Chains Unbound

Queen's Gambit story update for 20100223 (Marpenoth 8-9)
Some inclement weather; an island in the sky

After waking up, the group mounted their rented griffins and took off, headed northwest into the northern Gray Peaks. Flying at an altitude of about 60 feet, the group spotted a horde of slivers headed towards the White Lotus academy, but was informed by Azaerai that they had been spotted and that the school would be able to handle it. Reassured, the group quickly flew off, and into the oncoming snowstorm.

A few hours later, the snowstorm turned into an unnaturally cold blizzard. Suddenly, the storm coalesced into a creature, which quickly harried the party out of the sky. They landed in an iced-over clearing to take care of this new threat, a blizzard elemental. The group dismounted, and up above some smaller elementals circled over the clearing. The griffins, freed of their riders, headed back up into the sky to chase the smaller elementals.

The group then set to work on the blizzard elemental and the stragglers. Hanzo and Jtal, a new recruit from the academy, pinned the elemental down with spells and neutralized it, sending it into a slumber. They then focused on the cerulean wyverns and the windstriker that joined the battle. Blaze and Balasar wore down one of the wyverns for a bit, then Blaze threw down his weapons and attempted to cow it into submission. This failed horribly, and the group was forced to kill the wyvern in self-defense.

Jtal and another unnamed, but suspicious sorcerer (Frank) wore down the windstriker, and Blaze managed to land the final blow. This left only one wyvern left, which the group quickly disabled and tied up. Blaze tried to convince the group to either bring the wyvern along, or tie it up somewhere safe until it could be retrieved, reasoning that if someone rode it, that would be one less griffin to rent. He was overruled, however, and the group ended up leaving it tied up and exposed to the elements.

After three more hours of flight, at around midnight, the group noticed that the blizzard had died down, but that the winds that lashed their faces stung a lot more. The sting, it turned out, happened to be from a lot of wind-borne sand, which rasped abrasively on the party and their mounts, threatening to leave them blinded and chaffed. The party soon spotted the source of the sand, a huge landmass flying about 750 feet above the ground and topped with a desert. Jtal identified this as an earthmote, or more specifically, a desertmote, which is a chunk of land ripped from the earth and sent aloft by the spellplague. Seeking refuge, the party decided to land on the desertmote and attempt to set up a camp.

The dominating feature of the mote was the mountain, with a large cave in the side of it. Scattered throughout the sands of the desert were shreds of blue skin and scales, and dead manipulator slivers. The scales and skin were most likely from the blue dragon that captured Hazarak, which seemed to have fought some slivers here. The group quickly made a camp and rested until the early morning, then headed into the cave.

The inside of the cave were steeped in the deep darkness common to underground areas, pierced only by the lights that Balasar, Blaze, and Hanzo carried. The air within the cave had a reptilian stench to it, mixed with the acrid smells found in the other sliver burrow that the group explored. Before long, the group found out why this was, as a large, horned sliver and some manipulator slivers, led by Hazarak ambushed them.

The suspicious sorcerer, Hanzo, and Jtal quickly incapacitated Hazarak, and the rest of the group engaged the slivers, who burrowed into the walls of the cave to evade attacks. One of them jumped Jtal and attempted to burrow into her brain, but her armor suddenly grew spines and killed the hapless sliver. Eventually, the group finished off the visible slivers and wandered throughout the cave. They came upon a room filled with what looked like a small portion of the dragon’s horde (see the game discussion for its contents), where they decided to take a breather. Even while resting, however, all eyes were on the walls, which occasionally rippled when an errant sliver passed through it, near the surface.

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Queen's Gambit story update for 20100215 (Marpenoth 7-8)
Escape from the sliver caves; Hazarak gets assimilated; a deal is struck with the White Lotus academy

When we last left off, the party was trapped inside of the sliver caves, which were quickly filling with smoke. While the Hazarak and Tovah examined the pool of water in one of the chambers, the Bees began repeatedly emptying his canteen of endless water onto the smouldering sliver eggs to put them out. Once the fire was out, and it was determined that only a small creature could possibly escape through the pool, the group turned its focus towards digging their way through the caved-in areas.

