Time Marches

Isle of Dread VIII: Taboo Island

After slaying the green dragon Ruzain, the party is welcomed into the village of Mantru, in the basin of what was once a massive volcano. During the celebrations they discover that the House Tharashk mercenaries have come through here, but on the directions of an elven woman named Jolana Minuvae, they went to an island in the nearby lake. This place, Taboo Island, is believed to be cursed by terrible evil, and its temple is occupied by renegade tribal humans. The party decides to go anyway. Jolana follows.

They storm the temple, slay the renegade tribal warriors and take their treasure while the non-combatant people of the tribe flee. Draxon dies in the melee after sustaining a huge number of wounds. They continue on and find some strange idols of tentacle-faced, tendril-tailed creatures, and hear talk of the “God Below” worshiped by the people here. They proceed further in, finding collapsed passages, weakened floors, and another idol, this one possibly cursed. They are joined by a paladin of Dol Arah, Axon, as they proceed to the lower level, which is partially flooded. As they carry on through a corridor with high water, they are attacked by rats who leap out of holes in the walls.

Main Characters: Duine, Peril Edenhall, Litreex, Gelzinn, Draxon, Axon

Experience Gained: 30 XP (Level 6)

Day XX in The Isle of Dread

Peril, Gelzinn, and Litreex are on their way to the village of Mantru with the tribal hunters after successfully slaying Ruzain, the green dragon who was called the God of the Island by the villagers. On the way, while climbing up the slopes of the huge dead volcano at the heart of the Isle of Dread, they encounter Draxon and Duine, the former of whom is soaked in blood and the latter of whom claims to have nothing interesting to remark on regarding where they’ve been. The party decides to drop it.

They descend down the inner slope of the caldera, and follow the hunters to a village at the shore of a small lake near the center. This is Mantru, surrounded by wooded pallisades and guarded by vigilant, fierce-looking warriors. Huaka explains what the party has done to help the village, and caution turns to celebration as a feast is thrown in the party’s honour.

During the festivities, Gelzinn meditates, trying again to contact his mute supervisor with telepathy he probably doesn’t have. Duine incessantly asks questions of the villagers, Litreex regales them with stories of his recent triumph and offers answers to questions nobody is asking, and Draxon is shoving cooked meat into his bag. Huaka introduces Peril to an elderly scarred warrior named Fano, who is apparently Mantru’s chief. Fano thanks the party and offers hospitality for as long as they wish to have it. He also assures Peril that the green dragon scales are being worked on by the tribe’s armour makers, who he insists are “incredibly skilled.”

The party is permitted to stay in the villagers’ homes, who are very enthusiastic to have such esteemed guests, such that they want every member of the party to stay in a different hut. Duine thinks the most appealing response to this is to visit every villager and promise he will stay in every single one of their homes, which causes some confusion and conflict, although he seems oblivious to it.

When asked about the Tharashk mercenaries, Fano explains that some of them, at least, did visit Mantru. However, they have since left. Fano does not where, but tells them that a woman named Jolana was speaking with them, and may know their destination. The party asks about Jolana, and are directed to a quiet dark-skinned woman sitting next to the fire, eating some food. She stands out from the villagers with her pointed ears, revealing her as an elf, as well as assorted scarves, and a bag of books. She sits cross-legged, a sheathed double-bladed scimitar on her lap. Bandages on her body suggest relatively recent injury.

They approach her, and she is friendly, if somewhat reserved. She introduces herself as Jolana Minuvae, and describes herself as an “amateur scholar of the Faerie Courts.” She is surprised when the party reveals that they know they are in the Feywild. By her account, she took passage on the ship of a smuggler (soon revealed to have been Gulch, the Badger) from Sharn to Stormreach, which was caught in a fierce storm and ran aground on the Isle of Dread. Though stranded, she claims to be excited about the prospect of actually visiting the plane, which is a rare opportunity.

She talks a bit about the mystery of the island. According to Jolana, it is a highly unusual place. It is too stable to be a wild region of Thelanis, and there is no Feyspire or signs that one ever existed here, so it is not controlled by the eladrin. That means that it must belong to an archfey, but there appear to be no particular stories taking place here, and no clear concrete individual that could be the archfey. She is trying to determine this individual’s identity. She is also trying to determine why so many of the island’s inhabitants — the tribes, the neanderthals — seem not to fey, while there are no obvious fey in side.

When asked about the Tharashk mercenaries, she tells the party that she did indeed encounter them, including their leader, Rhashk Aashta d’Thurashk. Apparently, she spoke with them at length. She says their numbers were depleted, but they were looking for some ruined temple. They asked Jolana about others like them, non-tribal humans or half-orcs, and she directed them to island in the middle of the lake, which she says is called “Taboo Island” by the villagers. There, she said, there is a ruined temple, and there have been sightings of half-orcs and humans from afar.

