AiS #021: Smugglers' Moon

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With Toliyrath’s funeral finally out of the way, the heroes minds’ turned to Jeremiah and his ordeal in Luestiss’s watery clutches. The party resolved to rescue their friend and to retrieve the darkwood figurehead she had kept against’s Jeremiah’s “attentions”. Laying their plans in the common room off the Orc’s Head the party sent word to Taneli that they would depart tomorrow on the morning tide.

Inevitably, the next morning several of the party got distracted searching for bargains at Kardagg’s Discount Emporium. Thangrimm found a beautiful metal flask wrapped up in a used backpack and snapped up a bargain for Kardargg clearly didn’t know the vial was in the pack. Although the vial held only rancid liquid several of the party were convinced Thangrimm’s discovery was valuable—some thinking it was worth up to 100 gp!

With their final preparations made, the party headed to the docks and Taneli’s ship. Tied up to the same dock again was the Amma. Feeling a bit cocky at their imminent haul, several of the party taunted the “sailors” and Orithur even mooned them as Taneli slipped out of Languard’s harbour. It was no surprise, therefore, when the party realised the Amma had set sail and was vaguely following their north westerly course. After an hour or so, the galley veered away and the party gave the ship no more thought.

Undead Horror

Reaching Greystone, the heroes quickly scrambled ashore up the harbour’s seaweed-wreathed breakwater and made their way quickly into the ruined village. However the ruins were not as abandoned as they first seemed. As the party approached Serat’s Hall the group’s eagle-eyed scouts spotted a half-dozen bloated, rotting corpses crawling out of the harbour and up the mounds of seaweed piled up against the shore.

The shambling corpses were quickly identified as zombies, and although two of the creatures moved faster than the others, the party stood firm against their advance. Veronwe blasted the foul abominations with his divine power and the party’s warriors began to hack their way through their enemies. It was Alice who first noticed something was horribly amiss. As she battled one of the creatures she spotted something writhing about in the thing’s stomach. When Johann slew the zombie he was battling, the full horror was revealed—a horribly decayed crab the size of a small dog scuttled forth and tried to bite him. As more of the zombie’s fell the party made the horrible discovery that zombie crabs lurked within each of their enemies. While the crabs didn’t seem much of a challenge, their presence slowed the warriors down and Johann was almost killed when one of the fast moving zombies all but ripped his throat out.

Eventually, after a few desperate minutes of battle the zombies were destroyed and the party could rest on their laurels. Healing themselves, they push on and before long were once again standing in Luestiss’ watery lair below the Hall of the Storm Mistress. Jeremiah was nowhere to be seen—it quickly transpired he was exhausted after the week with Luestiss—and the lonely sea dryad implored another adventurer to stay with her. The party were having none of it. Orithur brushed past the distraught nymph and started dragging the party’s prize. Several of his friends helped, but Warg had other plans.

The Idol

The secret door and the hideous idol lying beyond intrigued the impetuous dwarf and he wanted to gaze upon them himself. While half the party thought this was terrible idea, Warg convinced Thangrimm to come with him and Grogor and Alice were quickly roped into checking for traps and the like. Disarming the trap on the entrance to the small hidden complex through the clever strategy of setting it off, the four moved cautious inside.

Within moments the four were in the room decorated with the strange carvings of the underwater city and the hideous bronze idol that had almost doomed the party to destruction several weeks ago. Despite his friends' increasingly desperate attempts to entice him away Warg wanted to investigate the idol. The clever dwarf believed that if he didn’t touch the idol, he could bypass the fell magical trap lurking upon it. His friends were not quite so sure and, as they edged toward the door, Warg spat on the idol. Nothing terrible immediately happened and the perceptive dwarf quickly noticed his spittle was dribbling away into a faint crack in the pedestal directly below the idol.

But how to find out what lay under the idol? A plan presented itself—Warg would strike the pedestal with his axe, knocking off the idol without touching it. As he limbered up to strike the pedestal a mighty blow the rest of the party swiftly exited the room. It was lucky they did. Perhaps it was just bad luck or perhaps some other fell enchantment was on the place for Warg completely missed the pedestal and struck the idol instead!

As a blinding coruscation of magical lights and the sounds of fell chanting filled the air, the brave dwarf fled barely escaping—by the skin off his teeth—the fell magical effects lashing the chamber behind him.

Deciding that perhaps they had pushed their luck far enough, the party decided to return to Languard with their prize—a figurehead of darkwood worth at least 2,000 gp!

However, a surprise was waiting for them when they emerged from Luestiss’ sunken lair.

Smugglers Strike!

Not one ship, but two, were resting at anchor beyond Greystone’s breakwater. It seemed the Amma has returned and even worse her crew had boarded Taneli’s fishing boat! With little option, the heroes parleyed with the newcomers. The ship’s master—Ambro Kontio—was in a rare good mood. It seemed Taneli had recently sold him the fishing boat for a pittance and now Ambro had two boats and the party had none. Effectively, the heroes were trapped on Greystone.

Various plans were discussed. The plan of walking out through dozens of miles off trackless hills and deep-sided valleys infested with feral orcs was discussed and quickly abandoned. Another plan—swimming out to the two ships and slaying all the pirates—was also discarded as somewhat impractical and doomed to failure. It seemed the party had no choice but to use diplomacy and tact to win the day.

Hard negotiations ensued, but Ambro held all the cards. He offered to sell the fishing boat to the party for the lovely figurehead they had recently acquired. Grudgingly the party agreed, making the exchange very cautiously in case of betrayal by Ambro and his men.

With Taneli released and his fishing boat restored to him the party—disgruntled, angry and itching for revenge—set sail for Languard. The Amma didn’t follow; instead sailing southwards toward the village of Hard Bay…