Hazarak and Balasar took turns hitting and digging at the wall on the south side of the caverns, but the rocks proved difficult to move there, and little progress was made. There was little hope of ever getting through the cave ins until Tovah used one of her thunder-based powers on the northern cave-in, collapsing part of it into the pit that the slivers had dug in front of it. The rest of the group squeezed through this opening and escaped into the fresh, cold air of the Feyshadow forest.

The group headed back to the keep to drop off the biologist Kovus and to resupply. Enroute to the keep, however, the group was attacked by a large, adolecent blue dragon. The party quickly moved to restrain and surround it, with Hanzo pinning its shadow to the ground and Hazarak moving in for the kill. As soon as Hazarak moved next to the dragon, however, a large group of small slivers jumped off of the dragon’s back and ambushed him. Three of them managed to find purchase on his armor, and one drove a fleshy probe into his brain, dominating him. While the rest of the group fought the dragon, Hazarak fought for control over his mind and body. Eventually, he succumbed to the sliver that attacked him, falling unconscious. At this point, the dragon picked him up in his mouth and took off like a rocket towards the northern parts of the Gray Peaks mountain range.

With no hope of catching up to the dragon, the group had to reconsider their plans. They eventually decided to head to the White Lotus academy, both to complete that part of their overall mission, and to request assistance in rescuing Hazarak. The group made the 6 hour ride, and arrived at the academy near dusk on the 6th of Marpenoth.

Through negotiations and confering with the duke of Feyshadow keep via messenger animal, the group secured the following agreement:

  • The academy will provide 6 griffins for your use, provided you can secure a reliable source of rare earths. If you can’t, they will cost 15 gp per day per griffin. If one of them dies before returning, you will be charged the full cost of the creature, 15000 gp. (As an aside, any players that show up after the group leaves the academy will have to share a griffin. Normally, these will only carry one rider, but due to the way our group is, we’ll have to make do)
  • The academy will also provide 10 senior class mages of various types to assist in the defense of the keep. The keep itself will pay for these, once the attacks cease and trade resumes.
  • Headmaster Marovic suggested that the group see the dwarves in the southern Greypeak mountains and speak to their leader, Joenar the Shoeless, regarding the mining of rare earths.

After the meeting, the group rested while Balasar found a mage who was willing to hook him up with a magical tattoo. In the early evening of the 8th of Marpenoth, the group will set out to rescue Hazarak and repay the academy.

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Queen's Gambit story update for 20100208 (Marpenoth 6-7)
Psionic slivers; Save the Queen; The Psionic Broodmother

Last session saw the continuation of the battle with the slivers inside their lair. Lady Tron, the Bees, and Balasar had passed out from the fatigue, leaving Hanzo, Tovah, Althea, and the biologist to hold off the slivers. The battle swiftly turned against the Avengers, as the slivers’ ability to hit twice in a round, combined with the psionic sliver’s ability to daze its enemies, caused grevious damage to everyone. The party seriously considered running, possibly even leaving those that had already fallen or were unconscious. Just in time, however, the Bees and Balasar woke up, and, through a great team effort, managed to return parity to the battle. Hanzo and the Bees went after the fleeing raidleader sliver, while Tovah, Althea, and Balasar took on both the psionic sliver and the sliver brood guardian. It was only later that they realized that they should have switched targets, as Hanzo and the Bees attacks would have worked well against the brood guardian’s slow reflexes, and the armor-piercing attacks of Althea, Balasar, and Tovah would have worked better against the lesser-armored psionic sliver. Oh well, live and learn.

After a well-deserved rest, during which the group was harried by raider slivers, they returned to the cave to finish off whatever was inside. This, they found out, was another psionic sliver and some raiders, as well as a huge sliver surrounded by eggs: a brood mother. Wasting no time, Hanzo attacked the brood mother, and took a heavy counterattack from all five of the raiders, nearly dropping him. The Bees backed him up, and they both headed into the brood mother’s cavern. In a move to protect the eggs, she started attacking the walls, collapsing them partially in. Undaunted, the Bees and Hanzo set fire to both the brood mother and her eggs, and rooted the mother in place under a wall of fire.

Elsewhere, Balasar, Althea, and Tovah encountered another psionic sliver. Remembering the trouble that the first two gave them, they quickly surrounded it and killing it before it could get its mind-disrupting attacks off. Back closer to the entrance of the cave, the raider slivers burrowed into the cave walls and began collapsing them. They managed to finish this while the group was killing the brood mother, entombing the group in the caves with the dead and burning slivers.

