Harlequins, Doom and Providence

The City in the Jungle
Part 1

river_mouth_entrance.jpg

View
Kidnapped! (Part 3)
In the Tomb of the Sea King

In the torchlight as the dust cleared, the party could see that they were in a dank chamber with rough stone walls and a damp, oppressive atmosphere. This large chamber seemed to have been partitioned off into three storerooms, each piled high with crates and jars; each storage area was about 20 feet broad and 40 feet deep, and the areas were separated from one another by walls of red brick. To the south, a low tunnel leads deeper into the catacombs. There was no noise except for the distant drip of water, a faint scurrying, and the burning of their torches.

Keestake then sat down against a wall and in a very shaky voice launched into a monologue:

Well, we made it. Knew we would. Haven’t been down here in a while. Remember the worst trip I ever had to make down here. Right after them first pirates left, 60 years ago. I had to do right by my sovereign, don’t you think? I couldn’t leave him lying there, hacked up and stripped down. Had to prepare him right and fine for the afterworld.

So I hauled his body down here. Hard work that was. Dressed it up in some clothes and goods that the pirates missed. Laid it in a crypt near his son. Hauled his queen’s body down, laid it between her husband and her son. That was grisly work. I was sad. Never been so sad since. Himself had a ring, something he’d found adventuring. Made things happen, if you just wished for it. But they’d stabbed him in the back before he got a chance to do any wishing.

I took it off him and prayed that they’d never decay, they’d always be in one piece when it was time for the dead to rise up for the afterlife. Knew I’d done right; it always seemed his eyes followed me after that. Year after year after that, he never decayed. He’s in as good a shape now as he ever was, likely. Don’t know for sure. Haven’t been down here in a while.

You need to get used to your quarters, you know. You’re going to be down here a piece. You’re not leaving, you know. No more so than me.

Y’see, I really couldn’t let you wander off with the Sea King’s treasures and pretties. Can’t let you profane the tomb of his son. What kind o’ servant would I be if I let that happen?

I wanted to get down here and shut up that shaft when the ores first landed, but they got me. You’ve done me a favor. Got me down here so that I could shut it off. Sorry to say you won’t be leaving. You’re not going to find the entrance to the tombs.

Going to die here, like me. Say, that’s a pretty good idea.

The old man had clearly gone mad, which was not surprising in the circumstances! Nevertheless, the party wasn’t going to await their doom and go quietly in to the night and set about examining their whereabouts with considerable energy.

Catacombs.png

Looking about in the open areas near where they entered the catacombs, the party found many rotting supplies, most of which were spoiled beyond use. In the furthest section, Bruce was hurt slightly as he had to throw himself out of the way of a pile of boxes that collapsed upon him as he crossed a steel wire in the entrance to the area.

Realising that the catacombs had been trapped, the party suddenly became much more cautious, especially as they approached the rotting tapestry which covered the passageway leading out of the area. Deepdelver carefully examined the tapestry and its surrounding area, but found nothing. Carefully moving the tapestry aside, they saw another tapestry 20 foot along the passageway. Again, Deepdelver looked carefully and this time noticed that the far tapestry had a wire attached to it. She threw a rock at it and triggered the partial collapse of the ceiling between the tapestries. The dust choked the party but no one was hurt.

The party continued its investigation of the area, avoiding a pit trap and a crossbow trap and having a short but violent encounter with a nest of giant rats, but no way was found to escape. Returning to the front area, they then heard a disturbing sound! Someone was trying to excavate the shaft down to their level. Inspired by the noise to greater efforts, they eventually found a secret door leading into a long corridor which they entered.

The party moved carefully along the dank corridor until it came out in to a large chamber with rough-hewn floor and walls. Looking in the open crypts to the side, they see that one is empty, but the two others are occupied by the bodies of King Viledel and Queen Liala lying atop raised slabs of stone, upon which crudely carved epitaphs have been written.:

Viledel
Sea King
Tamed the Islands
Laid Low by Pirates

Queen Liala
Laid Low by Pirates
Rests Besides the Sea King

Their bodies do not seem to have aged at all, their wounds look as if they only happened yesterday and to the party’s horror, when one of them stepped across the threshold of the crypt, both awoke and moved threateningly towards them.