Day XX in The Isle of Dread

At breakfast, after learning that Jolana has told the party of Taboo Island, Fano comes to speak with them again, this time with the village priest, Lumat. They are intent on talking about the island while avoiding talking about it as much as possible. When questioned about their reticence, they explain that even to speak of the island is to draw the attention of the evil that lives there.

They offer to give the party the use of one of their canoes to go to Taboo Island in exchange for a service. Apparently, the island is home to some renegade villagers, not just from Mantru but from the Southern Peninsula as well. They have been corrupted by the evil of the island, and prey on Mantru and its people. The villagers fear to go near the island to try and stop them for fear of being corrupted themselves, so Fano asks that the party deal with the renegades on their behalf.

The party agrees. The priest, Lumat, offers some spellcasting services, which he says are miracles from the sky god. Apparently, unlike in the Southern Peninsula, the people here do not worship totem animals or raise the dead, and so Lumat cannot help with mortal wounds or lost appendages (like Gelzinn’s eye), but he can help with lesser wounds, poisons, and diseases. He also gives them three clay pots, filled with potions of healing.

The weather is poor, so the adventurers decide to wait until the following day to investigate the island. The party spends the day at ease. Peril takes to calling Gelzinn “One-Eye”.

Day XX in The Isle of Dread

The party sets out on a boat on a canoe for Taboo Island, with two Mantru villagers to do the rowing. Jolana boards with them as well, explaining that she is too wounded to fight but she believes that the mysterious missing archfey may be in the temple on the island, and wants the opportunity to potentially meet it and study it herself. In exchange, she offers some small healing capabilities and whatever knowledge she has to offer.

They arrive at the island’s western shore, where there is a small stone pier with a few canoes already present. A ruined temple is carved into the cliff here, where steps descend down into the lake. Poles thrust into the ground and in grooves on the pier hold shrunken heads, jawbones, and totems. There are no people in sight.

The adventurers waste no time in proceeding into the temple. The interior is hot, damp, and smells fetid. From the pier they enter immediately into a grand hall, held up by huge red marble pillars. The feet and ankles of a long-destroyed statue stand here, and the hall is lit by braziers held by hands that extend from bas-reliefs on either side. A single exit leads further into the temple. They investigate the area for a moment to ensure there are no traps before proceeding.

In the corridor leading out of the grand entry, they find a pile of rubble blocking their path. Draxon attempts to clear it, and while he is doing so, the renegade tribesmen attack. They apparently heard him working and took the time to amass a large number of warriors, seventeen in total, their faces all painted with crimson markings. The fight takes place in the narrow passage. Draxon and Gelzinn act as a bloody spear breaking through the enemy lines. Duine provides psychic assistance and Litreex offers arcane help from the back, alongside Peril firing arrows into the fray. Their leader, an elite warrior carrying an ancient-looking spear, is killed almost immediately after ordering the charge in an unfamiliar, gutteral-sounding tongue. One warrior proves astonishingly resilient to Gelzinn’s attacks, although he eventually manages to achieve victory after his frustration has sufficiently mounted.

The last warrior flees out the other end of the corridor, into the main hall. The party pursues, and sees a large room three stories tall, with three walls of the second story supporting a balcony. In the middle, a bonfire blazes, around which are scattered mats, furs, and eating utensils with some half-eaten meals. There is a hole in the ceiling, partially covered by a net, from which hangs a rope. The noncombatants of Taboo Island are fleeing up the rope, protected by the remaining warriors — another sixteen or so in total.

The party ignores these other people for now and pursues the last warrior who attacked them. They slay him on the stairs as he tries to run up to the balcony, and take a moment to catch their breath and drink two of Lumat’s potions. The chaos is still ongoing, and the noncombatants are still fleeing. Nobody seems to want to fight at the moment, so the party explores a little, locating a secret room with some rotting mechanisms they can’t quite discern the significance of.

While they are exploring, an older man emerges from one of the rooms along the balcony, which seems to agitate the warrior. He is dressed in finer armour and furs than the others in his tribe, and he is escorted by two others: an elite warrior of the tribe, like the one who led the attack in the corridor, and what appears to be a priest. They stand at the end of the hall, above an exit shaped like a tall face.

The elderly man orders everyone still in the main hall to gather before him on the main floor, while he stands above on the balcony. The party complies, and the man introduces himself as Content Not Found: vikao, chieftain of the New Tribe that venerates the “God Below”. He is quick to probe the party for the reasons behind their intrusion, which they initially dodge, and change the subject to the Tharashk mercenaries. Vikao reveals that they did, in fact, come through; like the party, they killed a few of the men here, but they paid a “fine price” to pass, and so the New Tribe forgave them and let them through.

With this in mind, the adventurers attempt to barter for the same. Vikao informs them that because their crimes against the New Tribe are greater, they must pay a higher price. Gelzinn offers up the green dragon tooth idol, a cypher he has been carrying since the raid on the lizardfolk lair. The chief asks to see the item, so Gelzinn brings it up to the balcony alone. The priest inspects it, but as he is blind, he must feel it while Gelzinn holds it.

