The Traveling Menagerie of Idiots

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Goblins don't play fair at all.

After the previous encounter and the goblin wizard’s attack on the Predator itself, the party decided it was too dangerous to be this close to the shore. With the ship’s repairs not quite complete, the night was spent at anchor an hour or so’s sail from Maesa Sari. In the morning, Anvir got up and did his usual morning routine of mediation and pushups, joined in the latter by Kang (it seems the rising-before-dawn thing is here to stay).

Now knowing what they were up against, everyone grouped together to determine the best tactics for taking out the remaining goblins and their Wizardly Leader. In the end, they ended up sailing the Predator closer so Lana could use her primeval awareness to discover that the goblins were still clustered in same ruins they had been before. Given that the still-damaged Predator meant they couldn’t fly over the ruins in a strafing run, the party decided that a frontal assault was the best plan. Or at least the most straight-forward.

Getting to shore was an adventure, with some members of the party swimming, some flying, and the remainder using the row boat to go ashore – but eventually, everyone made it, one way or another. The sailors were left to guard the Predator a ways off the shore – though it seemed more likely they were just going to spend the day drinking. They are pirates, after all. Kang was pretty confident that his stern words would be enough to make sure they stayed vigilant. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t.)

The full party – the Mouseketeers, with Sly, the twins, and Charlie – travelled towards the ruins, stopping occasionally for Lana to use her primeval awareness. She detected that the goblins were still ahead, but seemed to be slightly below where they currently stood. On arrival, they found that many of the buildings were actually illusions – harmless, apparently, but there was no sign of the goblins in any of them. After some poking around, Loralai discovered a ramp going down, that was covered by the illusion of ground. Carefully, the party began to descend down into it, with Kang and Loralai leading the way.

But the ramp was slippery, and Aremis lost his footing. Lana tried to haul him back up… but in his full plate he proved to be too heavy, and the two of them began sliding down towards the bottom. Anvir and Loralai tried to grab the pair – but weren’t able to get a hold. Luckily Kang seems to be used to rescuing his falling companions (as seen in the Darkwood) and managed to grab both of them at once, using his koloss sword to keep his own balance.

With everyone upright again, the party continued downward without incident (though Lana did fall again) until they found a flat part, where Loralai used her glaive to discover that it was actually an illusion, and there was a hole. Neither Kang nor Loralai could find anything resembling a ladder to climb down, so they dropped a rope down to depth-sound. When they pulled it back up… they found the rope had been cut.

Before the party had a chance to consider what that meant, the floor beneath them gave way.

Though Harlow managed to catch herself with a vine, Anvir took to the air, and Kang slammed his koloss sword into the wall to keep from falling, the other five fell into the room below.

The settling dust revealed a room made entirely of mirrors – the walls, the floor, even the ceiling. And everywhere they looked, they saw the goblin wizard, cackling. Completely surrounded, the party took action.

Anvir began by shining with a radiant light that reflected off the mirrors. When it faded, several of the goblins had vanished – burned out of existence, or simply illusions that had vanished. Lana followed suit, opening fire on the goblins she could see – but, again, it turned out that perhaps some of them were merely illusions, making it hard to tell if her arrows had found their marks or not.

They heard the goblin wizard laugh.

“Kill them when they go down.”

And before anyone could react to that, a spectral hand appeared out of nowhere, seizing Anvir.

In a rage, Kang dropped down and began smashing the nearest mirrors, so they would be able to see the wizard – but the koloss sword passed right through them. They, like the goblins, were only illusions.

In the moments of confusion that followed that, the very floor beneath the party’s feet began to move, splitting into four pieces, lifting them and rotating – until the party was completely split, surrounded by mirrors and goblins. Some of the party had been lucky enough to stay together – but Harlow, who had still been hanging onto the wall with her vine, was completely alone when she dropped down into what seemed to be the middle of the mirror room. Seeing only goblins, she eldritch blasted one into oblivion and tried to dispel the hand holding Anvir – but it only gripped him tighter.

Meanwhile, hidden among the reflections, Charlie snuck up behind a goblin and tried to shove it in a pit. But the goblin only stumbled forward, revealing that the pit trap was also a lie. Illusion. Thing. Sly’s attempt at casting shatter similarly had no effect on the illusion mirrors around them, though she did manage to take out a single goblin.

With the mirrors proving to be not as real as the party had believed, the goblins’ attacks came from all sides. Returning fire with her eldritch blast, Loralai used her glaive to test one of the mirrors. Finding it to be an illusion, she ran straight… into it. Instead of trying again, she blasted another goblin. Who, being an asshole, proceeded to run through another mirror, out of her sight.

The twins, seeing each other at the end of a long corridor of mirrors, opted to stay close together and joined up with Lana. The three of them were Hasted by Sly, as the only ones in her sight, and Lana managed to kill a goblin by shooting through what may have been a wall… a mirror? Or perhaps just an illusion.

Anvir, still held and pinned over the centre of the mirror rooms by the giant hand, nevertheless managed to use scorching ray to kill another goblin. Meanwhile Kang chose to deal with finding himself separated from all his friends and alone in another part of the room by going into a frenzy, killing three goblins with three swings of the koloss sword. But these few small victories seemed to make little difference, as goblins continued to appear and disappear in the mirrors, running into and out of them. And Anvir found the hand holding him dragging him up and away from the fight, completely out of sight of his companions.

While the others continued to fight the goblins, Loralai found her way back to the center of the room – passing Harlow – she jumped high into the air, breaking through the illusion that made up the roof. And from there, she spotted Anvir being carried away, using Misty Step to get to his side before he could dragged further. But she wasn’t able to get him out, and his attempt at dispelling the hand failed much as Harlow’s had.

Down below, the twins formed a defencive line around Lana and Sly in a valiant attempt to protect them from the goblins and the arrows coming out of… well… everywhere. Made even less effective by Lana running around, filling every goblin in sight with arrows.

And then Lana, Kang, Harlow, and Sly all found themselves somewhere else.

Still trapped in the mirror rooms, but not where they had been a second before – they had all somehow been teleported to a different spot among the mirrors. Finding herself near a goblin, Harlow threw fire at it. But this attack was reciprocated as fire bombarded the party from all directions.

Above, the hand holding Anvir disappeared. Seeing this, Loralai immediately jumped back down into the room where she fired off blasts of the night sky at goblins. Anvir followed her, but his sacred flame had no effect. Had he targeted an illusion? With all those mirrors, it’s hard to say…

The rooms then spun again, bringing much of the party into a small area – just as a Tyrannosaurus charged out of the wall next to Loralai and Kang, smashing the latter with its tail. Hidden from it by the wall, Loralai made to run for Harlow – but apparently dinosaurs also don’t care about walls, because it seized Loralai in its jaws, forcing her to use misty step to get away, eldritch blasting it once she had reached safety near Harlow. Lana, the twins, and Kang surrounded the T-rex as Harlow attempted to dispel it, Lana using her hunter’s mark to make her arrows do extra damage while the twins and Kang landed blow after blow with their swords.

Then a streak of darkened energy wrapped around Harlow’s armour, causing it to wither and fall completely to the ground. Seeing red, Harlow let out a long stream of elvish curses and threw up her hand again – cutting through the goblin wizard’s polymorph, and turning the dinosaur back into a very scared, very surrounded goblin. Which promptly fled back through the wall, with Lana shooting at its fleeing back.

With the party in such a convenient cluster, from the other side of the mirrored walls the goblin wizard cast fireball, the washes of fire knocking out Harlow and Charlie. And, directed by that intelligence, the other goblins focused their arrows on the unconscious pair – thankfully missing by a narrow margin as the rooms moved again, separating the party. The twins ran over to form a shield around Harlow, preventing any more arrows from reaching her while Loralai used a goodberry to revive Charlie, and Lana did the same for Harlow. But this only brought them all into another tight space as the goblin cast fireball a second time, rendering Lana and Harlow unconscious.

The situation starting to become desperate with the goblin wizard picking them all off from distance, Kang suddenly remembered through the haze of his rage that he had once been told how to get through an illusion. Just pretend the walls weren’t there and run straight at them. Simple, right? Shouting this out while the rest of the party gave him doubtful looks, Kang lifted the koloss sword, charged across the room, and through the back wall. (He will never roll well for intelligence again. Never.)

Finding himself in what appeared to be a mostly-naturally forming cavern, Kang spotted four goblins on wooden platforms – and the wizard itself on the other side of a magic circle in the far corner. Continuing his momentum, Kang charged forward and sliced the first goblin in half.

Having now seen one of their party successfully break through an illusion, Sly followed suit. Arriving in the back room, she cast shrapnel on the wizard, pelting it with shards of metal.

Back in the mirror rooms, the twins ran to the unconscious Lana and Harlow, using their goodberries to bring them back to consciousness. Lana used her healing word to get a bit more strength, while Anvir ran forward – but none of them could get through the walls.

On the other side of the walls, Kang killed the three remaining goblins, closing in on the goblin wizard. But, seeing itself surrounded and outnumbered, the wizard opted to leap into the centre of its magical circle. And disappeared. By the time the rest of the party succeeded in disbelieving the walls, there was no sign of the goblin wizard. The circle itself turned out to be little more than an illusion, discovered when Kang fell through (and was trapped by the glyph of silence on the bottom).

Regrouping, the party looked to Lana – but her primeval awareness couldn’t sense the goblin anywhere. Exploring the rest of the area (ignoring the “walls”), they discovered a small workroom on the other side which contained a number of notebooks and scrolls, which were shoved into Dorris. Since the coast seemed relatively clear – or at the very least, the goblin was nowhere to be found – the party headed back to the Predator. (Where, it should be noted, the sailors were decidedly not sober.)

As the next few days passed while the repairs on the ship continued, the goblin wizard remained hidden. Eventually, the party decided it wasn’t worth their time staying on Maesa Sari just to kill one (admittedly challenging) wizard – they had other things to do, like made for Kelna to confront Harlow’s father, Gladomain Vinespeaker. Before departing, the party visited the Island – Kang pointedly refusing to enter the lighthouse – and informed her of their decision. As a parting gift and in thanks for the sacrifices made while trying to clear the goblins, she gave Harlow a seed, with which to try and regrow her armour.

Returning to the shore, Loralai gathered the party – along with Anvir – on the beach. Before they set off, she said, there were two more people who would like to join the Mouseketeers. The first was Anvir, who was happily welcomed by all.

The second was Countess General Devina Aurora Elizabeth Verity Rothchild the Second, Countess of the Eleat Sea, second heir to the house of Rothchild, Adviser-General to the King of Rhaniel and Lady Commander of the Wraiths of Rhaniel.

At this, Loralai used prestidigitation to remove the makeup that had been previously covering her freckles, and the hairbrush of style to return her hair to its natural blonde – revealing that the person they had been travelling with for the last month or so was not who the rest of the party thought she was. (The only person unsurprised by this was Harlow.) The rest of them, naturally, had many questions – but, perhaps to her relief, did not seem too offended by the secrecy. After all, Devina Rothchild is wanted for regicide in Rhaniel (though she assured the party that she was not responsible for killing her brother-in-law), so it stands to reason she wouldn’t want her identity known. Accepting Devina, as herself (though back in disguise, for safety), into the Mouseketeers, they set sail for Kelna.

The two weeks of travel passed quietly, with the party working on their own projects and talking about various things. Lana and Anvir bonded over being the only good members of party. Harlow successfully used her seed to craft her armour, while Loralai’s enchanting did not go quite as well. Kang also failed to learn anything useful in the way of sailing – but he did discover the name of the twins’ father, Elhand Battleheart. Who was also on the mysterious burned list they had discovered in the dark tower. Apparently a rather fearsome pirate and overall unpleasant, the party elected to stay out of his way and hope that the Predator did, too – but also noted that he, too, seemed to fit the trend of “powerful and unpleasant” that currently make up the list.

By the end of those two weeks, the endless green of Kelna was in sight on the horizon.

View
White Knights and Wizard Fights
ft. EVEN MORE goblins and some stalkers

With ever the eye for danger, it was Lana who first spotted the tip of a goblin arrow peeking over the edge of the ravine. She immediately took cover against the wall, warning the rest of the party, though neither her arm nor her words were enough to get Kang out of the middle of the path.

Hoping to get the element of surprise, Loralai began climbing to the top of the ravine, only to be stopped by Harlow. Taking some rope and the immovable rod with her, Harlow used her armour to get to the top and peeked over. She discovered there were far more goblins there than any of them would have expected. When she reported this back to the party, Lana remembered that there were ways to hide from her primeval awareness, which would explain why she hadn’t been able to detect these goblins. Now knowing where an enemy was, the still semi-raging Kang considered climbing up himself – but then the first goblins noticed and swarmed over the edge, onto the party.

Unsurprised, this time Lana managed to push Kang back towards the others and loose arrows at the first swarm that fell to the ground right before them. Their first swipes missed her completely, leaving them open for Charlie to make his own attacks at them as a second swarm came over the edge, landing in perfect range of Kang’s koloss sword. Then a third swarm came down, enveloping Charlie and knocking him to the ground – threatening to do some serious damage, before he was time skipped to safety by Sly, while Harlow caused a spray of thorns that took out a large chunk of that swarm.

All the noise of the fighting reached Anvir, way up high in his cave. He cautiously made his way out, heading towards the sounds and testing his earring repeatedly as he went, trying to get within range and find out what was going on.

When the party didn’t manage to wipe out the swarm completely, Charlie reappeared in the centre of it, where the goblins recommenced stabbing him. One of the other swarms then tried to pile on Kang, who barely noticed it as he continued swinging his sword. Then Harlow and Lana heard Anvir’s voice coming through their earrings, and yelled out “GOBLIN SWARMS!” in response to his questions.

Together, Kang and Loralai took out the second goblin swarm, turning on the first swarm as Sly cast a fireball and eliminated the last few stragglers, a few seconds before Anvir arrived. With the others keeping watch – though Kang was still ready to fight anything that so much as breathed – Lana did another primeval awareness, and couldn’t sense anything nearby. But, knowing now that that didn’t necessarily mean anything, the party elected to inform Anvir what had happened on their way back to the ship. Given that there might be more goblins around, they decided to go stealthily, with Lana casting pass without trace on them all. Kang, still barely holding in his rage, stormed noisily ahead (not listening even to Lana) and picked up rage-logging where he’d left off, putting the sailors to shame.

The others returned to the ship to rest, with Harlow and Loralai having a brief talk about Sila and the many secrets they were keeping hidden from the rest of the party. Lana made sure the twins were alright on the beach watching the sailors, checking on the goblins with primeval awareness before going back to the ship herself. As night fell, the party found their bunks – Harlow joining Sly in her cabin – and even Kang eventually came back and went to sleep, though his mood didn’t seem much changed.

Dawn found Helwyr sitting on the beach like a giant seagull, while Lana slept peacefully in her hammock. Kang, Loralai, and Anvir woke and did their usual morning pushups in quiet (or angry, in one case) silence. Harlow and Sly were still asleep in their cabin when something unseen pushed open the door and slipped inside.

So it was that Harlow’s wake up call was being punched in the face.

With a scream, she scrambled out of bed at the same time Lana and Loralai were struck by similar invisible fists – Lana rolling out of her hammock to grab her bow, losing an arrow blindly before casting hunter’s mark on the unseen attacker, her second arrow then finding its mark. Harlow dived for her armour, unable to cast without it, and was struck again as she managed to pull on her shield just in time to deflect a third attack. In an effort to protect her girlfriend, Sly swung an unarmed punch at the thing, as it and the one below deck with Lana whispered “Lyne sends her regards” in primordial.

Hearing the screams from Sly’s cabin, Loralai ignored the thing that had punched her and raced across the deck, bursting through the door in time to prevent Harlow’s attacker going after her again. With it locked in place, Harlow threw fire in its general direction, but instead caught the papers on Sly’s desk and set them alight. It’s hard to hit something when you can’t see where it is. Outside, Anvir cast faerie fire on the invisible attacker, making it visible enough for him and Kang to finish it off quickly before it could give chase to Loralai, and they joined the rest in the cabin in time for Sly to pull on her gauntlet and Haste Kang and Loralai.

The fight below deck was going considerably worse, with Lana being knocked around even as Charlie and the twins rushed to defend her against something they couldn’t see themselves. And then the invisible stalker in Sly’s cabin crashed through the floor beneath it, into a storage room next to the crew’s bunks. Loralai jumped down after it just in time to see Lana go down, abandoning her opponent again to save the ranger with a goodberry.

Harlow followed Loralai down, turning into a panther to pounce onto the invisible attacker. Unable to fit through the small hole without risking landing on Harlow, Kang rushed outside, threw open the cargo hold, and smashed into the one that had been attacking Lana. That one was being attacked from all sides by Loralai, Kang, the twins, and Charlie as it continued to go after Lana, while Harlow and Sly fought the one that had woken them.

Then another attacker appeared behind Kang, smashing its fists into him, leaving him trapped between the one sent for Lana, and the new one sent for him. But Anvir dropped through the hole, healing those within range. But as the fourth stalker tried to make another attack on Kang, Loralai pinned it in place, and she was knocked out by the one that had been targeting Lana. And in the other room, the one Harlow was fighting knocked her out of panther form – and then out of the fight completely.

Seeing his friends go down around him, fueled by Haste and rage, Kang was the one who finally murdered the one that had been attacking him and charged through the bunks to kill the other before it could finish Harlow off. Seeing its comrades defeated, the final stalker disappeared – though the twins kept their guard around Lana just in case – giving Anvir and Kang time to get to everyone with healing and goodberries.

Shaken, but alive, the party retreated to the main deck to tackle the fire spreading in Sly’s cabin. Harlow relayed what she’d heard from the first invisible stalker – and Anvir, picking up on the group’s discomfort, asked about the attack. After all, it had seemed very specifically targeted.

For the first time in… well, ever, the party gathered with Sly and Charlie to talk about everything that had happened, and the secrets that had gone unspoken. Loralai explained about their mercenary work aboard the Siren’s Bane, the civil war in Haven, and that Lyne was evidently still out there and looking for them. She and Harlow then told the party about Sila, their patron, and the chess game he was playing against an unknown opponent – one in which they were pieces, as Sila’s white knights.

They also revealed that Sly was one of Sila’s pawns, having traded her sanity to him for help with the Predator – leaving her somewhat bound to the ship, as being aboard it kept her slightly more sane. Kang, Lana, and Anvir were concerned about these deals – though Loralai told them that so long as she provided Sila entertainment, she was fulfilling her side. As far as Harlow knew, she was required only to “stay on her current path” to complete her initial deal. With that in mind, the party showed Anvir, Charlie, and Sly the burned list of names – but they didn’t know any more about it than the rest of the party did already.

After this unprecedented amount of sharing, Loralai and Harlow asked the others to stay with them as they tried to unravel the mystery of Sila’s chess game – who is his opponent? Who are the pieces that, in their dream of the chessboard, seemed to be bearing down on Sly and Loralai? What is the prize for victory? Even with the others to weigh in, there were still more questions than answers, and nothing the party could do about them here on Maesa Sari. They needed to find Gladomain and find out what they could from him.

The party turned their attention back to the goblin problem. Thanks to Lana’s primeval awareness, they were able to determine that most of the surviving goblins were hanging out in two of the ruins. One of them had distinctly fewer goblins, so the party decided to go after that one first. Given the rough state they were in after the fight against the stalkers, they decided that everyone would go, save for Charlie, who would stay behind on the Predator to protect it.

Harlow cast water walking on the rest of the party, while Anvir and Lana flew ahead to scout the ruins out. As the group drew closer, Lana descended and cast pass without trace on everyone, to hopefully give them an element of surprise.

