Distant Horizons

The Sea Hag's Lair

Prelude 1a: Daziel, Tolfgar, and Zazumet

From the Journal of Beriana Elorelen:

I arrived in Sunset Bay a short time ago, ready and eager to begin the adventure of a lifetime. To sail beyond the Dragontomb Isles, to go over the horizon and off the edge of the map… These are the things that the greatest of sagas are built on! So, it was with a little trepidation that I approached the bellicose young woman overseeing the loading of supplies aboard the Araen Horizon.

Ah, the Horizon! I have spent many an hour down at the docks of Elvedon City, and rarely have I seen so fine a vessel. Sturdily built to withstand the harshest storm, yet her lines still spoke of speed and agility. Even furled, her twin sails seemed to surge with each breath of wind. She sat at her pier, every bit as eager as I, like a racehorse pushing at the gate before the horn sounds and the race begins. If I was to tie my fate to that of a vessel, I could think of no finer a ship to carry me to that fate.

Back to the yelling woman. She was young, a few years older than myself, but moved with a grace and confidence that I could only hope to achieve in so short a time. Her tanned skin and windblown hair coupled with that grace to give her an attractive exoticness amongst the paler folk of northern Elvedon. Her strong voice carried easily over the crowd and the waves, her orders given with a brisk efficiency that spoke volumes of her experience. She glanced at me as I approached, and if she frowned, it was the expression of one loathe to be interrupted rather than unfriendliness. This, then, was my introduction to Marilynne Macauley, first mate aboard the Araen Horizon.

She took my name, gave me a small metal chit, and directed me to an inn dubbed the Floating Gull. I took my time getting to the inn, wandering the town and taking in the sites. Sunset Bay proved to be a somewhat quaint place compared to Elvedon City. The entire town could have disappeared within one small district of the capital, of course. It had an industrious feel about it, an air of hard work and simple pleasures. Yet as I walked the streets and strolled the markets, I saw and heard the telltale signs of a thriving cultural center as well. Or, at least, the beginnings of one. Given time, Sunset Bay might rival the great trading cities. For now, though, it remained the fishing center it had always been. The people, for the most part, seemed friendly enough, if a bit plain spoken. These people valued truth and honesty, it seemed, and had little patience for the niceties and polite lies so common in the capital. It was somewhat refreshing, if just a little off-putting as well.

Eventually, I made my way to the Floating Gull and offered up my chit. The common room was clean enough, and I had certainly spent the night in worse. I did spend the extra silver for a better meal, however. Stew has never been my favorite meal. Once settled, I returned to the docks to spend some time just gazing out past the horizon, as well as studying the Araen Horizon. The words began to flow through my thoughts, and I returned to the inn to write.

This was my routine for the next few days. I spent the mornings down at the docks seeking inspiration, and returned to the inn for a meal and to write. And it was here that I met some of my traveling companions. I did not see them enter, engrossed as I was with my work. It wasn’t until one of them approached my table that I looked up. He was an interesting fellow…a cultured gnome who taught at the Queen’s Academy until recently. Zazumet, he introduced himself as, amongst the stream-of-consciousness words he spoke. I admit to some amusement, but not of the unkind variety. We spoke briefly of the upcoming voyage, and the mental faculties, or lack thereof, for those of us voluntarily undertaking it. His large companion, Tolfgar as I found out a bit later, moved with a wolf’s deadly poise and spoke with a northman’s gruffness. And yet… He carried poetry in his pocket. Clearly a man who was not to be judged solely on appearances. Lastly, there was a quiet gnome named Desmond Daziel. His wide eyes portrayed both a wariness and an innocence that seemed completely natural and unfeigned. He spoke little at this first meeting, but I do not despair. We have an entire ocean voyage to get to know one another, after all.

The three of them, though they had just met, seemed to come together nicely and fall into comfortable roles easily. They worked the room with ease, discussing rumors with the regulars and acting on the subsequent tips with alacrity. These were Adventurers, complete with the capital A, and I felt a slight tingle of excitement as I watched them plan. A tingle that blossomed into glee when they invited me along. I gathered together my papers and books, and followed them into the night.

We made our way down toward the docks and entered a tavern graced with the unfortunate name of the Salty Nomad. There was little to distinguish it from a hundred other such taverns in a hundred other port towns. It was dark and smoky, and smelt overwhelmingly of fish and cheap rum. Tolfgar bought us each a drink that was…quite intoxicating. What it lacked in taste, it more than made up for in potency. I regret to say that I lost a fair amount of the details for the rest of the night. I watched my three companions survey the room, before approaching an old fisherman arguing with his tablemates about a light he had seen some ways south of town, where there should be no lights. Zazumet and Daziel let Tolfgar do most of the talking, and the three determined to investigate the light the following night. Before retiring for the night they checked in with the proctor for North Island Trading, to ensure they were not stepping on any toes with their investigation. Given the Company’s blessing, the three returned to the Floating Gull and took to their beds. As did I.

The three left early, making their way south. Unfortunately, I was feeling the after effects of last night’s grog and was unable to accompany them. What I know of what follows, I got from them on their return. They arrived at their destination around twilight, and through the growing gloom, Daziel spotted a ship lodged against the rocks. Closer inspection showed it to be the Miser’s Purse, a merchant vessel expected in port a few days previously. Daziel made his way carefully over the rocks to peer inside the staved-in hull. The hold was empty, and the others made their way over to the ship’s side. Preparing to enter through the hole in the ship’s side, the adventurers spotted a draugr methodically chopping at the ship in an attempt to break it up as quickly and completely as possible. From their description, it seems that a draugr is a zombie-like undead creature, saturated with miasmic water and possessing at least some intelligence. There were several of these creatures aboard the Miser’s Purse, and battle was quickly joined. Zazumet’s eidolon, Zero, proved itself quite a combatant, and Tolfgar somewhat surprised his companions when he began a lyrical and inspirational chanting. Apparently, the barbarian carries poetry in his soul, as well as his pocket. After the creatures were dispatched, the three noticed a light glowing before a sea cave on the shore, roughly halfway up the cliff face there. Quietly making their way to the cave, Daziel snuck ahead and discovered the lair of a hideous sea hag. Returning to his friends, they concocted a plan to deal with the monstrous witch as quickly as possible. Zazumet provided his fellows with magically enhanced speed, and the fight was on. Daziel sprinted in first, his crossbow readied. His first bolt caught her full in the stomach, burying itself deep in her flesh. Daziel was already nocking a second bolt when the eidolon, Zero, rushed in. His arms stretched forward with the whir of unwinding clockworks, but the hag ducked and Zero’s claws swept vainly overhead. Her victory was short lived, however, as Tolfgar followed on Zero’s heels. His axe swept upward and out, biting deep into the creature’s throat and separating her head from her body. In a matter of seconds, the fight was over and the hag crumpled to the cave floor.

Searching the cave, the companions found a secret door that led to a larger cave, hidden well from outside view. In this location, they found the contents missing from the hold of the Miser’s Purse, as well as the contents from at least one other ship. A closer look at the hag’s possessions revealed several ship’s logs, as well as a shipping schedule, detailing when ships were due to arrive in Sunset Bay. Several of these ships, including the Purse, were marked off on the schedule. Clearly, the hag had been working with someone. Determined to find out more, the three returned to town. Though they were tired, I convinced them to enjoy a drink with me and recall the day’s events so that I might record them.

I look forward to seeing where else their investigation leads, and am confident that with such as these aboard, the Araen Horizon’s journey will be more than successful.

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