Session 11: Keelboat and Crocs
After the council meeting, the heroes spend some time preparing for their trip. Agandar enhances Ali with primal magic and teaches him commands to make him a better combatant. Arngeir spends some time at the Sanctuary trying to learn better medical techniques and healing magics. Duke scribbles down more spells that he remembers and Kiltro spends much time actually studying with Duke, to better harness magics that do not come so easily to his natural talents. Nyyrikki trains with Ali and begins to tap into a bestial nature within himself and his seemingly magical talents when he is angry. Esderal studies all of Bhirn’s alchemical notes and begins learning how best to craft the tools they may need.
21st Rainfall, 692 G.R. The heroes of Bolvirk then gather their belongings and head out on their long journey to protect the town of Bolvirk from future attacks by Grenseldek and her army of orcs and giants. They head northward along the old trade road towards the Raudr Elfr (Blood River) where Raag Bloodtusk and his keelboat is awaiting them. The journey is pleasant as the heroes hike along the rolling, rocky hills, heading downwards towards the river valley.
As evening falls on the second night (22nd Rainfall, 692 G.R.), Esderal and Agandar notice a winged creature leap out of some nearby trees and charge towards them. It appears to be some kind of drake.
Agandar bravely steps forward and blasts the beast with a current of fierce wind, however the creature flies past it. As the beast charges forward, Nyyrikki uses the power of Agrimmosh to grow to giant size, ready for the beast. The drake, later identified as a wyvern, charges at Nyyrikki, seeing a bigger target. The beast clashes into Nyyrikki and the two wrestle each other as the wyvern flaps its wings and brings them into the air.
The two fall back to the ground and the others gather around to help fell the great wyvern. Esderal throws his trusty magical knife, as Kiltro and Duke blast it with spells. Agandar sends Ali in to charge in and the arctic fox fells the beast.
The heroes treat their wounds, particularly Arngeir who took the wyvern’s stinger and was succumbing to the poisonous venom. The heroes continue for a bit before finding a campsite and resting for the night. Arngeir casts a powerful abjuration to alert them of danger, and the heroes rest without incident through the night.
The next day (23rd Rainfall, 692 G.R.), the heroes continue onward, reaching the river’s edge that evening just as the sun is setting. They find the crude dock where the keelboat is anchored. They are greeted by the crew and captain.
Captain Raag Bloodtusk introduces himself and shows the heroes around the ship, showing which parts they can live and work in, and others that are forbidden (like the armory and the captain’s quarters). They have meeting at the table in the map room and assign each other their duties. The heroes also meet Coxswain Halrex, the only full-blooded orc on board, and Raag’s second-in-command.
The rest of the crew are eight half-orcs from the region. Some of the heroes get to know the half-orcs and spend time gambling, drinking, singing, and telling stories with the crew that night.
Early the next morning, at dawn, Arngeir, Sharg, and Oorug head out to the deck of the ship for fishing duty. They gather their nets and throw them overboard to pull in the fish swimming upstream. However, something goes wrong and the railing breaks. Thankfully, Arngeir is able to pull himself back before he falls, but Oorug does fall into the river. Six crocodiles then appear eager for a meal.
Arngeir and Sharg call for help and many of the ship awaken and charge down to the deck. Arngeir climbs down upon the water, using his divine magic to allow him to walk upon the water as if it was land. He tries to pull Oorug out of the water, but the crocodiles are ripping and pulling at him too. Nyyrikki then leaps into the water in a fervent rage, smashing the crocodiles with Agrimmosh. The half-orcs come out and Raag and Halrex throw javelins into the water as Esderal throws his returning knife, and Kiltro and Agandar throw some spells. Eventually all the crocodiles are slain and Nyyrikki and Arngeir are able to save Oorug.
The whole ordeal seems strange. Agandar believes that someone would have had to thrown raw meat into the water to attract so many crocodiles. Esderal checks the railing and discovers sabotage, it was made to break. Esderal tells Raag of this discovery, so as to not alarm the saboteur. The Captain tells Esderal to keep his eyes open as they set out on their journey.
