Sunday, September 25, 2016

Deeper in the Icy Murk

     Having survived a morning ambush by the Draci, thanks in part to some opportune potion administering by McFall, the party finds themselves in possession of just the warm bodies they need to make the trade with The Bloodroot. After patching themselves up and finishing breakfast, they load the unconscious and badly wounded Draci onto the canoes and head back over to the tangle. They find the Tanglemen waiting and are led once more into the heart of the island. There they make a trade with the Dark, sentient willow, who once more asks Cawyn to rid the Murk of the threat at its center. Snap and Boggs are returned and the party quickly makes their exit.

     Deciding for the moment to take Grimms at his word, they move on after a short rest, expecting that their strange, warlock paladin partner will return at a time of his choosing - if the bog doesn't get him first.

     Rowing deeper into the murk, they are met with intermittent snowfall and heavy fog. It quickly grows evident that without Snap's aid, they may very well have lost their way. Hours later, with arms and backs sore from the constant rowing, the spy a clump of trees. Drawing a little closer, Snap points out the wreck for what it is - an older model airship, Cloudrunner class, mostly sunk in the murk but with it's prow and nose jutting from the frozen waters. Dry, leafless vines cover its decking and it's main mast and rigging hang tangled over the bow. Similar vegetation surrounds the wreck like a thorny skirt.

     They are about to move on, when they spy something of interest dangling at a strange, upward slant from the broken mast. After closer inspection with the spyglass, they determine it can be little else but Arquonite, caught in the rotted remains of a bit of old sailcloth and rope. A pretty prize for the men able to retrieve it. But after some more consideration, they opt to leave it alone until their return trip, judging that it would be difficult to carry the arquonite at the moment, as they don't have enough gold to render the material inert. Marking out a better map of the location, they continue on.

     During an afternoon lunch on some huge floating logs, Cawyn has the opportunity to return Snap's medallion. He mentions that it could only have been the Old God's that allowed him to find it. Snap tells Cawyn a little of his past, revealing that he was once a soldier for the royal armies of Manawyn in the South. That the medallion was a symbol of his Griffon unit. He hints at a personal tragedy that led him to lose himself here in the Murk. Cawyn observes that perhaps the Huntress and Summoner have not given up on him. Snap is very grateful. He pledges himself to seeing them all out of the Murk safely and offers to return the money. Cawyn refuses the money but otherwise accepts the young ranger's pledge.

     Throughout the day's journey, the ice and cold have been getting thicker and stronger. Snap mentions that this is the worst he's seen it, and it seems the deeper they get into the murk, the colder and worse it becomes. There are signs of vegetation and animals perishing in the unnatural cold.

     When they reach a largish, lake, they find only a few thin channels of unfrozen water leading across. In the middle of the frozen expanse, they spy something on the ice, Cloth perhaps? and maybe the remnants of a fire ring? Calder attempts to crawl out of the boat and across the thinnish ice but falls in. Eventually they chop a channel for the canoes and everyone manages to get on the ice. Calder changes into dry clothes and they approach the campsite.

     They find a wool cloak frozen to the ice and covered in frost. From the tracks and the blood signs, they deem that a battle of some kind took place between one and two weeks ago. They find the snapped head of a Draci javelin buried in the ice. Harrick wipes away the snow and frost and sees a body floating beneath the ice. Carefully hacking a hole, they drag the blue-skinned Neran clear of the lake and examine him. He appears middle-aged and small statured and wears leather armor. A fine sheathed dagger and a pouch of gold and jewels are at his belt, and an empty quiver is strapped to his back. He wears several cheap medallions, like those bought at any village fair, and one finer medallion that shows a hammer, a feather and a scroll. It is unfamiliar.

     A brief discussion leads them to the conclusion that this man was likely part of the first group after the Church's reward. After Cawyn says a blessing over the dead, they return to their boats and head on.

     It isn't long before they reach the shores of the missionary island. They find signs of the ice being hacked away, again within the last two weeks. They also find two canoes in the snow-covered bushes. Booted tracks lead up the trail, along with several faint traces of Draci clawed toes. Stowing their own canoes they head up the trail.

