Time Marches

Isle of Dread III: North of the Wall

Day 15 in the Isle of Dread

The party continues their battle with the pirates of Rat’s End. Duine appears from a captive hut, and a half-orc pirate wielding a huge anchor, named Draxon, joins the fray — on the side of the party. First Mate Sully Nabb yields, and the party talks with him and Quartermaster Janie Vome, who both want the evil, indolent Captain Stepney Beckwith removed from power. The party talks to him and through persuasion, intimidation, and deception, convinces him to step down from his role.

Sully Nabb becomes the new captain and gives the party his treasure as a reward. He takes some of it back on request, as ransom payment for the captives in Rat’s End. The pirates lend the party an outrigger canoe, and they take the prisoners back to Tanaroa, including some villagers, Chief Mira’s brother Doran, one of the Tharashk mercenaries, and three rakastas. They also take the bodies of the dead villagers.

At Tanaroa, they speak with the chieftain, who thanks them for their efforts. The Tharashk mercenary decides to stay in the village while the party escorts the rakastas back to their camp-village, north of the wall. A few days later, the party arrives at the rakastas’ camp-village, which they just call “Rakasta.” They stay here for a couple of days to wait for better weather, then set out for the other point marked on the map they found in the ruined canoe. According to Sully Nabb, it is a hidden village filled with strange forest creatures.

After a few more days, they make it to their destination, and find the village is above them in the canopy. They decide to wait on the ground instead. They are attacked by frightened ankylosaurs the first night, which they drive off. The next day they are set upon by giant spiders and aided by a shipwrecked smuggler, the shift Gulch. Gulch joins them. That night, they are attacked by saber-toothed tigers, which nearly kill Renshaw. They fight these off as well.

The party decides to finally ascend to the village and climb up the trees to get there. Here, they meet the phanatons, who speak only elvish. The party asks the phanatons if they have anything that needs doing in exchange for their hospitality. They ask the party to save their young, who have been stolen by araneas — giant intelligent spiders, who lair to the north. Peril remains in the village for the time being, still recovering from his injuries at Rat’s End.

Without Peril, the party is easily lost in the wilderness, and after several days they end up right back where they started. This time, they hire a phanaton guide to take them as close as possible. While camping, the party believes they are about to be ambushed by tribal warriors. They kill most of the warriors, sparing one, and learn that the warriors were not there to ambush them. Draxon kills the last survivor so that he cannot report back to the village.

The next day the party comes to a cave in the swamp with totems and primitive paintings at the entrance. They decide to investigate. Although they attempt to be stealthy, they neglect to put out their torches in the dim light, and the mad, corrupt lizardfolk within take notice and attack. The party is flanked and nearly overrun, but manage to just barely triumph. They investigate the cave further and find that it is not yet empty: they locate the lizardfolk king, shamans, and a few more warriors, and all the lizardfolk spawn at the back of the cave.

(end at Day 30)

Main Characters: Duine, Peril Edenhall, Renshaw, Draxon, Gulch

Experience Gained: 65 XP

Day 15 in the Isle of Dread

The party is in the midst of a battle with the pirates of Rat’s End. Peril is surrounded by pirates, Renshaw is defending against the attacks of First Mate Sully Nabb, and Litreex and Gelzinn have been overrun. The villagers freed by Renshaw are being slaughtered by the pirates, save Doran, who is still missing on his search for weapons.

Renshaw is backed up against one of the huts by Sully’s (mostly ineffective) frenzy. As he is pressed against one wall, the door swings open, revealing Duine, who was last seen with the boat on the north shore of the small island. Duine, seeing the chaos, projects his ever-curious psyche onto Sully’s mind, confusing him and implanting suggestions to attack his allies, distracting him from Renshaw. Several pirates rush in to attack Duine in the threshold of the hut.

Peril fights valiantly, but is brought down after taking out five of the pirates he was fighting. He picks himself back up only to be knocked out again, and Renshaw uses his sorcery to bring him back once more, allowing him to finish off the surrounding pirates. However, he falls once again as the pirates who were previously attacking the villagers abandon the only escapee to join the main fight.

Further back, a group of more sober pirates armed with crossbows fire into the melee. As they do, yet another pirate approaches, this one a huge half-orc, dragging a massive anchor behind him. The crossbow-shooting pirates seem invigorated by his arrival, encouraging him to join in the fight… until they discover that he is angry that his hut (the supply hut) was burned down while he slept in it, and he blames the pirates for it, as they are the first people he has seen.

The back rank is thus disrupted as the newly-arrived pirate charges into them swinging his anchor, maiming most, killing some, and routing the rest. He then moves forward to join the rest of the fighting, just as Sully manages to overcome Duine’s mental override enough to call “Yield!”

The party chooses to honour his request, as do the fighting pirates. There is a tense moment as Doran returns, who then attacks Sully Nabb. Nabb deals Doran a serious but not fatal wound, and the party convinces him to back down. Sully Nabb orders the men to disperse, and tells the party he wants to speak with them in his hut. They agree, and he takes them there. When they arrive, he sends a runner off to go get “somebody important,” and speaks with the party for a short while. Peril is laid on Sully’s bed to recover from his injuries, while Sully attends his own wounds.

Soon, a rough-looking woman enters the hut, who is introduced by Sully as Quartermaster Janie Vome, called “Quickbolt” by some of the crew for her skill with the heavy crossbow slung across her back. Together, Sully and Janie explain the situation: while the captain is ostensibly in charge of Rat’s End, they are the ones who actually run the day-to-day. The captain, they say, is an incompetent leader and an evil man with vile appetites. Sully leans particularly hard on the oaths they swore to their old fleet, the Crimson Fleet, and on a nebulous thing he calls the “pirate code.”

Apparently, Stepney Beckwith took the role of captain not long after a storm led them to the Isle of Dread, at which time two huge birds swooped down from the mountains and one killed the previous captain. Beckwith, as first mate at the time, took the previous captain’s magic sword and ring and seized control of their ship, the Drowned Rat. He led the pirates to the Emerald Isle, where the ship was mostly dismantled to set up the early shelters of Rat’s End.

Since then, he has been trying to indulge his sick desires as much as possible. According to Sully, if it were up to the captain, they would burn the villagers’ homes to the ground, kill their children, and have their way with their women. Further, he’s abandoned all thoughts of leaving the Isle of Dread and going home. The party determines they left Khorvaire 200 years ago (relative to the time at which they, themselves, left).

So far, Sully and Janie have restrained the captain’s indulgences, but they have had enough of him. Janie wants to mutiny, but notes that for all his villainy, Beckwith is far and away the most competent fighter in the crew — plus, he’s armed with his magic sword and ring, and has the backing of a number of loyalists in the crew still. Sully believes his word must be his bond, and refuses to mutiny, but mentions Renshaw’s strangely endearing qualities (a mix of charisma, smooth-talking and psychic nudging). He believes the party can convince the captain to be a better man.

Both offer the party a reward. Janie will allow them to take the captain’s magical items and any treasure he might have, and Sully offers them his personal treasure hoard, acquired over years. The party discusses. Renshaw wants to try and convince the captain to mend his evil ways, but Peril is strongly against it, believing at best he’d just lie and pretend he’d changed. Duine is ambivalent, and Draxon, who has injected himself into the situation, seems to grossly misunderstand the situation, and believes he will be the new captain. The group decides to try and convince him first, and resort to violence if that fails.

The party, plus Draxon, go over to the captain’s hut and knock on the door. Stepney Beckwith answers shirtless, his sword hanging from his hip and a wave-shaped ring of clear blue stone on his finger. His breath reeks of booze. Although he knows the devastation the party wrought in Rat’s End the night before, he professes to be too tired and hungover to deal with them, and asks them to just get out of his hideout.

Through persuasion, deception, and — with Duine’s psychic influence inspiring fear in the captain — intimidation, Renshaw delivers cogent arguments and Peril impassioned speeches to convince Stepney Beckwith to give up his role as captain. He surrenders his hat but refuses to give up the magic sword and ring that belonged to the previous captain. The party returns to Sully, handing him the hat. Janie scoffs, saying that she thinks Beckwith will just turn on them again, but Sully thanks them and gives them his treasure.

The treasure is a box of coins, gems, and a scroll of shield. The party offers to give him back some of his money as ransom for the prisoners in the camp, which he accepts. He initially wants to take back the silver (totalling 5,000 coins) but the party convinces him to take the copper, instead. They then go to free the prisoners and retrieve the dead, and are loaned an outrigger canoe by the pirates. They go back to Tanaroa with the prisoners, including Doran and several other villlagers, as well as one of the House Tharashk mercenaries, named Tuhg, and three humanoid tiger creatures called rakastas.

According to Sully, the pirates planned on using the rakastas, who are talented at wild animal rearing, to raise griffons for them, using eggs stolen from the griffon nest. They were going to use the “weird monkey things” in the forest to steal the griffon eggs — thus the map the party found in the smashed canoe.