He whispers to the chief in the same harsh tongue they heard from the elite earlier. Vikao nods. He agrees to accept the fang, but says “a little more is still necessary to pay the price of spilt blood.” The party is upset by this. Vikao cautions them that if a fight emerges, “at least one” of their allies will die. Nevertheless, they decide to simply attack. Litreex backs up and sets Phaos to work on the warriors alongside Draxon, who charges in immediately, anchor swinging. Gelzinn is immediately forced to contend with the chieftain, the elite warrior, and the priest, the latter of whom morphs his hand into a strange, almost reptilian webbed hand with three fingers and claws. Gelzinn holds his own until this cursed hand touches him. His vision fills with blackness as the sensation of being plunged into icy cold water overrides his senses. He passes out on the floor.

Draxon takes on a full half of the warriors in the main floor below, fighting hard but steadily being overwhelmed despite his seemingly unstoppable rage. Phaos is being pushed back by the warriors it fights. Litreex sets up a shield of junk assembled from the main hall, which causes the remaining four warriors firing arrows at him to have trouble hitting him. Peril and Duine scramble up to the balcony, as Peril tries to get closer to Gelzinn to save him. Duine uses psychic pushes to send Gelzinn’s attackers away in fear, succeeding against the chieftain and the warrior but not against the priest. Peril takes the moment of change and attempts to throw one of Lumat’s healing potions into Gelzinn’s mouth, but misses. The priest then runs at Peril. Peril dodges the first strike with the clawed hand and cuts a deep wound into the man with his falchion, but the second touch lands true, and like Gelzinn before him he falls into darkness.

Litreex infuses Gelzinn with raw arcane magic at a distance, causing him to snap back into consciousness. He rises, hammers the priest, but does not defeat him before he leaps down from the balcony to the main floor below. He makes a break for Vikao and slays the chieftain. The blind priest panics and makes a break for it. Some of the straggling warriors also run out the exit to the cliff.

Vikao and the warrior regain their composure, and fire arrows from their bows at Duine. He manages to dodge a few and retorts with some psychic strikes, but is taken down by the sixth arrow. Draxon is soon overwhelmed as well after felling nearly all of his enemies. He manages to regain his footing once, he too falls, riddled with spears and arrows, and dies from his many wounds. Phaos manages to stand an impressively long time before it is overrun as well. Gelzinn gets to Duine and staunches his bleeding.

Now alone, Litreex takes the spiral-carved jade he found in the green dragon Ruzain’s lair and hurls it at the advancing warriors, coming at him after their defeat of Phaos. The shard’s impact consumes them in brilliant green fire. At this point, they finish off the last elite warrior, and the few remaining warriors follow the priest, who flees through the face-shaped exit.

With the New Tribe defeated, the party goes back to the pier, where they find Jolana and the two Mantru tribesmen, who have captured the wounded warriors that tried to flee from inside. The party informs Jolana that it is safe inside, so she accompanies them, and they take a short rest. Jolana examines some of the carvings on the walls and remarks about how interesting they are.

After regrouping, they spend some time recovering from some of their wounds, identifying the ancient spear wielded by the first elite warrior as a blood spear, and briefly honoring Draxon’s death. They then loot the main chamber and sleeping quarters, retrieving some gems, valuable incense, weapon poisons, and three portions of potion of healing kept by the chief. They also take note of a bone idol in the chief’s quarters, depicting some odd creature with a snake-like lower body and a face with strange tendrils. They leave this alone and proceed into the next cooridor, which is blocked by a recently-constructed passage. The party finds the masonry tools used to build the blockage in another secret room, this one with mechanisms that control a flame-shooting jet in the face-like doorway. While uncovering this function, Peril accidentally torches Draxon’s body, as well as one of the captives. Duine tries to take Draxon’s anchor in memory of the fallen pirate, but the party talks him down from having to drag the absurdly huge thing around.

The party uses the masonry tools to dismantle the blockage. While they are doing so, a newcomer arrives at the island: he identifies himself by the suspiciously-familiar name “Axon”. The symbols he carries, the armor he wears, and the slight tilt of arrogance in turn identify him as a paladin of Dol Arah, Sovereign of Sun and Sacrifice. He informs the party that he is here pursuing an evil presence he has felt. He is seemingly only dimly aware that he is in Thelanis. He offers to accompany the party, and they accept, needing some new muscle with Draxon’s fall.

When the blockage is dismantled, the party proceeds down the hall. Axon takes point, and Phaos carries a torch to light the way. Peril notices the floor is damaged at one point, and Axon reveals he is carrying more than just his armor, holy symbol, and weapon: he has a magic rope that obeys his commands. He creates a taut line that the party uses to take some of their weight off the floor as they pass, and successfully avoid falling through.

