The Wild Coast

Back in the saddle

BlackRose has hesitations about his new found companions/rescuers. He has difficulty opening up and expressing himself about his doubts. He has to keep his walls up. He has lost too many friends in past wars.

But a small part of BlackRose believes…………It’s good to be back in the mix of things when all hope was once lost………

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The Savage Tide
Blood will run

In the days that followed Ander, Gerbo, Napungu and Valshea worked hard to ‘fit in’ with the evil scum who inhabited the Slaver’s Stockade. Before long they had responsibilities and access to more information. Na’Pungu and Valshea were placed in charge of the gatehouse and given responsibilities there. They learned about the death of the hobgoblins and how the wild orcs had been given their duties on the wall. Gerbo and Ander were put in charge of a different contingent of orcs down the dungeon with orders to shore up the secret exit. The Witchdoctor was still loose and could come back.
Sure enough, she did. She slew four orcs and then Gerbo and Ander and their orc minions (and one leashed boggle) gave chase. They pursued the old hag deep into the wilderness and chased her to ground. They found what might have been an old goblin warren, too small for the others. Gerbo put a dagger in his teeth and went in, Tunnel Fighter style Before long she was casting spells at him and he was chasing her around. She was quick so he cunningly laid a trap: When she snuck in to sneak attack him he grabbed her in his iron grip and fell on her stabbing wildly. Stab Stab Stab! Before long she was dead. He quickly looted her and they went back to join the others. Ander and Gerbo were kind enough to give the Spellbook she carried to Valshea who stayed up all night studying.
Valshea had been busy herself. She gave Icar’s armor to an orcish armorer and let him measure her to resize it. For 300 gold he agreed to rush the job.
Days passed. People came and went. Orcs and gnolls were recruited to ‘join the cause’. Once Valshea had her armor and it’s modified black helmet (now with eyeholes!) they were ready for the next step. They had a hushed discussion in their private rooms while Ingir the Dragon made sure they were not being eavesdropped. They realised that their #1 goal was to save as many slaves as possible. Their #2 goal was to find the cancerous foul head of this slaver snake. When they were ready to strike (which would be any day now) they would lure Blackthorn to their private quarters and ambush him. Truth be told they were all scared of his potential. Blackthorn was a very clever and powerful person who had revealed very little about himself. Also terrifying were his lycanthropic minions.
Later in their duties Valshea and Na’Pungu noticed powerful visitors to the stockade. A woman and cloaked figure appeared and demanded entrance. She identified herself as “Slippery Keta” and the other figure said nothing. But later Valshea ensorcelled Na’Pungu so he could spy on the couple as they talked to Blackthorn. Horribly the cloaked figure had tentacles where his face should be. They congratulated Blackthorn and left the stockade to go east.
Time for action.
They gathered in their private quarters. Valshea cast a spell of invisibility on Na’Pungu and Ander. They they lured Blackthorn in as he passed by. His orc guards did not follow him in. As he entered and walked over to the table that Valshea beckoned him to Ander used his bardic magic to create a zone of silence. Valshea shut the door behind him, but awkwardly. The orcs suspected something. Na’Pungu struck. He furiously started stabbing Blackthorn. He pushed his rapier clean through his body, certainly collapsing a lung. Blood sprayed in silence. The fight was on. The group all surrounded Blackthorn in the small space and stabbed and slashed mightily. Gerbo, in particular, fought with ferocity. Ander guarded the door, which did not easily lock. After being slashed and stabbed most grievously and repeatedly Blackthorn realised the true extent of his peril. He made a break for the exit. The others slashed at him cutting him again and again. More blood. He snarled silently and tried to push Ander out of the way. Ander deftly dodged under his powerful reach and held firm and flexible at the door. Blackthorn tried to open the door as did the orcs from the other side. Ander held it firm! Gerbo then caught up with him and used Gorechild to run him through.

