Savage Tide

Sasserine: A Brief History

SASSERINE began not as a city, but as a woman. Over 700 years ago, a cleric of Wee Jas named Sasserine woke one night after a particularly vivid dream of a hidden cove, protected from the sea by vast cliffs and from the land by steaming swamps and jungle. In this vision, she beheld a thriving city and a glittering spire of scarlet stone, and knew Wee Jas had visited her with a prophecy. Sasserine called together her followers, including her lover Teraknian, a soldier and worshiper of Kord, and set out to find this hidden cove. Diseases, accidents, and monsters took their toll, and near the end, despair gnawed at Sasserine’s pilgrims. Finally, their numbers reduced to less than a quarter of their initial strength, these pilgrims emerged into a bounteous stretch of land with fertile soil and fields of exotic plants sheltered by twin shoreline cliffs. Sasserine recognized the landscape at once, but WeeJas had not warned her of the black dragon that had taken the cove as his territory. Mere hours after the pilgrims had thankfully fed on the abundant plants and had only just begun to hope they had found their new home, the dragon Zelkarune struck. Enraged at this final trial, Sasserine stood her ground against the dragon and defeated it-but at a terrible cost. For in delivering the final strike, Sasserine had been forced to step between Zelkarune’s claw and Teraknian; The blow meant for him instead laid her low, just as she called down a bolt of fire from the sky to slay the dragon. In the days to follow, the survivors turned to Teraknian for leadership, who vowed to found a city in Sasserine’s name.

It was the year-124 CY, and over the seven centuries to follow, Sasserine would mature into one of the great hidden wonders of the south.

SASSERINE IN BRIEF

Sasserine is located at the westernmost edge of the Amedio Jungle, nestled in a sheltered harbor. Most travelers come to Sasserine via ship, as overland routes are fraught with peril. From the sea, Sasserine isn’t much to look at; two ragged cliffs of stone jut from the coastline, their faces home to seahawks and gulls but little else. Then a vast rent in the cliff slides into view, its summit crowned by the shattered remnants of an immense stone bridge. Sailing between the slowly eroding stone pylons that once supported the bridge above, a visitor passes nom open sea into a thriving harbor of commerce, whaling, and intrigue. Certainly the smell of the city is breathtaking-a tremendous riot of exotic spices, smoke, humanity, and sewage that assaults the senses. Perfumes and scented candles are popular commodities in Sasserine.

Sasserine is split into seven distinct districts, each with its own personality. These districts are separated by inner walls, by networks of canals or rivers, or simply by age. Friendly competition between the districts is common, especially during festivals, yet the citizens of Sasserine do not hesitate to come to each others aid. Perched at the edge of civilization, Sasserine is (and has always been) often the target of assault foom land and sea; the pirates of the Crimson Fleet, the navy of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the bullywugs of the surrounding marshland, and even gangs of ogres and giants from the nearby mountains keep the city on constant alert, yet to date the fiercely proud city has fallen to the enemy only once, and even then only through the act of the city’s most notorious traitor.

Sasserine (Large City): Conventional; AL NG; Population 15,650;40,000 gp limit; Assets 31,300,000gp; Mixed (77%human, 6% half-elf, 5% halfling, 4% gnome, 4% dwarf, 2% elf, 1%half-ore, 1%other).

Sasserine’s History: For 150years after its foundation in -124 CY, Sasserine experienced phenomenal growth. In 30 CY, Sasserine had its first conflict with the notorious assassins and slavers of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Brotherhood wizards and clerics managed to destroy the stone bridge known as Teraknian’s Arch and burned much of the waterfront before the defenders managed to repulse the attack. Over the next four centuries, Sasserine would be variously assaulted by the Scarlet Brotherhood, the Great Kingdom, and local tribes of giants and bullywugs once or twice a decade, so tempting were the vast plantations of coffee and spices the city protected. Yet with each assault, the soldiers of Sasserine grew more adept at defending their city. Teraknian’s Arch was rebuilt and destroyed nearly a dozen
times. The final decision to abandon the bridge entirely and leave it in ruins marks the only remaining physical scar nom years of warfare. Over the years, a line of lord-mayors descended nom Teraknian ruled Sasserine in conjunction with advice from the churches of Wee Jas and Kord.

