A Gathering Storm

Session 6

Our characters were all on drugs, it got weird.

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Session 5, Teleportation

Leaving the building with the large altar, the party moved further into the complex and into the Alchemy Lab. The entrance chamber of the building was empty and Brandt attempted to bluff some of the troops from an inner room into coming into the entrance chamber. When it looked like this plan was going to work, Kazen-kai also attempted to bluff this into working but only succeeded in sending the wizard scurrying for the stairs to the upper level. At this point the heroes moved in and engaged those remaining in the room and discovered a demon contained by a magic circle in the room as well. During the fighting, one of the demonologists summoned strange creatures of a black oil like substance and as the heroes felled the blobs, there substance was absorbed by the demon. With only the still trapped demon as an ally, the last of the humans summoned another large ooze like substance that Ashcar quickly moved to engage. Finally, the wizard returned from the upper floor, only to free the demon and allow it to enter the fight. After absorbing quite a serious amount of punishment, the heroes were able to overcome their remaining foes.

After clearing the alchemy lab, the heroes moved to investigate the complexes forge.

Botany Lab

Sewers

House

Portal Tower

Strange Desert Castle

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Session 4, Trading and Demons

Upon returning to Alazar, an establishment selling alcohol was finally located to great rejoicing. While enjoying their libations, one of the players at a card table slammed an enormous sapphire onto the table that quickly drew the attention of the heroes. When Ashcar approached the man, he was able to determine that the man had gotten the gem from an island far to the east in exchange for weapons. In fact, he was looking for a ship to take him back to the island on another trading excursion. The man had four crates of goods for trade but in his haste to leave, there would be little time for the Scarlet Drake to be fully loaded with additional goods for the journey. To prevent his leaving, Ashcar knocked him unconscious and shanghaied him aboard the Scarlet Drake.

With the local stocks of available weapons already bought up by the trader, word was sent to nearby towns of the heroes interest in purchasing large quantities of weapons but it would take some time for the supplies to arrive. While waiting in town, and assessing their gains from their last expedition, it was determined that the current contract with the crew was dangerously impeding their finances so Ashcar took it upon himself to attempt to fleece the crew into accepting a new deal for a promotion with a pay cut that almost turned them against the officers.

In need of funds, they set out to collect the other bounty that was currently available, to track down and capture a pirate known as Goldtalon. Tracking him to an island, his ship was spotted and shots were traded at range as the Scarlet Drake closed with his ship. Drawing alongside, Ashcar and Ann rushed aboard the enemy vessel and attacked the crew. When the captain of the ship was dispatched, the remaining crew quickly surrendered allowing their ship to be captured and towed back to Alazar.

Upon reaching port, the officers again attempted to renegotiate a new contract with the crew. An offer of a percentage of the take was quickly accepted by the crew, and would also protect the officers from taking a loss on any expedition that did not yield large amounts of revenue. After dealing with the contract, additional weapons were purchased to fill out the cargo and the Scarlet Drake set sail for Starstone Island.

When they were close to the island, they discovered that it would be very difficult to navigate the reefs to reach the port without prior knowledge of the route. To achieve this goal, Ashcar leaped to the water and transformed into a sting-ray to chart the route before returning and guiding the ship in to the dock. From the decks of the ship, they could see that the structures that would have comprised the small town had been ruined but not weathered. Disembarking from the ship, Ashcar climbed a tree to get a lay of the land. Off in the distance a large fort could be seen as well as smoke rising from another part of the jungle in the distance.

Setting off into the dense growth, the heroes made their way towards the source of the smoke. Emerging from the trees, they stood at the edge of a ruined temple complex with a glowing fire in the middle of the clearing surrounded by four suits of armour, one man, and a strange twisted looking creature. Ashcar snuck into the ruined temples main building to strike at the twisted creature from behind the cover of its walls while Belim circled around behind the building to also reach it. Brandt and Kazen-kai began working on the human from out in the open only to have the suits of armour come alive and also move to engage them. Ashcar and Belim worked together to quickly eliminate the strange creature before moving to help the others finish off the armour.

