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  1. #91

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    Sorry guys. I completely spaced the game tonight. Started training for a new job this week, and one of our pets is very sick.Comletely stressed out and exhausted, I fell asleep on the couch and missed the game. Hope it all went well.Apologies.
    Fan of Castles and Crusades/Savage Worlds, just about any rpgs.

    I am in Eastern time zone and am fairly open most play times, but do prefer Evening or late night games.

  2. #92
    Zenspeedstr's Avatar
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    Recap

    Previously-- I had real-life obligations that prevented me from participating in the last session. Many thanks to Sankhur and Bart for keeping excellent notes and filling me in on the action. Briefly, here's what happened: the Companions entered the Northern Cave, where they ran into more of the mutated pirate creatures and were surprised in mid-combat by the attack of another creature they had not previously seen-- this one resembling a flying raccoon. After the battle they moved into a huge cavern filled with lines of drying silk, where they battled a velociraptor. After another tough fight, the party found a chamber containing chests. One of the chests contained counterfeit money, one contained valuable navigational charts and books. A third chest contained 2000 copper pieces and a sign that read "Drink Chest." In a nearby tide pool area, they discovered the fate that had befallen Brissa-- Vanthus' once fair girlfriend, the artist from Sasserine. Vanthus had mutated her into one of the pirate creatures. Mutant Brissa was accompanied by a vanguard of two pirates. A savage battle ensued, culminating in her tragic death. Books and papers the companions recovered after the battle showed that she had been part of a fencing operation for the Crimson Fleet, and that she had a scheduled appointment to meet Vanthus earlier that day on the island, when he obviously mutated her. Sounds of combat from further into the caverns cut the research short and the party rushed to see what was transpiring. They found a fierce female warrior engaged with 6 of the pirate creatures. She was holding them off, but she was outnumbered, wounded, and showing signs of fatigue. The companions rushed to her aid. Bart got a critical shot off, exploding one of the creature's heads with a well-placed musket ball, but a second one sunk its teeth deeply into his arm and he felt fire burning in his veins. After another brutal battle, the companions emerged victorious, but having suffered heavy injuries. The woman's name was Harliss Javell, a Captain with the Crimson Fleet. She told the party that Vanthus had double-crossed the Fleet, setting their ships ablaze. He then broke open a black pearl that mutated most of the survivors, before diving into the water and swimming away. Harliss told them she had sent her First Mate to murder the Vanderboren Family in revenge. Mal and Sankhur were able to intimidate her into providing them with the means to call off the attack-- a handwritten note, and one of her earrings as proof for the First Mate.

    Last time, in Savage Tides

    Or, why you shouldn't stand behind doors.

    With Lavinia's life in danger, the Companions raced back to the harbor. Hurriedly, they replaced the steering wheel they had removed from the Sea Wyvern-- the one still sea-worthy vessel they found upon their arrival at the cove. Thanks to Bart's navigational prowess, with an assist from Deacon, they were able to sail back to the Blue Nixie, where they transferred two crewmembers to the Wyvern and raced back to Sasserine under full sail with a skeleton crew. Bart could feel the infection burning in his arm, but kept silent.

    It took 3/4 of a day to make it back to Sasserine, where they discovered that the Annual Wyrmfall Festival was in full swing. They had completely forgotten the holidays with everything that had been transpiring. They decided to dock the Sea Wyvern as close to the Vanderboren Estate as possible, at a cost of 1 Silver per day.

    Using agility, they were able to slip quickly through the crowds. They arrived back at the estate to discover that everything was eerily silent. The dogs were all dead.

    The front door was locked, and while Mal began to pick the lock, Greenie and Bart climbed to the second floor and entered through a bedroom window.

