The Raven Keep Campaign

The Church of Shar

Upon his arrival in the city of Tsuragol, Raven and his adventuring compaion Alisandra Blueleaf had been accosted by a group of thieves. The adventurers defended themselves and soon all of the slain thieves’ bodies lay cooling in the alley. An unseen spellcaster had tried to cover the overwhelmed thieves’ escape with a spell of darkness but Raven’s sword Nightwatcher flared to life and absorbed the spell just as quickly as it had been cast.

The spellcaster retreated into the night and was soon forgotten. However, unbeknowst to the adventurers, she fled to a secret location in the city and reported the what had happened to her superiors in the church of Shar. Incensed that a weapon crafted specifically to counter darkness was loose in the city, the high priestess declared a crusade. The weapon was to be found and stolen for sacrifice to the unforgiving deity.

Then pirates attacked the city. The search for the weapon was delayed for nearly a tenday when the thieves’ guild acted to defend their territory and Raven joined the posse that left in pursuit of the fleeing buccaneers.

After returning from thier adventure on the Sea of Fallen Stars, several of the adventurers (Raven, Morn, Thaedous and Lucian) took rooms at a nearby inn while the other adventurers remained aboard the ship to protect the loot while a buyer could be found.

The guild had agents all along the waterfront, watching the shis as they returned and followed the adventurers to the inn and waited for nightfall. Two full squads of the guild thieves stole quietly onto the balcony outside of the adventurers’ rooms. After several minutes of quiet observation to ensure the adventurers had turned in for the night, the thieves made their move. One rogue pulled forth her tools and begin carefully picking the lock on the door leading from the balcony into the room.

Raven had not yet fallen asleep and heard the clicking of the tumblers inside the lock. He lifted Nightwatcher and drew it from its sheath and padded silently across the room. Standing behind the door he measured a hand-span to the left of the handle and drove the adamantite blade through the wood and into the thief on the other side. There was a surprised yelp as the sword pierced bone and brain. He withdrew the sword and heard a thump as the body slumped onto the wooden balcony.

Drawing open the door, Raven strode forward with both blades in hand and battle erupted on the cramped balcony. The situation quickly turned bad for the thieves as the fighting awoke the other adventurers and before long the bodies of thieves were falling from the narrow walkway like rain in the thunderstorm. The clerics who had come along to provide magical support to theives proved nearly useless as they too were cut down with ruthless efficiency. Only the cleric on the rooftop across the alleyway survived the initial rush.

She turned to flee and was pursued by the adventurers as they jumped the alley and took up the chase. Quickly wounded and captured, the priestess revealed the location of her guild’s hidden location with some “gentle persuasion” from Lucian and Thadeous.

She led the group across town to an inn named “The Night’s Respite” and everyone proceeded inside. A trapdoor in the bartender’s walk led down to a root cellar. The priestess lunged forward crying out to her goddess and struck an invisible glyph on the secret door leading into the guild proper. The glyph ignited blasting everyone in the room with arcane energy (and alerted the guards posted inside). The guards began firing arrows at the party through the carefully concealed arrow slits. Raven’s sword once again proved useful as he slashed the secret door from its hinges.

The thieves inside fought with the fervor of fanatics but were quickly overcome by the seasoned warriors. The party descended deeper and deeper into the earth passing through training areas and armories. They faced no opposition.

Finally the four adventurers reached the heart of the thieves’ complex. A dark chapel dedicated to the goddess of secrets and shadows. All of the guild’s remaining thieves and priests had fallen back, retreating to the inner sanctum to wait for the adventurers’ arrival. As the party strode in, ready to fight a wave of depression and hopelessness swept over them, sapping their will and weakening their resolve. The thieves, crouching behind pews opened fire with crossbows and the clerics conjuring bolstered the thieves.

Raven, Morn and the others overcome the spell protecting the chapel and began to fight in earnest. The close confines worked to the thieves’ disadvantage as little room was available to bring their greater numbers to bear. The adventurers quickly entered close combat to prevent the clerics from targeting them with spells that would hit the thieves the adventurers fought.

After a brutal battle, the high priestess was slain as were her two lieutenants. The bodies of slain theives and dark clerics littered the chapel. The battle over, the party looted the bodies of their defeated foes and returned to the surface to summon the city watch to clean out the remainder of the guild’s hidden stronghold.

