Black Sails over Leudendorf

Gorilla Island

 

 

The adventurers have defeated the masters of three of the four Isles of Yarashad.  Only one remains, a jungle island with a smoking volcano and—by all accounts—the home of Black Jenny Ramsey, the bearer of the Hook of Harrimast.

 

With this last artifact, the adventurers may be able to reach fabled Yarashad, the island with beaches of gold and rivers of tumbling sapphires.  But what must they do to obtain the hook?

 

 

 

 

Ketham

Sakari

Curtis

Gabriella

Fidanza

Dragomir

Draya

Vanev

Romany

Grey

Elfin Archer

Human Witch

Human Anchorite

Deva Blademaster

Human Gypsy

 

 

AND

 

Rook

(Jonathan

“Johnny”

Grey)

Aroth

Orlan

MacShane

Tianna

Human Highwayman

Conjurer

Human Druid Barbarian

Elfin Bladesinger

 

 

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October 31, 740 – November 6, 740

Act II, Scene XXXVI: Another Grey Recovers

After the fall of Zoltan Zaska, Jhondal needed a week to recover from his severe head wound.  After the expedition into the depths of Daen Danud’s lair, it is Johnny Gray, “Rook,” who needs to rest and overcome the ruptured spleen he suffered.  During this time, Gabriella prays to heal the broken eardrums she and Aroth suffered in Daen’s death throes, and Lucien spends hours studying the recovered artifacts of the Full Fathom Five.

 

 

The Ship’s Bell of Yarash

This pure gold bell appears anything but normal, as intricate runes exalting the foul Yarash cover it, the stand that allows it to swing, and the hammer used to make it peal. Yet, striking the bell with the hammer only results in a clear, low tone that carries quite a distance.

What effect the bell has depends on the ringer’s moral alignment and his or her success on a Conviction Check.

If a good character attempts a Straightforward use of the bell, he or she takes 1d6 points of damage. Good characters use the artifact to Turn or Destroy undead. For characters that cannot ordinarily perform turning, a Straightforward roll allows them to Turn Undead as a cleric of their own level. For characters that can ordinarily perform turning, a Straightforward roll allows them to perform one turning six levels higher than their current level.

If a good character attempts a Complex use of the bell, he or she permanently loses 2d6 hit points. Good characters who cannot Turn Undead may use a Complex roll to attempt one turn as a cleric five levels higher than their own. Good or neutral characters who can Turn may use a Complex roll to perform one turning ten levels higher than their current level, with any negative results on the turning-check roll raised to at least their own character level on the Turning Undead chart.

Neutral characters may use the bell just as a Good-aligned character might.  They may also choose to use the bell to animate dead, as an evil character would.  Those who use the bell for this purpose must roll a Saving Throw vs. Madness at -6 after attempting to use the bell to animate dead, or their alignment drifts inexorably toward evil over the course of the next seven days. Neutral characters attempting to create greater undead with the bell (as an evil character would with a Complex check) must roll a Saving Throw vs. Madness at -9 or suffer the same fate. The character must make a full atonement to a high priest of his or her god to return to neutrality.

 

 

 

November 7, 740

Act II, Scene XXXVII: Gorilla Island

The adventurers ask Captain Caladon to take a slow route from Daen Danud’s island, allowing them time to meet with Morgan Baumann in the brig of the Sea Lion.

Ketham is the first to visit, and his acrimony with Baumann continues to cast sparks between them.  He does not win the captain over, and he leaves her with a wood-carved falcon in the shape of the paper ones he has been leaving her since their first encounter.  Later in the journey between the isles, Ketham crafts a second wooden falcon, which he leaves in the captain’s cabin of the Kraken’s Claw, foreseeing the day when Baumann returns to her ship.

After his meeting with Baumann, Ketham speaks to his companions about her.  He highlights her skill as a captain, and her statements that they will need her before their adventures around Yarashad are finished.  Ketham points out the possible value of releasing the captain to serve as an ally against whatever comes next.  While the adventurers do not trust the captain, they cannot deny that Baumann is a legendary captain, renowned for her skill across the Sea of Sorrows.  For that same reason, releasing her poses genuine risks for all aboard the Sea Lion.  Baumann is among the most infamous pirates captains ever to sail the Sea of Sorrows, and her penchant for treachery precedes her.

