Dark Tide Rising

Session Nineteen

The adventurers decide to take the mysterious black pills that they found in an unmarked container in an abandoned house. Before they can actually put the pills in their mouths, the tiny objects sprout sharp spines, which pierce their skin. The pills then transform into thick oily sludge and seep into the wounds. In each case, the pill transforms as soon as the person holding it makes the conscious decision to consume it. Once the strange substance enters their bloodstreams, the party members begin to experience intense mind-altering effects.

Time and space unravel. The borders of reality and perception are erased. The adventurers find their consciousness flung from their bodies and merged with the universe. For an eternal instant, they experience complete cosmic awareness. They are connected to every being and object in the multiverse at all points in the past, present, and future. Slowly, over the course of either seconds or eons, the tide of omniscience recedes. When the party regains lucidity, they are different people in a different place and time.

Each adventurer has a new identity, and no knowledge of their former selves. The party is in a jungle in southern Thorcadia. They are an adventuring group led by Hargo Rogan. Most of the group has been travelling with Hargo for several years. They have had many successful endeavors together, but none has taken them so far from the Heartsea Kingdoms. Furthermore, Hargo has been oddly secretive about their purpose. Though each member of the party has a different reason, they all trust Hargo enough to follow him without question.

After weeks of hard travel, the party has finally arrived in a tiny settlement along a river. Hargo tells them that their objective will require them to travel even further into the jungle. The first leg of the journey is by boat. As they traverse the river they are attacked by flying apes. The expedition becomes even more hazardous when they reach land. They are forced to blaze a trail through the untamed wilds, and once again run afoul of the local fauna. When they reach their destination, the adventurers find a massive stone pyramid. The structure appears to be incredibly old.

The group explores the area around the pyramid and eventually discovers an entrance. They soon find that the majority of the complex is subterranean. As the party explores the ancient corridors, they are filled with a nameless dread. At the center of the complex is a great vaulted chamber. Within the chamber, a huge statue (similar to the one in the ice cavern but much larger) sits hunched over a metal tablet. Hargo moves to take the tablet, but as he does, the darkness in the chamber takes form.

At first, all the party can see of the creatures is their eyes; burning red coals hovering in the gloom at the edges of the chamber. But as the figures draw closer, and enter the pool of light shed by the group’s torches, their forms are revealed. The figures appear to be men composed of utter darkness. The shadow men advance on the party menacingly, and a battle ensues. The adventurers’ weapons seem to have little effect, but the shadow men are able to injure with a mere touch. The party members unlucky enough to be grabbed by one of the silent figures feel all the warmth instantly drained from their bodies. The group quickly decides that they are outmatched and flee.

The party is able to make it out of the temple and back to the boat. Once they are safely back at the trading post, Hargo goes to meet with his client. Cid sneaks along to spy on him. Cid does not see who Hargo is talking to but hears enough of the conversation to know that Hargo only took on the job because his family was threatened. He turns over the tablet to his contact and tells the man to leave. Later, the party meets with Hargo to discuss their next steps. As they enter the room, Hargo is reading a letter. After finishing the letter he tosses it into the fire, but before he does so some of the party members are able to see a seal on the paper. Hargo thanks the group for their loyalty and bravery. He tells them that the job here is done, and they will be returning to the North. Hargo warns his friends that their next mission will be even more dangerous, and any who wish to go their own way are free to do so. None of the adventurers take him up on the offer. As the sun sets, the world grows hazy and dim.

Back in the abandoned manor house, the party awakens from their drug induced hallucination (all back in their original bodies). Though dazed and confused, they remember the adventure in the jungle clearly. They are quickly able to identify the shadow men as the same creatures who appeared in Avery when Colin Windhelm’s nightmares were causing havoc on the streets. Furthermore, Bran is able to identify the seal on the letter as that of House Wallenquist, a prominent noble family in Doza.

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Session Eighteen
It's Dangerous To Go Alone

The journey to the keep is a two day slog up the coast of The Heartsea, through torrential rains. The party arrives at a small village and decides to stay the night. There they learn that the keep is the traditional home of the local prefect, but has been empty for several years. The village is of such little consequence that after the previous prefect died, the government never quite got around to sending a replacement. No one seems to have any strong feelings about the group’s plan to explore the keep.