The Pirates of Tsurlagol (Finale)

In the small village atop the beach where the battle raged, three adventurers steeled themselves for the battle that was drawing ever closer. Cain Blackstone, the halfing evoker chanted and waved his arms, coating the trail leading up to the town, hoping against hope to slow the overwhelming number of pirates who were closing in on the fishermen, sailmakers, bakers and stevedores who populated the island community.

Thaedous Nightbreeze stood at the opposite edge of the village, his bowstring humming as he loosed one arrow after another into the advanced throng. His wolf Shadowfang paced back and forth, eager for a chance to please his master.

Meanwhile, Luican tried to organze his mob of civilians, many of whom had never fired a bow at a living target in anger into a cohesive unit. Many of the men and women were terrified, unsure of what they could do against so many invaders. Their only hope lay in the improvised bobby trap the three adventurers had cobbled together from an overturned wagon they had pushed down the trail.

Raven, Kuna, Morn and Chronosaj fought their way across the beach toward the village. Brutal, no hold’s barred violence reigned. One pirate after another fell to the blows of Raven’s sword and Kuna’s hammer.

Chronosaj’s rifle barked repeatedly at the small figure he’d spied at the head of the closest group of pirates. Unexpectedly, the figure turned and began firing back at him. First two pistols from holsters on his hips, then two more drawn from hidden recesses inside his sleeves and then a short carbine. The smell of sulphur soon joined the iron tang of blood on the sand. Chronosaj was hit several times but his reinforced armor held against the assault, preserving his life at the cost of deep bruises and possibly cracked ribs.

Several of the pirates finally reached the trail. Their leader, a bear of a man with a hook replacing one hand and a pegleg replacing one of his feet, latched onto the wagon with his hook and heaved the wagon over and out of the way. The trap’s tripwire was released and a springboard with nails driven through it uncoiled. The pirate ducked the trap but failed to get out of the way of the barrel of lamp oil that overturned onto a torch left burning nearby.

The entire trail was engulfed in flames.

The peg-legged pirate strode through the flames completely without concern, reaching the top where he found Cain staring in wide-eyed amazement. The tiny wizard unleashed a lightning bolt at the pirate who took the blast in stride before being rushed by the wolf Shadowfang. Moments later, Luican and Thaedous joined the chaotic melee which resulted in Cain being grabbed with the hook and tossed into the fire (which he promptly leapt out of) and Shadowfang being hurled from the top of the ridge to the beach below. Luican and the pirate squared off, the pirate’s cutlass and the elf’s two-bladed sword exchanging blows with a near constant ringing.

The fight on the beach quickly turned into a rout and the pirates began surrendering en masse, no longer wanting to face the seasoned adventurers in battle. Morn unleashed the dragon Alhazmabad, allowing the mighty beast to once again possess his body and teleported with Kuna to the pirate ship at the far end of the beach.

The buccanners were fleeing from the town, not wanting to face the endless volleys of arrows, the halfling’s battle magic or get trapped between the town and the rapidly closing adventurers. Alhazmabad looked down at the group and began to conjure. Thick black, oily tentacles erupted from the sand, encoiling and crushing pirates, tearing them limb from limb without mercy.

Atop the hill, Cain rolled away from the flames and hurled a handful of brightly colored sand at the seemingly tireless pirate. The sand flashed into a burst of brilliant color, stunning the pirate with its intensity. Thaedous leapt high and drove his sword deep into the pirate’s back while Lucian began to twirl and spin, slicing the pirate’s chest and arms to ribbons.

And just like that, the battle had ended. Sure, there were prisoners to gather and the bodies of the slain had to be plundered for loot but the fighting itself was over. The captives were loaded into the hold of one of the least damaged pirate ships which set sail shortly afterwards and arrived in Tsuragol a mere two days later.

In a ceremony held atop the steps of the Battering Wave, Tsurlagol’s temple to Umberlee, Raven, Kuna, Lucian, Morn, Chronosaj, Cain and Theadous were rewarded with the title “Honored Defender of Tsuragol”, which conferred upon them many benefits for as long as they resided within the city.

- End -

The Pirates of Tsurlagol (Part IV)

When we’d last left our heroes, they had just sailed with all possible speed from the Earthspur to Alphar Isle in an attempt to thwart would-be pirate king Vurgrom the Mighty from wiping out the last of the throne’s contenders. As the adventurers’ ship rounded the island and Alphar Isle’s harbor came into view, stomachs dropped as they spied no fewer than ten ships arrayed against the island. Four were blockading the harbor mouth and the other six were sailing in to raid the small town above the bay.

