The Glasspine Guardians awoke at the sounds of struggle, but only found Blackwater standing alone in the hallway. Their explanation was hard to believe, but their stress was undeniable. Fenix ordered shifts of watch over the halls to ensure they would not be surprised again. It proved effective.
The returned to their rest and awoke the next day in the later morning. Guards still manned the halls and they could hear the bustle of the common room below. Breakfast was served and they planned to have some themselves. Downstairs they found citizens of Argrim, crew from the Blackwater, and the Guardians eating comfortably and almost without worry. The effect of the news was apparent. Some of the worst men and women of the region had died in the ruins of the most infamous buildings. Those that did not know did not care how or why, they were just glad to be safer.
There were a few additional recognizable faces as well. Fenix spotted Jadzia Elon, thankfully unharmed from the incident at the Duras Mansion. She was there to thank the men herself for saving her and her half-Orc friend. They fled safely and promised to tell no one of their existence and operation.
They then all came to recognize a couple in the corner. Slowly, however. At first they were of recognizable frame and body. Then they were certainly a man and a woman. The man was impressively well hidden for an open area. Whoever he was, he knew how to blend in with a crowd. It finally hit them.
Callan Dor of the Brotherhood of Thieves and a great assistance at the mansion sat with Nia, childhood friend of Erik. He claimed the party kept him waiting and was about to burst with the amount of coffee he had drank during.
Nevertheless, he expressed his gratitude with their work while he flexed his informational muscles. He already knew the situation, where they were going, and why. He wanted Kraiven for the Brotherhood and safe transport for Nia out of Argrim. The party agreed and he left Kraiven with an encrypted letter to deliver to Giurland Laurent – his main contact in the Northeastern region of Mandragorran. He was in Wolfden Vale as well.
The men finished their breakfasts and loaded up for the journey to the Elven land of Vanya’laide. Coin found them plenty of food, supplies, and recreational drugs for the projected two-week voyage.
It began smoothly. Days passed beneath a beating sun as the men of the ship worked with efficiency. Blackwater was not expected to perform any of the day-to-day jobs and were treated as high ranking guests of their own ship until a cloudier day came.
The sound of distant, grumbling thunder was only slightly louder than the flapping of the masts in the wind.
“So inconsiderate is mother nature, is she not?”, Brasick shouted with a gruff laugh. “I’m going to need everything you’ve got! One of you to the rigging, one below deck, and one with me at the wheel! We’re in for a bumpy ride!”
Brasick’s experienced warning was worth heeding. Fenix took the wheel, Kraiven manned the rigging, and Johann coordinated below deck. The storm raged and the boat swayed. Fenix kept her well on path with the expert rigging done by Kraiven, but hit the occasional wave. The water failed to move the men from their posts on deck, but caused more trouble below. The damage previously done by Diurlig led to several breaches. Johann put use to the oars and prestidigitated wood to keep her afloat. His coordination of the crew ensured swift repair.
They managed the storm with skill and the crew acknowledged that with even greater respect. Food stores and supplies remained intact and plentiful for the rest of the voyage. Brasick informed them that it should only be another few days before they reach the Northwestern end of the island of Vanya’laide.
During the final leg of the voyage, Fenix dreamed of a woman’s voice that said, “I know who you are now. You and your father’s sins. It seems the power he never had is now the blessing and curse you bare. You will love me again. And you will die.”
He awoke unharmed and kept it to himself.
The ship neared the Northwestern tip of the island as close as it could. A little over a hundred yards away, they could see the foggy forested coast. The waters were unable to wear away at the green lands of the island surrounding Vanya’laide as nothing resembling sand awaited them. Just the edge of rocky land resembling one side of a giant river. The coast spanned over a hundred yards wide with a grovely beach quickly transitioning into thick grass and dense forestry.
They formed a plan with Captain Jean de Brasick. The Blackwater would sail back to Cenandira and transport Nia to safety there to then continue on to meet the company at Wolfden Vale. It was an order understood and well received. The party then took to the small boats to bring themselves and the Guardians to the coast.
The land proved a bit confusing. Paths were difficult to identify in the thick shrubbery, but eventually they discovered three dips in the treeline. It was the farthest one away that they chose on the other side of three-meter high rocks.
They climbed the boulders with relative ease, though the Wizard found them a bit slippery. The path on the otherside revealed to be wide and well-beaten, splitting in a fork. In one direction was the haze of fog and running water, the other was a bit more hidden. They moved forward to the river’s edge to discover yet more fog, raging waters, and a gargantuan tree on the other side.
There was no apparent way across, so they decided to turn around.