In the year of 480 CY, Orren Teraknian ruled the city. For the first time in centuries, the church of Wee Jas was stripped of its power when fabricated charges of devil worship led to the arrest, imprisonment, and even execution of its faithful. Just as Orren’s rule became unbearable, a great fleet of ships arrived-representatives of the Hold of the Sea Princes to the north. Promising an end to Orren’s cruel rule, the invaders were aided in their assault on the city from within as the citizens rose up in rebellion. Orren Teraknian was overthrown and the Sea Princes claimed Sasserine as their own. Over the century to come, Sasserine’s resources were savaged. The Sea Princes kept Sasserine a secret from the rest of the world, hoping to hide the valuable port from invaders by destroying any references they could find to it. Spies infiltrated cartographer guilds and libraries throughout the world, altering maps and sea charts with magic. Ship captains who knew the route to the city were bought off or murdered. Sasserine suffered in these 100 years, but the underlying spirit of her citizens did not die. Their prayers were finally answered in 584CY,when the Scarlet Brotherhood assassinated nearly all of the Sea Princes. The resulting turmoil threw Sasserine into chaos. Without the support of their homeland, the leaders of the city were overthrown in a fortnight. In the decade since their emancipation, the people of Sasserine have rebuilt their city with astonishing alacrity, but they still work to restore their navy, to re-establish trade routes with lands to the north, and to heal the rift of hatred between the churches of Kord and Wee Jas. Burgeoned by events in their sister city of Cauldron (which recently survived a disaster of its own), the city of Sasserine seems to be perched on the edge of glory. Sasserine’s Citizens and Enemies Sasserine is governed by a council of seven noble families known collectively as the Dawn Council. Decisions are put to a vote amongst the city’s citizens, and their appointed representatives among the nobility take the results of these votes to guide their leadership in the Dawn Council.

Money once again flows into the city coffers as the trade routes are reestablished, bolstered by the trove of absconded funds recently liberated from the Sea Princes. Dress style in Sasserine ranges from rags to riches, but the one thing that applies across all classes is the fact that in this hot, humid city, less is more. Public nudity is generally frowned upon, but it’s not uncommon to see outfits that leave little to the imagination. After a hundred years of oppression, the law in Sasserine has finally relinquished its
stranglehold on the citizens. Murder, arson, treason, assault, theft, and other violent or destructive crimes remain illegal and are severely punished by the Sasserine Watch, but lesser crimes (drug trade, prostitution, gambling, vagrancy, and similar offenses) remain unrestricted. Many come to Sasserine precisely because of the fact that their vices may be pursued here without fear of legal repercussions. Some public groups (in particular, the church of St Cuthbert) are attempting to rally the Watch back to more conservative ways, but for now the income generated by visitors and the recent memories of repression serve to keep the majority of the city’s populace open-minded and accepting. Each of the seven districts of Sasserine is represented not only by an appointed noble, but by an allied church.

Religion Traditionally, the seven churches of Sasserine have been on good terms, but unfortunately the last 100 years have placed an undue strain upon them. In particular, the faithful of Wee Jas and Kord have suffered. The terrible rift of suspicion and hatred that formed between these churches during Orren Teraknian’s rule exists to this day. The remaining four primary religions include Olidammara (in the guise of a fictitious patron saint of merchants named Worgul), Pelor, Fharlanghn, and St Cuthbert The final church is in fact comprised of the worship of three sea deities: Osperm, Procan, and Xerbo. Numerous smaller shrines can be found in Sasserine, each dedicated to different gods, but these shrines rarely have congregations of more than 50. There are few evil religions operating in the shadows of the city-the two most notable are the secret cult of Vecna that uses the Historian’s Guild as a cover, and a fairly sizable temple of Nerull hidden below one of the plantation houses south of the city.

The Scarlet Brotherhood has traditionally been an enemy of the city, but times may be changing. A diplomatic monk named. Anteki Alresian represents the Brotherhood in Sasserine. Anteki’s methods are a bit unorthodox for the Brotherhood-he openly acknowledges his allegiances and asks the same of those who serve under him. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Brotherhood’s plans for Sasserine remain hidden, possibly even from their amiable ambassador.

from the works of

Artemus Buttwyler, Scribe of Chatwin

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Recovery of the Blue Nixie

Chapter One – There is No Honor

Part One – Recovery of the Blue Nixie- [Fireseek – Readying, 612]

On Freeday, the 28st of Fireseek, CY 612, four brave souls:

Aely, cleric, aquatic elf, female
Kevrey, rogue, human, male
Kaywen, ‘gardener,’ (channeler), human, male
Remnil, sailor, human (noble?), male

Presented themselves at the Vanderboren mansion at the request of Lavinia Vanderboren. She told a tale of economic hardships since the death of her parents about a month before. She asked these five men to help her get back on her feet economically by looking into the matter of her father’s, now her, ship the Blue Nixie. She needed to recover her father’s signet ring from the ship, which was effectively being held hostage by one Soller Vark, a man appointed custodian by the Harbormaster, the sickly Keltar Islaran. She needed the ring to access the family vault under Castle Teraknian. She also wanted these four to find out what Vark was really using the Blue Nixie for and to recover the money she claimed she had already paid this scoundrel. She offered the fee of 800gp, which was agreed upon, and which the noble Remnil declines, much to the lady’s delight.