    Mal flung open the door to see two Bullywugs standing guard. He dispatched one of them, but Deacon and Sankhur were unable to take down the second one with their first round of attacks. Bart and Greenie emerged from the 2nd floor bedroom overlooking the foyer below. Greenie made an acrobatics roll down to join the battle, just as four more Bullywugs emerged from other rooms. One of the Bullywugs attacked Greenie with its long prehensile tongue. Bart followed Greenie down with an acrobatic maneuver of his own, just as Greenie gripped the frog's tongue, pulling the creature in close and severing its tongue with his blade, dispatching it. Deacon sent Presto upstairs to locate Lavinia and Cinder-Bolted another of the Bullywugs as two more joined the combat along with their war leader, Huntress Lorb Lorb Tub. As the others took down the soldier frogs, Mal closed with the leader.

    Upstairs, Presto used his cat senses to find Lavinia. He located her scent on the third floor behind a closed door. He could hear croaking sounds and talking voices, but was unable to make out what they were saying. Following Deacon's orders, he quickly returned to his master to report.

    Mal, Deacon, and Bart all got hits on Huntress Lorb Lorb Tub, and Bart delivered the coup de grace, causing 3 wounds with one round of attacks. Meanwhile, one of the Bullywug soldiers got a lucky strike on Greenie, causing a serious gut wound which almost proved fatal. Even after Sankhur's healing, Greenie's abilities were impaired. After mopping up the remaining Bullywugs, the companions raced up the stairs to the third floor. They could hear loud voices and a female whimper coming from Lavinia's bedroom.

    Mal slammed into the door, breaking it open, and crushing a Bullywug soldier to death who had been standing in front of it. They found Lavinia bound and gagged and tied to a chair. She had obviously been roughed-up some, but was otherwise unharmed. There were four Bullywug soldiers in the room, along with their Shaman, Gorg. Harliss' half-orc first mate was also present-- stretched out on Lavinia's bed. Before any of them had time to react, the companions showed Harliss' note and earring. The first mate responded: "well, that's good enough for me," and prepared to leave. Gorg, however, demanded 1,000 gold as ransom.

    Through a combination of intimidation and subterfuge, the party managed to convince the shaman that they had slain his entire warband upon entering the estate (which they soon found to be untrue, as there was actually a small army of Bullywugs). Convinced of the threat the companions posed, Gorg agreed to accept a lesser sum-- 1,000 silver instead of gold. Having learned from Gorg that the bulk of their forces were in the basement, along with their Chieftain, the companions decided that discretion was the better part of valor and agreed to pay up.

    Lavinia, finally untied, fairly screamed at them that the Frogs had taken Kora to the basement. The party raced down, but arrived too late-- finding their halfling friend's broken, bloody, and lifeless form callously discarded on the cold stone floor. Sankhur examined her and determined that she had not yet been dead for an hour. Unanimously, they agreed to use their one dose of last chance salve to return her to life. Lavinia was overjoyed, and shattered by the evening's experience.

    In the aftermath, they spoke to Lavinia about her mother's book and the colony that her family had established on the far off mystical island. She wanted to establish a trade route, believing that it could be a very profitable enterprise, and asked the companions to stand by her once more as her partners in the venture. They readily agreed. The journey was set to begin in two weeks' time, and Lavinia told them the trip should take 3 months. Furthermore, she fully expected to see her treacherous sibling there-- and this time Vanthus no longer enjoyed his sister's protection.

    The companions had their new ship retrofitted, and re-christened the Tempest, a name suggested by Bart. They purchased siege ballista for fore and aft, and Lavinia helped them hire a full crew. The Tempest, a faster and more combat-oriented vessel, would serve as escort for Lavinia's flagship, the Blue Nixie.

    The Crew of the Tempest:
    Bart – Captain
    Amelia – First Mate
    Deacon – Chief Navigator
    Urrol – Second Navigator
    Sankhur – Ship's doctor
    Father Feres – Second doctor
    Mal – Quartermaster
    Greenie – Security
    Tavey – Cabin Boy
    Churtle – Cook
    Lirith – Officer
    Skald – Midshipman
    10 Crewmembers
    Last edited by Zenspeedstr; December 28th, 2017 at 05:23.