Draxon accompanies the party as well, seeking fame and fortune in their company and apparently feeling stuck in Rat’s End. Duine adopts a manner of speech similar to the pirates.

Day 18 in the Isle of Dread

Back in Tanaroa, the party returns the villagers and the bodies of their dead, and then goes with Doran to see Chief Mira. She thanks the party profusely, chastises Doran, and offers them anything she can, although the village has little to give. The adventurers seem content to just rest the night in Tanora.

Tuhg decides to stay behind in the village, but first shares some information about teh island and the other House Tharashk mercenaries. Like the party they were contracted to map the island, though they are unsure by whom; the leader of the troop, Khav Aashta d’Tharashk, claims to be able to remember almost nothing about their employer, but refers to him as a “blue man.” While heading to the huge volcano in the northwest part of the island, the mercenaries were separated by an attack that involved dinosaurs and lizard-men. Tuhg and some others ran, and were then found by pirates. The other mercenaries with Tuhg died in the skirmish, while he was captured.

Day 20 in the Isle of Dread

The party sets out with the three rakastas. Only one of them, Content Not Found: rakha, speaks Common. He helps guide the party to the rakasta village-camp, which they simply call “Rakasta.” The village consists of a number of silk-walled pavilions, including one large central pavilion with a number of silk cushions and a bonfire pit, several residential pavilions, and a few other pavilions where the saber-toothed tigers are kept.

The rakastas thank them and give them some bolts of silk and geographical information for their troubles. They also talk a bit about the “weird monkey” creatures, which are called phanatons, and warn them about the “upright lizards” who live in the caves to the north. Duine finally loses his pirate speech, but starts talking more like the rakastas.

Day 22 in the Isle of Dread

The adventurers spend two days in the rakasta camp, waiting for sudden tropical storm to stop. The rakastas put up hide screens to protect their homes, and Duine learns about the rakastas’ culture and daily lives. When the weather has passed, the party sets out for the village of the phanatons, as indicated on their map.

Day 24 in the Isle of Dread

Led through the jungle by Peril, the party arrives at the point marked on their map. At first, they see nothing there, but after searching carefully they discover that the village is actually built up near the canopy, built to blend seamlessly into the trees. Occasionally, one of the phanatons — resembling a cross between a racoon, monkey, and flying squirrel — flit across from one tree to another. There are no obvious routes up, and the party is uncertain if the creatures will be hostile, so they decide to wait.

The first night, they find themselves in the path of frightened ankylosaurs, which they slay.

Day 25 in the Isle of Dread

The next day is hot, so the party decides to stay put again. Mid-day, they are attacked by giant spiders, who creep up on them and try to trap them with globs of webs. While fighting the spiders, a newcomer arrives: a shifter swashbuckler, wielding a rapier. He helps the party fight the spiders, and then introduces himself as Gulch, a smuggler of the Society of Badgers. He, himself, holds the title of “the Badger,” which is apparently the highest honour in the Society; it’s supposed to be a secret title, but Gulch seems to be poor at keeping it hidden. Gulch shipwrecked here but has lost his crew, and is searching for them. The party invites him to join them while he searches.

That night, while they camp, they are attacked by sabre-tooth tigers, who sneak up while they are sleeping. Duine is on watch, but fails to notice their approach until they maul Renshaw into unconsciousness. Draxon is similarly savaged, although manages to stay conscious. The party slays the tigers, and sleeps the rest of the night with a doubled watch.

Day 26 in the Isle of Dread

Injured from the tiger attack, the party decides to finally ascend to the phanaton village above. Draxon climbs up a tree and throws down a rope for the others, and they make it up to a wooden platform where the racoon-like phanatons gather around in large numbers to watch them. They are greeted warmly in elvish by the chief of the phanatons, Content Not Found: bhur. The phanatons offer their hospitality to the party, who asks (also in elvish) what they can do to repay it.

The phanatons ask them to get back their young, who have been captured by araneas: intelligent giant spiders who wield dark sorcery. The party agrees to get the phanatons’ children back, and are told where to find the lair. They rest for the remainder of the day in the village. Renshaw converts the phanatons to the faith of St. Derli, and shames them into wearing pants.

Day 30 in the Isle of Dread

Peril elects to remain in the phanaton village while the others strike out in search of the araneas. However, without Peril to guide them, the party becomes lost and ends up wandering back to where they started. This time, they decide to hire a phanaton guide, who leads them to the north end of the lake, and then leaves them. That night, while in camp, the party hears approaching footsteps and hushed voices. Duine telekinetically rustles a bush in the darkness, and sounds of an attack are heard.

The party hides in the trees, and watches as villagers arrive. They are differend from those found in Tanaroa, with studier builds, different clothing and equipment, and sharper, more angular tattoos. When they investigate the seemingly empty camp the party springs an ambush, slaying all but one, who is questioned. He reveals he is from the “great village of Mantru,” and that they were only investigating the party’s campfire while on the hunt, not coming to attack.

Realizing they have made a mistake, Draxon slays the last survivor with his anchor so that he cannot report back to Mantru. Duine and Renshaw bury the bodies.

Day 31 in the Isle of Dread

The party wanders into some low but steep hills that roll down into swampland. The hills are dotted with caves, and one in particular draws their eye as they pass. It features totems around the entrance, carved from bone and some jungle wood, as well as crude paintings. They investigate the totems but cannot discern their significance, and so decide to venture inside. The entrance of the cave is flooded slightly, and it is dim inside from light filtering in through the ceiling.

Although they try to be stealthy at first, they neglect to put out their torches, so the lizardfolk within take notice of them. In a chamber surrounding a deep pool of water, several of the lizardfolk rise and charge at Draxon. The others stand further back in the narrow passage, putting them into position to be flanked as the lizardfolk let out horrible shrieks, summoning their kin from further in the cave.

Draxon is the target of more than a dozen javelins and is struck many times by spears, clubs, and spiked shields before he falls. Gulch falls soon after, and Duine, further back, is brought down by the flanking lizardmen. Most of the lizardfolk have been slain, but now only Renshaw stands, most of his magic depleted. He attempts to bargain for surrender with the lizardfolk. They cannot speak, but he uses his telepathy to communicate with them — only to find them mad and corrupt, and hungry for flesh.

When all seems lost, Duine manages to get back up and help him kill the last of them. The party limps through the dungeon, searching for treasure, and as they do so come to the last chamber of the cave… where the lizardfolk king waits, with his shamans, a few more warriors, and the lizardfolk young.

Isle of Dread II: Rat's End

Day 11 in the Isle of Dread

The party lands at the first of the two smaller islands on the map they found in the damaged canoe. They circle around from the north, and Renshaw and Peril sneak ahead to the misty hill to find out what’s up there while Gelzinn and Litreex wait behind. They discover that the point on the map is a griffon nest, high up on the hill. They return, but before they get back Gelzinn and Litreex are attacked by gargoyles who sneak up while they’re absorbed in other things. The battle goes somewhat poorly until Peril and Renshaw join.

They defeat the gargoyles and head south together. As they get close to the nest, the griffons see Gelzinn and attack. The party slays the griffon and inspects the nest, finding only eggs. They decide to leave it alone and return to the boat.

Day 15 in the Isle of Dread

The party then goes to the second of the two islands, a bit further south. They land on the north beach and again take a roundabout route to the point marked on the map. They arrive in darkness at a village surrounded by a wall of thorns. Pheos breaks through the wall and they sneak in, soon discovering that it is a pirate hideout called “Rat’s End.” They briefly get caught, and separated as Renshaw pretends to be a pirate.

Worried about Renshaw, Peril sets fire to a storehouse while investigating the camp further. Renshaw, meanwhile, has almost been accepted by First Mate Sully Nabb and Captain Stepney Beckwith into the pirate crew. The fire alerts the pirates, who then attack. Renshaw convinces Captain Beckwith to allow the party to surrender, but they refuse. Renshaw frees some captured villagers and the fight continues.

Main Characters: Peril Edenhall, Renshaw, Gelzinn, Litreex

Experience Gained: 10 XP (5 XP from gargoyles, 5 XP from griffons)

Day 11 in the Isle of Dread

The still hear the screeching coming from the mist-shrouded hills above, resembling the cries of eagles but of much greater magnitude. Peril, Renshaw, Litreex and Gelzinn disembark, while Duine and Vaxin remain with the boat. Rather than taking a direct line to the middle of the island — the highest hill adn the point marked by their map — they choose to loop around from the north side of the hilly island. From the vantage of the higher hills to the north, Peril is able to just make out the misty silhouettes creatures making the piercing sounds: two horse-sized beasts, flying around the crest of the tallest hill.

Peril and Renshaw use foliage and mud to camouflage themselves before heading down to the south to get a closer look. Gelzinn and Litreex, feeling less capable of a stealthy approach, stay behind. The two scouts reach the largest hill in about two hours, and sneak up under the cover of mist. They manage to remain detected while Peril identifies the flying creatures as griffons, the monstrous fusion of lion and eagle. Renshaw gets as close to the hill’s crest as he dares, and discovers that there is a great nest there, composed mostly of entire branches from trees.

