ACT 2: Island Exploration
Session 5: Crabs and Fungi [May 13th, 2020]
The intrepid survivors rest for the night on the bald hilltop, hoping to see the sun rise between the rocks and narrow in on the exact spot for Eilaf’s secret treasure. Late in the night, Lox sees the ghostly form of Captain Kinkarian again appear. The ghostly captain charges at Flax demanding for him to “give it back!” Hiorvard, Gor, and Flax try to fight back against the captain, but it seems unaffected by their attacks. Lox then tries to reason with it asking and tries to get the dagger they found in the Brine Demon. Flax then realizes that captain is after the locket he found. He offers the locket to the ghost. The captain takes the locket and seems to be at peace and fades away.
After resting, the survivors find the exact spot and mark it with a hole for the future dig. The survivors then head westward along the game trail to the northern coast, they decide to follow the northern coast westward along the water, hoping to find the Nightvoice. They come across a giant crab’s nest and try to sneak past it. However, Hiorvard unfortunately catches the attention of the beast and it reaches out and grabs him it its massive claw. Flax chops at it as Lox throws spells and Gor throws bombs. Eventually the beast is destroyed and they tend to Hiorvard’s wounds.
The survivors continue onward to the west where they come across small encampment of crude shelters made of driftwood and palm fronds. It looks like the camp has been abandoned for a few years. Gor comes across a rusty dagger that bears a symbol of the Crimson Blades, the notorious assassins cult of the Fire Islands. From this vantage, the survivors see a massive crab off to the west, it is the size of a small house. The survivors approach the crab cautiously, seeing that it is likely dead. However, as they get closer its claws strike out up and down, smacking Lox and Hiorvard.
The survivors then learn that the giant crab is being manipulated by someone inside. Lox and Gor manage to talk the person down and an old sun-baked man comes out asking if they are figments of his imagination. He names himself as Pezock and invites them into his giant crab home. They share a meal of smoked fish as Pezock explains that he has been on the island for a few years and has slowly lost his mind, talking to imaginary people. He does explain that there are very dangerous people on the island as well, he calls them the flesh-eaters, and says that he saw them took some people likely from the Jenivere’s shipwreck. Pezock also saw Captian Kovack and Ieana walk through the jungles towards the south and the camp of the flesh-eaters.
The survivors say farewell to Pezock, who seems content to live in his crab, and head westward. They find that the tide has dropped low and there is now a path of rocks to the smaller island to the northwest. The survivors cross the rocks onto an island, travel around it, and head towards another smaller island to the north. The northern island seems bleak and gray, covered in a strange fungus. As the survivors climb onto the fungal island, they find it completely silent, covered in strange fungal “plants”. The survivors continue northward where they find a shipwreck cast upon the rocks. They get closer to the ship and find it matches the description of the Nightvoice from Galik.
There are numerous strands of fungus that span from the rocky, fungal island to the ship, which is covered in the fungus as well. The survivors climb across the fungal ropes and head onto the ship. They head into the captain’s quarters and find a dusty log in the desk. It seems near indecipherable now. The survivors decide to head back to the bald hilltop to rest for the night and explore the rest of the ship another time. On their way back, they survivors are attacked by a two fungal humanoids.
The survivors dispatch them quickly, but Lox is infected by poisonous spores. The survivors treat their wounds and continue on, making it all the way back to the bald hilltop by nightfall. Over the night, Gor deciphers the log from the Nightvoice, and find it has the names that Galik is looking for. Additionally, it tells a tale of the Captain of the Nightvoice trying to be rid of a strange fungal pod they found far to the south. The captain intentionally crashed the Nightvoice on Smuggler’s Shiv as the fungus overtook his ship, he wanted to spare the continent from the strange pod. In his last entry, the captain says he is bringing the pod to a cave on the eastern end of the small island to keep it away from the world.
The survivors rest for the night and discuss their endeavors for the next day.
