Noon of the 12th of Trical, 1331 Avard.
The five of them kept running, pausing at the edge of the grasslands only long enough to gather the reins of their one remaining horse, and then pressing on into the forest. They followed the river west, expecting pursuit and hoping none would come.
By that afternoon, they found their old campsite, where they had first crossed the river – where the other horse had been lost, and where Hadarai had nearly drowned in the freezing waters. But they did not tarry, only pressing on westward to find a better crossing and throw off any potential pursuit.
Towards late afternoon, still pushing hard, they found a spot along the river where the water was only six feet high, though still very cold in the last month of autumn. Rather than cross immediately, they camped cautiously, taking careful watches.
In the morning, they crossed the river without mishap, and immediately made another camp. With the river as a boundary of sorts, and supplies running very low, Kat hunted, and Johannes foraged, while the others fished. That evening, their supplies in somewhat better condition, Hadarai took the time to examine the cache of items Johannes has pilfered along with the Shield of Serendin.
The most interesting items to Hadarai were storm-related, and related to the God of Storms, Brigain. There was a holy symbol made of mithral, in the form of a jagged lightning bolt, with the etchings of prayers on the back. The other item was a staff with blades on either end, the blades capped with sheathes. There were other items of interest, as well, including a belt that warded against poisons and gloves that could redouble a defense.
The next day the weather began to cloud over, and then rain. The cold rain continued for two more days, before becoming a freezing rain. The party moved every northward, back towards the Sholin village of Ihorangi, despite the rain and the muck and freezing conditions. So long as they continued their hard march, they were warm enough, and their enchanted and mobile campsite protected them in the night.
The weather finally broke, and after eight long days of travel, they almost broke the edge of the forest and entered the village of Ihorangi. Almost. The village was deserted.
Hadarai worked through his arcane powers, using a familiar in the form of a falcon. Johannes took to the air as a giant falcon, circling the village, and then moving out to sea. The Dellistar was anchored out past the shoals, a mile out, waiting for them. A lone longboat was on the shore up out of reach of the high tide.
The village was completely deserted. The inhabitants were gone, as mysteriously vanished as though some great magician had transported them away.
Johannes returned with bad news: the men aboard the Dellistar were not the crew of the Dellistar – they were strangers, men he did not recognize. Worse, far out on the horizon, where only mirror flashes from crow's nests could communicate, were several other ships, including a massive galleon.
Hadarai was livid. He worried about the crew of the Dellistar, and wanted to rush straight into the trap, knowing it for what it was. Grania and Kat counseled caution, and Dolon was all for striking at night, with Johannes to take out the crow's nest.
Hadarai strode out onto the beach and waved the flag tarp Captain Nallya had given them to signal the ship.
Johannes' reconaissance had told them that the men aboard the Dellistar knew of the four of them, and knew one of them was a wizard. He continued his reconaissance, listening even as the man in the crow's nest signalled the rest of the fleet.
Kat checked the village more thoroughly, her tracking skills showing her more than a deserted village, despite the two weeks since they had last been there. Only a week prior, the Sholin had been taken to sea – the keel scrapings still apparent in the shoals. And a lone tomanth trekked between the river and the ocean, several times. Killik had escaped, though where he was, they did not know.
The party was paralyzed by lack of strong leadership, and as they dickered and called for Killik, the other ships sailed closer. There was a heavy galleon converted to a gunship – a series of ballista ports along its sides and mangonels across its castles. There were two other brigantines much like the Dellistar – one made from a strange reddish wood with sails dyed black. Hadarai recognized the other brigantine and cried out in horror – it was the Alahandra, the very ship that had saved him when his powers manifested in Inquisition-held Kur Maeth. The captain of the Alahandra was another Eladrin like Hadarai, by the name of Mirage. Captain Mirage had even attended Hadarai's graduation from apprentice to journeyman, at Lok Magius.
The rake of the sails of the frigate were those of the Pirate Principalities – and it flew a black flag, with a white skull over crossed sabers. Pirates began to swarm into longships.
The party fled down the obvious trail they had used to go to and return from the distant tower, setting the horse free. Working furiously under Dolon's direction, they crafted a quick set of traps – and then moved off of the main trail, Kat covering their trail, moving back in the direction of the village and the beach some distance off.
Killik found them, nearly falling into their trap himself. While they moved away from the main trail and the hunting pirates, the tomanth told them what had happened in their absence, using the halting, hissing accent of the tomanths.
After the party had been gone a week, the other three ships sailed in straight for the Dellistar, and took it with a minimum of fuss. Their orders were not to kill the crew, but to take them alive. Captain Nallya was taken to the frigate, and tortured. The little tomanth hurt that he could do nothing for the woman that had raised him nearly from a hatchling. The rest of the crew were split up among the other two ships, and used to crew them like slaves.
Killik had moved to feed in the river, and kept returning to shore to cautiously await the party without being spotted by the pirates aboard the Dellistar. He almost missed them again, and only the sight of the fleet itself coming in made him realize he was needed. Between the cold, lack of food, and the torture of his crew, Killik was half-crazed and half-torpid. He was willing to kill anyone or anything if it meant he had a chance at saving his crew.
Camouflaged by Kat, the party stayed hidden from the pirates, with Hadarai's familiar reporting back regularly to keep them appraised of the situation. The pirates made a camp, and at nightfall their search parties returned, having been unable to find the party in the jungle. There were nearly a hundred pirates ashore, and so the party hatched a plan…
Evening ofthe 21st of Trical, 1331 Avard.
Each player received 500 experience points for playing. Hadarai and Dolon now have 11000 experience points each (7th level), and Johannes has 10555 points (7th level). Grania has 10505 experience points (7th level), and Kataelia has 9205 experience points (6th level).
The following notes represent the 'behind the scenes' and 'post op' actions of the players and the Dungeon Master.
We met at my place around four, and everyone arrived to Sommer's cooking; she had prepared a crock pot pasta that was very good. The journey back from the tower was somewhat boring for the group, so we fast-forwarded to them getting to the beach. I have to rely on the group to tell me when they're getting bored; if they don't, I have a tendancy to drag out my story-telling more than is absolutely necessary. Before they could enjoy in combat, I recommended we call it for the night, as any plan they put into action would likely take awhile to make happen.
I was quite surprised at how spirited things got, almost to the point of arguing among the characters, as to which course of action was better. Hadarai had berated Johannes for his walking in where angels feared to tread, and then Hadarai went and stirred up the hornet's nest, to hell with the ideas of the rest of the party. It was a tense evening, and I hope I haven't overloaded the group with what seems an insurmountable task.
As Sommer and Jalinda had never played 4th Edition before, and we thought at first they might just be temporary, I made their characters and handed it to them. Sommer feels she'd be better with a newer character, perhaps a druid or a bard, and would like to build it up from scratch and give it a better reason to stay with the party. The character of Kataelia is a protector of the Silidont Forest, and likely would not continue on in her journey with the rest of the party. We'll just have to see what kind of a rabbit Sommer pulls out of her hat – and hope it helps with the pirates!
We all just need not forget it's just a game. I wasn't so much bored as pooped out that evening. Until next time!