Distant Horizons

Battle at the Dragontomb Isles
Wherein the Journey commences and Adventure ensues

Araen Horizon Captain’s Log

15 Midyar, 30 A.F.
The day of our journey is upon us. I must admit, even if just to myself, that my heart sings with equal parts excitement and trepidation. That is true of any ship’s maiden voyage, but especially true of this one. While she may not look like much, and she does not have most of the magical accoutrements available to North Island, the Araen Horizon is as fine a ship as I have ever sailed on. She has been purpose built from the keel up for this voyage in particular, and while she may not be the fastest nor the prettiest boat in the fleet, she is by far the sturdiest. If I am mad enough to sail off the map into uncharted seas, I can think of no other vessel that I would rather do so aboard. The Horizon will keep sailing strong long after most vessels would have sunk beneath the waves, and that is a trait I would not trade for any other. Her crew is just as sturdy as she is. Given free reign in choosing my crew, I took full advantage. Not a soul aboard is unknown to me, and all have spent countless days sailing the northern seas. I know not what sort of waters await us, but Nordland’s north coast is a brutal and unforgiving place, and a better school to prepare for the unknown I cannot imagine.

The passengers concern me a bit more, I admit. If I am to take this journey, I would rather have done so without landlubbers and would-be adventurers aboard. Alas, the choice was not mine and so I will make the best of it. There are those amongst the passengers who have skills I can use, and I will shamelessly utilize every iota of what is available. The rest of them will hopefully have enough sense to stay out of the way.

The early tide has risen, and my Mate tells me all is ready. A few words to all aboard, and then we are ready to cast off. In two days time, we arrive at the Dragontomb Isles. Past that, we leave the known lands behind and put ourselves in the hands of the gods.

16 Midyar, 30 A.F.
All is well. The first day of the journey has passed without incident, save a few of the passengers chumming the wake with the contents of their stomachs. Always good for a chuckle, that. But even the worst of them is determined to get their sea legs under them, and that is all to the good.

I have spoken with several of the passengers, regarding service while aboard the Horizon of one sort or another. Most seemed amenable to the idea, though the motivations were as varied as the people I spoke with. The gnome with the head full of ideas unnerves me a bit, but Haroun assures me those ideas are sound. The weapons are his to care for, anyway, so I will hold my judgement (and my tongue) unless a problem arises. The Firaliesti also raise some concerns, but their kind can usually be bribed or bargained with. So long as they remember who commands here, I see no problem.

The Volkman was a nice surprise. If there is a group of humans that come close to matching us Wavebreakers on the water, it is the Drachenvolk. So long as we can keep him from becoming too bored, and so long as we can channel his wilder inclinations constructively, he will be a valuable asset aboard ship. The rest of those I spoke to, as well as several I did not, do not seem to present any problems. It is early yet, I realize, but so far things seem well.

17 Midyar, 30 A.F.
Gods-damned pirates. We approached the Dragontombs with the morning sun, which served us well, for sharp eyes on my ship spotted them scant moments before they spotted us. They came at us around the southern shore of Finnegan’s Island, flying Melchior’s flag, with sails painted like the flames of hell. The Isles provide little room for maneuver, which is why pirates like to prey amongst them, so it was not long before broadsides of ballista bolts were flying. Ours bit deeper, but their were more numerous, so it was difficult to say who held the advantage in that respect. Hits were scored on both sides. Nothing dire, but enough to delay us a few days whilst repairs were made.

With no warning, the enemy vessel ceased maneuvers and began sailing in a straight line. I was too busy shouting commands to notice, but one of the crew tells me a passenger cast some sort of spell that brought low the enemy helmsmen. Neither the crewmember nor I are spellcasters by any means, so the specifics escape me, but it was a boon in our favor as it gave us some momentum in the engagement. The crewmember was unable to tell me who exactly cast the spell, so I will have to keep an eye out. Another spellcaster aboard is always a useful thing.

With their ship out of the fight, the pirates waited until we got close and let loose with boarding hooks, dragging the two vessels together. From there, chaos erupted, with members of both crews boarding each other’s ship in a free-for-all melee. It was here that at least some of my passengers proved their worth. Six of them, especially, supported one another with an eye for tactics and teamwork. While it was clear that they were fighting separately, by and large, it was also clear that they all had an understanding of the battlefield and a willingness to back up their co-combatants. Other groups and individuals also proved themselves handy. The old man and his dog kept any pirates from even getting close to the command deck, while the four I had dismissed as aristocratic poseurs proved to have a modicum of ability at least. But it was those six who truly turned the tide, concentrating their efforts on the pirate captain and neutralizing him quite effectively. Two gnomes, a half-elf, a Volksman barbarian, a Firaliesti noble and his bodyguard. Who would have thought?