Viledel.png

Combat ensued and in the end the undead bodies of the King and Queen rested on the floor. This was much to the distress of Keestake whose unwise use of a Ring of Wishes many years ago had led to his beloved lord and lady being turned into undead monsters.

Free to examine the room without the deadly attentions of two zombies, they found two brick walls, one with an iron lever beside it and the other with a beautifully carved bronze plaque saying:

Here lies Prince Horedel
Brought Down by Illness
In the Twentieth Year of Viledel’s Reign

With effort, they managed to lower the iron lever and with a great crashing noise the wall collapsed into a large cavern filled with water leading out to sea with a slip for landing boats. They now had a way to escape the catacombs, but to add their woes, they could see that it was late afternoon and sunset was not far away and then the Goddess’ wrath would descend upon the island!

Meanwhile Urr and Don Orlando had broken into Prince Horedel’s crypt to reveal that he had been buried on a small galley, which was laying upon rollers. Spike examined it and said it was still probably seaworthy. After removing Prince Horedel’s body, all except Keestake. joined in desperately to free the ship and move it to the slip, hoping that either the orcs and goblins didn’t get down the shaft or were fooled by the secret door long enough for their escape to be made. As they were nearly ready, Keestake announced that he was staying and would die with his lord and lady, but Don Orlando refused to allow him to do that and bodily threw him aboard the ship.

And luck was with them, for the orcs raced in to the chamber as they launched and the evil creatures were only able to send a flight of arrows their way as they sailed away. Leaving the cavern, they saw that a huge storm was heading towards the island.

Aftermath.png

The sky overhead is completely covered in storm clouds, but you can still see the island — it seems to be lit by a faint glow, enough for you to see what’s going on. As you watch, tornadoes—10 or 12, at least—descend from the heavy mantle of clouds cloaking the sky.

The tornadoes begin tearing along the island and stripping great tracts of territory up into the air. Hurricane-force winds are scouring the island, and from your vantage point you can see the ruins of the town, plus the manor, barracks, and stable, begin to disintegrate, being thrown plank by plank and beam by beam into the air.

The orc and goblin boats on the beaches are being driven up onto the beach, torn apart by the winds and battering seas. You can dimly see their crews running, scattering, some of them being thrown like leaves up against the cliff side, others swept out to sea by the waves.

By the time you’re a quarter of a mile out to sea, the rocking and pitching of your own boat begins to subside — it no longer threatens to throw you overboard. But things are worse, not better, back on the island, which seems strangely obscured now, covered from shore to shore by a gray-brown whirlwind of rocks and scrub brush and sand and sea which seems to scour the island.

And that’s just what happens: by the time you’re a mile away, the whirlwind lifts and the island is gray-white and smooth, resembling not at all the island you landed upon yesterday. There’s not one hill, not one topographical feature that you remember. And, suddenly, the seas around you are still, the clouds overhead clear, and the stars and moon can be seen overhead.

Keestake lay moaning in the bottom of the boat, distraught at the destruction of everything that he had ever known, but Don Orlando over time convinced him that now was a new beginning and that as they sailed away from the island, he could have a new life!

Magical Treasure

Wand of Magic Detection (9th level – 37 charges)
Ring of Mind Shielding
Scalemail + 1
Mace + 1
Clerical Scroll of Hold Person (1 use)
Dagger + 2/+3 vs. larger than man-sized creatures
Potion of Super-Heroism
Javelin of Lightning (1 use)

Non-Magical Treasure

Coin: 700 gp
Grave goods: 600 gp
Viledel’s Crown: 500 gp
The galley: 10,000 gp
Prince Horedel’s chainmail, bastard sword, shield and dagger: 300 gp
Pirate Captain’s log (in unknown language)
Navigational charts

Experience

Monster XP: 600
Trap XP: 100
Story XP: 500

Total XP Awarded for Adventure: 1200

View
Kidnapped! (Part 2)
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse ...

That night as some slept and some kept watch, from behind the curtain that shielded the statue of the goddess came a glow the shade of the deep sea and a bell tolling three times. When they looked behind the curtain, the statue had come to life.