Anvir, flying ahead, had the first volley at a group of goblins standing guard outside – incinerating them with fireball. Now alerted, Lana set Helwyr ahead to stick his head into one of the ruined buildings, only for him to disappear with a screech as arrows flew through the space he’d left behind.

Further back, still creeping through the trees but hearing this commotion up ahead, Sly cast Haste on Loralai and Kang, giving them the movement to barrel through into the ruins and, between them, eliminate nearly all the remaining goblins. Eager to maintain use of Haste, the two of them burst down the door into the only room still standing – setting off some kind of magical enchantment. But as there were no visible effects, the two continued.

When the others caught up, the two had found a trapdoor – which Lana detected had a glyph of warding on it, just seconds before Loralai decided to throw it open anyway, triggering a small explosion. And in an uncharacteristic display of impatience, she then jumped down the ladder and landed on another glyph, which this time caused an ice burst. Finally, they decided to stop and have someone cast detect magic while Lana used her primeval awareness, determining that there were more goblins at the end of the tunnel.

Proceeding onwards together, at a less reckless pace, they came to another door. Pushing it open they discovered another cavern – and the goblin wizard, who set off a fireball in the middle of the party. Along the walls of the cavern were raised wooden platforms, and atop each of them sat several goblin archers who began to shoot at the party. Lana returned fire, downing most of them with a single arrow. The others charged forwards to attack the goblin wizard, but it didn’t quite go as planned, with Loralai turned into a small animal (mouse? Rabbit? Can’t remember) until she bit herself to get out of the shape. The wizard’s fireballs wreaked havoc on the party, nearly taking out Lana, Harlow, and Loralai – though they were healed thanks to Anvir.

And then, when things finally started to go the party’s way, with the other goblins dead and the wizard on its last legs… the wizard used dimension door and disappeared.

Lana immediately began casting primeval awareness – and detected the gobin heading straight for the Predator. Spurred immediately into action, the party began the mad dash back, hoping to get there before anything terrible happened. But they still had to get out of the cavern and back through the ruins. They’d never make it in time, even with Sly racing ahead of the rest.

Alone on the Predator, Charlie didn’t notice the goblin’s stealthy approach. After its initial surprise attack on him, he hid behind the mast and threw several daggers at it, dealing a surprising amount of damage. In response, the goblin disappeared again.

Charlie sprinted below decks to the power crystal, knowing that if the goblin attacked that, the Predator wouldn’t stand a chance. He spent a nervous half-hour guarding it, waiting for another attack, but the goblin didn’t resurface, and finally, the rest of the party made it back to the ship.

Knowing now what they were up against, the party faced a choice. Should they go after the hopefully exhausted wizard, finish it off once and for all – or take the rest so very much needed by the party’s spellcasters? Yet they knew that leaving the wizard alone for such a long time would undoubtedly give it time to to prepare for their next battle, enough that there was a good chance the party would lose again.

But, short of sending one person after the wizard alone, they didn’t have much of a choice. Nearly everyone in the party needed to rest. They would have to face the wizard tomorrow.

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Islands, Goblins, and Secrets
Also a beach bash and a tantrum.

It took Kang and Loralai very little time to break through the dragon’s crystal and free Maesa Sari’s spirit. Somewhat in awe, the party gathered around her — and in payment for their assistance in killing the dragon and waking her from her slumber, the Island used the crystal remains to improve the party’s gear. Harlow, Anvir, and Loralai had crystals embedded in their armour, Lana on her bow, Kang received crystal teeth along the edge of his koloss sword, Charlie on his cane sword, and the twins on their swords.

Wanting to remain on the Island’s good side — since they still needed to spend a few days there, and let’s be honest everyone has had enough of making enemies — the party asked if there was anything else they could do for her, any other way they could help her. The Island responded by saying she felt… unclean.

The party cheerfully agreed to rid the island of the goblin infestation before retreating from her cavern, back to the Predator.

Giddy with victory, Aramis and Arawei decided it was the perfect time to throw a party on the beach. Helped by the rest of the sailors, they began to ferry keg after keg of alcohol to the shore, to the disinterest of Anvir and Lana, and Harlow who went for a walk her own. A bonfire was made, a boar was roasted, and drunken revelries (miraculously undisturbed by goblins) followed. When the music started up, Harlow shyly asked Sly to dance and discovered that she could dance. The two were lost to everyone else for the rest of the evening, eventually falling asleep together in a bed of flowers.

Meanwhile, Loralai, Kang, and Charlie threw darts at trees (and unsuspecting sailors) and Anvir spent most of his time making sure the rest of the drunken sailors weren’t going to hurt themselves. Lana told the rest of the party that she was “going for a fly” before slipping off to the night — but was followed by Loralai and Kang, who watched as she cast a new spell she’d learned, summoning a giant eagle. Naming the creature Helwyr, Lana took off into the night with her new steed, enjoying the freedom.

Having witnessed this sight, Loralai apologised to Kang for all the things she’d said… and the things she hadn’t, promising to tell him more when Harlow and Lana were also present. Returning to the party, Loralai introduced Kang to a type of alcohol that — amazingly — did not give the drinker a hangover the next morning. And that was the end of the night for those two, too.

In the morning, the party and crew slowly regained consciousness, with varying degrees of hangover. (Charlie was definitely hungover. Definitely.) At some point, Lana introduced the party to Helwyr, and Loralai asked Kang about the sunrise tattoo he’d gotten aboard the Siren’s Bane. His responded saying that it was for his friends in Orokai, but when asked where they were currently, Kang walked away.

The next order of the day was to decide the best way to rid the island of goblins. Lana used her primeval awareness to detect that they were, for the most part, hanging out in two of the ruins. But there seemed to be too many of them for a frontal assault to be the best tactic — the party decided to try drawing out some of the goblins by making a lot of noise. As they still needed wood to repair the Predator, they decided to let Kang use his thunderous gauntlets on the trees while the rest of them kept watch.

Soon enough, Lana detected a group of goblins approaching, and the sailors retreated to the water line while the party prepped for battle. Anvir, and Lana astride Helwyr, took to the sky to get a better look at what was coming, and hopefully take the first few attacks.

Unfortunately, even goblins riding atop gelatinous cubes can be stealthy, and Lana and Anvir had made themselves obvious targets. The first volley of arrows went mainly into Helwyr — causing the bird to disappear, and Lana to fall heavily to the ground.

But the goblins had revealed themselves now, and the party opened fire — Sly and Anvir with fireballs, Harlow and Loralai with eldritch blasts, and Lana making use of her hordebreaking skill to take out an entire cube of goblins at once.

Still, the sight of goblins on top of cubes was a new one for all of them, and though the goblins proved easy to take out, the cubes decidedly did not. It wasn’t long before one party member after the other was engulfed – Sly time-skipping herself in an effort to escape when Harlow couldn’t pull her free, Loralai using misty step, Kang simply cutting them in half with the koloss sword and attempting to pull people back out. Harlow also dropped a tree on several cubes, which was then set alight by Sly, but was engulfed twice, falling unconscious both times – just like she had aboard the Siren’s Bane.

Seeing Harlow in danger, Charlie ran in to rescue her — but wasn’t strong enough to break the cube’s grip, leaving it up to Sly to time skip Harlow to prevent her taking more damage. Thankfully, the party was eventually able to take down the last few cubes, and Anvir healed those who had fallen unconscious. Exhausted by this — and in Harlow’s case, permanently afraid — the party decided to take a rest before doing anything else.

During the rest, the party decided that these goblins were decidedly intelligent. Too intelligent. What goblin would think to put glass on top of a cube so that they could ride it? Nope, something suspicious is going on.

They decided to go back to the lighthouse and pay the Island another visit, to see if she could tell them anything more. Heading down, the party told the Island of their encounter and determined that there was a wizard among the goblins. However, the Island could not help them any further, as it was beyond the bounds of her existence, without some kind of… tie with one of the party. A tie similar to the ones that Loralai and Harlow already had — a revelation that came as a shock to the rest of the party. Though Anvir was capable of making such a bond with the Island, he declined. Lana and Kang, on the other hand, did not meet the necessary requirements. At this point, Kang exercised some form of self control and stomped out of the room, returning to the top of the lighthouse.

With the Island unable to offer more assistance, and secrets previously unmentioned brought to light, it was with an uncomfortable silence that the party walked back up the tunnels to the surface where Kang was waiting. They asked why he seemed so pissed off — to which he replied that he didn’t like the idea of giving allegiance to a more powerful being that they didn’t understand. But with no more information forthcoming from the two warlocks, he stormed back to the camp and started logging with the koloss sword, despite Lana trying to stop him. She, too, felt the sting of the warlocks’ lack of sharing, following Kang back to the beach.

Left alone with Loralai and Harlow, Anvir also expressed his concerns about their apparent ‘tie’ before going back to the beach. After a brief discussion on their own about the circumstances and the fact that their secrets had been aired in such a manner, Loralai and Harlow also went back to the camp, where they joined Anvir and Lana in trying to decide what their next move on the goblins should be — as, after all, they had promised the Island that they would get rid of them all. Though several attempts were made to get Kang’s attention… they were unfortunately made by eldritch blasting the tree he was working on. Using the very magic he seemed so opposed to did not make him more receptive to joining the party in their planning.

Eventually the rest decided to send Anvir to scout the ruins and keep an eye on the goblins. Unfortunately out of range of the earrings of whisper, he found a relatively safe cave… but before he could hide there, a goblin scout party spotted him. It quickly became clear that they’d bitten off more than they could handle — Anvir’s light was able to completely obliterate the entire party, and he retreated to the cave before another group could come through.

Back on the beach, with Anvir not returning, Lana flew out on Helwyr to look for him. But she was met by a second goblin scout group, who badly wounded Helwyr — forcing her to return to the beach without making contact with Anvir. Understandably concerned, the party decided they would have to go get him as a group. They called over Sly, Charlie, and the twins to go with them, in case they ran into any more goblins, which seemed likely. So they would need Kang. Who was still savaging trees with the koloss sword, doing enough work that most of the sailors were sitting around doing nothing.

As he completely ignored all verbal attempts to attract his attention, Harlow used her new ability to speak directly into Kang’s mind. But let’s be honest, using mind magic on the one who’s recently revealed a fear of mind control was really not a wise move.

Though what she said was really very nice (something close to “there’s a place for you here next to me. I’d really like it if you took it”). And, if nothing else, it did get Kang’s attention. Noticing Anvir missing — but not coming any closer to them — he reluctantly agreed to stop logging and come with them. Or maybe it was just the promise of violence.

Kang set off ahead of the rest of the party, Loralai and Harlow reluctant to say anything that might potentially make it worse, Lana trying to keep up with the half-orc. After traversing through the forests for a while, they found themselves in a ravine, with the glimmer of a goblin’s arrow just in sight…

View
The Beach Episode
In which little-to-no time was spent actually on the beach.

We begin with the suns rising over Maesa Sari, bringing an end to what had been a peaceful night – so peaceful that Loralai, rather than watching for danger like Lana, spent most of their joint shift observing a little green ladybug crawling around the wall. The quiet was broken by Kang abruptly jerking awake with a loud curse and a far quieter mutter about missing the sunrise. Seeing Loralai staring at the wall, he joined her in regarding the ladybug (but with far more suspicion) – at least until Harlow woke up and told him in exasperation that ladybugs are Not Dangerous.

Now that everyone was awake, the discussion of what they would do that day began. Harlow told the rest of the party about the fire she had seen in the lighthouse during her watch, with the suggestion that they go investigate, while Loralai was more interested in finding and eating coconuts. Eventually, the party decided to explore the lighthouse… and look for coconuts on the way.

Spending ten minutes drawing symbols in the dirt around them and making tree noises, Harlow successfully cast water walking on the party before they left the ruins, as the sandbank had disappeared under approaching high tide. Together they climbed down from the first story platform onto the water, which thanks to Harlow’s spell felt solid, and exited the ruined tower.

As they did, squinting into the early morning sun, Kang and Harlow noticed a third point of light in the sky. Which seemed to be coming towards them. Fast.

Suspicious as always the party immediately tried to hide against the tower, until their attempt at stealth was mostly ruined by Lana tripping over a wave. As the glowing thing began to circle above them, the four prepared their weapons to attack whatever it was – when an accented voice called down from above, wondering if they were the people he’d been sent to find. (To which Kang immediately shouted back “no”.) Luckily there are more sensible people in the party, who decided negotiation – or at least talking – was a better route, and called back out to the flying glowing talking thing.

Said flying glowing thing introduced himself as Anvir Ruvil, an Aasimar cleric of light apparently oblivious to the fact that he was blinding the rest of them with his glowing armour, until it was pointed out. He had been sent from the Predator to find them, and having done so, signalled the ship by throwing a flare arrow into the sky. Given that he could not land on the water, the party walked back across to the beach where proper introductions took place. As they walked over the reef, Kang took note that today it seemed perfectly subservient. Obviously frightened of him.

With Anvir informing the party that the Predator was still half a day away, they decided to take their new friend to explore the lighthouse. Since the shortest route to the lighthouse was across the water, and Anvir could fly, they set off across the bay. As they walked, Kang tried to pull Harlow aside to talk to her about Loralai, who he had noticed had not been herself in… quite some time. But neither of them were quiet as stealthy as they thought they were in their whispering, and had the awkward moment when they both turned to find Loralai had been walking directly behind them. Apparently trying to quit before he got any further behind, Kang pushed Harlow towards Loralai and walked faster towards the lighthouse. Of course, Loralai’s response to the questions about her emotional state was that she was completely fine. Just like the rest of them. The rest of the conversation was lost under the high-pitched squeal of “FIRE!” from the outcrop they were passing under.

Goblins.

A small group of the small, disgusting creatures had set themselves up on the 50ft overhang, giving them an easy shot at the unobservant targets beneath. After the initial round of arrows flew down – most of them missing completely, since goblins are shit – Anvir flew directly up, arrows tinking off his armour, and summoned a flaming sphere directly on top of two goblins.

The battle that followed was relatively short. Kang, probably for the first time in his life, found himself completely useless in a ranged battle, not wanting to risk falling by climbing up the cliff-face, and instead trying to cover the other members of the party. Lana moved further back until she could see the goblins more easily, arrow after arrow finding their marks. Harlow didn’t worry about whether she could see the goblins or not – she simply called lightning down from the sky, catching three in the blast. Side by side with her, Loralai cast shatter twice, killing several more. And though the goblins continued to fire arrows at the glowing target flying in front of them, Anvir’s warding flare (and shining armour) kept most of the goblins blinded, their arrows going completely wild into the sky as the Aasimar continued using his flaming sphere and sacred flame to fry goblins. All in all, their height advantage useless against the highly efficient ranged members of the party, the goblins were hopelessly outclassed.

The party saw no reason to continue walking around the cliff to the beach – potentially risking more ambushes – so without much difficulty they climbed up and onto the path. Kang poked several the goblin corpses in search of a dagger until Anvir, despite his previous goading, offered Kang one of his own.

Now that they were getting closer to the lighthouse, they stopped for a few minutes to allow Lana to sense ahead with her primeval awareness. She detected a single goblinoid at the top of the lighthouse. With this information, the party decided to attack from above so that the goblin didn’t have the advantage of higher ground. Lana flew up with Anvir (the beginning of her quest to obtain fly speed), while Harlow climbed up using her armour to set the immovable rod for Kang and Loralai to climb up. But neither Anvir nor Harlow were as quiet as Lana had been. Anvir turned to see a pair of goblin eyes observing them from a trapdoor and immediately used sacred flame. A gentle burning, a high-pitched squeal and a trapdoor slam later, and Loralai and Kang were charging up the spiralling wooden stairs inside the lighthouse as Lana, Harlow and Anvir came down from the roof.

Moving faster than Loralai, Kang reached the top just as the others came down… without running into the goblin. What?

What Kang and Loralai failed to take notice of in their charge up the stairs was that there were several rooms on the varying levels of the lighthouse. Sensibly, the goblin had taken refuge inside one of them. It was Anvir who detected the quiet, panicked breaths of a goblin behind one of the closed doors, casting sacred flame through the tiny crack and throwing the door open.

Panicked, the goblin ran further into the room and began ringing a bell which made no sound, but had glowing runes along its surface. Peeking around Anvir, Harlow used hold person to stop the goblin – but not before three phase spiders coalesced out of the shadows, sending chills down the spines of the party who walked through the Darkwood. With enemies finally in range, Kang charged forward past Anvir to lay into the spiders with his halberd, joined almost immediately by Loralai. Keeping well back, Lana shot around Anvir as the cleric summoned spirit guardians to protect him. Harlow (no doubt glad that these spiders were not of the flying variant… if such a thing exists) threw fire at the one directly in front of her and turned into a sabre toothed tiger, ready to strike again.

Then the spiders attacked, poisoning Loralai and sending Kang into a frenzied rage. But between the five of them, three phase spiders and a single goblin are hardly a threat. Loralai cut the head off the goblin before it had a chance to break out of Harlow’s hold.

The third phase spider vanished.

Not wanting any more spiders to be summoned, Loralai dismantled the bell and put it in Dorris. With the lighthouse apparently empty, Kang and Lana went up onto the roof and discovered a crystalline structure with mirrors inside – probably the light. With everyone a little tired from the earlier goblin ambush, the others joined them on the roof (Harlow leaping straight up the trapdoor, a feat hardly difficult for a sabre toothed tiger) to take a short rest.

Kang, dozing off instead of keeping watch, was joined at the railing by Loralai. She tucked the iris that Harlow had given her previously behind Kang’s ear, saying “it wasn’t your fault” before walking off, leaving him once again in a stunned silence.

After an hour, the party decided they were well-rested enough to go have a look at the shipwreck they’d seen before. Walking back down the path with Anvir flying overhead, the party once again walked through patches of palm trees – at which point Loralai immediately began using her eldritch blast to knock coconuts off, cracking them open with her hand-axe and forcing everyone else in the party to try some. Paying more attention to coconuts than to their environment, the party failed to notice the goblins around them… again.

A swarm of goblins descended upon Kang, almost knocking him out in the first few seconds as he all but disappeared under them. The rest of the party sprang into action, Lana opening fire on the goblins clinging to Kang. Anvir flew down to heal him, and caught the swarm in his sacred flame, but it wasn’t enough to stop them continuing to stab Kang, who only stayed on his feet through sheer relentless endurance. Seeing him still trapped, Harlow healed Kang too, trying to give him a chance to escape, before turning once more into a sabre toothed tiger, ready to maul the goblins. Loralai shouted to Kang to try and break free of the swarm – but instead, enraged, Kang swung at the goblins around him, forcing Loralai to try and eldritch blast them away. Meanwhile, Lana engaged in a shoot-off with several goblin archers that were hiding behind trees – proving to be the far better markswoman.

Incredibly, Anvir managed to blind the entire swarm, causing them to flail wildly and miss the target right in their midst. This gave the sabre toothed tiger the opportunity it needed to maul several of the goblins to death, joined by Loralai. But there were still too many goblins, and when he finally tried to break free, Kang found he couldn’t. He went down under the goblin’s onslaught, disappearing beneath their swords.

Harlow and Loralai charged into the fray now, and with their respective claws and eldritch blast scored the critical hits needed to kill the remaining goblins, while Lana picked off the last two goblin archers. With the swarm defeated, Anvir flew down and healed Kang back to consciousness. Deciding that perhaps continuing to the shipwreck with Kang in his current exhausted state was not the safest course of action, the party went back to the beach and took another short rest.

It was during this rest that they noticed the water in the bay shifting, blowing outwards from a central point. The words of a quartered captain rang in their minds – the ship appeared out of nowhere – just seconds before the Predator materialised in the middle of the bay.