Returning to the ship after leaving the temple, they waited until morning before approaching the fortress. They were denied entrance by the guards there who mentioned the surrounding jungle had had a strange effect on some of their soldiers. Undeterred, they once again returned to the ship and bade the trader take them to the tribe he had dealt with on his last visit to the island.

When the man finally located his trail marker, they quickly hurried after him only to come to a clearing bearing many prints and signs of habitation, but everything was gone. Letting Ashcar take the lead they followed the most prominent trail further into the woods. Eventually they found a small tribe of the indigenous people. Theses were the same people the man had traded with before and they were happy to trade sapphires for the weapons and also to hire the heroes to deal with those in the fort, people they said sought to disturb the island’s temples. It turned out that this island had been home to a cult worshipping demons in times past and now those in the fort were attempting to uncover the cult’s secrets. The heroes agreed to look into the matter for the tribe.

Returning to the fort, Ashcar scaled the wall while the others prepared to assault the main gate. Belim gave Ashcar a few moments to get into position before raising the portcullis for Brandt and Kazen-kai. When the engaged the guards in the lower chambers, Ashcar was taking on his own foes in the barracks above. He managed to quickly take out two of the sleeping men but the third awoke and called for help. Using a pot containing firedrake blood, Ashcar immolated the reinforcements as they stepped through the doorway to the barracks. Downstairs, the guards were fleeing before the others and when pursuit was given, a chamber containing a demon was revealed. The demon was trapped inside a magical cage but the guards were attempting to free it and let it loose on the heroes. Three of the four posts were deactivated before the heroes manages to slay the remaining guards. Kazen-kai quickly reactivated the posts before they joined back up with Ashcar.

Moving further into the fort/temple, they came to a room containing magical boxes and with more of the animated armour they had encountered out in the ruins. Further back in the room there were also a number of men dressed as scholars who as the heroes entered, began hexing them. In a violent and bloody battle, all of the defenders were slain and the room beyond revealed a raised dais upon which rested a large altar.

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Session 3, Bounties

After taking a rest in town, the heroes collected their newly repaired ship from the docks and set out after the remaining pirates from the Storm Crows. When their ship finally caught sight of the two storm crow ships they were riding low in the water and making for a nearby atoll.

As they gave chase more volcanic gasses began escaping from the nearby water caused by aftershocks from the volcanic eruption at the pirate base. Before long, a gout of lava burst from the water directly through one of the pirate ships, destroying it instantly.

Before they could catch up to the fleeing ship, it reached the atoll and dropped anchor. With the ship moored, the majority of its crew headed for shore in one of the smaller landing boats. As the Scarlet Drake pulled alongside, grappling nets were thrown across and the ship was quickly boarded. With only four pirates left on board; Ashcar, Belim, and Ann made short work of them only for Ann to fly after the landing boat. Seeing Ann leaving, Ashcar was quick to jump over the side and give chase as well.

Seconds after Ashcar hit the water, another gout of ash and steam rose from the water along with a Volcanic Dragon bursting into sight in the distance. As Ashcar and Ann chased down and dispatched the fleeing pirates, Belim, Kazen-kai, Brandt, and the crew fought with the Dragon. While the crew worked to shoot it down with the ballistas mounted on the Scarlet Drake, Brandt and Kazen-kai began exchanging blows with the beast. As the dragon flew in low over the pirate ship, it let out a breath of fire and set the forecastle ablaze. One of the crew threw Belim a bucket while four others moved to join him in working frantically to put out the fire. As the dragon continued to beat on Brandt and Kazen-kai, all the while setting everything around it ablaze, the fire began to get out of control on the pirate ship. Seeing Brandt and Kazen-kai hard pressed, Belim rushed through the flames to the rail of the ship and leaped to the back of the creature before snapping one of its wings and dropping it into the sea below. As the water began to harden the creatures blood, it tried to lash out at Kazen-kai one last time, only to open its defences for Belim to bury his axe in the creatures back ending its fight.

With only the flames left to battle, the fire had spread to most of the ship. In a last effort to prevent the ship from sinking, with the mooring line now burnt through, Belim grabbed the wheel and steered the ship straight for the beech. With the vessel now grounded, the fire was finally extinguished after the ship sustained extensive damage. After assessing their losses, the crew had only lost one member to the fire.