After a decent night’s sleep (interrupted occasionally by strange dreams) the party ventures up the nearby hill. The keep turns out to be more of a manor house. The group is easily able to gain entry. They find the interior to be in oddly good repair. As they explore the foyer, a poorly spelled message appears on the wall, written in blood. Cid attempts to correct the spelling and receives a rude response.

The party moves on to the dining hall, where they are attacked by strangely deformed wildlife. When the creatures are killed, their bodies dissolve and leave behind items. Morgrim develops an unusual habit of describing every object that they pick up. In other rooms they find crates that practically explode when hit and also leave behind items (which Morgrim describes).

As the group continues to explore the keep, they find that the upper floors are inaccessible. However, they learn that by collecting decorative shields from various rooms and returning them to their places in the dining hall, the path to the second story is opened. On the upper floor they find an armory with many powerful weapons.

When the party returns to the entry hall they encounter a huge fiendish creature. The creature laments the fact that the specific weapons to which it is vulnerable were kept within its lair, but proceeds to attack the adventurers anyway. A blasphemy spell nearly disables the entire party, but with the help of their newly discovered weaponry, the heroes take down the fiend. As the creature dies, the room fades away and the group wakes up in the inn.

Confused and disgruntled, they return to the keep. In its true state, it is quite run down. They explore the building thoroughly, but find no signs of any recent inhabitants. However, in a room upstairs, a strange instinct causes one of the party members to smash a hole in a wall. Hidden inside the wall is a small metal container. The container is very cold and covered in a thin layer of frost despite the moderate weather. They open it and find that it contains several small black pills (one for each party member). The adventurers decide to take the pills.

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Session Seventeen
Bringing Back Bran

The party has successfully closed the psychic doorway. Sadly, Bran the bard perished during the journey into the nightmare. However, the group has been reunited with a missing companion, the dwarven warrior Morgrim. Brother Cavendish informs the adventurers that the patients have already started to become more docile. One patient has mysteriously died in his sleep, though no cause was apparent. Cavendish warns the group that Father Vannicutt is quite displeased with their interference, and urges them to leave quickly. Some of the party members want to confront Vanicutt, but cooler heads prevail and they decide to take Bran’s body back to Helmsley.

That evening, as the party makes camp on the road to Gryphon, a heavy fog moves in. While on guard duty, Torc hears some movement nearby and goes to investigate. Through the mists, he sees a campfire and recognizes the trio of women that the group met before when returning from Avendar. Reluctantly, he wakes the party, and the adventurers go to speak with the women. The women say that they can bring Bran back to life in exchange for three boons. The maiden asks for the seed of a man, the mother asks for a token of their devotion and the crone asks for a sacrifice of flesh. Zarrick volunteers to provide the gifts for the maiden and the crone, but the mother’s gift requires the entire party. A ritual is performed and Bran is re-incarnated as a human.

The token of devotion turns out to be a task. The mother summons a whippoorwill to guide the group and tells them that they are to rid the land of an unnatural creature. The whippoorwill takes the party to a cavern deep in the swamp. There they battle a huge serpent with the face of a human and several of its thralls. The adventurers prevail and they return the creature’s head to the trio of women.

Their task complete, the party travels through the mists once again. When they reach their campsite, they find a sleeping dog. The dog proves to be friendly, but otherwise mundane. It wears a collar that identifies it as ‘Molly’ and indicates that she belongs to a family in Avery. Since their original goal of returning Bran’s body to Helmsley has been rendered moot, the group decides to take the dog back to Avery. They arrive the next day and locate the address on Molly’s tag. It turns out to be an empty house. The adventurers search every room, but find nothing until they reach the attic. Amongst the cobwebs and rafters they discover many strange items, each with a disturbing quality. They decide to load all of the items into their cart and take them back to Helmsley for examination.

The group plans to leave town as soon as the cart is loaded, but they realize that once again, Seth has disappeared. Some of the party members are of a mind to leave anyway, but as they are doing so, Molly runs away from the group and into a tavern. Some of the adventurers follow her and find her seated on a stool at the bar. Torc decides to share a few beers with the dog. Much to his surprise, after the third beer, Molly’s barks turn into words. Somehow, Hargo is communicating through Molly. After some initial confusion, Hargo explains that what the party saw in the nightmare was not truly his death. He goes on to tell the group that there is something in a keep north of Winterhold that will help them, though it will be very dangerous.

