D&D: The Genjobi Pass

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Chaos has come to the kingdom of Paradox...

All that once was is now changing. The Scorpion, a dark sorcerer, stirs up rebellion in the wake of the Emperor's death.

Those remaining nobles loyal to the Old Order have brought together their best agents and assassins.

Their plan... to kill the Scorpion and end the disorder in the land.

In two groups the assassins set out for the Mountain of the Fallen Phoenix, where the Sorcerer has built his stronghold.

The first group has failed.

Now the second group makes its way through the swamplands, praying that fortune will favour them...

Chapter One: The Jalgarus Swamps


Tong had been perched on the mast when it happened, providing lookout for the river ahead.

He was the only one who had really seen it... the black surge of water that came upstream against them. A dozen tributaries and waterways had swelled in seconds, flooding the main course and tossing the boat like a ragdoll.

When Tong regained consciousness, he found himself dangling from the mast, which had become tangled in the treetops overhanging the river. Onu was on a branch about 20 feet away, chittering to help his master awake. Tong gripped the mast harder, the pull of gravity like a dark hand seeking to drag him to an early grave. Below him, the hull of the ship was twisted and splintered, half-flooded, with rocks and vines protuding through.

[Climb onto mast: DC15
Balance on mast: DC14
Jump to trees: DC 20, then Climb DC10 to shore
Falling damage: 2D6 from mast, 1D6 from trees

* * * * *

Far below, Fielli was jolted back to consciousness as she struck the riverbed. Her eyes opened to a world of dark and swirling water, her limbs thrashing as she sought to right herself. She had been standing on deck when the wave hit... and the last thing she remembered was being flung.

Now she was in the depths of the swamp, 30ft below the surface, pieces of splintered wood floating around her. There was no sign of Pipqua... she had to hope her familiar was still on the ship... what was left of it.

Her thrashing limbs became entangled, snagging on the inch-thick vines that lined the seabed. Her pulse began racing, the terror of a watery grave crushing her spirit as water seeped into her lungs.

[Break vines: Strength check DC23
Cut vines: AC5 vs Slashing, AC10 vs Bludgeoning, Hardness 1, HP5
Swim: DC15 (2 rounds to reach surface)
Hold breath for 10 rounds before drown checks

* * * * *

Jillian flinched as something wet slipped into her ear. The druid lifted her face out of the mud, muttering half-formed questions, then frowning as she became aware of Coda's nose prodding her face. She pushed the badger away and blinked, finding herself on the riverbank, the hull of the ship looming over her. The ship had run aground, half of it mounting the shore and the other half submerged beneath the foetid water.

There was no sign of Fiella, Karwik or the ship's captain... but Tong was soon spotted. Jillian looked up to see the man dangling from the ship's mast, which had slumped into the treeline.

Suddenly, Coda hissed. Jillian lowered her head, eyes going wide as she saw that the riverbank was not the only thing that had been disturbed by the crash.

The crocodile crawled out of a pool less than 15 feet from her, its reptilian eyes shifting between Jillian and the badger. Its mouth opened a little, a set of flesh-tearing teeth gleaming in the swamp mist. The crocodile paused in front of Jillian, its body tensed.

[Crocodile's starting attitude: unfriendly
Climb ship's hull: DC18
Escape through the water: Swim DC15

* * * * *

Karwik groaned, struggling to breathe against the weight that pinned his chest. He lifted his head to focus on the object that had fallen on him, and immediately his heart began racing, the blood running cold.

The ship's captain had been a cheerful veteran, an old and slight man who had sung as they travelled down the river. But now he was silent, his frail body slumped across Karwik and pinning him to the wall of the cabin. The furniture in the little room was sprawled around him, chairs and tables smashed, and the whole cabin was tilted to one side, with water coming in slowly through the door.

With slow and strenuous shifting, the rogue slid out from under the old man, grimacing as he saw the broken neck.

Then he froze as he heard the fluttering.