Ander dropped the spell and quickly cast two more spells on himself. Now he looked like Blackthorn and could speak and understand any language. Valshea put an illusion of a box over Blackthorns massive 7’ tall Ogre MAGE body. She spoke quickly to the others “We will kill them all. Every Orc, every Gnoll, every Goblin. Every slaver will die. Then we burn this place to the ground. This isn’t vengeance, it’s a reckoning!”

They opened the door and let the orcs in. The orcs saw through the whole charade. The jig was up! Battle was joined again.

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The Killing Grounds
Gutting the Slaver's Stockade

Blackthorn Returns
When the gaunt man opened the door with his hirsute followers the party knew it was time. Blackthorn, all seven feet of him, led the group toward the slave pens. While Gerbo and Valshea stood guard at a southern exit, Blackthorn led Ander and Pale Eye to where some orcish guards stood watch. He engaged the orcs in talk and then brought his wicked glaive to bear. His hirsute threesome arched their backs and soon were replaced by horrifying hairy black man-wolves. Loup-Garou. They were mad with blood lust and fell upon the orcs alongside Blackthorn and Pale Eye and Ander.
Three of the orcs tried to fight their way past Gerbo and Valshea but it was for naught. Soon the orcs were dead. The slaves called out piteously but the party steeled themselves against their pleas. They did open the gates to the Cavelings. If they came out of their warrens it would like to massive chaos.
Blackthorn guided them back into the long hall and the crew stalked to the south. There was a feeling of power. In truth, together they were very dangerous. They approached some barricades the goblins had built. It was time to sow more chaos and confusion. Blackthorn talked to the goblin guards and asked them to summon their Witchdoctor. They did and when she arrived and began to walk away Blackthorn gave Ander the nod. Ander turned around and blasted the witchdoctor with a spell. The fight was on. The Witch doctor reacted quickly and turned herself invisible and ran away. Valshea stepped forward and gestured. A small mote of fire streaked out and then detonated in the midst of the goblin barricades. They were burned to a crisp.
The others surged forward to chop down a few survivors. A team chased down the invisible witch doctor to a dead end and the wolf men ripped her to shreds. The pieces were falling into place. Now they approached Markessa’s Laboratory. A fight broke out at the door-two orcs went down hard under the claws of the Loup Garou and the vigorous stabbing of Pale Eye. Blackthrown threw open the final door and Valshea rushed in. A huge chamber lay before her. It was some sort of massive laboratory thick with goblins. A powerful man in black armor with a covered visor stood close to her. Down in the workshop proper a beautiful elf woman operated on a screaming malformed victim. This must be Markessa.
Valshea shrugged off a flurry of thrown knives and goblin arrows and cast a spell on Markessa. A 5’ diameter ball of flame roared into life and lightly singed the evil elf. Then Ander entered. “Operation Cinder!” Valshea yelled. Ander shook his head. Instead he gestured and a massive swarm of raven sprung into being and mobbed Markessa. Blood flew. Blackthorn entered along with Pale Eye and the wolfmen and battle was joined. The upper balcony where they were was a swirling melee. Some of the humans there shuddered and turned into evil ratmen. Markessa attempted to cast a spell but Valshea used her powerful magics to block it. Markessa made a decision and ran. Then Gerbo entered. He dodged through many swinging swords and his furious legs took him close to Markessa. He threw a javelin and it went clean through a goblin, killing it in a fell stroke. Valshea pursued too and moved the flaming sphere to follow Markessa. She tried to weave a spell of holding on Markessa but her wards shattered it. Markessa ran down a dark corridor and put up a wall of stone behind her. Gerbo charged the wall and went straight through. Of course an elf would try to trick the mind with illusions – Valshea does it all the time. Valshea ran through too and the swarms of crows followed. The two of them plus the crows tore into Markessa who stumbled and swatted her way. Gerbo finally ran up to her and chopped her down in one massive blow.
Behind them Ander was found himself exposed to goblin archers and got hit by many arrows. NaPungu Pale Eye struck Icar the blind warrior, districting him and gave Ander breathing room to retreat to the corner. Ander called out mind bending taunts to the powerful evil fighter Icar. NaPungu and Blackthrorn chopped the man down like a side of beef. The goblins ran and scattered. Gerbo and Valshea came back to the room and Ander brought back his crows to kill. The battle was effectively over. The Ratmen surrendered to Blackthorn. The loup-garou surged out to hunt down the escaped goblins. No one would speak of what transpired here. Now they were all bonded in blood.
While Pale Eye and Gerbo searched Ander and Valshea talked about the terms of employment with Blackthorn. Then they went and looted Markessa’s quarters and got down to resting and making plans. They moved into some quarters vacated by the dead. They had much work to do.