Harlow immediately took off running, still in her sabre toothed tiger form, the others following behind her as the druid changed back to human, petals shedding off her. Only seconds passed before a familiar figure leapt from the deck of the Predator, magically jumping the 80 feet to shore and straight into Harlow’s arms. Sly had come.

The party were welcomed aboard the ship, which now had a full crew picked up by Sly in Disaster Bay. Though Sly asked after their adventures in the time they’d been apart, none of the party were eager to talk about it, and instead turned to meeting the new crew. Of particular note among them was Anvir, who the party had already met, a pair of identical human twins named Arawei and Aramis, and Charlie, the first mate – who to the party’s surprise called Sly “Amelia”, and informed them that Sly had insisted all their bunks were kept ready for them. (Certain party members felt unbelievably touched by this. Others were immediately more interested in making sure Sly’s brother liked them.)

With the Predator having run afoul of the same anti-magic bolts that they’d seen aboard the Siren’s Bane, the party spent the rest of the day resting aboard the ship while the crew began to see to repairs. Harlow tried to work on her armour, but was interrupted by Kang coming over to talk about Loralai again. Understandably, the half-orc seemed very worried about their human friend, a sentiment Harlow agreed with – perhaps having more idea of the underlying problem. She was, however, quick to assure Kang that Loralai’s combat weariness wasn’t caused by his actions on Skykiller. Some tears were shed, and Harlow promised she’d talk to Loralai.

Meanwhile, Lana and Anvir went ashore together, spending some time chatting about their lives, and were successful in hunting a large boar. For a skilled ranger such as Lana, this was no doubt an easy task without the rest of the party crashing about. They brought it back to the ship where it became dinner for everyone (except Harlow, who ate a goodberry instead).

Tired from their long day and the harrowing experiences of the past weeks, the party retired to their bunks. For the most part, the night passed uneventfully…

Save for Harlow, who had a strange dream. Involving beings made from the night sky, leather armchairs, and a strange chessboard with familiar faces as some of the pieces. A deal was struck, and Harlow officially became a knight of team shady – just like Loralai, who was less than enthused about this turn of events when she joined Harlow in the dream. The dream ended with Sila informing the two of something dangerous lurking beneath the lighthouse, something that would be best faced ‘with friends’.

Harlow and Loralai woke from their shared dream abruptly, still hours before dawn, Harlow holding a white lily given to her by Sila. Loralai, speechless, stormed up onto deck and began doing push-ups. She was joined some time before dawn by Anvir, who came up to meditate and do his own workout routine. Below in the bunks, Harlow attuned to her new flower, while Lana continued to sleep peacefully.

Kang, for the first time since travelling with the party, also rose before dawn. Seeing Loralai not in her bunk he went on deck in search of her, finding her still doing rage push-ups with Anvir (who was now doing regular push-ups). Not certain how to tackle her mood and with business of his own, Kang took something from Dorris and then went to stand at the railing facing the sunrise. After a few minutes, having done whatever he was doing and thrown whatever it was into the water, Kang went back over to Loralai – who was still doing rage push-ups. But his attempts to get her to talk to him were met with alternate stone cold silence and sharp comments, until finally he dragged her over to have breakfast. With Lana to keep an eye on Loralai, Kang went in search of Harlow, thinking her to be better to talk to Loralai – but the druid was nowhere to be found, since she had come up on deck as a mouse and was building a crumb pile next to Loralai. And, when asked, refused to change back.

Suffice to say, it was a very awkward breakfast, what with Loralai eating mechanically and Mouselow trying to nuzzle Loralai’s hand.

But while they were eating, Charlie came over to inquire as to what they would be doing for the day. He mentioned that the crew needed to log some timber but couldn’t do it safely while there were still goblins in the nearby ruins, asking the party for their help in clearing it out. Though Loralai also said that Harlow knew there was something dangerous under the lighthouse, with Harlow still a mouse the party went ashore by boat (save Lana, who flew with Anvir again) to fight yet more goblins. In a wise move to prevent any goblins stealing their boat, they had Anvir drag the boat back to the Predator.

Heading into the trees again, they sent Anvir ahead to scout the ruins, but a flying glowing man is hardly inconspicuous. The goblins spotted him and frantically began to pack up their camp, fleeing into the forest. Anvir, via Loralai’s earring of whisper that she’d given him earlier, told the party. They went on to the ruins regardless, where they discovered that goblins smell like shit, but had also left enough tracks for Lana to follow. Lana’s primeval awareness informed her that the goblins were heading for the other ruins, where more goblins waited.

The party decided to try a pincer attack, with Mouselow and Anvir flying ahead to cut them off before they could reach their larger numbers while Lana, Kang and Loralai followed their tracks to attack from behind. Anvir and Mouselow took off, flying towards the other ruins, while Lana used her skills to locate the goblins’ tracks – though they proved far sneakier than expected.

So sneaky that even Lana walked right into the third ambush.

This time the goblins had come prepared, armed with vials of alchemist’s fire. Their first throws missed Lana and Loralai, but one vial smashed over Kang, doing minimal damage but turning him into a pillar of flame. Seeing the goblins had more vials of fire strapped across their chest, Lana used her trick bow to shatter the vials, destroying the goblins who carried them in gouts of flame. Kang, in a flaming rage this time, cut two goblins in half. Now hearing all the noise, Anvir and Mouselow flew back to help as the goblins charged forwards to attack Kang and Loralai, who killed another. Mouselow, now positioned directly over a cluster of goblins, ran out along Anvir’s arm and jumped.

What landed was not a mouse, but a whale.

The three goblins caught beneath the whale bomb had only time for a brief squeak before the life was crushed out of them. The highlight of the battle then followed – Anvir flew down, positioning himself squarely between the remaining goblins, and channelled the divine light inside him. Glowing as brightly as the dawn, he turned the last four goblins into dust.

Having successfully cleared out the closest ruins to the beach in record time, the party returned to the ship to tell Sly it was safe for the crew to start logging and to take a short rest. Harlow and Loralai once again brought up the thing beneath the lighthouse, and suggested that they ask Sly to come with them. When Kang asked how Harlow knew there was something there, instead of answering she chose to whistle and stare meaningfully at the sky. It seems even Kang can take a hint, because he let the subject drop.

The party decided Harlow was the best person to ask Sly to come with them. Harlow druidcrafted a heart shaped wreath of flowers and took it to the captain of (her heart) the ship, despite it being the middle of the day and the crew being all around. Hanging the wreath from the door of her cabin, Sly called for Charlie and the twins and they joined the party in taking a boat to the shore while Lana and Anvir flew across.

They made their way up the path to the lighthouse, Lana confirming that there were no goblins in the immediate area. On the ground floor the party discovered a trapdoor that Kang and Loralai hadn’t noticed in their dash up the stairs the previous day. Heading down – Kang jumping because it was only 10ft Loralai relax – the party found themselves in a long tunnel that lead down, with a stone door at the end. This door opened onto stairs, which lead down to another door, which opened onto a larger room. Pillars lined the walls, leading down to a glowing crystal door at the far end.

Although it looked magical, Anvir determined that it was not – though a surprising number of other things the collective party had on them were.

A brief scuffle between Kang and Loralai ensued, with Kang being the one to touch the door. As he did so, it pricked his hand, drawing blood, but opening onto more stairs. The party went down, wall sconces containing glowing green crystals lighting the way. As they continued, Loralai and Harlow felt the presence of something magical. And not friendly. The party paused as this information was relayed, but with little other choice they continued forward.

The further down they went, the colder it got, until they were well below the waterline and it started to get damp. Finally, they emerged into what appeared to be an antechamber, with a similar crystal door. Figuring this would lead to the final chamber, the party paused to prepare themselves for whatever lay on the other side. This time Loralai was the one to touch the door (despite Kang trying to stop her), and it took her blood too before opening.

The cavern it revealed was huge, made mostly of the same green crystal, with stalagmites and stalactites growing from the walls and floor. There were several raised platforms of crystal around the giant cave. The one in approximately the centre of the room had three tiers, and on the top was a large, rainbow crystal. Inside this crystal was a girl, her eyes shut as though asleep. But before the party could get a better look at her, a crystal dragon unwrapped itself from the closet platform and attacked.

Kang, Loralai, the twins, and Anvir were all standing in the doorway, easy targets for the dragon’s lightning breath. In the mad scramble to avoid it, Kang managed to push Loralai to the side so that she was completely out of harm’s way.

The rest of the party spurred into action, Sly stepping forward and landing a fireball right under the dragon, before casting a second spell on Kang and the twins – Haste. With several of the party already wounded from the dragon’s first move, Anvir healed himself, Kang, and the twins before flying into the cavern, out of reach of the dragon. Lana’s first shot at the dragon missed, but then she remembered the arrow Anvir had given her just before they went down. Taking careful aim, she fired… and the arrow landed in the ground, between the dragon’s back feet.

Where it exploded.

Harlow stepped up next, using a spell she hadn’t known before, and the dragon’s mind filled with whispers. Suddenly afraid, the dragon leaped across the cavern, landing on the far side.

But not far enough away to escape the twins, who ran forwards at twice their normal speed, hacking into the crystal dragon with their swords. And it was still within reach of Loralai, who hexed it before using her eldritch blast. In a rage and moving at double speed, Kang was able to run close enough to throw three javelins straight at the dragon – though being made of crystal, none of the weapon attacks appeared to be doing as much damage as they might have.

In response, the dragon began to glow softly red, before leaping forwards, landing squarely between the split groups of the party. A single roar reminded the party exactly what they were foolish enough to be fighting, scaring Harlow, Lana and Loralai so much that they screamed. And Anvir, who had found himself too close, was hit by the dragon’s tail as it swung around to face the rest of the party, still gathered on the other side of the door.

Sly, unafraid, ran forwards and cast Shrapnel, an explosion of jagged metal pieces with the dragon at the centre. Charlie also ran forwards, skirting the dragon as he hid behind one of the large crystal platforms. Sneaking around the edge, he threw a dagger straight into the dragon – which reappeared in his hand instantly after it hit.

Anvir, having taken a fair amount of damage from the dragon’s tail, healed himself before once again summoning tiny flying spirits to protect him. (In another world, those spirit guardians were vaguely reminiscent of a certain pixie.) Seeing that Anvir did not look his best, Harlow also called out to heal him. Meanwhile, Lana bravely tried to shoot the dragon, but in her fear both the arrows hit at the wrong angle, not even scratching the crystal as they rebounded off into the cavern. Loralai had slightly better aim through her fear, managing to hit it again with eldritch blast. Armed this time with the thunderous gauntlets, Kang charged forwards and took two swings at the dragon, the sound reverberating through the cavern as they connected. But with him, Loralai, and the twins all close together, the dragon took the opportunity to breathe poison at the four of them.

And the doors of the cavern began to slowly slide closed, leaving Harlow, Lana and Sly on the outside.

Sly ran into the room, keeping well clear of the dragon as she did so. Lana, unable to move any closer to the dragon she so feared, ran at an angle to join Charlie and Sly by the large crystal. As the doors continued to slide closed, Harlow turned into a small, nimble cat and raced into the room just in time, also keeping as far from the dragon as possible while joining Lana at a safe distance behind the crystal. Behind her, the doors sealed shut with a quiet boof.

With the space behind the crystal now becoming quite crowded, Charlie ran forwards to the twins, who created steps out of their shields. Nimbly jumping from one to the other, Charlie leapt onto the dragon’s back and stabbed it – before disappearing from sight, only to reappear where he had been, just behind the crystal. Stepping out from behind their shields the twins again attacked with their swords, beginning to chip small pieces off the crystal dragon.

Loralai opened fire again with her eldritch blast, while Kang landed blow after blow with the gauntlets. The dragon drew back, opening its mouth full of crystal teeth as though to bite Kang in half – but a flash of light in its eyes, caused by Anvir, made its jaws snap closed just to the side, missing Kang. Angry, the dragon again lashed out with its tail, striking both the twins.

Safely behind the crystal, Sly used shatter, the sound echoing from the crystal walls as Charlie ran, sliding along the crystal floor to slip under the dragon, burying his cane-sword in its exposed stomach. Once again, he reappeared behind the crystal just as Anvir cast fireball right above the dragon’s head, healing Kang again as he did so. But the crystal armour proved too thick for Lana’s arrows, which both skated off. From the sound of the fight around them, Harlow guessed that her friends would be in need of her healing, so she dropped out of cat form to heal Kang and one of the twins – both of whom were still in melee range of the dragon’s teeth, tail, and claws.

Revitalised the twins leapt forwards again, their swords managing to land at the exact right spot to fracture the dragon’s crystalline body. Looking up, Loralai saw a stalactite perfectly centred over the dragon and tried to blast it free, but it was thicker than she had thought, and she wasn’t quite able to break through. Kang took advantage of this moment to land four successive blows on the crystal dragon, cracking it further. Seeing itself in danger, the dragon once again tried to hit Kang, only to be foiled by more light flashing in its eyes. Blinking it away, it took its full range of attacks against those in range – Loralai, Kang, and the twins, who caught the blows on their shields.

Then the dragon disappeared.

Still gripping their weapons tightly, the party looked around suspiciously – before spotting Sly, spell casting gauntlet forward and sweat beading on her face.

“I can’t hold it much longer.”

Seizing their chance, the frontliners gathered around where the dragon had been, Loralai able to draw closer without fear while she couldn’t see it. Lana and Harlow moved into better positions, ready for the dragon to return.

And when it did, it was to face a volley of blows from the party that chipped more pieces of crystal away, truly beginning to wear it down now. The stalactite above was so weak thanks to Loralai’s previous blasts that Charlie was able to throw a dagger with enough force to break it off, dropping it onto the dragon. Almost fully surrounded now, the dragon lashed out again at Loralai and closed its jaws around Kang, who through sheer willpower avoided being bitten in half.

Now at a much closer range, Harlow called out to Kang, helping him stay on his feet as Loralai hacked at the dragon with her glaive. Then Harlow lifted her hand and sent a blast of the night sky at the dragon. A spell identical to that which Loralai has favoured in battles past – a fact which did not go unnoticed by the rest of the party. Perhaps shaken by seeing that familiar magic come from someone other than herself, or maybe just still afraid of the dragon that was now right in front of her, Loralai’s next attack missed. The twins took their chance to hit the dragon again, the fractures running through it widening as more pieces of crystal broke off.

Then Kang landed four hard, fast punches to its snout, the final blow sending a river of cracks all through its body, and the dragon shattered into a thousand small pieces of crystal.

The echoes of the last thunderous blow fell into the sudden silence of the cavern. The party all looked around at each other. They’d killed a dragon. And they were all still standing – bloody, bruised, but standing.

With the danger passed, Lana came forwards and laid a hand on Kang’s arm, giving him a little more strength. As Harlow began to sweep chunks of the broken dragon into her bag of holding, the party suddenly remembered the girl in the crystal and climbed up to see, ready for another fight if necessary. The rainbow crystal that encased her now had a large crack running through it, and they saw that her eyes were moving under their lids.

But then Sila’s voice sounded in Loralai’s head, informing her that it was the spirit of Maesa Sari – a fact which did not come as much of a surprise to Harlow, Lana or Loralai, who had heard of natural spirits such as that before. But how did she come to be encased in crystal? Staring down at the spirit, they decided that they should get her out.

We end to the sound of Kang and Loralai’s crowbars ringing against the rainbow crystal, growing ever closer to breaking through to the spirit inside.

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Assault on Skykiller
Sharks, Hydras and Goblins, oh my!

We open this session with the Sirens Bane going full stealth. Its rigging filled with a minimal number of crew the enormous ship coasted almost silently through the clouds. Thunder cracked overhead and around the ship from time to time, illuminating dark sails framed by dark clouds. What little light there was on deck came from the dark fire lanterns spread around. Through the air all around the little party rain lashed, a particularly malevolent droplet deciding to launch a singular assault on Lana’s eyeball.

The party watched as Sabetha and Voral shared a moment, with Gilla delivering another small pouch of something to the young woman. While she did this Cartwright took time to speak quietly with each member of the party, filling them with a little inspiration and resolve for the battle ahead.

As the rain continued to pour down and the weather worsened agreeably the party took a moment to put their hands together, joined by Sabetha. Their hands went up, and with that there was nothing left to do before they dropped. The party lined up on the edge, with Harlow decidedly avoiding holding Kangs hand. Sabetha and Voral leapt out into the night, diving out into the clouds and the darkness to retrieve the parties secret weapon.

While she did that, the party in various states relating to the phrase ‘nervous wreck’, leapt from the ship. Gilla, hanging off the side, cast feather fall on them as they fell. They sped through the clouds, unable to see anything beyond each other. For one crystalline moment they all almost hung there, suspended in the clouds and darkness with nothing but one another. And then they cleared the cloud line and saw Haven.

The sparkling lights of the city stretched out in front of them, while the harbour stayed as more of a dark expanse. Lana pulled the group through the air to aim roughly at their target destination, and as they did they saw Sabetha climb back onto Voral, having apparently decided free fall was just more fun until it became necessary for her to actually ride her dragon.

She and Voral punched through the shimmering blue shield just ahead of the party, leaving a large enough hole with their bolt for the party to follow unobstructed. Down and down the party fell, with the Skykiller still not illuminated for them. Arranging themselves just right the party slipped into the water with barely a splash, partly thanks to Gilla’s feather fall and partly due to what one can only assume to be abundant diving experience.

Bobbing there the party took a moment to marvel at the fact that they had in fact survived the first part of the journey. Not the most threatening part, but certainly a part. Their moment of relief however was rather disrupted when Harlow became a whale. Feeling rather obvious she dived below the surface, the party holding furiously to her fins. Alongside her Voral slipped silently through the water, his armour helping him blend into the gloom.

Whale-low eventually found what they were looking for, anchors so big they could only come from one source. Not to far away the other anchor also lay nestled in the sea floor. Whale-low, completely unable to communicate, was conveniently the only one to notice as something very large and presumably unpleasant or murderous in nature swam through the general vicinity. Never the less, after several rather botched attempts at moving the anchor (for someone with near superhuman strength Kang often shows himself to be rather lacklustre in the moving of heavy things department) Voral began to slowly move one chain. Kang and Loralai left Lana and Sabetha to guard the small dragon trudging through the muck at the sea floor and rode on Harlows new fins towards the second anchor.

When they reached this second anchor they got to work applying their… erm… intellect… to the task of moving this anchor. Several hilariously ineffectual attempts involving trying to bend the links in the chain, and using the swords as foot rests were made before eventually they managed to move it. Possibly with the help of the whale. Who’s to say.

They managed to shift it a little bit, while Harlow kept a watchful ear out for the circling shark. One close call as it swam close reminded the party all at once of that golden rule. Never split the party.

They hurried to rectify this, conducting what was in no way shape or form a retreat from the scary looming shark in the gloom. They found the other team without trouble and rapidly fell down a rabbit hole of poor logic which in turn nearly lead to Loralai attempting to shatter the links in the anchor chain. Instead the party dragged it a little further until they got the ship to move just a touch, and proceeded to hide. Harlow meanwhile exploited her echolocation to hang at an appropriate level in the water and listen for the splash of the out rider. It came not too long later, and she returned to the party.

With Lana’s help, as well as with the assistance of the muck at the bottom of the harbour the party concealed themselves and lay in wait. A few minutes later one hapless wyvern and its rider showed up to have a look at the chain. The party waited for the opportune moment, then Harlow rose from the muck like some sort of weird goo monster and earthbound the wyvern. Lashes of yellow energy reached from the sea bed and attached themselves to the wyvern, dragging it back down to the sea bed. The rider meanwhile engaged in some rather questionable panicking and attempted removal of his armour (people with deficiencies in the intellect department do not doff their plate armour before diving into the water). Realising he couldn’t do that he instead simply swam for the chain and attempted to start pulling himself up.