Doing so revealed a small, secondary path extending farther West. They cut through it to see a better view of the giant tree, but revealed another item of interest. It opened another beach-like area, rocky and more muddy dirt than sand. The mud was piled high upon itself as a result of a large beached vessel that leaned quietly on land. It was a simple boat, the wood dark and damp, and was significantly damaged. The masts above flowed lazily as a slight wind slipped through their rips. Its ramp dug into the gravel around it.
The Beached Vessel
The ramp brought them to the deck and immediately revealed four mast poles and a crow’s nest column surrounding the top of a raise roof, likely covering the area below deck. Fenix and Johann took a peek below deck to arrive at a door and Kraiven turned the far corner to inspect the top.
Approaching the corner brought him closer to a mast pole as well as the crownest’s column. He could see a rickety platform where the boat was once piloted from ahead. Only a couple of feet off the ground, the platform housed a damaged steering wheel. In the fog, he also perfectly spotted two dire wolves consuming a rotted corpse of a crewman. He called out to the others and the wolves attacked. The beasts moved quickly, but were no match for their prowess. Their wounds split and festered and they were tossed aside by their force.
They inspected the crow’s nest, but it rested 30 feet above upon a thick column. The last two or so feet of its rope ladder swang below. The rest must have been ripped away.
So they continued below deck. As they descended the stairs a pungent, damp musk hit them. Below deck were two rows of wooden bunk-beds for the crew covered in blood and surrounded by a mess of their previous items. The room continued forward and a portion at the end looked sectioned off.
They continued forward.
They looked into a small room, a bit more lavish compared to the rest of the ship. Well, if it weren’t thoroughly ransacked. The bed’s coverings were mostly coming off and bunched up as well as bloody. The table was covered in different nicknacks, thrown about and broken. A sack lay on the ground across from a heavily scuffed, wooden and bronze chest. Just in front of the chest was a long-dried puddle of blood.
Kraiven took to inspected the chest while the others checked the bag. In the sack was some gold, a thick rag with five holes in it, and three severed human fingers. It was a grim sight to share with the rogue. He continued inspecting the lock while they speculated on a connection. The lock was unpickable, blocked by a layer of steel just beneath the keyhole. Fenix took the lock in his hand to evaluate it himself.
The lock erupted in five spikes into his hand, wounding and poisoning him. It stabilized, but a man of lesser strength would need an amputation. Now they had to figure out what was in there.
They grabbed it in different ways, touched the severed fingers to it, and speculated further. Finally, Fenix had Johann grasp the bottom of the lock with Mage Hand, causing the spikes to eject into what looked to just be air. It released the metal block, allowing Kraiven to pick it with ease. The chest opened and revealed a single, expensive item. A magical grappling hook.
Blackwater took the item and returned above deck. The grappling hook provided them an easy solution to the distant crow’s nest where they found more dead and an unopened crate labeled, “To Argrim”. It would seem this was the missing vessel they heard about when they first arrived in the seedy city.
Inside were whetstones, a death rattle, and a bridle of conjuration. All useful for the coming days. The left the boat of the death behind as they returned to the forested island.
They ordered the Guardians to inspect the rest of the island as they worked their way across the river that once hindered them. The grappling hook grasped the other side and Fenix took hold to keep the rope taught. Kraiven glided across the rope with a deft ease, but Johann found it a bit trickier. He however made it across one Fenix took perfect hold of the rope and provided a surface as firm as ground with his strength. He swung across himself and climbed onto the other side of the river.
The area opened in a field to the East and coastline to the West. North was completely blanketed by dense fog and trees. A home sat in between. Small and modestly ornate, it was not nearly as impressive as the tree it was built beside. Standing well above 200 feet with a trunk width far wider than a home or inn, it dwarfed what now seemed a white shack at its base. Beside the home they found a stone at the base of the tree. It was written in Elvish, but they could decipher the name “Carlinya” and recognized it as a gravestone.
As they neared the structure, they noticed it had two floors, gold colored trimmings, and a painstakingly decorated door. It’s trim was lined with carvings of vines, various felines, and symbols. The two front-facing windows were small, but too had designs in their encasing wood. The entire structure looked fairly new and built with an artist’s attention.
Kraiven jimmied the bolt lock and they burst in to find a home in disarray. A table and chair were tossed to the side, a barrel set atop. The floors were dirty, and a chest sat in the middle upon a crumbled rug. It was open and empty. The home however was built along the tree, allowing it’s back-wall to be the tree itself.
They reached a similar sight at the top of the stairs. The room was barren and dirty, with its few contents pushed messily to the far end. Their search of the home revealed but one item still intact. The journal of a damaged man named Ferindar who lost his wife Carlinya during his time assisting the Elves in the Goblin War.
They read the few entries from the distressed man until they heard a sound from the floor below.
Current Date: February 12th, 1 AGW