While the other three then joined Lavinia for dinner, Remnil made his way to the docks where he kept watch on the blue Nixie. His sailor background paid off as he quickly realized that the crew seemed to be readying the ship for some after hours sailing. He also learned, from some well bought ale, that this ship often made these late night sojourns. When the others joined him at about midnite, it was decided to borrow a rowboat and visit the Nixie right then and there.

Sneaking aboard the Nixie, they subdued some of the crew and scared off others. Vark held his position below with the help of some strange exotic creature. Good willed out, however, as the four got the dorp on him, and almost broke his neck. The ‘creature turned out to be a ‘rhagodessa,’ a strange hybrid beast with the form of a spider. A search of the ship turned up Lavinia’s father’s ring, a cryptic message, and pouch of platinum pieces- the money that Lavinia had indeed paid to Vark. Vark and the surviving crew were turned over to the authorities. [Vark would be freed a few days later, as he was ‘working for the harbormaster.’]

Lavinia was delighted by the quick results these four brought her, so she made them another offer. She needed them to accompany her to Castle Teraknian the next morning and offered the group permanent employment as her ‘retainers.’ They accepted a monthly stipend of 100gp.

1st of Readying, CY 612

The four escorted Lavinia to Castle Teraknian and the vaults beneath. Using the ring and the cryptic message they open the Vanderboren Vault, only to find that much of it has been plundered! All that remains is some 3,000 gp worth of coins and gems and some ledgers and documents. One document in particular, a letter from her mother written in Sylvan, caught her attention. They learned from the clerk that Lavinia’s brother Vanthus had visited the vault at least 3-4 times over the past month, i. e., since their parents’ death.

They escorted Lavinia back to her manor. The four, now as her retainers, set out to find Vanthus. Meanwhile, Lavinia would look in to the documents for whatever clues they might hold. . . . . and then there was the issue of what to do with the ‘rhagodessa,’ which was still in the hold of the Blue Nixie.

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Parrot Island

Chapter One – There is No Honor

Part Two – Polly Wants a Cracker [Readying, 612]

2nd – 3rd of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, and Remnil spent a few days making discreet and liquor fueled inquiries about Vanthus. As a result of these inquiries they ‘learned’ that (1) Vanthus had been ‘in the company of’ one Brissa Santos, a notorious pickpocket turned semi-legitimate artist who’d had here share of brushes with the law, (2) most in the Merchant district assumed he was still living at the mansion, (3) in Shadowshore, in the establishment of a dwarf named Panchi, owner of “It Still Floats!” Vanthus and some guy named ‘Pen something’ had purchased a boat some three weeks before. Panchi had not seen either one since and claimed to not know where they went. All he knew was he got more than he should have for the boat, and saw them loading the 15’ sailboat with a lot of lamp oil, lanterns, and rope, and heading west.

4th of Readying, CY 612

As they were heading for a temple to get a divination, they were approached by a young disheveled man, Shefton Rosk, who claimed to know where Vanthus was. For 6gp now and 5 later, money he claimed Vanthus owed him, he said that Vanthus was up to some smuggling and using the tunnels under Parrot Island for that purpose. Aely, Kaywen, and Remnil borrowed a boat from Lavinia and set sail for the island. Waiting in the boat was a Halfling, one that Aely had spotted following him during the preceding three days. He claimed to be the grandson of Lavinia’s housekeeper, Kora. He joined them for the trip. Embarking of Parrot Island, aptly named for it was full of these birds, the followed a trail which led them to a special rock which concealed a complex below.

Using a rope, they descended into the darkness, aided by Aely’s light spell. Once al were below they heard a voice from above. Vanthus!? Some mysterious figure, who made some mention of messing around with his sister, sealed them in!

Having not real options, they began searching the complex. They went through a series of brick rooms, some leaking, all of which showed this to be a pirate complex that dated back 500 years, but which had not been used by them for about 200.

After dealing with some crabs and finding a dead body, the saw three slow moving, rotting figures approaching them. “Don’t tell me they’re zombie pirates,” said the Little Guy . . . . . .