     The camp lies in a clearing amidst a copse of mixed pine and bare birch and willow trees. A five foot willow switch fence encircles the three mud brick buildings with thatched roofs. The gate has been knocked off the hinges. A few animal bones lie about the snowy yard but there is no sign of habitation beyond the small birds and animals of the murk. They spread out, checking what looks like a goat and pig pen, and a storage shed robbed of grain and meat.

     When they check the main building, they find the two main doors slightly ajar. Harrick is deft enough to notice a string leading from the top of the door. When Calder takes a moment to inspect it, they find a crude but effective crossbow trap. Standing back, they push open the doors and two bolts embed themselves in the snowy dirt. Within the building, they see a largish room with a fire pit in its center and some broken furnishings spread around the walls. What is most evident however is a huge mound of partially translucent blue ice. In its center Calder and Harrick can both see a large, humanoid figure. It looks to be a man of Hodra descent, fully armored and with a sword sheathed at his back. Everything is encased in a foot of thick ice, but the sword glints strangely to Calder's eye.

     As Cawyn is making his careful way through the back door of the building, and Snap, Boggs and McFall search outside, an icy blue glow begins to emanate from the warrior's black eyes. Calder and Harrick only have a moment to register surprise before the mound of ice comes to life, huge, ice sheathed limbs flex and the beast looks at them through it;s protective, icy shell.

A Massive Update

     A very hearty welcome back! It has been too long since this blog has been updated. The adventures of the Maven's Cry have continued, even if the journal entries haven't. I will attempt a very brief overview of what has transpired since waaaay back in Hardune Pointe.

The Missing Sailors of Hardune Pointe. COMPLETE

   As guessed, the great and fabulous Sheerhan was the culprit. The mad scientist was luring sailors from right off their ships with a phonograph-style recording of a Siren's Song that he would float above the trees near the town. Whoever happened to be on deck on passing airships would get an earful and momentarily lose their senses, walking right overboard and plummeting to their deaths.

     Sheerhan would then use the victims parts for all kinds of horrible and wickedly clever purposes, up to and including potion making and golem building. The shrouded tinkers weren't sufferers of disease, they were half Dinari, half-machine, insane little flesh golems that did Sheerhan's bidding.

     When the crew finally returned to Sheerhan's airship with the Constable in tow, they forced his hand and fought he and his minions as he hastily tried to escape. The cruelest blow came after they defeated Sheerhan's monster, A large Cog with the severed head of their crewman in the center of it's brutish frame. Needless to say, Sourberry didn't make it, but neither did the mad tinkerer.

     The crew of the Maven was awarded gold and given the official thanks of the Mayor and Constable. Their deeds were reported to the crown and they left Hardune Pointe as local heroes.

Spice Run (Escort) COMPLETE
Milum, Deoria to Drystan, Fom
Pickup Date: By Oct 29, 572
Delivery Date: Expected Arrival Dec 1, 572

     Ora R. Chauntaclor of Highwind Shipping needed a light gun escort capable of high altitude flight for a zeppelin convoy of Spice and Silk.

     With the exception of some minor rift activity and a incident with the Faelinarie saboteur (noted in the Red Plainsmen job) the mission went slow and smooth.

Payment: 2250 of 3000 gold due upon delivery. 1250 after new arrangement.

Mercenary Airlift (Transport) COMPLETE
Conymar, Delek to Sedge River Delek
Start Date: Nov 12, 572
Delivery Date: Nov 12, 572.

     Captain Kamryl of the Red Plainsmen Mercs wanted 50 troops transported quickly to Sedge River. The crew made arrangements with Captain Faraday of the Spice Convoy, in exchange for part of the profit, to take the Red Plainsmen and meet the convoy back on the Line later that day.

     They dropped off the mercenaries and took an Imperial war crystal implant for their Cog, Grail, in place of half the gold, but then had an incident with a Faelinarie saboteur that almost cost them their ship. Apparently the rogue had been stowed away on board since Milum. He locked himself into the engine room and took control of the ship, sending it North and ascending to the Aether above. Cawyn was able to climb through the exhaust ducts as a rat, then bite the faerie to death in Wolf form before any serious harm could come to the ship and crew.

