show them that they have the means to enter their
most secure places, take what they want, and to leave without them even
knowing, and without slaying a single soul - a powerful motivator for
them to join the Feccia without a fight ("If we can do this, imagine what we will do if you anger us").
leaves the group to discuss the proposition. Telling them that if they
accept, they get three days stay in the ports for free - though all
costs that would be incurred will be owed if the group fail in the
mission. Thatari is not happy. He argues that by doing what is asked,
the Feccia get something for nothing. Grigori argues the opposite, and
feels it to be a good idea to try. The assassin and swordmage agree,
whilst the barbarian seems concerned about the probable lack of killing
involved, his axe aching for a good fight.
Eventually, the group
agree. They will, within the next three days, try to retrieve the
Splinter (though the assassin warns the group that the blade is known to
the Unified Order, and was once held in the Durance Occulta.
Intelligent, and famed for how its blade breaks off in a victim, before
burrowing into their hearts, it is considered an "Artifice Threat".
There is (or was before the Sundering) a substantial reward for its
return to the Order).
With the meeting concluded, the group rush back towards the SC, eager to get out hunting for the Drowned Bell.
As they head towards the harbor, they can see the impossibly huge wall
of smog that has formed where the sulphurous, hot, dry air of the island
meets the unnaturally cold and wet air of the realms beyond. What
little sunlight that would normally push through the usual clouds of
smoke and airborne ash is swallowed by this colossal wall of turbulent
vapors, the only clear light being the constant flashes of lightning
that leap and dance along its edge. It makes for an ominous sight,
charging the atmosphere with a strange energy, and even the normally
unshakable people of Scarathane are subdued and on edge this day.
- 21:45: The group discuss tactics, changing their original plan
(sneaking up on the ship by swimming under the ice that they are
reliably told now covers the ocean beyond the wall of smog), when they
learn that the cold beyond is utterly alien in its intensity, and has
frozen the sea to quite some depth. This also changes their original
plan to bring along a good few of their crew, as they realise that the
environment they are about to enter may be too much for them to bear.
casts a ritual about the group that will shield them from the worst of
most forms of natural cold, and with two crew men rowing, the group
leave the ship in a lifeboat, and head for the interface between this
realm and the one beyond...
The seas begin to thicken with ashy
ice about half a mile from the end of the port, several huge vessels,
clad in crushing ice, slowly sinking into the ash blackened, slushy
waters. The cold increases every few meters further from the island they
row, and the group realise that their crewmen may not be able to stand
taking them much nearer to the dimensional interface. Fortunately, the
tiny boat encounters solid ice before this happens, and the party
disembark, leaving the two men, teeth chattering (despite the heavy furs
they wear) to wait for their return.
Stepping onto the ice,
each party member notes the thin skin of buzzing orange light that
clings to them, realising it is Grigori's ritual desperately fighting to
keep them warm. Grimly aware that they could be walking to their dooms,
the group head in towards the howling wall of smog, snow and flickering
Within the wall, all is shrieking icy winds and
blinding, biting snow. The group have to rope themselves together to
prevent being blown away from each other, and it becomes immediately
clear that although the ritual is offering them some protection against
the cold, it is not able to fully shield them against its unnatural
power. They trudge on, ignoring the pain of the cold, trying to be as
alert as possible in the overwhelming chaos of the planar interface.
This goes on for what seems like forever, until suddenly, they find
themselves standing in another world.
Behind them, the wall of
chaotic power is only visible as a ghostly image superimposed on the
reality of the universe they now partially occupy; an endless place of
ice, scudding black clouds, and unimaginable cold, litten by a
bloodless, pale green sun. Shivering and pained by the cold, the group
take a moment to acclimatise, the living struggling as the algid air
freezes their throats and lungs. Worst hit are the assassin, and oddly
enough, the Ulnyrr, who seem more stressed by the cold than the rest of
"Th-th-there." Gasps Jaeger, pointing in what would,
in their world, have been south. "A bump in the landscape." He takes out
his telescope, and asks the warlock to breathe on it, to melt the frost
that instantly gathers over its lens. Peering through, he sees that
there is indeed a bump in the land, that appears to be a ship, trapped
in the ice. However, as he does this, the priest hears something that
makes his blood run cold; a rumbling, animalistic call, coming from the
near distance, that reminds him of the call of whales.
tells the group what he has heard, and the telescope is swung in the
direction of the sound. Soon enough, something massive is seen, slowly
coming into view over the distant horizon; a monstrous silhouette
against the light of the halo ringed, setting sun. As the moments pass
the cold seems to deepen, and the group begin to burn with it, their
limbs growing heavy and leaden. However, they find themselves transfixed
as the beast comes closer, for it becomes clear that it is massive
beyond words - at least the size of a large cathedral.
vaguely elephantine, with six massive legs, and a blunt head studded
with huge, blue, fiery eyes. A massive vertical mouth splits the head,
now and then opening to emit the terrible, bowel weakening cry that the
priest first picked up on.
The group become worried, for the creature is heading vaguely in the direction of the Drowned Bell.
However, they realise that it will not encounter it, and vote to let
the behemoth pass before carrying on. This means waiting, in the waning
light and waxing cold, for what seems like an age, as the impossibly
huge beast sways and roars past, heading towards the planar interface,
and possibly, the tropical waters around the port. The wait takes its
toll, the cold draining the resolve and deadening the flesh of several
party members. However, they manage to stand firm, and once happy that
the monster is gone, they advance.
Darkness steals across this
desolate place, the air growing still colder. Light pours from each
adventurer as the enchantments fight desperately not to be overwhelmed
by the cold, blending with another light that suddenly wells from
beneath their feet. It is the pale green glow of rotting wood, rising it
seems from the very ice upon which they walk. Wreathed in this, and the
frozen spectres of their own breath, the group advance and soon find
the corpse of the Drowned Bell.
The ship has been cut
in half by its own exploding body, the water in its planks and ropes
flash freezing and bursting outwards. Its masts lie in pieces, decorated
in a million icicles, its sails shattered like glass.
thing has happened to the crew, all of whom are now abstract things of
gory ice and erupted slush. Each has exploded as they have frozen, their
forms caught mid-eruption, their faces lost amidst clusters of a
thousand, thrusting, crimson needles.
Creeping forwards, the
party begin to explore the ghost ship, trying to ignore the horrific
forms that were, but a few hours ago, living, breathing men and women.
Thick ice is hacked away, and the group get access to the lower decks,
and hopefully, whatever treasure the ship was carrying. And it is whilst
they explore these levels that they hear a faint sobbing cry coming from
the lowest decks. Moving carefully towards it, past cannons that have
torn themselves apart as their metals contracted, and past more
tortured, surreal remains, the group eventually find a Dohr'Khustan,
dressed in the robes of a mage, half frozen into the ice that threads
the ships corpse. He is close to death, a small ember of summoned flame
the only thing keeping him alive. Realising he must possess great power
to have survived this long, the group approach him and offer him his
life in return for his loyalty. He is barely conscious, but after a long
time, in a voice so weak and whispered as to be near inaudiable, he
says one sentence before passing out.
"Aye aye captain."