Session date: Monday, November 16, 2015
Game date: Sunday, September 1, 208 to Monday, September 23, 208
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 4004/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 5546/8800
Tyrriel, Elf 2, hp 7, xp 4279/8000
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 7179/10000
Brother Jibber, Cleric 2, hp 10, xp 2333/3000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 1, hp 9, xp 1232/2000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1624/2500
The members of the Infestation Managers stood warily around the dusty bed of the dying Lord Dinsdale. They had returned to deliver to him the fabled elixir of life, which they had obtained from the caverns deep below the city of Idalium, at great risk to their own lives. Dinsdale's valet, Pensley, seemed nervous as well, and was trying to talk his master out of meddling with such strange magic. After all, Lord Dinsdale was dying of old age, and even the miracles of the Church could not stave off that natural fate. But the elixir was said to be a far older and stranger magic.
"You think I care about your squeamish stomach, Pensley? Give it here!" Lord Dinsdale snatched the flask away and poured every last drop of the syrup into his mouth. "Ah, ambrosia!" he exclaimed. But then, his face grew pale, and he began to shudder and twitch. He let out a wild cry and turned away from the group, pulling the blanket over his head. His covered body thrashed a few more times, and then was still.
"My lord?" asked Pensley nervously. Gulleck reached out and pulled the blanket down, only to reveal someone else entirely lying where Lord Dinsdale had been! In the bed was a younger, middle-aged man, with paler skin, and a wavy mane of brown hair. His eyes snapped open and focused on Pensley. "Pensley!" said the man in an unfamiliar voice. "It worked! I feel reborn!"
He leaped out of bed, ordered Pensley to pay the adventurers the 20,000 shekels he had promised them, and then suggested to Pensley they find some comrades and go explore the underworld below the city. "Life is too short to spend lazing around in this dusty old house! Come on, you nervous old hen, let's go pay those goblins back for stealing your wife!"
The adventurers weren't sure this was going to end well for anyone, but having received their reward, were on their way. The next order of business was to hire a ship to sail to the east, to find the city of the dwarves and then the ancient monastery in the mountains nearby, to retrieve a holy lantern for the Church. Father Merrymoon at the Great Cathedral suggested they sail to the trading port of Trobidanz, perhaps two weeks voyage to the east. From there, they could hire a guide to take them inland to the mountains of the dwarves. Gulleck had his own reasons to travel to the dwarves, and he made inquiries with a cousin who worked at the docks. His cousin introduced him to a merchant captain named Lauren Kerr. Her ship was the Black Marigold, and was ready to sail in a fortnight. Having procured and paid for passage on the ship, the adventurers spent the next two weeks buying provisions and making plans. As they were sorting through the things in their vault in the cellar of the Rusty Lantern, they made the unsettling discovery that the box containing the destroyed Beating Heart had vanished. Everyone suspected that Caryatid's duplicate (who was now living in the dungeons below) had absconded with it. They warned the guards at the top of the trapdoor that they should not let anyone who looked like Caryatid enter or leave the dungeon without the rest of their group. Caryatid spent much of the fortnight in her grandmother's library researching new spells: Charm Person and Wizard Lock, and Tyrriel did the same at her mentor's, learning the Detect Magic spell.
Two weeks later, the entire party marched through the city streets, with carts full of equipment. This included all of the PCs and their retainers, even those whose players were not present. This is where a little extra suspension of belief is needed: we need all of the characters to go on this voyage through the wilderness, so that on weeks when their players are available, the PCs are there. We just have to turn a blind eye as to why they're not helping out on the other weeks!
On Saturday, September 21st, the Black Marigold sailed out of the harbor of Idalium, and turned north, sailing against the current up the river that led to the inland sea. There, they would turn east and sail along the coast until they reached Trobidanz.
But it wasn't long after they had left Idalium that the winds fell still and the Black Marigold was becalmed. They made little progress that day. While they waited, a group of small, winged fairies flew out of the forest on the eastern shore, swirling around the ship's sails, laughing mischievously as they somersaulted through the air. A group of them joined hands and twirled around the mast, and suddenly the sails of the ship turned chartreuse. Captain Kerr was on the deck hollering at them to clear off and leave the ship alone. Tyrriel tried to negotiate, and a group of them spun round her giggling, and with a pop her hair suddenly turned an unnatural shade of pink. Eventually, Tyrriel managed to get the sprites to cease their tricks, by offering wine and flattery.
On the second day, the winds picked up, and the Marigold raced north, skimming along the waves like a stone. The river opened up into the northern sea, and the ship headed east, following the shore on the starboard side.
On the third day, the ship was attacked by an enormous hawk, easily as large as a pony. It dive-bombed the ship, apparently aiming to pick Gulleck up and carry him off. Its attack run missed badly, and it hit the deck hard and tumbled across it, scratching the planks badly with its talons.
"Awesome, it's like we're in our own Sinbad movie!" exclaimed Tod's player. [Mission accomplished!]
The bird took to the air again, circling around for another attack. Caryatid let loose with a Magic Missile, which rocked the eagle in the air but did not stop its approach. But then Tyrriel sent it into a magical sleep. Its flight stalled out and it fell out of the sky into the sea with an enormous splash. That must have woke it up, for moments later it came thrashing out of the sea and flew away into the clouds, having got more than it bargained for, apparently.
We had to break the session here, but the voyage through the wilderness continues...