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Session Sixteen
Nightmares

Upon entering Hargo’s mind, the party becomes separated. Each member finds them self in a different nightmarish scenario. In each scenario, one of Winterhold’s patients is also present. One by one, the adventurers are able to successfully defend the inmates from their dreams (mostly). Eventually they are reunited in a single dreamscape. As it turns out, the dreamer is their old companion Morgrim. In Morgrim’s nightmare he is reliving the ascent into The Ice Shield Mountains. When the party finally reaches the crater in Morgrim’s dream, they are forced to replay the battle in the cave.

After dealing with Morgrim’s nightmare, the group finds that they are free to travel further into the dream realm. They move through several bizarre tableaus and do battle with strange creatures disguised as old allies. After some time, the adventurers encounter an entity that offers to help them. The entity leads the party to Hargo’s silver cord. Unfortunately, the party catches up with Hargo just in time to see him devoured by a gigantic fanged maw. They rush to attempt a rescue, but are unable to force the jaws to reopen.

The group has little time to process what they have seen before they are set upon by a huge demonic creature. The fight is brutal. In the course of the battle, Bran is killed. Though the remaining adventurers are able to hold their own in combat, the demon appears to be nearly indestructible. The dream entity suggests that the demon is somehow drawn to Hargo’s silver cord, which is still trailing from the massive maw. Torc is able to sever the cord with a blow from his axe, which does in fact seem to weaken the demon. As the cord is severed, a vortex appears far above the group and the dream entity flies swiftly up and into the swirling ether. The adventurers quickly realize that the vortex is the doorway back to their reality, and it is closing. They swiftly finish off the demon and follow the entity out.

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Session Fifteen
Bye Bye Belle Mare

Even with Randall dead, there is some concern amongst the party members that the cult might return. They decide to stay in Belle Mare and search for other high ranking members. The group elects to return to the mayor’s mansion and investigate the subterranean passageways further. In the massive ritual chamber they find the corpses of several cultists. Some apparently died in the chaos following the adventurer’s arrival. Others, it would seem, returned to the chamber afterwards and took their own lives. Many of the corpses are floating in the pool at the center of the chamber and have become quite bloated.

With the aid of some water breathing spells, the party enters the pool and begins exploring the waters below. They find a system of natural caves which eventually led out to The Heartsea. Navigating through the caves proves to be very difficult. Part of the group is separated and becomes hopelessly lost. Fortunately, the remaining group members are able to find them and get them back to the surface before the water breathing spells wear off.

As the adventurers near the surface, they hear a muffled noise. When they emerge from the water, they find that all of the corpses are chanting. The party wastes no time burning the bodies to ashes.

The group spends a few more days in Belle Mare to help the townsfolk restore order. Eventually they decide that their mission for Helmsley is complete, and it is time to return to Gryphon. Sir Jensen lets the party know that he will stay in Belle Mare until the church can send a replacement for Father Raynor. The adventurers bid farewell to their friends and set out for Fort Blackrock.

The journey north takes more than a day, and as the party camps for the night they receive an unwelcome visit. The ghost of the vigilante manifests and attacks the party. But, for a second time, she is vanquished.

When the party reaches Fort Blackrock, they begin making arrangements to return to Gryphon by ship. As usual, Seth disappears at the first opportunity. When he returns, he informs the party that a local lowlife named Ghren the Mule is planning to sell them out to The Iron Band. The group tracks the man to a local gambling house. They bribe the owner of the establishment to let them take Ghren, a deal which the owner is happy to take. When confronted by the armed adventurers, Ghren tries to make a run for it, but is easily apprehended.

Once the party has Ghren in their custody, they question him. He denies any intent to inform the Iron Band of the group’s whereabouts, and indeed denies even knowing who they are. To be on the safe side, the party decides to take Ghren with them. The next day, they board a ship bound for Avery.

During the voyage, they continue to question Ghren. Certain party members begin to realize that even if he hadn’t been planning to sell them out to the Iron Band before, he most certainly would do so if freed. When they reach Avery, Ghen is told that he will be allowed to return with the ship. However, Torc has made a quiet arrangement (unbeknownst to most of the party) with the captain to insure that Ghren will not reach Fort Blackrock alive.

The group has barely been in Avery half a day when they receive a request from Brother Cavendish to come to Winterhold. They leave immediately and arrive at the asylum late that night. As the group waits for Cavendish in the main hall, they are accosted by an inmate. The crazed man keeps ranting that they “left the door open”. When Cavendish arrives, he informs the group that the patients have been quite agitated lately. Some residents who were formerly quite harmless have become aggressive and dangerous. Many patients are refusing to sleep. Cavendish tells the adventurers that the changes began right after their last visit, which is why he asked them to return.