Now, with the exit blocked off and the cavern filling quickly with smoke, the party must find a way to escape before being suffocated. There is also the threat of more slivers showing up, as they are unhindered by the cave-ins that they used to block the group in. This is where we will pick up next week.

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Devilsinger wrapup and Queen's Gambit story update for 20100201 (Marpenoth...6-7ish?)
The Staff of the World Tree goes home; Fighting Back the Horde 1: Psionic Slivers

I’ll fill this in when I get someone to send me the email that contained the info.

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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20100125 (remainder of Marpenoth 5)
A deal is struck; Sealing the Watergate

Continuing from where we left off in the caverns under Llorkh, the group had just finished its battle with the water elementals and slaadi and was deciding what to do about their newfound allies. With half of the party unconscious, including the group’s leader, and the group’s cleric dead, the role of leadership temporarily fell on Ella. She negotiated with the human (I told you guys that she was either a tiefling or half-elf last night… oops) hexer, Medina, and came up with the following deal: the Avengers assist Medina and her ally Mohini the Devilsinger in sealing the planar gate. In exchange, Mohini would give the Staff of the World Tree to the group once that was completed and they were out of the Llorkh underground. With a tentative deal struck, the combined group headed deeper into the caves.

The group eventually reached a large cavern with a huge lake in the middle of it. In the middle of the lake jutted a peninsula, and at the edge of the peninsula stood a huge gate glowing with bluish light and gushing water and monsters. Behind the gate, the group saw Mohini, whom, it was assumed, had already begun the ritual. Unfortunately, she had been surrounded by four lightning serpents, with a fifth one peeking its head out of the gate. Once the serpents noticed the group entering in along the walls, they immediately charged with teeth gnashing and lightning crackling.

The devils spread out, with the succubus Tenari taking flight over the serpents and dominating one of them, and the blade devils sending volleys of poisoned blades into another. The rest of the group quickly made their way towards the peninsula. Conan took a running leap across two of the serpents’ backs and heads, and made a splashing landing on the shores of the peninsula. Ella jumped on Tempest’s back and they both went around the long way, pass a patch of slimy moss, and arrived just in time to heal the ailing Conan, whom had already moved to protect the devilsinger. Blaze and a random paladin that the group met just before entering the cavern also took off running and eventually made it to the peninsula.

With Mohini and Ella directing arcane energies into closing the gate, the rest of the group worked on the serpent that remained near the gate. They inflicted griveous wounds on the serpent, and even the energies from the creature’s home plane were not enough to keep it healed. Another serpent joined the fray, and both serpents took turns swallowing members of the group. Eventually, the devils finished off their two serpents and Medina rode the one that Tenari controlled to the peninsula, and together with Ella and Mohini sealed the gate. The group made quick work of the serpents after that, and the battle came to a decisive conclusion.

With the large gate gone, two smaller ones opened up near the patches of slimy moss at the back of the cavern. Mohini explained that these were natural gates that fed the underground river, and were of no concern. The water in the cavern quickly drained, revealing a ruined ship that held Lynnedslag’s treasure horde. The entire group searched the ship, and found the following items:

  • A total of 1950 gp in coins
  • 2 500 gp black pearls
  • A cask holding 11 100 gp moonstones
  • A cask holding tightly stoppered vials of elemental samples (600 gp worth of alchemical reagents [Arcana ritual component])
  • A bronze Netherese crown belonging to a minor noble, worth 250 gp
  • A jagged broadsword +3 (for Laquel)
  • A foestone (for Tempest)
  • Pouncing hide armor +2 (for Blaze)
  • Healer’s sash (for Urgarr)
  • Shimmering jacket (shimmering armor) +2 (for Ella)
  • Amulet of physical resolve +2 (for Conan)
  • An Ashurta’s Blade +2, keyed for fey instead of aberrants (for Skip, I’ll let Chris know later)

Do try to divide this amongst the entire party, as it is the entire treasure parcel for 8th level. The party then left the cavern and returned to the surface, where Mohini gave the staff back with a warning to disenchant the triggered ritual on it before returning it to the temple of Silvanus. The party then parted ways with the two devil summoners, and were left deciding what to do next.