Payment: 2000 gold and a War Crystal implant for Grail

Dry Goods to Kaergot (Shipping) COMPLETE
Milum, Deoria to Kaergot, Fom
Start Date: By Oct 26, 572
Delivery Date: Nov 31, 572.

     Goodson Shipping and Freight wanted 14 crates of various dry goods delivered to its warehouse in Kaergot. The crew had space in the hold. The job went smooth.

     In Kaergot they also spent of their profits to have small “rat doors” installed throughout the ship, hopefully preventing any further incidents with being locked out of their own engine room.

Payment: 1000 gold upon delivery. (-5% Factor’s Fee to Mr. El)

Manure and Basic Outpost Supplies to Miach (Shipping) COMPLETED
Kaergot, Fom to Miach, Fom
​Start Date: Nov 18, 572
​Delivery Date: Nov 21, 572

     MacTyr Shipping wanted 15 units of Manure and 12 crates of tools and supplies delivered to Miach. The crew took the job and learned of a mysterious, highly advanced mechanical 6x4x2' locked chest among the shipment. Once underway, they examined the crate, and found that it was actually a very expensive and secure box, complete with the most complicated needle trap Calder had seen.

     His failed attempt to disarm the device left him unconscious and started an ominous ticking noise from the large box. They were attacked soon after, by a lithe corsair that demanded their surrender. The only thing Harrick gave them was the Maven’s guns and soon saw the pirates plummeting from the skies with minimal but not totally insignificant damage to the Maven.

     Fearing that the mystery box would explode they were in the process of dropping the box off on a distant bluff when a huge Storm Galleon, crewed by War cogs and skeletons literally appeared from a sudden storm cloud and demanded the crate. Outgunned and caught off-guard, they had little choice but to comply.

​Payment: 1000 gold upon delivery)

Oroka Charger Transported to Gwern (Shipping) COMPLETED
Miach, Fom to Gwern, Fom
​Start Date Nov 21, 572
​Delivery Date: Nov 23, 572

     Caracus Ironshoe wanted a valuable stallion delivered to Laird Lucian Nevain’s estates on the outskirts of Gwern. Cawyn found that the horse had been mistreated in it’s war-training. He befriended the beast and thus felt guilty in delivering it to new, abusive masters when it was hoping for it’s freedom and a return to the plains. The job still gives him bad dreams.

​Payment: 1000 gold upon delivery.

Leather Goods to Gwern (Shipping) COMPLETED
Neueth, Fom to Gwern, Fom
​Start Date Nov 20, 572
​Delivery Date: Nov 23, 572

     Masters Gem and Sprat wanted four units of Leather goods delivered to Sprat Leatherworks in Gwern. Simple and easy job.

​Payment: 1000 gold upon delivery.

Ice Swamp Extraction (Rescue or Intel) UNDERWAY
Milum, Deoria to Marfach Murk, Fom
Start Date: By Oct 30, 572
Delivery Date: Unspecified.

     Pastor Ezekiel Vernell needs Bishop Foyle Doyle retrieved from a Missionary Camp in Marfach Murk.

Payment: 6000 gold upon delivery. (3000 for information)

     Bishop Foyle Doyle last sent a crystal communications just under five months ago. He was heading up a missionary camp in the interior of the marshes, attempting to convert a large clan of Bullywug to the path of light. Though his last few crystals were sparse on details, there was no indication from them that anything was amiss. He requisitioned supplies and reported that he had finally had a meeting with the Bullywug Chieftain. Further crystal attempts with the camp were met with silence. Two attempts were made by local patrols to find the camp, but were unsuccessful for unknown reasons.

     After hearing about the dangers of Wyverns in the Murk, the party decided to leave the Maven in Gwern and pay an arcanic hovercraft to take them to Mudton, a trapping and fishing village inside the borders of the great bog. They also hired a Kirith-Syvani guide named Snap to lead them to the Missionary camp.

     Once in Mudton Calder, Grimms, Harrick, Cawyn, Boggs, McFall, and Snap left Sharpe and Grail with a crystal transceiver relay that Calder built, bought some canoes and headed by boat, deeper into the murk.