  3. #93
    Zenspeedstr's Avatar
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    Sorry guys-- I am a day late getting my recap posted this week. Here goes--

    Recap

    Last time, in Savage Tides

    "From Hell's Heart, I stab at thee..."

    Much of the session was devoted to finalizing plans for our long ocean voyage. At dinner with Lavinia the Companions poured over maps and navigational charts with Urrol, the sage. They were warned to keep a sharp lookout-- the Crimson Fleet was known to have outposts along the archipelago leading South. Lavinia's plans were to more or less follow the course charted by her parents-- stopping every two weeks to take on fresh water and provisions along the way. All told the trip was scheduled to take 80 days, with stops at:

    Fort Blackwell
    Some Tamoachan ruins where Urrol wants to mount an excursion
    Fort Greenrock
    Rencrew
    Ruiyah
    The mysterious island

    Lavinia's ship, the Blue Nixie, was to function as the Flagship and primary cargo transport. The companions' ship, the Tempest, would serve as armed escort. Lavinia noted that a representative from one of her investors, the Merovinci family, would be accompanying us, and she barely repressed a shudder at the thought.

    Lavinia and Urrol cautioned the party that her mother's now translated journal was a record of the Vanderboren's first of many trips to the island. It was very likely that the island contains a great many things her mother didn't comment on, and also that things had changed over time.

    The following day, the party went shopping one final time to acquire last minute provisions for the trip and to pay a retainer to the Mage who works for them guarding their base. Among their last minute acquisitions were a potion of strength for Mal, and some half-weight chain armor for Bart, both provided by Niemen the Mage from items left behind in the former Thieves' Guild. They also purchased some Muskets for Bart and the ingredients necessary to make gunpowder and shot. At a suggestion from Sankhur, they also had several barrels of oil brought aboard.

    At approximately 20 minutes to launch, the member of the Merovinci family arrived at the docks. The young Noble's name was Avneer, and he was a typical fop-- complaining about the accomodations non-stop. He had a servant with him, and actually expected to bring his horse along. The party tricked him into sending his servant back to bring provisions for the horse while showing Avneer to his quarters. Meanwhile, they set sail leaving horse and servant behind in Sasserine.

    As the voyage progressed, the party found out more about some of their travelling companions.

    Avneer, while every bit the fop he appeared to be, actually had some experience on ships, and was a decent fighter with a blade. He also fancies himself a ladies man, and chases pretty much every woman he sees. Some (like Lavinia) he pursues harder than others
    Father Feres is a cleric of Heironeous
    Skeld keeps to himself and doesn't talk much
    Urrol talks a lot about his two passions: nature and history
    Lirith is a female barbarian, and the target for Avneeer's amorous advances while aboard the Tempest. She is not amused by his attention.

    After five days at sea, Lavinia signaled with a mirror for the companions to come aboard the Blue Nixie for dinner. A rope was tied off between the ships with a chair attached, functioning like a sideways elevator as the rope was raised or lowered on one side or the other. Greenie crossed in style-- sliding across the rope and then performing a backflip at the end. Not to be outdone, Bart followed suit pulling off an acrobatics feat of his own. The remainder of the party rode the chair across.

    At dinner, Avneer continued to hit on Lavinia almost continuously. Bart was able to run interference, offering him distracting conversation, for which Lavinia was very grateful. After dinner conversation continued over drinks until darkness had set in earnest. After a last toast from their hostess, the companions decided it was time to return to the Tempest.

    Greenie and Bart crossed in style once more. Sankhur followed more cautiously. When Mal was about halfway across, he noticed the rope fraying and shapes moving in the water. The rope broke suddenly and he plunged into the ocean.

    Mal found the water brackish-- fouled with chum. One gigantic shark and three medium-sized ones were circling the area between the ships, and moved immediately to attack.