. . . but zombie pirates is what they were. For the next little while they dealt with these undeads, aided greatly by Aely’s ability to turn undead. AT one point they had to swim through deep water and eventually came to a well sealed door. Inside for more undeads awaited them, but Aely quickly incapacitated them. It was in this room that they discovered the putrid body of Penkus. He had written a dying note, making it clear that Vanthus had abandoned him down here and that he hoped whoever found his body would someday avenge this wrong. The note also served as a lead for he wrote that Vanthus was with the Lotus Dragons below the Taxidermist’s Hall. In a further room, they found significant treasure in the form of coins, gems, and magical liquids, and an earth elemental gem.

Aely decided to do a very thorough search of the underwater areas and managed to find a way out. She and Remnil swam out, went back to the rock opening, removed the large bolder that they had been sealed in by, and got the others out.

5th -6th of Readying, CY 612

The next few days found Aely, Kaywen, and Remnil fully looting the tunnels, identifying the objects of magic [Potions of cure light x3, lesser restoration, invisibility, cure serious, barkskin +3, swimming], and wand of mage armor] They gave the ‘Little Guy’ 125 gp and divided the rest three ways. Kaywen brought the ‘old coins’ to the Seekers’ Lodge for further examination.

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Taxing the Taxidermist

Chapter One – There is No Honor

Part Three – Taxi! Taxi! Er, I mean, Taxidermist!

7th of Readying, CY 612

After some ‘debate’ about what they had, or had not, learned, Aely, Kaywen, and Kevrey searched the map of Sasserine for the location of the Taxidermists’ Guild, the one mentioned in the note they found on Penkus’ lifeless body below Parrot Island.

As they arrived they noted a small figure hiding in the alley next to the shop. Once again the Little Guy was waiting for them. Kevrey had the audacity or temirity to ask his name! He replied, in a whisper, “Whyspurr.” Since he took the time to actually meet the Little Guy, the Little Guy became Kevrey’s fast friend and defender.

Inside the shop they found a showroom full of stuffed animals, some common and some rare. They were eventually welcomed by the owner, one Nemien Roblach. After some shop talk, with Nemien trying to sell them stuff, and they trying to find out what kind of stuff he might want to buy, the stuffing came to an abrupt end when the name Vanthus Vanderboren was, first recalled by Aely, asked about. Nemien feigned possible recollection and excused himself into the back rom. When Aely followed, he saw no one . . . until Nemien zapped him with a ray of enfeeblement. Nemien followed with a color spray which felled Kevrey. [whose name would be much cooler if it were spelled ‘Kevrye’ or ‘Kevrie’ or ‘Kevryie’ even, but I digress and who reads these anyway? It was only after Kaywen hit Nemien with a water spout, and some well aimed rapiers by the Little Guy that Nemien was felled. They managed to keep him alive for interrogation and he very willingly spilled the beans in exchange for his life and 100 of his golds. His shop, while legitimate, served as a front and entrance for the Lotus Dragon Thieves Guild, of which he was a semi member. He told them all he knew, showed them the secret entrance, and helped disarm the trap there, and made his way away, far away.

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Whyspurr descended to the tunnels below. Eschewing the route that seemed to lead to the waterway, they went through a door, to which Nemien had had the key, a skeleton key to be exact, and into the halls of the guild, or is it into the guild hall’s halls? Hmmm, . . . . There Kevrey made a name for himself by tripping and falling into the next door alerting the two guards who were semi napping up till that point. Once again, a timely strike by Whyspurr prevented one of these guys from retreating and alerting the Guild. They began and random search of the guild, stumbling upon a sleeping rogue, whom they knocked out and left tied up, without asking him anything. They found the kitchen where a kobold chef was busy with a large pot of stew. She brushed them off towards the general direction of ‘the boss,’ but when Aely spilled the beans that they were new, she spilled the stew all over her. Again, they left a possible font of information tied up and headed ‘north.’

Why North, you ask? Noooo, not because the kobold had said north, or because she had waved in a northerly direction. Nope, they headed north because Kevrey said, “Let’s go north.” North they found a door behind which they heard what might be a dog sniffing, a rather disgusting underground lake, a room from which anyone could watch whatever might be going on in said lake, and many other ways to the surface, but not another soul in sight.

Finally, merciful heavens, they came to the guest rooms where, tuck under a pillow they found a scrap of paper on which seemed to be a diagram of the Vanderboren vault and what appeared to be scribbling in an attempt to solve the riddle of the entry key. It was at this point that out of sheer boredom, they rested. . . . . . .

