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:’
- an older human in his forties, thin but well-muscled, with a greying goatee and hair to match (Don Orlando)
- a young male half-elf who clearly spent a lot of time in the wilderness (Bruce)
- a female dwarf, stocky like all of her kind, and whose age was hard to tell (like all of her kind) (Deepdelver)
- a male elf who even chained moved with grace, though with a hint of violence (Spike)
- a very large and powerfully built half-orc, though not as brutal-looking as many of his descent (Urr)
- a male human, wiry and graceful, covered in tattoos (Seren)
- a half-elven woman, who also appears to have spent much time in the outdoors (Sage)
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.