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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20100118 (Marpenoth 5)
Liquid Death; an unlikely alliance

Continuing from where we left off in the sewers, the group continued east/northeast towards the area under Fort Llorkh. Once they arrived, Ella found a passage that lead deeper underground, but was blocked off by a cave-in. The group dithered for a bit, mulling over what to do about it, when they hit on the idea of bracing the ceiling with something and having Conan dig out the rubble. The only reinforcing material to be found in the area was the bars that made up the gate into the fort’s dungeon. Ella finished picking the three locks on the gate, and Oligar noticed that two of the bars were actually immovable rods. After some messing with the locks and some hacking away at the bars to get them out, the group used the materials they scavenged to brace the cave ceiling and cleared the rubble, allowing passage deeper into the cavern complex.

The caverns lead to a fork, both branches of which opened into a large cave dominated by a spring that drained out the back of the cave. Conan rushed in, after having seen that bullywug that escaped from the fight in the sewers, only to be ambushed by two quicksilver slaadi. He shouted out a warning, and the battle began in earnest. Awakened by Conan’s battle cry, half of the party shook off their slumber and climbed out of the bodybag of holding.

The slaadi split their attacking force into two groups, with water elementals acting as artillery support. Oligar and Ella held off the advancement of one group of slaadi by dazing them in the hallway and tricking them into thinking that the other group was under heavy attack. This worked to keep the slaadi stuck in that passage whenever they advanced into it. Oligar then fired magic missiles at whomever ran into the mouth of the cave, keeping them at bay until the group could break through.

On the other flank, Conan, Blaze, and Tempest got bogged down at the entrance to the large cavern, and Conan was targeted repeatedly by ranged attacks from the water elementals. Having snuck through the other side before the slaadi headed in that way, Skip quickly disguised himself as one of the enemy and tried to convince one of the injured slaad to back off, which worked for a little while. Having determined that Conan was the greatest threat, the slaadi and the water elementals focused all of their attacks on him. He was saved once by Blaze, but eventually both of them succumbed to their wounds and collapsed.

With the party’s cleric still in the bodybag and their main damage dealer down, the party began considering retreat. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, a group of devils, led by a succubus and a human warlock, came in through the back entrance, cutting off the party’s escape. The succubus and warlock demanded to know who was the leader of the group, and Urgarr stepped up, as Laquel was out on another mission and the only other full guild members were elsewhere. They negotiated for the devils’ assistance in this battle, in exchange for assisting them with sealing the gate that the group was looking for anyway. With that out of the way, the devils and warlock began fighting the slaadi and elementals. Right around this time, the party’s cleric also shook off his slumber and started healing the party’s grievious wounds.

The battle quickly turned in the allies’ favor, and the slaadi and water elementals were defeated or driven off. Now, the group must decide on how much to trust their new allies, and whether or not to kill them immediately or wait for some better time. Because of this, we will begin next week with the map as it was set up yesterday.

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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20100112 (Marpenoth 5)
The Llorkh prisons; the underground river; Llorkh Undercity

The last session started off with Laquel sneaking off while everyone was sleeping. She headed behind the warehouse you all were sleeping in, and found an entrance into the sewers. After exploring the sewers for a while, she determined the group could use the sewers to get into the Zhent compound, but that if the sewers did connect to the area with the gate, it was much further away than she had enough time to explore.

Meanwhile, Blaze decided to head towards the fort and see if he could sneak inside. After failing horribly at that, he managed to attract the attention of every ghost in the area, who howled for their bodies, his body, anybody… yeah. The press of the ghosts pushed him out into the light of day, which forced him to find another way in. He decided to go in through the top, and after climbing to the fort’s roof and exploring the ruined house and barracks, he found a way in. Blaze descended the stairs and navigated his way through the fort until he reached the lowest level, a dungeon reserved for powerful, dangerous political prisoners. At the end of a long hallway lined with prison cells, he found a barred passageway, secured by three locks set into the wall. Fumbling with his fullblade, he jammed it into one of the locks and somehow managed to pick it. After deciding that that probably used up his luck for the day, he went to question the ghosts. One of them tricked him into releasing all the ghosts, then possessed his body and rode it back to the docks, hoping to get more bodies for his compatriots.