Eventually they are allowed to visit Colin Windhelm. He seems confused at first, but when someone mentions the man in the main hall and his claim about “the door”, Colin suggests that they check on Hargo. Once in Hargo’s room, Windhelm confirms that the “doorway” they used to enter Hargo’s mind is indeed still open (though he cannot explain why). He asks the party if they are willing to once again risk their lives, and once again the party agrees to help. Windhelm uses his power to send the adventurers back into Hargo’s mind.

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Session Fourteen

The steps in the warehouse lead to what appears to be an abandoned excavation site. The adventurers find some equipment that must have been used to dig the tunnels, but it looks as if it has been untouched for many years. As the group begins to explore the site, they discover several ancient columns. In most instances, only a portion of each column is visible. However, they eventually find a large chamber in which an entire column has been unearthed. As it turns out, they are near the top of the structure, even though they have descended quite some distance underground. Torc (maybe) notes that the stonework is thousands of years old. He also remarks that the stone is not a type found anywhere in this part of the world. A scaffolding allows them to climb down to the bottom of the chamber and continue deeper into the network of tunnels. At this point, the party is nearly a hundred feet below sea level.

The adventurers pass through several more excavated pockets. In addition to the columns, they also see portions of massive statues. In one chamber, in which the bases of several columns have been uncovered, the party is attacked by bizarre creatures made of little more than eyes and mouths. Beyond this chamber the group finds a portion of the main structure that has been revealed. The surface is angled slightly. They follow a tunnel that runs parallel to the wall and eventually reach a large ornate door. There is also a large sculpture depicting a group of unusual sea creatures. Fortunately, Torc determines that there are several magical traps on both the door and the sculpture before anyone tries to enter the structure. He is able to safely disarm them and manages to open the door.

The interior of the structure is quite well preserved. After exploring some of the corridors, the adventurers surmise that they are inside of a pyramid. More traps guard the halls and doors, but Torc is able to deal with them. After only a short time, the party finds stairs leading to an upper level. They find a heavily warded door and manage to open it. Beyond the door is a small room. The far wall of the room has been almost completely destroyed. Peering through the massive hole, it becomes apparent that the center of the pyramid is comprised entirely of a single massive chamber. It is also apparent that whatever destroyed the wall came from that direction.

The central chamber is completely dark, and the adventurers cannot determine its size. All they know is that they are near the top. They decide to lower a rope and descend. By the time the party reaches the floor their lights are not strong enough to illuminate the walls. Near where the party touches down, there is a circular pool of inky black water. Before the group has time to investigate, they discover that they are not alone. Two people emerge from the darkness at the edge of the room. One is Randall the harbormaster, and much to Torc’s dismay, the other is Katarina. The adventurers attempt to talk to Randall, but several fish-men burst from the pool, and a fight ensues. Randall’s legs and lower body transform into tentacles and he begins slinging spells at the party. Katarina, as it turns out, also has an impressive array of magical skills and she begins aiding Randall in the fight. During the skirmish, Raban surprises everybody by telekinetically flinging an opponent across the room. As the battle wanes, and it becomes obvious that he is going to lose, Randall utters an ominous warning and slits his own throat. After Randall’s death, Katarina ceases her attacks on the party. It is agreed that Randall must have been controlling her mind somehow.

After exploring the periphery of the central chamber, the party decides to find out what is at the bottom of the pool. Water breathing spells are cast and they dive in. The narrow shaft descends for quite some distance, and eventually opens out into another open area. Like the chamber above, the party’s lights are not bright enough to light the entire space. They pick a direction and start to swim. Eventually the group reaches a wall. By following the wall they are able to determine that they are in a gargantuan underwater vault. The vault is cylindrical in shape and along the circumference several massive statues have been carved into the rock. The statues are of humanoid figures with fish-like heads, but they do not appear to be the same type of creatures as the fish-men that have been plaguing Belle Mare. As the party makes a circuit of the vault, they come to a section of the wall which gives way to a curtain of pure darkness. Bran attempts to stick his head into the darkness, and is immediately pulled through. On the other side of the barrier, Bran finds himself still under water. However, his body is suddenly being crushed by tremendous pressure. Bran is able to pass back through the barrier before being killed, and reports his findings to the rest of the group. The party decides that they have had enough excitement for one day, and they return to Belle Mare.

