Black Sails over Leudendorf
Lair of the Pyrohydra
Moab Cys’Varion of the Full Fathom Five has set himself up as god of his jungle paradise. He uses the Stone of the Heavens and the Spyglass of Yarash to twist both the flora and fauna of the island into new forms, shaping an army of purified warriors and casting aside the mutated remnants.
The adventurers must face Moab and claim the spyglass if they hope to reach fabled Yarashad...and make the return trip to Leudendorf.
They stand at the secret entrance to Moab’s sunken forest. Before them lies a many-headed, fire-breathing beast and other, untold, horrors of the depths. Beyond that is the pirate captain Moab, and his many loyal captains.
It seems that traversing Hell’s Triangle was just the first of many impossible challenges barring the way to an island with beaches of golden sand…
Human Druid Barbarian
October 13, 740
Act II, Scene X: Lucien’s Report on the Artifacts of Yarash
Before Orlan leaves the Sea Lion to return to his companions, Lucien meets with him about his findings of Yarash’s sextant.
Having left the Lands of Mist, Lucien shares that he has been able to piece together some details regarding the artifacts the adventurers seek. This is all information that was laid before him in the documents he has studied through his many years memorizing “piratical lore,” but he suspects that the very hand of Harrimast kept him from realizing what he had seen until this moment, when the Mists are parted and all is laid bare.
Lucien says that each of Harrimast’s artifacts serves as a conduit for a particular aspect of Harrimast’s power in the Lands of Mist. When Yarash swept into battle carrying the complement of divine tools, he could bring his master’s full might down upon his foes. Without the artifacts, the first mate was merely the most formidable of Harrimast’s many lackeys.
v Angling the sextant into proper position gave Yarash easy transit of the world’s oceans—his sails filled even in a doldrums, and his decks stayed dry in the roughest seas.
v The hook gave the vile first mate the power to dominate men’s minds. The mightiest admirals quailed at the sight of his sails on the horizon, and his cultists endured any torture, died any death, if it furthered the wicked demigod’s cause.
v The pistol let Yarash control the creations of men’s hands, ruining the weapons of his enemies, or warping ships’ planks until the nails flew out like shrapnel.
v With one peal of the ship’s bell, Yarash could summon, create, and control the undead, raising skeletons from the seafloor or zombies from butchered corpses on an adversary’s decks.
v And peering through the spyglass allowed Yarash to travel through the Mists—flashing out of nowhere to slaughter a ship’s crew, and then vanishing while the water flowed red and hot with fresh blood.
Lucien suspects that the adventurers will not be able to muster the same degree of power that the demigod himself managed, but the power of these things dwarfs any mortal device. Each device has straightforward abilities, such as using the sextant to travel through rough seas without difficulty. Pushing for more extreme variations, such as attempting to still a wild storm, would require more effort on the part of the bearer.
Those who attempt to use one of the artifacts call upon Harrimast’s own might, and the god of the sea will judge their conviction and will. The god of pirates and derring-do rewards those who risk all, who laugh in the face of destruction. Timidity and half-measures are punished. Each use will be judged separately, and the degree of success of failure will be determined by the level of conviction in the heart and mind of the bearer.
Act II, Scene X: Lair of the Many-Headed, Fire-Breathing Creature
Ketham and Romany set out to return to the Sea Lion to update Captain Caladon on the current goings-on on the island. They will provide additional support with Tianna when Orlan returns with Malikier.
When the druid rejoins his companions, they enter the cavern. Although the cave mouth is only five feet wide, it is nearly ten feet high. The ground is hard here, so no obvious tracks lead into or out of the cave and the air exiting the cave carries a nauseating stink that almost chokes the adventurers.
As the adventurers begin their descent into the earth, they ties bands of cloth about their mouths and noses to combat the stench. Kari gives her “favor” to Draya, tying a perfumed band to Draya’s staff.
Just inside the entrance, the adventurers come upon two choices. The main tunnel, still around ten feet high, continues straight into the earth, while a much narrower tunnel branches off to one side. Down the side passage, the adventurers hear a high-pitched squeaking noise. The numerous holes in the cavern walls and floor draw their attention. They see rats scurrying in and out of them. They will have to walk carefully if they proceed in this direction to avoid stepping on the animals. Orlan senses that these creatures are frightened, but there are clearly thousands of rats here, and the creatures could easily turn desperate if they feel cornered.
The rest of the adventurers remain in the main passage, and they are alerted to the sounds of something large attracted by their light sources. They brace themselves for the thunderous arrival of a large, two-headed giant bringing to bear a pair of great clubs. While Kari continues to watch the rat-infested passage, her warrior companions do battle with the giant. The creature’s great reach gives it an advantage, but Rook’s pistols—explosive in the cavern—do more than balance the scales. After moments, the ettin falls.