Session 12: River Drakes Strike
The heroes take to their duties aboard the riverboat (24th Rainfall, 692 G.R.), finding that Raag is a fair and reasonable captain. After the crocodile attack, Nyyrikki takes two shifts of rowing that day. Kiltro works the kitchen, while Duke performs sounding work on the front of the vessel. Esderal takes to the crow’s nest, and Arngeir had fishing duty. Agandar works in the stables, tending to the horses. The elf finds one horse that seems to have war-training, he names it Cypress.
The rest of the first day ends without incident. The heroes find the festivities of the crew have died down, and some of them get quite a bit of flack for not holding their own during rowing duty. Halrex is particularly hard on them. But after a calmer and pleasant night of whiskey and cards, the heroes set out for a second day of work aboard the riverboat.
Arngeir thinks much about the loss of his brother Svien and adoptive brother Rodrik, and how all of them grew up together in the Longhouse of Bolvirk
Arngeir: Brothers Lost
During midday on the second day (25th Rainfall, 692 G.R.), the scouts spot a few river drakes flying over the ship coming towards them. Raag calls the alarm and everyone heads to their assigned battle stations. Agandar, Kiltro, and Duke throw spells as the drakes charge in. The drakes spew a caustic bile that burns their skin upon contact. Arngeir climbs up to the heavy ballista as the half-orcs load it for him. He fires the massive projectiles at the drakes as they charge.
One of the drakes tears into Duke, grasping the unconscious wizard in its talons and it then flies off into the sky. Another does the same to Kiltro. Then the large alpha drake breaks through the stables on the keel-boat and manage to fly off with the warhorse, Cypress.
The heroes managed to fell a few of the drakes, but with Duke, Kiltro, and Cypress taken they feel somewhat defeated. Raag informs them that there is a cavern up river, where the drakes might dwell. The crew work together to steer the ship onward towards the cavern. The four remaining heroes, Agandar, Nyyrikki, Esderal, and Arngeir then climb into the row boat and land the small vessel near the cavern’s entrance.
They are greeted by numerous rotted bones at the entranceway. The heroes prepare themselves and climb into the wet cavern. Agandar summons the guard dog, Oak, using his figurine. The dog helps lead the heroes into the cave. They find Kiltro and Duke and the warhorse, Cypress, not far into the cavern. They are still injured and unconscious, laying among a pile of other carcasses and catches. As the heroes try to sneak in, Arngeir and Agandar step upon some crunching bones, alerting the drakes to their presence. The drake burst out of a side cavern. The alpha drake spews forth caustic acid at Agandar and Arngeir multiple times, nearly felling them.
Agandar uses a powerful burst of healing energies to awaken Duke and Kiltro, as Nyyrikki, Ali, Esderal, and Oak try to hold the drakes back. Kiltro blasts the drakes with fire as Nyyrikki slams them with his hammer and Esderal with his thrown dagger. Arngeir charges in at the alpha drake, but is quickly slammed back in to the cavern wall and knocked out. Duke summons a fire mephit to strike at the drakes and soon they are defeated as Ali bites the neck of the alpha drake.
The heroes treat their wounds and find a small cache of treasures in the drake’s lair, including a powerful wand and scroll. The heroes return to the ship and work the remainder of the day. Kiltro and Duke receive quite a bit of heckling from the half-orcs, who see them as weak. Both for their capture by the drakes, and for their complete inability to row well. The other four, however, are treated like mighty heroes and that night Halrex leads songs of their heroics over the drakes.
The next day (26th Rainfall, 692 G.R.), after fishing duty, it is during the first rowing shift on the third day of the journey. A great splintering blast echoes on the back door of the rowing galley, the door to the armory. A hulking, snow-white four-armed gorilla appears at the entrance in a maddened rage. Nyyrikki, Esderal, Agandar, and Arngeir prepare themselves as the gorilla charges forward.