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Session Thirteen
Confronting the Cult

With some creative spell use, the party is able to free Davik without killing any townsfolk. After rescuing the sheriff they retreat to a safe location outside of Belle Mare. The armored man turns out to be a paladin named Sir Jensen. Much like the adventurers, he has been sent by The Church of Light to investigate odd stories coming from the town. A few miles from Belle Mare, the group finds a cave on the coast in which to rest. They question Davik about the real story of what has been happening in his town. He tells the party that he has known about the fish creatures for some time. He knows that a group of townsfolk are actively working with the fish-men, but he assures the party that he is not with them. He believes that the cult includes many people in prominent positions, though he is not sure exactly who. That is why he was afraid to act before. He was always scared that there would be retribution against his family if he spoke out.

The adventurers consider returning to Fort Blackrock to get assistance from the church, but Davik pleads with them to help him get his family out of the town. They agree to help him and begin working on a plan. The group suspects that the mayor might be a part of the cult because of his desire to execute the sheriff so quickly. They decide to check out his residence that night.

Though the mayor’s manse is guarded, the adventurers are able to sneak in. They find the building to be quite empty. They search the residence and eventually find an entrance to a system of natural caves beneath the structure. Soon after entering the caves they begin to hear chanting. Eventually they reach a massive subterranean chamber with a large pool in the center. The periphery of the chamber has been roughly carved into terraces to create an amphitheater-like environment.

Nearly half of the town is present in the chamber. They are dressed in ceremonial robes and chanting in a strange language. Several captives (Davik’s family) are tied to altars near a pool of water. Some fish-men emerge from the water to collect the sacrifices. The party fights the creatures and manages to free most of the captives. During the fight the townspeople/cultists flee in panic. That night the town is in chaos as anger and paranoia take hold. In the morning the party does what it can help restore order. They also begin questioning people about who the leaders of the cult were. When they return to the inn, they find Bertram in a rage. Katarina has gone missing.

The group continues to search the town for principal members of the cult who escaped during the fray. The adventurers know that if they don’t deal with the orchestrators of the cult, it will eventually return. They are exploring an abandoned warehouse near the docks when they find some steps leading underground.

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Session Twelve
Welcome to Belle Mare

After several days of traveling through rain and mud, the party arrives in Belle Mare. They have been sent by Helmsley to investigate rumors of disappearing townsfolk. The party finds a relatively busy inn, owned by a man named Bertram. The patrons all seem to be in low spirits. Bran gets up to sing to the crowd. At first his singing is lively and the crowd is engaged. Just as he is finishing his song however, he changes to a much more sinister tone. Only the party members appear to notice however. The innkeeper’s daughter Katarina serves food and drink, and is fascinated by the adventurers. She especially takes a liking to Torc. When the group is about to go out to search around town for clues that evening, she tries to persuade them to stay and talk to her instead. The group patrols the town for a bit that night, but discovers nothing.

The next day, the group travels around the town to learn more about the disappearances. They visit a blacksmith and try to stimulate the local economy a bit but find that the local metalworkers aren’t very adept at making weapons. They also run into the sheriff whose name is Davik. He does not want the adventurers in town because he feels that it is his responsibility to protect Bell Mare, not a group of outsiders. The group decides to split up. Part of the group goes to question the harbormaster. They learn that fishing has been very poor over the last few months. Boats have been staying out much longer than normal just to bring in enough to feed the people. Some fishermen are among the missing, but not disproportionately so. Another part of the group goes to the temple to meet with the head priest Father Raynor. They learn that his congregation has been shrinking lately, and not just because of the disappearances. Many people are losing their faith due to the hard times that have been affecting the town.

