Lamashan 29 Starday waxing moon
The ruins of Brinewall are still and silent all through the night, but in the wee hours of the morning when Jharad is on watch when Spivey comes flying back into the dilapidated temple of Desna to tell him that she has seen a longboat full of pirates including their captain, but not Jethrik, rowing upriver. Jharad realizes that they might be heading up the Steam River to the trail to try to find their caravan. Though the caravan is still a couple of days away it is possible they might stumble across Ameiko and Shalelu and their horses in the woods, especially if the elf first mate is with them. The problem is that even if he or one of the others tries to get through the woods to warn them it might be too late to help Shalelu ward them off.
Jharad immediately wakes the others, starting with Keng. “A longboat of pirates including their Captain is rowing up river, most likely in the attempt to find our caravan. It is likely they will stumble on Shalelu and Amieko instead.”
Turning to Spivey he continues, “Can you fly ahead to warn them, Spivey? You are much faster than any of us. Then we should either follow to support the best we can or stay here and trust that Spivey will get there in time and Shalelu will be able to hide them.”
Toshio says, “Spivey, will you please go to warn Shalelu and Ameiko? You are the only one with a good chance to get there quickly enough.” To the rest he says “I think Shalelu can keep them hidden if she is warned, but do you think we should rush back anyway? We may have a good opportunity here to get Jethrik off that ship while it’s only lightly guarded. We just need to find a boat to get us there.”
Jharad says, “That would be foolish, they would see us coming and kill us on the open waters. But we may want to stay here to better observe what the corbies will be setting as ambush. And we may also be able to set our own ambush of the pirate longboat as they return down river.”
Keng, a light sleeper from his years in the Highlands where raiding tribes frequently launch sneak attacks at night springs to his feet, grabbing his axe and races back up the trail shouting back over his shoulder, “With me!” He has no trouble seeing the path in the dark with his dark-vision.
“Keng, wait! Lets be smart about this,” Jharad shouts after him.
“Okay then,” replies Toshio. “It was just a thought. To Ameiko’s aid. You have a plan, I take it, that is more subtle than his?” he says, nodding toward Keng.
Already prepared to move, Zeyala gathers her belongings. “As long as I have someone to follow, I will not be lost to the darkness. What’s our plan?”
Jharad shakes his head with mirth and says to Toshio and Zeyala, “Well, any sort of stealth-full approach is gone now. I still think that ambushing the longboat on their way back down river is our best bet. What do you two think?”
Toshio says, “I like it, but I don’t want to let them make trouble for Ameiko first. Let’s follow Keng there and reassess when we get there.” Toshio dons his armor as he speaks with Jharad.
Spivey zips past Keng on her way to find and warn Shalelu, “I think your friends want you to wait for them,” she says in passing.
Keng skids to a halt after hearing Spivey, chest heaving and shakes his head for he was borderline towards Rage. He takes a deep breath and heads back to the group. When he arrives he growls, “More talking?” Then seeing Toshio donning his armor he looks down at himself armorless and blushes a deep greenish brown. “Ah shite!” He then too starts to put on his armor.
Waiting for Toshio and Keng, Jharad spends time to hide his backpack as best he can somewhere in the observatory.
Finally armed and armored the four companions, led by Keng, head off into the woods to get back to Shalelu and Ameiko. Though Jharad could almost see as well at night in the light of the stars and the waxing moon as during the day, under the canopy of the trees he finds that he too is at a disadvantage, though not as much as Toshio. Keng and to a more limited extent Zeyala are able to see in the impenetrable gloom. Before they are halfway back, Keng stops them with a raised hand. He and Jharad see that ahead of them the trees have been covered by webs such as spider as big as a man might make. To their right they also see a deadfall trap composed of rotted logs and more webbing holding them up until a line, also made of webbing, is tripped. If they had tripped it all four of them may very well have been killed or seriously injured. Beyond the webs, the half-orc and the elf see two shapes creeping towards them upon the webs on either side of the large tree in front of them. The one to the left is a man-like figure but grotesquely misshapen with spindly limbs and a squat head, and the one to the right has the bulk and limbs of a man-sized spider.
