- Lake Encarthen must be traversed to get to Everstand
- a supernatural storm brews, the epicenter lies above a large island
- the movement of ice flows indicate criss-crossing currents – it will be challenging to navigate the lake
- the Hellknight contingent appears and behind them the dreadful wendigo
- the companions attempt to use the island’s current to propel them across the lake
- an ice flow scuttles the ships, the Hellknights attack
- a negative energy storm descends, destroying the ships
- the companions wash up on shore on the mysterious island
Exiting the river, the ships sail into a large diamond-shaped lake. The morning light reveals a dark grey overcast sky. An island dominates the middle of the landlocked sea, a swirling black mass hanging ominously above it. The lake itself appears partially frozen, large ice flows criss-cross its surface.
The group learns from Wes that the region’s main economic driver is trade. There are several town sites around the lake, the closest of which is Kerse, an opulent merchant town that resides a short distance to the east. To get to Everstand, however, the companions must sail north across the lake. The city lies a short journey up the Path River, which empties into Lake Encarthen near the town of Caliphas.
With some time to acclimatize themselves to their new surroundings, the companions perceive that something beyond natural means is influencing the climate. The region is known for its storms; this is not surprising given the massive black clouds that sit above what is known as the Isle of Terror. The clouds spiral violently, wreaking havoc on the waterways near the island. The companions note several other supernatural storm fronts in the area, creating separate and distinct weather patterns. Further, it is clear from the way the ice flows clash and collide that the underwater currents do not align with the weather. All in all, navigating the lake is likely to prove difficult.
As the companions consider a brief stop in Kerse to resupply, a shout from the crow’s nest draws their attention to port – seven Hellknight long-boats are in hot pursuit. Their hand forced, the companions set course for the eastern side of the island in hopes of using the currents to speed the ships progress and slingshot them well beyond the island’s pull.
Their course set, it dawns on the companions that local craft – fisherman and merchant vessels – have headed for shore. In the distance, a horn sounds. Behind the Hellknights, a fast moving grey and white cloud appears, much lower than the others. The cloud follows the ice packs, avoiding open water. The wind pick up noticeably and dark clouds form on the horizon.
The ships course takes them close to the island, revealing several landmarks on land. Forming the southern tip of the island, a dilapidated fort is seen with ancient stone wharves that extend into the churning waters. A ship is docked at one of the moors. The land quickly rises behind the old fort, with exposed cliff bordering the lake to the south-east before tapering into a natural half-moon harbor. A stone jetty pushes into the harbor, creating a small peninsula. In between the two points of interest lies a stone tower.
The ships’ crews are pushed to their limits as the companions attempt to navigate the constantly shifting ice flows. Despite the crews efforts, the Hellknight long-boats slowly close the gap. A low-lying storm front drifts overhead, causing a preternatural darkness. With limited visibility, the ships are vulnerable to the ice flows and are soon broad-sided. All momentum lost, the Bloody Vengeance and Kraken’s Spite prepare to defend themselves from the Hellnights advance.
The ships are able to launch a successful opening salvo, their ballistae fire sinking one of the Hellknight vessels. Before the artillery can be reloaded, however, the enemy has closed the distance and has commenced boarding protocol. The Hellknight contingent, led by the champion Madron Vox, stream onboard the ships to engage the crew in combat. The intensity of the battle is only exceeded by the rising fury of the storm. Waterspouts materialize from the clouds, picking up crew-members from both sides into the air and pitching them violently into the water. Darkness descends, reducing already limited visibility. The wind howls incessantly, the timbre reaching a cadence sounding eerily similar to whispered voices. The building cacophony stops, a ripple cascading across the water negating all sounds, and everything goes black.
Eyes open to a calm, serene scene – the companions have washed up on the shore of the mysterious island along with the wreckage of various ships. The golden sun sits low on the horizon. The storm appears to have moved on, the sky is calm, a surreal image after the intensity of the storm. A tropical jungle invites investigation.
A low, raspy voice invades the Magus’ slumber, beseeching him to return to consciousness. Inspired, the magus awakes to find himself splayed across a figurehead about 20 feet off of land. On a collision course with a rocky abutment, the magus manages to untangle himself from the wreckage and successfully swim to shore.
Attempting to orient himself, the magus believes he has washed up close to the ruined fort at the southern tip of the island. The sounds that one would identify with a small settlement – people in conversation, animals being tended – can be heard nearby.