Session 6: Treasure and the Watching Eyes [May 21st, 2020]
The survivors rest for the night on the bald hilltop. Over the course of the night, Hiorvard sees glowing red eyes in the distance, hidden among the jungle flora. He does not see a creature or anything dangerous, but the eyes watch him for some time. When the eyes disappear, he hears the sounds of large flapping wings. The next morning, as the explorers head out, they find a few corpses of small monkeys hanging on a tree near where Hiorvard saw the red eyes. The monkeys had been completely drained of blood.
The explorers head back the long established path back to the base camp of the other survivors. They arrive sometime after noon and they chat with Eilaf and tell the aged Noradrie warrior that it is time to dig up the treasure. They return to the bald hill, arriving some time in the evening with the shovels from camp. They begin digging at the spot, slowly excavating a wide hole. The eventually come across the skeleton of a dwarf wearing some ragged and ruined leather armor. They take it as a sign that they are in the right spot and continue until they reach some sort of wooden platform.
After much discussion, the survivors decide to tie a rope to the wooden plug and pull it open, worried that there may be a long shaft beneath it. With much pull, primarily by Hiorvard and Eilaf, the wooden plug is removed and a deep shaft is exposed. A foul smell emanates from the dark shaft that descends into darkness. The walls are composed of mud and a rotted wood scaffolding. Hiorvard drops a torch tied to a rope and reveals water about 40 feet below. Eilaf volunteers to descend on a rope down into shaft. At the water, the rope grows short and he drops into the water, keeping his hand around the rope as he feels for something below the water’s surface. However, Eilaf seems to be pulled below the water and disappears.
Unsure of what happened to Eilaf, Hiorvard throws a javelin down into the water and Lox summons a swarm of frogs. Neither of these approaches seem effective. Then, a humanoid monstrous creature climbs out of the shaft quickly and slashes at the others with yellowed sharp claws. Lox blasts it with magic and makes some distance. Flax and Hiorvard charge at the monster as Gor throws bombs and fires crossbow bolts at it. They identify it as some sort of undead ghoul that the pirate, Captain Quilling, must have trapped down there intentionally to guard his treasure. Eilaf scrambles trying to get out of the water but eventually grabs the rope and begins to climb.
The second ghoul climbs out going up and attacking Flax, who takes a nasty bite in his neck. The others then fell the beast before it can do anymore harm. Flax begins to feel quite woozy and Gor determines that his friend has succumbed to ghoul fever, and is slowly becoming a ghoul himself. They decide to treat the disease later that night. In the meantime, Eilaf returns to the water and disappears for at least 5 minutes. Hiorvard and the others grow suspicious and Hiorvard climbs down after him. He downs a potion of water breathing and gills sprout on his neck. He then plunges into the water and finds a small tunnel that leads into a carved out chamber with a stale pocket of air. In the dark chamber, he finds Eilaf squatting near a large air-tight chest. Eilaf explains that the chest is locked and he needs help.
The two burly Noradrie manage to pull the chest through the water, tie it to a rope, and are able to pull it up out of the shaft. Flax then expertly picks the lock on the chest and they open it to reveal the grand treasures of Captain Quilling. They find hundreds of coins, of gold, silver, and copper. They also find a small bag of gems, a magical sword, and a magical potion that can give life to the dead. Gor identifies the sword, it is a famed weapon wielded by the early crusaders of Korenell, called Judicator. Eilaf takes the small pouch of gems as his share of the treasure and thanks the explorers again for their help.
The five of them rest the night on the bald hill. In the night, Gor sees the red eyes and hears the flapping wings again. But cannot see the creature in full. The explorers then all return to the base camp and convince the others to pack up and move the camp to the bald hill. They all arrive that evening and set up a new camp on the defensible hill top. The exposed hill offers the occasional cool breeze that is quite the respite from the hot, humid jungles near the beach. Everyone rests for the night, but during the watch, Hiorvard and Jask hear the flapping sound again, as if a large creature was flying overhead. Then something falls into the camp, right into the smoldering campfire. It is the blood-drained body of a small goat.