Morn turned to the rest of his companions and asked “What do you think? Can we take ’em?”

Raven shrugged slightly under his cloak and replied “I can, but it’s going to take awhile”.

Captain Burl called down from his place at the wheel atop the sterncastle “Somebody better make up their mind as to what we be doin’ now that we be here ‘cause one o’ dem ships in the blockade be headin’ fer us!”

The four adventurers looked at each other for just a moment before reaching an unspoken agreement. They turned to the captain and said “We fight – just get us to land”.

Chronosaj reached into one of his many pouches and pulled forth a vellum sheet covered with arcane writings. He unrolled it and began speaking the words aloud … albeit with some difficulty and when finished flourished dramatically with one hand to point at the rapidly approaching ship … and nothing happened. “Damn scroll!” he shouted, “Wizard was probably drunk when he wrote this thing! Arrghh!”

Raven took up a place amidships and strung his bow. His keen elven eyes allowed him to see the four pirates at work manning the large fire projector at the front of the ship. He strung an arrow and fired once, twice, three times, four times, five…all five arrows raced through the air toward their targets. All found their marks. Three of the pirates went down with arrows in throats or eyes while the last staggered around with an arrow sticking out of his shoulder and another in his thigh.

Then something remarkable happened. Kuna, who had moved to the sterncastle where she would be higher up and better able to see the unfolding battle had dropped to her knees. She held the symbol of her god, Dumathoin in one hand and her massive hammer Skullsplitter in the other and was chanting. Her voice grew deeper until it seemed to echo up from the very halls under the mountain in which she was raised and thrust both of her arms out in front of her. Grumbling and growling, she curled her fingers as if getting a firm grip on the air in front of her and began to slowly pull her hands apart. A surprised gasp escaped Morn’s lips and he took a step back as the water directly in front of the pirate vessel parted … leaving a deep trench ten feet across and at least 70 feet long.

With no time to stop or alter course, the pirate ship drove directly into the pit of water and became stuck fast. Pirates began to panic as they looked up and realized that water was looming high above the edge of the deck. Several began to cut loose the liferafts while other climbed into the rigging to get above the waterline. Arrows and rifle fire were put to devastating effect on the pirate vessel’s aft weapon crews.

Kuna continued to chant and pointed one thick finger at the helmsman. A coherent sunbeam of radiant death, lanced from her outstretched finger to strike the side of the helmsman. Flesh blackened and burned under her magical assault, one ear as well as the pirate’s right eye boiled away and he dropped to the wooden deck, dragging himself in fiery agony to the bulwark where he could hide from the deadly beam of light.

The crew aboard one of the other blockading ships had seen the first vessel sink but not what had happened and had turned to investigate. Thinking that perhaps their ally had run across an unknown reef and sunk, the rescuers signalled for the other two ships in the blockade to follow and fill the gap in the defenses.

Within moments, arrows and bullets began slamming into the massed bodies of the pirates on the foc’sle and one after another fell. Chronosaj once again tried reading his scroll without effect and nearly threw it over the side in frustration. As the rescue ship crew was worn away by the outslaught of missle fire, lookouts aboard the other two ships realized that a battle was taking place. Captains issued orders and helmsmen turned wheels and the other two pirate ships turned to join the battle.

The captain of the adventurers’ ship turned the wheel sweeping alongside the second ship keeping it between the last two ships and itself. As the two ships ran alongside each other, everyone aboard both vessels could hear the two hulls grinding against each other. Morn, summoned his magic and leapt aboard the passing pirate ship, thinking his companions would be right behind him. He released his spell as his feet touched down on the deck and a wave of sound blasted out from his body, slamming into the four pirates manning the ship’s fire projector and knocking them aside. He turned to wait for his friends but the ships were moving too quickly and had passed each other before anyone had the chance to join him. Gulping slightly, he turned back to the pirates who were slowly staggering to their feet.

“Dragon?” he whispered…“now, might be a good time for you to take over….” Alhazmabad’s spirit surged forward, pushing Morn’s own soul into a small, dark corner of his mind. The dragon raised one of Morn’s hands and spoke an arcane phrase. A blast of freezing cold sprayed outwards from Morn’s outstretched hand and washed over the approaching pirates. The intense cold froze nearly all of the pirates solid, leaving only one who had been partially concealed by some of the ship’s rigging and cargo still alive.