Continuing forward, they find a small chamber with an altar, on which rests a small, intricately-carved box. Around it are shelves with a variety of treasures, most notably several bejeweled golden bowls. They take the bowls, and Litreex has Phaos examine the box after the party checks it (and clears it) for traps. Phaos opens the box and Litreex looks in. He sees a golden idol depicting a somewhat humanoid creature with tentacles on its face, clawed hands, and three tendril-like tails in place of legs — a more detailed and well-crafted reflection of the bone idol they found earlier. Litreex has a brief sensation of icy chill when looking at it, but it soon subsides. He has Phaos close the box, and speculates about the nature of the God Below, and its possible relation to the Dragon Below.

Beyond the altar room, there are stairs leading down, but they appear to be blocked off by rubble. The party sets about clearing it, and after a while, they reach cool water below — the passageway leads into a flooded chamber. Duine is sent in as he does not need to breathe, but he has no source of light. In the chamber beyond, there is a faintly bioluminescent oyster, which he attempts to use as a light. In wrestling with it, he opens it, revealing a black pearl. He takes the pearl and then rips the luminous tissue out of the oyster’s shell, killing it and causing the light to rapidly dim.

He then returns to the party and informs them what he has seen. The others follow through, with Litreex going first and bearing a torch to help the others find their way. They swim out of the large flooded chamber and into one of two adjoining corridors, where the water reaches a level of about 5 ft. Litreex rides on Phaos’ shoulders as they enter into the hallway, where the walls above the waterline are pocked with holes. As they cross this hall, giant rats leap from these tunnels and attack the party.

Isle of Dread VII: God of the Island

The party fights and defeats the gargoyles protecting the ruin on the cliff, and look inside, where they find a small tomb with several sarcophagi. They leave it undisturbed and continue up to the northeast part of the island. They discover a mostly-buried ziggurat with a mysterious throne on top, which they investigate a bit before leaving this alone too. That night, strange lights flicker above the pyramid, so they go back again to find dancing shadows around the pyramid. They decide once again to leave it alone, and soon encounter some tribal hunters from the northern villagers, hunting the “God of the Island.” The party agrees to help, and they find the so-called God: a young green dragon named Ruzain. They slay the dragon alongside the hunters and loot its hoard.

Main Characters: Duine, Litreex, Gelzinn, Draxon

Experience Gained: 20 XP

Day 62 in The Isle of Dread

Duine has wandered off again, leaving Litreex and Gelzinn at the foot of the cliff. They can hear Draxon struggling with the living statues — gargoyles — who guard the small ruin set into the face of the stone above. An anchor is dropped, and Gelzinn climbs up, with Litreex and Phaos following much more slowly behind. At the top, they discover that not only is Draxon completely absent without a trace (save the small anchor that holds the rope in place), but Peril has appeared as if from nowhere, and is already fighting the two weathered gargoyles.

Gelzinn and Peril fight one gargoyle each, and soon another emerges from inside the cliff, which is soon locked in combat with the relatively slow-moving Phaos. The three, with Litreex’s quadratic equation-related assistance from afar, defeat the gargoyles. The last one tries to flee back into the cliff, but Gelzinn destroys it. He asks Peril where he came from, and Peril explains that he followed the party’s trail to the neanderthail lair. He located a crude boat they had made, and appropriated it to catch up to the party. Now that he’s here, and they have already come part of the way inside, they decide to go the rest of the way and investigate the interior of the ruin.

The structure inside the cliff consists of a short passage and a small, domed chamber. In here, there are a few sarcophagi laid out around the perimeter, all closed. They look to have once had inscriptions, but those have since faded. The adventurers consider opening the sarcophagi, and eventually decide against it. They leave the ruin to continue their exploration of the island, choosing a course that will take them around the northwest and, eventually, to the spot indicated on the treasure map they found in the roc nest.

As they camp that night, Gelzinn talks about his early days on the Isle of Dread, where he tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to impose Henanese bureaucracy on the villagers.

Day 70 in The Isle of Dread

After traveling more than a week guided by Peril’s keen sense of the wilderness, and noting some unusual sights — like an owl with no eyes — the party comes across another ruin. This one takes the form of a pyramid, mostly sunken into the swampy mud in the northeast part of the island. The top is still visible, revealing several leverals of the ziggurat, and some stairs leading up to what appears to be a large throne carved out of some shiny black stone, possibly obsidian.

Litreex goes up to investigate the throne, and finds that it is embellished with carvings that were once painted red, although much of the dye has since flaked off. The carvings appear to depict fire being bestowed upon, or possibly taken from, a figure sitting on the throne by what appears to be dragon, and all manners of creatures bowing before that figure. The word “Huehueteotl” also appears, carved in a different hand than the rest of it. After some consideration, Litreex decides to stand on the throne. Nothing happens. Gelzinn suggests he try sitting, but Litreex insists that his feet would dangle off the throne, which is undignified and no way for a throne to be used.