But the battle is not over. Rather, the ettin’s mate and their angry child remain. The two giants chase after the fallen male, bearing their own clubs and spears. The adventurers meet these ettins as they did the first, slaying the three of them.
Not sure which way to go to follow the Chief’s directions, the adventurers decide to investigate the ettin lair before they risk provoking the rats. A short, winding corridor leads to a watery chamber. The passageway opens abruptly into a large cavern. Stalagmites are scattered about the chamber’s floor, casting strange shadows on the walls. At the northeast end of the cavern, they can just make out a small underground lake. The stench they smelled from just outside comes from this chamber. The strong, foul odor seems suspended in the air like a green vapor.
The adventurers enter the lair to investigate the bedding of the slain giants, among the pile of rags and other oddments that served as their sleeping mats. Nothing of value turns up. With no apparent route deeper into the earth, the adventurers return to the rat warren, the only place that seems to promise the Chief’s secret entrance into Moab’s lair.
With torches at the ready, they follow the narrow, honeycombed passage deeper into the earth. At one point, a passage branches off at a sharp angle, but they reason that a fleeing man (as the Chief described himself after escaping the fire-breathing monster) would not stop to take turns. He would keep running in a straight path as much as possible. Continuing, they come to a spot where the tunnel turns and arcs back the way they came, but before them is a secluded cul-de-sac, a ten-foot wide cavern. Hundreds of holes line the walls, and they hear strange squeaking and scratching noises coming from unseen spaces behind the face of the rock.
Orlan warns that this is a nest of countless rats, and the adventurers would do well not to enter the cul-de-sac, for doing so would most certainly make the swarms feel threatened and provoke a violent response.
The adventurers concur with the druid. They continue to follow the passage as it arcs back the way they came, developing a creeping suspicion that they are about to make a full circuit with the passage that branched away from them earlier. It’s true, and eventually they confirm this suspicion, but first they find a second chamber off the main tunnel.
As they enter this cavern, a welcome breath of fresh air greets them. It comes from a five-foot-diameter hole near the back wall of the room. The adventurers instantly realize that the shaft is the long tunnel that the Chief described in his tale of his escape from the fortress’ dungeon. It stretches beyond the reach of the adventurers’ light sources, and there is no sign of a ladder, rope or any other means to climb the shaft. The adventurers posit that the Chief, a very large man, could have easily braced himself across the five-foot wide shaft and crab-walked his way to the top of the chimney.
The group quickly begins to discuss how they should proceed. They determine that the pit is about a hundred feet deep. Draya offers to descend ahead of the others and scout the region at the bottom of the shaft. He uses the fifty feet of rope that the group still carries, and then unties himself and climbs the remaining fifty feet free hand. What he did not expect was that the shaft ends in the ceiling of a chamber, with the floor some ten feet below. With care, Draya drops into the floor. Moments later, his presence brings close to a dozen pit vipers from their lairs in the cavern walls.
When the battle begins, Orlan changes shape and dives to Draya’s aid. Together, the knight of staves and the druid battle the vipers, killing most and driving off those that remain. Above, the other adventurers rush to find a way to join their companions below. The dilemma of the hundred-foot shaft is compounded by Gabriella’s full plate armor. She and Rook begin to dash through the caves to return to the ettins’ remains. They hope to tie together another fifty feet of makeshift rope from the dead giant’s torn clothing.
Kari is left behind with Malikier, Orlan’s mountain lion. Standing there in the shadowed cavern, the witch is reminded that Malikier is every bit a wild animal, its instincts kept in check by its respect for Orlan. Uttering a spell of flight—which she fully intends to use to traverse the shaft after Rook and Gabriella return—she rises nearer the ceiling, a bit further from the lion’s easy reach.
Some time goes by before the hastily made length of cloth rope is ready. Rook, with aid from Kari, lowers Gabriella to the bottom of the shaft. Then the highwayman follows and Kari floats down under the power of her spell. The group, reunited, take stock of their new surroundings. A narrow tunnel leads deeper into the earth, and beyond it flows an underground river. The fast-moving waters of the fifteen-foot flow block their path ahead. On the other side, a twenty-foot wide passage narrows as it stretches into darkness.
A burst of firelight illuminates a serpentine form for just a moment. Then a draconic creature with close to a dozen heads slithers into view on the far side of the river. It splashes into the water, bursts of fire jetting from its mouths as it swims against the current with ease. Draya tries to take the battle to the dragon, but the creature’s many heads bloody him and drive him away. Eager for another taste of flesh, the dragon crosses the distance to where the others stand, waiting.