Not wishing to provoke the griffons but wanting to investigate the nest as marked by the map, the two head back north. Meanwhile, Litreex and Gelzinn are absorbed in their activities from their position to the north. Gelzinn watches the progress of Renshaw and Peril as best he can, while Litreex works on Pheos. After a few hours of this, Gelzinn has the sudden realization that there are winged, grotesque statues present on the hill that weren’t there before, just as those “statues” begin to attack.

The gargoyles get the drop on Gelzinn and Litreex. Litreex is driven down to the ground by his attacker, but as soon as he is able to, he scrambles behind Pheos and conducts the golem to fight on his behalf. Pheos gets a lucky strike to begin with, lopping off one of the gargoyle’s arms with its blade. After this, however, successive strikes seem to be relatively ineffective, sending up sprays of sparks against the stone but doing limited damage.

At the same time, Gelzinn finds it relatively easy to dodge most of the other gargoyles’ strikes, but like Litreex he discovers the the attacks from his tonfa blades and unarmed strikes do limited harm to its stone body. He draws on the power stored in one of his floating ki orbs, striking at the gargoyle with the four arms of the asura, but even this is not quite enough. Gelzinn is knocked out by a powerful strike from the gargoyle’s hand.

Just as Gelzinn falls, Peril and Renshaw return to the area. The gargoyle that’s defeated Gelzinn sees their approach and is about to take off from the ground with its stone wings. Before it can, however, Renshaw channels the light of Derli through his helmet, firing two searing rays of light, one at the leaping gargoyle and one at the gargoyle fighting with Pheos. Both are struck. The one fighting Pheos has a hole blown in its torso, after which it barely stands. The other looses a wing before it can take flight and falls back to the ground, breaking out into a run instead. The light lingers, highlighting their waeknesses, and Peril fires an arrow at the charging gargoyle. It goes wide.

Peril then rushes forward to engage it with his falchion. Pheos cleaves through the sides of the hole opened on its opponent’s body, bisecting the gargoyle. While Peril fights with the other, Renshaw launches the golden fire of Derli at it from a safe distance, eventually melting off its head.

After this ambush is resolved, the party rests for about an hour and tends to their wounds before heading south to the central hill together. There, they attempt to once again sneak up to the top through the mists, but Gelzinn makes too much noise. The griffons notice him and swoop down to attack. He gracefully evades the first to swoop down, but the second rakes sends him tumbling with its claws. Litreex makes himself visible by firing a crossbow bolt at the griffons, and then another. Peril fires arrows imbued with the raw essence of the planes, missing initially but soon finding his mark and doing considerable damage. Renshaw launches more guiding bolts of radiance into the sky.

One of the griffons swoops down on Gelzinn again, who tries to wrestle it to the ground, but it bites deep, knocking him unconscious once more. Its mate attempts to pick up Litreex, who lunges up to slice its throat open with a dagger, causing it to drop him to the ground as it dies. The remaining griffon comes down to strike at Peril, who fires a force-charged arrow into its maw, slaying it as well.

With the griffons dead, the party takes another short break to help Gelzinn back up and investigates the nest, finding only a few eggs within. Peril identifies them as griffon eggs, and notes that they appear to have living unborn griffons within. The group briefly discusses whether they should take the eggs or not, eventually settling on leaving them where they are. They then return to the canoe, and follow the map’s route to its end (or beginning) at a smaller island to the south.

Day 15 in the Isle of Dread

After several more days of canoing, the party makes it to their next destination, a lush green island with low hills and some jungle trees. They land on the northernmost point in the late evening, again choosing to take an indirect route to the point indicated by the map, which is at the center of the island’s eastern shore. Peril, Renshaw, Litreex and Gelzinn once again set out while the other two remain with the boat.

By the time they get through the jungle, a journey that takes about three hours, it is dark. At the point marked by the map, they find a clearing in the trees on the eastern beach. Here there stands a wall of thorny hedges, about five feet tall. On the other site, rising above the wall, two watch towers are visible, with bright braziers that illuminate some of their surrounding areas. Some of the party is able to hear voices from the nearest tower, and Peril notes that they sound intoxicated. Peril also climbs a tree to get a better vantage, and while it is quite dark, notes that there are some lights here and there — passing torches or lamps, briefly visible in the night — that suggest a village is below. He also finds a third tower on the other side, and notes that the wall appears to not cover the shoreline itself, where there are (partially dismantled) outrigger canoes on the beach.

The party takes an interest in what is behind the wall, and so they creep up to the wall. Litreex, able to see somewhat in the dark, commands Pheos to begin tearing pieces out of the hedge and tossing them aside. By the time the work is done, the golem is pierced in numerous places with the dagger-like thorns, but a small hole about five feet in diameter is now opened in the wall.

Not wanting to alert the possibly hostile inhabitants of this place, the party assumes a single-file formation, hands on shoulders. Litreex takes the lead, as the others are all but blind in the darkness. Immediately on the other side of the hole they made, they run into a hut. Although built of the same jungle wood and on a similar stilt structure, the hut is quite different from the ones the party found in Tanaroa. There is a light on within, visible through slitted windows, and some voices arguing in Common over a game.

They leave this hut and trace a path around some of the huts Peril located before. They are almost caught by a group of drunkards carrying a couple of lanterns, but hide behind a hut in time. They take note of their appearance: they do not look like the islanders, but rather like they probably came from Khorvaire. They wear ratty clothes and piecemeal armour, which looks patched together from multiple suits of different materials. Each carries a sword and a crossbow. The words “Rat’s End” are heard a few times in their drunken conversation as they go off to different huts.

While continuing to explore, they eventually bump into a hut, where the door opens, revealing another drunken man coming out to urinate. He does so in full view of the party, who are illuminated by the light from his hut. He seems confused for not recognizing them, but Renshaw steps in and claims that he is an old friend of the drunken man, and one of the boys. The drunken man finishes his business and has Renshaw come into his hut with him to play Three Dragon Ante, leaving the others outside.

As Renshaw meets the first mate, Sully Nabb, and tries to convince him not to sic the pirates on him, the others continue creeping around Rat’s End. They head down towards the shore to investigate the outriggers, and find another hut, this one dark and silent. Peril heads inside, and discovers it to be a storage hut, containing a great deal of tar, building materials, oars, and assorted tools.

He waves in Litreex, who assembles a kit of tinker’s tools. Meanwhile, Gelzinn wanders off to inspect a canoe, nearly gets caught, and manages to find his way to one of the boats only to realize he can’t see anything. He returns to the others, noting that it “smells ike a boat.”

Renshaw beats Sully Nabb and the other six pirates in a game of Three Dragon Ante. Sully is upset at first, but Renshaw talks him down, using his calming psychic influence to help steer things in the right direction. Sully decides he likes Renshaw, and decides to take him to see the captain on the west side of the camp.

Peril, still in the storage hut, is worried about Renshaw. He is not aware that Renshaw has managed to salvage the situation, and fearing for his companion, Peril decides to create a distraction by setting the storage hut on fire. Litreex vocally objects to this decision as Peril comes out, while Gelzinn seems somewhat ambivalent about it.

Before the fire truly begins, Renshaw finds himself with Sully Nabb in the hut belonging to Captain Stepney Beckwith, an imposing, rough-looking man. He mentions off-hand the captured villagers and the nefarious deeds the pirates have committed. He doesn’t say where he is from, but he does suggest he has knowledge of Eberron. With Sully’s recommendation, Captain Beckwith is considering accepting Renshaw into the crew.

It does not take long before the storage house, filled with dry wood and tar, is burning brightly, and alarms are sounding. It takes a while for the pirates to find the party, but they discover their point of entry, and several pirates stand guard at the hole in the thorn wall. Stepney, Sully, and Renshaw come out as the first cries ring out, signalling that the rest of the group has been found.

The pirates attack before the captain gets there. Renshaw, Pheos, and Gelzinn find themselves fending off several pirates each, and struggling. Renshaw pleads with Stepney to spare the party and let them go, but he is only able to convince the Captain to permit Renshaw’s companions to surrender. This option is presented to the party, temporarily interrupting the melee. They consider, but refuse to surrender, and Renshaw leaves Stepney Beckwith to join with his party.

The Captain and First Mate watch as the battle unfolds. More pirates arrive. Crossbow bolts are shot into the fray from the pirates on the outside as others with swords charge the vastly outnumbered adventurers. They make a slow retreat north towards their entry point, fighting pirates all the way. Renshaw ducks into one of the huts and finds prisoners inside, including Chief Mira’s brother Doran. The villagers here want to fight, so he frees them. Some of them go looking for weapons but others join the battle immediately, and are mostly cut down by the pirates.