     They stayed the first night at the house of a beautiful herbalist named Sariah Greenleaf. Although she never did anything to earn it, several of the crew suspected she was a witch. They left in the morning with healing draughts and several vials of Wyvern poison Antidote.

     Next they came to the Bloodroot Tangle, a massive, floating island of twisted trees and dark shadows. As they passed it by, they were caught unaware by a Draci ambush. Barely fighting off the attack by Crogs, lizardfolk and a powerful Otyugh, they managed to survive, only to have Snap abducted by something within the Tangle.

     Exhausted and injured. they nonetheless followed after him, and were soon accosted by large creatures of wood. These Tanglemen were damaged, but managed to retreat deeper into the tangle after capturing Cawyn, Harrick and Boggs. Calder and McFall continued after them.

     And it is here that we resume our regular session updates.

SESSION UPDATE - "Old Man Bloodroot"

Upon being carried into the heart of the bloodroot tangle:

     You arrive in a fetid grotto of twisted trees, tangled moss and yellowed ivory. Constructed here and there are half-made structures of bone designed as if by mad children. Everywhere you look, skulls grin slack jawed from shadows, puddles and holes. In the center of a reddish pool of water, an enormous willow tree looms; its strong, pale roots gnarled and twisting deep into the black soil, soaring canopy roofing the glade in gloom. From its branches hang sinister fruit. Lumpy bundles of willow switch and vine that dangle in unfelt breezes; only the vaguest sense of man and animal shapes at their center.

     As Harrick and Boggs are hoisted from the bellies of the tanglemen into the branches of the willow, Cawyn is released. He spies dozens of humanoid faces in the trunk of the massive willow. It takes a moment for him to realize it, but the wind through the branches of the tree are a collage of voices, layered and speaking the druid tongue,

     "Thieving blade biters in my grove. I take your teeth and grant you the peace of repayment, the serenity of becoming one with my island. Your sap shall sustain us, your emotions make us strong, your memories enrich, your bones protect our grotto. You shall live forever in the proud home of Moornfaeli-Shuum ap Blodufar. You are blessed."

     Fearing the might of such a creature, Cawyn does his best to reason instead. The tree responds poorly:

     "Child of Mountains, Son of the wave, scion of Tree Mother, Wical of the Blessed Ones. Deeply am I saddened to see you in such company. Leave off your foolishness. For the love I bare the Wild Mother will I forgive your poor choice of brethren and see you go free. I pray you find your path inward. Now you shall be untethered from false friends. Free to seek the frozen rot at the heart of Marfach. The wyrm that burrows in the heartwood of the marsh must perish."

     He responds that he will do what he can to right the balance in the murk, but that doing so will be easier with his friends. Beyond that he asks for the tree's aid. The Bloodroot does not respond well. He only offers one being back. Cawyn chooses Harrick who is released. He makes a parting pact with the tree that he will return with three bodies for each of his remaining companions. As Calder and McFall finally find their way to the grove, the Tanglemen make a pathway out for the four. Boggs' muffled cries, begging them not to leave him behind are the last things they hear. All are hard pressed to leave.

     Back at the makeshift camp, they find that Grimms has disappeared, apparently having wandered off into the swamp, but a satchel with the emblem of the Lady Sariah is left near the dwindling fire. In it are four healing draughts.

     They bring the canoes in and set up a camp. Calder disassembles and dries out the Crystal transceiver. The rest of the night goes uneventful right until the morning, when they are ambushed by another party of Draci, led by the same Crog Rider who escaped the night before. The surprise is total and the battle doesn't start well. It lasts barely two minutes, but in that time both Calder and Harrick are brought low. It's only the quick administering of the healing potions that keep the draci from winning. Though it is an even nearer thing than the night before, they are victorious. Even better, the Lizardfolk have unwittingly provided them with the grizzly trade required to get their friends back.

     With some careful tending and healing magic, they manage to keep six of the draci from dying, though all are badly injured. Once more depleted though the morning is still new, they contemplate the trade before them, and wonder if they can trust the evil tree in the center of the tangle. They will soon learn.