After regrouping, Skip sailed the River Serpent out to the drop point, and Tempest scouted out the inside of the underground river. He swam around and got lost for 15 minutes, then decided to bring Ella as backup, and they headed into the underground river’s mouth. They swam for almost an hour, through winding caves filled with frigid water, past a cavern where a mass of river serpents, the spawn of Lynnedslag, lived, and finally into the Llorkh sewers. They exited the sewers near the Hundred Knives’ Gang territory, in the cellar of an abandoned house, and reported back to Laquel and the rest of the group.

There was much discussion on how to best get into the underground cavern where the gate was thought to be. On one side, there was a group that wanted to avoid the sewers and head into the fort, reasoning that dealing with a few ghosts would be preferrable to the stench of the sewers. On the other side was the group that wanted to brave the sewers, led by Tempest and Ella. Their argument was that the sewers were not that bad, and they would know, since they swam through it. In the end, the group decided to enter the sewers and head towards the part of it that connected with the fort’s underground.

Once in the sewers, the party was set upon by a group of bullywugs; toadlike creatures with a powerful stench about them. The group fought valiantly, even in the face of the bullywugs’ tactical advantages. Eventually, the bullywugs had all been killed or fled, and the group, tired but victorious, were the only living creatures left in this area of the sewers.

I don’t remember if you guys decided to take an extended rest or not, so let me know. We will continue next week either in the sewers or wherever you decided to rest.

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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20100104 (remainder of Marpenoth 4)
Another barfight; a duel with a disgraced captain; looking for information

The remainder of Marpenoth 4 saw the group take a much needed break, then go out on the search for information. From their starting point at the Llorkh docks, into the prison and fort on the east side of town, and through the territory of the Hundred Knives Gang on the west side, the group groped for clues as to where the staff was. LaQuel and Tempest searched the fort and prisons, respectively, and found what the pirates had told them to be true: both were haunted by the ghosts of slain nobles and prisoners. Conan, after drinking Capt. Kerrot under the table, followed Ella and the cask of neverending rum she had out the door. They went to follow the party’s cleric (Alex, I can never remember your character’s name) and Blaze into the Knives’ territory, to the town’s only working bar, the Defiled Maiden. Blaze and (Alex) started a barfight, with both drawing weapons/implements. Conan ran in and took a few swings, and Tempest eventually showed up and started giving orders, causing everyone involved to fight with more vigor.

The bartender, who never gave his name, eventually had enough and jumped over the bar with his trusty mug, swinging at Blaze and (Alex), who promptly surrendered. Following the second rule of barfights here (the first being no outside weaponry), Blaze and (Alex) cleaned up the blood they spilt, and Conan paid one of the Zhent soldiers to do it for him. Conan also made a lucky swing during the fight and hit the bartender, who said that he hits like a girl. Later, Conan bought a drink from the bartender, a rare gin distilled at the border between the elemental planes of Water and Earth. At 10 gp a shot, this drink was not only the most potent thing anyone in the group has ever drunk, but also the most expensive. Conan’s massive constitution would have proven insufficient to withstand the gin if not for the hurled insults of the rest of the guild members spurring him on to remain conscious.

Back on the River Serpent, the group’s pirate, Skip, was enjoying a drink with a few of the Gray Vale Pirates when the ship’s original captain, Ran Cwen, who was borne in the talons of her two frost hawks, arrived. She ran inside the warehouse and swore at Kerrot, then came outside and challenged Skip to a duel for the ship. LaQuel, who had sneaked onboard the ship behind Cwen, said that she was the group’s leader, and challenged Cwen instead. Skip tried to confuse Cwen by assuming the shape of LaQuel, but Cwen was able to tell them apart by the cutlass that she had just handed the real LaQuel. They dueled, with LaQuel landing the only blows, until Cwen fumbled her sword, sending it over the side of the ship. Mumbling under her breath, “I guess you keep it, for now,” she stalked off the ship and into town, with the derisive laughter of the pirates following her.