    Sankhur was first to act, blessing Mal and raising his swimming ability. Bart fired his pistol at one of the medium sharks, killing it. Greenie heroically leaped from the deck of the Tempest onto the back of another of the sharks, attacking it with his cutlass. The giant shark attacked Mal with a bite, but Mal was able to soak the damage. The shark Greenie landed on attempted to bite him, but was unable to twist far enough to land the attack. Deacon tried a confusion attack against the Giant Shark, which failed, and resorted to a full power Cinder Bolt, which roasted the creature. Greenie attacked the shark he was riding again, and this time his cutlass struck true, slaying it. With his second attack, he took out the final shark.

    Hauling Mal and Greenie back aboard the Tempest, the party examined the rope. It had been cut partially through. The party realized that they had a saboteur aboard. Tavey and Lirith had been on the deck on duty during the dinner party, and neither of them had seen anything out of the ordinary. The companions thoroughly searched the ship from stem to stern.

    Below deck, Sankhur discovered a bucket with traces of rotting meat that had obviously been used to chum the water. Deacon had Presto examine it with his keen cat senses. Presto said although there were 26 people on the crew, he could smell the scent of a 27th person.

    The companions searched the ship again, this time with renewed purpose and the aid of Presto. In the cargo hold, Sankhur spotted a barrel on its side that had been emptied. There was obvious evidence that someone had been sleeping in it. On the upper deck the companions discovered that one of the lifeboats had also been used for sleeping. Presto confirmed the same scent-- of the mysterious 27th passenger-- in both locations. A rope hung over the side of the Tempest led down to the water. Bart used his ring of water walking to investigate further and found signs that someone had recently climbed both ships.

    Hours passed as the party attempted one idea for finding the assassin after another and repeatedly came up empty. Around 3 AM they began to feel the effects of fatigue and decided to take watches on the top deck and try to get some sleep.

    Bart took the first watch, and the other companions had scarcely had time to bed down by the time Lavinia signalled from the Nixie her intentions to come aboard. The sailors afixed a new rope, and she slid across. Sharing a bitter drink with Bart, the two discussed the assassin and the companions' attempts to find him. Lavinia pointed out at the ocean where Bart could see a dolphin playing in the waves. Distracted, he didn't notice the knife until Lavinia had slipped it between his ribs. "Heldrath Colonni says hello, my dear," she hissed in a voice that was not Lavinia's.

    The assassin's form shifted, and she became a younger version of Rowan Colonni, one of Heldrath's daughters that the companions had tangled with in the past. Bart struck at the assassin twice causing little damage, and shouted, raising the alarm. The noise awakened Mal, who rushed to the deck in time to slash at her-- again, causing little damage. Mal also began to shout. The assassin attacks Bart again, causing another injury. This one burned from the touch of her blade.

    Sankhur was the next to awaken. He too began shouting as he ran for the upper deck-- this time waking Deacon and Greenie in their cabins. Mal launched a flurry of attacks against the assassin. He was unable to intimidate her, and his blows did almost no damage again. She struck at Bart again, but this time was unable to cause any damage to him. Sankhur blessed Bart and Mal, rasing their fighting skill. Bart lands another blow with a flourish, but she shrugged off the damage.

    Weary from loss of sleep, Deacon attempted another Cinder Bolt, but was stopped in his tracks by an Arcane Backlash. Greenie made it to the deck and closes with her, scoring a hit which got through her defenses. Sankhur called down a curse on her, lowering her fighting ability. Mal hit her again, doing significantly more damage. Severely wounded and outnumbered, the assassin attempted to flee by diving over the edge. This forced her to disengage from both Bart and Mal, provoking attacks of opportunity. Mal felled her with one final blow as she went over the edge. Bart dove after her, using his ring of waterwalking once more, and lifted her from the waves. Deacon attempted to use a rope with his prestidigitation to pull her back aboard, but her injuries were too great and she expired.

