Murder most foul!

The party sail on from Khalij Aldhahab. Captain Reiss has heard that a week away is the island of Jazirat Almutasaliq Aleali and is keen to try and obtain a contract for transporting goods to keep the ship sailing. In Mutasaliq Eali, the port and seat of government, he hopes to find a cargo in need of a ship.

The island appears on the horizon, a great coned mountain dominates the island with a skirt of jungle spreading down to the sea. Mutasaliq Eali sits within the arms of a narrow bay. At the headland, a number of watchtowers guard against unwanted intrusion. At anchor in the bay, three medium-sized war galleys sit amongst the merchant ships. Soon the Ulmo’s Beard is at anchor and while he makes contacts Captain Reiss gives the crew shoreleave.

During the journey, Denig has spent the week in religious reflection and when on dry land feels that the presence of Cloch is strong enough to heal Dagaard’s shattered elbow. Restored, the dwarf sets off with the party to explore the city and purchase new weapons. Vanwa finds some new outfits and accessories, courtesy of Aerandir’s purse and both Dagaard and the half-elf order new weapons.

Medieval Fantasy Port
by LotharZhou

So it is that as the sun begins to set that the heroes are travelling back to the ship through the warehouse district, Aerandir with a new short bow, and Dagaard feeling more more dwarven with a war hammer hanging at his belt. They pass an old man whistling a jaunty tune who is then brutally attacked some yards beyond them by a grey cloaked man.

Immediately, the heroes give alarm and rush to aid the fallen man. The man in grey dashes into a nearby warehouse. The old man has taken a grievous wound and utters on final name, “Zahrat Alnajma”, while thrusting a passage into Aerandir’s hands. Denig pauses to commune with Cloch over what can be done for the old man. So leaving the package with him, Aerandir and the others set off in pursuit of the grey-cloaked man.

The enter the warehouse cautiously as they fear an ambush in time to see misfortune befall their quarry. Attempting to swing from a suspended gantry to the far wall of the grain silo in which makes up the interior of the warehouse, the gantry gives way plummeting him into the silo itself. Following up, the heroes are in time to see their quarry, unharmed by the fall, dash to the end of the silo and out through a hole in the wall. They quickly follow but pause at the passage because they have no source of light.

Meanwhile, Denig pleads for the man’s soul but finds Cloch unwilling to provide aid in healing the now dead man. Having delayed long enough, the Dunlending picks up the package and follows his companions, who he finds at the entrance to a dark passage.

Praying for light Denig is granted a beam of light into the darkness. The heroes see a long tunnel dug out of the packed earth by the harbour wall. They follow cautiously, which is fortunate as it gives them warning of a skeleton armed with sword and shield in a small cavern ahead. Dagaard rushes forward to engage as his companions surround the single foe. The battle is short lived as the skeleton is animated by hanging from a chain in the ceiling but the noise of the combat will have no doubt alerted anyone nearby to their presence.

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Fantasy Artist & Illustrator- danielzrom@hotmail.com

A short passage leads from the small cave to a crude wooden door and beyond a narrow room containing just a table and chair before a door to the whatever lies beyond. On the table, six crossbow quarrels are lined in order next to a broken crossbow and a brass hunting horn. The heroes waste more time in preparing themselves to open the door and removing the quarrels from being used by an opponent.

The door opens onto a room filled with mist that is lit by magical, violet lightning. Denig urges caution fearing a lightning strike similar to one he recently experienced when trying to take a ring from a treasure room. Praying for divine protection, Denig enters the mist. It soon clears to reveal two exits. At that moment, the man in grey strikes. A swift blow, stuns the stoneman as the killer flees into the mist and away from sight.

Working at a painfully slow rate, the heroes check first the door, which leads onto a treasure room dominated by a gold throne, which they leave; then the corridor which leads to a small room containing a table and a couple of chairs which are still flickering with small flames. Suspicious, they spend more time looking round the room but only spot a red gem on the table. Denig moves to have a closer look at the gem and is immediately engulfed in flames. He rapidly retreats.

