Helswane Isle

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Sep 9, 2012.




    Peace had been made, between the villagers and the strange arrivals steeped in their slavemasters' blood. Though fearful at first, the show of coin and the speak of common gods had thawed them a little. And whatever reticence remained had been dispelled by a mutual hatred of the goblins in the caves below.

    The natives were greyer-skinned than the heartlanders, and what little the adventurers could gather was that they were the offspring of fishermen and missionaries who had penetrated the island cliffs many many generations ago. There were settlements, in valleys and coves, all along the coastline, so these people were no strangers to other humans. By the end of the second day, the five newcomers had been more or less accepted...

    ...providing they paid good gold.

    And this they did, when not taking shifts to watch over Lindon. For though Mallow had healed over the two days, their Cleric friend had only grown worse. The poison was deep in his blood, and neither Darius nor Jace could relieve it. The locals called it the Taint of Vardig, a potent magical disease brewed by the Hobgoblins. And only one man in the village knew of a cure.

    So it was that they had brought Lindon to the house of Addison Dawnbreaker, a man of Pelor who saw to the people's ailments.

    * * * * * *​

    Darius sat by Lindon's bedside, sorting his backpack, pushing inside the length of rope and two potions he had bought from the local vendor. He had kept his watch for an hour now, and kept his oath, sworn in the dark of the goblin stronghold, that he would stand by his allies come what may. Though servant to an uncertain God, Lindon had proved his loyalty, and for that Darius could not desert him. Even if he could smell the sea... even if parts of the towering cliffs seemed scaleable... even though his wife and children waited across the ocean with eager hearts.

    He sighed and pushed the memory away. It would serve no good thinking of them. Putting his backpack aside, Darius glanced at the feverish, twitching body of Lindon beneath the sealskin blankets, then reached for his mug of water. It was the best his host could offer, but there were petals floating in it that gave the subtle taste of cinammon. Together with the fresh crab he had bought from the vendor, he was feeling fit and rested.

    And ready to help his friend.

    "So..." the paladin began, as he fixed eyes on his host. Addison was on the other side of the bed, checking Lindon's pulse. He had the same look as the other villagers, but with paler skin. "You say there is a poisoner who holds the cure to this disease?"
  2. After recovering for a day and resting well when I could, I took some time to browse the local shops. Based on my previous fight, I decided to see if there were any potions that I might find useful. I happened by an alchemist's shop and found some potions that the alchemist declared would heal wounds. I paid fifty gold coins per potion and bought two of them. Hopefully we wouldn't need them, but from recent events, it was probable that we would.

    After purchasing the potions, I made my way to Addison's home, to check on Lindon's health. Opening the door slowly, I peeked in to see Darius sitting beside Lindon and Addison.

    "How's he doin'?"
    I asked, already fully aware of the answer... "I just heard ye mention something about a cure? Please share. This man risked his life to protect us. We owe him..." I looked at Darius. "I owe ye too, all of ye. Ye coulda left me behind in my bloody and dazed state...I thank ye for dragging me along with the rest of ye..."
  3. [​IMG]


    Addison stared into the unlucky victim's face. It wasn't not looking good for the fellow cleric. He put a damp cloth to Lindon's forehead, hoping the blasted fever would take a small break. Turning full attention to the healthier of the two visitors, a sigh was released.

    "I would also say your friend doesn't have very much time left. Your cure is hidden just beyond a known home of trolls and ogres. We will have to brave The Valley of Nath, to find what you need. Our advisory is a sorcerer and also a hobgoblin."

    Taking in a quick breath, he then looked towards a ceder chest. Addison disappeared past the bed to clumsily fiddle with the lock. Nearly just yanking it open, he shifted making sure he didn't fall over. His facial expression suggested that Pelor might have had to pull him off, if the chest decided to keep being a treacherous nincompoop.

    "Of course, if you wish to get there quickly, I will lead you there."

    He could hear his terribly creaky door opening and his palm gripped Pelor's mace. When the 3rd unexpected visitor expressed concern of his current patient, Addison relaxed.

    "Your ally is stable, my dwarven friend. However, I feel that we must act with haste to ensure his survival." he declared, turning back to Darius, weapon in his hand.
  4. Jace had followed in just after Mallow, catching the swing of the door as he let go, stepping over the boundary into the house. Nodding respectfully to Addison, he took up a place alongside Darius, looking over Lindon's body. The obvious joy of meeting another cleric of a similar philosophy had quelled itself quickly as the poison inside Lindon had proved resilient. "It's a good thing he's unconscious, the spread of the poison might have worked itself harder if he had been awake to struggle longer", he said with grim optimism, taking a few strides to the window and looking outside cautiously.