Through the cabin door, the deck was half-submerged beneath the water, rocks and tree-trunks protuding through the wood. And each outcropping now became a perching spot for a dark shape. They could have been mistaken for common birds, were it not that they were larger than they should have been and had a blood red glimmer in their murderous eyes.

Karwik counted seven Fiendish Ravens on the deck, and heard the landing thuds of another five on top of the cabin. Their infernal shrieks pierced the air, and he saw their beaks twitch, scenting out their prey.

They had not seen him for now, the mess of furniture and cargo crates concealing the young rogue. The door was being watched, but the window on the starboard side was shattered, the view of the shoreline beyond.

The Fiendish Ravens began moving, prowling the decks and cabin roof with conscious hunger.

It was clear now that this was no accident. The swamps were better guarded than anyone had thought....

[Distance from Ravens: 20ft
Raven spot modifiers: -2 (distracted)
Move Silently: DC17
Jump through window: DC10
Tumble to avoid D6 falling damage: DC15
Search Captain's body: DC15
Avian spies. Great. This is definitely not what we need right now.

While Karwik's immediate thoughts were on the threat in front of him, he also began to wonder what had become of his traveling companions. Most of them had been up on deck when the crash had taken place, while he had been talking with the captain. This meant that, assuming his companions were alive, there was a door separating him from them. Not a pleasant prospect should the ravens turn hostile, as his single-shot crossbow would do little good against an army of creatures.

Slowly, with his back to the wall, Karwik inched towards the window, with the vain hope of reaching it before being detected. But just as he was about to make it there, the floorboards creaked, and with a sharp movement that sent Karwik's heart to his ankles, the birds all turned their heads towards the young rogue with a look of dark malice, and then, as one, they dove off their perches. They dove for him.

"NO!" cried Karwik, and dashed towards the window. The ravens outside had a door between them, impeding their ability to charge right in. Taking advantage of this small respite, he dove at the window, desperately trying to escape them before they flew on through. However, such was his panic that he miscalculated the jump, landing instead in a disorganized heap in front of the window.

Behind him, the rogue could hear a rapid fluttering and the cry of angry birds. The ravens had come in through the door. In front of him, he could also see the other ravens on the roof of the cabin start to fly in through the broken window. This was not going to be pretty.
Fielli kicked out with her arms and legs in a synchronized fashion she only hoped would propel her upwards to the surface where she could once again breathe. The constrictive vines the clung to her limbs like rope tying her to the bottom hindered her upward propulsion.

In desperation, Fielli nearly cried. Reaching instead for her dagger, she fumbled with it at the hilt, nicking her finger on the blade as she ripped it out and attempted to cut herself free. Her lungs were still holding out, for now, though she knew she would not last very long beneath so much water.
"'On-dear-fool." He mangles the word 'wonderful', struggling a bit into a better position. He rose his hand, acknowledging his familiar - who silenced, looking on at Tong. "Ugh... I'm startin' to see why I never wanted to go the swamp way..." With that, he looked a bit around, thinking out his course. "Alright... ere I go, then..."

He lugs himself up a bit, trying to at least right himself. The wood he grabs splinters and cracks, causing him to wobble unsteadily. He struggles to keep himself aloft... Alas, his target was a bit too far away, and he tumbles towards the ground.

He lands on the hull of the ship with a wet crunch, groaning in agony at the splinters and other nasty things now embedded in his back. He decides to simply lay there for a moment, wincing in pain.
Angus ran around through the forest, bow at the ready. He was back to the river after he barely escaped from the flooding, last time he checked the place wasn't this guarded, or maybe they just didn't care for just one man.

He arrived at the riverbank, it wasn't hard to see the ship from there, and it was easier to realize the whole chaos that had happened. Angus moved to the ship, treading carefully as he approached, in case the ravens noticed him, he wasn't as good with his sword as he was with his bow. He closed in with an arrow notched, he was sure to be close enough to get a good shot.

He noticed the crocodile and the gnome, but from what he'd managed to see, the crows were the main concern, he saw the glimmer in their eyes, they weren't natural.