7th of Readying, CY 612(to be continued)

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‘Dragon’ Around

Chapter One – There is No Honor

Part Four – ‘Dragon’ Around some/by the Lotus Dragons

7th of Readying, CY 612(continued)

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Whyspurr continued exploring the underground headquarters of the Lotus Dragons. They did so very quietly until . . . . they opened one door, one particular door, only to find the room in unveiled contained a worg, a large worg, a large angry worg who wanted to taste their flesh and howled at the thought of doing so. After some tense moments, Kaywen managed to scare the worg, but not before it had alerted some nearby thieves who descended upon them from two directions. Again, after some tense moments, they managed to survive and take these thieves down. Continuing along, Aely just burst through the next door and managed to surprise the already alerted thieves inside who had turned the tables on them. Aely succumbed to the urchin poison, quickly becoming the ‘Vominator,’ the Mistress of Barf, ‘Upchuck Central,’ etc. But this time they had the thieves outnumbered and subdued them. Now, with a live body to get answers from, they found out where the head of the guild was and got this guy, Fred, to escort them to her rooms.

By the time they got to the rooms of Rowyn Kellani, Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Whyspurr were accompanied by no less than eight other members of the guild, so any sort of battle was not an option. As it turns out, Rowyn knew of them, their names were on a chalk board, and revealed herself as the cousin of their sometime companion, Remnil. Since they were no longer threatening the guild, she was willing to talk with them about their common adversary, one Vanthus Venderboren. Turns out, she had had a brief affair with Vanthus, who then spurned her for his former lady in waiting, Brissa. Rowyn was none too pleased with this turn of events, and wanted his heart on a platter. She supplied them with some incriminating letters in Vanthus’ hand, offered as proof that he had killed his own parents, robbed the vault, and now had plans regarding a raid on some pirates in Kraken’s Cove. She offered them a reward for the return of Vanthus to her-dead or alive. Kevrey was able to make a trade with her for their Rhagodessa, which for whatever reasons the guild wanted. Rowyn gave each of them and honorary member card for the guild, just told them ‘Next time, make an appointment.’

Late in afternoon they were escorted back up to the taxidermist’s where Jacob was now running the place. He was introduced to Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey, and Whyspurr, and said he’d arrange their entry in the future.

Aely decided to do some research on this Kraken’s Cove so she went to the Azure Cathedral. She learned that the cove was about 40 miles east of Sasserine on the other side of Blood Bay. She then explored options of how best to get there. It seemed by water would be the best, as the overland route was fraught with danger. There was one outpost along the way-Fort Fendawor. This rang a bell, but she was not sure why? Aely obtained a map of the area.

Kaywen reported to Lavinia, Whyspurr in tow. She was slowly overcome by all the news, but overjoyed that they had survived and were still willing to pursue her brother. Lavinia mentioned that she was taking some of those papers to the Seekers’ Lodge for some help in interpreting the information and would have other need of them later. Lavinia generously rewarded the party with significant gold, and all felt more powerful and skillful as this chapter came to a close.

8th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, and Kevrey set about making plans for a course of action. They were still out to get Vanthus which meant traveling to Kraken’s Cove. Kaywen would visit the Seekers’ Lodge to find out what they had learned about those coins. And then there was the new lead of Fort Fendawor. . . . . .

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Taking a Chance

Chapter Two: The Bullywug Gambit

Part One: Taking a Chance

9th of Readying, CY 612

Aely visited her temple for information about Kraken’s Cove. She learned that it was a haven for pirates, that it was best accessed via sea, which would mean getting some sort of boat, and that a young man who was staying in Sasserine had made inquiries about it. On the notice board at the Seekers’ Lodge Aely, Kaywen, and Kevrey found a note from a Styvesandt who was interested in traveling to Kraken’s Cove. They also found a notice concerning some Fort Chance which was in need of some help. There was a contact for this at Fort Fendawor which was on their way to Kraken’s Cove.

After exploring their options they decided to purchase a boat. They still needed a pilot so they followed the lead of this Styvesandt whom they found in a lodging house near the Seekers’ place. When asked if he could sail he answered that he had sailed all the way from the Welkwood Forest along the Jewel River and across the Jeklea Bay, so he knew a thing or two about sailing. They took him on as their ship pilot.

After some shaky moments in the harbor, Styvesandt managed to get them out to the bay and headed west. By afternoon they had reached Fort Fendawor. The found the place quite busy except for the soldiers, soldiers who claimed to be on the way to Fort Chance, or as they called it ‘Lost Chance’ and ‘Last Chance.’ They were approached by a woman who identified herself as Milly. She said she was trying to enlist help to go to Fort Chance. It seems the fort was under threat from the gnoll tribes and the High Lord of this area, Lord Bransten, had promised help-those do nothing soldiers. The fort needed some skirmishers to help delay the gnolls until the Lord’s troops got there. Aely, Kaywen, and Kevrey with Styvesandt decided to head south to Fort Chance, as there was a reward of 1,000gp each in the offing.