    The new breastplate on Jace was hardened and fit well, he had been very glad to strike a fine deal with some of the villagers, trading in several of the goods and his old scale mail. After doing so, polishing and praying, and stocking up on the necessities, it was obvious to see a change in his persona. The way his hand gripped the pommel of his sword while absent minded was one indicator of that.

    "It's best to act now, if we are all ready once Garrick arrives. Every day that passes lessens his chances..." Jace looked towards Lindon, "...and ours.", he finished with an iced over face.
  5. [size=+1]I get the impression these folks don’t often get visitors. And even if they do, they’re probably not of my stature. It’d certainly explain all the funny looks I’ve been getting these last few days. Bloody Tall Folk.

    Still, they’ll take my coin if nothing else so I’ve been able to re-stock on supplies that I’ve lost since my arrival on this island. Crossbow bolts in particular are something I’ve stocked up upon; I went through more than a few fighting to get to this place.

    Lindon still has not arisen from the poison since we arrived here; I’m growing more and more concerned for my companion with each passing day. In possession of strange and esoteric powers he might be, but Lindon saved my life on several occasions since we first met. He’s been a good ally, and I don’t wish him to suffer such a fate.

    Slinging my gear over my shoulder and wincing slightly from the weight, I move through the village towards the house of the cleric who’s been caring for Lindon these last few days. A blessing that we found the man, really; Mallow was just about in pieces when we emerged from the dungeon, but this Addison character patched him back up.

    So I guess he’s the good sort.

    Shouldering open the door, I step inside the room to find my companions already assembled around Lindon’s bed.
    “Sorry for the delay, friends,” I announce, “Had to grab some more crossbow bolts and the like.” I deposit my pack near to the door and move further into the room. “No change, I’m guessing. Not an expert by any means, but I don’t believe you humans are supposed to twitch and sweat that much.”

    I look up to Darius, the unofficial leader of our bizarre little group. “So what can we do to help him, then? I’m rather fond of dear Lindon, and I don’t wish to see him suffer this way.”[/size]
  6. Lindon was left in the care of Addison's neighbours, an old couple who tanned leathers and spoke some obscure Elven dialect. They said, in as many words, that the men from the pit had come to restore the land, and for this they would accept the duty of caring for Lindon. The two had the best kind of superstition when it came to the newcomers. Other villagers still treated the party with disdain and feared their killing of the Bugbear would stir the wrath of the Hobgoblin masters.

    No one was sad to see them go.

    This village, and others between the cliffs, had originally been fishing stations tasked with feeding the Hobgoblin barracks beyond the Valley of Nath. But for the last four months, as Addison explained, the people had been assigned a different task. They were made to take their fish guts, animal waste and stillborn in great convoys to north and west, treading week-long circuits through the canyons. And along the way they would stop at goblin outposts for their foodsacks to be treated with spells and magic potions, before being sent onwards to elevators, like the ones the party had escaped on, to deposit the food.

    The intention was clear. The enchanted scraps were being fed to the sea monsters below, to grow them large and ravenous. Whoever had known that the expedition was coming had resolved to put death in the waters.

    It had been the perfect trap.

    After setting out they travelled with the convoys for the first hour, jostled by carts and Llamas, a smelly, noisy profusion that rattled through the canyon. More than a few times Garrick was near-trampled by the pack mules, while others hastled Jace for blessings. Some children even made a game of running around Mallow and tugging on his beard. By the time Addison signalled they should break from the convoy, the party were glad to be rid of this crowd.

    Their guide led them up a winding track that crossed one of the inner cliffs. Beyond it was harsher terrain, where wind made haunting music over rocks and all manner of snake and scorpion were disturbed by their passing. The sun was behind heavy clouds which left the world in grey. It was cold, but the terrain kept them working.

    So focussed were they on their footing, that as they entered the Valley of Nath, a trench barely twenty feet across, they did not see a shadow flicker over them. There was a rush of air, and then something dropped suddenly between the rock walls. A great claw, feathered and speckled, raked the back of Darius's armour, scratching his neck and shoulder and slamming him into the ground. [5 damage to Darius].

    A monster, half-horse, half-bird, smashed into the party and ended with its back to the wall, wings outspread. A shrill cry deafened them. The Hippogriff was starving and desperate. It fixed its eyes on Mallow and readied another pounce. [Hippogriff is using Dodge against Mallow's attacks]
  7. I was glad to see Garrick enter the room, it meant that we would be leaving soon. I didn't very much like sitting in one place, can't find any baubles that way...unless that place was a dragon's treasure hoard...