Session 13: Gladiatorial Gorilla and the Alliance Waystation
As the mighty white, four-armed gorilla bursts onto the rowing galley. Many of the half-orcs of the vessel flee in terror. Nyyrikki uses the might of his hammer and armor to grow as he surrounds the beast. Arngeir approaches cautiously as Esderal throws daggers. Kiltro, Agandar, and Duke throw spells from afar. Oorug is then grabbed by the grand beast and torn asunder, his head ripped from his body.
The heroes are able to fell the beast after a few more powerful blows. There are many wounds, but no one suffers as Oorug. Raag is quite upset by the whole ordeal. Agandar and Arngeir overhear Raag and Halrex talk about the beast. Raag apparently had the only key to the cage. Raag talks to the heroes after the half-orcs clean up Oorug’s body and send him off into the river with a proper sending. Raag tells them that he suspects foul play, possibly from one of them. As no one should have been able to access the cage and Gashnakh had been feeding the beast meat laced with tranquilizer to keep it docile.
Raag tells them how he used to fight in the gladiatorial arenas of Gruum until he earned his freedom. He still had contacts there and they always like to acquire exotic beasts. He was bringing this creature to sell to an orc tribe that trades directly with Gruum.
Esderal pokes around the cage area and finds that the lock was clearly picked. He also takes a sample of the gorilla’s last fecal sample and finds that there is no trace of the tranquilizer in it. Gashnakh insists that he put it there, as he had done each day prior. Raag lets it go for now, but he seems to greatly suspect that someone, either one of the heroes, or one of his crew, is causing trouble on the boat.
Raag sends everyone to their normal shift and the boat lurches forward down the river. The day passes on like normal, heading into the second rowing shift. By evening the boat nears the Alliance way-station near Ferrine Skjold, where Raag was to trade the arms and armaments in the armory. However, as they approach the way-station, Arngeir can see from the crow’s nest, the station is aflame with smoke rising over the water’s edge.
The boat surges forward and Raag anchors the boat on the far side of the river. He asks the heroes to board the jollyboat and check on the trading post. The heroes agree and row their way to the coast, where they find a ruined pier and a bloated orc corpse in the reeds. The heroes step out and Agandar finds tracks of orcs and large wolves. It is then that a pack of feral dire wolves attacks the heroes.
The battle is fierce, and the heroes struggle against the wolves somewhat. As many of the wolves are felled, however, orcs appear at the entrance-way of the trading post. They throw javelins at the heroes and charge in to attack. The heroes try to hold a line, but things get quite fierce and dangerous. Nyyrikki begins to climb the building to ambush the orcs from the other side, as Esderal and Kiltro keep their distance. Arngeir struggles at the rear, behind Duke and Agandar.
The leader of the small strike-force steps out of the building, holding a dagger to an armor-clad woman, a knight of the Alliance. Agandar and Duke drop their staves and surrender, but then Nyyrikki leaps from the building and pulls the warchief off the drawbridge into a wrestling match on the ground. The woman is freed from danger, though still tied up. The heroes surge back into battle, and Duke summons an earth mephit to aid him. Ali and Agandar are unfortunately knocked out by the orcs, and one orc attempts to steal his items. Nyyrikki then bashes in the head of the warchief and uses the corpse to scare the remaining orcs. In the end, the orcs flee as the heroes rout them, and the heroes close in on the orc that tried to steal the Ghostlight Lantern.
With the woman saved, and the orcs fleeing, the heroes untie the knight and head inside for some tea. The woman introduces herself as Calrianne Blix, a knight stationed at Ferrine Skjold. She identifies the orcs as those of the Twisted Nail tribe and relates that they have gotten much more bold as of late. The heroes tell of the orc attack upon Bolvirk and Calrianne confirms that the orcs attacked a trade carvan on their return to Redlake Fort. Upon hearing that the heroes are headed to the Fort, Calrianne explains that her ancestor, Fabian Blix, was stationed there as the priest and healer. However, only her great grandfather, one of Fabian’s sons, managed to escape when the castle was besieged and lost a century ago.