They decide to leave it alone. Camping that night, Litreex tells a legend of his people. The Isvern kobolds, he says, pissed off their dragon masters in the ancient past by stealing something that could inspire life in a construct.

While on watch later, Litreex notices strange lights above Huehueteotl’s Throne. He wakes the others, and they decide to investigate. Arriving at the pyramid, they find strange green lights flickering in the air around the throne and on the long-cold braziers on the levels leading up to the top of the pyramid. They cast impossible shadows on the walls of the ziggurat, humanoid silhouettes that appear to be dancing.

Litreex tentatively takes a few steps up the pyramid, at which point the shadows stop dancing, and give the appearance of turning to face him. They appear to watch as he takes a few more steps up. He debates with Gelzinn and Peril whether it’s a good idea to go up to the top, and eventually decides the better of it.

Day 72 in The Isle of Dread

While camping this night, the adventurers encounter some tribal humans. They resemble the hunters they saw and killed due to a previous misunderstanding, and also the zombies they encountered in the mudlands before that. Their garb is mainly red, with some armour comprised of leather, shells, stones, and what appears to be scrap metal, and they carry spears and javelins. The party is more prepared for the slightly-threatening demeanour of these northern tribespeople, so they welcome the hunters, who come and share their bounty with the party.

Their leader, Huaka, explains that they are from the village of Mantru. They are on a “holy quest” to defeat what he calls the God of the Island, a terrible demon who kills the Mantru villagers for sport. He asks for the party’s help, and after discovering that the Mantru may know something about the missing House Tharashk mercenaries, they agree. Litreex presents himself as a demon himself, but like a king, and that seems to both frighten and embolden the hunters.

Over the fire, Peril talks about the city of Grey Titan’s Hold, and his love-hate relationship with the city and its homeless population. He also mentions that, while he was born in Sharn, he sees Grey Titan’s Hold as his home.

Day 73 in The Isle of Dread

Huaka leads his hunters and the adventurers to their destination: a low hill jutting out of the swampy surroundings with a yawning cave mouth. The air smells bitter and sharp, similar to ammonia, stinging their eyes. As they get a little closer, they can hear the breathing of some huge creature within.

Huaka’s hunters appear to have some cold feet at this point, and are afraid of what will happen when the God of the Island meets Litreex, whom they believe is the King of Demons. They want to wait outside while Litreex converses with the creature within, but eventually a compromised is reached where the tribal hunters agree to come in if they hear sounds of struggle inside. With this, Litreex, Gelzinn, and Peril proceed inside.

They do not light any torches or lamps, so Gelzinn and Peril follow Litreex and Phaos blind. Litreex’s suspicions are confirmed as they reach the inner lair: the hill is home to a green dragon, who sits atop a hoard of treasure. Litreex greets the dragon in Draconic, but it responds in Common after noticing the others, drawing out Peril (although Gelzinn continues hiding, for some reason). The dragon’s name is Ruzain, and he claims to have inherited dominance of the island from his mother. He will not speak of what happened to her, but seems confident she will not return, and that the island will remain his for as long as he wishes to have it.

Negotiations with Ruzain break down quickly, and soon, a fight begins. The tribal hunters come charging in, screaming war cries and waving their spears. When all have arrived, Ruzain takes a deep breath and exhales a pale green cloud that sweeps over the combatants. It feels like fire in the throat and eyes, and causes old wounds to feel fresh. When it passes, most of the hunters are dead. Only Huaka and a couple of others yet stand.

Peril takes command of the villagers as the fight hits full pitch. The battle takes several more villagers before it ends, and temporarily disables Phaos. All three adventurers are also knocked out over the course of the battle, but they manage to regain their feet, and slay Ruzain.

The few remaining hunters cheer triumphantly as the party picks through the hoard. They take a vast amount of coins and mundane treasure, which the hunters help to carry. They also find a suit of fine adamantine half-plate, and a couple of interesting items including a piece of what seems to be green jade inscribed with tiny spiralling sigils, and a piece of red, slightly-glowing agate. Litreex identifies them as cyphers; the former will explode in green fire when thrown, and the latter will inspire clarity of mind if pushed into the flesh. Meanwhile, Peril carves off a sheet of the dragon’s hide, with scales intact, hoping to use it to make a suit of armor. They also try to take a wing, but mangle both of them in the process.

They gather their new gains and follow the villagers, who promise to lead them back to their village.

Isle of Dread VI: Good, Bad, and Ugg

After a few days rest in the village of Tanaroa, the party sets out to into the Isle of Dread again. In a misty area called the Fogmire, they encounter some neanderthal hunters led by a man named Ugg. After a few days, they find the caves from which the neanderthals came, and spend a night there, with the neanderthals seemingly worshiping Duine and Phaos, and having some unclear connection to warforged. They take their leave of the neanderthals and find their way to a cliff with an old ruin on it. On approaching the ruin, they are attacked by the gargoyles that appeared to be mere statues outside the entrance.