The battle is tense, but the adventurers make the many heads their primary focus. The dragon heals body-wounds very quickly, within minutes of sustaining injury there, but each battered head drops into the underground river, creating more of a drag on its body. With several heads beaten into submission, the dragon allows itself to be pulled away, withdrawing into the depths of the water.
Watching it go, Kari remarks that she hopes it doesn’t have another entrance to the caverns a little further downstream.
The adventurers cross the river and enter the lair of the many-headed, fire-breathing monster. The narrow passage opens into a massive, twenty-foot-high chamber with stalactites covering the ceiling. Thirty feet away, near the center of the room, rock formations block the adventurers’ view of the remainder of the cavern.
Moments after they enter the cave, they hear a cacophony of roars. Small bursts of flame illuminate the distant cavern ceiling. It becomes clear that Kari’s concerns a few minutes ago were prophetic. The dragon has hauled its wounded bulk from the underground river, returning to its lair through a southern entrance. Enraged at the adventurers’ intrusion, it slithers forward, intent on taking its vengeance.
The adventurers move to meet the dragon, instinctively taking up positions that allow them to use the terrain, and their ranged weapons, to their advantage. The dragon is ferocious, but now that its foes are prepared, it cannot stand for long. Its remaining heads are disabled in short order, and soon after, its body ceases moving.
With the dragon slain, the adventurers enter its lair and explore a bit. Draya pokes through the discarded clothing and other garbage—most likely the remains of the men Moab sent to pursue the Chief. The Blind Potter finds no coins, but three things of greater value: A pair of potion vials, and also a scroll with an arcane spell penned upon it.
Less hopeful, though, is the realization that Moab certainly did become aware of the Chief’s escape from the fortress’ dungeon. The passage beyond the dragon’s lair has collapsed, making it difficult to continue on in that direction.
Not ready to give up, the adventurers consider their options. It is possible, though unlikely, that this is not the entrance that the Chief described. And, even if it is the right passage, the adventurers believe they might be able to bypass the blockage and still creep into the dungeons unnoticed.
Kari offers to use her spell of flight to see whether there is anything else downstream. Before she leaves, Draya begins to organize his companions to move the collapsed earth and rubble.
“Are you ready to be big, manly men?”
“Oh, I don’t want to miss that…”
Kari shakes her head and flies off, but little physical work is done in her absence. The adventurers consider magical ways to move the rocks. Orlan suggests that he could raise the water level from the underground river. That would make the rocks easier to move. But, the adventurers would just find themselves up to their necks in river water and still trying to move tons of rock downstream. The key to their plan comes when Rook suggests using the sextant. According to Lucien, the sextant can create turbulence in water, make storms or even whirlpools in the right hands. The others agree that the two ideas, together, might just be enough to do what they need.
Rook whistles and Kari hears it. She returns to the others.
Orlan prays to Sylvanus to raise the water in the cavern, submerging the newly collapsed rocks. When the water has reached its desired height, the adventurers watch as Rook holds the sextant aloft and calls upon the power of Harrimast to stir the waters, commanding it to push the rocks into the current and downstream. Harrimast judges the highwayman’s conviction and finds him worthy, though it is a near thing, and Rook can sense the strain of using the artifact.
The blockage stirs, then tumbles out into the current of the underground river, carried away by the natural flow.
Orlan allows the water to drain away, exposing the debris-strewn, but now quite passable tunnel into the dungeon of Moab’s fortress.
Draya presents his findings from the dragon’s larder.
· Kari intones a spell to read the writing on the scroll; she finds that it bears the first-circle spell burning hands.
· The first potion is in a sealed leather tube. The watery fluid inside is fluorescent-yellow with an odor of shrimp. A careful taste test promises a flavor of mushrooms. There is no physical sensation to tasting it. Suggestions: Shrinking or swimming effects.
· The second potion is in a sealed, dusty-rose glass jar. The thin fluid inside is also fluorescent-yellow but with an odor of wood. A careful taste test promises a flavor of tart-cherry. Skin tingles when tasted, as if all hairs are standing up. Suggestions: Protection from electricity.
The adventurers press on, walking for several hours through the tunnel that led the Chief to his freedom on the surface. One by one, their existing dweomers cease to function. They stop to rest and eat, and soon after find themselves at a section of collapsed wall. Though the tunnel continues on, they have certainly come to their destination. The cave-in exposed the interior of a dungeon cell, with manacles on the walls and a small, uncomfortable cot. The iron door has a closed shutter at eye level. They have found the dungeon of Moab Cys’Varion.