Soon, Stepney Beckwith leaves in the direction of his hut, and Sully Nabb joins the fight, striking at Renshaw who is no longer charming him (though he is unable to land a hit). Some twenty pirates still stand, and several more await near the exit. Things look dire for the party as they slowly make their way towards their escape…

Isle of Dread I: The Long Voyage

1 Year, 2 Months in Thelanis

After more than a year of subjective time, and the loss of half of their members to a boat that split into two and carried off in different directions, the party lands on the white shores of the Isle of Dread. Kraft is attacked by the psychic presence of Duine, who takes control of his body. With their newly reprogrammed warforged, the party goes up to the village of Tanaroa, where they meet the chief, Mira, the Zombie Mistress Huita, and the head of the Sea Turtle clan Tonir. There are outsiders here as well, and they end up joining with the paty: the human “office monk” of Henan Gelzinn, and the kobold golemsmith Litreex (and his golem, Pheos). Orivyre. The eladrin tourist Orivyre is here also, and asks the party to find proof that the Isle of Dread originates in Eberron in exchange for a reward of some kind.

After asking around, the party learns a little about the island and discover the House Tharashk mercenaries have been in Tanaroa, but went north beyond the wall that protects the Southern Peninsula against the cautions of the villagers. The party hires a local guide, Tupak, to lead them out as well, as far as he is willing to go. After an encounter with an angry ankylosaur and a trip around the bubbling tarpits, Tupak takes them as far as a cave full of monkeys. Here, they discover a couple of simple treasures and pay Tupak for his time. They then head southwest, where they find a damaged canoe and a waterlogged map. They decipher the map and repair the boat, and set off to the first of the map’s three apparent destinations: a lush, hilly island to the southwest.

At the first of two marked destinations on the map — a small island to the west — they see hills shrouded in mists, and hear piercing, birdlike cries warn their approach.

Main Characters: Duine, Peril Edenhall, Vaxin, Kraft, Renshaw, Gelzinn, Litreex

Experience Gained: 10 XP, from the treasure in the baboon cave.

1 Year, 2 Months in Thelanis

It has been more than a year of subjective time since the reed boat given to the party by Elias Alastai left Luchair, the domain of the King Without Sorrow. The boat has been adrift in a seemingly endless sea. Each day, it provides food and fresh water to its passengers, and provides shelter as needed. Months ago, the boat split in half, sending half of its passengers off in another direction — Reardon MacGilabin, Samson Grugnak, and Garrrth Thicktrunk float off, along with the half-orc mercenary Rogdan. Though the party struggles to reunite, the boats resist, and soon, they are divided.

After all this time, just as madness threatens to set in, the sight of land at last looms on the horizon. The Isle of Dread, with its dense jungles, tall mountains and imposing volcanoes breaks from the horizon as if from nowhere. The boat navigates around rocks, villages, and smaller satellite islands in the approach, and finally lands on a white beach before unfolding into a pile of useless, dead reeds. Now outside of Alastai’s protection, Kraft suddenly doubles over, clutching at his head. The others circle around him, as Renshaw frantically tries to pump the light of Derli into the ailing warforged, but finds he cannot focus his will enough to do so effectively.

Kraft’s armour begins sloughing off his body as his face appears to melt, becoming shapeless. His posture adjusts as he stands again, now speaking with a different voice: that of Duine, whose psychic presence, long wandering the Feywild, has found in Kraft a worthy host. The party is remarkably accepting of the sudden and violent transformation, and Duine appears to have no recollection of what has just happened, and claims to have had no deliberate hand in it.

After adjusting to the feel of land after such a long voyage at sea, the party staggers up the beach to a small trail, which leads to a village to the north. Standing beneath a great wall of stone, the village is symmetrical, with four clusters of huts at the north, east, west, and south ends of village, each of which surrounds a graveyard. Between each of these is a garden, and at the center of the village, a stepped pyramid surrounding a dirt mount. Human villagers go about their business, staring openly at the party as they do.

Renshaw and Duine approach the first village they find, who is so surprised at being addressed by them that she drops the grasses she is carrying. After a brief attempt by Renshaw to convert her to the worship of St. Derli, they ask her where they can find the chief of the village. She leads them to the pyramid at the village center, where the chief, Mira, is speaking with a skull-tattooed woman wrapped in a snake.

Mira is welcoming to the party, and answers their questions to the best of her ability. They learn from her that they are the fifth of several groups of outsiders to have come into the village, Tanaroa, in the last few months. The others, she says, include a strange-looking human, followed by a “talking lizard” and a “metal man,” a “bright-eyes woman,” and a large group of strange-looking men and women. They interpret the last to be the missing House Tharashk mercenaries, so Peril asks Mira about their current whereabouts. She explains that they’ve gone north of the wall to map the island, despite the dangers involved. Mira is careful to emphasize that the party should not consider doing the same, because the northern parts of the island are simply too dangerous.

The group thanks her for her concern, and Renshaw asks about lodging. There are no inns in Tanaroa, but the villagers are eager to welcome guests — especially those in the Sea Turtle Clan circle of huts, as that clan has “unmatched hospitality,” according to Mira. She takes them to the east part of Tanaroa, where they are introduced to Tonir, the local Turtle Clan head. He greets them warmly and shows them to a hut, where they find the first three strangers mentioned by Mira.

These strangers include a somewhat bored-looking human monk, marked with a scar around his neck and a number of tattoos. He introduces himself as Gelzinn. With him is a curious-looking kobold, wearing the tools of an artificer, who is attending to what appears to be a deactivated warforged. Gelzinn gives the kobold’s name as Litreex. Litreex finally takes notice of the party, and explains that the warforged, Pheos, is not sentient, but more like a golem. He asks Duine if the villagers threw rocks at him when he came in, because they threw rocks at Pheos.

They speak for a while and find out that Gelzinn has been on the Isle of Dread for two years of subjective time, while Litreex has been around only for a few months. They help fill in the party’s map detailing the area just north of Tanaroa’s wall, but explain they haven’t ventured much further in that time due to the abundant dangers. Both seem to be stuck here; Gelzinn was sent by the ruler of a place he calls the Empire of Henan, where a mad emperor seeks a lost library for knowledge necessary to defeat an immortal leopard god. Gelzinn was one of a number of “office monks” sent out to locate the library, and somehow, he ended up in Thelanis in his search. Litreex, who seeks a lost artifact of his tribe to fulfill a part of the Draconic Prophecy, wandered in by chance.

Because of their similar predicaments, they decide to join forces, at least until they find a way off the Isle of Dread. In the meantime, Gelzinn and Litreex agree to help the party track down the Tharashk mercenaries.

After their introductions, they go over to one of the womens’ huts, where they meet the eladrin Orivyre. Although she has met Peril, REnshaw, and Vaxin before, after so long at sea they don’t remember her well. She reminds them that she is a traveler of the realms of Thelanis, and came to the Isle of Dread after the party announced they were heading there from Luchair. From her perspective, it has been only a few days since their last meeting.

Orivyre does not intend to assume the risk necessary to travel north of Tanaroa’s wall, as she prefers her travels to be on the less dangerous side. However, she does present a theory she has about the Isle. Most of Thelanis is wild, untamed life and magic, with domains of relative stability imposed by the archfey or the eladrin feyspires. The Isle of Dread, although it ostensibly claims no master, is a place of relative stability, free of the variability and surges of magic found elsewhere in the plane. She believes the Isle has its origins in Eberron, and tells the party that she will reward them for any proof of this.

They then have a brief conversation with Tonir, from whom they learn the identity of the skull-tattooed woman: Huita, who is the Zombie Mistress of Tanaroa. The Zombie Mistresses and Masters of the Olman villages are the spiritual leaders, and are responsible for reanimating the dead into zombies that serve in battle and manual labour. This outrages Renshaw, which in turn offends Tonir, but the party and Orivyre help calm him down by explaining that the necromancy — which binds only the body, and not the soul — is an honored thing in the Olman religion.

The party then takes leave of the huts as Tonir and Mira go off to meet with the other clan heads, representing the Elk, Tiger, and Eagle clans. The party discusses among themselves and decides to focus on the Tharashk mercenaries, with the mapping becoming a secondary concern. Renshaw tracks down a guide to help them navigate the area north of the wall, and finds a village youth named Tupak who is willing to do so for coins. Apparently, the Tharashk mercenaries hired him for the same purpose, and he has developed a fondness for coins.

They hire him for 10 gp, spanning two days of travel. He is willing to take them just a bit beyond the tar pits to the north. The party gathers some fresh food from the gardens, and with Tupak and his two zombie grandfathers, they head north out the village gate and into the jungle beyond.

The first day passes well enough. The second is marked by heavy rains and unbearable heat, and an attack by an angry ankylosaur, who does some damage to Duine’s frame before it is slain by the party. They come to the end of the tar pits, where Tupak is about to take his leave. The party implores him to remain a bit longer, and he finally gives in, admitting he knows the location of a cave a bit further afield that he suspects has hidden treasure. He offers to take the party there in exchange for half of what they find, and they agree.