“Why have we stopped?” whispers Toshio.
“The path is covered in webs,” whispers Zeyala.
Jharad replies quickly and quietly, “Shhh… trap to the right, two shapes approaching from ahead, one from the left, and another from the right. Produce some light for us.”
Keng instinctively shifts to the right and puts himself in-between the party and the largest of the two threats. He lifts his axe and whispers, “I’ll take the spider.”
“I’ll take the one on the left them”, responds Jharad as he draws his sword.
Before anyone else can act a sticky line of webbing whips out from the figure on the left and hits the trip-line in front of Keng. Keng jumps back as the second line pulls back the first and fallen logs roll past the spot where he was standing. The creature up in the webs between the trees chitters at him, presumably in rage.
Toshio tries to keep out of Keng’s way as the barbarian dodges the deadfall. He touches the hand of glory to cast daylight. Whispering Shrike is ready.
Jharad quickly enhances his bow and sends an arrow towards the figure on the left, missing wildly and getting caught in the web. “Damn,” he mutters, “Left one is an ettercap by the way. Nothing special to kill it.”
The spider on the right slings a web at Keng who easily ducks out of the way. Keng seeing the spider up in the web away from his axe’s bite snarls, “Gorum’s Hairy Ball Sack!” He looks around and then grins as he sees the logs strewn around the area as he remembers how the tribes would compete in contests of strength and might during meet ups. He seeks one of the right size and lifts it onto his shoulder then runs forward a few steps and flings it into the tree hoping to hit the spider or at least knock it out of the trees.
From behind the others Zeyala prays, “Blessings upon you my friends. May your blades strike true.”
Webs again shoot out form the ettercap’s ass-end spinnerets, this time entangling Jharad in thick sticky lines that the ettercap begins pulling on to draw Jharad to it.
Frustrated that the foes are out of reach, Toshio moves between Jharad and the thing that is drawing Jharad in. Avoiding the webs he slashes the line so Jharad can’t be pulled in.
Jharad slashes with a dagger at the entangling webs about him, doing not quite enough damage to free himself though.
The spider slings another web at Keng who is busy grappling with the log. Keng is able to swing the log into the oncoming webs however. The spider quickly cuts the line to release the log just as Keng rushes forward and hurls it end over end. The log strikes the spider right upon its head. The log rolls away and the spider reels, its head cracked and spilling bluish fluids.
“Strike true, Toshio,” says Zeyala as she brushes his arm with her fingers.
The ettercap hisses and begins shrieking at them in a barely articulate semblance of the Common tongue, “Vegeance! Vengeance I will have! Behind every tree! In every shadow I will be!” It recedes deeper into the webs covering the trees as it hurls its threats until it disappears from sight in the gloom beyond the range of the magical daylight summoned forth by Toshio from the mummified hand hanging around his neck.
Toshio sheathes Whispering Shrike and strings his short bow but the giant spider is already withdrawing deeper into its webs.
Jharad takes another few seconds to fully extricate himself from the webs then looks to make sure the others are unharmed. Smirking he says, “Enough of this foolishness, lets keep going.”
It takes time to make their way around the webbed trees, but there are no further signs of the ettercap or its spider. The daylight around them cast by the hand of glory continues to shine for almost an hour. Long enough for them to make it back to camp where they find Spivey watching over the horses and the still comatose Ameiko. There is no sign of Shalelu however.
Ameiko grows fitful as they approach and mutters in the language of Minkai.
Toshio translates for the others, “More riddles, ‘Beware the cuckolded cuckoo – it is in his shattered silent love you should seek aid.’” He checks to see that Ameiko is as comfortable as possible and puts his wrist to her forehead, checking for fever.
Jharad looks at the others and then asks Spivey, “Have the pirates come by here yet? And where is Shalelu?”
Spivey hovers in front of Jharad and responds, “I have not seen her. But I did hear shouting coming from the direction of the river. It died down just before you got here.”