As the third ship closed in on the adventurer’s vessel, Kuna released the spell holding back the water from the first ship and the sea came crashing back in. The rushing waves swept bodies, blood and cargo clear of the deck. Slowly, the ship righted itself and bobbed back to the surfcace. The remaining crewmembers decided that they had taken enough chances with their lives and turned tail to flee.

Kuna strode forward along the deck as the third ship drew near to the third pirate and with both hands, hurled her hammer with all of the might her enchanted gauntlets could give her. The hammer twirled end over end between the two ships and crashed into the resevoir of volatile chemicals feeding the fire projector. The barrel caved in, spewing its contents everywhere. As the droplets mixed with the air, they ignited. Fire rapidly engulfed the front of the ship and sailors began to scream and run. Many leapt over the side into the water below and began swimming toward Alphar Isle.

Back on the ship Morn had boarded and savoring the taste of his freedom, Alhazmabad turned to watch the final blockading pirate ship turn away and begin to flee the battle. He smiled and pointed one finger at the fleeing ship. A thin green beam lanced away through the ship’s hull, sheared off the base of the mast and blasted cleanly out the other side of the ship. Severed from its base, the mast toppled, ripping sails and snapping rigging as it fell. A large section of deck splintered away and pirates were thrown to and fro as the ship capsized and sank beneath the waves. Turning to see that the ship he’d boarded was just drifting, the dragon in Morn’s body called upon his magic and teleported back to his party’s ship.

Raven strode to the bow and peered toward the beach. He could see that the six ships had made landfall and were disgorging their cargo of pirates. Reaching down to adjust the lacing of his boots, he quietly whispered an arcane word and leapt over the side. The soles of his boots touched the water and he began to run, racing across the choppy surface of the bay toward the beach as quickly as he could.

Chronosaj tried once more to read his pilfered scroll without effect and began to stomp and curse. Alhazmabad held out one hand to the warrior-thief and said “Give it to me”. He spoke a brief arcane phrase and his eyes glowed briefly. He then held the scroll up and began to read the words inscribed upon the parchment. He pointed toward the closest ship and a pea-sized dot of fire erupted from his hand and drifted lazily toward the nearest pirate vessel. The tiny ball reached the vulnerable fuel resevoir and exploded, igniting the chemicals and turning the ship into so much fiery kindling.

Raven reached the sandy shore and drew his swords. The closest group of sailors were marching toward the trail leading up to the small town atop the low bluff. Dressed in loose togas and sandals, bearing large shields and armed with wickedly tipped spears, the men he charged looked to be a very professional, disciplined group. They turned to confront him and he began to fight. He sliced through spear shafts and stabbed through shields with his enchanted blades. Man after man fell before him and soon he had to climb over the bodies of his slain foes.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, the dragon could feel his control of Morn’s body waning and placed a hand upon Chronosaj’s shoulder. He spoke one word and the two adventurers disappeared from the deck of the ship. At the exact same instant, they appeared on the beach.

Chronosaj began to climb the mooring line to one of Alphar Isle’s ships. Swinging himself over the bulwark, he readied his rifle and took aim. Alhazmabad unleashed a beam of disintegration at one of the toga-wearing pirates. The pirate dodged aside and rolled in the sand. He drew a bow from a quiver on his back and nocked an arrow. He drew back and released. The arrow sped through the air and slammed into the dragon’s human shoulder. Another arrow hit less than a moment later.

Chronosaj moved stealithly along the ship, sniping at foes aboard the nearby pirate vessel. Every bullet struck home, ending the life of one of the island’s attackers. Chronosaj backed up several steps and with a running leap, cleared the space between ships and landed lightly on his feet. He raced forward, drawing his scimitars as he went and took out the final pirate aboard the vessel.

The adventurers’ ship, with Kuna still aboard drove up onto the sandy beach and shuddered to a stop. The dwarven priest threw a line over the side and began to climb down. Several crewmembers joined her, carrying large mallets and thick wooden stakes. The sailors rushed onto the beach, searching for spots to plant the stakes while other crewmembers fed mooring lines out of the ship’s aft chocks.

Two more arrows slammed into Morn and he dropped to his knees on the beach. Gritting his teeth through the pain, he cast one last spell. His outline began to waver as he staggered to his feet. Raven raced across the open ground and jumped high. The archer spun to face him, swinging his bow like a club. Raven batted the weapon aside and thrust his blade cleanly through the archer’s chest.