Lana saw this and elected to deny him that particular privilege, instead burying a crossbow bolt in his back. The rest of the party at this moment sprung into action, Loralai blasting him with her eldritch blasts while Kang engaged the wyvern while it was bound to the sea floor. The combat was, in summary, quick, violent and one sided.

This was not because the party stuck around to slug it out. Instead they viciously wounded the wyvern while Sabetha shot the armoured rider off the chain, allowing his armour to drag him down to join his loyal mount. The party disengaged, fleeing up the chain.

As the party did so they saw, swimming out of the darkness towards the scent of fresh blood an enormous shark. One assumes that whatever befell the poor armoured rider and his mount, it was not pleasant. They both would have been most of the way to suffocation by the time the shark even got there.

The party, washing their hands of any kind of morally upright nature altogether, advanced up the chain, with Kang stopping to help Harlow who proved to be struggling a bit underwater. As they got towards the surface Sabetha and Voral detached from the group. Voral swam towards the surface, and as he did so Sabetha placed her hand on a small depression in the armour. As she did so the runes all along the armour suddenly burst into light and Voral began to ripple and grow, becoming twice his normal size. That would however be the last the party would see of the pair for a while.

The party continued up the anchor chain, sneaking their way up out of the water. They were able to quite clearly hear the sounds of absolute bloody bedlam happening above as Sabetha and Voral introduced themselves. In a congenial and friendly fashion one assumes. One certainly not related to throwing men from ships.

The party climbed the chain, with only one minor incident involving the rather slippery nature of the chain. Relatively unscathed to date the party found themselves in a small room, not quite big enough to be perfectly comfortable, but thankfully personal space was not their highest concern at that moment.

The party crouched by the door, waited for a moment to see if the coast was clear, then burst in. With a degree of stealth that would have made anyone proud the party slipped through a mostly unadorned gun deck, with just a few boxes and ropes lying around. They reached the stair well without particular incident, and prepared to rappel down. Amazingly they did this with a surprising degree of confidence and competence, right up until misfortune decided to remind them of its existance.

Kangs ropes, perhaps more strained than the rest of the ropes, suddenly snapped. Thankfully Loralai was rappelling right next to him, and managed to catch him with only one of her ropes snapping before she could swing him down onto the stairs. Thankfully that was all that became of that rather heart stopping moment and the rest of the rappelling through enemy lines happened without incident. Amazing that one.

The party gathered at the bottom of the stairs, finding themselves faced with two doors, one forwards towards the bow and one backwards towards the stern. After some brief consideration they gathered facing the stern door, the party members spreading out and readying themselves to launch their assault. You could cut the tension with a knife as they pushed the door gently open.

The sight that faced them was truly threatening beyond anything anyone had expected. In past the door were vast dark shapes, shadows and a truly alarming smell. Upon closer inspection this proved to not be an evil lair filled with evil but a store room filled with boxes and ropes.

Having bravely asserted their dominance over this door and attached store room they turned to face the presumably equally hazardous other room. They prepared themselves on this other door and braced themselves for combat. Loralai cracked open the door and the four erm… ‘heroes’… crept into the room.

What they found in this room was decidedly not what they were expecting one imagines. In the room was an enormous moon pool, easily most of the length of the ship, and nearly as wide. Below the moon pool there was an enormous cage which hung down into the water, sealing the sharks out and presumably absolutely nothing of any threat level what so ever in with them. Apparently the entire party had failed to notice this in any capacity on their way up to the ship, a fact that will no doubt be surprising to exactly no one. Secure in their wild assumptions that there was nothing in the room despite not actually checking the group proceeded forwards. As they did so they took in more details of the room. 

The room was possessed of a large platform in the middle, which had a war table of some kind on it. Linking around this platform, as well as linking either side of the moon pool were a series of smaller floating platforms and bridges joining each together. 

The group advanced towards the middle of the room, immediately drawn by the obvious and not at all trap like looking table on the central platform. In their oblivious entry to the room they failed to notice a large dark shape shifting in the space at the bottom of the cage. Said shifting shape, a Hydra, noticed above as four rather noisy assassins began their assault on the Skykiller by simply walking into the place and discussing what the table could be.

The hydra swam up from the bottom of the cage, apparently surprising the party as it burst from the water and landed on the bridge in front of Loralai, each of its five heads turned to look at her at once. With the party accidentally bottlenecked the Hydra struck, each of its five heads lashing out at Loralai. It took a moment for the party to react to this, but when they did they did rather enthusiastically. Oh, and all of them had absolutely no idea what it was. Naturally. 

Kang, in a bloodthirsty rage, rushed forward, only to have the majority of his offensive power offset by the fact that Loralai was standing between him and the beast. Sticking further to the back Lana and Harlow began to slowly fill the creature with arrows and attempt to immolate it respectively. 

The hydra, feeling rather outnumbered it seemed, looked down at Kang and the magically attuned of the party felt a stirring of magic as Kang’s mind suddenly went blank and he turned, eyes full of fury, to Harlow behind him. Loralai, having gone down behind the Hydra, was able to do nothing as Kang rushed the little druid. 

Lana, her arrows doing somewhat nominal damage to the hydra’s many heads, was unable to do anything as Kang began to tear into Harlow with his colossal sword. It was at this moment Loralai had a very important realisation. If they could break the Hydra’s concentration its hold over Kang would also be broken. She rather fervently relayed this to the rest of the party, who immediately began to target the Hydra over Kang. 

Kang however got in one fateful round of blows upon Harlow before the rain of attacks on the Hydra lead it to loose concentration on its hold over Kangs mind. It slipped through the space and attempted to get between Harlow and Lana, but only succeeded in occupying this space briefly before Lana could disengage from it and Harlow could adopt a studier form.

Kang, newly freed from his mental hold, charged the beast and began to hack it to pieces, its regenerative nature not holding up under the weight of such blows. Loralai at this moment lashed out with the first piece of magic they’d ever seen her use, creating a whip made of crackling electricity and dragging the hydra into the water and away from her team mates.

This manoeuvre, even though it caused her to go down once again, allowed Harlow and Lana to get clear, while Kang and Loralai (having been brought back from the brink once again by the healing touch of Harlows words) closed in for the kill. It was Kang, in the end, who scored the final blow on the creature as he used his colossal sword to cleave straight through all five heads of the creature in one smooth motion. The beast decidedly dead he elected to kick it into the water for good measure before the party rushed to once again revive Loralai.

With all of the party standing (though in some cases only barely) they staggered in the general direction of the door at the end of the room, intending to see their job through to its conclusion. It was at this point they decided that perhaps instead a short break was in order before they proceeded. The group, exploiting their capacity to breathe underwater at this point, settled on the bottom of the cage and allowed themselves a moment.

This done, and with the party feeling somewhat more resilient and less fragile than they had a few moments before, they headed up and braced themselves against the door at the far side of the room. Taking a moment to brace themselves for battle the party stood aside and waited until Kang kicked out with one massive foot and kicked the door completely out of its frame, sending it skidding across a room and into another war table.

The room they had just kicked their way into was at the bow of the ship, featuring a large war table in the middle and a set of stairs to a raised platform with a large basin of silvery water. Oh, and it had the remaining two of the ships captains standing ready to meet the intruders.

Lyne, standing off to one side, muttered something arcane under her breath and cast a spell on the single most obvious target in the immediate vicinity… the towering half orc with the sword slightly too large for the cramped confines of the ship. For the second time that day Kang found his mind assaulted by forces far beyond hid own understanding and fear of Lyne rushed into him much like his own battle frenzy. It was at this point when Lana released her silence arrow, firing it towards Lyne. The captain almost contemptuously flicked an arcane shield between her and the enchanted arrow and sneered at the oncoming assailants.

Bodvar meanwhile came charging towards the group, intend to bring the colossal sword he held down on anyone he could see. Loralai, see Lyne as a much greater threat than Bodvar, dashed forwards and as she did a wave of silent energy flickered outwards and all sound within the area was deafened. Harlow darted to one side, hurling fire, while Lana backed up and filled Bodvar full of arrows. The two warriors Kang and Bodvar clashed, each laying into one another with their respective weapons. Meanwhile Loralai shone as she engaged in close quarters combat with Lyne. Trapped in the silence bubble and well within the reach of Loralai’s polearm she was unable to move for one crucial moment.
Bodvar saw this and decided to go to his allies aid. He disappeared from Kangs vicinity, appearing behind Loralai and taking a moment to cleave into her with his sword. While bloodied the warlock stood and her friends rushed to her aid. Unfortunately this was a moment too late and Lyne took the opportunity to slip from the bubble of silence and ended up on the platform next to the alter. She looked at Loralai, vengeance in her eyes, and cast the same spell she had on Kang. Loralai’s mind, unable to hold up to the psychic pressure, caused her to collapse briefly, which in turn dropped the bubble of silence.

Everyone, even Lana who had crept to the door, heard it when Bodvar quite clearly touched his hand to his ear and then told them to surrender as they had captured Sabetha. When no one responded he simply ordered his men to kill her and proceeded to return to the fight.

Loralai, brought back to consciousness once again by Harlow, awoke just in time to see Lyne realise the fight was not a winnable one and, with a twist of her hands and an arcane mutter, she blinked out of existance.

With his ally departed it was a short, bloody and wholly unpleasant fight for Bodvar, which ended rather quickly with Loralai taking his head clean off his shoulders. Barely a second passed after this before Lana was off, running back towards the ship’s main staircase, desperately hoping of a chance to save Sabetha.

Kang caught her up to her and held her, but for the first time since they had known each other found himself rather intimidated by the little half elf. This moment did however buy the other two a chance to catch up and they all sprinted up the stairs together.

The sight that greeted them on the deck was not a pretty one. They came up near the stern of the ship, and could see Sabetha standing at the very front of the ship. Or rather, what remained of Sabetha. Half her face had been torn clear off, leaving nothing but exposed skin and blood pouring off her in rivers. She was clearly limping, with a bolt sticking cleanly through where her knee had been and she was bleeding from hundreds of smaller less notable injuries. She still stood though, and she stood in front of Voral. Voral looked to be in a similar state, holding one clawed foot off the ground to avoid putting weight on it and with holes all through his wings. Some of the holes could have fit a grown man’s torso through them, if not one the size of Kang.

It appeared that she had been backed into a corner, with what looked like close to 30 soldiers gathered around her pointing various weapons at her. She stood, her twin hand crossbows held at the ready as she waited for someone to make the first move.

As the party crept forwards slowly she didn’t appear to have noticed them or their calls to her over the ear ring, her ear having apparently been lost with the majority of her face. Creeping forward however Kang surprised the group by having a startling realisation. The Sirens Bane was probably hanging around in the clouds above them. The Sirens Bane that, now that the siege weaponry on the deck had been splintered by Voral, could dip below the clouds.

Harlow, using a hurried message scrawled by Loralai, called forth fey creatures and sent them up into the sky to deliver a message to what they hoped would be their trump card. This done they crept forwards as the standoff continued between Sabetha and all of the soldiers on deck.

The party reacted, having just come into reasonable range, when one of the soldiers reached for Sabetha and tried to grab for her. The girl, even though she resembled nothing more than a face made primarily of mince, reacted with surprising speed, instantly stepping back and firing one of the crossbows at him. There was a momentary shock from the group as the mans face, it appeared, combusted with alchemical fire.

Just as the party began to run forward in a mad attempt to help the girl Harlow and Lana noticed the clouds overhear roil and then breach as the keep of an enormous air ship broke free from the storm. The Sirens Bane, its canons pointed directly for the Skykiller, rolled to provide an angle and spat hundreds of feet of flame all at once towards the ship.

Now, it is worth noting at this point that the ship had formerly held a large amount of siege engines. Siege engines made from wood. Wood now reduced to splinters by making the acquaintance of a particularly upset wyvern. It was therefore not as surprising as everyone seems to consider it when the side of the ship that was briefly bathed in the ships cannon fire almost instantly started to burn.

The party stood, momentarily bewildered, as the crew of the Skykiller fled for their lives down the rat lines into the waters below. They rushed instead for Sabetha and though they were unable to offer her more than a perfectly common healing potion they did manage to get her to feed it to Voral. Seeing the modicum of healing it did the battered dragon Sabetha immediately swung herself up onto him (and one simply cannot imagine how much that would have hurt her newly ruined knee) onto Voral and they leapt into the sky as the Sirens Bane fed the Skykiller another gout of flame before it began to ascend towards the cloud line once again.

Sabetha and Voral, upon reaching the shield that stretched over the city, briefly disappeared in a puff of darkness, reappearing on the other side and continuing onwards towards their home. The party watched this, smiling a little sadly, each of them not quite clicking that they might want to be doing something.

It was the screams of the men from the water that brought them back to awareness of their surroundings. That they were on a ship. A flaming ship. A flaming ship that was now slowly sinking into the harbour as its remaining crew tried to flee for the shore. That didn’t seem like somewhere they particularly wanted to be, so by way of mutual and surprisingly sensible decision they fled the ship, climbing down the rat lines towards the water. As they did they were in a prime position to notice that one of the sailors who had been on the ship was swimming towards the pier. They were also in a prime position to notice when he was bitten in half by an enormous dark shape in the water.

It is sometimes amazing how resourceful heroes can be. How amazingly they can use their various incredible powers for the greater good, harnessing vast knowledge, incredible skill and impossible strength to overcome the impossible. This was not one of those times. This was one of those times when stupidity saved the party. To be precise, it was the stupid moment, all those weeks ago, when Loralai threw a weird crossbow bolt at another airship that saved the party. It was the rowbolt that saved the party.

Quickly absconding with some chunks of wood from the mostly flaming deck the party again hurried down the ratlines and when they reached the water Loralai deployed their greatest weapon.

They clambered in and, each member taking up a piece of wood, began to madly and only some what effectually paddle and splash their way towards the pier. On their way a panicked and desperate sailor tried to clamber his way into their little boat to avoid the certain death that lurked in the waves. Loralai, without the slightest care for the mans wellbeing, shot a blast of the night sky itself at him, pushing him away from the little boat and almost directly into the jaws of one of the great sharks enjoying the feeding frenzy.

Still madly paddling the party headed for the pier as the burning ship slowly began to sink beneath the waves behind them and sharks murdered men in the waves around them. The party’s luck momentarily ran out however when the rowbolt, having served them faithfully for so long, disappeared from under then just as they were reaching the pier. After a moment of panic where Harlow proved her incredible newfound strength by nearly drowning the party clambered up onto the pier, soggy, exhausted but quite decidedly alive.

They stood there, momentarily admiring their handiwork until once again they realised they should probably not be doing the thing they were doing. It is, rather unfortunately, a trend.

Seeing the crowds slowly gathering in the harbour the party decided to slip away into darker alleyways to deliberate their next move. Now, in the interests of time they considered options such as attempting to sneak out the locked and guarded gates and climb over the walls before settling on the sewers as a possible means of escape. After finding a sewer grate and slipping down once again into the sewerage of the city (they’re 2 for 2, for those playing along at home) they wandered for nearly an hour before realising that perhaps they were not do adept at finding secret passageways as they might otherwise have presumed.

It was at this point that something truly incredible happened. Something that topped the war they had halted, their badass dive through the clouds, even their mad paddle from the flaming hulk of the ship. Loralai made a suggestion that truly indicated how desperate they were to hide from the city guard. She suggested that they hide in the sewers, and sleep there.

The party, after recovering from the shock, agreed that this was not a terrible idea and searched for a place and eventually settled on a small cistern. Loralai and Lana stood watch while Harlow slept to allow her magic to slowly return to her and Kang slept to not be so sleepy. Priorities people. Over the course of their watch Loralai and Lana heard various soldiers marching around in the sewers, apparently scouring them but seemed unable to find the parties little hide away.

Kang and Harlow awoke in the early hours of the morning and the group conferred on what to do about their current predicament. Not the sewer one. If Loralai was suggesting they do it clearly these sort of conditions were to be expected from now on. No instead they discussed how they intended to get out of the city and decided on the usual plan of sending up Harlow as a mouse to investigate.

Mouse-low, little, brown, adorable and smelling rather decidedly of sewer, crept up onto the street level and scurried around doing a brief inspection of their previous options to note that the soldiers atop the wall had been increased, and the gates in and out of the city were barred. She also ascertained that there was a guard station not too far from their present position, and that they would need to be very stealthy about their escape.

Said extremely stealthy escape took the form of Harlow summoning a flock of giant owls. Because you know, thats how sneaking is done. The party, sitting astride their majestic beasts, took off straight into the sky. Almost immediately arrows began to fill the sky around them, but miraculously few seemed to find their marks. Retreating into the sky and then heading out over the forests around Haven the party had a moment to just enjoy soaring. They had to put down briefly so that Harlow could renew the spell keeping them flying as they sped away from the city over the treetops.

The party eventually located a small campsite near a river, where they were able to throw up a message to the Sirens Bane. It took a while, but eventually Harlow heard Gilla’s voice in her head as the little halfling wizard cast Sending to speak to them. It was through this, and some clever use of skywriting, that Harlow was able to direct the ship to their rough location. The party saw the anchor of the ship break the cloud line and drop into the forest nearby and a short time later they were on their way upwards towards the ship.

What greeted them aboard the ship was not a pleasant sight. Cartwright stood on deck waiting for them and though she did not say it anger and disappointment flowed off her in waves. Even the less perceptive in the party noticed that perhaps she was less than pleased with them. Maybe its because her outrider was returned to her missing half her face. Or you know, maybe not.

She did however acknowledge that they had technically done their job and that so long as Captain Lyne remained removed from play it would be fair to consider their contract settled. She told them of an island she knew where she recommended they lay low for a while, given that a very large group of people would like be wanting them dead. In this conversation Harlow, for all intents and purposes, did an excellent job of confirming who the party were precisely and what their connection to the Predator was. With the end of their conversation Cartwright turned, long dark oil cloak flapping, and headed up to the quarterdeck leaving the party to their own business.

The party took some time to deliberate, eventually deciding to go to the island and try and arrange for Sly to meet them there. They returned to Cartwright with this decision and thus it was arranged. Gilla helped Harlow contact Sly again, while the rest of the party milled around on the ship. Lana spent the days confined to her bunk, trying not to think of the slaughter and trying to enchant her boots a little. Loralai bullied the entire group into braving seeing Cartwright again to collect their payment. Kang joined a work party, helping with manual labour around the ship. Harlow spent time with her mice and worked on her armour. Loralai, with help from several of the others, ended up slipping a note under Sabetha’s door along with some flowers.

It was later that evening, as they all lay in their bunks, that they saw Sabetha for the first time since the deck of the Skykiller. She was recognisable mostly by her profile, as much of what had previously defined her was not present in the young woman. The fiery spirit was no where to be seen, neither was the smile or the boundless energy. She limped, carrying herself without any kind of spring in her step, and her face was hidden behind an almost featureless black mask that wrapped almost entirely around her face. This mask hid her features from view, preventing the party from gaining and understanding of how she had healed or even what she looked like anymore.

Sabetha, clearly different, stared at the party for a long moment before turning to leave, their farewell note still in hand. Not one of the party did a thing as the young woman limped back to the stairs and slowly down towards her quarters.

Apart from these events the two days passed reasonably quietly, with nothing out of the ordinary happening. The party were eventually called to deck as the ship pulled down over a small speck of green in the deep blue of the waves far below them. The party took a moment to say a fleeting goodbye to Vitira, who smiled and waved them off, and with nothing more than that the party stepped off the Sirens Bane and once again found themselves plummeting downwards.