While the worked to repair the damaged ship enough to allow it to be towed back to Alazar, Ashcar noticed that three of the dwarves had gone missing. When he went to investigate, he too wandered off into the centre of the island, only to be followed not long after by Belim and the remaining dwarves. From atop the crow’s nest, Kazen-kait spotted an oasis where the dwarves, Belim, and Ashcar were now along with a number of women. Brandt and Kazen-kai soon headed for the oasis to see what had happened to the crew only to be assailed by strange singing, Sirens!

Brandt first woke Belim from his trance and the battle was joined. The members of the crew that were still under the spell moved to protect the sirens with their bodies as those free of the spell worked to free the others as well as fighting the sirens. Again, they managed to escape without losing any crew members and actually managed to free two others from the sirens that joined them as well.

Returning to the beach, they quickly got the pirate vessel seaworthy enough to tow and made for Alazar. Once they reached the city, they reported the defeat of the remaining Storm Crows and collected the rest of their reward. With their coin insufficient to repair the damaged ship, they made a down payment on the repairs and looked for a bounty to pursue in an effort to raise the remaining funds. It was decided to pursue a pirate who was last seen in a great seaweed field far out to sea.

When their ship reached the edge of the field, Ashcar spotted shapes moving beneath the surface and moved to investigate. The strange fish-like creatures quickly spotted him and moved directly for him and attacked. As the rest of the crew began to fire upon the creatures from the deck, they were shocked to see some of them rise out of the water and fly up to the deck to attack there as well. The fighting was quick and bloody and as the heroes gained an advantage over the creatures on the deck, strange shambling creatures also swarmed over the side and onto the deck as well. With the concerted effort of the crew, even these foul creatures were soon dispatched and the ship continued on into the endless fields of seaweed.

After pushing on for many hours, what appeared to be a mass of broken ships was spotted with a red vessel moored nearby, the Scarlet Drake was nearing its destination. First, they moved to investigate the ship to discover it deserted and held in place by a strange magical symbol which Kazen-kai was unable to dispel. With no way to commandeer the vessel they were after, they attempted to quietly approach the “island”.

Rowing to small vessels around to the far side of the mass, they entered through a hole in the outer wall where Ashcar quickly silenced a dark elf, but not before the creature managed to call out. As the others moved to cover the door, Ashcar got into position and quietly opened it to reveal a large group of skeletons as well as someone wearing full black plate armour who seemed to be performing a ritual to open a portal to one of the lower planes. Thinking quickly, Ashcar lobbed three grenades of Drake’s Blood into the room to burst into flame and disrupt the ritual while dropping a number of the skeletons.

The blackgaurd quickly extinguished two of the fires before once again turning back to the portal and resumed his work before the skeletons began trying to reach the heroes through the one remaining fire but found it to be quite difficult. With Belim holding the doorway, the other began trying to pick off the skeletons before Ashcar jumped into the water and swam around to come in from another direction to get to the armoured warrior. Even with Ashcar closing to close combat, the warrior completed his ritual and opened the portal allowing a demon to enter the chamber. Not long after the demon managed to climb up out of the portal, the warrior was down and another fire had been started across the portal from the room the heroes had entered through. Ashcar forced the demon back through the portal which Kazen-kai made impervious, but when he attempted to close the portal completely, he lost control of the magic and the Demon was able to return. Belim and Brandt quickly rushed onto the dais to help Ashcar battle the demon though in short order the creature had knocked both Brandt and Ashcar out and into the spreading flames. Belim then forced the demon’s attention to him before rushing to revive both Ashcar and Brandt and get them back into the fight. With the three heroes once again focusing their attacks on the creature, it was soon defeated to be banished back to the plane from whence it came and the heroes quickly fled the fire and back to the red ship. Upon reaching the vessel they discovered that with the death of its master, they were now able to easily dispel the ritual holding it in place and return with the prize to Alazar.

