Ships of the Earth Dragon
None would argue that the aged scholar Lucien Buche’s knowledge on “all things piratical” is exhaustive. There are even some who say that Lucien was present the day unspeakable horrors rose from the depths of Leudendorf harbor. What he saw that night caused him to leave the west coast, late in life, and move to the east. It also opened his mind. There are those who say that Lucien Buche is now, twenty-two years later, the most knowledgeable scholar on the arcane and strange in the barony of Nevuchar.
Unfortunately, there are those who covet the trove of knowledge he possesses. And his greatest asset is…his mind.
Gnome Bounty Hunter
Human Bounty Hunter
Who Are the Players in this Tale?
Rocco: A three-foot-six, seventy-pound, brown-haired little manling in leather armor, with a veritable arsenal lining his body. He wears goggles with blue-glass lenses due to photosensitivity. He is a jack-of-all-trades. He enjoys engineering little pieces of machinery into tools to perform simple tasks. He is a warrior with some roguish skills; he shows honor at times, and at other times he shows less. He is hearty despite his size, and during combat he tends to disappear and reappear elsewhere moments later.
Piros Quill: A man of average height and weight; fairly handsome. He wears greens and browns, usually with his face hidden in his hood. He brings something good, something bad—a little of both. A certain panache, as it were. And he’s very good in the forest.
Aurora Zarmina: Aurora has brown hair, violet eyes, is slightly above average height and is slightly slender. She is very athletic and skilled with the sword.
Groot: Brings healing and natural skills, and is a strong protector, especially of Rocco. He is a druid, known for strong and fierce defense of his friends. He is seven feet tall and carries a staff and spears. As a warforged he wears no discernible clothing. He speaks little, saying “I am Groot,” a phrase that, somehow, Rocco is able to translate into various statements. He also travels with a raccoon animal companion, Lylla.
Torianne Black: She is of above average height, very lithe and quick on her feet. She has black hair and green eyes. When push comes to shove, she does her best to avoid attracting attention. As a jester, she is a jack-of-all-trades, with some performance skills, including juggling. She lives at the Enclave, is very literate and works at times in the Civic District. She is somewhat distractible, however.
Draka: Draka looks like a walking mountain. He brings strength to the party. Draka has tattoos.
Yanos: A middle-aged man with a short, brilliant, Tepestani red mohawk rising above the shaved sides of his head. He is very rough-looking with a long, leather duster. Though not particularly tall, he is physically imposing. He has piercing blue eyes. He brings both skill and cunning to the group.
July 11, 762: Seawell Under Siege
About a month has passed since the adventurers left Aulbesmil with the mysterious cryptex.
A simple, wooden sign greets them with the words, “Welcome to Seawell.” After weeks of information gathering and traveling the roadways of Nevuchar, they have arrived at the home of the Sage of Seawell, Lucien Buche. Lucien, in addition to being the master of “all things piratical” should be able to solve the riddle of the black knight’s cryptex.
Seawell is a fishing village, and roughly half of its population is fishers and their families. It boasts a small, central market square where farmers congregate to sell their goods. The village square is also home to the Common House, the only two-story building in the village and the seat of its small government.
A small harbor bordered by rocky outcroppings hosts two short wooden piers where local fisherfolk moor their small vessels.
Though small, Seawell is a prosperous trading town with a good location north of a long peninsula where, decades ago, Baron Kandre established the Nevuchar Lighthouse.
Seawell has grown steadily since the lighthouse was built. Kandre saw the small fishing community as a base camp where supplies could be gathered before making the journey to the lighthouse. Today it is a thriving settlement in its own right. The lighthouse has become absolutely vital to the trade lines. Even a Dementlieuese sage has come east to make a home in Seawell.
But something is wrong. The odor of smoke has hung in the air as they drew near the village. Now, as they emerge from the Forest of Shadows and near the “Welcome” sign, they see that portions of Seawell have been burned. Predominantly, smoke drifts lazily from the open windows of the stone tower on the southeast side of town.