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Sleeping with the Enemy?

The adventurers spend an uncomfortable night in Blackthorn’s quarters. Beyond the door they can occasionally hear the tramp of heavy booted feet, or slamming doors, and guttural voices shouting commands. The inhabitants of the fort are on alert, searching for the intruders.

Surprisingly, the group is not discovered. Eventually the commotion dies down – Blackthorn must be holding up his end of the bargain – and everyone is able to get some rest.

Blackthorn returns as the group finishes resting. With him are 3 hirsute, muscular men wearing nothing but loose kilts, and apparently unarmed.

“Markessa was most upset. She ordered a room-by-room search of the entire keep. Fortunately for you, she put me in charge of conducting it. The fools now believe you have either escaped through the exit tunnel, or are hiding out in the caveling lair beyond the slave cells. Barricades have been set in each location, to prevent anyone coming back that way.”

“You have also caused much chaos in the fort above. Most of the hobgoblins are dead – only a few remain, holding the curtain wall and the entrance to the keep. Apparently someone decided the hobgoblins had betrayed us and ordered them wiped out.” He looks each of you over before continuing. “I’m going to have to hire some more mercenaries to guard my keep when this is all over.”

“Markessa has returned to her laboratory, although she has more guards than before. Let us go now and make an end of her. You will all be rewarded handsomely for you assistance in this matter.” Blackthorn’s eyes flick involuntarily towards the potted plant in the corner of the room that hides the entrance to the treasure room you discovered.

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Ander and Valshea

With a sigh Ander pulls his hand off the Harp and visions of wild dancing vanish from his mind. He turns to Valshea and quietly says. ‘I have an idea…’

He is trying hard as usual to keep his eyes on her beautiful face.

‘I think I can turn my words to shape disguises for myself just as you do. We could try to use their strength against them. We each change into one of them that we’ve seen – me, perhaps Blackthorn, you Markessa (assuming her double was very similar). We go to one corner of the fort and tell them that the outer wall has defected and that they are to attack immediately…. or something along those lines. We find out where the slaves are kept, and assuming they are below, which I think they are, we set the upper fort ablaze. Then we free the slaves and arm them.

These are the principles of my idea. We could use this to get ourselves to Markessa now as well of course. It would be ideal to have her distracted or dealt with before we free the slaves. Thoughts?’

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na'Pungu reflects
<wink>

A brief respite allowed na’Pungu to go through his routine of cleaning his weapon and armor links of blood. This was critical in preventing rust. The post-battle fatigue was a familiar comfort. It reminded him that he was still alive.

A small nick in the rapier needed some attention, so he pulled out a small metal file and lovingly caressed the blade with the file’s tiny parallel teeth. As he worked the blade he watched Ander. The small man was useful, no doubt, with his fascinating ability to meld music with magic. But he also looked at Valshea in a way that na’Pungu didn’t like.

The last lech who tried to stick her without her permission ended up getting stuck with a shiv. na’Pungu hoped it wouldn’t come to that. He liked Ander.