10th of Readying, CY 612

Following Milly’s directions and the Godsmow River south they arrived at Fort Chance, such as it was. The ‘fort’ was more of an impromptu barricade with only two buildings within the ‘walls.’ Most of the area surrounding was covered with refugees, former farmers whose land had been taken up by the gnolls. Looming up across the river were the Badlands where the gnolls were massing. In one fo the buildings they found the leader of the ‘fort,’ one Cam Donelly, who mapped out their mission. He need them to sneak through the Twilght Forest to the Bloodhawk Trail and then up the various rises to where the gnolls’ bison herd was. It was Cam’s plan that they should somehow drive the herd off. Recovering the herd would become the gnoll’s priority and should by the Fort some time, in the hopes that Lord Bransten would send the promised troops. Not having the heart to break his with news of what they had witnessed in Fendawor, they took the job. Cam gave them a hastily drawn map.

Late that day Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt snuck out of the fort, dealt with a small gnoll scouting party and entered the Twilight Forest. By evening they had dealt with some Twig Blights and reached Hope’s Crossing which Cam had marked as they best way to cross the river.

The Godsmow River was at one of its narrowest points here, and there had been a bridge. All the remained were the posts, now with their burnt tops jutting up from the water. Cam had ordered the bridge burned to delay the gnolls. Aely could simply ‘walk’ across dragging a rope with her. The others would have to use the rope to pull themselves across. As they were in the midst of doing so, a gnoll party set upon them. Thanks to some incredible bow work by Styvesandt and some resilience by Aely, they managed to kill the gnolls and to keep any from getting away to warn others. Eventually they all crossed the river. The Badlands loomed up beside them. Bloodhawks circled far above and some huts, way stations, could be seen, some of which were manned by gnolls.

They were not really ‘out of the woods’ after all. They decided to rest for the night and begin the ascent in the morning. . . . .

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The Diversion

Chapter Two: The Bullywug Gambit

Part Two: The Distraction

1th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt awoke to find things much the way they had left them the night before. They were safe on the north side of the Godsmow River with a good day’s climb facing them. Above, they could make out what seemed to be some wayside huts and a few gnolls. Circling far above were what appeared to be hawks of some sort.

Onwards and upwards, the trails rose gradually for now. They were able to get the jump on some gnolls at the first hut, and found a second completely empty. AT the third hut, however, things were noticeably different. While the hut was in good shape, whoever might have been there was not. There were signs of battle with broken weapons and armor, and dried blood all over. But nary a body to be found. And, for the curious, there were these strands of webbing covering the cliff face, the sheer cliff face which rose up from where they stood. Making matters even more curious, there was no more trail—the only way was down off the plateau or somehow straight up the cliff!.

With some care and trepidation they moved the webbing to find a rather large boulder with what seems a flat top. Once Kevrey was up on the boulder, he found some hand and foot holds going up the sheer wall. Since they had gained some climbing kits, he began a slow and careful ascent, fixing pitons at strategic intervals. Soon the four off them had climbed over 100’, but they had reached some narrow ledges with some stairs carved in them, which wound round the mountains.

It was while they were making their way along these winding and steep stairs that they spotted what appeared to be a gnoll in the blinding sun above them. As he retreated and warned them not to advance, Aely made her way up. Finding a cave opening, she ventured in, only to be swarmed by thousands of tiny spiders. Meanwhile the ‘gnoll’ appeared above the others who were still on the precarious steps. Only this was no gnoll, it was an ettercarp who quickly engulfed Kevrey in webbing. Aely was forced to retreat luring the swarm out where it could now swarm all over Kaywen as well. Hmmmm, strategy be dammed, at this point Aely just ran for it, leaving poor Kaywen to fend for himself. Fortunately, he happened, just happened, [by what stroke of luck did he just happen????,] to have a candle of insect repellant, [6-12 by brand name,] which he eventually got burning, and held the swarm at bay. Meanwhile Styvesandt riddled the ettercarp with arrows as Kevrey got himself out of the web and up on the boulders and into hand to hand. Finally they defeated this sticky foe and the swarm made a hasty retreat. Kaywen ventured into the cave but found, ahem, ‘nothing.’