Air whipped by the party as they fell, though in a notably more relaxed context to the last time they did so. The four of them touched down on the sand of an enormous beach with hardly a shift in the golden surface of the beach. They all got a moment to stop an appreciate the beauty of the little island getaway they were to spend a little while on. Golden sand stretched for several hundred feet to lapping waves of an almost perfectly transparent blue sea. Birds chirped gently in the tropical rainforest behind them and palm trees littered the beach on every available surface.

Rising in front of them was a small cliffside which apparently rose from the beach to their left. At the top of this stood what was apparently a mostly intact lighthouse. In fact, looking around, there were a few buildings or ruins therein around the island. One stood back at the edge of this very beach, while others were littered further back and away from the shoreline. Another stood atop the sandbank that enclosed the bay they resided in. This sandbank apparently served as an excellent wave break, because a small coral reef was located inside this harbour.

Harlow immediately flopped into the beach, followed by Loralai who apparently thought sand angels are a thing. Lana decided to, finally, get herself out of her armour and enjoy the feeling of the sun and wind on her skin for a little while. Kang began erecting a small defensive position using the spears in the bags of holding. Naturally.

It took only a few minutes before the party decided they needed to go exploring. Following Harlows lead they set off into the jungle, apparently walking in a random direction. At no point did they notice the eyes watching them. Not once did they stop to consider that, perhaps, there was more than them on this island.

Glerg the goblin watched the group of… he didn’t quite know how to think of them… unnaturally clean things he supposed. Glerg watched the group of unnaturals land on the beach, apparently without regards to any kind of injury they might take from this undertaking. They immediately began discarding possessions, placing them on the sand or sticking their spears into the sand. Presents perhaps?

This was not the sort of offering Glerg the goblin appreciated. He preferred things several days rotted. Organic refuse was his vice of choice.

Crouched atop a small lookout point in the ruins at the base of the beach he squinted at the group as they began, as far as he could tell, rolling around in the sand. Odd. Irrespective he couldn’t stand for this intrusion upon their territory. They would have to be taught a lesson. Glerg leapt from the tower down to ground level and hurried back to the campsite where the others were. In hushed tones he conveyed the situation and, after about twenty minutes of vicious bickering, the goblins as a whole agreed that while Glerg was absolutely not right about any sort of intruders (for Glerg cannot be right about anything, its simply not allowed) they should investigate the beach. Just in case there were intruders.

Glerg, rather miserably, walked the back of their little pack as they marched to the edge of the forest and observed the intruders. His leader, much to Glergs disappointment, assigned him to the ‘takers of things’ rather than the ‘hitters of things’ group.

The hitters of things broke off from the two particularly mangey goblins Glerg had been paired with and stalked the intruders as they ventured towards the treeline. The takers of things meanwhile crouched in wait for the sounds of battle to begin. It didn’t take long. In the distance Glerg and his compatriots heard the sound of battle as the mighty hitters of things clashed with the intruders. Apparently their ambush had been sprung, and thus the signal was given and he and his fellows began to run out towards where they had left their things.

Upon arriving Glerg found a wooden… half person… thing… along with a number of scraps of leather, a few weapons and the like. After a nominal amount of time spent bickering (its tradition, you have to) all the things were loaded into the half person wood thing and hoisted above their heads. It was just as the three little goblins were beginning to sprint for the treeline that one of the intruders, the one who’s things they carried, appeared from where the ambush had been. Clearly the lone survivor of their cunning ambush.

Glerg screeched just a little bit as she began running, only to be relived when she didn’t immediately begin running towards them. It took him perhaps close to 30 seconds to realise that while she was not running towards them she was running in such a way as to intersect with their path. That kind of mental consideration hurt his brain. It hurt his brain more when he noticed that there was some kind of giant cat with the intruder, and it seemed rather fast.

The goblins crashed into the treeline, with Lana and a wild shaped Harlow close on their heels. Try as they might the goblins were simply not as fast as the druid, and she slowly closed on them. The moment she came within range Harlow pounced, gutting a goblin with one swipe of her claws. Lana kept closing the distance. Harlow squared off against the two goblins, which would obviously have been a truly challenging and potentially deadly fight if not for the timely intervention of Lana the amazing punching ranger. Or almost. She instead decided to back up and protect their gear, but it was a close call.

As Harlow swatted the second goblin down Glerg looked around in a panic. He was clearly not going to win this, but the other goblins didn’t need to know that. He squeaked and bolted through the trees. What Glerg was perhaps unfamiliar with is the following; large cats are fairly reasonable at tracking, as are rangers. It was thus with this, as he ran through the forest thinking he was free and clear that he came face to face with a large rather angry looking tiger. Glerg turned, intending to flee madly, and was rather unfortunately pinned to a tree by way of an arrow through his skull.

So ends the heroic tale of Glerg the goblin. Cut down in the prime of his life by a pair of unscrupulous adventurers who wanted to steal what was clearly rightfully his.

Anyway, back to the four idiots. It is around this time that the ever helpful Loralai and Kang arrived on the scene, ready to vanquish the terrible foes that… wait its over? Oh, oh okay then.

The party, feeling rather embarrassed at having been duped by such a simple ruse, returned to the beach where they all felt the need to wash off any goblin stink that had been erm… attached to their gear. As they concluded this very important matter of business it came to their attention that the sun was setting and they should probably find a campsite for the night. Beaches aren’t the best places for that, on account of little things like the tide.

Harlow, being the ever brilliant master of the powers of the earth, cast water walking on the group and they just sorta wandered over to the little ruin on the sandbank. Along the way Kang uncovered some very important information… the reef was obviously hostile and out to get him.

The party gathered inside the second (much dryer) floor of the little ruin and bedded down for the night. Their watches past rather uneventfully with the only minor note that Harlow saw a flickering of light inside the lighthouse, and Kang kept up a constant vigil for goblins during his watch. Lana also took some time to tune into her primeval awareness, discovering a small undead presence somewhere on the island.

As the sun rises of Maesa Sari the party stirs to consciousness once again. Who knows what strange new sights and incredibly harrowing battles await them on this new day?

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At dawn we plan
You guys will get this reference one day

My dear, I won’t lie, I’m a little hurt. I made all of you look fabulous as you hit the deck of The Gallant Resolve and do I get any appreciation from you? No.
In fact, you spent a good part of the next day ignoring me. I think you may come to regret that decision, just a hunch.
You know what sounds like fun? Going over all of your terrible decisions in excruciating detail.

Let us begin with you getting back on the deck of The Siren’s Bane with that mysterious little book you liberated from poor Captain Roster Fray. You knew that there was a very high possibility that it was of some tactical significance and yet you were too busy worrying about little old me to help your friends out. Shameful.
You ran down into the lower decks while Harlow tested out her new staff, using it to open the mystery book. Within it was text in a language that none of you were familiar with and so Kang, being the voice of reason (gods help us all), suggested putting it back in the bag of holding. Kang held the bag open and Harlow made good use of her staff once more. To be entirely fair to Harlow, staves are terribly unwieldy and Kang’s hands are basically shovels with digits so she really can’t be blamed for accidentally almost killing him.
Somehow I doubt this is the first time Kang has felt the need to relentlessly endure reading, and I don’t believe for a second that it will be the last.
With the book safely stowed away, Lana turned her attention to convincing Harlow to go find you on her own. That was foolish. You would’ve told them all about me in that moment. Now, the moment’s passed and, considering recent developments, another is not likely to present itself.
Before heading below decks to hunt for you, Harlow kissed Kang’s hand and told him to ‘be careful, brother’. The whole family thing you’ve got going there really is adorable and Kang’s expression was oh so very amusing. I didn’t think the half-orc was capable of looking more dumbfounded than he does already but apparently, it’s entirely possible.
It really didn’t take long for Harlow to find you and… flop on you? Is that a druidic custom I’m unfamiliar with?
You then spent the next few minutes hurting my feelings, telling Harlow you had made a mistake in befriending me and that the rest of the little mice should stay away from me. It was really quite offensive, if I’m being honest. What have I done to deserve that? I’ve done nothing but help you. I mean, sure there was a price involved but nothing in this world or any other is truly free.
Harlow told you to trust her to make wise decisions. You did. I laughed.
While you two were having your moment, a passing elven sailor helped Kang return to his natural state of almost presentable before the half-orc collapsed, exhausted, into bed and Lana cried herself to sleep clutching Roster Fray’s family portrait. I’m sure he would have found that comforting. That was sarcasm, which I’m not entirely sure you have the ability to detect.
Once you’d retired for the night, I tried to pay you a little visit. You ignored me. Rude. Impulsive, foolish, and very rude.
You all awoke the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Okay, you got me. That last bit was a blatant lie.
You all awoke the next morning with a growing sense of your impending doom. Better? Yes, I think so.
As is your custom, you searched for someone more intelligent than you, which admittedly isn’t difficult, to do your job for you. Kang ‘found’ Gilla and you asked her to use her mage hand to take a look at the book and see if she could make sense of this mystery script. Turns out she couldn’t, but Sabetha could.
You learned all about The Gallant Resolve and it’s captain, but more importantly, you learned that Roster Fray had witnessed the destruction of Captain Mira and her ship, The Deliverance by an airship whose description you recognized. It seemed an old friend of yours had her own stake in this war.
You wasted no time in relaying this news to Harlow, who was below decks preparing for the day’s events. Her petal shedding reached new heights and she swiftly built a vibrant pyramid of flora around herself. Such a cute little thing, that druid is.
After that fiasco, you engaged in some heavy duty ‘planning’. It was dreadfully dull, and more than a little stupid for the most part. There was one amusing bit where you all stopped to contemplate what Kida’s contribution to this would have been were she here. Yes, please try sleeping with the captains. It’ll work out wonderfully, I’m sure.
At some point Harlow disappeared for a private conversation with yours truly. I’d tell you what it was about but that would be a breach of confidence. Also, it will be far more amusing watching you squirm.
Eventually you lot realized she was gone. It took a depressing amount of time. Looking for her didn’t quite pan out as well as you’d hoped and you turned to little old me for help. I could have demanded payment for information, but I’m a nice guy… individual… thing. Instead I just reminded you that you all were wearing earrings that allowed you to communicate with each other.
Shockingly, you discovered Harlow was on deck. Who would’ve thought? Using her armour, she had climbed up the mast into the crow’s nest. I’m sure that made the sailor stationed there quite uncomfortable.
She removed her earring, prompting Lana to climb up after her. You and Kang stood on the deck a little helplessly. Lana was rebuffed, climbing back down in a huff, and the three of you decided to stay right there at the bottom of the mast waiting for Harlow to finish up with her ‘alone time’.
When she eventually returned to you, questions were raised as to Harlow’s emotional state. You and Kang believed her when she said she was okay, because you’re both as dumb as fence posts. Fortunately for you, or unfortunately depending on how this all turns out, Lana was a little more difficult to fool.
With Sabetha’s help, you were eventually able to come up with a plan that might not immediately kill you all. I’m impressed.
You spent the rest of the afternoon teaching the other mice one of the more interesting skills you’ve picked up, rappelling down a rope while facing the ground. Your friends should really start questioning your skillset.
There was also some time spent ensuring that Lana fully understood the sheer quantity of blood that would be on her hands come the morrow. That was really nice of you. More sarcasm there, in case you missed it.
Lana took it all surprisingly well. More concerned was she with you and Harlow. I don’t know why. You’re both fine. Completely fine.
I’m afraid this draws my recount to a close but, do not despair, there’ll be much more for me talk about soon enough.

For now I watch as The Siren’s Bane rapidly closes on Skykiller. Each of you idly passing the time, worrying more about each other than the mission you’re about to embark on. I look forward to witnessing the events of the next few hours. Good luck. You’ll need it.

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One Shot - Robbing Garrett Pyrewind
The Shady Rises

Quintillius Gabriel Isaiah Greycastle was not, as one might imagine, watching the old wizard. He was instead watching the old wizards owl. Rain lashed heavily through the streets of Zo’a, and Q watched as the old man stumped wearily down the street. The only clue that anything was out of place was the dark shape of the owl flying above him, keenly alert for danger.

A small smile stretched Q’s lips as he watched, almost casually adjusting a dial on his newest creation. As he did so the image he saw through the glass sense rippled slightly as it became bigger. He could see the wizard now, and shifted slightly allowing him to pivot and keep tracking the man. As he was about to pass by an alleyway Q touched a finger to his ear, where a dull iron band hung.

“Now, if you please”. That was all he had to say. A dark shape detached itself from the shadows and brushed past the wizard, apologising profusely as it did so. As the shape hurried up the street Q kept his sight trained firmly on the old man. He saw him pat himself down, and then apparently satisfied he had stumped on.

Q withdrew from his nest, a small dark canvas lean to he had set up next to a chimney. Huddled under it he withdrew from his pocket a small stone and a letter. The stone was a pair to the one currently in the wizards pocket, barely a fingernail in size. Q touched the letter to the paired stone and began to mutter under his breath. A few moments later there was a small puff of magical energy and the stone and the letter swapped places, leaving Q with a pair of stones, and the first invitation delivered.


Tricking the letter into Peachy’s company had been even tricker. In the end Q had watched as one of his compatriots challenged the Pixie to a game of cards. Unable as she was to resist the promise of ‘shiny’ she had naturally accepted and after a few hands had unconsciously scraped a stone across the table to her along with the rest of her winnings.


Arty had almost been laughably easy to deliver the letter to. Q had done it himself in fact. He had simply bought the man a drink one day and, while Arty had been attempting to get a little handsy, slipped it into a pocket. In the interests of not being recalled, even under the effects of a disguise spell, Q had made sure however Arty had an excellent night. Or a normal night by his standards, but an excellent one by sensible standards.


Ash had been the tricky one for Q. The changeling had been rather slippery and elusive, perhaps unsurprisingly. In the end he had employed a tried and true method known as bribery. He had found a man with whom the changeling worked sometimes and, with a little persuasion, arranged for the man to swap shifts with a… sympathiser to the cause Q was pursuing. The new compatriot had ensured the changeling remained occupied all day, so that Q had been able to split into his home, find an alternative outfit, and place the stone in a pocket. the mysterious effect of the letter appearing had far more appeal than just finding it in a pocket.


The first night of the heist

Q sat by the fireplace, observing the house through eyes not his own. He blinked his eyes, and a hundred smaller eyes blinked in unison, channeling his vision through them. Beside him the gnome was nearly finished packing his things together. Wrenn looked up at the young man, staring absently into space.

“Is it time?”

Q nodded once. It wasn’t perfect, they still had not quite assembled the group they had intended, the wizard was still parading about like a bit of a suspicious idiot, but that was to be expected.

“Indeed, if you wouldn’t mind joining out new companions I would appreciate it. Good luck”

Q toyed absently with the ear ring he had attached to his other ear. This one linked to his selected recruits, though with an extended range. He would be able to hear them from almost anywhere in the city. The changeling and the genasi were, amusingly, attempting to discuss who had arranged the meeting. In due course he was sure they would understand, but for now it was simply entertaining.

Q watched with his many arcane eyes as the gnome went up to the door of the building and breathed for a moment. He then rapped on the door and as he did so it was amazing to see the change that came over him, the mischievous slightly insane demeanour he put up at the drop of a hat.

The gnome entered, and Q began to listen through the ear rings. Something he had specifically arranged for his earring was to listen at all the others. It provided him, through arcane means he had not quite managed to understand yet, a kind of surrounding sound, as if he were standing in the room with them. To complete this spectacle he brought a few of his eyes closer and observed.

The barbarian, the tiny little infamous thing, was proving surprisingly intelligent he noted. That was unusual. What was more unusual was her fixation on the wizard though. That would have to be monitored.

After some discussion the group seemed to decide that the best method by which to begin was to scout out the target location, and thus the wizard sent his owl. Q was careful to move all his eyes from the path the owl might take before they had even finished speaking, ensuring his continued anonymity. The thought of Wrenn making a rope ladder also rather amused him, as his talents really could have been employed more productively.

After a while of planning Ash left, and Q detached his hearing from the changeling to continue to listen to the group. He instead waved a hand and someone who had been reading on a lounge came over.

“What is it?”

“The changeling is going somewhere, can you follow?”

“You realise thats like asking is it raining right?”

“Yes, but its polite. Thanks”

And then Q returned to his eyes as the man slipped out the door, quiet as a shadow. The man would tail Ash, and report on where he went, while Q maintained a watch over the rest of the crew.

When the owl didn’t immediately return they continued their discussions, eventually coming to the decision that they would be best served by sleeping and then conducting some reconnoissance in the morning. Q had to dispatch another of his people to follow when Arty left the city briefly, though he heard that the genasi didn’t find what he was looking for.

Q slept, briefly, in more of a dozy pattern. He was too far away for direct contact with his eyes, so instead he simply slept less than the group. It wouldn’t be good for him, but he would manage for a few days. This was important.

The group awoke, in various states ranging from murderous to grumpy. Q watched rather amusedly as the Pixie briefly contemplated murdering the owl out of what seemed to be just general principe, but was relived when she didn’t. That could have been awkward.

The group ended up dispatching the pixie, on account of her talent for invisibility, and the changeling in the guise of a wood elf. Being able to hide in plain sight is a remarkable talent. Q had to admit he was a little jealous of that. He extended his senses further, and allowed his eyes to move with the pair as they headed for the house, at least for a little. Making sure they were headed the right way, he then returned his eyes to the safe house. The wizard was attempting to plan further, but the issue with that seemed to be his sounding board was a bit on the daft side.

They did have Wrenn working on a breaching charge of some kind, using some of the black powder Q had lent Wrenn almost specifically for that exact function. He was glad they’d thought of that at least.

The other two members of the team headed for the mansion of Garrett Pyrewind, which to Q seemed like an excellent step. Employing their various talents they found locations to watch from, and started to gather information. The pixie nearly got herself into trouble, before she managed to slip away at the expense of one rather irritated guard. Similarly the changeling managed to gather a little information.

Watching further netted them a sight more information, specifically related to Alotel. They managed to nail down her time frame and with the help of the wizards arcane knowledge predict the next visit. A rather harebrained scheme was hatched, but Q had to admit if it worked it would be highly efficient. Replacing Alotel with the changeling would be highly effective, though it did hinge rather delicately on their deceiving the guards.

The group found their way to the estate, and waited. Q followed them with his eyes, positioning them strategically to gain the best view of the alleyway they had selected. It amused him just a touch to see them standing there in the rain. They really hadn’t thought that element of the plan through.

Regardless, after six hours (two snack breaks and a brief portion of tinkering to pass the time on Q’s part), the group repositioned themselves into the alleyway Alotel used on her commute. The little elf slipped into the house and they waited, for another hour, in the rain.

For that hour Q sat, quite comfortably, in the study of the house he was residing in. It was a comfortably decorated place, with rugs, dark wood trimmings, and a roaring fireplace. Best of all it was gloriously dry and warm for this city.

Just as Q was busy feeling sorry for the poor people camping out in a random alleyway things started to happen. The first thing that happened was that Alotel slipped out of the house and headed for the alleyway, causing an amusing and slightly awkward shuffling as the group positioned themselves in a rudimentary ambush.

Alotel walked down the alleyway, apparently unaware, and after a great deal of dithering the crew seemed unsure of what to do. Q sighed and muttered a small incantation under his breath. Channeling his magic through his eyes his voice spoke softly in Wrenn’s ear, unheard to anyone else.

“I think just hold her there, see what they do”

Wrenn shrugged slightly and stepped from the alleyway. As he did he drew in the lower of his god, and used it to pin Alotel directly in place. The wizard, apparently catching on, started doing something that Q felt at the very corners of his magical awareness. He felt the nature of reality shifting in subtle ways, and this came to a head with Alotel remaining stunningly in place for a few crucial moments it took for her to be beaten up by the screaming pixie and rather thuggish genasi. Screaming pixie. Screaming. Fighting. Sound.

