Shortly after the party was taken aboard the Star of Immar, the captain, Yakos, gave his crew the orders to start turning the ship back South to continue on their previous course for it’s current destination; Vodai, the chief port and capital of the Kingdom of Ruatha. The party, just relieved that they were able to wave a ship down and convince the crew to allow for their passage, took some much needed refuge and rest under the deck of the ship. While they were out of the water, that did not mean that they were safe. The rest of the day and evening passed relatively quietly, minus the occasional jeers towards Lune. The party even managed to pass the night uneventfully, keeping their typical watch in place.
The next morning as the sun was starting to rise, the last person on watch, Jimmy, could hear some commotion coming from the deck. He nudged one of the others awake to let them know that he’d be going up to check out what was going on. The first thing Jimmy noticed when walking up on deck was that a large portion of the crew were gazing towards the North, while the ship was still sailing South. Having to strain his eyes for a second, he was able to make out a ship towards the horizon to the North. Taking some time, Jimmy found the captain and asked him what was going on. “It appears as though we’re being followed,” muttered Yakos. “It appears as though this ship is making quite a bit of haste to head South. Possibly even to try and catch up to us. You wouldn’t happen to know what that is all about, would ya?” Yakos asked, clearly making some assumptions towards the newest members of his ship. Jimmy calmly responds to Yakos, assuring him that he, nor his party have any idea why a ship might be trying to catch up with them. And with that, Jimmy wastes no more time and returns to the party to discuss what their next steps should be.
After the entire party was awake, they started to discuss their options. Should we just put up a fight and try to sink or out maneuver them? Should we go invisible and try to hide? Could we possibly make a whirlpool to cause them to slow down or even stop? Maybe hop off the boat for a bit just in case they…..thhhuurrrrrruUUUUUMMMMmmm!!! The party is interrupted by the sound of a loud horn. They can’t be sure where it’s coming from until they feel the boat suddenly start to slow and turn. Again, Jimmy runs back topside as the rest of the party continues to weigh their options. Once he returns, Jimmy informs the party that Yakos (understandably) decided to lower the sails and turn the ship as the galleon following them was definitely Imperial and the horn was their signal to the Star of Immar that they would like to have words or face the consequences.
The party had a lot of options to choose from but there only really seemed to be one right answer. What if they offered Yakos a fair share of coin in order to pay for his and his crews silence? If they could turn the entire party invisible and find good places to hide, with the crew paid off, they could likely make it out of this situation no problem! The party agrees up on a number that they are willing to offer Yakos and they climb topside. After some quick discussion with Yakos, they agree that 10,000 silver pieces is more than sufficient to buy the silence of the crew. The party gathers 5000 silver pieces and hands the bag of silver over to Yakos as requested. “A bit of money up front to show that you are good for it and it gives Yakos some insurance money should your plan not work!” Yakos said the party, clearly already salivating and planning his first purchase before bag even touches his hand. He gets the word out to the rest of his crew that they are all getting a bit of a pay bump as long as they keep their mouths closed and Yakos did not hear any complaints.
The party then gathered around Ulthar so that he is able to cast Invisibility, 10’ radius. With a confused look on his face, Ulthar says, “Well, what are we waiting for, I thought someone could turn us invisible. Wasn’t that the plan? I don’t think I memorized anything like that overnight since I figured we were good for a while…” Seeing the nervous looks the rest of the party were now giving to each other, Ulthar bursts out laughing. “You Maladominus worshippers just can’t take a joke..” And with that, everyone in the party instantly vanishes.
During a small bit of chaos, the invisible party managed to climb up the rigging without too much trouble, just a few toes stepped on and some more private areas grouped as the party climbed. Not long after they were secure and well away from any normal searching, the Imperial Galleon was upon the Star of Immar. A small party from the Galleon made its way across the water between the two ships and climbed aboard. From what the party could discern from the conversation between the highest ranking member of the Imperial Guard and Yakos, the Imperial Guard would be searching the ship. Yakos ask some vague questions but didn’t put up too much of a fight. He was just a captain of a merchant ship and his shipments were far more important than to upset the Imperial Guard.