A serpent person suddenly crashes through the brush and slumps down next to the magus. The out-of-breath creature is burdened with riding gear. Whispered introductions are made – the magus learns that he, Steve, is attempting to steal a horse and make for the coast. He is tired of serving the “masters”, those that enslave marooned sailors and force them to help excavate nearby ruins.
The sounds of several pursuers follow shortly thereafter. Magus Mike uses a ghost-sound incantation to produce scrambling sounds on the other side of the trail in hopes of confusing the search party. As this occurs, the magus and serpent person leave stealthily along the coastline.
As they put some distance between them and their pursuers, Magus Mike engages the new acquaintance in conversation. The serpent person hints that the mining operation is well-resourced, that many shipwreck survivors find their way to the island. It is rumoured that the masters are searching for an ancient artefact, a glowing purple shard of some kind. The Magus, with Steve in tow, sets off to find his colleagues.
A swaying motion wakes Romica from a fitful slumber. The dwarf quickly ascertains that he is tightly bound and being dragged by several reptilian creatures. They speak to each other in hushed discourse in a language unknown to Romica.
In a feat of strength, the dwarf rolls violently against his ties and manages to dislocate himself from the travois. Hands and feet still bound, Romica gains his feet in time to parry multiple attacks as two serpent folk engage him in close combat. A third stands slightly away making arcane motions.
As Romica does his best to dodge and feint, a large tentacle extends from the jungle to grapple the caster. The tentacle squeezes viciously and the serpent person’s body explodes under the pressure. The remains of the corpse disappear with the vine-line apparition into the underbrush.
The two attackers glance at each other, uncertain how to proceed. Romica takes advantage of their hesitation to wrench one of the creature’s weapons from its possession. The tentacle reaches out again, lashing around the calf of one of the serpent folk. The creature attempts to flee, unsuccessfully, causing it to fall the ground. It is pulled unceremoniously into the jungle, leaving deep gouge-marks in the dirt track. The last serpent person throws down its weapon and sprints down the trail. A subtle thrashing in the undergrowth follows.
Alone for the time being, Romica dons his gear and drinks a healing elixir. Unsure of where he is, he sets off down the path, pursuing his would-be assailant. The lush jungle suddenly opens up, revealing a large mountain framing the horizon. Dark clouds ring its peaks, as lightening flashes provide brief glimpses of the surroundings. In the distance, Romica spots the entrance to a cave, a suitable retreat to wait out the storm.
Freight & Anton
The sound of crashing waves shakes Anton from his slumber. The halfling has washed up on a rock outcropping, the extension of a promontory that abuts a natural harbour. Freight lays face down in the sand several feet away, unmoving. Anton attends to her and she regains consciousness.
From their vantage, they spy six or so Hellknight soldiers on the beach. Several are collecting wood while others assemble the debris into a signal fire. Understanding that the fire will assist the Hellknights in mustering their companions, Anton and Freight set out to stop them from achieving their objective.
Using the rock wall as cover, they skirt the beach and reach a well used path that runs parallel to the water. A patrol of two Hellknights approaches, forcing the two to blend into their surroundings. With the assistance of the chime of silence, Anton and Freight take the two soldiers by surprise. Their uniforms and armor stripped, the two bodies are disposed of in the dense underbrush of the jungle.
Wishing to assume the guise of Hellknights, Anton and Freight dress in their spiky armor and splash themselves in blood. Rushing into the small encampment, they relate that they were ambushed by several orcs. Three officers leave the camp to pursue, while the other three continue to tend to the fire. Anton and Freight again use the element of surprise to subdue two unsuspecting officers, before overcoming the third in melee combat. The signal fire is scuttled before it can be lit.
Giggling profusely, the ticklish gnome is awaken by the tip of a lance to the ribs. Lifting his head, the outline of a centaur can be seen in perfect profile with the setting sun. “My, what good fortune this day! I thank you for saving this old bag of bones. I would have assuredly drown in those rough waters without your help.” The centaur’s steely gaze transforms into an inquisitive mien.
Introductions are made and Maydrane Vox, champion of Citadel Vraid, and Lando, bookish scribe, engage in small talk. With open honesty and good manners (and an understanding that the wizened gnome could not possibly pose a threat), Lando manages to temporarily appease the centaur’s need to skewer him on sight. An allegiance of convenience soon blossoms.
Their civil conversation is cut short by the appearance of several massive crabs at the water’s edge. Maydrane wheels around the small gnome and hefts him onto her back effortlessly as they gallop south along an inland trail.