In exchange for their promise to bring her information about her lost ancestor, she gives the heroes a map of the old fort, though she admits things might have changed since her great-grandfather resided there. She does point out the sewer entrance that is under the moat.
Additionally, she unlocks a storage shed and gives the heroes various items that the knights have taken from the orcs over the past few years, including many powerful magical items that originate with the Council of Thorns. Kiltro takes the powerful staff of water, Agandar takes the Diadem of Memories, and Esderal wields the rapier known as Raptor’s Claw.
Armed with these new weapons, the heroes feel ready as ever to strike at the orcs and giants of Raudrtjorn Skjold.
Session 14: Merrow Attack and the Foul Meal
The heroes treat their wounds as they speak with Calrianne. After obtaining their new relics, the heroes head back to the riverboat and bring it over for Raag and his crew to drop off the armaments they are providing for the Alliance at the way-station. Calrianne insists that reinforcements will arrive soon and the heroes need not worry about her. Everyone rests aboard the riverboat before setting out the next morning.
The journey continues, on the fourth day (27th Rainfall, 692 G.R.) along the riverboat, the heroes perform well for the half-orcs. It is clear that the crew mourns for the lost of Oorug, but they continue to work hard. Half-way through the day, the team is able to stir the ship as it comes to the fork with the Vestr Elfr. They take a lunch break before pulling out the horses and begin pulling the ship up river. The ship moves much slower upstream and the surrounding areas are a thick swamp and marshland. The horses do not enjoy the thuck, mud-caked ground as Agandar and Urul keep them working hard.
In evening, Esderal spots from the crow’s nest a makeshift dam of boulders, timbers, and carcasses blocking the river’s passage. As the ship is pulled to a halt, a bunch of fish-like merrows leap aboard the ship as another climbs aboard the coast to strike at Agandar and Urul.
Three of the monsters use crude tridents to strike at the heroes on the deck. A fifth merrow throws javelins from the dam, towards Ghorza and Taug on the forecastle. Nyyrikki and Duke rush onto the deck as Kiltro goes around the other side of the stable. Esderal climbs down from the crow’s nest as the merrows chase him. The battle gets quite dangerous and Esderal is nearly killed on the deck of the ship as Raag, Kiltro, and Halrex come to his rescue. Arngeir faces off against a merrow in the kitchen, where he sees Gashnakh get torn asunder by the monster’s trident. Arngeir eventually flees up into the crew quarters, where he manages to escape again and flee down to the others on deck.
Nyyrikki and Duke keep striking at the merrows on deck as Agandar and Urul struggle with one in the water. Eventually Urul is slain by a merrow, despite Agandar’s attempts to keep the half-orc alive. Ali and Agandar eventually slay the merrow, just as the one from the dam swims over to attack. Thankfully, a few well placed spells fell the final merrows.
Raag gathers the remaining crew together and they mourn for the loss of Gashnakh, Ghorza, and Urul. With half his original crew gone, Raag seems deeply saddened, but he says he can recruit more when they reach their destination near Redlake Fort. Raag is also upset by the dam, as it will slow them down considerably. He still thinks it is far safer for the heroes to stay with him rather than brave the orc lands, however. Raag suspects it will take three days to clear the dam. Esderal, Kiltro, and Agandar examine it, and Esderal finds some considerable weak points that should shorten their work time to 1 day.
The heroes spend the next day (28th Rainfall, 692 G.R.) using the horses and their own strength to clear the blockage and get the water’s clear. By the next evening, the damn is clear. The riverboat pushes on the sixth day of the journey (29th Rainfall, 692 G.R.), making great progress despite one horse getting sick in the swampy lands. Agandar tends to the horses now full time, as Urul is no longer able to help.