With a concerned look on his face, Jharad poises to move swiftly. “I am scouting to the river. Come with if you wish,” he says and turns to run towards the bridge. He suddenly stops, turns back to the group and with a relaxing smile says, “Nevermind.”
Keng follows Jharad trying his best to be stealthy but it only looks comical as he exaggerates his steps trying to tip toe. Keng crashes into the back of the suddenly stopped elf.
“Damn, you saw me didn’t you?” says Shalelu as she seemingly appears out of nowhere not quite 30’ away. “I am very glad to see you all though. The pirates were following the trail back to Brinewall led by their elf. I lured them away and took care of the elf.” She points back down the way they came. “We had better bury him. The rest of the pirates fled in their back downriver. Now that you are here, I think we had better move this camp.”
Jharad rests his hand on Shalelu’s back affectionately and says quietly in elvish, “Það er gott að hafa þig í mínum augum aftur , Shalelu . Ég vona að þú veist að mér þykir vænt um þig djúpt.”
Shalelu responds, “Vonandi dagur mun koma þegar við getum betur notið hvor aðra fyrirtæki. Fyrir nú, við verðum að hugsa um að fá vin okkar til öryggis.”
Jharad responds to her in the Common Tongue, “I look forward to that, and you are right.”
Toshio asks Shalelu, “Do you have a new location in mind? I don’t think the village would be very safe, and we couldn’t watch for Sandru from there.”
Shaleu says to Toshio, “It would be very difficult if not impossible to get the horses through all the underbrush, especially if one is burdened with two riders, for someone will have to take Ameiko. Perhaps, Toshio, you could take Ameiko and ride back to meet the caravan. I could ride back with you while the others remain here to deal with the pirates and try to recover Jethrik.
”I don’t like the idea of splitting up, but I agree that we need to have someone seeing to Ameiko before we do anything else. Okay, I’ll get Onyx ready.” Toshio moves over to Onyx and readies the warhorse. When that’s done he mounts up and says “Okay, lift her up to me, please.”
Keng gently lifts Ameiko up into Toshio’s waiting arms. When she is secured in front of him he steps back.
Jharad nods his agreement to her plan then asks, “And where did you leave the pirate elf’s body?”
Shalelu points back towards the caravan trail. I left him back there. When I heard you I put him down. We’ll ride past it. Just mount up and follow me. Once we bury him Toshio and I will head back to the caravan with the rest of the horses. We’ll return as soon as we can. This way you will not have to worry about leaving the horses alone.”
Unfortunately all their plans are undone when Ameiko begins shaking and convulsing as soon as Toshio begins to ride away from Brinewall. ”She won’t stop shaking!” says Toshio in alarm. “Keng, take her back down before she falls.”
When she is safely on the ground again she becomes still once more. Toshio dismounts and says, “Thank you, Keng.”
Reassessing, Toshio muses, “Well, so much for that. Is there another safe place we can move the camp to?”
“Unfortunately, there is nothing more I can say about her affliction or a treatment,” says Zeyala. “If they were mere physical wounds, I could heal those.”
Spivey says, “I think that there is a little hollow not too far from here and in the direction of Brinewall. It would at least be farther from the trail if the pirates try to come back. The horses should be able to get through to it. Also, I can commune with Desna, but the spell will only last under a minute and a half and you can only ask up to six questions and receive short replies to them within that time. I can only do this once a week.”
The elf is wearing masterwork studded leather, a masterwork longsword, a masterwork shortbow, 20 arrows, a feather token (anchor), a scroll of flaming sphere (2), a scroll of summon swarm, a scroll of web, and a wand of magic missiles (1st level; 20 charges).
Jharad tucks the wantd into his belt and secures the scrolls away into his backpack. He then hands half the arrows to Shalelu and offers her the longsword as well.
Toshio says, “That masterwork shortbow would be an improvement over mine. I’d like to use it if nobody objects.”
Jharad hands the shortbow to Toshio with a, “Have at it.”