When the group reconvenes at the inn that evening, Seth is not among them. They decide to go out patrolling without him. Later that night, Torc sees Seth out on the street. It is dark, but Seth appears to see Torc from a great distance (which is unusual). Seth disappears around a corner. The rest of the party chases him through alleys and over rooftops, with Torc and Leanne outpacing Zarrick, Raban and Cid. The chase leads the party to an alleyway. Seth is nowhere in sight but a several large fish-like humanoids appear and attack the party. The adventurers defeat the fish-men, but it is clear that more are coming. They pick up one of the bodies and run to the inn. Bertram (the innkeeper) refuses to let them in with the creature’s body. They continue running until they get to the sheriff. Davik is horrified to see the body, but he seems to already know something about the creatures. He refuses to help the group. At this point the other fish-men have stopped chasing the party. They take the body to the church where they found Seth waiting as well. Eventually they meet with Father Raynor and he agrees to help them. They tell the priest what they know, and Father Raynor sends messengers to the Mayor. As dawn breaks, the group is summoned to the Mayor’s mansion. Davick has been arrested and is to be executed. The party tries to convince the mayor to delay the execution so that the sheriff can be questioned, but the mayor will not allow it. Just as a squad of crossbowmen are about to carry out the order, the adventurers decide to intervene and rescue the sheriff. An armored man appears from the crowd and assists them.

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Session Eleven
Tenzen

The next morning the party is at the inn discussing their options. A pair of men arrive and invite the group to accompany them. The adventurers agree and follow the men to a coach that is waiting outside of the inn. The windows of the coach are covered, so their route is kept a mystery. When they arrive at the destination, they find that the carriage is already inside part of the structure, making it impossible to tell where in the city they are. The building turns out to be some sort of social club. Even at this early hour, there are patrons indulging in drink, games of chance, and female companionship.

The party is taken to a back room where they are greeted by the club’s owner, a man named Tenzen. They are quite surprised to find that he already knows of the events of the previous night. Tenzen congratulates the adventurers on their victory and invites them to enjoy the hospitality of his establishment. Some of the adventurers take the club owner up on his offer, but others remain to talk with him. Tenzen asks many questions about the party and their activities. Eventually he brings up the subject of the fight with the vigilante. He is interested in her armor and weapon, and indicates that he would be willing to reward the party generously if they would be willing to turn the items over to him.

The adventurers decide to consider the offer and they are returned to their inn. There is some debate over what should happen to the body of the vigilante and her gear. For the most part, they do not feel guilty for killing her (as she was obviously willing to kill them), but they do not feel completely right about profiting from her death. In the end, they decide to turn over the gear, but not the body. Part of the group remains on the boat to guard the corpse, while the rest return to the inn. Sometime during the night, the party members on a boat see a hooded figure with a cart waiting on the dock. They identify the person as a priest of Iolis. The priest waits patiently most of the night (presumably for the body), but leaves empty handed.

The next day the inn group is taken to Tenzen’s club. There they negotiate a trade for the vigilante’s gear. Tenzen also offers them a position in his operation. Later, the group is taken by coach (once again, a windowless ride) to a cave somewhere along the island’s shore. After following a long tunnel they come to a chamber containing several ramshackle wooden structures and a pool. They are met by a strange humanoid creature who seems annoyed, but is expecting them. The creature asks the group what sort of items they would like and dives into the pool. A few minutes later it returns with the party’s reward.

Tenzen’s coach brings the party back to their inn, but they leave immediately to meet up with the group at the boat. While they are on the docks they notice that several boats are arriving in the dark of night (unusual even for such a busy port). They move into a position where they can spy on the boats and see several groups disembarking. Interestingly, Tenzen and many of his men are there to greet the new arrivals. Tenzen welcomes the newcomers warmly and they are quickly ushered into carriages and taken into town. With little left to see, the party returns to their boat.

The next day, the party goes to the graveyard (a small island off of the main landmass of Wavecrest) to find out more about the priests of Iolis. They are allowed into the graveyard, but are unable to learn much because the priests do not speak. They are taken to a freshly dug grave which they assume is for the vigilante. Unable to decide what to do next, the adventurers return to Wavecrest.

Later, the party is picked up at the inn and taken back to the club. Tenzen asks if they have decided to take him up on his offer. The group has come up with a plan to work for Tenzen, but secretly continue to report to Helmsley. They accept Tenzen’s offer and he immediately gives them the details of their first assignment. As it turns out, their first job involves traveling to Doza to assassinate another of Helmsley’s groups. Initially, the party has no intention of following through with this task (and in fact plan to warn the group as soon as they reach Doza), but it quickly becomes apparent that Tenzen does not fully trust them yet. He tells the party that they will need to submit to some magical “safeguards” and ushers Torc into another room. As soon as Tenzen’s spellcaster begins performing a ritual, Torc abandons the plan and bolts from the room. The party is able to escape the club, and makes a mad dash for the mansion of Helmsley’s contact.