Q sighed by the fire, and shifted his attention slightly. He saw the men in the estate, apparently being familiar with the sounds of Alotel in distress, organising into groups. One of the men, the one who had been on the gate, was already halfway up the street towards the scene, and though she tried the pixie seemed unable to shake him.

The wizard meanwhile, having briefly fled the scene, was beginning to channel arcane force into a disk that could carry the unconscious form of Alotel. As he did so the rest of the crew knocked out the first guard to arrive, and the noises of the estate began to draw their attention. Peachy, in her screaming battle rage, nearly murdered the guardsman, but Wrenn had stepped in at the right time, preventing what could have been a critical misstep.

The wizard gave up on the conservation of spells and simply summoned his plane of force, and together the party began to flee. Wrenn, though little, managed to keep pace and it was the genasi and the changeling who managed to fall victim to the slippery streets. This was saved however by Wrenn retrieving a smoke bomb he had previously constructed from Ash and using it to opportunely distract the guards, a move then backed up by the wizard producing another in the air between them and the first one.

The crew managed to commandeer a cart from out the front of a general store and using this were able to transport the unconscious forms of their kidnapped group back to their hideout. All the while Q watched this from on high, his many eyes blinking as one. This rather haphazard behaviour was cause for concern, but he did not feel the situation was lost just yet.

When the crew returned to the hideout there was a brief amount of confusion, while Wrenn, true to his intended character, outlined a plan for them. They would have the wizard disguise himself as a guard, the changeling be Alotel, and himself a cleric intended to extract the truth from the perpetrator. The perpetrator? The only one they could not conceivably hide, the genasi. Instead he would pose as a corpse, allowing them to slip the entire crew in.

The group searched the two prisoners, and the wizard uncovered an interesting wand. Q studied it for a moment through his eyes, then drew in a little breath. He knew what that was, and prayed they wouldn’t use it.

Wrenn helped out the group by first enchanting Alotel, then attempting to force her to tell the truth. While the truth didn’t work, the enchanting did and that seemed to do the trick. Q frowned a little as he listened, noting a couple of lies amongst the truths she told them. Still, they extracted a vast amount of information from her, to the point where Q wondered if perhaps all was not lost.

Wrenn slipped away to bed, and the party attempted to keep a close watch on the group, by way of their most amazingly observant member, and also Arty. It was in fact Cog the owl who noted a couple of times when their prisoner, now bound, gaged and blindfolded, proved unable to escape her bonds. Q imagined that in time she would, but not immediately.

The crew slept, and Q did as well, instead asking one of his compatriots, the same one who had slipped the stone into the wizards pocket in fact, to watch over them from afar. When he awoke he learned that several times during the night Alotel had nearly escaped. On top of this the changeling and the pixie had slipped back to Alotels house and attempted to reach her ledger, which had activated an alarm and a trap.

Apparently the pixie had lead a curious neighbour into a bad part of town and left him there. That was unfortunate. Unfortunately he didn’t have the men to spare to canvas that particular swath of the city, so it would have to go on the to do list. It wasn’t the sort of clean up he had expected, but they always did do unexpected things.

Q watched with his many eyes as they arranged themselves for the ruse. A brief check of Alotels house in the morning had revealed the note that had been left the previous night, and the group headed straight for the mansion. As they did Q turned to the man who was napping on a lounge off to one side.

“Wake up”, he murmured, and arcane forces twisted it to whisper in the mans ear. He jerked awake, blades already drawn, before scowling at Q reproachfully.

“I asked you to not to that.”

“Indeed, but its always so amusing” Q offered a wry smile of apology.

The man stretched and yawned, and with but a flick of his hands his knives vanished up his sleeves.

“Well, what is it?”. The mans tone wasn’t reproachful, simply curious.

“They got a cart, stole it in fact. I need you to pay off a merchant so they don’t go looking for it. Would you mind terribly?”

Q tossed a coin pouch at the man and with but a whisper of dark clothing he was gone. With that done Q turned his attention back to the group in time to see them arrive at the mansion. They advanced alongside and the changeling, true to its nature, managed to charm his way past the guards with nothing but a smile and the right face. Q watched them disappear into the house, the ‘corpse’ in tow, and smiled. What was to come should be amusing he wagered.

Q watched, curious, as the guards went back to patrol the grounds. His perspective from here was somewhat limited, for for the foreseeable future he simply listened. The party split after achieving their deception, with the majority of the party electing to lay waste to the house, and the pixie following the manservant down towards the vault.

They made their way through the house, wrecking and otherwise causing a great deal of mischief. Q smiled rather broadly when they rigged the piano up to explode, that had been a clever moment. The rest of their shopping list they simply looted from anywhere they could find or tore into little pieces. They traced up behind the manservant, even going so far as to take his decorative pillows. Q smiled at that one as well.

Below them, in the cavernous underground section of the house, Peachy ran into the first major issue. She proved unable to enter the vault after Atur, the manservant. Upstairs meanwhile the rest of the crew had encountered a similar inconvenience. They had found a trap on the floor that froze whatever touched it in place. They eventually solved this by realising it didn’t transfer to the item they placed on it, so they simply put a chair on it and walked over.

They hurried down the stairs, and into the catacombs, eventually coming to meet up with Peachy and follow the route the manservant Atur had taken. They made it about half way down a set of stairs before they encountered the next trap, this one a plane of some kind of force which when it encountered an unapproved individual attempted to fire them at the ceiling with alarming velocity.

After a few minutes they managed to get around this with their own plane of force and proceeded down into the depths of the catacombs. Ahead they heard Atur exiting the vault, and they didn’t have a chance to lay a proper ambush before he turned the corner. Instead they elected to simply beat him around the head until unconscious. Q drew in a breath as he listened to this. Knocking a man about the head until unconscious was dangerous enough when done to someone young and spry like Alotel. Done to an old man? That was dangerous.

Alotel… the thought stuck with Q for a moment, and he drew his attention away from his hearing. He returned to his eyes and moved them, rapidly shifting across the city to the house opposite the safe house. He muttered a curse under his breath, an unconscious thing muttered in Sylvan. The beauty of the word and the vileness of his language were an amusing juxtaposition. Alotel was gone, and with her the guard Jacob. That would need to be attended to after they were done.

Q set his eyes to return to the estate, and tuned back to the crew just in time to hear them open the vault. They’d somehow convinced the manservant to open the door for them, but immediately knocked him out. Leaving him on the far side of the door had been an interesting choice…

Irrespective, now that they were in the vault Q reached to his right and turned over an hourglass. He was not so adept at keeping time as to not need the benefits of the glass.

He watched the grains trickle for a moment, then turned in his chair. He beckoned to a woman and murmured that it was time. She nodded, put a hand on his shoulder and suddenly his vision swam and was shifted at what felt like great speed until it showed a vault from a perspective near the top corner of the largest room.

Q could still hear through the ear rings as the crew advanced cautiously into the vault and saw as they formed a small line in the entrance to the main room. In the centre stood a creature he recognised, a golem made of clay. The thing would prove a challenge should they have to fight it.

The invisible orb that was Q and his companions vision shifted slightly, allowing a perspective of them as they cautiously entered the room. The changeling, rather optimistically, attempted to trick the golem into thinking it was Atur, but when this, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed a full fledged fight broke out.

Watching the fight, Q noted that these were perhaps not the ideal crew for a full on fight. Or rather, they didn’t compare to other groups he had fought with. They had someone to keep the thing occupied, but he could see how the full extent of each of their abilities was not utilised. He would have to talk to them at some point and perhaps work on that.

Still, they performed admirably well, slowly but surely whittling the massive creature down until the tiny pixie could deliver a killing blow. She reminded Q of someone in that moment, her savage power reminiscent of someone he’d traveled with a while back.

Q pulled himself from the memory and focused on the sight at hand. After a brief discussion the changeling became a dragon born, breathing acid all over the safe. While this didn’t help it weakened it to the point where Wrenn’s single vial of acid could punch a big enough hole. After that it was simply a matter of turning the bag of holding out, then placing it over the money fountain they had created.

Q couldn’t see it from his perspective, but he could hear quite acutely the screaming pixie laying waste to the family treasures in the next room over. Which made him smile.

Q broke his connection with the woman briefly to check the hourglass, which was running dangerously low. Just as he rejoined the clairvoyance however they realised the same thing, and arranged to use Wrenn’s breaching charge and a number of his spells on the door out of the vault.

Q winced as it went off, feeling for the soul of Atur on the other side. He hoped the man had not felt anything as he had gone. Q nodded his thanks and the woman broke the connection. The last thing he saw before the connection broke was a flicker of energy and the vaults location change. Water began to boil as the air was pulled from the room, and then the connection was gone.

Thankful that he hadn’t been in there for either of those events Q turned his hearing back to the group, listening to them as they arranged their exit from the vault and the house in general.

Q shifted his awareness back to his eyes, and then they all collectively blinked in surprise. Arty’s elephant was… on the street? Outside the house? He was sure he hadn’t missed that part of the plan. Curious.

The rest of the plan turned out to be surprisingly simple. They would lay more waste to the house on the way down, Arty would shoot the head off the statue, Wrenn would prevent the guards from reacting and they would walk right out. As they attempted to enact this plan Q felt it again. The subtle shift in reality as the wizard worked his power. Something about it lined up just perfectly, and Arty’s shot knocked the head clean off the statue and into a saddle bag on the elephant. Q blinked. That was some impressive magic. Nothing like his own, the ability to twist fate itself was truly in a league of its own.

Q watched, slightly amazed, as the guards foolishly were distracted long enough for Basil, Wrenn and Ash to slip out the front gate and onto the cart with their literal stacks of money, while Arty and Peachy fled for the elephant.

Q smiled and withdrew his senses then, returning to himself. He listened absently as he put on his gunbelt and summoned his spectral armour to him. His look mostly complete he exited the room (followed by a little wave by several who had also been watching) and headed down the street. Just as the crew arrived at the end of the street he slipped into the safe house and settled down to wait. He was amazed they didn’t immediately check the house really, but instead just used that same fog to hide their unloading and organisation. With the elephant loaded up they would probably be able to make it at least as far as the gate he supposed.

They entered the house altogether, smiling and riding the high of their success. Q smiled slightly and leaned back on his chair, booted feet on the table. He looked them all over once and said, “That was well done… now how about something a little more challenging?” and as he did so he found himself unable to keep the slight smile from his voice.

The rain lashed furiously outside and for the first time in a long time Q felt a few of the pieces beginning to line up.

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Get in losers, we're going shopping
Newtoysnewtoysnewtoysnewtoys

After the last episode of epic adventures with the party, the Mouseketeers set about planning for their suicide mission. They sat around, attempting to combine their intelligence in order to come up with a plan. Thankfully, their plans moved from the concept of using a ‘whale cannon’ to the beginnings of a feasible plan by the time 1 o’clock rolled around.

The group made their way to Captain Cartwright’s office in order to meet their armorer. Some members debating whether or not to get someone else to knock on the intimidating captain’s door, while the others just entered, only to be stopped in their tracks inside as they entered to find none other that Zoryn sitting in front of Cartwright’s desk.

Their was a mutual moment of ‘oh’ shared between the party and Zoryn and, exasperation in the air. You could practically feel the ‘oh these idiots’ rolling from him. As per his normal humour, he began making crude puns while informing the party that he was an armourer ‘of a kind’. The group was actually relieved that they could go through his store again, looking forward to the chance of finding rare magical objects. Still, they weren’t sorry to see Cartwright smack the incubus up the backside of the head after making a comment about being ‘happy to watch’ Harlow with another woman.

In his store, Zoryn managed to include his dramatic flare once more as he jumped from the top of one of his great piles. Lana internally rolled her eyes at this. The party made some requests and Zoryn vanished into the back rooms of his store.

Leaving the party on there own may have been a questionable decision on his part, but they spread through the store, using the magical shopping baskets offered to them to collect just about anything and everything that took their fancy. Lana collected bows and arrows, Kang collected weapons, Loralai presumably some shady things (including the shadiest hood of them all) and Harlow grabbed the staff she’d been dreaming of.

While walking around together in an odd shuffling huddle, Kang came across a playful looking whip. He picked it up, but was shocked when acid started to drip from it, burning him. Loralai then reached forwards to pick it up, only to find that it began to exude cold instead. Kang took it again and it began to produce acid. Loralai took it back and cold began to smoke once more. Kang took it back and put it down and picked it up a few times, careful of the acid. The others watched as this went on for a bit before it was suggested they moved on.

As sticky fingers reached out and grabbed whatever caught their eye, Kang spotted something else quite interesting: a twisted metal spike. It just looked bad. So he grabbed it. And immediately you could see the life begin to drain from him. But he continued to hold it. Harlow was the first to get to him and knock it from his grasp, but in doing so she touched it as well and it seemed to have a bigger impact on her. Not one of Kang’s wiser moves.

At the front of the store, Zoryn explained what the range of items the party had collected did. Along with their price tags. Many things were discarded, more from sheer necessity than anything else. Using every inch of her wisdom, Harlow asked Zoryn for health potions and Loralai and Kang sold they’re peryton parts in order to help supply more potions to the party.

Together the party bought:*

  • A wraith’s hood of shady
  • An immovable rod
  • A Koloss sword to hit things harder and farther away
  • 3 tubs of coffee (do stupid things faster)
  • An indestructible staff
  • A tattered cloak of great sneakiness
  • Another bag of holding!
  • Ring of rapid spell casting
  • A quiver of storing
  • Trickshot’s bow (bow of the marksman)
  • Climbers armour to not fall and die
  • Arrows of extended range
  • Earrings of whisper! Now we can never get away from each other
  • A crapton of healing potions
  • And a partridge in a pear tree

Back on deck, the party looked wicked with all their new gear and spent some more time plotting about how to go about the next mission. There was discussion revolving around splitting up the team or sending recon scouts in, but it was deemed they weren’t the best courses of action available.

That afternoon Lana was on the bunker level when she looked out the porthole to see a mass of brown falling from above, followed by many flowers of varying degrees of rot fluttering behind it. On another level, Harlow happened to be looking outside and saw the same thing. Those were Harlow’s stress flowers. The two had stored them in Loralai’s bag of holding. Why was Loralai tipping them out? Lana assumed it was clear up day, but Harlow was really baffled; those… were hers. She really wanted them and was going to use them…

After considering what had happened, Harlow went onto deck to talk to Loralai about it. Over dinner that night, Lana noticed that there was something odd about how Loralai and Harlow were acting around each other, but hoped they would sort it out. Kang may have noticed something, but after stewing on it for a moment decided it was probably his imagination. Then he went and got seconds. All was right with the world.

Lana and Kang decided to get an early night and retired to the bunks before the other two and had a chat about the neat things they bought, as well as a bit about their lives before the party and how they came to be in haven. Lana mentioned the rotten flowers, but the pair brushed it off.

The next day things between Loralai and Harlow had improved somewhat. Loralai spotted when Ered walked onto deck for breakfast and indicated to Harlow. Apparently during their long talk yesterday they had decided Harlow wanted to be able to defend herself somewhat more physically if she could. Harlow wasn’t particularly strong, there was even some concern over her being able to carry a kettle sometimes, so learning soldier-like fighting was out of the question. They were hoping the swift ways of monks would be more suited to her and give her more of an edge.

Ered watched them approach and greeted them. Loralai informed him that her head still hurt, to which he proudly responded that “It’ll do that”. After explaining Harlow’s situation, he agrees to teach her some monk skills. After doing one push up, he decides to maybe start on some tai-chi.

Harlow couldn’t afford to spend too long on it, however, as the Siren’s Bane was coming into sight over the blockade that afternoon. They still had to figure out exactly how they were going to get to the council. They walked to the very front of the ship to be out of everyone’s way as they plotted. The fact that the view was great was only an added bonus.

During this time Harlow made a suggestion that would more than likely be extremely dangerous to herself. It was met with staunch rebuttal from the rest of the party and instead of explaining her thoughts, Harlow turned into a small snake and tried to slither away. Kang managed to grab her, though, and the group had a heartfelt discussion about how they were the Mousey Wankers, for crying out loud! All for one and one for all! They wouldn’t leave each other behind.

Her animal transformation did beg the question, however, as whether or not she could still communicate with them while in beast shape. Harlow became an otter – a very sweet otter – and ran around the deck, much to many sailors surprise. She even managed to charm some bread from the cook. Loralai talked to her through the ring, proving Harlow could hear them even then, thankfully. Harlow scampered back and turned back into her half-elf self, enjoying the little morsel she had collected.

  • The party considered several angle for how they could target the mission:
  • Target the ship directly and go with the plan they already had.
  • Target the food and water supply for the ship with poisons or some of Harlow’s special ‘happy’ * tea.
  • Target the source of the shield above the harbor.
  • Target the source or sources of the anti-magic pockets around Haven and the blockade.

The party talked to Sabetha about some of her and Voral’s capabilities, such as how comfortable they are being separated. Can Sabetha get into contact somewhat easily with Voral when parted? Apparently they have some connection to one another.

But the idea of going into the city was far too risky for the party and was dismissed.

So back to their original idea of using druid craft to breach the hull of the ship was still looking like their most feasible plan. Harlow would have been much more comfortable with practicing her part, however, before the actual mission to get a better idea of how long it was going to take and how long they had before entering the ship.

Now that the Siren’s Bane was so close to the blockade, it was decided that essentially a test mission was required. They targeted one of the larger ships in the blockade. The plan was to go down using feather fall, land in the water and practice without engaging anyone. Quick. Clean. Simple. The others were there for support and just in case anything went wrong.

When night fell Gilla cast feather fall on Loralai, Kang and Harlow as they stood at the edge of the ship. Lana was going with Voral and used her new armour to clip herself on, just in case. Then they jumped.

On the way down, especially at night, it was very difficult for them specifically target the ship they were going looking for. Kang began to drift slightly, forcing the other two to follow him while Sabetha and Lana watched. Kang crushed Harlow’s hand on the way down.

As they got closer, suddenly light bloomed before them and they could see the ship. But they were going to land right on it! They were not getting out of this without a fight.

As the three were falling, however, a voice began to speak into their minds. “Well if we’re doing this it may as well be fun”.

Any fear from inside them vanished and they watched as Harlow was engulfed in a dark, condensed fog. Loralai’s armour appeared on deck with a weapon seemingly made from the night sky itself was held in its hand. Loralai’s bag of holding opened seemingly all on its own and out came Kang’s koloss sword. It fell past them and buried itself in the deck of the ship.

Lana and Sabetha watched as the three landed, splintering the deck on impact. Loralai landed in her armour and her hood was up, the embodiment of a shadow warrior. The fog encasing Harlow rushed away from her covering the deck. Then they attacked.

“Holy shit.” Lana whispered to herself as she watched it all happen. Her companions began to carve through the deck, alternating between killing the sailors with a single stroke and pushing them into the water. She and Sabetha joined, taking out their fair share of opponents, including Sabetha having Voral tear the lone siege engine apart. There was a moment of panic as a few seconds into the fight Sabetha jumped off and joined the others on deck. Thankfully Voral didn’t seem to mind Lana still attached to him.

As Kang’s sword and Loralai’s glaive tore through the bodies of the sailors, Harlow unleashed storm magics as she used thunder and lightning as her weapons.

Lana spotted some of the sailors in the water making their way back up the side of the ship, as well as noticing when a sailor was seemingly forcibly pulled under the water by something. Into the earring she told the others this and spotted a sailor Kang was attacking. He had a slightly fancier hat, feathered and all, than the others. She didn’t know if that would actually mean anything, but she told Kang to wait, they could use a sailor for information! But it was too late and by the time she said it he was already bearing upon him, cleaving him in two from head to toe before slicing him in half the other way through his middle.