Main Characters: Duine, Litreex, Gelzinn, Draxon

Experience Gained: 10 XP

Day 48 in The Isle of Dread

The party has spent the past couple of nights in Tanaroa, taking a short break from their previous expeditions to resupply and rest. After speaking briefly with the chief, Mira, they set out once again, heading for the spot indicated by the map they found in the roc nest. They opt to take a long route around the east coast of the island to map out an unexplored section of the map first. Renshaw and Peril decide to stay behind in the village. They bring all of the dry rations the villagers have to spare.

Day 50 in The Isle of Dread

While exploring the east part of the Isle of Dread, the party becomes lost in the Fogmire, a region so named for the constant dense fog. While resting here, they encounter a group of strange primitive humans. They wear furs and carry stone weapons. Only their leader, Ugg, seems to be able to communicate meaningfully in Common, and he has a difficult time getting his point across, only using very simple language. He says he’s looking for something he only refers to as “Ock”. He asks for the party’s help, and they agree. The neanderthals wander off, and the party seems to have no idea what they have actually agreed to.

Day 53 in The Isle of Dread

The party has gotten out of the Fogmire and has been wandering for several days, having wound up lost numerous times. On a particularly hot day, they take shelter in a cool cave on a hillside. Here, they meet another neanderthal seeking shelter, this one female. She runs away after the party lightly threatens her. Afterwards, they speculate if maybe she was the Ock that Ugg was searching for. Draxon discusses more of his beliefs about magic, specifically that Duine is either a talking cart or a tiny man in a wooden suit. He tries to understand Litreex’s magical projectiles, which he comes to understand as a product of “horizontal gravity.”

Day 55 in The Isle of Dread

After some more wandering, the party comes on a larger set of caves on evening, which are apparently home to the neanderthal tribe. The party is careful to approach as stealthily as possible, except for Duine, who simply walks into the caves and introduces himself to the warriors.

The neanderthals are apparently in awe of Duine and welcome him warmly. Draxon decides to take this warm welcome as an invitation and emerges from hiding to join Duine. He barters away some weapons he’s carrying for a night’s stay among the neanderthals, and is led deeper into the cave to some furs to sleep on, while the neanderthals continue to shower Duine with adoration. Unfortunately, they are not able to communicate with him, speaking some primitive language of their own. Still, he seems to enjoy the attention.

Soon, Gelzinn comes out of hiding as well, as do Litreex and Phaos. Phaos receives a similar warm treatment, though Litreex seems to be an object of some disgust for the neanderthals. The neanderthals put long necklaces of simple beads on Duine and Phaos, and show Duine a cave painting, which depicts what appears to be several wide figures standing beneath the sun, with one lying down, and beneath those figures are more normal-looking people. Two more wide are drawn on, one of which has no face. Duine is familiar with cave paintings due to education provided by his enigmatic creator, and concludes that the painting depicts warforged elevated above the neanderthals, for some reason.

They are also shown another warforged they have been keeping, apparently quite old and somewhat rusted, and very much dead. Litreex examines the dead warforged and concludes that it died in battle a long time ago, but is unable to glean anything else.

Gelzinn and Litreex manage to get beds as well, and rest for the night. Duine spends the evening with the neanderthals, and picks up some of their language. He also learns that Ugg is something of a chief of this tribe, and Ock is, indeed, his mate. Neither has yet returned to their home in these caves.

Day 56 in The Isle of Dread

The next day, the party prepares to leave, but the neanderthals seem unwilling to permit Duine and Phaos to leave. They keep using the word “sky” and pointing up aggressively. After some miscommunication they take Duine and Phaos to a central chamber along with the dead warforged. In this room of the cave, the roof has a hole in it, allowing sunlight in. They look at Duine and Phaos expectantly. At Duine’s direction they carry out some bizarre, made-up ritual. This placates the neanderthals for a time, but when whatever they are expecting to happen does not occur, they begin to get upset.

They eventually manages to convince the neanderthals that Duine and Phaos have to go out and bring the sky back to them. Although they aren’t sure what the neanderthals actually want, this seems to work, and they go on their way.

Day 60 in The Isle of Dread

While heading over to the eastern peninsula, the party encounters Ugg again. They reveal that they now know who Ock is, and where they saw her. He thanks them, and warns them not to go to the end of the peninsula. They resolve to do exactly that. That night, Duine shares an attempt at a “scary story,” involving a man with a hook for a hand who is quite pleasant, really. The party agrees that the story needs some work.

Day 62 in The Isle of Dread

The four reach the end of the peninsula, where they come to face a tall cliff. Halfway up, the cliff is interrupted by an artificial ledge, which looks to have once joined with the ground by stairs, now missing. Carved into the cliff face is a structure of some kind, its face weathered by age. Two statues stand in front of it, also badly weathered, and a passage extends through the facade into the mountain.