    Dismissing the though of stumbling upon a mountain of treasure, I focused more on the task at hand. In minutes i was prepared to depart, as was the rest of the party, so we left with one of the caravans traveling towards the valley. At first, I thought that having people around would be a cheery time...I was beyond wrong.

    Everything went well for the first fifteen minutes or so...Garrick was almost killed by the mules every time he turned around and I had a hand full of urchins swarming me. I tried my best to entertain those children running around me. I tried desperately to show my good side, but then they crossed the line. They started tugging and tugging and tugging at my beard. My beard was like my soul. It was like these children were little warlocks pulling on my very essence! As time went on, I was becoming more and more infuriated. My face was reddened, my breaths were coming out in puffs, and my chest was swollen with rage. Had they not been children, I would have already laid them out and left them for a wolf's dinner. These little urchins would make some starving wolf family quite happy. Luckily, and almost sadly, we broke rank before I could muster the hatred enough to pummel a child.

    We had already entered the valley after crossing some difficult terrain and it seemed darker now than it was when we had left. It wasn't because of the time, but because of a looming uneasiness surrounding us. The valley was quite narrow so the wind here was nothing to ignore, but a sudden gust grazed the back of my neck right before a deathly Hippogriff attempted to feast on Darius' flesh! It looked like it hadn't eaten in ages.

    The beast's claw slashed into the paladin's neck, causing a decent gash to leak blood. The Hippogriff was merely making a swooping attack as it flew past and landed against the valley wall. Looking at the animal, with it's wings widespread, we were all blasted with a wall of sound that caused my ears to ring. Pain pierced my eardrums, deafening me as I scowled at the beast. All I could see was the face of one of those little brats from the caravan where the Hippogriff's head should be. The two of us locked eyes and all of my anger came rushing back to me.

    I gritted my teeth and clenched my axe, springing into a full charge at the animal. When I reached a sufficient range, I leaped at the beast, my axe coming around horizontally from my right side. A solid swing, I managed to hit the evasive hippogriff, even if I left barely even a scratch. I made my point clear that this animal had angered a short, but feisty, treasure hunter.

    [4 damage to Hippogriff]
  8. Darius rolled from the impact, wincing in pain and choking on rock dust. The wind had been knocked from him. He could feel blood pumping hot from the back of his neck. They had been so busy focussing on the canyon that they had taken their eyes off the skies. That mistake would not be repeated.

    Twisting onto his knees as Mallow bought them time, the paladin squared his shield and lashed out with his warhammer. It caught the top of the creature's foreleg and smashed the joint-bone. The creature hobbled, backed against the wall, screeching. [7 damage, Hippogriff to 14HP]

    "Flank it!" Darius roared to the others in the canyon.
  9. The hippogriff's appearance had unsettled Jace, for the first time since this adventure began they now had to worry about what roamed overhead in the open sky, rather than their recent business traversing through caves and stone alcoves. Looking on as Mallow and Darius delivered their blows, he could not help but feel that he had seen the perfect opening. While shifting towards the wall to corner the beast, he had seen it. For a second, the crushing blow of Darius' hammered had made the beast wince and lose itself.

    Lunging forward, Jace gyrated his torso and swung with the blade gripped tightly in his hand. The metal made contact as it slid along the hippogriffs side, leaving a bloody trench in its form as Jace pulled back. [5 damage to Hippogriff, 9 hp left]
  10. The hike was freeing for Addison's spirit. For a while, it seemed like everything was going on smoothly. The children were playing tug-o-beard and the other little warrior was avoided being made into something that vaguely looked like a peasant breakfast. With the split came a weather change. The scenery turned to a dulling gray and winds prodded at his good mood. His fear of snakes wasn't exactly being left alone either. Either all signs pointed to something grim happening, or he was being paranoid from not being out this far in a while. Now was a good time for a silent prayer.

    -Bless us Pelor, for we are doing good for those who are unable,
    This gathering of able-bodied beings are bursting with helpful intentions,
    Their ally is down and I politely ask for the strength the slay any evil--

    His prayer was interrupted from a swooping creature. It startled him into immediately taking out his mace and shield. One of the men were injured and group launched into action. Their skill in taking after the hungry monster was rather inspiring. However, now was not the time to watch. It was time for a fight.

    Addison followed his fellow cleric along side the creature. With most of the damage already taken, he tried taking one more decisive blow.
    [9 damage to Hippogriff, killing blow.] His heavy mace smacked against the creature's throat. It's windpipe was crushed and the spine was cracked. Gruesome sounds of painful death echoed through the canyon. It's last effort of life, before falling lifelessly down, was to hack blood onto Addison's armor. He was startled again and stumbled sideways a bit. Quickly regaining his footing, he knelt before their fallen foe and finished his mental prayer.

