Basically Fantastic, Session 20: The Haven

Valdis, Annonciade, Søren and his henchman Kurzol, Kestrel, and Calendel were aboard the Wave Wolf, at risk of becalming in a strange and unseasonal fog that Kestrel foresaw in dreams as a bad, bad thing. Valdis was alarmed by the lighthouse and singing, straight from a spooky story from her youth.

Leeman, a superstitious pirate, blamed Kestrel for their misfortune and suggested their best course was to throw him overboard. The fog wants the dreamer, hand him over! He got some support among the crew, and Valdis and Kestrel were well prepared to deal with the threat, evaluating the entire crew for shark chum; the mass grave of the ocean was plenty big enough for everyone, and no tiresome digging was required.

Annonciade insisted they turn right around and get out as fast as they could. There was some damage to the Thesmaelian Barrier here that could unravel and worsen in time, but it was not up to them to fix the world’s problems.

The adventurers found the captain and crew easy to convince, as Calendel appealed to their experience so far. The adventurers were lucky for the crew, and led them to wealth; why put that at risk? The pirates they coaxed some movement from wind power. After a tense hour or so, they were clear of the fog.

Port Dive Bar

The Wave Wolf arrived in the Crag’s List Isles, and navigated to the Isle of Sarban. Rather than going straight to Sandalprint, the port governed by the Frost Court, they tacked north and weighed anchor off the coast by Port Dive Bar. They sailed in past diving platforms hosting parties, and when they came ashore they were welcomed by the dock master, mayor, and all-around official for the city: Chet. They paid a “docking fees” bribe for him to ignore any paperwork or inspection, and he invited them to the beach party already in progress.

Calendel and Annonciade found shady spots out of the direct sunlight and waited until sunset. Valdis enjoyed the surf and made friends with an islander who had a mantis ray companion trained to be a living bodyboard. Chet shared one of his umbrella hats with Søren. One of the burly locals had a sling bag of a local fruit, cocomangos, and he shared drinks in the husks for free. A stonepig barbecue was in progress–a drumstick for everyone! Generally the locals were really friendly and relaxed.

Chet did make an offhand comment that he looked forward to everyone getting along, it would be a shame to have to kill them all. The locals invited the adventurers to netfish and chill.

The Stranger on the Beach

One of the pirates got disgruntled by competition from another crew member over a woman, and the drink server (named Cocomango, after his favorite fruity beverage) stepped in to calm things down–the pirate stabbed him. Kestrel wasn’t having that, and murdered the pirate with a couple surprise stabs, challenging anyone else to misbehave and screw up the nice party.

Captain Brun figured the pirate had it coming, most of them shrugged, but Kestrel’s enemies glowered. Kestrel used his healing skills on Cocomango, his new friend, while Valdis glowered at the troublesome pirates who still weren’t on board with the adventurers. Leeman mouthed off, and she gripped his shoulder to bruise it, intimidating him. Søren casually followed up by putting a spell on Leeman so he would be a friend to Valdis, eager to please her.

Maybe Things are Weird Here

Understanding that this idyllic beach was too good to be true, the adventurers tested the waters. Søren asked about local dangers, discovering that big sea monsters were in “the blue water” further out from shore, there were flying fish big enough to decapitate sailors as they leaped over ship rails (usually escaping a surfacing monster below), and there were some local adventure opportunities. A nearby cave was full of what the locals described as “medusa statues” but there was no monster still there. Also, a local geode cave was sparkly and a holy site for the Funereals, an undead slaying faction called the Order of Plenty, that came out for week-long spiritual retreats sometimes.

The Funereals paid in part with enchanted stones that generated cold or heat. The cold stones were currently in the floor of the magical cocomango hut, and Cocomango carried one in his sling bag to keep the fruits cold. He happily showed them to Kestrel.

Apparently the mayor, Chet, was ageless (or at least super old.) One of the locals explained that Chet had been in love with his grandmother, and since the local man’s daughter looked so much like her, maybe Chet would have a romance with her when she was old enough. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Exploring

Annonciade shifted around the settlement, scouting. She noted that there were only temporary structures on and around the beach, and pathways led back about a half mile to a stone structure that connected to underground passages.

As the sun sank towards the sea, Annonciade and Calendel withdrew quietly from the festivities and headed into the stone building. She bore a Mark that made noticing her a challenge, and Calendel drew from his shadow powers to evade detection. The entry to the stone building had a long corridor, and several dog-sized rats were secured in the corridor to discourage local pests from intruding. The adventurers carefully slipped past them.

A large interior chamber was designed as an audience hall, complete with stairs to a raised podium. The chamber was outfitted with makeshift and ramshackle beds and furniture, mostly salvaged from ships; this was the central living area of the locals. Most of the multi-level exits were barricaded; not to prevent thieves or escape, but more like robust “baby gates” to keep people from straying out of the living area.