The party decides to climb up. As the strongest member of the group, Draxon is elected to climb up and drop a rope down. He reaches the top of the cliff, the statues spring to life and attack.

Isle of Dread V: Roc and Roll

The party regroups and continues their quest to slay the sorcery-wielding araneas, and free the phanaton children. They attack the araneas’ lair by rolling boulders on it and charging. The araneas charm some of the party, but are ultimately defeated, and the younglings are saved. The children are brought back to the phanaton settlement.

The party continues exploring, and run afoul of a roc, a tremendous bird. They fight it and slay it, and soon after locate its nest, where they find a treasure map.

Main Characters: Duine, Peril Edenhall, Renshaw, Litreex, Gelzinn, Draxon

Experience Gained: 35 XP

Day 33 in The Isle of Dread

After their misadventures in the lizardfolk lair and the surrounding mountains, Litreex, Renshaw, and Gelzinn reunite with the others in their party. The others have held a camp in this time, and they spend one more night here before moving on. Litreex talks a bit about his past, and his current journey to bring flight back to his people by following the Draconic Prophecy.

Day 35 in The Isle of Dread

The party resumes their quest to slay the araneas and free the phanatons’ young. They stop briefly by the lizardfolk lair, where they slay the lone remaining warrior, and retrieve Phaos for Litreex. The journey takes a couple of days, in which time Litreex repairs Phaos to a functional state.

Coming down the slope of a mountain, the party locates the point marked by the phanatons on their map: a small clearing in the jungle around three unusually tall trees, visible from their elevated position and near where the trees just begin to get thick again after parting somewhat on the mountainside. Looking down at the clearing, Draxon concludes that the best course of action is to push some boulders down onto the araneas. Although this raises some objections in the party, nobody specifically disagrees with his idea, so Draxon pushes a huge boulder down the slope, which crashes into the clearing below. A few more boulders are pushed after it.

The party follows in the boulders’ wake. When they arrive at the clearing, they find a couple of wooden structures that once stood at the base of the tall trees, which have been crushed by the boulders along with their inhabitants. The first to survey the scene is Draxon, who, while admiring his handywork, undergoes a subtle change in demeanour, as does Renshaw who follows shortly behind. The araneas — giant, sentient spiders — have come down from the tall trees above and have woven enchantments, causing Draxon and Renshaw to view them as allies.

The party attacks, struggling somewhat as the araneas do not come down from their trees readily, and as Draxon refuses to fight them and is occasionally compelled further to act in their interest. The early portion of the fight is swayed by Duine’s own psychic compulsions. Renshaw manages to break his own enchantment, and is instrumental in the party’s eventual victory. Once the araneas are dealt with and Draxon is shaken free of the charm (although he still maintains some spider sympathies), Renshaw, Draxon, and Peril climb up to investigate the treetops.

Here, they find lairs woven through the canopy with thick web. In these webs they find the phanatons’ young, as well as a couple of caches of treasure hidden in pouches of web by the araneas, containing a few potions of healing and a couple of enchanted scrolls, as well as some more mundane treasure.

The party then gathers up the children and takes their leave of the aranea lair, bound for the phanaton settlement. As they camp that night, the party takes up a bit of a fascination with Draxon’s perspective on what happened. Draxon is adamant that he has always been a fan of spiders, and also reveals some of his other curious beliefs about how magic does not really exist. He seems to refuse to believe he is in another plane, despite all evidence.

Day 38 in The Isle of Dread

The group, with phanaton young in tow, arrives back at the camouflaged phanaton village. The children are turned over to Chief Bhur, who thanks the party profusely. He gives what little his people have to offer, including some wooden ornaments and gems worth about 300 gp, and a cypher: a feather, that can slow the fall of the one holding it once before losing its magic.

They stay with the phanatons for the night, enjoying their hospitality and resolving to set out and explore the west side of the island the following day.

Day 40 in The Isle of Dread

Faced with a river, the party sets up camp before attempting to cross it the following day. Renshaw paints a portrait of Peril, which he titles the Peak of Peril. While being painted, Peril asks Renshaw about his history with the worshipers Dol Dorn and the followers of Derli. Renshaw reveals that he was once with the Hammer of Saint Derli, but disagreed with their leader, Lavrenti, as Renshaw claimed that Derli was a perfect flawless being. This disagreement eventually heated to the point that Renshaw was cast out.

Day 41 in The Isle of Dread

As the adventurers prepare to cross the river, they hear a piercing cry overhead as a great shadow sweeps over them. Above, a massive bird, a roc, is circling. From the wound it bears on its face it is likely one of the two that attacked the Crimson Fleet pirates, and has now seemingly taken an interest in the party. They quickly discuss a strategy, eventually deciding against running or hiding, and elect to take the beast head-on. Peril fires arrows infused with planar energy, drawing the bird’s attention. Gelzinn throws his knives at it as it comes down, then leaps up to attack, but it clutches him in its talons. Renshaw liberally applies radiant sorcery to free Gelzinn, who lands safely. Litreex uses jury-rigged artificery to attack the roc directly and his knowledge of mathematics and physics to direct the party’s ranged combatants — primarily Peril, but also Draxon, who is wildly hurling javelins and axes.