Tupak leads the group to a cave that smells like rotten meet, from which Peril and Gelzinn can hear the sounds of screeching and hollering. It is dim inside, lit only by thin streams of light from cracks in the roof, so Renshaw illuminates his replica Shield of Dol Dorn with the light of Derli, and they proceed inside. The cave is a habitat for carnivorous baboons, who are killed en masse by the party, including their alpha, a large, angry ape. The remaining baboons flee when the ape dies, only to be killed by Tupak and his grandfathers. They do find some treasure: a gold bracelet (250 gp) and a silver necklace with an amethyst pendant (250 gp). On their departure from the cave, Renshaw offers Tupak 250 gp in place of one of the cave treasures, which he happily accepts.

Tupak then returns to Tanaroa as the party moves further west. As they rest in their first night alone, camped on the broken earth between twin volcanoes, they are set upon by five figures in the night. Peril and Duine — the former taking watch and the latter never sleeping — notice the approaching figures have weapons, and alert the others. The approach remains slow, and as they come into the light cast by Renshaw’s shield, the party sees them for what they are: animate skeletons, wearing the tattered clothing and wielding the crude weapons of the Olman tribesmen.

When close enough, the skeletons throw javelins at Gelzinn, who catches one, and is grazed by another. Peril hides behind a rock while the monks, Gelzinn and Vaxin, leap into the skeletons’ ranks and being striking. They fell one skeleton each. Renshaw blasts one with the light of Derli, destroying it, and Duine’s mental powers and Litreex’s crossbow (while held up by Pheos) eliminate another. Peril finishes the last with a shot from his bow.

In the morning, they wake up to a pleasant day. They pack up and head southwest, where they hit a patch of jungle and the shore of an inlet, where they find a canoe. It is broken in places, especially on one side where it has been smashed through. Inside, Litreex discovers a map which appears to depict the west coast of the island. On the north end it is blurred from the rains, but on the south there is a clear route over two of the smaller islands to the southwest. On further inspection, they determine that the other end of the route is at a specific location up north, and copy this on their own map.

The party then decides to follow the route depicted by the map. Renshaw uses his magic to patch up the smaller holes while some of the others set off to chop down a tree and prepare lumber to fix the big hole. Vaxin fixes the hole in the boat using some rope, and they all jump in, setting off onto the water while the stronger members of the party row using weapons and other makeshift rowing implements.

It takes a few days to reach the first island, and although this boat does not provide as Elias Alastai’s did, they make do with water produced by Renshaw and fish caught by Peril. Finally, they reach the shores of the lush, green isle they sought. The smaller island is covered in hills, and the highest, at the island’s center, is shrouded with mist. As the party lands on this smaller island’s beach, they hear a chorus of birdlike screeches…

Fairy Tales III: Giant Killers

Day 5 in Thelanis

After leaving the castle of Blunderbore and Rebecks, the Giant Killers decide to continue along the track of the story of Jack the Giant Killer. They find the Happy Prince on the road, who is out to seek his fortune by slaying the ettin Thunderdell. The party joins with him, and together they go to Thunderdell’s castle, where — following a variant of the story popular among gnomes — they design an elaborate machine to slay the ettin. They then take his teasures.

Rather than pursuing this story further, they then decide to change courses to Jack and the Beanstalk. They go to the beanstalk planted by Samson previously, where they meet a prophet of Saint Derli named Renshaw, who apparently wandered into Thelanis inadvertantly and has been stuck in this realm for some time. To escape the realm, he joins with the party as they climb up to resolve the fairy tale. At the top of the beanstalk they find a solid cloud with the castle of Gogmagog, the Lord of the Clouds. While Vaxin and Renshaw sneak in a convenient side entrance to steal his three treasures — one of the story’s requirements — the others fight Gogmagog directly, trying to pull him to the edge of the clouds and push him off. This is because killing him is also a necessary point in the story.

Though both sides struggle somewhat, they are ultimately successful, and return to Luchair with Gogmagog’s treasure. With this, they have completed the cycle. The archfey of this realm, the King Without Sorrow, regains some lucidity about the reality of the situation, and offers them the chance to keep just one of the treasures they found here. They choose the luck stone. The story then ends, and they can finally leave on their boat of reeds, together with Renshaw and Rogdan, whose courage has been restored by the party’s success.

Main Characters: Samson Grugnak, Peril Edenhall, Garrrth Thicktrunk, Kraft, Vaxin, Renshaw

Day 5 in Thelanis

The party awakens from a fitful sleep in the mountain castle of Blunderbore and Rebecks, the recently-slain Lords of Stone: stone giant brothers who once ruled the giants of the land in the domain of Luchair. They try to loot the castle, but find that the brothers had little of value worth taking. Vaxin finds a treasure chest in a bedroom which turns out to be a mimic, but after beating it into submission (after nearly being slain by it) he discovers only a small amount of money within.

This being the third day of the story, they expect that there should be new sudden developments to propel the story forward. They don’t have Rogdan to consult today, as he is still in Luchair, so they try to recall what will happen on the third day. They know that the matter of the Lord of the Clouds, the giant in the sky, is still unresolved, and Rogdan believes he will be upset by the fact that the party planted the beanstalk, but that story continues Jack and the Beanstalk, and for now they are pursuing Jack the Giant Slayer. The details they remember about this story at this point are somewhat hazy, but they recall that at around this point the Happy Prince comes of age, and joins Jack on his quest to kill the giants plaguing the land.

With this in mind, they climb down the mountain and go wandering through the forest, and sure enough, they find the Happy Prince, who has just come of age and has struck out from Luchair in search of adventure. He joins with the party as the Narrative demands, and immediately begins referring to the others as his subordinates, giving them each rankings based on how obedient they are.

The Happy Prince, it seems, is out looking for a two-headed giant named Thunderdell, who has also supposedly made his home in the woods somewhere. The party helps the Happy Prince search, and not long after, they discover his castle. In the most common version story, Jack and the Happy Prince convince Thunderdell that an army is approaching his castle to slay him, and they all barricade themselves in his castle together. Then, they kill the giant while he sleeps and rob him of his four magical treasures.

Samson, however, recounts a version of the story popular among gnomes, where Jack instead builds an elaborate machine to drop a boulder on Thunderdell’s heads, then knock on his door and trigger the mechanism, slaying him with ingenuity. The party decides to go with this more elaborate option, and set about building a complicated contraption to drop a boulder on Thunderdell’s head. The system, involving candles, ropes, pulleys, and a variety of other devices, works flawlessly, and Thunderdell is slain with the power of science.

They search his castle and find three of his four treasures: his magical sword, shoes, and cap. They cannot find his magical cloak. They distribute the treasures amongst themselves and then discuss the flow of the tale.

They are again foggy on what happens next. They know that there is a devil that Jack meets on the road who ensorcels him, but they are unable to recall the exact circumstances. They do, however, recall that Jack and the Beanstalk is near its end — all that is left is to take the three treasures of Gogmagog, Lord of the Clouds, and slay him. Seeing that the tale they’re currently after has much more distance to go, they decide to change course and climb the beanstalk Samson planted.

The beanstalk, originally planted with three beans of different colours, has grown into three separate beanstalks coiled into one: one red, one green, and one blue. The red one is burning hot to the touch, the blue one is slick and hard to hold on to, and the green one periodically grows and drops thorns. Before they begin climbing, they encounter another traveler not native to Thelanis: Renshaw, a human sorcerer who claims to have received his power by the blessings of Saint Derli, the prophet of Dol Dorn worshipped by some as a demigod. Renshaw claims to be the prophet of a coming “second reformation” of Derli’s faith, which will establish a belief that Derli is not just a prophet or a demigod, but Dol Dorn himself.

The prophet claims to have accidentally stumbled into Thelanis and has been trapped in Luchair for some time, and saw the beanstalk as a potential way out. To this end, he joins the party in climbing the stalk to get to Gogmagog’s castle. Climbing the stalk proves challenging, as they must constantly switch between different sorts of danger, but eventually, all make it up. At the top, they find themselves on a solid cloud, on which sits yet another giant castle.

The treasures they are after are, according to the story, within the castle. There are three such treasures: a singing harp, a goose that lays golden eggs, and a bag full of golden coins. After some scouting around the perimeter of Gogmagog’s castle, the party discovers a convenient unguarded servant’s entrance around the back. Knowing, however, that the cloud giant is vigilant, and that he must die to complete the story, they hatch a plan: Vaxin, who is adept at moving silently, and Renshaw, whose magic can render himself invisible, will sneak in through the servant’s entrance while the others work to slay Gogmagog.

Vaxin and Renshaw wait for the others to initiate the conflict before sneaking inside. They take an extremely direct approach: Kraft hammers on the door to the castle with his maul until Gogmagog opens it, and the party immediately attacks the giant. As soon as the conflict breaks out, Vaxin and Renshaw enter through the side door.