A cleric appeared on deck and Loralai used silence to create a bubble so he couldn’t cast anything. She promptly dealt with him in time to see someone attacking Harlow on the other side of the ship. She sprinted towards them as the fighter managed to land some blows. Bad move.

Lana could see as another sailor was pulled under the water and saw the peak of a very large fin breach the surface. She could also see as Kang decimated foe after foe, still in the silencing bubble and looking all the more terrifying as he screamed in soundless rage.

Then, having beaten all foes in sight, he went down the hatch and down the stairs to take care of the enemy at the source.

Meanwhile Harlow’s lightning took her opponent down in time for another one to pop up from the grate in front of her. This was another cleric and he attacked before Harlow could react, landing serious magical damage.

Lana had to intervene and hoped for some good out of the slaughter. She unclipped herself and jumped off of Voral. But she wasn’t quite used to the armour or jumping from a wyvern yet and fell as she landed near the cleric. She jumped up and knocked her bow, however, right in his face and told him to yield, hoping that the carnage around him would make him see some sense.

Clearly his confidence and her terrible landing and generally not threatening appearance didn’t phase him from his intentions and he smirked at her before attacking her with a spell. She managed to loose her arrows first, but when the spell hit it really knocked her hard.

Loralai finally made it over and she and Harlow attacked the cleric, but he was clearly tough and hit Lana with another of his life draining spells. She felt the cold seize her and it felt like everything came to a stop in her body as she fell to the ground, out of the fight. The vague sounds of wanton destruction and death could be heard downstairs as Kang continued to plow through his opponents like daisies in a field, only pausing for a moment when someone roared back at him before he seemingly effortlessly dispatched them too.

Loralai and Harlow were beyond fury as they saw Lana crumple and they mercilessly ended the clerics very existence before running to Lana’s side. Loralai supported her while Harlow healed her and she thankfully came to. But by the gods did she look bad.

The fight was finally over, but Kang was still consumed in his almighty rage as he tore through the ship. Without anyone else to fight he turned upon the ship itself, cutting through doors and cargo until he heard two of his friends calling for him, asking him to help them. Bolting up to the top deck, the rage beginning to wane, he saw the three of them huddled around.

With everyone together once more and no enemy an immediate threat, Harlow decided to investigate the ship and headed off downstairs. Loralai insisted someone go with her, however, and Kang dutifully trailed after her. Sabetha chilled on deck with Voral. But, as all things go it seems with the Mouseketeers, things went wrong.

Down below, slopping through the rum that was covering the floor to reach the room at the end, Kang picked the lock for Harlow to get in. Inside they found a room that was reasonably nice. There was a bed and some draws, as well as a desk with a book on it. It hummed very faintly with some magical energy, but written inside appeared some sort of coded ledger. Harlow didn’t know how to understand it herself, but thought that it could potentially be useful for Captain Cartwright if it had some good information inside. However, when she touched it the magical properties of the book attacked her with the same magic the clerics had been using and knocked her out.

Kang panicked and called for Lana and Loralai while shoving one of his goodberries into her mouth, waking her up. She looked as bad as Lana now.

Lana was too slow, so Loralai chucked her over her shoulder and bolted downstairs and towards where they could see Kang in an open doorway. Lana had very clear view of Loralai’s covered arse, the soles of her boots and the rum covering the floor and seeping through to the deck bellow. Plus the random bits of bodies that littered everywhere. The she saw the roof as she was placed into a hammock. At least now she could turn to see and then get up when she saw Harlow looking dreadful on the ground.

Kang, then, using all of his non-existent wisdom, broke the lock on the locked draw and reached inside. He, too, was attacked with magic but stood firmly on his feet still as he brought out the only thing in there: a painting on an oil canvas of the man in the feathered hat that he’d diced up. It was very disappointing. Lana wanted the picture, however, so Loralai put it in her bag. When Harlow explained why she wanted the book, Loralai got Kang to hold the bag oh holding open and tipped the whole desk to slide it in.

After making sure everyone was more or less alright, they continued to investigate the ship. When they reached the bottom deck, things became very interesting as they found an anti-magic bolt. Harlow shuffled around it in her armour which was now more a pile of leaves and twigs. She began to practice her druid craft of the walls of the ship while Kang brought the bolt back upstairs. Lana stayed with Harlow though.

On deck, Sabetha watched as the anti-magic bolt was dragged up. She, Kang and Loralai began to discuss what they should do with it. Kang was all for chucking over the edge of the ship and have done with it but Loralai thought of how they could potentially use it against something like the Skykiller tomorrow. They talked about what to do with it in the meantime: take it to the forest, take it back to the ship and so on.

Harlow practiced her druid crafting twice and figured it took around half an hour in order to create a hole big enough for the party to get through. Maybe a little more for a Kang sized hole?

They went back on deck and after hearing about what was being discussed, Lana offered to go with Sabetha and Voral and hide with the bolt in the forest near Haven, but there were too many complexities and instead they decided – with Cartwright’s permission, asked by Sabetha flying back up and down – to tie the bolt onto the end of the Siren’s Bane’s anchor.

Harlow conjured these incredibly birds that were extraordinarily bright and beautifully covered and could hover in place. She called them hummingbirds and conjured one for each of the party members. Kang held onto his with a death grip, which the others were sure the bird probably didn’t appreciate.

Loralai produced some shackles she had in the bag and used them to secure the bolt onto the anchors chain. She had to balance herself while battered by the wind from Voral’s wings, but managed to get it in a sure hold. Then she jumped off, back onto her hummingbird and the party flew back onto deck. Kang was very thankful.

They informed Gilla as to how things went, realizing they didn’t actually get the name of the ship. So they decided to call it The Glory. They also wanted to show Gilla the still magical ledger they’d secured from the captain quarters and Loralai planned to transfer everything into Harlow’s bag and eject the book, but before she could stop him Kang reached in and took out the book, dumping it on the deck.

Loralai decked him for pulling such a stupid stunt (again!) before storming away.

What are they going to do with this magical ledger of death just sitting on the deck? Oh gods please don’t let it mark the deck! Gilla would kill them!

*Link to the homebrew page with all the equipment bought: http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/rJT9UqMt

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Doctor help, our Druid is manic..?
+ a smidge of 'it gon'

The session opened in the dead of night, when an idea woke Harlow. A plan so brilliant she just had to pull herself from her nest of a hammock to tell the seemingly most capable party member, Loralai. This consisted of clambering over the warlock’s bed to wake her… despite it being two in the morning. Details of said plan came from the inspiration of seeing Sabetha (finally someone smaller than Harlow) fight the day previously and prove her skills. Loralai, albeit tired and confused as to why this was being asked then and there, agreed and went right back to sleep like a sensible person.

Perhaps it would be thought that being the wisest party member, she’d take a chance to sleep in like the rest of the tired party was doing. But alas no, up and spritely at 4am on the dot, Loralai was woken to the silhouette of Harlow waking her as they soon headed upstairs to train while Kang farted in his sleep loudly and Lana was barely stirred by the other two party members leave from the crew birth.

To the amusement of the skeleton staff currently on deck, they got a two hour montage of the much more capable multi-classer trying to teach the much smaller, much weaker Druid basic fighting techniques. This may or may not have included Loralai challenging Harlow to a push up contest. That did not go well. There we saw Loralai easily dominating the floor, elaborate tricks between push ups and not breaking a sweat. On the other hand, Harlow after 1 push up was floored, sweating and amazed at how strong the party’s tanks actually are. Luckily (for Harlow) Lana appeared just after they finished and missed the humiliating display. After Lana wandered around seemingly hopelessly on deck for awhile, long enough for Kang to awaken and see what Lana had already seen, Harlow’s armour standing by her hammock with clothes crudely put on it, but obviously with no Druid inside. How odd.

With all the party together again on deck, the first order of the day was to get breakfast, which still consisted of reasonably nice meats, cheeses and breads. Harlow tried to resist breakfast, much to Lana’s disapproval, the biggest party member Kang got a grip on her arm and dragged her with complete ease. Loralai making sure to pull the Druid aside to inform her she’d arranged for a message to be sent to Sly of all people, and that when it was ready to go find Gilla and tell her it. A display of kindness Harlow was far from expecting then.. And that fuelled some other ideas. Idea’s like showing her capabilities to the other team members, so she asked Kang to fight her…. As a bear! Delightful, huh. It would definitely be cathartic, but the other party members whispered their concern with Kang asking the ever so wise Loralai if he should let her win or beat some sense into her seed-sized brain. The answer was obvious.

After stuffing themselves it was straight to the battle ring, at this point drawing quite a sizeable crowd seeing as two of the party members in sight had been in impressive fights the day before and had gained somewhat of a reputation and some new budding friendships with those competitors. There were whispers wondering who it was that would be fighting this early in the morning, and as soon as Kang and Harlow stepped into the ring the sound of jingling could be heard all over as hoards of sailors bet their gold on the towering, fanged Half-Orc for very obvious and wise reasons. Kang, having asked Loralai to hold his weapons and gold, didn’t see the latter go over and bet all 127 of Kang’s gold on Harlow. Ouch.

As the unlikely fight begun, Harlow going first was quick to cast Hold Person onto her companion after having noted in their travels just how much damage Kang is capable of doing (even weaponless), while most didn’t notice this Lana however had spotted a familiar flick of Harlow’s wrist that indicated her mage skills. Having locked him in his battle position successfully she used her Wild Shape to shift into a large pristine white Polar Bear. Getting a very girly scream from a sailor up the front, the whole crowd went dead silent as many men realised they were about to lose a lot of gold in this bet. Oops.

For the sake of dignity perhaps you could call it “a fight” but what played out was a mere 12 second mauling of Bearlow loping around Kang, biting and clawing at him eagerly and for some very stupid reason doing actual lethal damage to him, an idiotic and rude move by her, and reduced him to an unconscious bloody form on the dirt that quickly. And proceeding to return to her small form and stretch as though she’s not even broken a sweat over that brutal takedown, she almost took too long coming over to Kang and healing him back to consciousness once more and standing above him. What can only be expected from being unable to move and mauled by a huge bear is fear towards this off-kilter Druid. She is scary.

Quick to move on from the now scary Druid on their team, Kang moved off and Harlow revealing in this thrilling burst of adrenaline pumping through her veins briefly caught sight of Lana for a moment before coming over to Loralai and surprisingly being handed a sack of gold (winnings that had come from Kang’s money). Promising not to spill that little secret, Kang was given back his 127 gold and weapons in the most non-suspicious way possible by resident slim shady.

Kang ventured downstairs further into the ship and came across a loud clanging coming from behind a door, finding it unlocked (and not taking it off its hinges) he came across a busy Sebatha at work and Voral curled up seemingly asleep in the corner. Keeping his distance from the dragon thing, he found out she was working on fixing some armour of Voral’s that had taken damage during the attack from The Wavehammer.

Meanwhile, Lana had taken to meditating to continue working on enchanting her arrows and improving said enchantments which would be a powerful card to use amidst battle. Kang, having returned soon after engaged Loralai in a talk about his homeland Orokai and let her gain a little more information about him, decidedly making him more understandable as a whole. While the individual party members continued being sensible and productive for once (mother is so proud), their little Druid had scampered off in search of.. “A flamboyant hat of the pirate variety” even stopping a sailor to ask if there were any hats like that on board she could purchase. Not that anyone would figure this act was reminiscent of the hat Sly wore on board the predator, not at all. She did manage to succeed, coining one from a sailor on the rigging for a mere 5 silver pieces and put it on, stupidly big on her small form, but pleased nonetheless.

Since she’d already started on this rebel phase today, Harlow felt it appropriate to continue to make decisions the other party members may find questionable for her of all people. This meant tattoos. Again clearly not a slyspiration. Not in the slightest. Everyone having learned to ask when they need to find things, she was able to have a crew member find and bring up onto deck a heavily tattooed and muscled man with an artistic flair named Quilla, and after some negotiating on time, ideas and placement he asked the Druid to meet him back on deck about an hour before dinner to get started on the nature animated sleeve she’d commissioned using the money Loralai handed her earlier. Thank you Kang!

Kang and Loralai, after deciding the past is most often best left in the past for obvious reasons, went in search of Harlow to see if they could get her help obtaining some alcohol after their shitty search previously hasn’t gained them much and lately Harlow just seemed to be decent at.. Finding things. Hatching the plan to try and get Lana drunk to the Druid, she added on her own personal touch that she could offer some homebrewed tea that could, for intentionally lack of a better word, relax their ranger. Asking a Sailor who happened to have won money during Harlow’s brutal show in the ring that morning, he was willing to show her where they had a stash of rum and wine. Harlow did however advise her friends to only take one bottle of the rum.

New booze in tow, they set a course straight for their unsuspecting friend who was coming to the end of her meditative session to be roused back to the present by Harlow, standing in front with a druidically procured cup of tea in a clay mug and the two more mischievous team tanks behind her with their bottle of rum. What followed was a display of pathetic avoiding of the truth by Harlow, and the other two corking and taking swigs as Lana took a few sips of her tea and tried to offer some back to the Druid. She, who was quick to decline and suddenly explain that thanks to Loralai she was able to get a message to Sly and had to go straight to Gilla at that very moment to give it to her! Zooming off not at all suspiciously.

That left the three in each other’s company to chat and drink, Loralai remaining just a little tipsy while Kang indulged, stealing as many swigs as he could get of the sailors rum. Lana meanwhile had let her tea go cold, so she downed the whole mug in one go. It didn’t hit her immediately, but she started to feel very relaxed and a little bit.. Ah! Happy and floaty.. Funny that? How kind of Harlow to provide such uplifting tea.

The drug dealer in question had not gone to find Gilla, but instead had ended up at the same place Kang had earlier. Entering and finding Sabetha and having a similar introductory conversation as her friend previously, only to move her focus onto Voral, admiring him greatly and moving closer to coo at him and provide lots of compliments on how handsome he is. Druids man. This ended up with talk of riding him, in which Harlow accepted and threw off her newly obtained hat as Sabetha cranked open the doors that let all the rushing air in, leaving Harlow with a sudden realisation of wow we are up high. Having to follow lead as Sabetha once more showed just how fearless she is, falling out of the airship in the same fashion as the rider before her. Harlow landed on the wyverns back and they set soaring (lots and lots of screaming here).

The “Drunk and High” compadres on deck were given a sight of Sabetha and Harlow upon Voral swooping up and into sight, soaring and definitely putting on a show until Voral decided to twist into loops…. Something the Druid hadn’t expected and quickly lost her grip, plummeting through the air and tumbling as she went as a brand new sort of thrill filled her bloodstream. Loralai and Kang, being the Dads of the party panicked on deck, rushing to the side and yelling in panic as they watched their healer fall from too far away for them to be able to do anything. Helplessness, a feeling most of the party is familiar with by this point. Thankfully though, Voral’s claws managed to catch the falling tree lady and she was dropped back on deck, hair sticking up in every direction and a big gash on her arm, but grinning manically when the party rushed over to make sure she was okay. Continuing their team bonding, everyone came to give Voral attention, he seemed to take a liking to Kang, nuzzling him while Harlow encouraged him to find the spot he likes to be scratched most.

As evening set and Harlow once more met with Quilla to have her tattoo sleeve started, Lana came back down off her high very unimpressed with having essentially been drugged which left Harlow in the crap lines of her shit book (harr harr) the team, after a bit of convincing and surprisingly nice words from Harlow, decided on a team tattoo they would all get done, as well as some others individuals wanted for their own reasons.

The next three days passed much the same without anything of significant consequence till the evening of the third day.. Nearly ready for bed it was seen off in the distance that the airship was heading straight into a storm and everyone on deck was getting ready for it to hit. Being told not to worry by crew, that it happened all the time in this line of work, newly named Team Mouseketeers went to bed thinking all would be peachy… Alas it never is for our sort of heroes.

Clang Clang Clang. The familiar sound of the bell before their last battle with the horror cubes sounded and woke the party in the middle of the storm. Grabbing their weapons and summoning armour, everyone set into action- except for Harlow who had finally decided not to sleep in her armour and had to spend a few lagging minutes getting into it and pulling her newly finished wooden gauntlet before rushing after her team mates.

On deck a situation quickly unfolded, Harlow letting her shield craft out of her gauntlet either successful enchantment and everyone readying their weapons as bolts of lightning hit the deck, strange shapes of wolves made from lightning themselves appearing and attacking fiercely. Later, the nature one would tell them these were Storm Wolves who travel by way of lightning. Lana, after her previously bad week set straight into motion, doing seriously awesome damage with her arrows to these strange creatures, still getting hit in return but showing she can take what she gives for the most part. Kang smartly so, began frenzying and did what he does best- fucking hitting things hard and as usual Loralai was fucking shit up in the best way possible.

Having cast a spell to help protect their warlock from any lightning damage, Harlow shifted into her favoured Polar Bear form and mauled it, tearing chunks of lightning from its shape much to Bearlow’s satisfaction. While the party was being, again, surprisingly competent all things considered, they missed Vitira up by Captain Cartright and the wheel being really fucking awesome while holding his book and throwing papers from it like skilled playing cards to attack the enemy, ice shattering everywhere. The ship also shook alarmingly which no one could put a finger on while trying to fuck shit up.

Gilla polymorphic one into a tiny cute bunny rabbit and was quick to yell that someone throw it off the fucking ship, an order Kang was quick to respond to. Easily throwing this little rabbit off the side while it tumbled for a long time to its death. How sad. For throwing off a rabbit in such an angry fashion he managed to keep raging which was lucky huh, not so lucky for the morphed rabbit though.

Frustrated by their ability to teleport all over the ships deck, Bearlow was running back and forth trying to help till one appeared right beside her and did enough damage to knock her out of her wild shape in shock. Upon seeing their frazzled Druid back in her other form, Kang and Loralai jumped into action on either side of her (idiot sandwich idiot sandwich). In a quick move she tried casting flaming sphere without thinking, only to dismiss it a moment later after an outraged yell from Gilla. But It was Loralai to first notice when Harlow went completely stiff though, being close enough to hear her hyperventilating and locked in place in fear after their last real fight on board the ship. Meanwhile, Lana just casually wrecking all these storm wolves with her arrows like she’s bored out of her mind.

Vitira being the handle back liner he is, cast suggestion on Harlow and compelled her to run to the corner out of harm’s way while Sabetha and Voral swooped back in to throw one of the storm wolves from the ship….. Only for it to teleport back a short moment after. It was worth a try though. Making up for that, Voral managed to poison it and kill it with much more ease. While Kang brutalised the last remaining wolf by batting it straight off the ship and watched it explode in the clouds. Sweet.

Once more they were safe, another battle won and for the most part unscathed except for Lana who’d taken nearly as much damage as she’d given. Having dropped out of her petrified state and nearly very alarmed by Kang and Loralai charging over, the former with his weapon still drawn, she ended up breaking down into apologies for freezing up in battle and trying to make sure they were all okay. After much reassurance and being expected to get back below deck, Harlow trying to druidcraft the deck again was quickly dragged down by the Half-Orc so everyone could try and continue their night’s sleep. Perhaps not easy to come by for some?

The following morning the party was delivered a message from the Captain by Sabetha with the known details of their deal….. Now having 4 days to try and create a plan of attack before arriving at their destination.. How will our unfortunate party fare I wonder…?

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Episode III, uh, 11: Revenge of the Cubes
Alternatively: the first rule of airship fight club is-

The day dawned bright and early aboard the Siren’s Bane, and for once the party a) was not in some godsforsaken wilderness, a room full of bodies, or a sewer, and b) had not been abandoned by a member or c) attacked by a monster overnight. It was still a somewhat sulky party that went in search of breakfast, with Lana wisely deciding not to talk too much since she could tell the rest of the party was still rather mad at her. Despite this, the party did all feel a little stronger, and, just perhaps, a little closer.