    In adddition to mundane gear, the assassin carried poisoned caltrops, a waterskin that magically purifies water twice per day, a ring that improved swimming and climbing, two vials of poison, and a pair of boots enchanted to maintain an invisibility spell as long as the user concentrates, once per day.

  4. #94
    Zenspeedstr's Avatar
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    Thursday-- it's like Wednesday, but a day late.

    Recap

    Last time, in Savage Tides

    "Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard..."

    Picking up right where we left off the previous week, the party had to decide what to do about the Assassin who had been sent by Heldrath Colonny to bring down Bart. After a brief discussion, it was decided that Bart's standing with Heldrath couldn't possibly get any worse, no matter how many of her kin he deep-sixed. So Greenie tied a rock to her body to weight down the corpse and tossed her overboard to the tender embraces of Davey Jones.

    Exhausted, but wanting to check on the well-being of the real Lavinia before bedding down, the companions crossed to the Nixie once more, where Kora assured them that her mistress was safe in her bed. Satisfied, they returned to the Tempest for some much needed rest, leaving the ship in the capable hands of Amelia and Urrol.

    On the 15th Day, as they were passing an island, the companions could see that the shoreline was covered in webbing. Within, they glimpsed deer-sized spiders moving about. Barely suppressing their shudders, the ship sailed on. Bart made some headway with the damaged muskets he purchased before departure, repairing one into a fully functional firearm.

    On Day 18, the ships docked at Fort Blackwell, the first major re-supply post along their route, some 2000 miles from Sasserine. After gaining entrance into the giant gates that guard the Fort from attack by sea, the companions set about re-supplying the expedition, a process that took about 2 and a half hours. Once the supplies were safely aboard and secured, the crews of both ships were given shore leave for the night. Churtle and Skeld volunteered to remain behind and guard the Tempest.

    The night passed uneventfully:

    • Mal shopped for a Longsword
    • Sankhur visited a Tavern to pick up rumors-- learning that the priest at one of the local temples was behaving strangely, though the patron could not seem to remember which deity-- Kord, Pelor, Heironeous, Cuthbert, or Procan
    • Greenie had a good meal and picked up some personal supplies
    • Deacon found a quiet Tavern where he sampled the local ale, and purchased a saucer of warm cream for Presto


    The following morning, the crew staggered in one by one. Father Feres was the last to arrive, looking positively ill. The ships set sail once more.

    As the day wore on, Father Feres' condition seemed to worsen with each passing hour. Finally, around 3:00 in the afternoon, he screamed in pain and doubled over, clutching his stomach and sweating profusely. Sankhur checked him out, removing his shirt and feeling his stomach. Feres' stomach was swollen and distended, and Sankhur could feel and see several softball-sized lumps moving beneath the skin. It was obvious that they would have to cut him open if they had any hope of saving his life.

    Bart raced downstairs to get a knockout potion from Churtle. The ship hit a rough patch and began to rock and sway. Greenie passed Wit to Sankhur, in hopes that the dagger's enchantment would be of some use in the surgery, and held Father Feres down. The party used alcohol to sterilize the patient and dagger, and as an antiseptic.

    Bart returned with Churtle and Urrol from below decks, and set about trying to stabilize the ship. Sankhur administered Churtle's knockout potion, and with Feres unconscious, he sliced open Feres' abdomen, Deacon could smell through Presto's senses an unpleasant odor mixed of salt water, oil, and sulphur.

    Inside Feres' stomach were four round black eggs. Urrol recognized them immediately, and shouting about Slaad, and attempted to place as much distance between himself and Father Feres as the deck of the Tempest would allow.

    The eggs were already moving, and the companions realized they only had seconds to act. Not wanting to touch the eggs for fear of somehow triggering the hatching, Deacon decided to use prestidigitation to quickly move them into a bucket. The last one was tucked in fairly deeply, and in wrenching it loose the ship lurched at just the wrong moment, splashing blood into Deacon and Sankhur's eyes, making it difficult for them to see what was going on.