Gogmagog overwhelms the party very quickly — he is considerably stronger than Cormoran, Blunderbore, Rebecks, or Thunderdell. The party adopts a strategy of gradually pulling him back towards the edge of the cloud that supports the castle, intending to pushing him over the edge. Each party member is repeatedly beat into unconsciousness or knocked down with the giant rocks Gogmagog carries, and while the Happy Prince and Peril struggle to use their fey magic to keep the others up, it is an extremely one-sided battle.

Meanwhile, Vaxin and Renshaw manage to locate the golden goose. They leave it at first, deciding to come for it last. They discover the bag of coins as well, which is giant-sized; Renshaw summons a floating disk of force to carry it. The singing harp is playing itself in a room with Gogmagog’s wife, who appears to have been put to sleep by its melody. They steal the harp, and Renshaw puts her back to sleep with magic. They then leave the room quickly, use the harp to entrance the goose, and head out the front door to see the rest of the party fighting Gogmagog.

They join the fray, and their influence is enough to finally turn the tides of battle, allowing the party to push Gogmagog off the edge of the cloud after several failed tries. After he tumbles to his death, crushing a house below, the party descends the beanstalk.

After travelling for what feels like a very short time, they make it back to Luchair, where everyone inexplicably knows of the Giant Killers’ victory, and the whole town is celebrating wildly. The flow of the crowd pushes the party to the castle, where the King Without Sorrow finally comes out to greet them and his son. The story has ended, and the world is about to reset itself for the next cycle. As the town blurs around them, it becomes apparent that the King Without Sorrow is the archfey at the center of this shard of Thelanis.

He seems to have only a vague awareness of the truth of the situation, but regains some lucidity as their surroundings lose structure. The magical items they acquired, he explains, cannot ordinarily be taken out of Luchair, but he will allow them to keep one. They choose the luck stone they acquired from Cormoran’s hoard. As the story breaks down, they get back on their boat of reeds. They are joined by Renshaw, and by Rogdan, who is inspired by their success and wants to discover what happened to his companions.

The Giant Killers continue down the river, which carries them out to what appears to be a vast sea, shrouded in fog.

Fairy Tales II: Blunderbore and Rebecks

Day 4 in Thelanis

The second day begins in Luchair, the heart of the realm of the King Without Sorrow. This marks the second day of the Jack and the Giants cycle.

Following advice given to them by Rogdan on their first day here, the party follows the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer. To do this, they go out into the woods and look for the magic fountain, where Jack falls asleep and is abducted by the Lords of Stone, the giant brothers Blunderbore and Rebecks. Vaxin and Peril remember alternate versions of the story that allow them to avoid falling asleep, but the others are taken by the giants back to their mountain castle.

The prisoners try to escape, but are hampered by Galorax, who refuses to cooperate in favour of the goblin version of the story, where Galorax would save the day. Peril and Vaxin go to the castle and enter through a giant rat hole. The prisoners charge the giants when they show up to eat their captives. Kraft, Reardon, and Samson are knocked out. Galorax uses the power of the story to slay Rebecks, but is killed by Blunderbore just as Peril and Vaxin show up. Reardon regains consciousness, picking Samson and Kraft back up, and together they manage to take down Blunderbore.

The party then rescues the damsels in distress also captured by the giant brothers, and rest for the night.

Main Characters: Galorax, Samson Grugnak, Reardon MacGilabin, Peril Edenhall, Kraft, Vaxin

Day 4 in Thelanis

A new day dawns in the village of Luchair, beginning the second day of the Jack and the Giants cycle. From their conversation with Rogdan the day before, the party knows that two events are likely to happen today: the Lords of Stone, Blunderbore and Rebecks — the stone giants who rule all giants of the land — will try to abduct the party, and the Lord of the Clouds, Gogmagog, will react to Samon’s planting of the beanstalk the day before. The former will further the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer, and the latter will move along the track of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The party converses, and decides to follow along with the Giant Slayer. In the folk story, Jack finds a fountain in the woods, which puts him to sleep when he drinks from it. While he sleeps, Rebecks appears to take Jack back to the castle that Rebecks shares with his brother, and there they prepare to eat him. With this in mind, the party strikes out into the forest again, and the Narrative soon guides them to their destination: a small copse in the forest, in which an ancient fountain inexplicably bubbles with sparkling water.

Confronted with the fountain, the party again discusses among themselves. A few alternative versions of the story are recounted:

  • In the version of the story Peril knows, Jack does not fall asleep at the fountain at all. Rather, the waters of the fountain heal his wounds and relieve his fatigue, and after drinking of it, he pursues Rebecks and Blunderbore willingly.
  • Vaxin remembers a version told to him, where Rebecks fails to realize that the fountain does not affect eladrin. Jac only fakes being asleep.

The others try and fail to recount a version of the story that does not go badly for Jack at this juncture. Peril and Vaxin drink first from the fountain, and are unaffected by it. Peril feels somewhat stronger after drinking from it. They then hide while the others drink, and promptly fall asleep. Peril and Vaxin fail to waken them, and it is not long before Rebecks appears to collect their unconscious bodies. The two still awake hide again as the giant passes and pursue him through the woods.

Rebecks takes the unconscious party members to a castle at the highest peak of the tallest mountain in Luchair’s domain. He puts them in a chamber that is mostly empty, save for a few small odds and ends left by previous victims, and closes the massive door, locking it behind them. Rebecks does not take their weapons or equipment. As the prisoners regain consciousness, they take note of their surroundings and realize there is a tiny, narrow window near the ceiling, which is very high up relative to their size.

A small verbal confrontation takes place between the party members in the castle as they try to settle on a plan. Kraft is assuredly too large to fit through the window, and Samson and Reardon are likely to get stuck. Galorax, by far the smallest of the four, could fit through easily… but he refuses, instead sitting cross-legged on the floor and insisting the story will save them. In the version of the story known to the others, Jack escapes the room, but in Galorax’s version, Jack overcomes the giant at the last minute. The others set up an escape route by hitching a rope to the window (after many tries), but Galorax still refuses to move.

Meanwhile, Vaxin and Peril arrive at the base of the mountain. It seems impossibly tall, but with the Narrative affecting the distance, they only have to climb as far as it takes to be dramatically appropriate. Peril, being familiar with fey environments and the distortions of distance, helps guide Vaxin, who stumbles a bit on the way. They make it up without much trouble.

At the top, Peril and Vaxin are met with a huge door barring entry into the castle itself. They struggle against it, but cannot budge it, so they search around the perimeter. They come across a tunnel leading into the castle’s wall, just barely high enough to get inside without ducking. Peril lights a torch and draws his blade, and they enter. Before long, they discover that the tunnel was made by giant rats, who attack Peril and Vaxin when they discover the intrusion.

As the two of them fend off the rats, the prisoners see the door opening to their empty room. Blunderbore and Rebecks are waiting in the corridor beyond, ready to eat their captives. The party decides to try and rush the giants, an endeavour that quickly turns against them. Kraft holds the giants off for as long as possible as his companions provide support, but eventually he is knocked out by a rock thrown by Rebecks. Samson is also knocked down not long after via a rock thrown by Blunderbore.

Reardon is knocked out as well, at about the same time as Vaxin and Peril arrive. Galorax takes advantage of the goblin version of the story, where Jak, the goblin prince, pulls out his magic sword that grows stronger when the situation is dire. Empowered by this magic sword produced by the Narrative, he slays Rebecks, but just as in the story, the sword fails at the most critical moment. It is useless against Blunderbore, who grabs Galorax and slams him into the ground repeatedly until the ancient goblin dies.

At this point, Vaxin and Peril strike. The two of them manage to take down the wounded Blunderbore with the help of Reardon, who regains enough coherence to push healing magic into Kraft and Samson.

With the giants felled, they set free the prisoners from an adjoining room, which is full of damsels-in-distress, and rest for the night.

Fairy Tales I: Jack and the Giants

Day 3 in Thelanis

On their way to the Isle of Dread, the party’s boat of reeds provided by Elias Alastai ends up at a lake next to a town called Luchair, which is full of apparent humans that seem oblivious to the idea of being in Thelanis. They soon discover they have stumbled into the realm of an archfey, associated with stories about giants: in particular, Jack the Giant-killer and Jack and the Beanstalk. A lone mercenary from the missing Tharashk mercenaries, Rogdan, explains that he deserted here out of fear after the mercenaries travelled through several archfey realms with substantial casualties. He explains that like all other archfey realms, the only way out is to complete one of the relevant stories, or a known variant of one of those stories.

The party tries to pursue both stories at once, with Samson planting magic beans in the ground and the others slaying the hill giant Cormoran. They receive a hero’s welcome and the title of “Giant-killers” back in Luchair from the mysterious “King Without Sorrow,” who then gives the party all of Cormoran’s stolen wealth. While retrieving this hoard, the party encounters Sir Humpty of Dumpty, who watches a damaged wall that marks the border between Luchair and the giants’ territory. Galorax attempts to knock him off his wall before realizing that a nursery rhyme is not equivalent to a fairy tale, which accidentally tangles the party up in another, unrelated tale.