After the fight, the half-elf (Zane, by name) brought me the enemy vessel’s logbooks. They confirmed what I had suspected upon seeing the flag and the sails. Th ship was the Flames of Judgement, captained by Broderick Fieri. Late of the Taren’Vel navy, Fieri turned to piracy after the successful revolution in that country five years ago. Since then, he had preyed upon ships along the Araen coast of Navanaith and Elvedon. He was wanted by all three governments, and it would be a happy day for all to learn he was no longer a threat. My only concern now was who to collect the reward from. I have plenty of time to think on that, however, as it will be some time before we return to friendly shores. Zane also turned over some charts marking sites that were safe for Fieri to dock. Also valuable information, when the time comes.

The Horizon having taken some damage during the battle, we put in at Finnegan’s Island to assess the damage and make repairs. We salvaged what was needed, as well as extra food and fresh water, from the Judgement before setting her afire and scuttling her. I paid Zane and his five associates what I considered a just reward for their admittedly valuable assistance. None of them argued, so I can only assume they were happy with what was paid. The Firaliesti noble, going by the name Mournwyn, wished to explore the island a bit while repairs were being made, and the others seemed willing to accompany him. While I do not know if they will find anything of note, I was happy to let them use the ship’s boat to make landfall.

The Sea Snakes
Prelude 1b: Daziel, Tolfgar, and Zazumet

From the Journal of Beriana Elorelen:

After their adventure in the Sea Hag’s Lair, my new friends Daziel, Zazumet, and Tolfgar spent the following morning going through the treasure they had obtained during their recent battles. Money and items were divvied up between them, and a pile of items to sell was set aside. It was determined that Tolfgar would take care of the selling, as it was hoped (correctly) that his personal charm coupled with his imposing bulk would allow for a better return. Daziel, meanwhile, took a large portion of their coinage to a nearby exchange. He returned much less laden down with a nice pile of platinum to be distributed. For his part, Zazumet spent the time working diligently on plans for what he described as a “steam-powered prosthesis”. He attempted to explain it to me while he worked, or, at least, he kept up a running commentary on his work while he sketched out plans and made numerous measurements. I must admit that the bulk of it went well over my head, though I found it all fascinating despite my lack of understanding.

When all had returned, the three left the Floating Gull and made their way to the local offices of North Island Trading Company. There, they met with the shipping company’s local factor, a dwarf by the name of Balar Darban. Presenting Balar with the location of the hag’s lair, they explained to him that the hag had been working with someone in town to waylay the ships that had gone missing and steal their cargo. A shipping schedule had been found in the creature’s lair, notating ships that had been taken as well as future ships that might have succumbed to the same fate. Balar was understandably distressed by this news, and requested that the trio look into the matter of who the hag’s local contact was. A fee was negotiated for their services, and the three returned to the tavern to plan their next move.

While this was going on, I had ensconced myself at my usual table, spreading my books and papers about me while I continued to work on what I hoped would be the first of many volumes pertaining to the voyage of the Araen Horizon. While I was quite distracted by this work, I could not help but notice as two Firaliesti walked in the door. Elves are common in Elvedon, of course, but dark elves much less so, and the two created quite a stir among the few patrons currently in the tavern. The innkeeper approached them and they presented him with their chits. I smiled gently as I realized that they, like my three friends, would be journeying with me aboard the Horizon. The two paid the extra coin for private chambers and headed up the stairs after the innkeep, while I returned my attention to my words. When my friends returned, I made certain to tell them of the new arrivals. They showed interest, especially Daziel, but were quite focused on the task at hand.

The three of them determined that whoever the hag had been working with, they were responsible for the rash of warehouse burglaries that had plagued the town lately. Tolfgar excused himself and spent some time moving through town, sifting truth from rumor and gathering as much information as he could about who might possibly be behind the crimes. One name kept coming up through it all: the Sea Snakes. The Sea Snakes were a small crew with ambitions of being bigger, led by a woman named Cindra Levan. If anyone had the temerity and resources to pull all this off, it was them. Armed with this information, Tolfgar returned to the tavern and relayed what he knew to the two gnomes. Daziel offered to go out after nightfall and scout out possible sites for the next burglary. His size and comfort in the dark were well suited to this task. It wasn’t long after he left that he returned, stating he had seen some suspicious activity at one of the warehouses.