After about 20-30 minutes of thoroughly searching the ship, the Imperial guards reported that they had found nothing. Unsatisfied with this response, the IG Officer started to question Yakos more directly. “We are searching for a party. We believe their number to be four in size, though that is just an estimate. This party is wanted in connection with numerous murder changes, especially against the Imperial Guardsmen, as well as possibly being involved with the heist of some rather important artifacts. Are you sure that you have not seen anything?”
Yakos takes a second to let all of that information process. Replying with more confidence and almost a slight tone of arrogance, “no sir, we have not seen anything. I have all of my papers and just set out for Vodai. I’m actually not sure why you have stopped us in the first place. As your fellow guardsmen have said, they have found nothing and nor will they. We have nothing to hide but you’re free to search the ship again if you feel so inclined.”
Now more visibly frustrated with the situation, the Officer sternly replied with a, “No. That will be all.” and gathered his guardsmen to head back to their own ship. After the Imperial Galleon crosses over the horizon and will no longer be a threat, a bag clunks down at the feet of Yakos. With a large grin, he picks up the bag and bounces it a bit to rattle the coins around a bit more. With a jolly laugh he explains to his crew that they’ll be eating and drinking well when they get to port. After a few cheers from the crew, the sails are lowered and the ship slowly starts to turn back south once again. To the relieve of the party, the rest of the next three days at sea go by with only a single interruption and everyone appears to be in much higher spirits during their time at sea that is, after the interruption. Mid-day about 2 and a half days into their voyage, the party and the crew started to hear a noise. At first it was faint, but it started to grow louder and louder until it was practically rattling everyone’s teeth. It was the sound of a horn but there was no clear direction or point of origin for the noise. After a few detect spells were cast, it was determined that nobody had any clue what the sound was. The parties best guess was possibly a warning chime or alarm that was set to go off when either the party or the finger crossed over to this land. After about half an hour or so, the noise died down until the party could only hear the sound of the open ocean again.
The party didn’t fully relax while they were at sea, Ulthar continued his studies and Perudo managed to identify all of the parties remaining magical items and artifacts. Included in that list is the (Lawful Evil) Aspergillum; which could be used as a +5 mace, had the ability to fully drain the blood of an opponent (not every enemy hit, only if the user is concentrating and it is known that there may be some side effects to performing such a deed), animate the dead at 7 per week, the character holding and using the mace would have a prayer spell on in the background, summon a hag of either sea, green or annis, and the user could dispense the held blood of the Aspergillum at their discloser, to which, it was half full at the moment. A set of platemail +1, a rod of conciliation, a staff of striking +2, a throwing hammer of returning +2, a shield +2, chainmail +3, a mace +3, 2 candles of invocation (Neutral Evil) and 6 endless burning candles. The last item that the party attempted to identify still ended up being a mystery to them. On the outside, it appeared to be a normal flask with a cork in it, but after identification, it became known that this was a flask of imprisonment. This device could hold any living creature inside of it. The party did notice that it had a cork in it so it is assumed that the flask was already occupied. The party tried to glean whatever else they could about the flask by making use of an Augury spell and they also learned that it would not be beneficial to the party to open it, at least at this time. Ulthar joking made an offhand comment about a holy hand grenade, but either nobody got it or nobody heard him as there was no reaction to this jest.
The rest of the time at sea, the party took to relaxing a bit and trying to recoup from what was a rather rough and mentally taxing past few weeks. When their transport was within range of the city, excitement filled the air. Not only was the crew looking forward to spending their “hard earned” bonus, but this was likely the largest city that anyone from the party had seen. Vodai is one of the largest cities in the Three Lands so it came is no surprise that the party was excited and nervous to dock. Once docked, the party had to make some decisions as to whether to shop, hold up for a night, find direct transit out of the city immediately, etc. They stopped Yakos to discuss a few things. First, the party wanted to know where it would be “safest” for them to stay or at least meet up if they were to get lost. Yakos pointed out a few bars or taverns that normally catered to sea captains that might be of some use to them in finding additional passages away. Ulthar asks whether they’d be able to contract the captain again in the future. Yakos let the party know that he regularly docks at the ports in the area, with Vodai being extremely common. If you need assistance in the future, just find the Star if Immar and ask for me. With that, Yakos wished them luck and the party decide on Orc Head Tavern.