Romany and Kari agree to perform an interrogation of their own.  Kari stands nearby invisibly while Romany uses her talents at persuasion and intimidation to attempt to win Baumann over.  She brings a peace offering of Baumann’s own rum, pineapple and oranges; the message doubling as an indication that all of Baumann’s goods are firmly in the adventurers’ hands.  Kari monitors the pirate captain’s thoughts using a dweomer of ESP.  During the conversation Romany ensures that Baumann glimpses the Sextant of Yarash hanging from her belt.  Earlier, Ketham had done the same with the Spyglass of Yarash.  Baumann’s eyes widened at each revelation, and Kari sees that, to Baumann, Romany has largely ceased to exist except as an obstacle towards getting the sextant.

The conversation does not make an ally of Baumann, but it does create a foundation.  Romany leaves the woman stung, though, intimidating her through careful manipulation of the conversation and then leaving her to stew on the gypsy’s last words.  Kari, lingering a bit longer and still invisible, sees Baumann lose her temper in a way she never would have with another living person in the room.  She attempts to throw the remnants of the pineapple after Romany, and when the bars of her cell stop it, she stomps the offending fruit into the floor.

After dinner, Draya brings food for Baumann.  He eats with her, even going so far as to give her his dessert.  Lazzare brings the blood porridge that would have been Draya’s, assuming the Blind Potter intends to eat it in front of the captive.  True to form, he has a bad joke for the occasion.

 

“What do you call a cow that doesn’t get any dessert?”

-Lazarre

 

“I don’t know.”

-DragomirDrayaVanev

 

“Baumann!”

-Lazarre

 

 

Though Baumann is vulgar during the meeting, and mildly abusive, she clearly is impressed by the gesture.  She asks whether Draya will be back for breakfast.  He says he will be if she would like that, and she replies, “Sure.” 

Draya begins to eat with her, though there is only one more meal to be had before he leaves for the Gorilla Island for more than a week. 

 

 

 

November 8, 740

Act II, Scene XXXVIII: Run Through the Jungle

Tianna and Orlan—along with the druid’s mountain lion companion—are among the crew manning the Kraken’s Claw.  Rook serves as interim captain on that vessel.

When this excursion begins, Aroth stays behind as an additional guard aboard the Sea Lion.

With the Kraken’s Claw sailing next to them, they approach the sandy beach labeled on Daen’s map.  They do not circumnavigate this island—they trust to Daen’s map.  Both ships anchor off shore, so the combined cannons can support the adventurers if anything attacks them on their approach.

The adventurers set off from the Sea Lion for the last of the four isles that awaited them on the far side of the Devil’s Triangle.  Once again, Lazarre rows them and waits for a time with the boat.  This time, though, he will return to the Sea Lion before the adventurers come back to the beach.  Ahead lies an island surrounded by rocky cliffs covered in dense jungles and dominated by a large volcanic cone.  As the adventurers approach the island, they can see what appears to be a mining operation and stone quarry at the base of the volcano. A quick look through the spyglass shows that the mines and the quarries bustle with activity, although they are too far away to see any real details.

Initially, the adventurers set out to avoid the mines and quarry in favor of making a direct route through the jungle to the village Draya spotted from Daen’s observatory.  When they see that the dense overgrowth will force them to spend at least three days on that particular journey, though, they settle on the closer mines and quarry after all.

A short trip up the beach and through the jungle leads to a clearing above a large open quarry pit, hundreds of yards across and teeming with activity. On the far side of the pit, at the base of the volcanic cone, is a mining operation. A network of scaffolding and ladders leads up to a mine entrance cut into the side of the mountain. A stone quarry takes up another area of the pit. The adventurers see workers cutting huge stone blocks out of the mountainside and dragging them off into the jungle on rolling logs.

Overseeing the work are white gorilla’s clad in leather armor, cracking whips and holding wickedly spiked mancatchers.  The gorillas are of the same sort that the adventurers fought—as zombies—when they sprung their ambush on Daen Danud in his observatory.

As they take in the scene, a gong sounds, and the workers clear out and an explosion against the rock face sends up a huge could of dust.

Ketham produces the spyglass, peering about and hoping to find more details without getting nearer to the site.

Miners come out of the mine with bags of rock slung across their backs, bringing them to some sort of ore-processing area. Other miners re-enter the mine with empty sacks.