As they day was reaching its end, the four of them reached the top of their climb. Below they could see a plateau with appeared to contain the ruins of a village and some gnolls. Beyond that on a wider plateau they could see the bison herd. Far below they saw the massive gnoll army just waiting. There was a narrow bit of rock which seemed to cross to the first plateau but it was below them and to get to it they would be exposed to the gnolls and to an horrific fall should anything go wrong. Just above them, however, was an odd hive shaped clay structure. Climbing up to its top, yes, Aely set off a spear trap and got stuck in the thigh for her troubles. They found it has a thatched entry hole. Inside they found the bell chamber. Kaywen realized that this must have been an ancient shamanic prayer chamber. Using ropes they lowered, well in the case of Aely who just plummeted, themselves to the floor below. In the darkness Aely was attacked by a vargouille, more poison—whoopee!!!, but eventually the others came to her rescue.

Undaunted, Aely decided she should go first down to the larger room below. With the help of a light spell on her long sword she felt this time would be better for sure . . .. until her magical light was somehow countered. She found herself under assault by some hyenas and someone else. The others made the descent and all found themselves locked in a fierce battle with what turned out to be a flind- a flind cleric to be exact. He exacted much in the way of pain and suffering upon them, felling both Kevrey and Styvesandt before falling before them. A search of the place turned up a laboratory with ingredients for making poisons and a passage way through rock to the first plateau.

Battered and bowed, they decided to rest here for the night while hatching a plan for the next day.

12th of Readying, CY 612

The Four decided on stealth. Kevrey and Styvesandt went through the crawl space and on to the ruined village. There they methodically isolated and killed each of the five gnolls that guarded the area. From there they all made their way down to the plateau where the bison herd rested and gazed. “Nothing burns much faster than that kind of brush,” noted Styvesandt. And he was right. As the fire spread the herd panicked and fled. Other gnolls from below tried to round them up, while some came in pursuit of the culprits. Kaywen delayed their chase with some well placed web spells, and they left no climbing stuff behind making it difficult for the gnolls to get up through the chapel.

14th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt had returned to Fort Chance and were pleased to find that the Lord’s troops were in the process of arriving! The gnolls were soon dispatched to places unknown and Fort Chance was saved. The Four had bought sufficient time. As a result each received the promised 1,000 pieces of gold as well as official Tokens of Noble Approval which carried Lord Bransten’s seal. These would com ein handy when dealing with nobles within the region of his influence.

15th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt had made their way back to Fort Fendawor. They had time to purchase some supplies and to make inquiries about Kraken’s Cove, where they hoped to find Vanthus Vanderboren.

They learned that Kraken’s Cove was within the larger inlet of Blood Bay and that they cove was the center of much smuggling activity. One old salt warned them, “Any fool can find Blood Bay, can’t much miss it if yee sticks to the south coast. But, Kraken’s Cove? Well, yer a danged fool if yee jest sails right in. Best ta put in a few miles north of it, and comes along the cliffs and make yer ways down from there. Not likely ta be spotted that way. Buts’," he added with a laugh, “beware of the savage monkeys.” He did not elaborate on that part as he was pocketing the coins Styvesandt had given him.

As they were getting set with their skiff to leave the next day they noticed a number of people getting organized and heading for Sasserine. Seems the Wormfall Festival, commemorating the one year anniversary of the defeat of Kyuss, was starting soon. . . . .

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Kraken's Cove

Chapter Two: The Bullywug Gambit

Part Three: Kraken’s Cove

16th of Readying, CY 612

Following the coastline, Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt sailed their way along towards Blood Bay.

17th of Readying, CY 612

As the neared the north opening of Blood Bay it became obvious why they had been cautioned to take the roundabout route. They could hear cannon fire and saw some ships apparently attacking what was likely Kraken’s Cove. Styvesandt headed the skiff out into open sea till they were past the bay and then brought it back to land, north of the cove. From there they skirted along the cliffs, having a rather disturbing encounter with some monkeys, fanged monkeys.

Eventually they found themselves looking down directly into Kraken’s Cove. They saw at least four ships, three of which were engulfed in some grand conflagration, with another one seeming beached somehow. They made their way down a rickety wood and rope path till the beached ship somehow came loose and took down their path, dumping some of them in the water. Once the four had gained the beach they were met by some strange humans, or former humans. They resembled pirates only their bite was worse than their jabs, causing those bitten to become just a wee bit dumber. They had grey skin, strangely flopping arms and legs, and a vacant-eyed vestigial head hanging from their necks. Their mouths were cavernous wounds in twisted faces filled with a twisting landscape of teeth which could easily tear flesh from the bone.

Kraken’s Cove contained a cave system used by smugglers so the four had no choice but to enter and wander about, in their quest to find Vanthus Vanderboren. While they never found Vanthus, they did encounter more of these ‘monkey diseased pirates,’ as Kaywen described them, throughout the caves.