They manage to escape the tale related to Sir Humpty and return to Luchair, where they rest the night in the Giant’s Folly in.

Main Characters:Galorax, Samson Grugnak, Peril Edenhall, Kraft, Vaxin

Day 3 in Thelanis

The party drifts along the river on the boat of reeds provided to them by Elias Alastai, and soon find themselves outside of the eladrin domain. The river winds down through some hills and feeds into a pristine lake in a shallow valley. The river appears to stop here, and is the only river that feeds the lake, but there is a town built on the shores. They drift towards it, making a fairly straight path despite not paddling in any way and no obvious current to the lake.

The boat arrives at the harbour at what appears to be noontime, where a number of fisherman from the town regard them with curiosity, but not suspicion. They are almost entirely human by the looks of them. As the party disembarks, Galorax tries to hawk wares to the townspeople, who examine the goods from afar with some interest, but none express a desire to purchase anything. Peril, meanwhile, speaks with some guards who are overseeing the harbour. The guards speak Common, and inform the party that they have arrived in the “idyllic” town of Luchair. They are, he says, the first visitors the town has had in some time.

When questioned about the Faerie Courts, the guard claims to have no idea what Peril is talking about. Peril asks where Luchair is actually located, but this line of questioning gets nowhere; the guards will only refer to the town’s location in general terms (“it’s in the valley”, “it’s west of the mountains”, and so on). Samson inquires who rules these lands, at which point the guard points towards the great white palace at Luchair’s center, and answers with the “King Without Sorrow.” He then directs the party to the town’s only in, the Giant’s Folly. At this point the party splits up to seek information, with Galorax and Vaxin going to the Giant’s Folly, and the others going to the palace.

At the Giant’s Folly, the party encounters only two daytime drinkers. One is a half-orc, grizzled and scarred, wearing the undercoat of a suit of armour and a sword belt. The other is an eladrin woman, dressed in fine clothing and sipping at the same green spirit that Reardon drank before. Galorax goes to speak with the half-orc, while Vaxin sits at the table with the eladrin woman.

Galorax orders the half-orc a drink, which comes from a serving girl who appears as if from nowhere and for which he is not charged. At this point, Galorax learns that the half-orc’s name is Rogdan, and he does not hesitate to reveal his origins as a mercenary of House Tharashk — one of the missing troop. He explains to Galorax that the mercenaries ended up in the Feywild and went through several archfey domains while seeking the Isle of Dread. His companions, Rogdan explains, moved on to another realm, but he chose to remain here, lacking any desire to move forward into more danger.

The eladrin woman, Orivyre, tells Vaxin that she is a traveler from Shae Loralyndar. She describes herself as something between a sightseer and a scholar, who is traversing different archfey realms to satisfy her curiosities. Vaxin asks how she manages to move between the realms, to which she responds with another question, asking which feyspire Vaxin hails from. Vaxin responds that it has been a “very long time” since he left his feyspire, claiming not to recall which. Orivyre asks if he still remembers the “pathways”, and Vaxin shakes his head. She then explains that those who still have deep connections to Thelanis can traverse hidden pathways between realms, but since he cannot, the only way out is to “draw the realm to its natural conclusion.” He nods, thanks her, and goes to join Galorax and Rogdan.

Meanwhile, at the palace, the others find that it is surrounded by an outer wall and patrolled by guards. The royal guards explain that nobody is permitted in the palace who might “bring suffering or sorrow with them,” as the palace is a place in which negative emotions are forbidden by order of the King Without Sorrow. As they are foreign outsiders, the guards explain that they cannot trust the party not to bring such things inside, and refuse them entry to the palace. They also learn that the king’s son, the Happy Prince, is nearing a birthday that, in two days, will mark his passage into adulthood, and so this restriction is especially important right now.

Feeling this is a dead end, they go to join the others in the Giant’s Folly, where they sit at the table with Rogdan. He continues telling his tale, and explains more about the nature of Thelanis: the realms of the archfey are like self-contained worlds, that encapsulate the fairy tale (or tales) that gave rise to the dominant archfey. The only way out is to resolve a story, at which point the boundaries of the archfey’s realm thin until the story “resets” and begins to play out again. Multiple stories can play out in one realm, and variants on the tale can be played out just as well as the “base” story. In this particular realm of Thelanis, they identified two stories: Jack and the Beanstalk, and Jack the Giant-killer.

Rogdan says that the mercenaries were not able to determine who the actual archfey in this realm. They suspected that it was the infamous “Jack,” but after searching for days they were not able to find any such person. They concluded that they were meant to fill Jack’s role in the stories, and decided to pursue completing Jack the Giant-killer. They hunted and killed the cattle-eating hill giant Cormoran, but as Rogdan explains, “the rest of the story was too bloody,” and he deserted his companions, deciding that settling in Luchair forever was preferable to facing any more nightmares of the Feywild. He urges the party to do the same, and Galorax is nearly convinced.

The party decides to pursue both, despite Rogdan’s warnings that this could cause fairy tales to conflict. Vaxin asks what will happen if the stories veer too far off course or become impossible to resolve, and Rogdan tells them that if this happens, the realm will enter a sort of limbo state where nothing can finish for an indefinite period of time before gradually resetting back to its base state. This is a process that can take years, Rogdan says, and recommends that they are very careful not to let this happen.

Undeterred, they continue trying to pursue both. They speak with the barkeep, who points at the giant’s head mounted above the fireplace, and tells the party that the giant’s brother, Cormoran, has been eating cattle north of Luchair. The party leaves on the Road — the only highway out of town — bound for the north. They travel for what feels like only a couple of hours, but on looking back see that they have moved a great distance. Ahead of them, they can see Cormoran in the distance, fat and filthy, eating cattle in the fields of farmers. As they begin to move towards the giant, they meet another traveler on the road.

The traveler appears to most of the party as a hunched old man, carrying a huge bag on his back. To Galorax, he appears as a hobgoblin with a small pack and a mischievous expression, and to Samson, he is a handsome half-orc with a thin smile and a black cloak. They all recognize him as the magic bean merchant of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. In the most common Darguun variant of the tale, the protagonist Juk encounters a malicious hobgoblin on the road who tricks him into buying cursed beans. Among the orcs of the Shadow Marches, the hero is a bean farmer who deliberately buys three beans of different colours off the bean merchant (who is actually the Traveler, of the Dark Six), and with hard work and diligence, grows them in fertile soil. In this version, one bean is blessed, one is cursed, and one is an unknown quantity.

The merchant, appearing to the party simultaneously in different ways, offers up the beans. Galorax is asked to trade the golden antler he acquired from the Elkweald, but he pretends he does not have it. Kraft tries offering a finger, but the merchant does not want that. He asks for Peril’s medallion he found in the Moon Spire, but he will not give this up either. Vaxin has nothing to give, so Samson reluctantly offers his goggles of night, which the merchant accepts. Because the variant of the tale known to Samson has been followed in this case, Samson receives a bag with three beans: one red, one blue, and one black. Samson plants them in the ground in an equilateral triangle, choosing the spacing and angles carefully so he can keep track of which one is which and so that they will not overgrow one another.

After this, the party discusses their options for defeating the giant Cormoran, and they exchange the versions of the tale known to each of them. They identify some variants:

  • Peril knows two versions of the story. One has Jack tripping and falling into a magic gourd, which makes him taller than Cormoran. Another has Jack luring the giant to the edge of a gorge, blinding him, and pushing him off the edge.
  • The version Galorax is familiar with (from Darguun) is similar to Peril’s second version, but has Juk the goblin hero breaking Cormoran’s knees with a crowbar instead of blinding him.
  • Kraft’s understanding of the story has Jack wrestling Cormoran to the ground, rather than luring him into a pitfall trap (or to the edge of a gorge).

They go looking for an appropriately-sized gorge and discover one nearby. Galorax imitates a female giant to try and draw Cormoran near, which works, but sends him into a rage when he discovers Galorax is not a giant at all. The hill giant states his intent to crush the party, and he begins swinging his oversized club wildly. Peril and Galorax attempt to use their bows to blind Cormoran, one shot in each eye, but are met with little fortune. Galorax ends up skirting dangerously close to the gorge with Cormoran on his trail. Vaxin hides in a bush, and Samson offers only one shot from his thundergun — momentarily dazing the giant — before wandering off to tend to the beans.

Vaxin then emerges from the bush, attempting to climb Cormoran to blind the giant, but is thrown off and nearly falls into the gorge himself. After a time, Peril and Galorax finally manage to blind Cormoran. Kraft swings his great maul into the back of the giant’s legs, causing him to buckle but not fall. Galorax steps forward with his crowbar, bringing the justice of the story to Cormoran by finishing what Kraft started and shattering the giant’s kneecaps. Bone splinters fly from flesh as the giant topples into the gorge, screaming as he falls.