    Greenie poured alcohol into the bucket, and Deacon accessed Presto's eyesight to guide his aim, setting the eggs on fire with Elemental Manipulation. Thick black smoke poured from the bucket, blinding and choking everyone on deck. Closest to the source, Deacon spilled his lunch across the deck. Greenie kicked the noxious bucket into the sea.

    Sankhur was able to sew up Father Feres, and stabilize him in spite of his loss of blood. Carefully, the party moved him to one of the two person cabins in the fore of the ship and assigned Tavey to watch over him while he slept. After only twenty minutes, Tavey came rushing to the deck breathless to report that Father Feres was talking in his sleep about the Scarlet Brotherhood.

    The companions went below with Tavey to listen to Feres, who was muttering: "Not Father... Conrad. Don't put it in me! It hurts!"

    Leaving the patient to recuperate, the party decided to talk to Feres' former roommate. Skeld confessed that Feres had behaved strangely. On several occasions, Skeld had attempted to engage the priest in conversation about religion-- only to find that Feres seemed to know little about his god. Skeld also noticed that he had never seen the priest use magic to heal-- only conventional medicine. Apart from those inconsistencies, however, Skeld hadn't noticed anything peculiar.

    The companions decided to keep a watch on him 24/7, rotating shifts. The following day, he awoke during Greenie's watch. Fearful for how the group might react, Greenie decided to interrogate him on his own.

    The man confessed that his name was Conrad Hurst. Not a priest, he was actually an art forger. Wanting to get out of Sasserine, he took on a job from Vanthus and the Lotus Dragons to deliver something to Fort Blackwell. The last thing he remembered was a meeting with some people. After that, there was a slimy consciousness coiled inside of him. He remembered brief momets of clarity, followed by excruciating pain.

    Satisfied with the man's story, Greenie called everyone together over breakfast at the Captain's Table, where he relayed what he had learned. There were some recriminations handed down about Greenie questioning the prisoner alone, followed by a debate over what to do with him. Greenie wanted to give Conrad an opportunity to redeem himself by working as part of the crew. Deacon said that he could never trust him, mind control or no, arguing that he should be put ashore at their next civilized stop-- with provisions, and if need be, some coin. Unable to reach a consensus, and with almost a month left before reaching Fort Greenrock, they decided to table the discussion and to leave Conrad guarded around the clock for the interim.

    On day 22, the ship sailed into a thick Fog Bank, and came to a sudden wrenching halt as if it had run aground. Deacon used a Cinderbolt to signal the Nixie to come to a halt and not follow them into the Fog. At approximately the same time, Bart was looking overboard trying to discern the source when 8 strange transparent oozes erupted from the ocean, launching themselves onto the deck of the Tempest where they proceeded to attack every living thing.

    A pitched battle ensued, as the companions desperately battled the creatures. During the course of the combat, one of the deck hands was lost. The party managed to slay the remainder of the creatures without further loss of life, although several party members were injured. In the aftermath of the battle, They scoured the surrounding waters for signs of more, only to see a gigantic protoplasmic mass moving away from the ship. The companions decided to let it go.

    The party earned another advance.

  5. #95
    Dershem's Avatar
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    Guy's tonight is going to be a no go, my computer is jacked and I haven't figured out what the issue is yet, I'm having a buddy who does IT work come over and take a look tonight but without knowing if it's something simple and stupid or major tonight is a safer to call a no-go.

  6. #96

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    All good, Dershem. I blame the damn gremlins! I'm not really really feeling it this week anyway. Our mother passed away Monday, and it's been a stressful week dealing with insurance, arrangements and the funeral home. And there really should be a special place in hell for some of these funeral directors. We already had arrangements made in advance for mom through a trust account, and they still try to take advantage and upsell you on things. Bastards. Anyway, the showing was today, and Sis had a rough time with it. I said my goodbyes to her Monday morning when the nursing home called me. But my sister, well. It was rough. I'll see you guys next weekthen. Take care.
    Fan of Castles and Crusades/Savage Worlds, just about any rpgs.