After searching the town for the day and early evening, here is what the party learned:

  • Both the prison and fort are haunted. The ghosts do not seem to be violent right now.
  • There are four faction in town, none of which like each other. All of the rest of the factions hate the Zhent Irregulars the most, though.
  • The women that you are looking for came through two days ago looking for something. They were seen at the Maiden, where they got into a bar fight. They ended the bar fight by summoning a blade demon and fleeing.
  • The river serpent Lynnedslag was rumored to lair in a large underground cavern, somewhere under the prison. It also hoarded treasure like a dragon. That treasure is likely in its lair.
  • There is a sewer/underground river exit that feeds into the Gray Vale River about 2 miles from the west wall. The entrance is entirely underwater, and it is here that Ella and Tempest will swim up and look for a way for the rest of the party to enter the sewers/underground.
  • Ella suspects that Lynnedslag’s lair is the most likely spot for the elemental gate (I forget why at the moment).
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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20091228 (Marpenoth 4)
Llorkh Docks; Conan buys the pirates a drink

As we continued the story, half of the party was stranded on the giant block of ice encasing the corpse of the river serpent Lynnedslag, and the other half sailed towards Llorkh aboard captured pirate ship, the River Serpent. Fatigued from the last battle, LaQuel and Ella passed out, and the party’s cleric and Blaze climbed out of the bodybag to replace them. While this was going on, Conan ranted at the group’s pirate, (Mike), for leaving the three of them stranded. Finally, he and Tempest decided to abandon the corpse, telling Jarvis that it would eventually pass by Loudwater, and that he should grab it when it did. Jarvis, somewhat irritated at being tasked to do something far outside his area of expertise, eventually capitulated and said that he would see what he could do about it. Conan then grabbed the body of LaQuel and he and Tempest headed towards Llorkh on foot and by river.

Meanwhile, as the River Serpent pulled into port, it was greeted by some angry Gray Vale pirates, whom were surprised to see unfamiliar faces aboard one of their ships. (Mike) then attempted to sell the pirates back their own ship for 1/3 of its total cost (4500 gp), reasoning that they had “found” the ship in the river, and that it was a bargain at that price. One of the pirate captains, Kerrot, demanded to inspect the ship before purchasing it, telling the group that he knew what was supposed to be on the ship’s manifest, and if those items were not in the hold, he would have more reason to suspect that your group had killed or driven off the original crew. His demand was that (Mike) and he go into the hold alone to do the inspection, and the rest of the group remain on the pier with his pirates. (Mike) agreed, and they went into the hold.

In the hold, Kerrot quickly found that the ship had been looted, and demanded to know where the gold and gems that were in the hold went. (Mike) attempted to bluff him into believing that it was stolen by the members of the party that were not present, but Kerrot saw through her ruse. As the pirates attacked the group on the pier, Kerrot fought with (Mike) in the hold.

The battle lasted for what seemed like a half an hour, but couldn’t have been more than a few minutes. Conan, carrying LaQuel, and Tempest showed up in the middle of the battle and turned it from an even match into an overwhelming victory for the Avengers. While (Alex) kept everyone alive, including the badly wounded Sir Oligar, Conan beat the other pirates down and intimidated them into submission. Eventually, he reached the captain, who was lying on the deck of the River Serpent, taking pot shots at (Mike) and Blaze, whom he had used blasts of water against to force off of the ship. After a few well-placed hits by (Mike) and Conan, he was eventually cowed into a grudging submission by Conan, who offered a promise to assist with “dealing” with (Mike) if Kerrot surrendered. He agreed, and an argument ensued between Conan and (Mike), with the former eventually putting the following question to every full member of Balasar’s Avengers via bluetooth: Given that (Mike) had abandoned his comrades and taken a valuable ship with the intention of selling it and splitting the profits only amongst the group members that were on the ship, should (Mike) merely be expelled from the guild, or did her treacherous actions warrant execution. (This decision was made by the characters of all players present at this session). Eventually, a decision was made by all active guild members to exile the traitorous pirate instead of killing her, although Conan and Hazarak would have preferred her death. Casting off the sender for her bluetooth, (Mike) left the group, wandering off into Llorkh.

Conan promised to have a drink with all the pirates that surrendered. Also, during the battle, all the mounts that were onboard the River Serpent ran off, scattering throughout Llorkh. This amounted to a warhorse, a Valenar riding horse, three regular riding horses, and a riding lizard. (Mike) will recover her lizard (so don’t think about trying to get it. If anyone else left Loudwater with a mount that wasn’t mentioned here, let me know), but the rest of the party will need to find their horses. This is where we will continue next week.