The riverboat presses on until evening, when Kiltro prepares a grand meal for everyone. However, after eating the meal, everyone begins to feel quite sick. Kiltro and Raag fall unconscious while the rest of the crew spews their guts out over the rails. Besides Kiltro, the heroes from Bolvirk all feel mostly okay, just a sore stomach and diarrhea. Esderal is able to discern that the poison in the meal was the simian tranquilizer meant for the gorilla. Halrex takes over the vessel and puts Raag to bed, he seems to be suffering the most. Arngeir looks over the captain, and finds that he has much liver damage from his previous life. Arngeir and Esderal are able to revive Kiltro. Halrex asks the heroes to descend into the pump chambers at the bottom of the ship and look for a stowaway who might have done this.
The heroes gather together and climb down into the armory. They enter the secret door into the smuggler’s hold, where they find orc weapons Raag likely sells to allow him safe passage. The heroes open a door leading into the bilges. But as the door opens, a bell clatters and rings, alerting someone to their presence.
Session 15: Melira and the Fall of Nyyrikki
The heroes step cautiously forward, peering into the darkness in the lowest chambers of the riverboat. The bilges are full of mud and water, with naught but a wooden walkway connecting one end of the ship to the other. The cramped quarters seem empty in the darkness.
Arngeir steps forward, boldly, the magical light of his axe gleaming ahead. His feet trip over another trap, but thankfully his feet are not tangled in the ropes. Nyyrikki joins Arngeir, stepping in front of the warpriest as he too peers into the darkness beyond. It is then that a woman appears, angry and persistent, she stands out of the shadows and blasts Nyyrikki with a series of arrows from a taunt longbow.
Esderal presses into the bilge, throwing his magical dagger at the woman. But she seems quick and skilled. Nyyrikki leaps towards her in a violent rage, swinging his hammer, but unable to hit the agile woman. Duke and Kiltro throw spells down the corridor, but can’t seem to hit their target. Then a giant emerald cobra surges out of the muddy water and strikes at Arngeir and Esderal. Arngeir succumbs to its poison and faints as Agandar sends Ali to fight the snake. Esderal stays back, throwing his dagger and bombs. While Nyyrikki and Arngeir’s summoned axe strike at the woman.
The woman screams at the heroes for killing her love, Skreed. It is then that they realize this is Melira, mentioned only in a letter Skreed had written and left discarded in the Ramblehouse. Melira pulls back into the far chamber, still pelting Nyyrikki with arrows. Nyyrikki charges in but then succumbs to an arrow into his chest and collapses. Melira then pulls the unconscious, dying man into the back chamber and closes the door.
Duke summons an earth mephit to aid him and the others manage to fell the snake, though Arngeir and Ali still suffer from its deadly venom. Esderal surges past the others, nearly losing a leg to a nefarious bear trap, and slams into the door to the back room. The door bursts off its rotting hinges and slams into Melira, who was about to slit Nyyrikki’s throat. Arngeir activates a soul-binding spell with Nyyrikki to transfer his life essence to him, and the barbarian gets to his feet, drinking a protective potion. Melira has since drawn a short sword and stabs at Esderal until the half-elf falls.
Meanwhile, Duke sends the enlarged earth mephit to strike at Melira, and Agandar commands Ali to do the same. However, Melira manages to tumble past them and strike at the wounded Nyyrikki. The short sword slams into his chest, stabbing the warrior in the heart. The barbarian falls and Arngeir feels through the shared link, that Nyrrikki has died.
The heroes continue their attack on Melira, with Kiltro, Agandar, and Duke slamming the woman with spells. She eventually falls as well. Esderal climbs to her body and slits her throat.
With the saboteur discovered and slain, the heroes bring Nyyrikki and Melira’s bodies to the top-deck. They explain the situation to Halrex. The heroes then climb on to the shore, as the evening grows dim and the sun sets, setting Nyyrikki’s body ablaze in a funeral pyre. They each say solemn words for the fallen hero, lamenting the limited time they had to know him. The heroes then spread the ashes of the fire before returning to the riverboat and a restless sleep.
As the heroes reflect on the death of their friend, Duke recalls those he had lost in his past adventures.
Duke: The Artifact