By praying for a wall of water to sit over the gem, Denig is able to counteract the flames from the gem and the party move on. The room leads to another at the meeting of two passageways. A single door provides an alternative exit. The door has a brass plaque on it which they heroes do not read but instead search down the next corridor. Here they find a bunk room and a space used for weapons practice. They discover a few low value coins and a short sword with a hollow pommel but no sign of the killer.

Stumped by the whereabouts of the man in grey, the comrades examine the door. It is locked with no sign of a keyhole. The plaque has a four line couplet which is clearly a riddle so with these clues they reason the door is magically locked and that their quarry went this way. It takes them a few minutes to reason the answer but soon the door is open.

At that moment a glass ball rolls into the middle of the group and explodes. All are stunned and unable to act as the man in grey races past, through the door and up the stairs beyond.

Denig, blessed with the quickest recovery follows up the stairs and is in time to see the man in grey stepping off a two rope bridge across a short chasm. He throws a dagger which glances off the wall in front of Denig, who steps back into cover. The man in grey use the opportunity to cut the ropes of the bridge and flee up the corridor.

The rest of the party make their way up the stairs relying on the faint light of Denig’s “torch”. They assess the ten foot gap in the cave. It is rough and descends to water below. Although clearing the gap is achievable, there is little room to achieve a decent run up. Aerandir attempts to leap the chasm to reattach the rope. His use of acrobatic skills are of no aid as the short run up and low ceiling combine to ensure his jump comes up short. He desperately makes a grab for the far side but fails. Fortunately, the fall causes only light damage before he falls into the water below. Unfortunately, the water is full of cave stingers, jelly fish whose poison raises angry welts across the half-elf’s exposed skin. Climbing out, the wet sailor casts a quick prayer to Ulmo for relief from the stings and is miraculously healed.

Bridge jump
by mattforsyth

Soon his companions are able to join him on the other side of the chasm and they look down the corridor beyond. There they see the man in grey, who for some reason appears to be fiddling with the lock on a trunk. Seeing the heroes he abandons his task and launches himself at the party in a vain hope of using aggression over superior numbers. The battle is short and swift, the man in grey out numbered is soon felled by Dagaard (despite pulling his blow) who relishes in having a war hammer in hand again.

Having looted the body for his weapons, but finding no other clues, the heroes explore the end of the corridor. The chest they leave and explore the room to the right.

It appears to be a bedroom, perhaps for the leader of the rogues who clearly used this space as a hideout. A chest is unlocked and opened by Fulton, who avoids being poisoned by a hidden trap in the lid. They recover a magical scimitar (+10OB), and empty scroll tube and a small pouch of coins.

On the left hand side of the corridor is a locked door, which does not prove too tricky for Fulton to open. Inside a suit of plate armour remains of a stand in the middle of the room. Behind is a desk, a chainmail shirt in the corner and a redwood staff. Having checked for traps, Denig enters to examine the treasure. The suit of armour, battleaxe in hands, immediately attacks the Dunlending.

Heavily injured, Denig falls back into the bedroom where Aerandir, arrow knocked covers the doorway. Fulton and Dagaard strike at the magical armour as Aerandir’s arrow pings off its surface. The magical construct turns its attention on the dwarf whose blow had been the strongest. The battle axe sweeps out and makes contact with the dwarfs lower leg: shearing tendon and muscle. Again the Aerandir looses an arrow to little effect and Fulton’s cutlass strikes with a clang.

Now the animated armour turns towards Fulton, who falls back parrying with all his skill, (he hopes to lure the armour to the chasm behind him). The battle-axe smashes through the sailors defence ripping open his arm as blood flies. At the moment when all seems lost, Denig’s prayers are answered and a pit opens up beneath the armour and it falls out of harm’s way.

With Aerandir’s help, Denig is able, by the grace of Cloch, to heal the stricken Fulton who has now lapsed into unconsciousness from blood loss. Meanwhile, the steady hack, hack of the armour can be heard from the bottom of the pit. Dagaard, hampered by his injured leg must wait for his turn of healing and sits by the chest, while Fulton opens a chest in the treasure room to discover another haul of coins in a bag. The rest of the treasures remain unassessed by the time Dagaard’s wounds are healed.

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