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Session 2 - Storm Crow

The heroes made ready and ascended the final flight of stairs to the top of the lighthouse, bursting through the hastily created barricade. Belim was first into the room to spot a number of goblins scurrying around and the wizard standing next to an enormous orb that filled the centre of the room. Belim and Ashcar quickly closed with the wizard only for him to call up a massive storm to assault the lighthouse before he was defeated. The heroes dispatched all but one goblin who managed to render Belim and Brandt unconscious before the storm began sweeping everyone across the tower. The goblin, Ashcar, and Kazen-kai were swept over the railing of the tower while Manteia attempted to gain control of the storm. By pouring his arcane energy into the orb, Manteia was able to change the direction of the wind enough that Ashcar was swept close enough to the wall of the tower for him to drive a dagger into the wall and catch himself with one arm while snagging Kazen-kai with the other. Manteia then dragged Brandt to safety within what shelter was provided by the walls of the orb chamber while they tried to revive the unconscious heroes. Brandt was revived first and was able to rescue Belim in the nick of time before the hardy dwarf bled out in a corner of the chamber. With their foes defeated and everyone out of immediate danger, the heroes quickly got the storm back under control, collected the wizards staff and the muzzled firedrake, and prepared to return to the city to inform Iskandar of the success of their mission.

Iskandar was delighted to hear that the wizard would no longer be plaguing the waters around the cities harbour, allowing trade to resume in earnest. The heroes rested and recovered from their trials in town when they were again approached by Iskandar with another job. In exchange for supplies and a crew for their ship, Iskandar wanted them to hunt down and eliminate a local band of pirates known only as the Storm Crows. After fierce negotiations with Ashcar sent away for fear of his compromising the proceedings, the heroes agreed to deal with the pirates.

The pirates had a camp located on the shore near the city and the heroes approached with all stealth and were able to take the group unprepared. The fighting was vicious but over quickly with an appearance by one of the giant storm crows the band was named for. Amongst the spoils of the victory, a map was found showing an island marked with a symbol of a giant crow. Taking the two small craft the pirates had, the heroes made for the island.

Upon reaching the island, the heroes were attacked by sharpshooters from the trees. When they moved to confront the enemy before them, a number of creatures rose from the depths of the islands small harbour to strike at their rear. As Ashcar struck at the snipers, Kazen-kai was severely pressed at the back and it took both Belim and Brandt to extricate him from his predicament. With their foes defeated, the heroes advanced up the only path from the harbour to a small building with a chimney continuously belching smoke into the sky.

As Kazen-kai climbed unto the roof of the structure, Belim and Ashcar stood ready by the door. Kazen-kai then proceeded to plug the chimney, they would smoke out the occupants of the building. Amongst the sound of much coughing, the voices of two dwarves could be heard from within the structure then two thuds and silence. Kazen-kai unplugged the chimney at a signal from those on the ground and Belim and Ashcar threw open the doors, to reveal a forge with the unconscious dwarves chained to it. Belim and Ashcar quickly broke the chains and brought the dwarves outside where they were quicky revived. The dwarves were prisoners of the pirates and were happy to provide as much of the layout of the complex as the knew to the heroes who fed them before preparing to delve deeper into the complex.

The first room past the forge was an armoury, and the heroes were able to liberate two complete sets of armour for Brandt and Belim to make use of. As they moved further into the complex they began to encounter opposition in the form of a number of pirates along with a Pirate Captain by the name of Ann. The heroes fought the pirates back into a mess-hall where Belim and Ashcar duelled the Captain atop the table before she was knocked unconscious and captured.

After some strange and unusual treatment of the captive by Ashcar, the heroes proceeded further into the bowels of the complex. Upon reaching a locked door which Belim kicked in, the heroes were confronted by another door from which behind came the sounds of voices. Belim and Ashcar, thinking quickly, grabbed the rooms table and chopped it down to make a rough shield almost as large as the door before them. When the shield was ready, they rushed the door and battered it down to reveal a hallway with a boat laying on its side blocking the passage. Arrows came from behind the boat to lodge firmly in the table, more pirates had barricaded the hall. At the sight of the table, the pirates quickly retreated into the chamber beyond the barricade and made ready a defense.