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Ander reflects

Ander stares at the door Blackthorn left through and swallows. Once again they have chosen to remain in the belly of the fort rather than try to escape and there is no way of knowing if the door will be thrown open to reveal troops and Markessa herself – an ending leading to torture and slavery or death. There was something about Blackthorne that didn’t quite feel right.

Casting around in his mind for a spar to cling to to hold himself together he finds slim comfort in telling himself that it is from stuff such as this that the great legends and stories have been made. How else to find inspiration for a truly new song – a song that trembles with the thrum of the universe and echoes the glory of the gods along with the sad yet rich songs of the mortal races. This was that path – a path his curiosity and ambition (and lust, a small voice said as he gazed at the distant, alien, Valshea) had led him on – but it was a terrifying journey.

He fingered the harp and the mandolin, wondering about their history, longing to play. His soul could do with a song to recall more joyous times.

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Synopsis for Gerbo
  • found target to be a fortress led by Markessa, who performs foul experiments on her slaves
  • decided not to recruit a potentially untrustworty cleric of Gruumsh to help us
  • scouted fortress after finding an escapee
  • fortress determined to be insanely bristling with defenses. pairs of hobgoblins patrolling spaced 60’ and purpleish “dogs” on the corners with scent. ballistae. many troops. outerwall, inner wall. madness.
  • however, of course we proceeded. entered up the poop chute. passed through a haunted area. snuck through lightly watched outer yard and under portcullis
  • impossible to cross main courtyard, it would be like trying to cross the Berlin Wall. Decided to enter garrison bldg on inner wall hoping to use silence and the small cuisinart to “acquire” hobgoblin costumes and wear them into the main building.
  • two silences in, after a tactical error on Ander’s part…well, lack of courage, since he did think of what actually needed to be done, which was kick open door from silenced area, run into the midst of the enemy on the other side to cast silence thus potentially sacrificing himself to keep the team on mission. but he didn’t do this and everything went south. the alarm was raised as was furious combat.
  • at the last moment, heartbeats before the gathered enemy stormed the room the group stood bloody and panting in, Ander thought of a final play: to have his newly friendly hobgoblin lieutenant meet them at the main building to let them in and to take them to Markessa. The group would escape their imminent deaths by using his most powerful lyricisms to turn invisible. All four could do this. But Valshea thought of a variant which was to have two “surrender” to the charmed lieutenant and two to turn invisible. The lieutenant would take his prisoners to Markessa
  • with no time for further planning the deed was done (Valshea revealed that she carries around manacles), and to everyone’s surprise the plan worked. Minutes later the lieutenant was leading them into the heart of the fortress.
  • this didn’t work perfectly as his lies failed when they tried to pass through a barracks room and bloody combat broke out again. Pungu fell but victory was seized, and Pungu who did not bleed out was brought back to consciousness.
  • After a short breather the group faces what may be be the last hour of their existence. A time for prayer and reflection and the girding of loins.
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Valshea's Prayer
We need a little Divine Inspiration.

Valshea knit her fingers together and looked to the roof. She whispered in Sylvan.

“Corellon. Our creator. Your people have dwindled. They light the forests still, but so many fewer glades and groves than in ages past. You know that my mother died in the Hateful wars and my father has sailed east to join you and his other kinsfolk. Most of us, your children, cut themselves off in the deepest forests of Celene. But I have not. I sought to spread your light, your music, your art among all and craft newer and better understandings of the universe so that it would please you.

But I have fallen into hard times. I chose it, too, Creator. I was captured by slavers and ransomed back for all my lands. I had nothing. I swore to destroy them so that they could not enslave anyone else. I have other with me. Na’Pungu. Gerbo. Even Ander. He doubts, Creator, but he has the best heart of us all.

We need your help, Creator. You taught us to sing, dance and create Art. But you also taught us warfare the likes of which no other race on Oerth has seen. I serve you unto death, Creator. if you would see us succeed we could use at touch of grace, O Lord of Forests. Runner. Archer. Trickster. Always Changing. Laughing. If ever we need you, we need you now."