Once inside, the party quickly made it known to the appropriate people that they were looking for safe passage to the Arvelian Confederacy. After a few rounds of ale and some general small talk, the party had the good fortune of finding two different ship captains that would be sailing to Arvelian. The first would be setting sail in two days to the city of Adurant; the other would sail in three days to the port of Harlond. The party reviewed some maps and decided to go with the first captain to Adurant. While this was the further of the two options to their next destination, they didn’t want to stay in the city any longer than necessary. At the cost of 4 gold pieces per member, the party bought their passage on the Siderial Dragon two days from then. The captain did make it abundantly clear that they would be leaving port 94 at the crack of dawn and no later. So if they party did not want to miss their ride, make sure to be on the docks waiting.
While Perudo and Jimmy were making these arrangements, Ulthar kept an eye out on the rest of the tavern to see if he could pick up any further useful information. While the chatter consisted of the typical crewmen bar-talk (more booze, women and gold), there was some talk about the Sea Empire. It seems that the Kingdom of Ruatha was back on the rise after pulling themselves out of the pits of war to the south. Business was booming again, Vodai was back to its normal hustle and bustle. The point of contention between most at the tavern was whether the Kingdom should join the Sea Empire. The few supporters for the alliance stated that the Sea Empire could open the Kingdom up to untold riches thanks to additional trading routes and the power behind the Sea Empire could help keep the Kingdom powerful and safe. Opposition talked about how much help they received in the past from the glorious Sea Empire and how Ruatha was booming again and could take care of themselves. Though most of the tavern showed concern for their current Regent, who ruled as the proper heir to the throne was but a child king. While most steered the conversation away from talk about him, a few were outspoken with their opinions, or more appropriately criticisms.
With the knowledge that their transportation was secure, the party ventured out into the city to attempt to find a temple that would be willing to resurrect both Xarxen and Aial Askabad. Once they are able to find a suitable temple, they pay for the resurrection of both Xarxen and Aial. Xarxen seemingly awakens as if this were not the first time his body has stirred from eternal slumber. Ulthar is the first to greet his Cleric of Magnus. He smiles and hands Xarxen one of his spare Holy Symbols of Magnus, which Xarxen clutches tightly after giving it a brief kiss and thanks his God for his resurrection. While the party pulls Aial out of the bag of holding, Ulthar gives Xarxen a brief update on the current situation at hand and asks that anything he can do to provide the party assistance in the future would be greatly appreciated. This fight is not just about good vs evil, but about the end of everything as we know it. With that and a bag of gold, Xarxen sets out to find passage home to give his church an update on his situation and the situation of the Illusionist.
As it was getting late after the resurrections, the party decided to call it a night. Hold up at the Orc Head Tavern, the party managed to pass the night uneventfully. The next morning, the party split up to find items that may assist them on the rest of their journey. Perudo and Jimmy set out to find what magic items that they could but were only fortunate enough to find a potion of extra healing. Ulthar and Lune had better luck on their venture out, finding a potion of healing, ESP and Levitation. The party was, however, rather successful at unloading a majority of their heavier, lesser gear to help lighten the load. Ulthar also made a quick stop to obtain the materials required to attempt the writing of new spells and incantations into his current spell book. The party was stuck waiting for an additional day, why not get some studying done while holding the “fort” down at the tavern for the rest of the day. As Vodai is a rather large city, this was not difficult for him to do.
The party managed to meet up just as a curious street vagabond staggers up to Lune and inquires whether Lune would like to “have his fortune told, for a coin of course.” While Perudo was ready to give the guy a fresh black eye, Lune stopped him and let the street magician speak. He started by speaking about “great trouble and tragedy that was coming to this land. Nobody was safe. Not even the gods (hit spits) will be able to assist in the coming dark times. Though you may pass through the fire and darkness, know that your troubles are but a part of the larger troubles. You’re not but a finger of a larger hand of trouble.” After a cynical laugh and a nod directed at Lune, the street magician seemed to disappear into the crowd as quickly as he arrived. The party is shaken to say the least, but they make it back to their tavern just fine.