Nearer, in the quarry proper, other workers busily cut large stone blocks out of the side of the volcano. They drag them down a road leading off into the jungle. It takes dozens of workers to pull a single stone block.

Upon closer examination, the workers all seem skinny, pale, and weak. The adventurers see miners struggling with their ore-filled satchels. The workers dragging the stone blocks appear to be near death.

While they see the gorilla taskmasters scattered throughout the crowds, they don’t seem to drive the workers at all.  In fact, the weak workers could easily overpower the gorillas with sheer numbers.

Chillingly, many of the emaciated workers seem to have either blissful smiles or dumb, vacant expressions on their face.

Ketham suggests skirting the mines and quarry to get to the road.  Considering the workers’ expressions, he warns his companions to be wary of the men defending their gorilla taskmasters if a fight should begin.

The others agree, but as they prepare to return to the jungle, they spot a foreman’s shack overlooking the quarry, not far from where they stand.  A short distance down the hillside stands the only other significant structure in the quarry aside from the processing plant itself—a sprawling tool shed.

The door to the shack opens and an older, shaggy white gorilla emerges for a moment.  He seems disgruntled, almost forlorn.  He takes in the sights of the quarry and the mine, then returns to the shack, closing the door behind him.

Intrigued, Ketham spies on the shack with the spyglass.  The shack, the door of which overlooks the quarry, is slightly bigger than the Tool Shed, and windows sit to either side of the door. Inside are two gorillas: One a foot shorter than the other and wearing a white apron.  The two are playing cards and sucking on hookahs and drinking banana drinks in tall glasses. The older turns to his cards, still wearing a frown, only when his companion slaps the table and insists on it.

The adventurers discuss this scene, talking about the reason for the older gorilla’s expression.  Perhaps they are awaiting the adventurers’ arrival, but as an enemy or as potential allies?  They cannot be sure.

 

“Skirt the mines?  Double back?”

-Ketham

 

“We’re definitely coming back.  These people need our assistance.”

-Gabriella Fidanza

 

 

The adventurers move through the jungle to the road, reaching it in the late morning.   The road through the island’s thick rainforest presents more or less a straight, clear shot to the settlement Draya spotted using Daen’s telescope.  The going is slow, with many runnels and pits in the road, and low-hanging jungle foliage that refuses to be pushed back by the frequent passage of humans pushing and dragging twelve-foot cubes of rock.

Around noon, the adventurers catch up to the slab they witnessed leaving the quarry.  There are roughly a score men accompanied by only two white apes.

Gabriella hears one of the gorillas speaking in Lamordian, demanding the men move faster.  The ape says that they have a three-day journey ahead of them that he won’t allow to become a four-day journey. 

The adventurers skirt the workers, surpassing their slow progress despite the rigor of hacking a route through the jungle a safe distance from the road. 

Around two hours after noon, shortly after returning to the road, the adventurers find themselves the target of a gnome ambush.  The ambushers prove no match for the adventurers, and when the first volley of crossbow bolts finds not a single mark, the leader of the gnomes addresses Draya rather than pressing the attack.  The gnomes are surprised; they were expecting gorillas. When they find that the adventurers are here to confront Black Jenny Ramsey—a name that seems to confuse the leader of the gnomes, though only a little, because it is accompanied by a description of Jenny as a pirate captain—the gnomes become friendlier.

The leader of the ambushers gives his name as Skrunk.

When the adventurers aid the gnomes in attacking the caravan when it reaches their position, the gnomes are won over.  In the short-lived fight, Draya quells any human resistance while Ketham and the gnomes deftly slay the two gorilla guards accompanying the slab.

After evidence of the ambush is cleared away, Skrunk takes the adventurers deeper into the jungle along narrow, twisting paths, to the hidden gnome village.  The jungle opens into a small clearing, and the adventurers see a ring of bamboo huts with a large pit at the center. Two huts to the east and south are larger than the others, and they are decorated with animal heads on spear-points.

Just to the side of the pit sits a crude wooden figure, some 20 feet high, made of bamboo poles and held together with vines.

The village proper consists of several huts situated around a large cooking pit, which serves as the gnomes’ central meeting place. A large boar is cooking over the pit. The centerpiece of the pit is a huge black cauldron (missionary-sized) with logs underneath it.

The adventurers are welcomed to eat with the gnomes, and after the meal they are ushered into the presence of the wise-gnome of the village, a gnome who was alive when Black Jenny Ramsey came to the island 150 years ago.  His name is Crüd.