With their work done, the party rejoins Samson, who has somehow produced a straw hat and a watering can made out of a skull, just as in the story he’s familiar with. With Samson, the party returns to Luchair. While the road led straight out of town from the Giant’s Folly before, it now goes directly to the palace. Despite the fact that few people in Luchair were aware of what they were doing, the town is now in celebration over the party’s triumph against Cormoran. They follow the road to meet the King Without Sorrow. The King, resembling an aged eladrin with a white beard, is one of very few definitive non-humans in the town.

The King greets them and thanks them for their efforts, bestowing upon them the title of “Giant-killers.” He then offers the party the entirety of Cormoran’s hoard, which “all of the king’s horses and men” will be sent to retrieve. They ride out with a small army’s worth of people and horses, beyond the gorge where Cormoran fell and to a great wall marking the border of the King Without Sorrow’s domain and the giants’ territories. A Cormoran-sized hole has been punched through the wall, where stands one lone knight in strangely round, shining white armour. One of the riders identifies the man on the wall as Sir Humpty of Dumpty, the Knight of the Glen, who is charged with watching the wall (even though there’s not much point with a huge hole in it). The knight waves as they pass.

Cormoran’s hoard is in a huge cave a short distance away from the wall. The party finds various gemstones, coins, and miscellaneous goods with mild fey enchantments among the hoard. On their way back, Galorax recalls the nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty: in Darguun, Humpty is an egg made of gold, and Galorax sees him in golden armour. He is deliberately knocked off the wall by a stronger person in the goblin version of the rhyme, who gains great wealth but is cursed forever. Galorax fires an arrow at Humpty, attempting to knock him off the wall, but misses… twice. It occurs to him after Humpty discovers him that a nursery rhyme is not the same as a fairy tale, and that completing that story probably won’t give them a way out.

Humpty summons his horse, which Galorax attempts to steal, inadvertently stumbling into a different fairy tale entirely — one he is not particularly familiar with. Sir Humpty of Dumpty insists on boiling Galorax and the others until they confess to their crimes, but Galorax makes use of what little he knows of this tale: the Knight of the Glen has a notoriously terrible memory in the Darguun version, which mischievous goblins exploit. They convince Sir Humpty that the horse was stolen by one of the king’s riders, whom he seizes with his great strength and drags off for boiling.

The party then returns with their loot to Luchair, heading for the Giant’s Folly. Despite it having been “midday” for their entire adventure to this point, it is now suddenly the tail end of sunset. In the Giant’s Folly they find Cormoran’s head mounted above the fireplace next to his brother’s head. Kraft angrily tries to claim Cormoran’s head until Peril convinces him that the trophy will just vanish as soon as they leave the realm. They then have another drink with Rogdan, who warns them of the dangers of the coming day: Blunderbore and Rebecks, the Lords of Stone — the giants who rule the lands outside of Luchair — are going to collect the party and drag them to their castle by any means necessary. This led to a particularly bloody conflict for Rogdan’s mercenaries, which is what prompted him to desert before. He also warns them that the Lord of the Clouds, the giant in the sky, may react to the planting of the beanstalk(s).

Armed with this information, the party retires for the night.

The Palace of the Twisted King

Day 1 in Thelanis

The party regroups in the Ironwood Spire and sets off for a river which marks the edge of the domain of Shae Loralyndar, and the last place Evisalyth can track the missing Tharashk mercenaries to. On the way there, Reardon, Galorax, and Samson become lost, and encounter a nymph with a penchant for gathering slaves. Reardon and Galorax also meet a strange woman who gives them bracelets to submerge in the river’s waters in exchange for returning them to the road and their companions.

The others are cautioned by eladrin on the road of dangerous weather patterns and a rogue kingdom of something called “fomorians” ahead. They carry on anyway, and on some open plains are set upon by a storm of scorching hot water. They take shelter in a ruin, once a tradepost between two eladrin domains, and here they find evidence of a dismantled Tharashk camp. They also discover tunnels beneath the ruin, and attempt to investigate. In cramped tunnels beneath the ruin they are ambushed by meenlocks, twisted fey that thrive on fear. They are led by an eladrin sorcerer corrupted into becoming a meenlock, called the Twisted King. Unable to maneuver or see properly, the party faces tremendous losses in the tunnels — Duine and Laxus are killed, Reardon loses an eye, Peril develops a limp, and Samson is disfigured by burns.

After searching the tunnels and burning Laxus’ body (in hopes it does not become another meenlock), the party rests in the ruin, attempting to wait out the storm.

Day 2 in Thelanis

The storm subsides, and the four remaining party members make their way to the river, where they meet Vaxin, an eladrin monk specializing in channeling ki through his glaive, and Kraft, a warforged training with him to study his strength. They also encounter Elias Alastai, an archfey associated with rivers, who is revealed to have originally hired the Tharashk mercenaries while in disguise in the Material Plane. He wanted them to map the “Isle of Dread,” an island that was once in his and his sister’s control, and to discover why they can no longer exert power over it or remember any details about it. The mercenaries stumbled into Thelanis, got briefly lost, and then set on the right track, but have not been heard from since.

The party is offered the same task in exchange for a reward and escape from the Fey Courts. They take the opportunity, also seeking to locate the missing mercenaries on the Isle, and Vaxin and Kraft also decide to come along. Elias gives them a partial map and creates them a boat from reeds on the river bank, and they soon set off for the Isle of Dread.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Kraft, Vaxin

Force of Nature II: The Sovereign Elk

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

The party finds themselves in Ironwood Spire, where they meet the eladrin’s leader, Evisalyth. They are asked to bring the Sovereign Elk back through the rift by bonding with it, using drops of its blood to perform the bonding. They also pick up a new traveler: Garrrth Thicktrunk, an ill-mannered earth genasi sorcerer who seeks the weapon of his hero father.

Sypheros 5, 1027 YK

After a brief and unsuccessful side trek in which Galorax and Laxus attempt to locate a healing spring in Thelanis, the party returns through the rift with their eladrin escort (after confronting the sister of the briar troll who once protected it) and follows the path of the Sovereign Elk through the woods to Yrlag. The Elk, accompanied by several yuan-ti cultists — including the cultists’ leader, Senjarik — is steadily advancing on the palisade walls of the town.

Using the cover of a convenient fog, the party strikes at the yuan-ti while Laxus attempts to bond with the Elk. They soon learn that it is under the control of Senjarik, and so the adventurers defeat the yuan-ti before entering the Elk’s mind, also making use of some additional blood carried by the cultists. Here, they push back the poisonous magic and return the Sovereign Elk to Thelanis, finding themselves back on the other side of the rift… which has now closed.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak, Garrrth Thicktrunk

Force of Nature I: Into the Rift

Sypheros 3, 1027 YK

The party follows Grammond the Mauve’s lead, and ends up in the town of Yrlag on the northern edge of the Shadow Marches. They find that Yrlag is experiencing frequent tremors, which are causing some townspeople to leave.

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

After speaking with the reeve, Vlayn Felstrom, they learn that the tremors are probably somehow related to the town’s close proximity to a crossing of three leylines. She also reveals that the mercenaries did indeed visit Yrlag, and were hired by the townspeople to deal with yuan-ti cultists that have been plaguing them of late. The party follows the leylines to the crossing, and discover a shrine full of the yuan-ti. After confronting them, the party inadvertently opens a rift to Thelanis, which causes the Sovereign Elk to break free and make a slow but inexorable path towards Yrlag.

They go into the rift and, after being bloodied by a troll dwelling within, come out the other side, where they are confronted by some eladrin. The eladrin take the party as willing prisoners to meet with their leader.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Samson Grugnak

The Moon Spire

Rhaan 27, 1027 YK

The party arrives in the hamlet of Carbuncle, deep in the Shadow Marches. In pursuit of information about the missing House Tharashk mercenaries, they question various people. They learn that Carbuncle is full of devout Lharvionists, and that there is a tower that appears as if from nowhere for a three-day period when Lharvion is full. The tower’s appearance coincides with strange mutations in the people of the hamlet, which they consider to be a blessing.

A wizard of the Twelve, Grammond the Mauve, is in the hamlet seeking an item from inside the Moon Spire, which is going to manifest in the next three days. A diviner by specialty, he offers to track down the missing mercenaries for the party if the find the item, called the Oracular. They agree, and spend the night in a guest house.

Rhaan 28, 1027 YK

The next day, their horses are dead, and one of Galorax’s henchmen is missing. They investigate this and discover the henchmen dead as well, and attribute these strange happenings to the appearance of the tower in insubstantial form the night before. They await nightfall, when the tower appears in the moonlight, and enter.

They traverse the odd interior of the tower, where each “level” appears to be its own dimensional space. After making their way through the various dangers, many of which suggest the tower is fey in origin, they make it to the final chamber, where the Oracular is kept. They contemplate destroying it, but decide to take it back to Grammond as agreed. Using an enchantment on the cradle which held the Oracular, the party teleports out of the tower and returns the Oracular to Grammond, who in turn tells them that he can trace the mercenaries no farther than the town of Yrlag to the north.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Peril Edenhall, Reardon MacGilabin, Samson Grugnak


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