While Ulthar and Lune take their places at the tavern, Ulthar in their room and Lune seated at a quiet, dark corner of the tavern floor, Jimmy decided to go out and hit the town with some carousing while Perudo ventured to some of the more religious sites across the city. Even with Lune keeping a low profile, after a few hours of sitting in the tavern, he noticed a hooded figure from across the room staring at him. Once contact had been made, the figure started to move slowly across the room. It almost seemed as if he was hovering across the room towards Lune, seamlessly passing through other patrons and going completely unnoticed. Lune noticed that this odd man was much smaller than he held himself from across the room and appeared to be completely hairless. Taking a seat across from Lune, the man did not waste time explain to Lune why he was there. “Good evening. I just wanted to speak with you and let you know that we have been watching you. We’ve been watching you for quite some time now indeed. We are everywhere, in every shadow, on every wind and have had no trouble following you and your party. You have two choices. Either join with us and profit beyond your wildest dreams, or be destroyed. The choice is yours, however, do not wait long in your decision.” Lune did not give any reply but did notice that the strange man was staring at his hand, which was tucked under his cloak. With that, the hooded figure stood up and simply walked away. With that, Lune returned to the room where Ulthar was studying his spells and the two waited for their other party members.
The next morning, the party has discovered that one of their members managed to not come home from their night of carousing. While not completely surprised by this, the party was a little concerned as they were going to meet up with their transportation very soon. Hoping for the best, Perudo casts a locate object spell on one of the items that Jimmy is known to be carrying. Luckily for all parties involved, Perudo only needed to walk 20 or so feet to find Jimmy, snoring loudly and drooling on the alleyway behind the Orc Head tavern. After tossing a few buckets of water on Jimmy, he awoke with a groan and muttered something about a worm and wondered where his shoes went. The party laughed as they noticed that, while a bit smudged from his drool, someone had managed to draw some rather lewd pictures across Jimmy’s face. After a quick washing up, the party was on their way to the docks to find the ship that would be taking them to their next destination.
When they were close to pier 94, they were relieved that the ship they had paid passage to was still firmly docked, though the captain was not totally thrilled to see them. Admittedly, the party was a bit late but at least they were there now and the ship could leave. The captain made an off comment about not waiting for the party but having some crewmembers not show up this morning as the reason behind why the party was lucky that they were still here. Multiple members of the party showed their concern for this, especially after the captain stated that just before the group arrived, he was fortunate enough to find some additional hands to hire for the crew and they were setting sail now as soon as possible.
After a few hours of sailing, the party decided to get some fresh air and made their way topside. They noticed that a few of the crewmembers were watching them a bit more closely than others and that gave Lune and Jimmy some cause for concern. “Were-things,” Jimmy and Lune whispered, while Perudo and Ulthar agreed. But how would the party go about proving that these people were, in fact, wererats or werewolves? Perudo chimed in with the fact that he had a Scroll of Protection from Lycanthropes in the bag of holding. If he were to cast that, they wouldn’t be able to attack them. This was all well and good, but just because they couldn’t attack the party for a little while, doesn’t mean they were going to right away anyway. Jimmy thought of an addition to this plan, what if they called one of their supposed were-creature crewmen over to the captain and silently cast a spell of Detect Lie against the man as they asked him some rather pointed questions related to his fellow crew. The party agreed that Jimmy’s idea would be the best course for them to take now.
After speaking with the captain, he was a bit confused at the request but figured it couldn’t hurt to at least humor his guests. The captain called one of crew members over and Jimmy told him that, “we have reason to believe that some of the crew are lycanthropes. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?” But the crewmember responded with a smooth “nope, no idea what you’re talking about..” Unfortunately, he did not know that the party was able to detect his lie. Perudo then chimes in, “so, if that’s the case, you wouldn’t mind if we just started to read this spell here that would set any lycanthropes within, oh..40’ of me, on fire?”