 

 

 

Act II, Scene XXXIX: Meeting Crüd

A fence of unidentifiable animal tusks ring Crüd’s lodgings, and a gorilla’s head hangs in his doorway like a keystone. A chimney made of bamboo poles (looking something like a pipe organ) pumps out clouds of aromatic smoke. Inside, the hut is a riot of miscellany. Shelves line the walls, every one packed with bones, feathers, pearls, stone tools, insects, eyeballs, and scales. Crüd’s cooking pot, whence the smoke, dominates the center of the room. The gnome is brewing up something green, lumpy, and full of ingredients that aren’t quite dead yet. The smell is overpowering.

The adventurers, with Skrunk’s good word, easily convince Crüd of their good intentions (and, more importantly, that “Ahunatum” hasn’t sent them).

The wise-gnome tells the tale of the day when Black Jenny Ramsey arrived. The peaceful gnomes took in the lovely maroon, who was barely alive, and nursed her back to health—whereupon they discovered she was no lady, but a wicked vampire bent on dominating the gnome tribe. Still, she was weak, so Crüd had no trouble rebuking her and driving her into the jungle.

So the lady vampire stormed off to find more pliable subjects.  She changed her image, becoming a blonde goddess in a diaphanous gown.  She took the name Ahunatem, leaving the pirate captain behind.  She dominated the local white apes, and as men washed ashore on the island, she dominated them, as well.  Now the men and apes alike worship her as their deity.  They live together in the great Gorilla City to the northeast.

All of this was possible because of a deed Jenny committed the day she fled the gnome village. Seeking to strengthen the powers of her artifact, she hacked off her hand and sank the hook into her undead flesh. The self-mutilation worked as she planned, but Black Jenny was as arrogant as she was beautiful. She left her severed member lying in the dirt, where the gnomes found it and used it as the basis of the village’s powerful protective magic. 

Every structure and every inhabitant of the gnome village bears a small juju bag, linked with powerful sympathetic magic to the shaman’s master juju bag, which contains the mummified hand of the vampire pirate. Crüd has loaded the hand with numerous wards and illusory effects that render the homely village invisible to the vampire captain and her monkey minions. When the village lights a cooking fire, the smoke looks like flocks of birds rising into the air; when the apes tromp through the jungle, the path to the gnome village vanishes beneath their feet, and the trees grow thicker around them.

Good thing, too: the gorillas hunt the gnomes for sport whenever they find the unfortunate creatures in the jungle. Thanks to this mistreatment and their lingering antipathy toward Ahunatum, the gnomes gladly support any attacks on the island’s overlords.

Crüd tells the adventurers how to sneak into Ahunatem’s temple lair.  The key, he says, is to return to the mines, and enter the lava fissures that lie on the lowest level.  Follow the fissures northeast to a secret entrance to the dungeons of the temple.  From there, they can strike from behind, when Ahunatem least expects it. 

The heroes are appalled when they learn that they will have to walk for four days underground, but they feel even less hopeful about a frontal assault on “Gorilla City.”  They accept the wise-gnome’s offer, after Draya confirms that Crüd will provide them a map of the lava fissures. Crüd himself has never walked the lava fissures—no one has—but he says that he dreamed the route.  Sitting there, mildly intoxicated by the fumes coming from the cauldron in the center of the hut, the adventurers have little trouble believing the Crüd had just these dreams.  They are no inspired, though, to believe deeply in their veracity.

Crüd invites the adventurers to spend the night at the village, an offer they gratefully accept.

Before parting from the wise-gnome’s company, though, Romany and Kari approach Crüd over whether he might spare a piece of the hand in his juju bag.  The wise-gnome is reluctant.  He explains that any opening of his juju bag would risk ruining all the wards he has in place.  The village would be defenseless against Ahunatem and her evil minions.  Romany and Kari press the wise-gnome, ultimately convincing him to take the risk in order to be rid of the vampire queen forever.  He bids them to leave him to his meditations, and the delicate work he must perform.

That evening before resting, Ketham tries to scry on Ahunatem.  His two previous efforts to scry upon Black Jenny Ramsey failed.  It seems likely that the failure had more to do with her change of identity than anything else.  Unfortunately, the spyglass does not reveal anything on this attempt, either.