The three headed out, but arrived too late to stop the burglary. Searching around, they discovered the corpse of the guard North Island had posted on the warehouse, as well as tracks from the wagon the thieves had used. They followed the tracks to another warehouse, this one well out of the way and near the northwest edge of town. Approaching as silently as possible, they were nevertheless spotted by an observant lookout. The lookout was spotted in turn as they went to warn the rest of the gang, and the trio moved quickly before they lost surprise. Finding a side door, they picked the lock and entered the building as silently as possible. Spotting one of the half-orcs he had seen earlier, Daziel reacted quickly with a shot from his crossbow. Battle was joined.

The half-orc, along with a second half-orc, waged battle on the ground floor, while from the balcony above, Cindra used her bardic abilities to inspire their actions and cast spells upon the trio. The fourth gang member, a young halfling woman, rained crossbow bolts down from her perch on the balcony. Despite this, the battle seemed to be going the trio’s way. The first half-orc was dispatched quickly, while Zazumet and his enlarged eidolon Zero moved to take care of the second man. Tolfgar and his hunting dog made their way up the stairs while Daziel exchanged fire with the gang’s sniper after using an alchemical weapon to deafen Cindra and weakening her performance somewhat. Cindra responded by causing Daziel to fall into a magical slumber, allowing the gang to recover somewhat. It was not to be enough, however. Zero dispatched his half-orc opponent easily, while Zazumet moved to wake Daziel. On the balcony, Tolfgar waded into melee with both Cindra and her sniper. Sensing herself on the losing side, Cindra made herself invisible and tried to flee as Tolfgar felled the halfling. With the others down, the trio (and Zero) were able to concentrate on cornering their invisible foe. Zero used his reach and his four arms to attack the area Cindra was thought to be in. Luck was with them, as one of the attacks found her and the rest of them attacked.

The Sea Snakes taken out, with the surviving three members unconscious and bound, the trio searched the rest of the warehouse. In an office on the balcony, they discovered a halfling by the name of Sollie Oldfallo, patiently waiting. He calmly explained that he was not a member of the gang, but was instead merely an intermediary from the nearby city of Port Eldritch, here to do business with Cindra and her fellows. His words were couched in vagaries, and half-truths, but it was clear that he was a member of the extensive thieves’ guild operating in and around that city. Cindra had planned to buy her way into the guild and set herself up as a satellite operation here in Sunset Bay. When the group moved to detain Sollie, he used a magical ring he wore to teleport his way to safety.

Gathering up the Sea Snakes, and loading them into the wagon the gang had used for its robberies, the trio returned to North Island’s offices. Finding Balar, they turned over the gang, along with the location of the stolen goods. Grateful for their assistance in the matter, Balar happily provided the three of them with their fee. They then returned to the Floating Gull, where they eagerly regaled me with tales of their latest exploits. For my part, I was happy to hear all about it, as well as happy to be able to tell them that news had arrived from the docks. The Araen Horizon would be setting sail in less than a week. Buoyed by this information, my friends took advantage of their new wealth, and the time they had, to outfit themselves for the trip. Zazumet also spend a few days creating the prosthetic he had drafted and giving it to the sailor who he had crafted it for. While the sailor was delighted to have a new and much improved false leg, I believe he may have been a bit dumb-founded by some of the features Zazumet had built into it. I have no doubt, however, that he will earn to appreciate the inventiveness that went into it, given time.

Arrival at Miner's March
Prelude 2b: Quarsith and Talars'argt

Report on the capture of the Orc, Arkus, as recorded by Guard Captain Stephan Simcoe:

The following dissertation of events was arrived at via interviews with the prisoner Arkus, and with Miss Kaia Dargie, a local hedge witch of outstanding reputation.

Some weeks ago, the town of Miner’s March began seeing a rise in animal predations on some of the citizenry. Specifically, there was a large number of mountain lion attacks on individual miners returning to town in the twilight hours. I and several of my guards searched the areas around the attacks but were unable to track the cats back to their lair. The tracks inevitably disappeared higher in the hills as the ground became rockier. The miners began traveling to and from the mines in larger groups, which seemed to lessen the attacks for a bit. However, the mountain lions grew bolder and there were a few attacks on isolated homesteads on the edge of town.

While the guards and myself focused on mundane means of finding a solution to this ongoing problem, Kaia Dargie took it upon herself to seek them out via magical means. Miss Dargie has a way of communicating with wildlife, and she used this ability to speak with the local animals. Through this method, she was able to learn that the lions were not operating on natural instinct, but were being led by someone, or something. She was also able to gain a better idea of where the mountain lions were lairing. She made the unfortunate decision to seek out more information personally before bringing her findings to the town guard.