Finally they came to what seemed the last of the caves and there they encountered what appeared to be a normal human woman in combat with the remains of the sickos. She was a bold beauty with raven black hair that flowed like the deepest shade of midnight against her deeply tanned skin. She wore tight leather armor studded with fire opals and pearls and wielded a curved rapier and dagger in a blinding display of swordplay. As she fought them, she talked as if she knew them in their former lives.

Once she had dispensed with the ‘creatures, she identified herself as Harlis Javell asking, “What manner of driftwood do we have here?” When told they had come in search of Vanthus Vanderboren she stated, “The line forms behind me.”

The Four took pause to carefully measure their responses . . . . .

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Bullywug Gambit

Chapter Two: The Bullywug Gambit

Part Four: The End to ‘Bullying’ at Vanderboren Manor

17th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt parlayed with Harlis Javell. Once they made it clear that they were after Vanthus, not with Vanthus, she began her rather long winded tale. Apparently Vanthus had approached Harlis, a representative of the Crimson Fleet, to make some purchases. But once in Kraken’s Cove she caught him in the act of trying to steal something from her ship. The time of is interest was a Black Pearl the size of a man’s fist.

In the ensuing scuffle, she stabbed Vanthus, he dropped the pearl which cracked, his blood dropped on the pearl which then boiled and flashed with light. It started emitting a choking green gas burning through the wood of her ship. Harliss ran to the main deck and through the pearl into the bay only to have he by explode as Vanthus has dumped oil in there already. To make matters worse, most of her crew somehow transformed, after breathing the fumes, into flesh craving monsters. It was these crazed pirates that the Four had encountered and that they had witnessed Harlis kill the last of. Harlis admitted that she had been bitten by a few of them, and had almost lost her senses. AT this point Kevrey and Styvesandt exchanged worried looks as each was sporting the teeth marks and suffering from some loss of intelligence.

Harlis made it clear that Vanthus was now on her hit list. Not only him but his entire family. She had dispatched her henchman, Drevroaz, to the Vanderboren Manor to kill anyone found there. After some gentle diplomacy, Aely got Harlis to give them a brief note calling off the attack, but they were hours behind Drevoraz. She said she owed them one if their paths ever crossed again.

19th of Readying, CY 612

Aely, Kaywen, Kevrey and Styvesandt spent a very tiring two days rowing for all they were worth, with Aely offering delay disease upon her two inflicted comrades, till they got back to Sasserine. It seemed a simple matter of racing through the city till they realized that the city was totally caught up in the Wormwood Festival and the streets were teaming with entertainers and festival goers alike. They managed to calm a drunk, ‘borrow’ a boat, stop a wagon load of kids from crashing into a group of tavern goers on their way to the manor.

With the manor in sight they were set upon by some members of the Lotus dragons who’d been hired to stop them from getting to the manor. Once these hit men were driven off, they snuck over the wall and in through one of the rear doors.

The Four set about searching for Lavinia and the others. They soon realized that Drevoraz had brought help in the form of some bullywugs. Fighting their way through them, the Four kept going up levels till they found Lavinia, Kora, Little Guy and a member of the Jade Ravens tied together in what had been the parent’s bedroom, under the watchful eye of Drevoraz and a rather large bullywug. Drevoraz showed no interest in Harlis’ note so Kaywen entertained him with a rather funny joke. The large half orc burst into laughter as they fought the bullywug, who eventually fled. They eventually subdued Drevoraz. Once freed Lavinia explained that they’d been surprised, and there were three other members of the Jade Raven unaccounted for.

A renewed search of the house, no going down level revealed some more bullywugs, the bullywug chief who came close to sending Aely to meet her maker. The Four prevailed, however, and the manor was secured. The four Jade Ravens – Zan Oldavin, Liamae Teslikaria, Kaskus Kiel, Tolin Kientai- were forever in their debt.

Lavinia rewarded them handsomely with 100 pp, and raised their monthly stipend to 200 gp. She said that the documents which had been recovered from the vault revealed some interesting information which she had still to decipher and to research, so the Four were free to relax for a bit. But, she hinted at a great adventure to follow.

Aely took Kevrey and Styvesandt to her chapel where the clerics cured their disease. In exchange, they asked only a ‘favor.’ It seems the Temple has a small outpost somewhat southwest of Sasserine named Carver’s Pit. Recently this outpost has come under frequent attack by humanoids whose origin seems to be some old ruins known as Looking Glass Deep. The clerics who helped Kevrey and Styvesandt ask that they travel to Carver’s Pit and likely on to the Looking Glass to find out what is going on.

The Four did have some time to rest, heal up, resupply, and/or make further inquiries before heading out. . . . .

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