 

 

 

November 9, 740

Act II, Scene XL: Back to the Mines

First thing in the morning, Crüd brings a piece of the hand.  Kari takes it with thanks for the risk he took the night before.

Skrunk guides the adventures to the mines, then, according to the plan the adventurers and he concocted, he leaves them and moves around to the south.  Before leaving, Skrunk warns the adventurers to stay out of sight from Zayess, the grizzled old foreman they spotted outside the shack when they first came upon the site.  Zayess has a horn, and he will sound the alarm before Skrunk gives him a reason to do so.

Two hours after leaving, Skrunk delivers his sign—the launch of a fiery coconut from a hemp-and-bamboo catapult.  The fiery milk of the coconut washes over the street and a building within the quarry.  A second follows soon after, leaving flames in another part of the quarry.

As expected, Zayess appears outside the foreman’s shack, blowing on a horn.  White apes race towards the quarry, and the fires there. 

The adventurers are quick to capitalize on the opportunity Skrunk created.  They dash from the jungle and towards the mines.  Lashed-together bamboo scaffolding covers this side of the mountain. A series of ramps and ladders leads up to the mine entrance. The miners quickly scatter out of their way.

Inside the mine, they find a block-and-tackle setup over a large shaft. There is a crank and winch assembly attached to a spool of rope, which extends down into the darkness of the mineshaft.

Two miners are still here.  The adventurers present themselves as agents of Ahunatem, and the miners bask in the news that their goddess has sent people to speak with her.  They answer all of the adventurers questions about the mines.  The first level is no longer used, but ore has been found on a level below, and the gifts to Ahunatem have been greater than ever.  But, the lava fissure is very dangerous.

They gather a half dozen lanterns and three skins of oil from the supplies in this chamber of the mine, far from the amount they will need for four days beneath the ground.  However, they know that Gabriella can create magical light. 

Then Draya and Ketham send down Gabriella, Kari, Romany and Jhondal first.

This level of the mine is quiet. Gabriella prays for light. Two passageways extend in opposite directions from the elevator landing. Mining implements are scattered around the corridor but these tunnels seem to be unused. 

When they realize that the mines sprawl, turning and wending about, the adventurers realize that the miners they left above had more knowledge that could help them.  Draya quaffs a potion of flight to return to the first level of the mine, where the first haggard worker remains.  The man beams at the opportunity to help an agent of his goddess with directions to the lava tubes.  They also warn against the corridors of bad gas.

Draya swoops back down to his companions and then guides them through the mines, avoiding numerous dead ends.  Because of Gabriella’s magical light, they are able to avoid setting off the gas pocket when they enter it.  Much sooner than any could have anticipated, they find the second winch elevator.

Gabriella, Jhondal and Ketham descend after hearing noises of work below.  This level of the mines has more activity. Miners continue to dig ore out of the walls and load it into carts. They notice a network of tracks on which the carts roll—from here, the mine tunnels slope downward in every direction. Miners have to struggle to push the carts, laden with ore, uphill to a loading area. The miners transfer the ore to satchels, and the elevator carries them up to the exit. The adventurers notice that one tunnel’s tracks are barricaded with a flimsy sign painted with a bright red X.

As they survey the scene, a gorilla foreman approaches the elevator. “Get back to work, human scum!” he barks in Lamordian.

When the foreman sees the humans in the basket are far from emaciated workers, the adventurers strike.  Jhondal leaps from the basket, striking at the foreman.  Ketham shoots down one of the other two gorillas in the loading area and wounds the last.  The injured gorilla rushes away, and the adventurers act quickly.  Gorillas come running in answer to the cries of their companions.  Draya swoops down from the elevator, carrying Romany and Kari.  All the adventurers race towards the mine carts. 

Ketham knocks over the carts in the adjacent tunnel to the one the miner’s told Draya to use.  The adventurers clamber into the first two carts and topple the remaining one.  Then they disengage the brakes and begins a rolling descent into the earth.  Aside from the dangerous speeds and sharp corners that threaten to overturn the carts, the adventurers quickly find themselves running parallel to another track, on which ride two more carts of white apes.  The apes attempt to leap from one track to the next, but only one comes close.  The adventurers respond swiftly, knocking one gorilla to the tracks, where it is crushed by the second cart, damaging the braking mechanism of the gorilla, and finally—by means of Kari using the Pistol of Yarash, removing the front left wheel of the lead ape cart.  When the wheel roll wide, the cart topples away from the adventurers’ carts, and the second ape cart quickly plows into the back of it. 