A pair of guards, young men, detain the adventurers at the edge of town. A third runs for a superior in the village militia while his companions ask for the adventurers’ business in town. When they learn that the adventurers have come to meet Sage Buche, they look nervous.
After a few minutes, the adventurers meet the town constable, a warforged named Boxal. Boxal is gruff and direct. He indicates the destruction, and points out the work being done at the dock. He says that pirates struck yesterday, and they had one purpose. They came for Sage Buche.
Boxal explains that a ship from the Enclave, the Desert Rose, arrived earlier today. There’s a colonel of the Keepers of the Veil, and a Vigilant with them, and they plan to set out in a couple hours to track down the pirates who took Lucien.
The adventurers get Boxal’s blessing to enter town. Men and women are out, scrubbing the docks and rebuilding broken market stalls. There are burned patches on the docks near the sage’s tower that are being repaired, as well.
The doors to the sage’s tower have been boarded over.
Amid the work, the adventurers meet Colonel Nika Ash and the Vigilant, Barlowe Thromby. They learn more of the attack, including the fact that two ships staged the raid. The ships flew the yellow flags of the Slave Lords, and the earth dragon of Stalman Klim.
The adventurers also learn the importance of Lucien Buche, and his skill at predicting the pirates and the slavers. From villagers who fought the slavers and survived, the adventurers learn that the slavers were bound for Importuga, an island on the way to the Pirate Isles. Anything, they say, can be bought or sold on Importuga. Whatever the slavers had in mind for Lucien, it seems that his fate will be particularly grim.
It is difficult to win Colonel Ash’s trust, but she is short on hands for a mission that will take her up against Klim’s earth dragons. Ash invites the adventurers aboard the Desert Rose and provides an introduction with the Akiri captain, Assad Talashir.
July 13, 762: Attack at Sea
The journey from Seawell to Importuga will take three days. Two days from Importuga, the ship is attacked by a pair of perytons. The creatures swoop out of the sky, focusing their attacks on a single target to make the most of their fly-by attacks and limit the ability of others to wait out their attacks.
July 13, 762: Ships of the Earth Dragon
Less than a day out from Importuga, the Desert Rose spots a pair of ships on the horizon. They are flying the Earth Dragon, and they are heading towards Importuga. Captain Talashir says that he cannot catch them, but they will arrive in port soon after their quarry.
July 14, 762: Importuga
The clouds break up over the land.
The Desert Rose arrives in Importuga. At first, Ash orders everyone to stay aboard. Thromby goes out to meet a contact. An hour later, Thromby comes back bloodied, with a broken leg. He says that Lucien was taken to Long Sid, a name that all aboard the Desert Rose know well.
Thromby, whose leg is broken, cannot accompany the adventurers as they go ashore. He gives Rocco a potion of power, explaining that any warrior who drinks it gains great power in combat for a short time. Thromby encourages the adventurers to use the potion when they get to Sid’s lair. Sid himself is probably too powerful for them even with the potion, but with the potion they may be able to get Lucien and escape with their lives.
Seeking Long Sid
Draka suggests going to the largest building in town.
Piros sneaks into town ahead of the rest, insinuating himself into the alleys and waiting for his companions to come along so he can trail them.
Yanos and Torianne tie fake knots on Groot, disguising him as a slave that they intend to sell to Long Sid. Yanos and Draka fill the role of slavers. Ash, Encallad, Aurora and Tori will play the role of female allies of the slavers. While Colonel Ash finds this distasteful at best—and warns that she will not prevaricate to conceal her nature—the adventures convince her to walk along with them and leave the talking to Yanos and Draka.
Before leaving the Desert Rose, Aurora conceals Rocco’s pistol on his person.
The entourage makes its way to a local inn. There, Yanos does the talking. As he seeks out the warehouse he meets a scoundrel named Ladrón, a lanky, scrawny fellow connected to virtually everyone and everything on the island. Ladrón speaks Darkonese but laces it with a language the adventurers have never before heard.