All four adventurers ashore, they turned to survey the next closest group of pirates. Garbbed much more informally then the pirates lying dead on the beach, they called out to their leader who turned to see what the commotion was all about. Not even three feet tall and dressed in a heavy overcoat and large floppy hat, the small man called his group to a halt and prepared to fight.

- End (part IV) -

The Pirates of Tsulragol (Part III)
The party climbs back aboard their battered vessel just off the coast of the island of Lurath. They make a quick inspection to see what damage the pirates have wrought in their absence and discover mostly minor vandalism. They cast off as much extra weight from the ship as possible (including the anchor and both rear-mounted ballistae) to float the ship free of the reef.

After getting underway, the crew reports that the lowermost portion of the hull has been damaged and water is pouring in belowdecks. Bilge teams go to work pumping water overboard to keep the vessel from sinking but it soon becomes obvious that the ship is doomed

The situation grows more grim as the miles drag by and the stricken vessel struggles to reach Earthspur Island and the main pirate settlement there. A voice calls out from over the side and the adventurers seek out the source of the voice. Several orange-scaled, humanoids with large black eyes and finned hands and feet swim alongside the ship.

These locathah offer to trade services in exchange for treasure. The adventurers claim that there is no treasure aboard the ship so the fish-folk offer to trade services for services. If the party members will slay a monstrous dragon turtle ravaging their territory then they will tow the ship to safety.

Morn, Raven, Kuna and Chronosaj all agree to the locathahs’ terms and lower a longboat over the side. Two members of the locathah clan pull the longboat along while four other clan members scout ahead for the beast. After about an hour, just as the group is drawing very close to their island destination, the water ahead of them begin to bubble and froth. A large cloud of steam breaks the surface and the bodies of the four locathah scouts bob to the surface. Moments later, a massive dragon turtle with a shell at least thirty feet across surfaced and began gulping down its parboiled prey.

The turtle turned its massive head toward the adventurers in the longboat and its wicked beak cracked a evil smile. The huge predator began gliding through the water with a lazy, effortless grace bearing down on what it thought would be easy prey.

Kuna and Raven both downed magical potions that would allow them to breathe underwater while the rest of the group prepared for battle. The turtle picked up speed, clearly intending to ram and overturn the party’s boat. Morn stood, flask of caustic acid in hand waiting for the proper moment to strike and once the turtle was close enough to ensure he couldn’t possibly miss, he hurled the flask.

And missed.

Chronosaj fired his rifle, scoring a hit above the beast’s eye. Raven leapt from the boat, sword in hand directly at the turtle, ripping the black adamantite blade across the hooked beak. Neither wound slowed the monster and it plowed into the side of the longboat, flipping it over. Kuna clamped down onto the rail of the overturned boat with her free hand to keep her heavy armor from dragging her to the bottom of the bay.

Alhazmabad, the spirit of the dragon tied to Morn, demanded to be allowed to fight before the minstrel got them both killed. Morn agreed and the spirit dragon surged into his body and unleashed one of his most powerful spells agains the turtle. “STUN!” Alhazmabad yelled and the magical force slammed into the onrushing monster and pushed it back several feet through the water. While the predator was dazed, Chronosaj leapt atop its back, hacking and slashing with his twin scimitars. The turtle roared again as Raven seized a bony ridge on the underside of the turtle’s and stabbed it repeatedly with his sword. Blood filled the water and yet the adventurers did not let up. Kuna moved hand over hand beneath the boat and hurled herself at her attacker and with one mighty thrust, drove her sword into the turtle’s neck.

Slain, the turtle began to sink. The two locathah who had been towing the party’s longboat returned and helped everyone to shore. A few hours later, the rest of the fish-men’s clan arrived, pulling the captured pirate ship behind. The adventurers scuttled the ship, sending it to the bottom to lie next to the corpse of the dragon turtle and took shelter beneath the island’s palm trees.

The next morning, the group hiked overland to the island’s main settlement where they discovered that Vurgrom the Mighty had left the day before to finish off the pirates on Alphar Isle and finally consolidate his position as Pirate King. The heroes stopped in several shops and taverns, seeking supplies and information before they managed to bribe a skeleton crew of sailors to take them to sea.

The information the party received told them that Vurgrom was taking a very long and indirect route to Alphar Isle to avoid early detection by his enemies. Raven. Kuna, Morn and Chronosaj set the most direct course possible, stopping only to put the skeleton crew ashore on the Isle of Lurath.