Goddess_appears.png

In words that sound in their head like the rolling of waves upon the shore, the Goddess Varunae, Lady of the Sea said:

You see about you the results of the raid of the Hak-kubra, the pirate orcs. They have defiled my sanctuary. When men came hither three generations ago, they slew the men of this island, but let my temple be — as is proper. Since then, my sanctuary has been subject to wind and storm, age and rot, but I was not offended, for that is nature’s right — to beat down what men have raised. But the acts of debasement you see about you have offended me. I choose to destroy this island, and all living upon it: a proper cleansing of the stain made by the Hak-kubra. I see no reason for you to die for another’s offense, however. So I will not cleanse this island this night, as I had planned, but will stay my hand another day, and lay waste to this place at nightfall tomorrow. If you are fled by then, I will adjudge you fit to survive, and the storm which destroys this place will do no harm to your craft.

It is a difficult test. I see you have not chosen your path willingly and many will raise their hands against you through no choice of your own. So this aid will I give you, carry now with you the luck of the sea. As well, in the palace are several treasures that may aide your escape.

The glow fades away, leaving the statue whole and undamaged.

With that excellent news, the party see that dawn is nearly upon them and realise that they have only one short day to get off the island. Keestake then told them that he knows how to get in to the hidden treasure vaults and in one of the tombs is a small ship which was entombed with Viledel’s son and if they got the ship in there, there must be a way to get it out as well. He says that they if they can get in to the vaults, they can take the ship and the treasure and then sail away and leave the pirates to their doom. When questioned about the treasures mentioned by the Goddess, Keestake said:

“Aye, I know about some odd bits and pieces hereabouts. The Sea King had many treasures from his years of adventuring before settlin’ down here. The pirates ran off with most of ‘em, but they didn’t recognize all of ‘em. Nor would I. But one of ’em that he gave the queen was this little stick o’ wood that would throb in your hand when it was near the Sea King’s funny treasures. I never bothered with it, these 60 years. Not my place to be meddlin’ with the treasures of the family. Nor yours either, if it weren’t life and death. I’ll show you where it is, if you want.”

He also told them of a depression that runs up close to the palace walls and will give them cover from the orc and goblin guards and that near the depression, one of the windows has bars that can be pulled apart.

With little option but to try it, the party agreed to this plan and headed out. Upon reaching the outskirts of the palace:

The mansion, just as the old man described, is an “H”-shaped building, very long and low. It seems to be built of granite. The exterior looks like it has stood up to the elements better than the temple. Unlike the temple, all the exterior windows have solid-looking, if rusty, iron bars across them. It looks as though it was made to be defended, though it’s no castle. You can see the orcs and goblins at opposite ends of the manor. There is a cluster of orc guards in front of the entrance to the northwest wing, and a trickle of orc traffic between there and the barracks, a little north-west of the manor. There is a somewhat larger cluster of goblin guards in front of the entrance to the southeast wing, and a corresponding trickle of goblin traffic between there and the stables, a little to the south-east.

The terrain around the manor is rolling, with great patches of grasses and weeds and scrub growing all over. Keestake points out the depression, a sort of little ditch or break in the ground — which starts a few hundred feet southwest of the manor and runs almost to the southwest wing. “That’s how I’d creep up on the thing,” he says. “Along that ridge. We couldn’t go in the door there, we’d be spotted in a second, but that window on the west wall near the south side that’s where the bars are loose. I ’magine we can get in there.”

And sure enough it worked just as planned and soon the party were ensconced inside the palace in an abandoned bedroom. With that they sneaked out to find the wand that Keestake mentioned. Dodging an orc patrol, they reached the Queen’s Chambers to discover that a group of orcs had found the wand. A quick battle resulted in the goblins being dispossessed of both their lives and the wand. using the wand to assist them, they discovered some more valuable items, a potion, a magical dagger of some potency and a magical harpoon, hidden inside a decorative wooden plaque as a carved harpoon. After a period of successfully dodging orc and goblin patrols and finding significant loot, they realised that time was getting away and that they better make their way to the tombs and start their escape.