Once they finish plundering the corpse of the hapless elf pirate, they dump it into the river and out of nominal respect to their fallen kindred Shalelu mutters a quick prayer to Pharasma to make sure the fallen warrior’s spirit goes to… well, wherever it deserves.
Jharad adds a quick prayer to Calistria as well.
Keng in turn spits on the corpse as they are rolling it into the river snarling, “Rot in the seventh level of Hell you bastard child of whore.”
“Keng! I bear no love for him either, but let’s not be too spiteful,” says Shalelu. “It is most likely that one will serve forever aboard one of the ghost ships in Besmara’s fleet. A shame that an elf should sink so low.”
Keng is somewhat chastised but mumbles, “Yeah but he frakked with the gnome…”
Keng elbows Jharad and asks, “How about asking the fairy where the bleeding treasure is, how to get the gnome back and get outta here alive?”
Once the new camp is set up Toshio considers Spivey’s offer. For a few minutes he silently he debates the merits of various questions they could ask. Aloud he says to the others “Spivey’s offer of communing was a good one, and I have some ideas of what to ask. One – how do we rid Ameiko of whatever is possessing her? Two – Where is the best place to free Jethrik? Three – Where inside Brinewall castle is the Kaijitsu legacy? Four – ” He stops there. “Well, what about the rest of you? What do you think we should ask?”
“I think that is a good start,” adds Zeyala. “I haven’t achieved the ability to commune with my god. Well, I’m sure Pharasma hears me, only does not answer me directly. Anyway, we need to be thoughtful about how we ask the question, and should try to be mindful that the question is something Desna would take interest in, lest her answer be too cryptic or simply that she doesn’t have one.”
“Yes, how we ask is almost as important as the what,” Responds Jharad. “But I believe we should contrive a new plan given that our previous one is no longer valid due to this morning’s events. Then we will know better what we should have Spivey ask of Desna. By now I am sure the pirates have returned to the ship to form another raiding party on Brinewall or to gather larger forces against us. All they have seen so far is me, briefly, and maybe Shalelu, again briefly. And they have lost one who seemed important to the captain. So really, how the captain responds at this point is fairly unclear. I would like to know what he intends to do, that should be one of the questions as well. So lets ask these questions, and in this order. 1) How do we rid Ameiko of whatever is possessing her? 2) Where is the best place to free Jethrik from his captors? 3) What is the captain of the Teeth of Araska intending to do today? 4) Where inside of Brinewall castle is the Kaijitsu legacy? 5) What will we need to obtain the Kaijitsu Legacy without harm?”
Keng nods as he tries to follow the number of questions on his fingers….
Smirking, Toshio nods approval. “I particularly like that last one, ‘though I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we get a useful answer.”
Jharad pauses in thought then finishes with, “What do you all think?”
Spivey says, “I think that will do. Give me some time to sit and pray. She does so and asks the questions aloud in the order given, replying to each one aloud as well.
“How do we rid Ameiko of whatever is possessing her?
“Find the warding box.
“Where is the best place to free Jethrik from his captors?
“In the Castle.
“What is the captain of the Teeth of Araska intending to do today?
“Kill you all.
“Where inside of Brinewall castle is the Kaijitsu legacy?
“Ameiko has told you.
“What will we need to obtain the Kaijitsu Legacy without harm?
“Luck, courage, and Ameiko’s advice.
“That is all the goddess has to say,” says Spivey as she comes out of the trance.”
Keng chuckles lightly, his bone ornaments in his dreadlocks softly murmuring and mumbles, “I could have told you that.”
Jharad laughs as well, “Yes well, ask anything but a very specific questions and that is what you get. At least we know that the pirates are focusing on us now. That is something.”
”I’m quite surprised that it proved so useful,” adds Toshio. “We need to figure out what this ‘warding box’ thing is, but at least we have a focus for a search now. Maybe somebody has a spell that can help point the way? And we know we don’t need to fuss around outside to get Jethrik back. We can take on the castle now without worrying about missing him. And what did Ameiko say? One treasure, two seals to the third vault or something like that. One, two, three. As for the advice, it’s hard to say, or maybe it’s something that will happen in the future. Anyway, I think the answers are more useful than I expected.