    -And deliver your grace and good onto those who need it most.-

  11. The beast was down in four strikes. A clean kill. The canyon returned to windsong and Darius waved Jace off as the Cleric made to check his wound. "I'm alright. Save your magic. We may need it before we're through this canyon."

    [120XP each]

    Addison was dealing with the blood on his armour, while Mallow poked at the Hippogriff with his axe-head. "A fine shot, Garrick," the dwarf muttered as he lifted the creature's wing. A crossbow bolt was buried in the bone.

    Garrick had been knocked over when the Hippogriff dived. The Halfling got up now, rubbing his jaw. "Sorry to disappoint, but that wasn't me."

    On cue there was another screech, like the Hippogriff's but far in the distance. It echoed through the winding rock trenches, and was followed by faint squawking. Addison held up a hand, signalling for quiet, and as one the party crept onwards, keeping nimble and silent. They only had to make a few turns before they found another alcove.

    And there was the Hippogriff's mate. The female had been brought down by crossbow bolts, the same which had driven the male to the canyon entrance. Its blood spattered the rocks, and the pool was growing thicker as the Hippogriff was butchered. In the middle of the carcass, a Hobgoblin was flecked in gore. It was gutting the creature with a hunting dagger, plundering meat and feathered hide.

    Beyond this were a gang of Orcs, four in total. They were taking orders from the Hobgoblin. One of them moved around the alcove, collecting up bolts from his crossbow. Another two were fiddling with a basket, tying it to a rope, which was attached the fourth (the smallest) who was climbing nervously up the alcove wall. Every now and then it would stop and squawk at the ones below, who would laugh, before ducking their heads as the Hobgoblin snarled.

    About forty feet up, the party saw what the Orcs were after. On a narrow ledge, choked with vines and moss, a single Hippogriff egg gleamed white against the rock. It was the prize they had come for. Such eggs fetched at least 2000 gold on any open market, perhaps more if the young was sold. Either the Orcs wanted a profit, or had plans to raise a mount.

    The climbing Orc had made it about twenty feet up the rock face and was yelling at the others to finish tying the basket. As far as greenskins went this was a sophisticated operation. And if they weren't finished by the time the Hobgoblin gutted the Hippogriff, there would be hell to pay.

    To one side, they could see the Hobgoblin had dropped his backpack and sword, to keep them clean as he butchered the carcass. Resting atop the pile, a necklace with a golden circlet gleamed. It was studded with aquamarines. Clearly this gangmaster had made a lot of money from plundering these eggs.

  12. Jace eyed the situation with some distaste, both to the height advantage of the orcs and the precarious nature of their cargo. "I've seen those 'griff eggs fetch a massive price on the market.", he sent back a look at the treasure hunters, sure this would entice their minds and hopefully their hands. "We can get them with some surprise if we move now", he motioned towards the unarmed Hobgoblin and then to the smallest orc in his own uncomfortable position in the basket.

    Taking a step out into the clearing, easing each foot in front of the other as he searched for stable ground, Jace began to sneak towards the Hobgoblin. [17 move silently total]
  13. I nodded happily after noticing the shiny on top of the hobgoblin's pile. "Aye, we should fetch this egg ourselves...and that pendant!" The volume of my excited whisper was almost uncontrollable. This was the very reason why I dragged my arse to this place. A mountain of treasure was said to lie in wait here, ripe for my picking, and after seeing all of the ships sailing towards this God forsaken island I had to believe that there was something of dire value here. Working through the cave dungeons I lost a lot of my initial excitement, but now...now this little shining bit of metal and stone caused my blood to flow hot through my body! My adrenaline was pumping and I needed to find the source of this bauble.

    The sight of an actual treasure stirred me to immediate action. Jace had already begun to try his hand at stealth, I would too. Following Jace, I tried my best to move silently and keep my breathing calm. [13 move silently total]
  14. [size=+1]Well, this trip got eventful real quick.

    I think I almost prefer the company of furious hippogriffs to those bastard pack mules, too.

    The fight is over almost before I have chance to react; our new companion Addison brings the creature down with a blow from his mace just as I’ve brought up and loaded my crossbow. I let out a whistle of appreciation as I step closer to the others, moving around the body of the beast.
    “I must say, friend Addison, that’s quite a swing you have there. Even my fourth cousin Harrl couldn’t match that, and he wrestled a bear once.” I tilt my head to one side, attempting to recall my distant relative. “Or at least he says he did. I suspect he might have been full of shite, however.”