They followed a corridor, finding the better-furnished living quarters of local important people, and the treasure room for the locals. It was fitted with modest wealth, mostly for trading, including the pearls the divers harvested. They also found a dusty unused chamber with a still black pool. Investigating further, Annonciade’s mechanical background and knowledge of runes informed her that the old writing (likely Templar era, but not Templar marks) was about barriers. Adjusting the moveable stone of the rim would also raise a pillar to waist height, and an indentation was made for an amulet or something similar, probably to activate the pool to be a portal or communicator. Calendel prodded the bottom of the shallow pool; maybe it would open if activated.

The shadowy adventurers retreated to the main living chamber, and pried a gap in the barrier to go deeper into the underground complex.

The Death Knight

They found an alcove in the hallway with a skull inside. They touched it, and an apparition stepped closer to their reality, breathing cold into their space. The ghostly armored figure demanded to know if there was a threat to slay. They engaged in some chit-chat with the somber spirit, discovering that the death knight would slay anyone identified as a threat to the Haven and the Innocents. They affirmed that there was currently no threat, and the death knight faded back.

Continuing on, they found a dank stairwell down deeper into the earth, but they turned back when they encountered the first of the spiderwebs. A fancy decorated corridor led to stairs to a meeting room with closed stone shutters (presumably to the surface of the mountain). Beyond that they found a tomb chapel.

The Tomb of Thrones

The barrel vault ceiling lent the chamber a sense of width. Six stone sarcophagus blocks were on each side of the room. They had grooves on the lids so arms and a back could be added, turning each coffin into a throne. The far end of the room had a dais with a massive throne, and alcoves in the throne back carved into the wall had 12 skulls. Flanking the stone, supported with chains (but not restrained) there were two objects. On one side, a long two-handed black sword. On the other, a black staff with a crystal head. They appeared to be easy to take.

Annonciade studied over the ancient writing, discovering that this tomb was for leaders of the Blood Kings. She approached the throne and touched one of the skulls, waking the spirit within.

Saintslayers

The king formed on his throne tomb, pulling her closer to his resting place adjacent to reality so she could see and hear him, but Calendel could not. The resting king asked if the Innocents were threatened and it was at long last time; Annonciade told him the Innocents were not threatened. They had a chat.

The twelve Blood King rulers interred here each had the distinction of being Saintslayers. The powerful necromancers each managed to slay one of the iconic Saints that founded the clerical orders that succeeded the era of the Templar.

The conversation with the Saintslayer was difficult, as his information was centuries out of date and undeath was hard on lucidity anyway, plus he made references to things no longer commonly understood. Still, Annonciade got some general impressions.

Apparently there was a complicated truce between the Blood Kings and the Frost Court that didn’t please either side; a truce resulting from their cooperation, deploying the Saint Slayers in addition to the other various forces employed to kill an avatar. The Blood Kings did not have access to their former stronghold, which was this Haven, but the Frost Court didn’t either. The role of the Innocents was unclear from the conversation. The sword and staff were revealed to be genesis artifacts, and the Saintslayer encouraged them to take the objects out into the world. Candidates would be attracted to their power, but unless they had the necessary compatibility, death would find each until the weapons bonded with the one who could grow into their power and be the next avatar of Nuzagoth, the Lord of Death.

Annonciade let the Saintslayer go back to sleep, and in a brief consultation with Calendel, the adventurers decided to leave the weapons in the tomb.

Chet

The adventurers decided to return to the others and share what they learned. As they climbed out through the barricade into the common room, they found Chet waiting for them. He asked where they went; honest, they told him they found the death knight and also the Saintslayer tomb. He shrugged, clarifying that if they wanted to take the weapons from the tomb he was fine with that. He was evasive when questioned about his back story, mainly revealing that he was here looking after the Innocents–but their role remained unclear. The adventurers also discovered Chet had a death knight at his command, invisible and quiescent unless summoned.

The Ice Cage

Annonciade pressed Chet for more detail about the Ice Cage. He told them about the war the Templar waged on the godslaves, and the way they slew Lunestra. The avatar fell in love with a shapeshifter, for the moon and the sea had ever been interlocked. The Templar caught her shapeshifting lover and imprisoned it in a trap she could not ignore, tormenting it.

Only Lunestra could win through the defenses of the Ice Cage, and when she confronted her lover’s captors in the heart of the trap, they assaulted her with many various powers and warriors and weapons, including the Saintslayers. She was destroyed, and a certain balance was struck between the Frost Court and the Blood Kings.

Now You Know

Chet had no particular instructions or requests, he did not seem to prefer any outcomes to the current situation–just wanted an update. Wary, the adventurers withdrew back to the beach, where Kestrel had bedded down for the night alone under a boat, Valdis joined some new friends in a treehouse back from the beach, and the others were winding down.

The next morning, over a breakfast of fresh-caught fish, the adventurers caught each other up and considered what to do next. A number of mysteries remained.

The Order of Plenty and their Funereal undead slayers seemed awfully cozy with the Blood King necromancers, all things considered–their cooperation and war seem strangely intertwined. The terms “Innocent” and “Haven” seem to echo a prophecy, and that’s just uneasy when you combine Saintslayers (and add an avatar to the bodycount) but have such a casual site as Port Dive Bar. And what was Chet’s history and role here? Why would death knights be at his disposal? How great was the military power of this site really?

Maybe it was time to visit Sandalprint.

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