Session 7: Fungus Island [Jun 19th, 2020]
The survivors spend much time discussing their next move as they awaken the next morning to cooked goat. There is some concern about what caused the blood-drained goat to drop within their camp, but for now, it is an easy source of food. The four explorers decide to return to the fungus island and continue exploring the rest of the Nightvoice and then look for the cavern in which Captain Quelling wrote about.
The journey to the northwest portion of the island is uneventful. However, when Lox, Flax, Hiorvard, and Gor reach the shores, they find the tide is still quite high and presents a more dangerous path to the smaller islands. The explorers decide to wait for an hour or two, having a pleasant lunch by the shore, until the tide recedes and the path across the rocks is clear. The explorers cross the many rocks onto the smaller island. They then cross the second path to the shores of the fungal island.
The explorers head immediately to the wreckage of the Nightvoice, crossing the chasm from the cliffside to the ship lodge upon the rocks via the numerous fungal ropes that stretch from the island. Upon reaching the wrecked ship, the explorers head down into the storage hold where a fungus-covered door blocks their path. Hiorvard kicks the door open and reveals a large cargo hold. There are numerous piles of skeletons covered in fungal growths and three vegepygmies that charge at them. One of them is much larger than the other two and wields a mighty greatsword.
Hiorvard and Flax hold the line as Gor throws bombs and Lox throws spells from the rear. The vegepygmies blast the area with a cloud of spores that conceals much of the combat, but the explorers are victorious and the vegepygmies are quickly defeated. The explorers gather the many treasures of the ship and Hiorvard dons a new set of plate armor. The explorers then leave the wrecked ship and cross back over to the fungal island.
The explorers cross the islands silent interior as they make their way to the cavern on the eastern side, mentioned by Captain Quilling in his log. They soon find a spike of rock jutting off the shore with numerous fungal ropes stretching out to it. The explorers bravely cross the ropes, with Lox nearly falling, but he managed to save himself and continue. On the top of the rock spire they find large cavern. Inside the dark recess they find numerous hanging threads of fungus and on the far wall is a skeleton embedded into the wall covered in a darker violet fungus. It writhes and moans as it leaps out sending a sticky tentacle of fungus at Hiorvard.
The Noradrie warrior is inflicted by the poisonous touch as Flax moves in to hack at the creature. Hiorvard hacks at it as well, trying to overcome the poisonous spores in his body. With Lox’s spells and Gor’s bombs, the heroes are able to fell the great creature. Gor then treats Hiorvard before he succumbs to the deadly poison. As the creature is felled, the explorers notice that the fungus begins to quickly decay and turn into a brown sludge. They quickly cross back to the island before the fungal ropes decay where they find that the fungus is dying everywhere with the felling of its source.
The heroes hear the sound of birds chirping as they cross the barren island and return to the shores of Smuggler’s Shiv proper. They head back towards camp as the sun begins to dip low. When they reach the crossroads of the hunting trails, they are ambushed by three angry cannibals. They manage to fell two of them quickly and subdue the last one. They find they cannot speak the language the cannibal uses, so Hiorvard knocks him out and they take the unconscious man with them to the camp.
When the heroes return to camp, they find that the other survivors had been attacked by the cannibals, but managed to scare them off. Hiorvard awakens the prisoner, hoping to get some information. Gelik recognizes the language as a strange and old dialect of Toldan, a language of Kalrua. However, the prisoner seems little more than a feral animal as he curses and promises death upon his captors. The heroes decide to let the man go as they talk with the other survivors and decide what to next. There is much fear and trepidation now that night has fallen and the cannibals are certain to know where there camp lies.