The adventurers roll faster towards the last turn.  Ahead, the light of nearby lava grows brighter, angrier.  Jhondal attempts to brake his cart, but the brake snaps off in his hand.  The adventurers balance their carts as they take the last turn, and quickly begin to wonder whether it might not have been better to crash into the unyielding stone wall now behind them.  Ahead, the tracks descend sharply towards a yawning river of lava.

The lava fissure is the end of the road. A recent volcanically induced tremor opened up an enormous fissure here, exposing a river of lava and the entrance to the lava caves. Only a pair of flying potions taken from Zoltan Zaska’s flying skull save the adventurers in the first cart.  As Ketham brings the second cart to a safe stop, the first soars off the track and splashes into the lava below.

 

 

 

November 9-12, 740

Act II, Scene XLI: Underground

For four days, the adventurers follow the map that Crud gave Draya. 

They ration their use of lanterns, relying as much as possible on Gabriella’s prayers for light, which are both replenishable and produce no additional heat.

 

 

 

November 12, 740

Act II, Scene XLII: The Dungeons of Gorilla City

The map of the lava fissures ends in a 20-foot-high room containing a large pool of molten rock. The pool sits directly over a vertical shaft way leading up to the dungeons beneath Ahunatem’s pyramid.

Using a potion of flight, Gabriella flies Draya up the shaft.  There, they spy on the creatures they hear above.

A detachment of eight gorillas armed with greatclubs is stationed here. A much larger white ape commands them. When not responding to alarm gongs or signal horns, the guards engage in idle torment of human prisoners.  When Gabriella and Draya first arrive, the ape leader declares that one human has been dead long enough.  An ape tosses the corpse over the edge of the shaft, dropping it unceremoniously into the lava pit below.  The shaft is large enough that the anchorite and the Blind Potter are able to avoid it with ease, but those below have a momentary start when a male, human body plummets out of the shaft to splash into the lava.

Draya finds hand holds and foot holds in the rock, fully aware that nothing lies below but a pool of molten rock.

When he is secure, Gabriella leaves him to gather others.

She brings Ketham, who finds similar hand and footholds.

Then she brings Jhondal.

Then Romany and Kari simultaneously.  The adventurers strike in unison, surprising the white apes.   The chamber has four exits aside from the shaft, and the adventurers know that they must control the terrain just as they must strike decisively and swiftly.

Romany takes on the gorilla nearest the northern exit.

Cloaked in invisibility, Kari makes her way to the southeast door and binds it in a wizard lock.

Gabriella and Jhondal stand in the center of the room, battling the gorillas there, and those that race to meet them.

Ketham stands in the midst of it all, between Gabriella and Jhondal, firing arrows and felling gorillas.

Draya leaves his companions, dashing through the gorilla warriors.  He positions himself to guard the steps in the southwest corner, and in doing so he single-handedly slays half of the white apes, including their massive leader.

 

 

Three humans lie, unconscious from the abuse they have suffered, on the floor of the chamber.  Gabriella ministers to their injuries, saving the three humans’ lives.

While the anchorite does this, her companions split their attention between searching the room’s many exits and throwing the gorillas into the lava below.  They take the largest gorilla’s keys, but they toss his alarm horn down the shaft after his body.

Kari opens the door she wizard locked.  The air beyond is humid and hot, carrying a whiff of some manner of vegetation, possibly mold or moss.

Ketham suggests that the trail may lead to a dock.  He volunteers to explore the corridor.  As he travels down, the walls get damper and the air gets more humid. At one point in the corridor, the combination of ocean and volcano has created a potentially deadly hazard. Seawater, heated by super-hot lava, spews out of vents at random intervals along the first 100 feet of the corridor. The jets of scalding steam billow around Ketham; he dashes for his companions, emerging with burns but adroit enough to escape with his life.

 

“Yes, it probably does lead to the ocean!  No, we’re not going to go that way.”

-Ketham

 

 

The next door to open is the northwest portal that Romany guarded during the battle with the ape guards.  The keys from the great ape guard captain unlocks the door.  Beyond lie dozens of prison cells—the dungeons.  Only ten prisoners lie within; most cells are empty.