Kazen-kai approached the boat to hurl magic into the room beyond, only to have the floor collapse beneath his feet dropping him into a pit. Leaving Brandt to rescue the elementalist, Ashcar and Belim took a running start, and still firmly grasping the table, leaped across the pit and over the table to take the door and cover their allies. With their first sight of the chamber beyond, the heroes spotted a number of cages lining two of the walls that held dwarves. One of the dwarves was released from his cage as the heroes began to fight with the pirates in earnest. With the battle going against the pirates, the heroes could feel victory within their grasp only to have the freed dwarf drop to all fours and begin to sprout unnatural hair across his body, a wereboar!

The wereboar rushed the table where he was met by Belim, who refused to yield the threshold. With a chokepoint to the heroes advantage, even the wereboar could not turn the tide of the battle and the heroes quickly dispatched the pirates and the wereboar. Moving into the room the heroes quickly questioned the prisoners but did not set them free for fear there may be other were creatures amongst the captives. Taking the large door to the side of the room the heroes descended into a room light with a reddish glow.

At the foot of the stairs, a magical forge chamber was revealed. The reddish glow was from half of the chamber being an open pool of lava, yet the room was strangely cool. Ashcar quickly spotted a line of runes crossing the room at the edge of the pool, surely this was what kept the heat of the lava at bay. Next to the runes, were four anvils, each with a dwarf chained to it while near the entrance stood two Minotaurs, a large goblin and a man wearing a captains hat.

Belim quickly moved to take the door while Ashcar rushed further into the room to engage the Captain. Belim faced down the goblin while Ashcar was pushed back by the Minotaurs and the Captain. Seeing Ashcar hard pressed, Brandt moved into the room to support him while Belim worked his way around the goblin. With the goblin defeated the heroes engaged in a close melee with the other three enemies. The Minotaurs pushed Ashcar almost into the lava before the others were able to relieve the pressure and allow him to free the first of the Dwarves. With his chains broken, the dwarf freed the next in line and so on down the line until all four Dwarves were free. With four new allies the heroes pressed the pirates hard and knocked the Captain unconscious and then managed to slay one of the Minotaurs. The last Minotaur, in an effort to take the heroes with him, smashed the line of runes on the floor allowing the heat to begin washing into the room and destabilizing the volcano.

With the tremors beginning, the last Minotaur was quickly dispatched as the heroes fled up the stairs. Unwilling to leave the caged dwarves at the mercy of the Volcano, Belim and Ashcar quickly began busting open the cages before everyone headed out towards the next hallway with the pit. When they stepped through the doorway, the pit was awash in lava that would present a serious obstacle to the large group and their two prisoners. Seeing the boat still in place barricading the hall, Belim dropped his shoulder and slammed it over and into the pit to form a temporary bridge for everyone to cross. The last dwarf caught his leg in the ruins of the boat and Ashcar had to go back for him. With the dwarf freed from the wreckage, the heroes quickly made their way to the harbour where they piled into the two boats and rowed madly to get out range of the erupting volcano.

When the weary band encountered a small island in the middle of nowhere, they were quick to land on it and rest from their ordeals. The four heroes, eleven dwarves, and two captives made camp on the small island. With camp set, Belim was the first asleep while Ashcar began to question their newest captive. The man was the leader of the Storm Crows and after spending some “time” with Ashcar, revealed the disposition of the rest of his forces. After leaving the man, Ashcar then proceeded to convince the other captive, Ann, to join their crew. Once everyone was rested, they resumed their journey back to Alazar.

Upon reaching Alazar, the captain was turned over to the authorities and the band of heroes along with their greatly enlarged crew settled in for some quiet time in town.

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Session 1, Part 2 - Into the Lighthouse

When the heroes descend the stairs, they find themselves in a crypt with two other exits. Checking the chmaber to the right first, they discover a room with a large pyramid shaped dias in the center. Atop the dias stands a massive altar which upon closer inspection reveals several mirrors. Kazen-kai and Manteia were able to sense magic exuding from the mirrors and with closer examination determined them to be scrying mirrors, each tuned to a different chamber. One mirror showed a goblin pressing the eyes a stone gargoyle before leaving a chamber by a hidden door.

After leaving the scrying chamber, the other door off the main chamber had a short hallway that ended shortly at another hallway running crosswise to the first. From the left came the sounds of voices, and something that could only be described as a working kitchen.

