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]