Finally, Alphar Isle came into view and the party’s ship sailed around the northwest point of the island to discover a blockading force of four ships along the mouth of the main harbor. Six additional ships could be seen beyond the blockade heading directly for Selshin Toshant’s town.

- End (part 3) -

The Pirates of Tsurlagol (Parts I & II)

Pirates had raided the city. A truce that had stood for nearly four decades had been broken. Warehouses burned. The city watch and the pirates slew each other in the streets and numerous civilans were caught in the middle of bloody running battles. But, the pirates had been forced to retreat and the city began to heal. Fires were fought, the dead were found and identified and the wounded were tended.

The city council decided to raise a posse to bring the pirates who had taken part in the raid to justice. Some pirates who had been captured before they could escape confessed that they had come from Alphar Isle, a small island about twenty miles from the mainland on the Sea of Fallen Stars.

Adventurers and a crew were hired to man the one pirate ship that had been seized during the battle. The ship set out at once. Notable adventurers aboard the dingy pirate vessel were the elven warrior, Raven; a human minstrel named Morn and a dwarven deathpriest known as Kuna.

The ship sailed for a full day and night, chasing the pirates back to their lair. The captain guided the vessel directly onto the gravel beach and the adventurers and marines swarmed ashore. In less than a minute, close to a score of pirates lay dead or wounded as Raven and Morn fought their way up the path toward the main settlement. Kuna boarded one of the nearby pirate vessels which was also beached. She fought her way up the gangplank and across the quarterdeck. Warhammer whirling expertly in her hands, she dispatched any foe who dared to get near as she made her way toward her objective.

Kuna drew ever closer to the large firespout mounted on the foc’sle of the ship and immediately stove in the side of the fuel resevoir, spilling viscous oil onto the deck. When the volitale substance mixed with the air, it iginted and quickly spread. Kuna chuckled as she rolled over the railing to the water below as panicked sailors ran back and forth with buckets of sand and water trying to put out the flames.

A horn sounded from the village overlooking the beach and a man on a white horse rode through the pirates, ordering them to fall back. The pirates beat a hast retreat and the melee finally slowed to a stop.

The rider introduced himself as Selshin Toshant and he demanded to know why an unprovoked attack had been launched against his island. Confused somewhat by the “unprovoked” part, the party began to question the pirate leader who claimed to be negotiating pardons for all of his men with several of the larger kingdoms along the coast.

Eventually, the group and Selshin came to the conclusion that Vurgrom “the Mighty” and uncrowned Pirate King had manipulated the two groups into fighting, thus weakening both of his enemies while he arranged his take-over bid. Vurgrom, not known for being overly-bright, seemed incapable of devising such tactics but he had recently hired a new mage who did most of his thinking for him.

(end part one)

After several minutes of awkward apologies, the adventurer’s vessel was once again underway and racing south along the west side of Alphar Isle. The ship reached open waters and Thognia Grim, a hired priestess from the temple of the sea goddess Umberlee, conjured an air elemental to help speed the ship along.

Her efforts were for naught for as the captured ship was passing near one of the many small islands that dot the inner sea’s surface, three pirate ships came sailing from a hidden cove and opened fire with large artillery pieces. The captain of the adventurers’ ship tried to lose his pursuers by cutting in even closer to the island but struck bottom on a rocky shoal. As the pirate ship closed in the hired priest decided that this was not what she had signed up for and teleported away. Forced to abandon ship, the adventurers led the sailors ashore and into a long tunnel that ran deep into the island.

Emerging in a jungle far larger than it had any right to be, the party looked up a saw a flock of massive, flying lizards cruising in the sky. The entire jungle seemed to be enclosed by high canyon walls, which made the entire area resemble nothing more than an old, deep crater. Palm trees and ferns were proliferate and a voice was calling to them from up above.

A large area in the side of the cliff face above had been excavated and several generations of shipwreck victims had built a village into the very wall of the crater. After climbing up to meet the villagers, the party explained what had happened and asked where they were. One of the “village elders” told them that had arrived on Lurath which Morn recognized from a wizards’ debate he had been witness to once. The wizards had speculated that the island’s tunnels were actually a gateway to the Age of Dragons, some 30,000 years in the past.

The villagers warned of “two-legged lizards” that could swallow a man whole, giant serpents, vicious tribes of fanged apes and of course, a massive dragon that ruled over everything within the crater.