He aimed and shot at the roof where the ravens were, without much hope for aiming well, he was too close for comfort to the crocodile.

"Shit!" he muttered, he missed the shot and the arrow flew past the ravens into the water, this wasn't a good day.
With a 'thud', Sales woke with an aching head, he looked up to see what noise brought him back to the conscious world, and saw one of the mercenaries in a pile on the floor.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
Sales stood up and got a glance of something dark in his peripheral vision, he turned to see a flock of huge black birds, with a devilish look to them, charging towards the captains quarters. Sales got a glance of one of the mercenaries in the captain's quarters and suddenly saw what danger the mercenary was in. Sales saw a fishing net on the deck and with a shake of his head, to focus, grabbed the net and sprinted towards the aid of the mercenary. As Sales burst into the Captains quarters, he started swinging the net at the demon birds.

Unfortunately with Sales rushing in too quickly, he missed timed the swing with the net and missed the demon Raven completely, his forwards momentum got the better of him leaving him falling forward. However, even with his superior elven reflexes, Sales barely managed to stay upright by crashing into the door and stumbling into the cabin.
The Fiendish Ravens scattered, disturbed by the sudden charge of Sales Goodspeed. Four of them broke off their dive and swooped back along the deck, landing around the groaning form of Tong, while the other eight flapped and squawked around the cramped confines of the cabin.

As Sales stumbled into the quarters, three of the ravens turned to attack him. One flew around his side, moving into flanking position, while the other two pecked and clawed at him.

The first raven barely missed the Elf, but the second slashed open his shoulder with its savage claws, ripping a deep gash in his flesh. [5 damage to Sales]

On the other side of the cabin, the smaller group of ravens fought and squabbled to get through the narrow window. Moving in single file, only two of the ravens got through, while the other three turned to lurch across the riverbank at Angus.

One of the ravens was able to reach the ranger, swooping viciously through the trees but missing Angus by a good few feet.

Meanwhile, back in the cabin, Karwik found himself rolling across the ground to avoid the claws of the remaining two fiends. As he wriggled away, their claws raked his side and legs, cutting him open in a dozen places. [7 damage to Karwik]

And as all this chaos ensued, the crocodile on the riverbank below continued to watch Jillian with tentative eyes, its body tensed for violent attack.

SUMMARY: 4 ravens landing around Tong on ship's deck. 3 Ravens swooping for Angus on the riverbank. 2 ravens and 1 flanking raven attacking Sales inside cabin. 2 Ravens attacking Karwik inside cabin.
ARGH! Stupid birds! Get off of me!

Despite the fact that he had only attracted two of the beasts onto him, Karwik felt that these two were more than enough. Raked and savaged, he was beginning to feel like Anubis had marked him to attend his halls this day. This was unacceptable. To be one of the youngest in his group and to die first was intolerable.

Despite the continued assault of the avian creatures, Karwik managed to pull himself to his feet. Aggravated, and bordering on death, he lashed out blindly with his sap, but the sly birds fluttered just barely out of reach. As he glared at them, he saw that there was someone in the cabin with him, but exhausted as he was, he couldn't compel himself to move.

Without help, this would be the end.
Sales noticed that the mercenary was now bleeding badly. A quick decision was needed. Sales then noticed the broken window behind the mercenary, and with no more thought charged straight at the mercenary. The ravens clawed at Sales as he charged through, two getting in each others way, but the third clawing at his side.
But Sales was too enraged to notice the pain and carried on charging towards the mercenary. With the power of his god burning through his veins, Sales pushed the mercenary with all his might towards the broken window, where they fell through onto the river bank a few feet away from Jillian and a menacing crocodile. Karwick landed with catlike reflexes, but unfortunatly Sales landed badly and injured his ribs.

Fielli felt the initial panic and inertia of being submerged, taking it badly as her body refused to adjust to the waterlogged conditions. Her arm, slashing with her small dagger, was drug by the water, slowing its progression while the vines still encompassed her mercilessly.