Gabriella leads the effort to put the unconscious prisoners in unlocked cells. 

Romany questions the most alert of the prisoners abut Ahunatem.  The man fell from his goddess’ grace, and he hopes only to be redeemed in her eyes.  He speaks of time spent in a torture chamber called the Blood Pits.  He tells Romany of his journey into the dungeons, through the Ritual Chamber, the Throne Room, the Guard Rooms.

He tells Romany of “The Twins,” minions that Ahunatem brought from another of the Isles of Yarashad.  When he described the Twins, he gives a convincing description of Zoltan Zaska.  Black Jenny kidnapped two Zaskas to serve her, just as Zaska populated his entire lair with enchanted versions of Jenny herself.

He tells of the the Ritual, which occurs every twelve days—and last took place while the adventurers were underground in the lava fissures.  In apparent ecstasy, he says that, during the ritual, each obelisk in Gorilla City glows a dull blood-red color, and lines of magical energy radiate from the Pyramid’s apex and around each obelisk. Magic seeps into every person in town, and everyone is one with Ahunatem in that moment.

Gabriella flies through the northeast door, which eventually ends at the door to the Blood Pits room. She peers through a keyhole, which reveals enough of that horrid room for her taste.  She returns to report what lies in that direction.

The adventurers reconvene in the guard room.

They resolve to pass through the door that Draya held during the battle, and has guarded ever since.  Beyond is a pyramid-shaped room lit with torches. An exquisitely carved ivory throne covered with velvet cushions sits in the center of the room. Surrounding this sumptuous seat, and covering most of the floor, is an exact miniature model of the island’s surface.  The map of the island, of course, is lacking in one detail: The gnomes’ village is marked as a network of swamps and overgrown vegetation

Here, Kari casts a spell to locate Ahunatem, using the fragment of her hand that she and Romany convinced Crüd to share. 

She finds, definitively, that Ahunatem is directly beyond the next door.  The adventurers stop, taking full advantage of this unique opportunity.  They plan a united, cunning, organized strike against the Queen of Gorilla Island.  Then Draya throws open the door and an illusion—created by Kari—of the remaining four members of the Full Fathom Five stride in ahead of the adventurers.

Ahunatum awaits them on her throne in the massive chamber before them, but she was clearly unprepared to face the images of her former compatriots.  She stands, lip quivering, shouting for her minions to strike.  The Twins, though, are too stunned to react until a couple minutes into the fight.  Without their aid, she must rely upon five white apes and several hundred bats who heeded her call to aid her. 

Ketham fires an arrow at Ahunatem’s heart, but the missile is deflected by ward of unseen power.

The vampiress does not seek to engage the adventurers in melee, though she is by far the most skilled warrior of the Full Fathom Five.  Focusing her wrath on the pirate lords before her, she reveals her arm, which ends in the Hook of Yarash.  She unleashes her greatest power, attempting to dominate the Five, and also all the adventurers in her presence.  The power of the artifact crashes through the prayer for protection from evil that Gabriella had invoked in anticipation of just this sort of attack.  All resist the attempt but Jhondal.  At the same time, the attempt to establish a telepathic link warns Ahunatem that the pirates are not what they seem. 

Moments later, though, Ahunatem is occupied by first Romany, who cracks her in the head with a nunchaku, and soon after Draya. 

Jhondal, now the willing ally of the vampiress, strikes Gabriella with his enchanted scimitar.  The blade comes away red, seriously injuring the anchorite and ruining the dweomer she was casting to bring down Ahunatem’s abjurations.  Gabriella must flee, withdrawing by flight to the ceiling, out of Jhondal’s reach, where she can quaff a potion of healing. 

Jhondal eagerly seeks his next victim, but Kari reacts faster.  Doing the nearly impossible, she dispels the power of Yarash’s hook in a once-in-a-lifetime casting.

After just an instant of delay, Jhondal charges into the throne room to join Draya and Romany against Ahunatum, her apes and her swarms of bats.

Intimidating the vampiress, Romany leans in among the bats and tells Ahunatem that the end is near.

 

 

“The rest of the Full Fathom Five died at our hands, you bitch.  I can’t wait to see you go.  I bet you don’t have three minutes left.”

-Romany Grey to Ahunatum

 

 

 

In just under three minutes, her threat is proven entirely true.