Making their way in to the library, Keestake went to the bookshelf and reached up to the hidden button to open the secret door. A loud grinding noise came from behind the book shelf, but it did not move. Realising that the noise would soon attract unwanted company, Urr and Don Orlando started levering the bookshelf off the wall. Meanwhile the rest of the party barricaded the door as best they could. Soon a group of goblins pushed their way in to the room only to be hacked down by the rest of the party, but one got away. With a screech, the book shelf fell away from the wall on top of Urr, to reveal a small shaft, 2 feet square. The shaft is lined with bricks. Small steel staples, somewhat rusted, act as rungs for descending. In a rush, the party descended as they hear shouts and running footsteps coming towards the room.

Scrambling to the bottom of the shaft, they find themselves in a dark cellar, above the curses of orcs fill the air and a couple of arrows come shooting down the shaft, followed by the clanging of rungs as someone descends. Keestake throws himself at a lever next to the shaft but can’t seem to move it. Seren leaps to help him and together pull it down.

A tremendous crash resounded from overhead and the sounds of descent changed momentarily to screams, and then to silence. Then a tremendous cloud of dust rushed out of the shaft and a hail of medium to large rocks crashed to the bottom of the shaft. The party desperately threw themselves out of the way, ending up sprawled away from the shaft. Finally, a solemn silence descended over the chamber.

New Feat: Luck of the Sea – once per Lunar month, the character can elect to re-roll any roll.

View
Kidnapped! (Part 1)
And so it begins .....

Our seven heroes(?) woke cold, wet and groggy to find themselves chained hand and foot to the side of the inner hull of a slave galley that had grounded on some rocky shore ripping a gaping hole in the side of the hull. Wind, rain and spray from the breaking waves came through and left them soaked in their rags. Alone apart from their fellow prisoners, they saw:’

What had happened? The last thing that they remembered was going about their daily business when either they fainted while at their dinner or drinking at a tavern or they were assaulted while going about their business. Now as their minds cleared, they reacted in their own way, the old man bellowing about being let free and the half-orc raging in a fairly incoherent manner.

As they started to talk to each other or yell in some cases, they heard the clumping of heavy boots down the stairs from the deck. A heavy-set, brutal-looking fellow (Hafkris) came down and started shouting at them to keep quiet and laying about with a whip on anyone who made objection.

Hafkris.jpg

He then went over to Urr who was still making the most noise and for his efforts received a Glasgow kiss, staggering back he didn’t notice Seren picking his belt of the keys as he fell to the deck. Getting up he shouted “Back to sleep, for you lot” and ran up the stairs. Returning in a few minutes, he was surprised when as he attempted to force a sleeping potion down the throat of Urr, the rest of the party jumped him and quickly had him locked up in their chains.

Much discussion and many introductions ensued, followed by an interrogation of Hafkris, which was quite easy as he was prepared to spill his guts with only very little encouragement. He told them that they had been brought aboard the ship drugged as a group and that the captain had said that they were to be guarded, kept unconscious and they were to be delivered to the port of the Slavers. The man that dealt with the captain was dressed in a mask and black robes and was accompanied by a group of 5 ruffians who rarely spoke to the crew. The storm blew them far off course and eventually ran them aground on the island. The rest of the crew along with the man in black went off to find a way off the island or some way to repair the ship. Hafkris was to stay and look after the prisoners until they returned. He knew nothing else about the man in black, except that he paid the captain a small fortune for his assistance.

the-black-cowl.png

Escape

Shipwreck.png

Following this, the party searched the ship and was able to find not only their belongings in a chest, but also navigational charts. Given the precarious nature of the wrecked ship in the surf and the freezing wind from offshore that whistled through the ship , it was soon decided to leave and with effort (some more than others) they made their way up a steep gully from the beach to the top of the cliffs. They left Hafkris behind, held by his own chains and thought it seemed like a just result.

Orcs vs. Goblins – may neither win

Orcs_vs_Goblins.png

As the party ventured inland, from behind a hill they could hear the sounds of battle. Creeping up to the top of a hill, they looked over the crest to see a large group of goblins in furious dispute with a smaller group of orcs. Both sides were clearly of the sea-faring kind and were going at it with much determination. Bruce noticed that the goblins had an old man tied up behind the lines and sneaked around to his position with Urr. Unfortunately, the goblins by this time had won the battle and saw them and charged towards them. Combat ensued, but with the remainder of the party charging down the hill in to the side of the goblins, the party were soon the victors.