Before they could reach the hallyway, a few goblins crossed the end of the passage moving towards the noise. The heroes quickly engaged them in battle. As the fighting moved into the crossing hallway, the left passage did indeed reveal a kitchen, complete with kitchen staff who rushed into the fray wielding their kitchen knives as weapons. The master of the kitchen stepped from view to the side of the room and the sound of a cage opening could be heard moments before a drake moved down the hallway, belching small fires as it came. When all the goblins and the drake were defeated, Ashcar discovered that the blood of the drake was the source of the creatures fire and could be used to make his blade burn. He quickly collected some of the blood before they moved to the other end of the hallway.

Just past the intersection, the hallway opens up into another chamber from which no sounds were heard. When Ashcar crossed the threshold, even all sound of his movements were gone. Spotting a number of beds in the chamber, some form of barracks, he quickly moved to the two occupied beds and silenced the two sleeping goblins forever.

When Ashcar turned to signal the others, they could see his mouth moving but no sound was coming until he stepped out of the chamber. A quick analysis showed that the room had been shrouded to silence, no sound could be heard within the chamber.

Moving to the only other exit from the barracks, the heroes once again moved down a short hallway where they encountered and quickly eliminated a small group of guards before reaching a dead end. The passages ended at a chamber containing the statue from the scrying mirror. The heroes pushed on the eyes as they had seen the goblin do to reveal another chamber containing a waist high pool.

As they examined the pool, it was determined to be used to teleport further into the complex. With careful study, two methods of operating the ritual contained in the pool were determined: and offering of blood or a show of trust to the water spirits. Belim was the first to pass through to the other side after slicing his hand and offering blood to the water. Most followed suit until only Ashcar remained, he offered a secret to the pool as none of his allies were there to hear.

Appearing in the base of a round building with stairs spiralling up, they determined that they must have reached the base of the lighthouse. Quickly moving up the stairs, they reached a level featuring a large gong and a set of double doors that led to the beach beyond. Two goblins stood near the door and Belim quickly moved between them and the gong before they could sound the alarm. With the two sentries quickly dealt with, they continued further up the stairs into the lighthouse.

Reaching the next level of the lighthouse, they discovered a number of goblins as well as two more of the drakes in cages. Belim and Ashcar quickly approached the goblins while being sure to stay well away from the cages and out of reach of the drakes fire. As the others entered the chamber, Manteia was not so careful and was singed by one of the drakes. As the heroes quickly worked to eliminate the goblins, it was spotted that one of the drakes was muzzled. With the goblins defeated, Manteia moved to eliminate the drakes and managed to slay the one still belching fire from within its cage but Ashcar stopped him from killing the other. When the sounds of the fighting stopped, a loud noise came from the top of the next flight of stairs as a board was thrown across the opening to form a rudimentary barricade.

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Session 1, Part 1 - Shipwrecked

With the ship wrecked, and only the heroes surviving, they made there way into the town of Alazar. The leader of the town met with them and offered to repair their ship in exchange for the completion of a dangerous task. A lighthouse located on an island in the harbour housed an orb with powerful magical properties, it could be used to control the weather. This lighthouse had been commandeered by an evil wizard and was being used to wreck all the ships in the surrounding waters, including the ship the heroes had been sailing with. The heroes readily agreed to the task.

Upon reaching the cliffs along the shore overlooking the island, the heroes began to plan their assault. Ashcar suggested swimming out to the island or making use of a small craft under the cover of fog, only to realize that the fog was under the control of the wizard. With a frontal assault out of the questions, the heroes began looking for another route into the lighthouse which brought them to the ruins of a tower atop the cliffs.

As they approached the ruins, Ashcar spotted a number of large webs strung amongst the trees and began guiding the others around them towards the door. When he spotted a spider in the ruins, he rushed forward to dispatch it only to have more spiders along with adherers come forth to challenge the party. After a quick battle, the heroes emerged victorious, but not before Ashcar managed to ensnare himself in one of the webs.

After cutting Ashcar down, they made their way into the base of the ruined tower, only to discover a set of stairs leading down.

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