Yanos meets with the stranger in the alley outside of the inn. Piros eavesdrops on the conversation and supports Yanos quietly from the shadows. Ladrón reveals that Long Sid dwells in a mansion atop a warehouse high above the town of Importuga. In return, Ladrón asks only that the adventurers burn down Long Sid’s home when they leave.
The rogue leaves Yanos, who returns to the inn to relate what he has learned. Piros tries to follow Ladrón, but has little success.
Breaking and Entering
The adventurers have made their way to Long Sid’s home. It is two-story warehouse topped by what appears to be a palace.
Piros prepares a fire along an outside wall of the warehouse.
Aurora climbs to the roof with Lylla, Groot’s animal companion. There, she peers into the many windows of the palace standing atop the warehouse. She sees that the palace has many guards, all standing at perfect attention, in exactly the same way. As she watches, she gets the eerie impression that the guards are even blinking in unison.
At the ground level, Yanos and Piros check the entrance for traps or alarms.
Aurora and Lylla check the perimeter for less obvious entrances but find none. The adventurers step inside by means of the main entrance. Inside, the warehouse is a tall central area overlooked by a second-floor balcony with offices. Crude cloth walls divide the warehouse floor into rectangular chambers, some large and filled with crates and boxes. Others are smaller, and hold more sinister stores.
These rooms have devices with curving glass tubes, long black hoses, chairs with clamps and strange metal tables. The floors of these rooms curve to a drain in the center. The air is thick with a metallic odor.
In some rooms the adventurers find bodies with skulls opened and brains removed.
In another room, they find a whip with many long lashes but made out of a flexible pink substance that is not leather. It is stippled, as if with taste buds.
They find prisoners in a cell. One is mad and gibbering. Another stares vacantly; responds to manipulation but has no will of his own.
The rooms are stalked by a pair of shadowy, hunched creatures that may once have been gnomes. Soon after encountering the shadowy horrors, the adventurers find Lucien. He is guarded by a tall, reptilian creature with long tendrils growing from its skull and chin. It wields a dwarven war ax with pure savagery.
Lucien stares blankly forward, but resting on a table next to him is a glowing crystal. Etched into the crystal, in Darkonese, is the name, “Klim.”
As the battle ends, noise erupts from the balconies overhead. The adventurers spot Long Sid, and he is not alone. Sid retreats rather than fight, but he sends a legion of thralls after the adventurers.
The adventurers retreat to the docks and the Desert Rose. There, they find dozens of men wearing the livery of the earth dragon, arrayed along the docks between them and Talashir’s ship. As the adventurers consider how to reach the Desert Rose, Ladrón emerges from the shadows. He arranges a wagon of gunpowder to distract the warriors while the adventurers make their getaway.
Lucien is restored when the name “Klim” is spoken by someone holding the crystal. The luminescence in the crystal flows into the air and enters the mousy sage, returning his awareness.
Three days later, the Nevuchar Lighthouse guides the Desert Rose back into port in Seawell.
Epilogue: The Cryptex Decoded
Lucien determines the code to unlock the cryptex. After many questions, he finds out about the approach to Walken’s herbalist shop, the general store with its displayer of Walker’s Emporium goods, and its vigil outside the temple of the Morninglord. Lucien surmises that the knight was sent to find the Goblinslayers, and specifically Jemily Walker. Walker is too many characters, but there is a five letter word that has a similar meaning and also references Jemily specifically. That word is RANGE.
Lucien hands the cryptex to an adventurer to enter. It opens, with coordinates, a familiar rune with the words, “Know your enemy,” and the instructions, “Here the fey have hidden their gold reserves, which fund the effort to destroy the Legacy of the Missed.”
In addition there are small slips of paper in the shapes of weapons. These are perfect representations of fine quality weapons, with black iron in place of metal. These weapons were sent with the knight to aid Jemily Walker and her allies. If thrown against a solid object forcefully, each of these paper replicas becomes a masterwork, cold iron weapon of the appropriate type.
The weapons cache includes:
• 1 bastard sword
• 1 shortsword
• 4 longswords
• 1 dagger
• 1 quiver of 30 sheaf arrows
• 1 quiver of 30 bolts