Although the roc inflicts some significant damage, the party suffers no major casualties, and manage to defeat the creature, against the odds. They then leave it there, and proceed west as planned.

Day 44 in The Isle of Dread

After a few days climbing the mountains on the west side of the island, they come upon the roc’s nest, now empty save for the bones of a few humans, presumably long-dead pirates. They search the nest and find a map among the branches that comprise the nest, which appears to be a treasure map, pointing to a point to the north on the shore of a lake. The party decides to investigate this lead, after first taking a trip back to civilization to resupply.

Isle of Dread IV: Lizard Entertainment

Renshaw, Litreex, and Gelzinn challenge the king and shaman of the corrupt lizardfolk of the Isle in their lair. They put up a good fight, but lose their first battle. Litreex runs and becomes lost. Phaos falls and is damaged. Renshaw and Gelzinn awaken in a pile of bodies with bad injuries, having been fed on by the lizardfolk young. They rally despite their injuries and defeat the lizardfolk king and shaman, loot their lair, and flee before the lizardfolk’s ogre allies arrive. They find Litreex in the hills, and go to rejoin the others.

Main Characters: Renshaw, Litreex, Gelzinn

Experience Gained: 20 XP (Level 5)

Day 31 in The Isle of Dread

Gelzinn, Renshaw, and Litreex approach the final chamber of the lizardfolk lair, while the other members of the party pull out of the caves to rest up and bandage their wounds. In the final room, the king, wearing a headdress of wood and bone, watches over a fur-clad shaman conducting a ritual. The spell seems to focus around an idol made of bone in the crude shape of a lizardfolk, the head of which is “impaled” by a large, green-stained fang. Two warriors stand watch over the back of the chamber, where the lizardfolk children are massed. Near them is a pile of bodies from many sorts of creatures, all in various states of consumption.

The king appears to have expected the party’s arrival. Battle begins as soon as Phaos crosses the threshold. The battle proves difficult for the divided, already-weary party, and although they manage to slay one of the guardian warriors, they are defeated. Gelzinn and Renshaw are knocked unconscious, and Phaos is beaten into inactivation. Litreex flees the failed fight, and immediately sets about trying to assemble a makeshift golem to temporarily replace Phaos, using materials from his surroundings.

Attempting to reunite with the others, Litreex becomes lost in the jungle, and is beaten and carried away by giant apes after a short battle.

Day 32 in The Isle of Dread

Gelzinn and Renshaw awaken among the bodies. They are badly wounded — Renshaw has suffered some damage to his skull and is having trouble focusing, while Gelzinn has lost an eye. These and other wounds suggest that they have been recent meals for the lizardfolk young.

They can see that the ritual is still proceeding, so they decide to launch a surprise attack for some revenge. Gelzinn bursts free from the pile of gore while Renshaw rains holy magic upon the lizardfolk, and though the two are nearly defeated again, they manage to defeat the lizardfolk king and shaman. The remaining warrior flees, and gets away. Gelzinn and Renshaw slay the lizardfolk young, surmising that they are corrupt by lizardfolk magic, and search through the things kept by the lizardfolk. They take the dragon fang, which is tainted by the same dark magic that corrupted the lizardfolk themselves.

The warrior manages to get help from a couple of ogres, who club Renshaw unconscious and try to drag him off to their cave. Gelzinn escapes.

The others temporarily lost and time being short, Gelzinn pursues the ogres who are trying to get away with Renshaw. He follows them for a time until he comes across Litreex, who has escaped from the giant apes. With Litreex’s help and the timely intervention of a roving band of trolls, Gelzinn defeats the ogres and frees Renshaw.

The three scout out the ogre’s lair, but do not enter. They find a safe place to rest near a river, and set up camp there. Gelzinn creates a makeshift eyepatch for himself, and fills out a variety of complicated forms, and attempts to communicate with his supervisor through meditation. His supervisor has taken a vow of silence for 40 years and insists that anybody speaking with him does so in what Gelzinn calls “unintelligible moonspeak,” and as Gelzinn does not exhibit any telepathic powers, it is not clear if his attempt at communication reaches anybody at all.

Isle of Dread III: North of the Wall

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.

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, Rhashk 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, 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, 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. Phaos 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 Phaos. 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 Phaos and conducts the golem to fight on his behalf. Phaos 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 Phaos. Both are struck. The one fighting Phaos 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. Phaos 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 Phaos 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, Phaos, 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, Phaos). 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, Phaos, 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 Phaos.

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 Phaos) 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.


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