As Preudo starts to read the spell, the crewmember backs up and starts to yell to his friends. Initially, three more crewmembers step forward out of the group surrounding the party and captain. The first pulls a sword, seemingly out of nowhere, and lunges towards Lune. Lune was prepared and easily sidesteps the attack. The second managed to land a blade on Perudo, effectively stopping him from casting his Protection from Lycanthropes scroll. The third starts to chant something that no one from the party seems to understand. Within a few seconds however, everyone on the ship understands what he was doing. Rats of all size and color start pouring from every nook and cranny, every opening that they could squeeze through and start to swarm towards the party. On top of that, a few giant rats managed to make their way topside shortly after the rats start pouring out.
The crew starts to yell and move away from both the party and the rats as best they can. Through all the commotion, the party started its attacks against the were-crew and the swarming rats. Jimmy managed to stab at two giant rats with his spear, drawing blood on both. Perudo took swing with his mace but only managed to crumple a few small rats under the blow. Lune managed an attack against one of the were-folk. What nobody had noticed was that Ulthar was chanting something under his breath and suddenly let out of twisted cry of both pain and power, which turned from human to bear within the matter of a few breaths. Everyone seemed to pause for a second as a full grown brown bear was now standing on its hind legs on the deck, with a look of blood-lust in its eyes.
Not wasting any more time, Perudo managed to get the Protection from Lycanthropes spell off this time without being interrupted. The bear that is Ulthar charged forward and started to chaotically remove rats from the deck with huge swipes from his powerful claws. Lune strikes again at the were-folk and managed to take one down. Jimmy then successfully took out a giant rat and braced for the return attacks. The were-folk, seeing that they were now unable to attack the party and didn’t exactly have the courage to stand up to the unexpected bear, started to turn their attention to the crew, who didn’t seem like they were prepared for any sort of fight at all.
Not wanting the crew to have to suffer for their fight, the party did what they could to protect them as the fight continued. Perudo did his best to cover as much ground with the Protection spell as he could while Jimmy and Lune continued to take out giant rats and Ulthar continued rolling over the rest of the regular rats. While some of the crew did sustain small injuries, including the captain, none of them had died up to this point.
After a few more rounds of battle, all that was left standing was the party, the crew and the were-folk. Ulthar, now free to battle folk closer to his size, managed to grab ahold of a were-folk and started to squeeze the life from it. The rest of the party continued to take swings at those were-folk that remained. After the first were-person succumb to the pressure of the bear’s mighty hug, Ulthar looked for his next victim. With a mighty roar, he changed and landed a critical hit against his next cuddle-buddy. With that, Ulthar managed to squeeze the head clean off of this other were-folk and using his immense strength as a bear, threw the ragdoll of a body towards one of the remaining were-folk. Unfortunately, bears do not have great accuracy and the body missed the intended target but landed with a splash as it hit the ocean below.
As the party surrounded the final were-folk, Lune managed to land the killing blow on the creature, who, in its dying breath, spit at and cursed Lune saying that, “the darkness will consume you!” Finally, the crew and the party were rid of any further rat. Any remaining rats were jumping overboard to drown in the sea and the crew were starting to throw the dead bodies over and clean up the blood that had painted a majority of the ship.
After things settle in a few minutes, the party is waved over by the captain, who plainly put it, “What. The. Fuck, was that?” The party then goes on to give some small explanation about how they had been tailed by some were-folk for a while but didn’t think they’d follow them onto the ship. Ulthar, still in bear form comes wondering over and gives the captain a big old lick across the face. The captain startled by this, wasn’t exactly mad but wasn’t laughing about the kiss. Ulthar then turned back into his normal Gnome form with a laugh. After confirming that none of the crew were bitten by the were-folk, Perudo went to work healing those that he could that day and would heal the rest later.
At this point the captain was thankful that the party was helping the remaining crew, but wanted to turn back to redock at Vodai immediately. The party, however did not want this to happen and proceeded to do what they normally do in this situation, provide some extra compensation for the ships cooperation. A bag of 50 gold pieces and the promise that the party would assist in any way possible during the remainder of their trip bought the captions cooperation. The ship would sail on and continue to its destination, Adurant and the Arvelian Confederacy.