Kang was eager to find the fighting club aboard the ship he’d been told about, but decided breakfast came first. Two servings, in fact, because the guy doing the serving didn’t notice the lone half-orc lining up a second time. (First win of the day.) Once they’d had breakfast, Kang and Loralai went in search of Dalak, the hugely muscled man who organised the fights. He once again ignored Loralai, and told Kang to wait while he went to find “Abelor”, someone fitting for Kang to fight. At this point, the sailors began forming a ring on the deck, while Kang gave Loralai all of his weapons, since the fight was to be more of a brawl than the one they’d participated in to get onto the ship. Loralai shoved them all into Dorris without stopping to consider that revealing a bag of holding aboard the ship might not be the best plan, making Lana put her face in her hands.

The opponent that appeared from below decks was much larger than Kang expected. A goliath, in fact, standing not that much taller than Kang, but of a size enough to make him uncomfortable. Still, Kang had never faced a goliath in a friendly fight before, and didn’t seem intimidated by the show of neck and finger cracking Abelor put on. Bets changed hands in the crowd, with Loralai putting 10 gold on Kang. Harlow and Lana came over to watch, too, and the fight was away.

There’s really only so much you can get from watching two giant thugs trying to beat the shit out of each other, but the amount of blood flying everywhere was at least entertaining for the crew. Though perhaps not the most creative fight those watching had ever seen, with Kang focusing mainly on hitting hard rather than fancy – but as Abelor found out, Kang does hit hard. To some surprise he also demonstrated a sense of fair play, as he didn’t kick Abelor in the guts after knocking him to the ground (at least, the first time). But goliaths are nearly as tough as half-orcs, and it was close, coming down to the last round – where Kang thoroughly floored Abelor with a last blow. Despite the blood all over his face and a broken nose (which Harlow had to come set, because for the life of him Kang could not tell when it was straight – funny, that), it was probably the most cheerful the party has ever seen a sober Kang. Once Abelor’s friends had brought him back to consciousness, the two went and had a flagon of ale together. Despite it being around 8am in the morning.

After collecting her winnings, Loralai had a thought. And decided that maybe she did want to fight. So she went and found Dalak, who summarily laughed her off (again) before finally agreeing and going to find someone for her. The man who entered the ring opposite Loralai was a monk named Ered, who proved to be shockingly fast, and almost impossible to hit – though, when they did connect, Loralai’s strikes landed much harder than anyone would have expected. Unlike the previous fight, this one showed a much higher degree of skill and precision. But, sadly, Loralai was not fast enough to take Ered out. With the fight concluded, Harlow rushed forward to bring Loralai back to consciousness, while Kang paid up the 10 gold he’d bet on Loralai.

The crowd then dispersed, and the party were left wondering what to do with the entire day. What do you do when you don’t have to run from something, fight something, or walk somewhere?

Kang and Loralai went back down to the crew berths to have a short rest and clean up. After a while, Loralai decided to go look for some grain “for the mice”, or so she told Kang, who was following her around since they had no idea where Harlow and Lana had got to. Unfortunately they could find no sacks of grain, just endless boxes. At which point Loralai remembered that mice love alcohol, so they set off on a new search. Despite Kang’s detailed knowledge of the stuff, they could not find any of that either, so they returned to the crew bunks, passing that tiefling who’d helped them in the sewers on the way back. How’d he get onto the ship?! Last they saw, he was being marched off by some guards to help look for uh, them.

Oh, wait.

The tiefling in question was actually Vitira, who had dropped his disguise now that they were safely aboard the Siren’s Bane. Kang and Loralai informed him that Harlow had been looking for him, and left him with an even lower impression of their insight than he’d had before. Back down by their bunks, Loralai spent the rest of the day practising summoning and dismissing her shadowy armour – and a new glaive. It appeared to be a window to the night sky itself, showing different stars as Loralai swung it. She spent hours trying to summon the two in concert – so long that Kang had a nap and a crowd gathered to watch as she pulled weapon after weapon out of the air, throwing them and vanishing them – and finally, towards the end of the day, succeeded in summoning both armour and glaive. Once.

Meanwhile, Harlow found herself a hidden spot on deck and spent the entire day working on her wooden gauntlet, making some good progress. She was so hidden that neither Kang nor Loralai could find her later, but Vitira was able to spot her quickly enough, and the two chatted about magic and arcane focuses. Lana, on the other hand, wandered the entire ship for some time and apparently found very little that held her interest, though she did begin to consider enchanting some of her arrows. She joined Harlow and Vitira on deck, but her enchanting wasn’t as successful as Harlow’s. More practise required.

The party rejoined for dinner, in which Kang once again successfully got two helpings without anyone noticing. Vitira also joined them and they discussed strategy briefly, wondering what the battles between airships and waterships might look like. Kang had a few ideas. At some point during the meal, Kang and Loralai remembered that mice liked alcohol and offered some of the ale they’d been served to Harlow for Spook and Thimble. Harlow was summarily horrified and quick to inform the idiots that whatever they’d heard was completely, utterly incorrect. Kang, in his turn, was horrified to learn that Lana had never been drunk before. They also showed Vitira the burned list of suspicious names that they’d found, but he didn’t know anyone on it beyond the first, the woman in charge of Haven. They let him make a copy and made a second one for themselves before all heading to bed.

The next morning they were rudely awoken to the sound of alarm bells ringing throughout the ship. Lana was the first to react, snatching up her weapons and racing for the stairs, where she was overtaken by Kang, who it seems has gotten a lot faster in recent days. Loralai then overtook both Lana and Kang – but the real speedsters were Vitira, who simply flew up the central hole, and Harlow, who used her vine armour to zoom up the inside. Nearly every sailor on the ship seemed to be heading below decks – but the party was instructed to get on deck immediately – as a watership was attacking, and they were needed. As they headed up the stairs and joined Vitira and Harlow – Kang nervously clipping himself to the top of the railing – they found the deck almost empty. There were only a few sailors left in the rigging, Captain Cartwright herself had taken the wheel, and as they watched Gilla came charging across the deck and into a magic circle built into the wood, where she began weaving blue light and creating a shield around the ship. There was a grating sound from below, and then the Siren’s Bane shuddered as something large and heavy impacted.

And the ship began to fall from the sky.

Looking to their captain for orders, Kang, Loralai and Vitira were commanded to find the fucking bolt, while Lana and Harlow were sent to rescue a sailor who had fallen from the mast, swinging unconscious by his rope.

Charging back down below decks, Kang was the first to find the bolt. He rushed over, shouting for Loralai and Vitira to join him. Upon entering the room, Loralai’s shadow armour, which she’d summoned earlier, disappeared – the bolt was an anti-magic bolt favoured by waterships, interfering with the magic holding the Siren’s Bane in the sky. The three gathered around it and after some shoving, they managed to get it out of the wall, watching it fall end over end into the sea. With it gone, the ship stopped dropping like a stone, beginning to right itself.

The swinging sailor proved a much more difficult challenge for Lana and Harlow. They climbed up into the ratlines – where unfortunately Lana lost her grip and fell all the way to the deck, Harlow only just catching herself in time. Not that it mattered, because a few seconds later she missed her step and fell anyway. Over the general chaos (and sighs from Captain Cartwright) they managed to communicate a plan, in which Harlow would swing the man over to Lana on the ratlines, who would catch him. Climbing back to the mast, Harlow narrowly avoided falling again thanks to her vine armour, where the two realised that perhaps they weren’t strong enough to do this. They could barely keep themselves from falling.

By this stage, Kang and Vitira had reached nearly returned to the deck, with Loralai just behind them – in time for Captain Cartwright to swing the wheel, tilting the ship and sending the poor sailor right into Lana’s arms. This also allowed the Siren’s Bane to unleash firey death on the watership below. Lana pinned the sailor to the ratline, keeping him stable for Harlow to climb down and bring him back to consciousness, so he could hang on himself. Loralai tried to throw a rope to Lana so they could tie themselves on, so there wouldn’t be anyone else falling off the ship – but unfortunately with the angle of the deck, the throw went wild and the rope sailed off into the air.

However, the Captain then swung the ship level again, allowing Vitira to easily fly over and cut the rope holding the sailor to the mast. Kang once again clipped himself to the stair railing, while Loralai ran to the side and looked over – spotting the watership attacking them. It was the Wavehammer, the giant dwarven warship they’d seen in M’Ren two days before, and its deck was covered with ballistae – which appeared to have just been fired. A few seconds later, several invisible and squelchy things impacted the deck.

Ever the fast thinker, Harlow leapt forwards – with a yelled sorry at Gilla – and summoned a flaming sword with which to attack the giant, gelatinous cube that had landed in front of her. To Kang and Loralai’s disgust these were exactly the same type of… thing that they’d encountered in the sewers, and had avoided fighting by shoving into the river of shit. Sorry, sewerage. With their acidic nature in mind they launched their attacks – Kang attempting to shove the nearest cube away from him, but succeeding in getting his pike stuck in the thing, the maul nearly going the same way.

Loralai proved far more effective – with a blast of force, she sent one of the cubes straight through the railing and off the ship completely. Vitira, on the other hand, found himself next to useless and fell back to yelling insults at the cubes – which, despite the cubes literally lacking brains, cut straight into their gelatinous hearts. Lana climbed down carefully from the ratlines, while the sailor she and Harlow had saved chose to stay safely out of harm’s way.

The party continued to attack as the cubes repeatedly tried to engulf them – Lana shooting them full of arrows, Harlow using her firey sword, and Kang smacking them with the maul. Loralai succeeded in pushing another off the deck – and Gilla, having lost her concentration on the shield, exploded three in a row using lightning bolt, showering the deck with acidic gross.

Then a cube succeeded in trapping Harlow inside it.

Unable to escape the acidic, suffocating jelly, Harlow immediately lost consciousness. Having never seen the druid come this close to death, all three of her companions leapt into frantic action. Lana was closest and tried to pull her out, using absorb elements to protect herself from the acid cubes, but couldn’t reach Harlow inside the giant cube. Then Loralai and Kang charged forward, Loralai ripping Harlow from the cube and hurriedly pouring a healing potion down their throat, Kang smashing the cube with his maul.

At the other end of the deck, Gilla was also trapped inside a cube – but she maintained consciousness, and was able to use thunderwave, blasting the three cubes around her full of holes just long enough for her to escape to a safer part of the deck.

With a newfound fear of death – and perhaps some healthy respect for the meat shields of the party, who face it on a regular basis – Harlow dropped to the back of the party, behind Kang and Loralai, and used heat metal on Kang’s pike, which was still stuck in the cube. Lana continued firing arrows, sinking arrow after arrow into several cubes, and Vitira kept up his stream of vicious, vicious mockery.

Kang was the next to be trapped inside a cube, the rope holding him to the deck burning away in seconds. Loralai, suddenly feeling a lot faster – thanks to a Haste spell from Gilla – wrenched Kang from the cube and blasted it backwards several feet. The other cube she had targeted, against all known laws of gelatinous cubes, managed to create a hole in itself and dodge the attack. Unfazed by his experience inside the cube, Kang wrenched his pike from its insides and stabbed it again and again in a rage, leaving the white hot end inside it and allowing Harlow to continue burning in from the inside. Harlow fell into the form of a polar bear, and with that extra strength managed to avoid being trapped in a cube a second time.

Gilla again used thunderwave escape the same acidic death that nearly claimed Harlow, Lana continued to shoot arrow after arrow after arrow after arrow at the cubes, and Loralai forced the cubes back towards the edge of the ship. Kang continued using his pike, Harlow keeping the metal white hot as she ripped into the jelly with her teeth and claws. Two cubes again tried to capture Kang and Loralai – Kang struggled through to the other side, but Loralai was stuck, and she too lost consciousness.

Kang furiously pulled Loralai free from the cube, placing her safely behind him for Harlow, who dropped out of bear shape and brought her back to life. Gilla, meanwhile, exploded another two cubes with lightning bolt, and this time they all managed to avoid being stuck inside the cubes. A crossbow bolt, seemingly out of nowhere, struck the final cube – and Kang, having now watching two of his friends nearly get dissolved, sprang high into the air, bringing the maul down in the centre of the cube and smashing it to nasty pieces of jelly.

Still breathing heavily, the party turned just in time to see a blonde girl fall from the sky, dropping to the deck and rolling back to her feet, calling cheerfully out to Captain Cartwright that the Wavehammer’s siege weapons were, to put it lightly, no longer functioning. Soaring through the air behind her and coming to land on the deck was a red wyvern in black armour – a sight which left Harlow, Loralai and Lana in complete awe, and they hurriedly stopped Kang from attacking what from his perspective was yet another monster.

With the watership’s attack effectively defeated, fire crews began swarming up onto the deck to clear away the remains of the cubes, which were eating into the wooden deck. The three girls went to talk to the blonde, discovering her name – Sabetha – and that of her wyvern, Voral. Apparently dismissed, Voral then took off over the side of the ship. Sabetha climbed up onto the deck railing and let herself fall backwards, to the general impress of everyone in sight, being caught by Voral and soaring off beneath the ship to the doors that they had heard opening before.

At this point the party decided that Harlow was decidedly not okay after her brush with death, because she proceeded to sit on the deck and started druidcrafting over the weaker points. As she refused to talk about it – despite Kang and Loralai’s truthful assurances that they knew exactly what it felt like – the rest of the party went to help throw chunks of ice over the side of the ship – the remains of the gelatinous cubes that Gilla had been freezing to make them easier to remove. Once they were mostly clear, Kang and Loralai went to rest below deck. After waking, Loralai went back to practising summoning her armour and weapon. Lana, who had been wandering the ship, returned to see this – and didn’t accept Kang’s explanation that Loralai had found the magical blade somewhere, but Loralai didn’t provide any other answers. Having seen the summoning show before, Kang went in search of Harlow, but was unable to find her as she had once again retreated to the same hiding spot to work on her gauntlet, having finished with the deck.

Meanwhile, Loralai and Lana talked about Lana’s actions in M’Ren, in which some of Lana’s feelings about the situation with Haven and the civil war. Overwhelmed by saying that many words in one go, Lana returned to her shipwide wanderings, while Loralai went back to practising. Lana found the weapons locker, and asked if she might be able to obtain a long bow in place of her short bow – and was greeted with the somewhat incredulous “I thought mercenaries were supposed to come with their own weapons”. Giving up, she went in search of somewhere to try enchanting her arrows again, and settled down near the ship’s power crystals.

After a while Kang returned to Loralai, having realised that his pike was somewhat the worse for wear after its long stint inside the gelatinous cubes. Although Loralai offered him a spare glaive, he decided he really wanted a halberd and that he was charming enough to ask Gilla for a replacement, since, after all, the pike had been damaged in defence of the ship.

Of course, Gilla was less than impressed by his lack of a secondary weapon. Probably because he had eight spears, four javelins, and a maul sticking over his shoulder at the time. However, she let him buy a halberd with some of what remained of his payment for the first fight – which, as she pointed out, he and the rest of the party had now earned in their battle against the Wavehammer. With their initial contract completed, they could negotiate for the rest of the journey – but the entire party would need to be there for that, and before Kang could get the halberd he’s wanted since they faced the doors. Mimics. Things.

So Kang returned to Loralai with this information, and the two set off in search of Harlow, finding her without too much difficulty. Because they used the tried and true method of asking rather than relying on their frankly dreadful perception. With Harlow in tow they went looking for Lana, who proved easier to find, but also harder to get the attention of. So deep in focus on enchanting her arrow was Lana that she did not even notice the group’s approach, nor Kang clapping his hands, and it was only Loralai’s application of her hand – again – that finally snapped Lana out of her concentration. Explaining the situation, the four went up to find Gilla, who once again was forced to internally question the group’s competence given how long it had taken Kang and Loralai to find the half-elves.

They were let in to see Captain Cartwright, who paid them their agreed amounts – two hundred gold for Loralai and Harlow, one-fifty for Lana (seventy of which Loralai quickly took in recompense for the bow and armour she’d bought in M’Ren), and seventy for Kang. Plus the halberd, finally. Having sorted that out, the Captain then offered them a chance to end the civil war before it had a chance to really get started – by taking out the council in command of the waterships. A dangerous mission, possibly impossible, but the party would have Sabetha and Voral with them, and would be compensated handsomely. Although she didn’t know where this council could be found currently, they would soon be meeting with other airships where they could get more information.

The four went outside and found a quiet spot on deck to discuss their courses of action. Harlow expressed her desire to get the whole thing over with as fast as possible and get back to Sly, and to what they were supposed to be doing – looking for her father, and answers about the list and disappearances in Haven. Eventually all agreed – they would do it. After all, there was no need for it to be done violently – taking out the council could be done a number of ways, such as diplomacy, sinking their flagship, delaying them significantly, or knocking them all over the head for a while. Lana and Loralai in particular wanted to find a way to end the war that they’d helped started with as little bloodshed as possible, while Kang was happy to do whatever the others agreed on. During this, they also found a little about Lana’s thoughts on murder and some small pieces of her past, as well as considered whether they should have a group name, a topic which was dropped fairly quickly in the face of some opposition on Kang’s half and lack of ideas on the others’. Lana did request that the party be more open about topics that concerned them all, if they were going to stay together – something everyone else appeared to agree to. However, Lana could tell Loralai was holding something back, and only Harlow’s sharp intervention in Loralai’s defence prevented a drawn-out staring contest. Kang, oblivious as ever, noticed nothing.

Returning to Captain Cartwright, they accepted, and on behalf of the group, Loralai signed the contract. With nothing more to be done until they reached the other airships, the party retired. Lana went straight to bed. Kang and Loralai, spotting the fighting ring forming again, went to see who would be duelling. It turned out that Sabetha, wrapping thick leather strips around her hands, would be fighting the goliath Abelor. Harlow, who to everyone’s eyes was clearly still shaken from the morning’s events – but, as Kang wisely determined, did not need a hug – also came over to watch. Kang and Loralai entered a friendly bet against each other, with Kang betting on Abelor and Loralai on Sabetha – who was practically dwarfed by the goliath, being only around Harlow’s height.

The fight that followed was probably the most interesting of all that had so far occurred while they were on the ship, during which it was shown (to Kang’s disgust, but impressed Loralai and Harlow) that Sabetha has no concept of “fair fighting”. To offset her inferior size and strength, Sabetha used her environment to great advantage – repeatedly blinding Abelor with sand from the deck, throwing a wine bottle into his face and using her leather bound hands to drive the shards deeper into his skin. Knocking him off balance, Sabetha also stole one of Abelor’s shoes and attempted to use that as a weapon – though it proved a little unwieldy, and she took a goliath fist to the face.

What followed next was, at least to Kang’s eyes, the only time they’d ever seen a human endure a blow that he knew should have put her down for hours, having been the recipient of them himself. To the surprise of everyone in the ring, Sabetha shot back to her feet and slammed two hard kicks right between Abelor’s legs, who’d turned his back to celebrate his victory. These kicks and the ones that followed proved too much for the goliath, who fell to the deck with a heavy thud, defeated. Somewhat stunned by what he had just seen, Kang gave Loralai her 10 gold and went back to the crew berths.

Sabetha, grinning in her victory though slightly surprised herself, went over to Harlow and thanked her for the whispered get up which had brought her back from the edge of unconsciousness. Loralai also came to congratulate Sabetha, noting that Harlow seemed a lot more cheery after watching the fight, and the three had a brief conversation before also retiring to bed.

One can only wonder how much longer this semblance of competence will last, because the future is less than bright.

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