Keestake.png

Untying the old man, he explained what had happened on the island.

My name — haven’t needed it in a long time — is Keestake, and you’re the first human faces I’ve seen in more years than I can remember. It’s true. And you wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but in my day, in my day, I was personal groom to himself — to Viledel, the Sea King. Yes, this is the Island of Viledel — you didn’t know that? But himself died when the pirates crushed the island, years and years ago, when my hair was still black and my face unlined. I didn’t fight on the day the pirates came, just hid in an overturned, ruined boat no one looked under, while the murdering and the burning went on day after day. And finally the pirates were all gone, and I’ve been here alone since then. Living in the house of the Sea King, protecting the treasure left behind—for the pirates never found the real goods of Viledel, just some of the trinkets and baubles kept in the manor — and becoming tired and gray. How long has it been? The orcs came a few days ago. They captured me, and said the stories said that the treasure of the Sea King had never been found, which was true enough, I guess. And they said I knew where it was, which was true, too, but I never ooktold them so. The goblins came two days ago. The orc chief and the goblin chief talked, and the goblin chief said they were there to claim the island as their new stronghold, but the orcs said they were there for the treasure too, and as soon as he said it the goblins wanted the goods, and there’s been war ever since. The orcs are all set up in the old soldiers’ barracks, and the goblins are all in the old stables, and the manor in the middle is where they hunt around for treasure and fight one another most of the time. But there’s another place, where they went once but leave alone now —the temple of the goddess. It’s on the far side of the hill overlooking the manor, and if you and your friends want to take shelter there, no one will bother with you.

After some discussion, it was agreed that this seemed to be an advisable plan.

To the temple

As night and rain set in, Keestake showed the way to the temple. He clearly knew the island very well, as he took advantage of all possible cover along the way. The party reached the temple to see:

The building before you was doubtless a beautiful temple in its day — two stories in height, crafted from well-fitted planks of dark hardwoods brought from the mainland. The windows were spacious and cheerful, closed against the wind with brightly-painted shutters; a gate of well-crafted wrought iron once stood before the large front door, and a trellis for well-tended ivy once leaned against the right half of the front face of the temple. Today, after 60 years of neglect, the temple is a wreck. The expensive wood is old and pitted, cracked and decayed. The windows are still spacious, but most of the shutters are gone; the few that remain bang open and closed in the wind, or hang crookedly from a single hinge. The wrought iron gate is as intricate as ever, but rusted over, rusted clear through in places. The ivy once planted as decoration now covers the entire right side of the front wall, and continues around the whole right side of the temple. It’s a spectacle of gloom and disrepair. There are, however, no lights within, no sign of habitation, and the walls may be sound enough to keep out the worst of the weather.

The party then decided to search the ruined temple to make sure that it was safe and only found three things of consequence. First, that it was sheltered enough to keep them out of the rain and cold. Second that the temple contained:

A fine marble statue of the goddess. She is sitting on a throne, looking down into the hall of the goddess; her expression is thoughtful, with the faintest trace of a smile on her lips. The sculptor must have been a tremendous talent, for the statue is posed in a very natural manner, head slightly bowed, left hand extended in a gesture of blessing, right hand gripping the arm of the throne. But it, too, is a ruin now. The nose has been broken off, the left hand likewise, a great crack runs across the torso, and the face and torso are smeared with filth.

Appalled by the desecration, the party did what they could to clean up the statue.

What’s that up there?

Ghoul.jpg

Thirdly, as Sage was searching the kitchens, she looked up the chimney and with her sharp elvish eyes saw something looking back at her. The thing then clambered down the chimney and threw itself at her throat! A horrific ghoul, Sage’s elven heritage prevented it paralysing her and with the help of the rest of the party, she was able to slay the unnatural creature and return it back to its rightful death.

With that excitement over, the party rested and started a fire to keep warm. By the firelight, Keestake drew some rough maps of the island and the palace to help the party understand where they were.

Island_Map.png

Palace_and_Crypts.png

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.