RPG@QUT Matt's D&D

DM log-- Gloomwrought 10

The fight on the ghost ship Blanche-Nef continued.

The heroes were determined to give peace to these ghosts, but it was going to be a very hard fight. They used all their cunning and tactics to move the fight to the glowing artifacts that advanced the story. They went down one level to the main deck. In one of the rooms was a glow under one of the corpses rotting there. When a ghost was dispatched nearby, the corpse spewed water from its rotten lungs and a key clinked to the deck. She said, “Tell Captain Thomas to beware the rocks! The kelp beds hide them. My brother took me there fishing once. He stood on the rocks to make me believe he could stand on the kelp…” She expired again. The corpse’s feet clomped flat on the floor in a strange way and DTIS saw she had Boarding Boots. He took the boots and the key. The bit of information about the danger of the rocks spread throughout the ship, with even the hostile ghosts hissing it to each other to tell the captain, as they still looked at the heroes with their faces clouded by hate and fear.

Down they went to the lower deck. Now the light was dim and there were many more corpses here among the junk strewn everywhere. The party was feeling weak, getting savaged by the psychic attacks by William and Thomas, and the slashing ghostly swords of the pirate nobles. When a ghost was dispatched near one glowing corpse, it animated. Marie appeared. She said “Benson. He was in the water near me. He saw William approaching in the skiff. He pulled at my skirts and swam right over the top of me.” She raised her hand, on which was another ring. Lightning jumped from the first ring to the second, making it glow and solidify. She walked toward the corpse and said, “He’s my brother. He’s trying to save ME.” The corpse grabbed her skirts and pulled her down. She raised her hand with the ring. “He came for ME!” The corpse grabbed her around the waist. She put her hand the face of the corpse pulling her down and there was a flash of white light. The corpse was frozen solid. She squirmed away and swam through the air, calling, “I’m coming for you William!” She got behind her brother and stayed close to him for the rest of the battle.

Success was on the edge of a knife. The heroes jumped down into the hold, which was pitch black and awash knee-deep in bilge and corpses. When a ghost was dispatched, near a glowing spot, corpses all around you grabbed our heroes, all climbing on top. One corpse, especially well dressed in rotting robes, climbed higher than the others and from his legs came a surge of water which put the everyone underwater. (These were later discovered to be Surfsurge Shoes which Brad claimed.) Underneath the pile was a chest. DTIS used the key on chest to get a sea chart which showed the old king’s route.

Our heroes showed the chart to William and Thomas, who had ceased their attacks and came to them in wonder. William said: “It’s all my fault. It’s my fault we all died.” Thomas: “No, my lord Aethling, the fault is mine, I should never have steered us close to the rocks. I forgive you.. William. I can’t lay the blame on you anymore.” William: “Good Thomas, I have hated you for centuries. I am sorry. The drink, the silly nobility, the haste… I am so sorry. If we have to spend eternity cursed like this, at least we can do it with peace between us.” Thomas: “My Lord, I know what can bring you peace. (He held up the chart.) Let’s catch up to your father.” William’s eyes go wide: “Can we, Thomas?” Thomas: “The drink has gone overboard, as I should have done myself so long ago. We can find our homeland again with this. We know where the rocks are. We can do it, William.” William looks at Thomas with admiration: “Yes. We can. Let’s do it. Let’s catch my father.” William turned to Theren and looked at the hat. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a large, flashy pushpin. William: “You’re wearing that hat completely wrong. It flops around like a dying fish. You need to pin the brim to the crown with this.” He gave Theren the pin and his staff. He said: “Once we catch my father, you can choose where to sail next. I am not sure what will happen to us.”

Our heroes collected the loot from above—the elemental damage and feather fall rings, the two sets of boots, and the staff. As for that last, it was ghostly, impossible to hold onto. It had a ghostly gem on it. Zepher used a magic missile to knock it off. When he put Malik’s gem on the staff, it fell through. Zepher set the ghostly end of Malik’s gem into the socket. It fused in place, and the whole staff became nearly fully solid, enough to hold. It was now a very powerful magic staff.