Suspecting that they would need wood to make repairs to their ship (or rafts in the event that the pursuing pirates destroyed the grounded vessel), Morn thought it would be best to seek out the dragon and explain their intentions so as not to provoke its wrath by taking trees from its domain. Raven claimed that he could kill the dragon if that would make everyone feel better but it was decided that diplomacy would be given a chance.

The group, having been given a rough map by the villagers headed north through the jungle. Raven led the way, hewing a path for Kuna, Morn and a swordsman named Chronosaj to follow. Disaster nearly struck when Morn jokingly asked if Kuna was going to attempt to beat down trees with her warhammer. She turned and told him “Watch this” and hurled the weapon at a nearby tree. The enchated weapon struck the tree so hard that it split nearly five feet from the impact. She extended her hand and waited for the hammer to return when a massive tawny cat bearing foot long fangs leapt from the foliage close to the sundered tree and pounced upon her.

Kuna’s hammer returned to her while she fended off the sabre-toothed cat with her shield and she struck back. Everything seemed well in hand until the rest of the pack burst from hiding. Raven sidestepped and cleanly beheaded a charging tiger while Morn was buried beneath slashing claws and gnashing fangs. Chronsaj backpedaled to keep himself from being flanked by the last two members of the pride.

Raven rushed to aid Chronsaj, slaying one of his attackers and helping surround the remaining one. Kuna felled her beast and turned to aid Morn. Her actions drew the attention of the big cat before he could be dragged off and she was attacked.

Hammer blow after hammer blow rained down upon the tiger while Raven and Chronsaj finished off thier opponent. Once it was down, Raven turned and hurled his sword end over end, taking the life from Kuna’s second foe. The battle over, Kuna healed both Morn and Chronsaj and the group continued on its way.

The group found the dragon sunning itself a short while later. Morn explained that they wanted to leave his island and needed to harvest wood to repair their ship. Little did they know that the dragon had been trying to escape for the last several centuries so it could travel to the future and see how the world had changed. However, being too large to fit through the tunnels and having exhausted all of the magical options it had available to it, the dragon had finally come up with a plan.

The dragon granted the adventurers permission to harvest wood from his forest and gave them a scale as a token of proof. Motioning for the party to be off (and secretly casting a spell), the dragon lowered itself into a resting position and pretended to go to sleep. Morn stiffened momentarily as the dragon’s soul left its powerful body behind and forced its way into his. The minstrel fought to retain control but was overwhelmed by the dragon’s mental prowess and magic and became little more than a passenger in his own body.

Knowing that time was short and the spell would eventually expire, the dragon in Morn’s body pushed for everyone to make haste. By evening the adventurers had returned to the village and after the crew worked well into the night, had what they hoped would be enough wood.

The dragon led the party into the tunnels. However, he had not counted on how his spell would interact with the tunnel’s time travelling properties and was expelled from the adventurer’s body. With nowhere to go (since his body was now 30,000 years in the past), he remained attached to Morn with a strand of pyshic energy. Morn quickly announced that the dragon had possessed him but that he was currently in control of their now-shared body. The dragon demanded to be let back in but Morn quickly made some points that he was better suited for this time (knowledge of geography, local customs, talking to people, etc) than the dragon was and that for now he should remain in control. The dragon grudingly acknowledged the minstrel’s point and settled in to quietly wait for his chance.

Looking out at the shoreline, the group gratefully realized that once the pirates had driven them ashore they had lost interest and except for some vandalism, the ship had been left more or less intact. Repairs were soon in progress.

(end part two)

The Pirates of Tsuragol (Prologue)

Raven pulled the hood of his gray cloak lower to shade his eyes against the glare of the rising sun. Crossing his arms over his chest, the elven swordsman leaned back to rest against the wall of the inn and settled in to wait for his traveling companion.

Despite the early hour, the streets of Tsuragol were already filling with craftsmen and laborers heading to work, vendors hawking wares from street-side kiosks and sailors with hangovers shuffling back to their ships in the harbor. A wry grin slowly appeared under his hood as he wondered how many of the port’s citizens knew about the thieves’ guild in their midst. Just the night before, Raven and his partner Alisandra had been accosted by thieves on a narrow side street just a few blocks north of the inn. The elves fought to defend themselves and slew several of their attackers.