Session 8: The Dryad [Jul 23th, 2020]
The survivors spend a fretful night worried about more cannibal attacks. However, no attack comes and they awaken the next morning to prepare for another expedition into the island. Lox, Gor, Flax, and Hiorvard head back across the island, following along the northern coast to the northwestern extent. They then head south along the western coast. They find little more than broken shipwrecks. The explorers eventually come across a quiet bay that has a crude tangle of ropes that climb up to the cliff above.
Hiorvard bravely climbs up to the top of the cliffside and finds another hunting trail. The rest of the explorers join Hiorvard, although Lox nearly falls and gains some minor injuries. The explorers decide to follow the waters and head to the south through the thick jungle. They are accosted by two giant spiders that strike at Hiorvard and Lox. Lox takes a nasty bite and nearly succumbs to the venom. Flax slams one of the spiders with such a devastating blow with Judicator that the spider explodes into icky bits. They then fell the remaining spider and barely save Lox’s life as Gor pours down alchemical concoctions.
The explorers take a long break during the afternoon rains, trying to treat Lox’s injuries, but do not have much luck. Eventually the rains subside and Lox is feeling somewhat better. As the fog and rains die down, they are able to see a massive banyan tree rise above the jungle canopy to the southwest. Flax notes a familiar feeling about the tree, but can’t make out why.
The explorers decide to head towards the massive tree. From the high vantage they see a beautiful sunset descend along the western horizon over the ocean. It is then that they are greeted by Aycenia, a powerful dryad, or tree spirit of the banyan tree.
She greatly thanks the heroes for defeating the foul fungus on the northern island, as she feared the blight would spread across all of Smuggler’s Shiv. In return for their work in defeating the blight, she offers to watch over them when they rest and to heal them with her magic. She even uses her tree stride ability to check in on the other camp of survivors.
She informs them that she has been a resident of the island for many centuries. She watched the Kalruans build the lighthouse in the island’s southwestern corner and then abandon it. She watched another ship wreck upon the shore and over the generations descend into cannibalism. She tells them that most of those that shipwreck on the island are eventually eaten by the cannibals.
She shares much of the island topography with them, pointing out the lighthouse and Red Mountain. She tells them to be wary of the great, foul beast that dwells near Red Mountain, suggesting it may have a draconic nature. She tells of strange ancient ruins upon the island near the mountain that predates her arrival here.
She also tells them that there is a great evil on the island that she believes is responsible for all the shipwrecks and the many tortured souls and ghosts that result from these wrecks. She does not know where it resides, however.
The heroes sleep for the night as Aycenia watches over them. The next morning, they decide to head eastward through the jungle, then from there, follow the cannibal’s hunting trails eastward towards Red Mountain and the ancient ruins. They manage to make great progress, and avoid a few of the cannibal’s traps along the way. They eventually come to a rope bridge that Gor determines is safe to traverse. After they cross the rope bridge, they head up along the switchbacked trail up the mountain side. It is then that they hear the sound of large flapping wings in the jungle nearby as something seems to be approaching.
Session 9: The Chupacabra [Aug 6th, 2020]
Hiorvard, Gor, Lox, and Flax stand shocked as they watch a large winged dragon-like creature fly towards them, it’s gaping maw wide. It grabs Hiovard in its jaw and drains his blood. The beast is a strange winged chupacabra.
The others try to strike at the beast, but realize it may be beyond their skills. Hiorvard falls from numerous claws and bites, then Lox falls as well. They decide to run and Gor sends out his miniature griffon, Griff to distract the chupacabra. Using the extra time, Flax and Gor manage to get Hiorvard and Lox back on their feet and the four of them flee. Through their shared empathic connection, Gor realizes that Griff has been killed by the beast.
The heroes regroup near the rope bridge, trying to decide where they will go next. They go over all that they know about the island, and find that there is likely no way to get off. The decide to return to the camp and see what the other survivors think about the situation. On the way back to camp, they notice an abandoned hut on a hillside. The heroes head up to the hut and find piles of skulls, bones, and other offferings in front of the makeshift building. Gor and Flax sneak into the hut and discover a journal that was likely penned by the captain of the Thrune’s Fang, the ship that brought the people who would become the cannibals to the island.