Fielli wondered briefly what had become of the others, most especially Pipqua, as she kept her lips clamped tightly shut to hold on to her breath, desperate to simply stay alive. She hoped they were all right, but she had to focus or they would all be the absolute bottom of her list of concerns, she would be drowning.
Slowly, very slowly, Jillian slid back, getting her legs beneath her while doing her best not to provoke the beast. Keeping watch on the reptile from the corner of her eye, she silently willed Coda to leave it alone- but the only command Coda knew how to obey was "attack", and she didn't think it was necessary just yet to fight this creature. It was just an animal, and the idea of fighting it without first trying to placate it left a bad taste in her mouth that couldn't be attributed to the foul mud she'd fallen in.

She had no idea where or how the others were- they could easily be in as much or even worse trouble than she was. She needed to try and find them quickly, or the mission was already lost- but to do that, first, she needed to deal with the crocodile in front of her.

"Hey now," she said softly. "There's no need to be so unfriendly. If I fell into your patch of swamp, it was entirely by accident. Just leave me alone, and I'll be walking away without you ever having to go to the effort of chasing me..."

With a reptilian snort, the beast turned its head away from her, ignoring her, Jillian could not help but breathe a small sigh of relief. Immediately, the sounds of a fight caught her attention, and she turned, seeing the rogue and an elf from the crew fighting crows... no, not crows. Immediately angered by the sight of the vile creatures, she grasped the handle of her morningstar.

"Coda, attack!" she shouted, directing the badger's attention to the crows, as he let out a low growl and then lunged forward towards one of the ravens, but it flew out of reach of his claws and teeth before he could strike.
Tong continue to lay upon the deck a few more moments, before hearing the pitter of crows around him. It didn't take long to identify them as unnatural. He groaned again. "Real-eh?" He sighs, raising his hand in starting to motion... not even a spell, just a random motion. In the middle of it, he seems to loose interest and lets it fall.

Meanwhile, Onu had been taking his time, moving down the trees and now slunk up behind the crows... quiet and deadly... the weasel moves skillfully up behind one of the four ravens... and with Tong's 'finishing' motion, what he had been doing earlier... the aggressive little predator sprung to attack one of the ravens. Onu chomps own upon a nearby raven, giving Tong the chance to spring to his feet.

"HA. Bet'cha didn' 'spect this!" With that, he spoke the incantation require for Mage Armor, casting defensively so that, if attacked, the spell would not fizzle. He and onu are garbed in translucent, golden armor... defending them a bit more.
Fielli's thrashing finally paid of, her dagger finding its mark as it hacked through the vines with a gratifying tearing of the fibers. Her mind cheered, a small victory, yet she was not yet free. No one knew that she was slowly becoming duller and duller in her senses and losing seconds of her reaction time.

Fielli's only hope was to swim up now, on her own, to break the surface. It was dark under the water where she was, lit by very little light, and she knew she must be quite deep. Kicking her legs steadily, her face taking on a determined set, she tried to overcome the sluggishness that was beginning to take her.
"Damn it!"

He grimaced at the sight of the incoming ravens, for a moment he tried to pull another arrow, but he realized it would be nothing more than a waste. He dropped his bow to the ground and pulled out his scimitar, too rushed to keep the bow safe.

He slashed at the raven above him, hoping to hit it before it hit him. He hit the raven right in the middle and cut it in half, nothing too clean about it. Angus looked at the two other birds, and without much thinking he decided to move away from the other two birds and took a few steps back, figuring it'd be better if they went after him than if they escaped him.
The two Ravens dove through the trees, their bloodshot eyes bearing murderous fury as they swooped at Angus. The agile ranger dodged the first, but was too slow to outwit the second. The Raven's claws raked his shoulder and back, tearing through armour, clothing and flesh alike and spraying blood over the surrounding vegetation. [5 damage to Angus]

Meanwhile, at the riverbank, the ravens that had been inside the cabin were not about to give up their pursuit. Screeching through the broken window in single file, they swooped at Sales and Karwik, but first had to contend with the ferocious badger that blocked their path. The first raven pecked uselessly at the snarling Coda, while the second slipped around his flank and buried its claws in the animal's side. Both badger and raven rolled across the riverbank, wrestling savagely. [4 damage to Coda]. And behind them another two ravens barged through the window space and lifted skyward, circling over Sales's and Karwik's heads.