    I am in Eastern time zone and am fairly open most play times, but do prefer Evening or late night games.

  7. #97
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    Im sorry to hear that Trueshaft. Stick together and support each other.

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  8. #98
    Dershem's Avatar
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    Man I didn't see this until after the game sorry to hear that, I just had to deal with that for my grandmother, and I know how crappy it is... Keep in there man.

  9. #99
    Zenspeedstr's Avatar
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    Trueshaft-- I just read your post about your mother. That's what happens when I only check this forum the weeks that we are playing. I am very sorry for your loss. I recently lost my mom, so I know exactly what you are going through. Sending you positive thoughts.

  10. #100
    Zenspeedstr's Avatar
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    Recap
    Last time, in Savage Tides

    "Hello Darkness, my old friend..."

    As the battle with the Oozes concluded and the giant Ooze slid away from the Tempest, the fog began to slowly dissipate-- as if following the creature. Sankhur healed the surviving crewmember and the party sent the all clear signal to Lavinia's ship. Deacon and Urrol got the expedition back on course, and Bart steered them back into open waters once more.

    The next 10 days passed mostly without incident. The group voted to keep their prisoner under lock and key and to put him ashore at Fort Greenrock. Avner, usually an ever-present irritant, was strangely absent. The party soon discovered that he and Lirith the female barbarian had given in to passion, and she was keeping him on a short leash-- seemingly literally.

    As the days passed, Urrol the sage could barely contain his excitement. The party's next stop would be at the Tamoachan ruins he wanted to explore. As the Tempest neared the island, Urrol produced a map which he said he had obtained from a pirate. The map showed a section of ruins about an hour inland from where the party planned to come ashore. Urrol warned of stories of guardians-- some kind of snakes that could turn men to stone. He had also managed to procure two doses of an antidote to the stoning effect.

    Making landfall, the party disembarked and trudged ahead through the jungle-- Presto scouted ahead and Urrol directed their path by way of his map. Greenie remained behind to secure the ship. The companions took along two of the strongest crewmembers to help them in carrying away any artifacts they might happen to find.

    After about an hour, the party came to a clearing. They could see crumbling ruins ahead, along with 5 passages-- three of which were blocked by rubble. Presto spotted movement ahead, and heard rocks clatter. Three small snakelike creatures slithered from the undergrowth, and headed toward the party.

    One of the reptiles gazed at Sankhur and caused a wound. He felt his skin beginning to harden. A second one gazed at Deacon, but was ineffectual. The third tried to bite Mal and missed. Working together, Bart and Mal dispatched one of the creatures. Deacon took out a second one with a Cinderbolt. The final one gazed at Deacon, scoring a hit. Like Sankhur, Deacon felt his skin begin to stiffen. As the party was attempting to deal with the final creature, a full-grown Basilisk emerged from the ruins ahead to join the battle. Bart landed a surprise attack, and thanks to a strategically played adventure card from Sankhur, took it out with one blow. One of the crewmembers was able to finish off the remaining small Basilisk.

    Sankhur was unable to treat the stoning effect-- he and Deacon would have to wait for natural healing to cure them. The party cautiously searched the immediate area for the Basilisks' nest. They didn't find it, but among the petrified remains of some of their victims, they recovered a ring that was set with a small undamaged ruby.

    Forging ahead, Deacon sent Presto to investigate the two open passageways. At the right-most opening, Presto smelled snake. The party decided to give that one a wide berth. The northernmost passage led to a ten foot wide fifty foot long landing, culminating in a stone archway adorned with carved skeletons intertwined with stone snakes. As the party approached, they felt a growing sense of unease about the archway.

    One by one the companions steeled themselves and passed through the arch. Deacon was overcome by a horrible sense of dread and was forced to flee the ruins momentarily. Presto's back arched and his fur stood on end when he tried to pass. He refused to go anywhere near the archway, and Deacon could tell that the cat had developed a phobia of ruins that would probably be with him for the rest of his life. Deacon tried to calm him, and told him to stay with the two crewmembers at the passage entrance.