The ship began to heave from side to side and they could hear the wind even this deep inside the ship. The crew scrambled to stations. The heroes freed a few of the slaves after one said, “Get me out of these manacles and let me work. I’m the best sailor on this ship, and I know a few others.”

They went abovedecks to see that they were being drawn toward a towering, swirling purple-black cloud flashing with lightning. They could see down to the land below— Gloomwrought was in the distance, on the other side of a low mountain range, and they were cruising high above the land.

The sailor said, “If we are pulled into that twister, we’ll be pounded to matchsticks! We need to get low and drop anchor!” He looked overboard and cursed: “There’s nothing for the bloody anchor to latch onto, it’s all hills with nothing for purchase. We need to tack toward the river and follow it— there’s a bridge downstream we can catch!” All agreed, and set to work. {They did a mini skill challenge to see how much they could help.}

They dropped in altitude and followed the river. Downstream they saw in the distance the bridge over the river and an apparent waterfall, with a few small buildings on either side. The sailor said, “Lower the anchor and tack to port!”

They entered the cloudy outer fringe of the storm and were beset with pounding rain and a black fog that seemed to come from nowhere, whipped up by the wind. They lost all visibility. A look of dread came over the sailor and he said to the heroes: “No matter what happens to me or the ship, you have to lower that anchor and head for the bridge. I’ll try to get to the wheel.” After the confusion settled and the heroes lowered the anchor, the fog rapidly cleared. The towering column of cloud was still ahead, not far, and the wind was rushing them towards it, looking just as dangerous as ever. They realised everyone else was gone and the ship was different: it was no longer mouldering and rotten but rather new and ship-shape. The corpses were gone and there was a full set of sails now. Up ahead they could see the bridge over the waterfall, but the latter was just an edge that the river dropped off; they couldn’t see beyond. Now it’s clear that this was not just a few small buildings; they were mistaken. There was a strong wall around the city to the left side of the river and several substantial buildings. Over the middle of the city hovered a strange glowing cloud, a vivid magenta that was disorienting to look at, with streams of shades of purple and red streaming down from it like rain. Beyond the edge, thick clouds of black smoke rose, as if a part of the city beyond the cliff edge was on fire.

As they got closer, they could see on the near side of the city was a long line of wagons and caravans, lined up to the gate, and many boats tied up in the river. There were many people down there and it looked like a scene of great agitation: they were foaming and rebelling against a contingent of guards who manned the wall over a gate, firing arrows into the crowd. The ship was low and some of the people saw it, pointed, and screamed.

The anchor was hanging low enough to catch but the winds were changeable and the ship veered to the left, and was destined to miss the bridge. They all tried to change the sails but without any crew, it was hopeless—they were out of control. They peered over the edge as they started to pass over the city. The anchor smashed right into the gate and pulled it free as it breached the wall! A big iron portcullis was hanging off the anchor. The chain of the anchor snapped back behind the ship. They passed over an inner wall of the city with very fine-looking towers inside, bathed in the glowing magenta light from above. Inside a few of the towers were pulsing lights and throngs of partygoers in the courtyard and on the balconies. Wham, the anchor and portcullis hit one tower. It smashed the side open and people fell out. A few people were crushed by the impact and fell lifeless. One figure, a man in a peacock costume, was holding onto the portcullis, screaming. The heroes watched as the anchor smashed right into a gleaming white dome of a large, grand building, cracking it open like an egg. The man in the costume was left as a red smear on the white pieces of dome falling inward, along with the portcullis.

They were now over a cliff edge that divided the city; to the right was the waterfall and bridge the ship missed. To the left was some parkland and a tall tower. Pulled by the anchor snagging on the dome, the ship angled sharply down and they all had to hold on for dear life. They saw off the prow of the ship now the rest of the city at the base of the cliff, full of simple buildings. Several of these were on fire and thick smoke was pouring out. People in the streets were rioting in the glow of the flames, fighting with town guards and other armed people at barricades in the streets. Some of them were looking up at the ship and cheering. The anchor bit at several rooftops, pulling them off. The ship slowed a bit with each snag. Up ahead there was another wall as they passed over the far edge of the city. Guards were on this wall and also seemed to be fighting off a mob: a sea of people was on the other side of the wall, rioting, taking shelter from the arrows being shot by the guards. The anchor hit a stone tower in the wall and sank deep into it and the ship jerked to a stop. But the wind was very high and the towering funnel cloud ahead was very close now, trying to suck in the ship. The sails ripped away but the pull was still very strong. The anchor on its chain dragged the tower against the city wall, catching it up and pulling it down in stages— one section collapsing, freeing the anchor and tower, which then caught the next section. Guards on the wall were being thrown down and the mobs of people were starting to stream through where the wall was. Up ahead there was nothing but river and plains— there was going to be nothing for the anchor to grab once it got free of this wall. It was time to go, and the best way was down the chain.