“I agree. I was expecting something more cryptic,” says Zeyala.
”I think we should assault the castle,” Toshio continues. “Jharad, when you were scouting did you see any likely ways in? I suppose we could try to sneak up and see if the door is locked – it might work, but I doubt it.
“In addition, I think we should set some limits so we can make a good withdrawal before we run out of healing or spell-power. And we’ll need to consider what route we’ll use when withdrawing – we don’t want to lead them right back here. Thoughts?”
Keng counters Toshio’s plan saying, “We assault the castle we end up monkey-in-the-middle between the pirates and crow-boyz.” He continues, “We should ambush the pirates at their most vulnerable point, when they are tying up and unloading off their boat. Snatch Jethrik and then hit the castle.
‘Of course he counters,’ thinks Toshio with an inward sigh. Aloud he says, “Actually, I am hoping to catch the pirates in the middle. I like the ‘Let’s you-and-him fight’ idea a lot. But if you aren’t feeling up to the challenge, then your plan is a good alternative.”
Shalelu says, “If it will put you at ease, I will continue to stay here to watch over Ameiko. Also, it seems to me that Captain Grudge will be wary of any ambushes or attempts to put him and his crew in between you and the dire corbies. In fact, he will almost certainly be trying to pull that very trick on you. It seems though, that with Spivey we have a considerable advantage. Don’t we?”
Jharad smirks at Toshio’s attempt to goad Keng and replies, “I only saw the main entrance into the castle but if there are others, Spivey said they may be in the woods or cliffs around the castle. I would like to ask Spivey to do some scouting for us again, as I would like to know where the pirates are before we re-enter Brinewall. They are a wildcard that I would like to deal with before scouting the castle properly.”
Spivey, hovering at Shalelu’s side nods. “Yes, I can fly over and see if I can find out where the pirates are. They may have rowed back to their ship or they may have gone ashore again back at Brinewall. I might also be able to find out where your friend Jethrik is. Shall I go now to see what may be seen?”
“Yes, Spivey, I would appreciate that. Then we will know how better to proceed with fresh information,” replies Jharad.
“Yes, thank you. That will be immensely helpful,” adds Zeyala.
After about an hour Spivey flies back in as fast as she can fly, which is actually very fast. She is looking back over her shoulder and breathing heavily from her flight. “Everyone to arms! There is a harpy out there! It was flying over the village and I think it saw me. It seemed to have come from the bay where the ship is anchored. It had a gnome in its talons. I flew back under the trees so it wouldn’t see where I flew. I came back here as fast as I could. The pirates are also in the village, by the lighthouse. They are keeping watch from there.”
Jharad responds in alarm, “A harpy has Jethrik? Is it following you or should we head to the village?”
Keng springs to his feet, makes sure his armor is right and then bellows his war cry!
Spivey is startled by Keng’s cry. “It was headed east towards this forest. I am not sure where it was going. If it is nearby it would have just heard him,” she indicated Keng.
“I suppose that’s one way to draw out the enemy,” chuckles Zeyala. She removes her pack and tucks it under a bush. With her longspear in hand she takes a defensive spot next to a tree.
“True,” replies Jharad, as he finds cover by a tree and draws his bow.
Toshio makes sure Ameiko is under cover, then readies his bow and stays near her. “Spivey, was the gnome hurt? Or merely captive to the harpy?”
“I could not tell. I dived under the trees as soon as I saw her.”
Toshio nods understanding, then leaves what cover he had, searching the sky for the harpy. He doesn’t stray far from the camp, but moves to get the best view of the sky that he can and trying to watch as many sections of it as he can.
“I pray your aim is much much better than mine, lest that harpy use Jethrik as a shield against your arrows,” says Zeyala.
Keng is in the open, moving in a circle while bashing his chest yelling, “Here I am! Come kill me!” The blood lust is upon him now.