The end comes swiftly.  One by one, Ahunatem’s minions begin to fall.  Ketham brings down the first of the Twins, and the flies to the second, pursued by swarms of bats.  From within their shrieking wings, he fires another volley of arrows, taking the life of the other Twin, as well. 

Instants later, flanking with Draya, Jhondal delivers the blow that crushes Ahunatem.

But she is a vampire.  The defeat of her physical form merely reduces her to a gaseous state.

Ahunatem flees the throne, driven towards her concealed coffin, where she will reform and heal.  Her path takes her directly towards Gabriella, who in that very instant completes the incantation for her prayer to summon heavenly fire.  She has intended to obliterate swarms of bats, but as Ahunatem streaks towards her, she unleashes the prayer on the vampiress herself, utterly annihilating the last of the Full Fathom Five.

 

 

 

November 12-16, 740

Act II, Scene XLIII: Reconstruction

The day is nearly done, but for the next four days the adventurers stay on the island.  They guide the baffled humans and gorillas, and they go to visit the gnomes.

Skrunk comes along, and before the adventurers leave the village, Romany convinces Skrunk to accompany her aboard the Sea Lion, to live a life of adventure.  Skrunk is delighted by the prospect.

 

 

 

November 17, 740

Act II, Scene XLIV: The Hook

Back on the Sea Lion for the day, Draya continues sharing cow jokes with Lazarre. 

“Where do baby cows eat?”

“The calf-ateria.”

Lazarre loves these, laughing heartily at each and promising to add them to his repertoire.

 

That evening, after a day of study, Lucien presents his findings on the Hook of Yarash.

 

 

The Hook of Yarash

This pirate’s prosthetic hook appears to be made of tarnished brass. Its barb is especially sharp, and the curve of the hook doesn’t seem quite right. To use it properly, the owner must cut off a hand.

Its most significant power, which Yarash exploited to chilling effect, is dominating men and beasts. With a Straightforward Check a bearer may affect all creatures within a 10-foot radius per character level, as per a Charm of the first circle, such as charm person.

Other Straightforward tasks include helping a willing subject remember a forgotten fact or forcing an unwilling subject to speak the truth.

With a Complex Check, a bearer may affect all creatures within that area with the fifth-circle Compulsion domination. In both cases the effect lasts for twenty-four hours.

Other Complex tasks include restoring a character’s lost Intelligence or Wisdom.

 

Note: If a bearer does not remove a hand to use the hook, the success of a Straightforward Check is determined as if it were a Complex Check.  All DCs for a Complex Check are increased by 6.

 

In combat, a bearer who has replaced a hand with the hook may use it as a secondary weapon.  The hook has Weapon Speed 3, deals 2d4+4 damage, and overcomes Damage Reduction as a Chaotic Sickle +3.  It scores Critical Hits—and automatic hits—on a 19-20, rather than the usual 20.  On a Critical Hit, the hook deals triple damage, rather than double.

 

 

Lucien asks for permission to study all five of the artifacts together.  He is sure that, with that perspective, he will be able to determine how the artifacts can be used together to summon the Island of Yarashad.  The adventurers are a bit nervous handing over the artifacts; Draya and Ketham in particular have come to fear that Lucien may not be as innocent as he seems.  They stay nearby through the evening as Lucien continues his work, all five of the Regalia of Yarash laid out before him.

At dawn, the two watchers are alarmed to hear Lucien gently sobbing.

They hurry to his side and find Lucien speaking to the urn holding Flint’s ashes.  He apologizes, telling his dear friend that, after all this, he has failed.

 

“I am sorry.  I cannot do it.  I cannot find the secret to make the island appear.”

-Lucien Bouche to the ashes of his friend Flint

 

 

The first rays of dawn’s light filter through the portholes in the Sea Lion’s hull as Draya and Ketham try to determine how—or whether—to console Lucien.

Before anyone can speak, though Lazarre begins screaming from the deck, “Holy Cow!  Holy Cow!”

He rouses everyone, summoning them all to the deck.  There, the morning greets everyone with a vivid red sky. They all remember the old saw: “Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.”  Something else strikes them all as odd, though it takes them a moment to put their finger on it: there’s an island at sea that wasn’t there yesterday. A quick glance at the map confirms their suspicions...it’s Yarashad

 

“Of course.  Of course.  The artifacts cannot summon the island.  The island will come to the artifacts.”

-Lucien Bouche to the ashes of his friend Flint