When they arrive at the mansion and explain their situation, the nobleman contacts Helmsley via spell. Helmsley is furious with the adventurers, but agrees to help. He tells the nobleman that he is sending “The Fox”, which seems to put him at ease. Seconds later, a gnome materializes in the room. The gnome asks the adventurers to bring him up to speed on events thus far, and springs into action. First he creates and illusion of the party running out the front door of the mansion and off into to the town to throw off anyone who might have followed them. Then he casts some protective spells on the group to ward against divinations, followed by a spell of invisibility. He tells the party to make their way to the docks, where a new ship will be waiting for them. The party follows his instructions and an hour later they are on their way to Fort Blackrock.

This time the sea voyage is without incident. The party arrives in Fort Blackrock and sets out to re-supply for a journey south. While they are purchasing supplies, the merchant begins saying extremely ominous things to them. The adventurers are taken aback, but soon realize the man is unaware of what he is saying. In fact, no one other than the party members seems to have heard his strange words. They finish purchasing their supplies and start the trip to Belle Mare. As they travel, they are drenched by torrential rains. By the time they near Belle Mare, the rains have developed into thunderstorms. In the midst of this storm, the group is beset by several huge plant creatures. They defeat the monsters, and arrive at the town soaked and bloodied.

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Session Ten
Wavecrest

After finishing their business in Wavecrest, the party sets sail for Fort Blackrock. The next morning they awaken to find the crew gone and the ship adrift. At first they assume that it is another of their shared dreams, but after several hours pass they are forced to accept that it is real. The adventurers search the ship and find tiny statuettes hidden around the crew’s bunks. The carvings are in the familiar shape of the hunched creature from Urick’s house and Windhelm’s basement. Though it is clear to the party that the statuettes have something to do with the crew’s disappearance, they still have no idea what has actually happened to them, or how to fix it. They set about trying to find some way to return the ship to Wavecrest. Through some clever use of spells, and the help of Zarrick’s eidolon, they are able to tow the boat back to port.

The group returns to the nobleman for help. They suspect that there is some manner of magic or psionic power behind the disappearance of the crew, so Helmsley’s contact directs the party to an associate with more expertise in that area. The expert turns out to be a local woman who runs a fortune telling parlor. At first she seems to be nothing more than a charlatan, but after the group mentions Helmsley, she drops her act and ushers them into a back room. She turns out to be quite a powerful mystic. The party shows her one of the statuettes, and she begins a ritual to determine its function. When the ritual is complete, she gathers the party around her crystal ball. They look into the orb and see an image of the crew on the deck of their ship in a terrible storm. Huge tentacles are snaking over the sides of the boat and attempting to drag the sailors into the stormy sea. The mystic tells the party that the statuettes have trapped the crew in a nightmare. She can manipulate one of the figurines to bring the adventurers into the dream, but she warns them that the danger will be very real. Without hesitation, the party agrees to enter the nightmare. Inside the dream, the fight rages on. The party manages to damage the tentacles enough to cause them to withdraw. With the help of the mystic, they are able to bring the sailors back to the physical realm.

Though only a few days have passed since the crew went missing, the sailors tell the group that they have been re-living the nightmare scenario over and over for months. Not all of the crew members have survived, and those who have are in no condition to return to their duties. Only the captain is willing to continue on with the ship. He tells the party that he will begin assembling a new crew, but it will take some time. The group finds an inn, and settles in for a long wait.

The next night, Seth tells the party that he has heard about a series of attacks. Apparently an unknown marauder has been stalking the streets of Wavecrest for several months. Over a dozen people have been killed. Seth also hints that there may be a reward for stopping this prowler. The adventurers speculate that this may be linked to the recent outbreak of madness and decide to begin patrolling at night. They conduct their operation for several nights, and also do some investigation into the killings. They learn that most of the attacks have happened in a select few neighborhoods. They also begin to discover that most, if not all, of the victims are associated with The Iron Band.

After learning this, the party comes up with a plan to find some likely targets and follow them. The plan pays off almost immediately. The mysterious assailant ambushes the men and quickly begins cutting them to pieces. The party attempts to arrest the attacker, but they are forced to fight when the masked warrior kills a helpless enemy. The would-be assassin then makes the mistake of drawing Torc’s blood. Torc abandons the plan to capture his foe and ends the battle with a fatal strike. After the fight, the party is surprised to find that the attacker was a woman. She is clad in an extraordinary suit of mithril plate mail and wields a naginata. The party decides to take the body to their boat, and consider what to do next.

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