While hiking in the hills, looking for clues as to who was commanding the cats, Kaia was attacked by the very creatures she sought. By her own account, she fought well, but Kaia’s arts lie in healing, not hurting. Before long, she was unconscious and left for dead. The cats and their Lord left her bleeding, food for the scavengers. Through sheer force of will, Kaia retained consciousness long enough to drag herself into some nearby bushes, and stabilize herself, but her senses left her after that. In all probability, she would have died on that hillside were it not for the chance appearance of two Firaliesti travelers.

The leader of the pair, Quarsith Mournwyn by name, healed Kaia enough for her to wake and explain both what had happened to her, and why she was there in the first place. While the other Firaliesti, Talars’argt, was understandably not eager to do so, the two agreed to take some time to search for the mountain lions and their master. They accompanied Kaia back to her house safely, then returned to the hills in pursuit of her attackers. It took some time, and no small amount of luck, but Firaliesti are far more used to the dark than are we humans, and this comfort with the night allowed them to search longer and farther, eventually finding the animals’ lair.

Approaching the lair, the two were set upon by three cats, one a bit larger than the other two. That one hung back while the other two darted in and out, biting and scratching at the two elves. Talars’argt skillfully kept himself between Quarsith and their attackers, taking the brunt of the cats’ anger. At some point during the battle, the third mountain lion was angered enough to reveal himself as a wild-shaped Druid, later revealed to be the Orc we now know is called Arkus. One of the few survivors of the Bloody Fang tribe, Arkus blamed the people of Miner’s March for the destruction of his people, despite the fact that the orcs had clearly been the aggressors in the attacks leading to the tribe’s decimation ten years ago.

Arkus and his companions retreated to a nearby cave, followed by Talars’argt and Quarsith. From what I can gather, the battle was quite heated, and Arkus was nearly victorious before ultimately falling to the Firaliesti. They bound the unconscious Orc and returned to Kaia’s home, where they rested and healed before brining Arkus to the town jail the following morning. It was at this time that reward was discussed and dispensed. The two spent a few days here in town gathering up supplies for their continued journey. I brought to their attention the Baron’s current expedition project, and loaned them horses to take them to Sunset Bay when they expressed some interest.

It is my opinion that with the capture of Arkus, the attacks on the town will cease. The Orc will be held in captivity until the next time the baronial magistrate visits, at which time Arkus will be tried for his crimes against our town. The two Firaliesti stated that they were sole travelers, and that the dark elves had no designs on moving closer toward Miner’s March. While I believe their words to be true, I am also recommending that further surveillance, and continued surveillance be placed upon the caves they arrived from. A little caution is never a bad thing, after all.

This concludes my report. As always, copies will be sent to the mayor, and to the baronial seat.

Signed: Stephan Simcoe, Captain of the Guard, Miner’s March, Barony of Storm Coast, Elvedon

The Cold Caverns
Prelude 2a: Quarsith and Talars'argt

From the private documents of Dlvayth Mournwyn:

My grandson has left Olath’delmah, bound for a life on the surface. Eventually, his path takes him to Navanaith, to embroil him in what passes for politics there. Our surface cousins will not treat him kindly, I am certain, and to those of our kind who dwell in the sunlit lands, he will be simply one more tool. I have done what I can over the years to insure that this particular tool proves every bit as dangerous to those who would misuse it, as it is to their enemies. Now, it is up to him.

I cannot help but watch from afar for a bit longer, though. My scrying is subtle enough to go undetected thus far, and I will have to give up even this once he reaches the surface. My own machinations here at home can only go so far without me returning more of my attentions to them. Until then, however, I watch, and record. As always, I have warded these pages so that only I may read them. Should any hand but mine touch them, these papers will immolate. The perpetrator’s hand will blacken, and he will be marked to my eyes, so that I might know him and wreak further justice upon him. Or her, as is likely the case in our society.

So… My grandson.

Quarsith and Talars’argt, his guardian and constant companion, took their time with their preparations. They spent about a week gathering up what supplies they might need, and paying their respects to those they left behind. I met with Quarsith myself, though I will not record that meeting here. Suffice it to say that our farewells were cordial. During the week, he met with his step-sister, Syrinyae, as well as visiting the temple of Damion one last time. Both of these meetings were warded against eavesdropping, both magical and mundane, and thus what occurred there is unknown to me. The temple meeting does not bother me. It is right and proper for a young priest to visit the head of his order before undertaking a long journey. But Syrinyae… That one schemes like a Firaliesti Lady twice her age, and what was said between she and Quarsith away from prying ears concerns me somewhat. Perhaps I have left her alone for too long…or perhaps an accord can be reached between she and I for information. Ah, well…rumination for another time.