Through the journal it is clear that this Nylithati brought the crew to cannibalism in just ten years of being stranded on the island. It is also curious as to what immortality does the captain refer.
The heroes take the journal and continue to the camp, passing through a narrow gulge with two 50 foot high cliffs on either side. Hiorvard then trips a trap and three cannibals appear throwing javelins down at the heroes, trapped in the gulge. The heroes blast the cannibals with fire, flasks, and javelins as they try to flee. The cannibals then wield mighty clubs and charge down the hill towards them. Two of the cannibals trip on the way down, but eventually reach Flax, as Lox and Hiorvard try to hold a new line. Flax flees behind the line, blasting them with fire, as Lox does likewise. Gor throws a few well-placed bombs as Hiorvard then cuts the final cannibal’s skull in two.
The heroes treat their wounds as best they can, though Hiovard is finding that Flax’s “natural” remedies tend to do more harm than good. The heroes eventually reach the top of the bald hill in the night. The survivors, especially Eilaf, have built fortifications around the top of the hill, giving them more protection from future attacks. The heroes relate the stories of their travels, and find that little to no activity has passed at the camp. After a long night of rest, the heroes and survivors begin to discuss their plans.
Session 10: The Rescue of Ginkgo [Aug 21st, 2020]
Hiorvard, Gor, Lox, and Flax sit with the other survivors (Gelik, Jask, Sasha, Eilaf, and Aerys). The next morning has come and they feel well rested after their ambush with the cannibals the previous day. After much discussion, the heroes decide to sneak over to the cannibal’s camp near the lighthouse and at least learn how many there are and what resources they might have.
Sasha agrees to accompany the others, since she is well-skilled in stealth and subterfuge. The five of them set out, leaving the others to keep the camp defended and safe. The travelers follow the old hunting trails down to the southwestern portion of the island, taking most of the day to arrive on the rocky peninsula. The heroes sneak into the deep reaches of the jungle and decide to send Gor, Flax, and Sasha into the camp, since they are most skilled in being stealthy. Hiorvard and Lox stay behind.
Gor leads the way, bringing the other two to the edge of the cannibal camp. They see a strange animal pen, except rather than animals, it contains four undead skeletons standing there in foreboding silence. They also see a number of crude buildings all huddled under the tall stone lighthouse. They also see a giant lizard guarding the north path into the camp.
The three sneaks head around to the south end of the camp and can see a campfire in the center of the encampment. There are numerous cannibals playing drums and dancing with their javelins and clubs. They also see a large butchery where many human parts are hung and strewn about two tables. Two butchers hack away at what looks like a human corpse, the tattered clothing of a Jenivere crewman cast aside. In a caged yard near the butchery they also see a lone half-orc tied to a post near a large refuse pit. It is Flax’s lost brother, Ginkgo.
The three return to Hiorvard and Lox in the eastern jungles and discuss a plan to rescue the half-orc, before he is butchered with the rest of the Jenivere’s crew. Sasha and Flax decide to sneak over near Ginkgo while Gor, Hiorvard, and Lox create a distraction on the northeastern side of the camp. Each group gets into position and Lox begins the distraction by blasting the guardian lizard with powerful magical bolts of force.
The lizard rushes at Lox, who is a bit overwhelmed. Gor throws some bombs at it and Hiorvard rushes in to sever its neck with his axe. Soon four cannibals come charging toward them as Gor and Lox manage to flee and hide in the nearby jungle. Hiorvard, however, is forced to face them in hand-to-hand combat. The proud warrior is easily able to hold his shield up and defend against the poorly trained cannibals. Lox and Gor come out to help Hiorvard deal with the threat, all of them not yet sure if they should flee.