Act II, Scene XI: Dungeons of the Drow
Before proceeding, the adventurers take stock of their situation. They find that the iron door is locked and barred from the far side, a precaution Moab’s men certainly took to ensure that no offensive—no matter how unlikely—could be mounted from this direction. Working open the shutter, they peer out on a dimly lit cell block. The corridor is lined with doors spaced every five feet or so. Each door has a small, shuttered window in it. Farther down the hall, the corridor turns to the right.
They are safe here for the moment. A brief discussion follows concerning rest. They have walked for hours, but it is still relatively early in the afternoon. They could stop here, unknown to the enemy, and eke out some rest and replenish their spells and prayers. They quickly decide that they are able to press on. The goal is subterfuge her, and they still have most of their dweomers at their command. The warriors are not so tired as to need more than a breather.
Resolved, the adventurers open the shuttered window in the cell door once again. Orlan becomes a cobra and is fed through the grate. Looking back, he confirms that the door is locked and sealed with an iron bar. At his companion’s request, he moves about a bit, exploring what lies beyond the cell.
Two of the cell doors, he notes, have weeping people beyond them. As a snake, he is unable to determine more beyond the sealed portals.
When he rounds the corner, though, he quickly slithers up to a guard chamber. This fifteen-foot square room has an exit in the center of each of its four walls. Two are blocked by an iron portcullis, while two portcullises hang overhead in the remaining exits. Two guards sit at a table in the middle of the room, playing cards. As Orlan studies them, he realizes that something is amiss—The men have eyes, literally, in the backs of their heads. If he had not approached in the form of a snake, then the men would certainly have spotted him, because between the two of them they are capable of watching all four exits simultaneously.
Clearly, these are two more of Moab’s genetic “supersoldiers,” with which he plans to invade the Lands of Mist. Like the archers the adventurers fought outside the Crystal Lake village—and like the hosts of others the Chief warned the adventurers to avoid—they are the elite, genetically enhanced by Moab to be the equal of any ten normal men. The key to dungeon cells is not on either man’s belt. It hangs on a nail in one corner of the room, next to the entrance where Orlan lies.
Orlan resolves to get the key, and to potentially remove the threat of the guards, as well. What follows, sadly, is a harrowing descent into chaos. Orlan summons a swarm of rats onto the card table where the two men are playing. The men cry out in alarm, and then grab torches to defend themselves against the maddened rodents.
“RATS! RATS! RATS! RATS! RATS! RATS!”
Orlan is able to get the keys from the guard room, and before long the adventurers are in the cell block, but the frightened guards’ alarm has brought a quartet of maniacal dwarves with wide hair and insane eyes. When the rats are scattered, the full might of these four dwarves and the two guards is visited upon the adventurers. The dwarves fire poisoned crossbow bolts, slicked with venom that burns the muscles of its prey. The diminutive creatures also invoke blasts of raw sound and conjure spheres of darkness to blind the adventurers.
The darkness also serves to make the arrival of a much larger, far deadlier defender of the dungeon. It is an enormous creature, with two heads, four arms and four legs. It is wields a pair of forge hammers simultaneously in its lower arms, while its upper wield an enormous greathammer with a ten-foot reach. This is by far the largest and most intimidating of Moab’s mutants the adventurers have seen so far, and what is worse is that it strikes first from darkness, battering both Draya and Orlan before anyone knows the true nature of the threat.
The adventurers are put on the defensive, but they fight determinedly. The forger falls, as do both of the cellblock guards. No longer laughing, the mad dwarves retreat the direction that they came, dropping the portcullis behind them even though the latch is on the adventurers’ side of the portal. For a moment—and only the moment—the cellblock falls silent. Gabriella continues to offer healing, though she admits that the majority of her prayers are now expended. Worse, the dwarven venom causes Draya to topple, losing consciousness.
A terrible predicament lies before them. If they turn back, then they will never again be able to return to the fortress using this path. The fortress lies deep under Crystal Lake and is covered by a bubble of impenetrable force; if the adventurers lose this entrance, how will they ever return? Worse, Moab will not allow this slight to go unnoticed. He has amassed an army of mutant supersoldiers, and he will most assuredly hunt them across the surface of the island.
And yet, Draya can go no farther, and Gabriella is about to carry him to the relative safety of the tunnels connecting to the dragon’s lair. What can whose who remain do to find Moab and take his spyglass, now that the fortress has been set on alert, and forces are assuredly on the way to crush them?