Their preparations complete, Quarsith and Talars’argt left the confines of Olath’delmah and journeyed down the tunnels that would lead them, eventually, to the surface. The first week of their travels passed uneventfully, and Quarsith passed the time by crafting poisons for his guardian to use. It was a way to make idle moments go quicker, but it was a pastime that would prove prescient when they did encounter trouble.

On the seventh day after leaving the city, the pair came to a section of cavern that was noticeably colder than what they had been traveling through. Proceeding cautiously, they reached a forking tunnel. Deciding to take the right-hand tunnel, they had only gone a short way when they both noticed a section of the cavern floor which had been weakened. Each tied the end of a rope about their waist, and Quarsith leapt safely over the weakened section. Talars’argt followed after, also arriving safely. His heavier armor shortened his jump just enough, however, for his heel to catch the weakened floor, causing it to crumble and crash into a spike-lined pit.

While the two were still recovering from Talars’argt’s near fall, small crossbow bolts shot out from the nearby wall. While Talars’argt searched for the secret door he knew had to be there, two white-scaled kobolds appeared in the tunnels to either side of them. Quarsith took one out of the fight with a well aimed web bolt, before concentrating his spells on the other. That one was dispatched in less than a minute. Meanwhile, Talars’argt had found the secret door, kicking it in and slaying a third kobold on the other side. The creature Quarsith had webbed broke free, and quickly fled. Searching the chamber beyond the hidden doorway, the two determined that they had stumbled upon the kobold’s home. They also found, among other treasures, a map of the surrounding caverns that showed further dangers ahead.

Seeing no real gain in slaughtering the remaining kobolds, but not wishing to be attacked from behind, the pair negotiated safe passage with the leader of the white-scaled band before traveling on. One of the warriors followed them at a safe distance to ensure there was no trickery on the Firaliesti’s part. A little further on, the two came to a side cavern that radiated even more cold. From this cavern burst a pair of ghouls, one of which charged. Talars’argt quickly placed himself between Quarsith and the creature, taking the brunt of the attack. The ghouls hit and faded back a bit, attempting to lure the two elves deeper into their cavern, but Talars’argt would not be moved. As he slew the second ghoul, a third charged out of the darkness, but it too was quickly dispatched. Only when safety returned did Quarsith and his guardian enter the chilly cave. The walls were spotted with brown mold, which explained the icy air in this cavern especially. Finding three skeletons, presumably Firaliesti lost some time ago, they gathered together what gear and treasure they found and continued on their journey.

In short order, Quarsith and Talars’argt arrived at a lake. Ice floes floated over the surface, nudging against rocky islands dotting the lake. Wood planking bridges from island to island indicated that at some point, at least, this region saw use as a byway. As they moved toward one of the bridges, movement drew their attention. A large ice troll rose from where it rested, lumbering toward them. Quarsith levitated the bridge out of reach, and they peppered the troll with crossbow bolts. As it got closer, Quarsith enlarged Talars’argt. Across a stream of icy water, the warrior and the troll exchanged blows. As Talars’argt’s sword sliced into the troll’s flesh, the poison coating the blade took effect. The troll staggered and fell unconscious. Talars’argt stepped forward, hacking the troll to bits. While Quarsith took inventory of the treasure found in the creature’s lair, Talars’argt lit the pieces of troll on fire, let them burn, and tossed the scorched pieces throughout the lake. The two moved on and soon enough left the cold caverns behind them.

The rest of their journey to the surface proved uneventful. Even now, they move to higher tunnels. In the next day or two, they will reach the sunlit lands and my scrutiny of them will end. I have faith now that my grandson is well equipped to deal with whatever comes, and that his guardian will do everything in his power to keep his charge safe from harm. My agents in Navanaith will tell me when he arrives there. Until then, his life is his own.

With the troll and the ghouls gone, the white-scaled kobolds now control that entire stretch of tunnels. They are far enough away, and a small enough group currently, that I have no concern for our city’s security. And even were that not true, they are only kobolds, and easily dealt with. However… The brown mold in the area might be useful in any number of arcane experiments. And having a friendly tribe guarding our borders is never a bad thing. The actions of Quarsith and Talars’argt have fostered a certain amount of good will with these particular kobolds. Perhaps I should pay them a visit, and further that good will in the name of House Mournwyn. Something to think on, at any rate. For now, the hour is late, and my bedchamber calls.

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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