Meanwhile, at the southwestern portion of the camp, the two butchers rush out towards the distraction as Sasha and Flax sneak through the smelly refuse pit. They climb up the far wall and enter the slave pen. As Flax approaches the unconscious Ginkgo, he notices that his brother’s legs have both been severed at the knee-caps. Bloody stumps, seared by fire, are all that remain of his legs. Flax gives Ginkgo a healing elixir, awakening him, and unties him. Flax then hoists the young half-orc upon his back and he and Sasha sneak out of the pen, through the refuse pit, and back into the cover of the jungle. The sounds of combat echo off the northern cliffs…
Session 11: Flight of the Rescuers [Sep 17th 2020]
Flax and Sasha rush through the thick jungles, trying to get to the rendezvous point, Ginkgo bouncing on Flax’s back. They hear the sounds of battle off to the north and try to intervene and find their friends.
Meanwhile, Hiorvard holds off four of the cannibals along the northern path, while Gor assists by throwing a few bombs. Lox hides in the nearby foliage, throwing a few spells. The battle takes a dark turn and Hiovard and Gor try to flee down the path to the northeast, leaving Lox somewhat forgotten in the jungle. Four the of the cannibals follow Hiorvard and Gor, but the two butchers head into the jungles, striking at a panicked Lox. Lox blasts them with magic as they hack at him. He then summons a bloodseeker. The giant mosquito-like creature sucks the blood out of one of the cannibals, felling him. The other butcher, however, slays the blood seeker then knocks Lox to the ground. The bucher then hacks at Lox’s unconscious body, trying to get chunks of meat from the sorcerer.
Flax and Sasha then charge into the combat. Flax throws Ginkgo off his shoulders and hacks at the cannibal. Gor and Hiorvard then return, after felling the other four cannibals, and help finish off the last butcher. The team is able to revive Lox and the six of them scurry off along the path away from the cannibal camp. The rescue was a success.
Evening draws near and the sun gets low. As darkness descends over the island of Smuggler’s Shiv, the clear light of the stars twinkle above. However, a few thunderous strikes of lightning crackle somewhere near Red Mountain, despite no clouds hanging in the sky. The heroes have little time to dwell on this mystery as Flax finds them a suitable hiding place to camp and treat their wounds. They rest for the night and head out the next morning to the base camp on top of the bald hill.
The reach the base camp and spend the rest of the day recovering and talking with Ginkgo, learning what few pieces of information the half-orc picked up during his time with the cannibals. He tells them about how he and many of the Jenivere crew tried to build shelters on the western beaches, but were then captured by the cannibals. He watched as each member of the crew was slowly eaten by the cannibals. It seems they were wary of his green-tinted skin and thus only ate his legs to “taste” him. He claims to have seen an old revered woman with the cannibals who spoke to Ieana at some point.
After some discussion, the heroes and the other survivors decide to wage an attack on the remaining cannibals, knowing there to be only a score of so remaining. They pack up the old camp and set out first thing in the morning. They reach the outskirts of the cannibal camp near noon and hide away in the jungles to discuss the attack plan and whether they will send a group of scouts to gather more information before the final attack.
Session 12: Assault on the Cannibal Camp [Oct 15th 2020]
The band of survivors march forward and discuss their plan on the outskirts of the cannibal camp. They really want to send in a scouting party to get more information. They decide to send Sasha, Gor, and Flax into the camp to see how many cannibals remain. However, before the group can split off, they find a young woman rushing towards them.
The woman has white hair and lavender eyes and an unworldly look to her. A dark brown fox runs at her side. She introduces herself as Lelandra and explains that her ship wrecked on the island a week ago and she has been a prisoner of the cannibals since then. The attack on the camp the previous day unintentionally gave Lelandra the opportunity to escape and she had been wandering the jungle through the night.
Lelandra stays back with the other survivors, feasting on much needed food and drink. In the meantime, Sasha, Gor, and Flax search the cannibal camp, discovering only 4-5 cannibals near the camp’s center. They return to the others and they devise a plan to prepare an ambush for the cannibals in the jungles as Lelandra’s fox, named Orin, draws the cannibals to their prepared assault. Orin reluctantly agrees and sets out to draw the cannibals.