Theren considered flight for only a moment. He was the new commander of a floating pirate ship, and damned if he would give it up. He clapped his fine hat to his head, gripped the wheel, and stared resolutely at the dark funnel ahead. DTIS, loyal to a fault, stood by his side with equal resolve. The others, not even realising that their companions had decided to stay behind, scrambled down the chain. Of the mobs of people below, many were looking up at the heroes and cheering with fists raised. The others were swarming through the rubble of the wall being pulled down by the anchor. The last of the heroes dropped off the anchor chain to the ground, their fall caught and broken by the mobs. They looked up at the ship, pulled at a steep angle toward the towering funnel cloud in the high wind, and saw Theren and DTIS at the helm. Then the anchor broke free of the tower it was stuck into as it rolled along the open ground. People scrambled out of the way as it dug a furrow in the muddy ground. The ship started to accelerate again in the high wind, pulled toward the funnel cloud. The heroes on the ground couldn’t look away as it rapidly shrank into the distance. In less than a minute it turned over on its side as it was pulled into the cloud wall of the funnel and vanished from sight. Immediately the funnel started to pull up from the ground, and soon it vanished up into the thick clouds above.

The mobs surrounded the adventurers and carried them on their shoulders, cheering. “You pulled down the wall! You killed the guards! You broke open the dome!” This last as they pointed up. Peeking up above the cliff edge was a white building that used to have a beautiful dome, now cracked open. They recognised it: the Nentir Temple. They realised they were back in Fallcrest. Somewhere in the storm, they crossed the thin borderline of the Shadowfell back to the natural world.

There was a loud boom and a flash of orange fire. The mobs that broke through the wall had filtered through the streets and overwhelmed the grand stairs leading up the cliff wall, the stairs that required the tax to ascend. The stairway was thronged with these masses. The explosion at the top of the stairs sent wood flying, and the stairs broke free from the cliff face. Screams reached the ears from a distance. The stairs were so huge it looked like slow motion as they fell away, people falling off. It plunged out of sight, eclipsed by the burning rooftops.

In the distance against the face of the cliff on the river side, the portage lift was hauling up a platform filled with crates and several people. The dwarven dock workers that operated the lift frantically hauled on the chains that moved the lift with its system of pulleys. The platform rose slowly. A minute later, when it was most of the way up the cliff face, there was another explosion above it. The overhanging crane from which the platform was hanging cracked from the explosion. The platform fell, the figures floating off of it in freefall. It vanished from sight and there was a terrible crash.

Bastian sensed a dangerous mood in the crowd before the others did. Though at first he was basking in the general glow of admiration, he saw hostile glares directed at him in particular and muttering from one commoner to the other. His keen ears caught nasty anti-eladrin epithets. He remembered that last time they were in Fallcrest, anti-eladrin sentiment was already running high as the people blamed the eladrin elite in Hightown for enforcing the taxes and shifting the power of the city away from serving the common folk and toward the decadent lifestyle in inner Hightown. Now it seemed that things were much worse—the people were poorer and the fight between the guards (the best of them eladrin) and the people must have inflamed tensions far more. He sensed that this crowd, whipped into a violent frenzy, could turn on him at any moment. When the other heroes were picked up onto shoulders, Bastian was excluded from this honour, and he took advantage of it: he slipped away into the fawning crowd, pulling his hood over his scarred face, and vanished into the smoky streets. {Aerro will miss the next few sessions while on holiday.}

{For great success in this harrowing combat with much on the line and the goal achieved, a big windfall of XP—give 500XP to each.}

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