The fifth Raven never made it out of the cabin. As it perched on the windowsill, looking for an opening, a sinister hiss heralded its demise. Shooting from the shadows, Pipqua's fangs clamped the bird's breast, delivering venemous poison directly to its heart. The Raven squealed and thrashed, dropping to the ground and expiring in seconds. As it finally lay still, Pipqua gave another hiss and then wound its way through the wrecked cabin, slipping out through a crack in the wood. The snake familiar curled up on the other side of the deck, peering at the water and awaiting the return of its mistress.

Meanwhile, on the half-submerged forward deck, Tong was beset by the remainder of the fiends. One of the ravens leapt instinctively at Onu, pecking at the familiar's head and back, but failing every strike due to the golden sheen of the Mage Armour spell. And the second raven fared no better against Tong as it was repelled by the magical barrier.

The last Raven, however, had more luck, its claw breaking through the golden haze and slicing into Tong's upper arm. The fighter reeled, but remained on his feet, his body aching in a dozen places but his resolution firm.

[SUMMARY: 9 Ravens remaining. Two attacking the Ranger in the treeline. Two attacking the badger on the riverbank. Two trying to flank Sales and Karwik on the riverbank. 1 attacking Onu on deck. 2 attacking Tong on deck.]
Sales held his side in pain while lying on the wet ground of the swamp. As he looked up, he saw 2 of the sneaky flying raptors above Karwik and himself, they looked like they were circling for an attack.
As Sales got to his feet, he drew his long sword, looking to kill those retched things. With both hand on his sword, and a murderous look in him, he took a swing at the birds.
Unfortunately the pain in his ribs got too much for Sales, he dropped his arms down with the sword still in his hands. Angered that he let the pain get to him.
So the birds still wanted to play, eh? Dizzy from the loss of blood and the sudden fall through the window, Karwik could still see enough to discern the black birds flapping overhead. They were keeping themselves distant from his as-yet unnamed comrade, but perhaps the club in the rogue's hand would be more effective.

With a one-handed swing that he poured all his strength into, Karwik flew wide, stumbling to the side before righting himself. Up above, the birds tittered, as if laughing at the attempts of the two men below to strike them. And rightfully so. The rogue hadn't landed a hit since waking up from the crash, even at full health. If he kept this up, he'd probably hit himself in the head.
Angus winced and shouted to take away from the stinging pain on his shoulders and back, it was beyond him how it managed to tear through the leather, but he had more important things to put his mind into. He had been holding his sword tighter because of the hit and it had began to feel on his hands. He loosened up his grip and fought the pain, he had time to bleed it out when the ravens were dead.

He looked at the ravens again, and slashed at one of them, hoping to repay the damn thing for his trouble. Once again he did it, the raven was killed by his blade, the other bird croaked at Angus, and he was getting ready to attack it to.
Fielli's small body, soaked with filthy water, slowly rose to the surface. Slim arms in a honeyed tan broke the sinisterly swirling surface of the water, followed by a head of hair, dripping and clinging to its bearer in a shade many tones darker than its natural color. With a sharp gasp, she finally push herself up and coughed, expelling the water from her lungs that she had accidentally allowed in.

Swimming sleekly to the deck of the ship, her eyes glittering with newfound life, she let out a thrilled gasp as she saw Pipqua staring down after her. Tentatively, Fielli grasped the edge of the deck, letting Pipqua slither around her arm and to her soppingly wet collar.

"What... what's going on here?" she inquired as much of herself as the snake.