This will be in the game discussion email as well, but just in case you don’t read it, we will be moving permanently back to Ward. A situation has arisen that makes our continued presence at Hickam untenable.

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Devilsinger (a Queen's Gambit sidequest) story update for 20091221 (Marpenoth 4)
The Pirates walk the plank; Lynnedslag, terror of the Gray Vale river

In the cold light of the early dawn on the 4th of Marpenoth, the battle with the Gray Vale Pirates came to its conclusion. The captain of the River Serpent, whom the ship’s logs named Ran Cwen, fled on the wings of her two pet frost hawks. Under the Lyla Desari, Ella was slowly making her way towards the starboard side of the ship when the bodybag she carried in her backpack stirred, and (Mike) popped out. He immediately grabbed Ella and made for the surface. Further downstream, LaQuel, Conan, and Tempest made short work of the remaining pirates, who seemed to have lost the ability to swim like the fishes once their captain fled.

Ella and (Mike) boarded the River Serpent and took the helm, saving their redshirt pirate captain Skip in the process. The pair then slowed down the ship and turned it around, running over the last surviving pirate in the process. The rest of the battle consisted of cleanup and regrouping, with everyone getting onboard the newly aquired ship, and negotiating the transfer of the mounts (and refund of the price of passage) with captain Desari. LaQuel also looted the hold of the Serpent and distributed what she found amongst the group. The two ships then parted ways, with the Lyla Desari headed back to Loudwater, and the River Serpent continuing towards Llorkh.

The ship traveled for most of the day unimpeded. During the trip, the group squabbled over what to do with the ship, thinking up plans for keeping it and expanding the hold. As the ship neared the west river gate of Llorkh, Oligar spotted a blue glow from below the ship, and saw some dead fish floating to the surface. Fearing attack, the party braced itself for battle.

The battle that followed would be one that the bards would sing about for generations to come.

A huge (Gargantuan, even) river serpent with two tails and a crackling aura of lightning surfaced, bent on eating the entire crew of the River Serpent. The beast blew out a mighty gout of lightning over the deck of the ship, shocking and stunning those that were unlucky enough to be standing in the blast. It then chomped down on the panicking Ella and swam to the other side of the ship. (Mike), thinking on his feet, switched to his abyssal form and swapped places with Ella, then disappeared from the creature’s mouth, reappearing on the deck of the ship. He quickly took command of the ship, much to the chagrin of LaQuel, and got it moving towards Llorkh. The serpent, refusing to let its prey escape, moved to block the ship and was promptly rammed by it. Then Conan got an idea, and with a mighty roar, provoked the creature into swallowing him.

From within the creature, and with Tempest’s guiding commands, Conan went to work. Blow after mighty blow did he land, hacking the inside of the creature’s mouth into so much bloody meat. The creature continued to chew Conan, but found that he was a much tougher piece of meat than expected. Outside, Ella, Oligar, and LaQuel hurled ranged attacks at the serpent, with LaQuel binding it in huge magical chains for long enough for the River Serpent to get back underway. (Mike) had the ship head at full speed for Llorkh, but before his attempted escape he made one last attack, freezing the creature in a gigantic block of ice, immobilizing it. With LaQuel yelling at him through the bluetooth, he escaped from the serpent and made it into the walled section of the river within Llorkh’s borders.

Undaunted, Conan, Tempest, and LaQuel continued to work on the creature. After fumbling his sword and having it swallowed, Conan was forcibly pushed through the entrails of the serpent via one of Tempest’s powers. Unable to do anything about Conan, the serpent renewed its attack on LaQuel and Tempest, blooding them and losing portions of its tails in the exchanges. Eventually, beset from within and without, the great river serpent Lynnedslag succumbed to its wounds and died a screaming, thrashing death. The three heroes that finished the great beast off were left stranded on the ice block that encased its corpse, at the mercy of the river’s current.

Next time: Conan, Tempest, and LaQuel must find a way to Llorkh or ride the giant block of ice, in the freezing cold river during the beginning of winter back to Loudwater. (Mike), Ella, Oligar, and the party members inside the bodybag will have to deal with docking the ship or mounting a rescue attempt. And what to do with the body of Lynnedslag? At least it will be well preserved on the ice!

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