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Sailing the Wooly Bay
A Stop At Elredd

Now in Pelgaryn the group planned their next steps. They had let the hired thugs go free and has used wizardcraft to ensnare the mind of Gil, their leader. Gil, when plied with wine and charming friendship, revealed much of the organization of the slavers to the group. With this information in mind they planned their next steps. There was a merchant cog in harbour at Pelgaryn and it was available for hire. The question was: To go to Elredd or to travel to Highport.

Valshea believed and argued to travel straight to Highport. Ander wanted to stop in Elredd and do some investigating, after all, there were powerful lords of the slavers there. They discussed the issue. Ander provisionally agreed to settle for going straight to Highport but they wanted to throw off the slavers and booked passage to Elredd. At sea they approached the Captain. With the help of a large amount of gold they convinced him to go a little further and sail to Highport after Elredd.

The sea voyage was rough but at least they were not attacked by pirates or slavers. When they arrived in Elredd Ander once again broached the idea of a scouting mission to gather some information from the slaver bosses. Valshea was convinced and of course Gerbo was enthusiastic. They also noticed a sailor who had recently joined the ship’s crew head off into the city. They followed him at a distance. He led them to a bar/inn called the ‘Broken Rudder’.

Gerbo followed him inside while Valshea and Pale Eye waited out front. Ander circled around to cover the back exit. They waited, tense, for the explosion of violence that followed Gerbo everywhere.

The explosion didn’t happen. Gerbo had followed the sailor upstairs and eavesdropped unsuccessfully. He let himself into an empty room and gestured to Valshea on the street. She in turn collected Ander and they surreptitiously went through the Inn and moved up stairs. They tried the door that Gerbo had listened at. Locked. Gerbo knocked and called out something about a wench. They heard swords being drawn inside. Fuck it. Gerbo kicked open the door.

Two savage men, potential bosses from their appearence, stood inside and their compatriots lurked beside the entrance. One carried a scimitar, one a battleaxe. Ander led off with words that had the power of mind bending enchantment behind them but the big fellow shrugged his mind trickery off. Gerbo then went all in on the battle axe man. Pale Eye went after the scimitar man. The fighting was quick and brutal. Blood flew. Valshea used her elf-magic to paralyse the huge bearded man. Gerbo kept brutally slashing at him and he tumbled down to the ground. Ander turned him mind magics to the scimitar mand and ensnared his mind. The man started gesturing to his companions to lower their weapons as Gerbo savagely beat the bearded man to death.

Just then a curtain was whisked aside in the back of the room. A robed man strode out and gestured. A shimmering blue portal appeared. He grabbed the ensorcelled scimitar man and pushed him through and the portal closed. One of the thugs threw down his weapon and put his hands up. Pale Eye ran the other one through the heart with his Rapier and pinned him to a wall. Gerbo finished beating the bearded warrior man to death in his savage fury. They quickly searched the room finding papers hidden in secret places. They dumped everything into Valshea’s wondrous sack. It was a leather sack that appeared to carry 15 pounds of

In the distance they could hear people calling for the watch. They decided to spike the door shut and Pale Eye lowered them all out the window on a rope and them jumped down from the 3rd story to follow. He executed a really nifty combat roll on his landing to the admiration of his crew. He also hid his sore ankle well.

The hightailed it back to the ship. It wasn’t ready to sail. They rousted the crew out of the various dives they were in and bribed them with many gallons of rum. A drunken trip to Highport ensued. Extra rum rations all around!

Highport. Never was there a more wretched hive of scum and villany. Once the jewel of the Pomarj it had become a terrible place in the decades since the humanoids conquered it. As they tied up at dock the whole stinking expanse of half ruined buildings lay before them like a diseased carpet.

Valshea stood on the ship and surveyed the scene. They were closer to the cancerous heart of the slavers. They had come a long way from Namburil.

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