Before the last thief could be vanquished, an unseen spellcaster conjured a globe of darkness and centered it in the impromptu battlefield. The thief attempted to escape while the elves were distracted but the black pearl in the pommel of Raven’s sword had surged to life and drawn the supernatural darkness into itself. The spellcaster escaped into the night but the last criminal was felled while trying to slip away. A swift inspection of the fallen revealed that all were masked women in near-identical clothing.

Raven sighed and checked to ensure that the two swords riding his hips were free in their sheaths and adjusted the strap holding his bow and quiver. He turned to look at the inn’s front door and with a very un-elven dose of impatience began to pace.

He was somewhere in the middle of his sixth lap when he smelled the smoke. He stepped off of the raised front porch of the hotel and rounded the corner of the building. He peered downhill toward the harbor and quickly spotted a quartet of ships spraying flaming oil from over-sized fire projectors onto buildings along the water front.

Pirates were attacking the city.

Almost without thinking, the elf began to run toward the docks. In less than a minute, he came upon a small knot of city guardsmen who were trying to hold off a much larger group of sword-wielding cutthroats. Flailing with short clubs normally used for crowd control, three of the guards were already wounded and all were hard-pressed. Raven’s blades cleared their sheathes with a lightning hiss as he jumped into the fray.

With speed, strength and decades of experience the pirates couldn’t begin to match, the elf ducked, dodged, stabbed and slashed. One by one and two by two, the pirates were scythed down by his determined assault. The few rogues who tried to counterattack found their cutlasses slapped aside by the elf’s quick parries and soon joined their larcenous companions who lay bleeding in the street. A quickly shouted order to the guards to wait for reinforcements and Raven raced on, headed for the nearest attacking vessel.

The pirates had, for the most part, avoided the city docks and had instead run themselves aground on the shallow pebbly beach before disgorging their attackers. Marines and sailors stood by at the rails with long poles ready to push off at a moment’s notice.

Arrows and crossbow bolts whizzed past Raven’s head as he drew ever closer to his target. He slammed his swords home and leaped as soon as he reached the water’s edge. Grasping at a low hanging line near the bow, he hauled himself upward.

The elf’s enchanted mithral chain armor worn under his clothing absorbed the blows rained down upon him as he climbed aboard and found his footing. His swords loose once more, Raven spun and thrust, wielding his blades with unsurpassed mastery. Every blade stroke hit an enemy and he fought with total abandon. The pirates were hampered by their greater numbers crammed into such cramped quarters and were forced to fight more carefully or risk injuring their shipmates.

Despite his greater speed and skill, Raven was beginning to tire. He began to give ground and retreated across the deck using the ship’s fittings, masts and rigging to deflect or entangle pirates blades. Then, the city guards arrived. Clambering aboard with only a third of the grace Raven had displayed, the defenders of Tsuragol soon had the pirates penned in and pressed their attack. Raven took the opportunity to scramble up the rigging to the crow’s nest where he put his bow to work with deadly accuracy.

As the fighting ground to a halt, Raven turned to survey the town. Much of the waterfront was ablaze, as were numerous ships. The remaining pirate vessels had put out to sea and were already clear of the harbor. Raven unstrung his bow and returned it to his quiver. He frowned in thought as he climbed down from his lofty perch and wondered what the pirates had hoped to gain by attacking a city in broad daylight.

(from the Journal of Raven Straightbow)

Twenty-three. Twenty-three lives ended today by my hand, either killed outright or later as a result of the wounds I inflicted. I feel no remorse for what I have done since the harm those men may have caused otherwise is incalculable.

I found Alisandra after the battle. She too had seen her share of combat and although fewer pirates were slain by her (for few buccaneers wish to do battle with a druid shapechanged into an enraged grizzly bear), she will not rest easily tonight as the taking of life, however necessary, is never easy for her to accept.

Despite heavy losses in the opening of the battle, the city guard acquitted itself well today. With adventurers such as myself and Alisandra buying time for the troops to mobilize, Tsuragol carried the day. I’m told that in places where the fighting was particularly desperate, globes of darkness cut off the advance of the invading pirates so it seems that the local thieves’ guild will at least fight to defend its territory.

The smell of smoke still hangs heavily in the air as the last of the fires are brought under control by priests and hired wizards. Town criers are roaming through the city, announcing a meeting is to be held in a plaza in front of the steps of the local temple of Umberlee. The city’s ruling council wants to chase down and capture the pirates who fled and bring them to justice. While I’m not certain my views on justice will mesh well with those of the council, I plan on volunteering for the mission.

- End (Prologue) -


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.