Shortly later, a human-form Orin rushes desperately towards the lone of survivors as a large pack of cannibals chase after him. The heroes hold the line and face off against the cannibals in a fierce battle. Lelandra shows off her witch magic as she and Lox blast the cannibals with spells. Gor throws many explosive bombs. Hiorvard, Eilaf, Flax, Sasha, and Aerys strike with their weapons and try to hold the line to protect the others. Gelik recites a poem of triumph during the whole ordeal as Jask abjures protective wards.
The heroes eventually defeat the cannibals with some injuries. Aerys and Sasha are both nearly killed, and a cannibal takes a bite out of Sasha’s arm. But thanks to Lelandra’s healing magic, their lives were saved. The group patches up their wounds as best they can with mundane means and a few of Gor’s elixirs. They then head towards the camp.
Flax, Gor, Lox, Hiorvard, and Lelandra head into the center of the camp, as the others hang back to tend to their wound some more. The heroes find the camp is relatively quiet as they see many of the makeshift huts of the cannibals. However, they then hear the sound of unruly cannibals screaming out threats in a garbled form of the Toldan language. An aged woman steps out with a mighty staff, leading some cannibals and her skeletal minions. The heroes try to hold off the enemies, but soon a door opens and the leader of the cannibals, Klorak the Red makes an appearance and chases Lox away. The cannibal chieftain then slashes at Lelandra.
Things begin to look grim as Gor is knocked down by the cannibals. However, the heroes then hear the sound of Eilaf, Gelik, Sasha, Aerys, and Jask running around the corner to aid them.
Session 13: The Lighthouse and the Cavern [Oct 29th 2020]
The heroes and survivors throws spells and weapons at the final cannibals and their chieftan. Malikadna the witch and her skeleton minions continue to slash at Hiorvard, who continues to hold them off. Klorak charges towards Lelandra and Lox, but Lox confuses the chieftan, and he returns to the others and strikes at Hiorvard.
Flax and Gor both are nearly felled by the witch, but soon the survivors come into help and Aerys strikes at Malikadna. Soon only Klorak remains, but he manages to cut down Hiorvard, Sasha, and Eilaf. In the end, Lelandra manages to hex the chieftan as Lox and Flax blast him with freezing magic, felling him.
With the cannibals defeated, the heroes tend to their wounds and look about the camp. They manage to find a number of magical potions, elixirs, an ancient Xaya battlaxe, named Wyrm’s Fang, and powerful wand. The spend the rest of the day clearing out the bodies and making camp. They then spend the next few days looking into the hole in the center of the camp and repairing the lighthouse mechanisms.
They learn that the cavern below has a side shaft that looks like it was carved out by small clawed hands. They decide to leave it be for now. After four days of work, Gor is able to get the lighthouse working again. They set a regular rotation to ensure a fire is always burning, hoping to attract a rescue ship. The heroes then spend a lot of time in discussion, trying to figure out where to go next. They list a few things that they know.
1) Aycenia the dryad had warned them about an ancient evil somewhere on the island. 2) According to Ginkyo and Lelandra, Ieana came to the cannibal camp and went down into the cavern with a screaming Captain Kovack. She hasn’t been seen since. 3) Strange cloud-less lightning was spotted near Red Mountain a few days ago.
Red Mountain seems to loom on the eastern side of the island, so they decide to head that way to face the winged chupacabra.
Session 14: Altar of Blood & The Cavern of Ghouls [Nov 13th 2020]
The heroes head out across the jungle expanse of Smuggler’s Shiv. By noon, they reach the rope bridge that crosses the deep ravine towards the trail that heads up to the summit of Red Mountain. They are quite cautious, looking for any signs of the winged chupacabra that assaulted them last time. However, things seem quiet and they make their way to the summit of Red Mountain.