    Just past the archway, stone steps led up to a large chamber. It appeared to be a map room of sorts-- depicting the ruins in bas relief on the floor. The map was heavily damaged, however-- the entire room appeared to be burned, and there was soot all over the floor. The walls had obviously once been covered in writing, but they were now burned to the point of illegibility. In the center of the room was a stone table, appearing to be a place were the dead were ritualistically prepared for the afterlife. There were knives and canopic jars scattered about. The only other exit from the room was blocked by an unrusted iron wall that appeared to have been wedged into the rubble-- almost as if it had grown there.

    Mal and Deacon moved to check out the iron wall. The others investigated the contents of the room, attempting to read the blackened walls. Sankhur discovered that the fire seemed to have started at the far wall and then spread across the room. As if on cue, the walls erupted in flame-- gouts of fire shot across the room, forming a thin wall of flame that filled the space from floor to ceiling and began to move rapidly through the room toward the entrance.

    As the wall of flame advanced, Mal was able to pull down the iron wall, revealing a passage. Bart ran through the opening. Sankhur ran back for the entrance. Urrol and Deacon made it into the passage, and Deacon was able to use Elemental Manipulation to protect Mal from harm as the Wall of Fire swept over him.

    As the fire wall passed them, Urrol ran back out to continue his examination of the writing on the walls. The fire made it to the steps at the entrance to the cavern and then reversed direction. Running behind it, Sankhur was able to reach the passageway, and Urrol managed to duck back in just ahead of the flames.

    The passage opened into a smaller room-- this one covered in glyphs and carvings of batlike creatures devouring humanoids. A hypnotic floating candlelight appeared in the room. Bart, Mal, and Urrol were mesmerized by it-- feeling a strong urge to follow it. With a sheer force of will, Bart was able to shake off the effects, and he smacked Mal in the forehead, who was then also able to free himself. Reaching out, Mal attempted to touch the wisp, only to be blasted by mystical energy.

    Coming from beyond the party's line of sight, a bolt of black energy appeared, striking Mal in the chest. He felt the berserker rage rising within him as four Aztecan Mummies emerged from the darkness ahead and shambled to attack the party. A wave of fear ran through the companions at the sight of them.

    After a disappointing opening round, a berserk Mal hacked one of the Mummies to pieces. Deacon dropped a second one with a Cinderbolt, noting with satisfaction that they burned very easily. Both enemies turned to dust as they dropped. Then a magical darkness descended on the room, obliterating all light. The room was plunged into total darkness. Urrol let out a blood curdling scream.

    Bart managed to hold his own in the darkness against the remaining Mummies-- deftly avoiding their attacks, but not managing to damage them, either. One of the Mummies hit the other one in the darkness. Mal swung wildly-- just missing Deacon. Sankhur tried unsuccessfully to counter the darkness with his light spell.
    Another unearthly scream ripped through the darkness, and the icy fingers of fear gripped the party members closest to it. Mal and Bart found themselves suddenly gripped with a fear of the darkness that will haunt them for the rest of their days, affecting their ability to function in the dark.

    One of the Mummies swung and missed Bart. The second one connected with Mal, dropping him with a crushing blow. A blast of phantasmal screaming skulls struck Bart from somewhere deep in the darkness, but had no effect.

    The Mummy that dropped Mal lifted his lifeless form and hurled him at Deacon. The crushing weight of his fallen teammate nearly killed the mage, as well. Mal saved against death and stabilized, but will be weakened for 24 hours. Sankhur managed to dispel the darkness with his second attempt, revealing the battlefield.
    Two mummies were still standing. Urrol was huddled in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably. Mal was down. Deacon was almost down. And the caster was revealed at last-- the Mummy Lord, Sultalore. Things looked grim for the companions.

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