    “A fine shot, Garrick,” observes Mallow as he examines the creature. I raise an eyebrow.
    “Sorry to disappoint, but that wasn’t me.” A screech in the distance echoes through the trenches, and immediately I drop down low. Instinct, and all that. Soon we’re creeping through the area again, staying low and quiet.

    Soon we find the source of the disturbance.

    More bloody greenskins, naturally. I guess it was too much to hope for that we’d seen the last of them in that dungeon. And they’re out for profit, too, given that they seem to be making a move for that egg. As are my companions, going by their comments. I keep my opinions to myself and start forming a plan in my head.

    Jace and Mallow begin their approach, and I fall in behind them. Moving quietly and quickly is my forte; I choose my steps carefully and smoothly, doing my best to not make a sound as we sneak up on our targets. [24 Move Silently total]

    Hopefully this will go better than last time.[/size]
  15. Jace, Mallow and Garrick had crossed ten feet or so of distance between themselves and the Hobgoblin, their equipment secure, their footsteps precise. The sounds of butchering and the squabbling climbers were enough to cover them. But when Darius and Addison made to follow, they were not so graceful. The shields of the two men grated against one another, and the slight sound was enough to alert the Orc crossbowman.

    The beast let out a snarl and swung its crossbow at the nearest of the heroes. The bolt sailed over Jace's shoulder and struck the alcove wall.

    The Hobgoblin tried likewise, tossing his gutting knife at Jace but missing by a good few feet. Then he lunged from the carcass and across to his backpack, gripping the hilt of his longsword. And as he did so he yelled to the other Orcs, who were still throwing down their ropes and readying their weapons. The two picked up javelins, whilst above them the smaller Orc on the cliff face simply froze, unsure of what to do.
  16. There was far too much distance left to cover between themselves and the hobgoblin before their attention had turned, the onslaught starting. After watching the crossbow bolt sail by, quickly followed after by the freshly blood-drenched gutting knife of the hobgoblin, Jace had little choice of actions unless he felt like standing still for the javelins being prepared. Raising his shield, Jace started a charge at the Hobgoblin, covering forty feet while wary of the incoming projectiles, taking long determined strides at the creature.

    Reaching the end of his path, Jace lunged forward with his longsword, taking a slice out of the Hobgoblin's side, bloodying the side of his armor. [5 damage to hobgoblin] Panting from the charge, Jace wheeled around to face the creatures, himself exposed at the orcs throwing weapons. [-2 to AC until next turn from charge]
  17. [size=+1]My old uncle Gwin had a saying he liked to share with me. “Garrick, my lad,” he’d say, “if you ever find yourself getting mugged by two of them Tall Folk, punch the biggest one in the balls first.”

    Wise man, my uncle.

    As my companions behind me accidentally alert the greenskins to our presence I react quickly, notching a bolt as Jace charges forwards. I level the crossbow at the leader of the opposing group, the proverbial ‘biggest one’ being in this case the hobgoblin, and let loose the bolt. For a second it looks like I’ve got a clean shot… but the hobgoblin is far faster than I gave it credit for; it shrieks and dodges to one side at the last moment, the bolt slamming into the rocks behind it.

    Fuck it.

    Javelin time.[/size]
  18. Damn. His eagerness got the better of him as his shield knocked against another. This was unacceptable and hopefully a mistake that he wouldn't make twice. Dawnbreaker wanted to redeem himself, somehow. Everyone was starting to move and it made him get a little antzy.

    Taking a quick five-foot step, he takes out a little pouch of silver powder. Swallowing a bit nervously, he makes a three-foot circle around himself. Kneeling, Addison delicately touches himself.

    "Pelor, grant me protection from their evil." he whispered.

    [Casts "Protection From Evil" http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/protectionFromEvil.htm]

    A ward forms around him, as his mace his pointed at the Hobgoblin. Standing, the cleric was feeling a bit better about himself.

    "By his light, we will skillfully skull-fuck you!"
  19. Jace was charging, and Garrick was giving covering fire. Somewhere behind him Addison was casting, and he had lost sight of Mallow. Only one target remained for Darius. Squaring his shield, the Paladin broke into a full sprint, his plate mail rustling as he closed the distance between himself and the crossbow Orc. The greenskin would get off one shot. He just had to pray it was a bad one.

    Darius was within arm's reach when the Orc fired...
  20. "Curse these short legs!" I yelled, following Jace. I doubted I could reach the hobgoblin in time to keep him from getting his equipment, but Jace made it right before i me and landed a good hit. I was now behind Jace's left side, about to make my way closer to the fiend. If we took out the leader, maybe the rest would rally or lose moral. I clenched my axe, preparing myself for an attack, but keeping my buckler sure as I could easily be attacked.