At the top of the mountain, they see the vast expanse of Smuggler’s Shiv from end to end. But more despairingly, they see only the blue waters of the Inner Sea stretching from horizon to horizon. They examine the rock formations at the top of the spire, and Gor finds that there is an unusual amount of iron in the stones, as if numerous sacrifices have been made on this rock. This evidence combined with bits of human sinew in a patch of grass confirms that the cannibals were likely making sacrifices to the chupacabra upon this stone. Although it still seemed unusual that the stone was so infused with blood.
The heroes head down the mountain towards the west, following another little-used trail. It ends up on a cliffside overlooking a sound that pushes into the land. They see a shipwreck wedged in the tight waters down below. At the end of the trail are four monoliths, each bearing a Xayan-esque sigil of a snake. Centered between the stones is a small 3-ft high pyramid with a depressed cup upon the top and rivets to allow liquid to drip down into a basin at the base of the pyramid.
After some examination, Lelandra cuts her hand and drips blood into the basin. The many Xaya glyphs upon the stone give off a faint glow for a moment as if activated by the dripping blood. However, Lelandra is certain there is more to the ritual that unlocks these stones. She determines they would need more information to proceed.
The heroes return to camp as the heavy afternoon rains fall and evening nears. They share their explorations with the others. Hiorvard insists they head down into the cavern beneath the camp and explore its depths. The others agree and they all climb down into the dark cavern. They follow the narrow tunnels with Hiorvard and Flax leading the way and Sasha holding the rear.
They soon enter a strange cavern filled with many bones and six pod-like alcoves on one end. Before they can explore further, the heroes are attacked by two festrogs, crude ghoul-like undead monstrosities that eat flesh.
The battle is quick, but Sasha takes a near fatal wound. Thanks to Hiorvard, she recovers and Lox treats her wounds after the festrogs are defeated. The heroes then find a scrawled note written upon a scrap of leather armor, penned in blood.
I am Captain Alizandru Kovack, betrayer of my crew and destroyer of the good ship Jenivere. Hell would be a welcome escape from what hideous unlife looms before me, but it is no less a punishment than I deserve. That I was enslaved mind and body to a serpentine demon who wore a Astonian’s skin does not pardon me. It is my weakness that led the Jenivere, her crew, and her passengers to their doom. That Ieana has abandoned me here is nothing more than the fate I deserve. I do not beg forgiveness, but I despair that she lives still, and that she seeks something dire on this forsaken isle—she seemed particularly interested in Red Mountain. If you read this and you be a kind soul, seek out what I have become and destroy me, and then seek out Ieana and slay her as well. And to those whose lives I have helped destroy, I can only apologize from this, my dark cradle and darker grave.
The heroes continue on through the dark narrow tunnels, wary of Captain Kovack’s state. They ponder on Ieana’s true form and what purpose this “serpentine demon” had for wrecking the ship upon the island. They come into a tall cavern, built like a silo, with a spiraling ledge around the edge. Numerous offshoots head out from this room.
The heroes take the nearest offshoot to the east where they soon find themselves entering some sort of ancient cathedral. There are four prison cells along the walls and a great pile of bones to the south. To the north a massive ash-caked door is clutched in a snake’s maw of stone. The walls are covered in scenes of upright snake-people feasting and torturing humanity.
Before the heroes can process the hideous scene before them, they are attacked by two more festrogs and two hideous ghouls. The hungry undead surround them as Flax, Hiorvard, and Shasha hold a defensive wall to protect the others. The battle is fierce and the heroes take many wounds. Lelandra blasts the undead with powerful bursts of positive energy as Hiorvard chops at them with his blessed axe. Flax cleaves them with her mighty sword as Gor throws well-placed bombs and Lox unleashes a flurry of spells. In the end, the undead are destroyed.
The heroes realize their spells are depleted and they are fatigued from the long day. They decide to climb back out of the cavern and rest for the night. They reflect on their experiences and prepare themselves for exploring the dark cathedral the next morning.