In which we meet our fearless crew
Cast of Characters:
Winter – a solemn, pale-as-snow she-elf warrior with a past and an ax to grind.
Four-Finger Jeff – a smooth talking male human rogue with sticky fingers.
Thurgel Bardson – a jovial Dwarven bard whose song is as sweet as his ax is sharp.
Rispah – an elusive she-elf mage with a strong talent for the arcane arts.
The Slick Eel was as fine a merchant vessel as could be found in the frigid north. It was one of the few of its kind to boast a sea witch, an extravagance generally afforded only to war vessels. For the past twenty years the galleon had managed to deliver its cargo and passengers safely to their destinations along the Veskaran coast, outrunning some of the fastest pirates in the region, and weathering some ferocious storms. None could have guessed that this fateful voyage would be the ol girl’s last.
The Slick Eel shipped out from Ulek on the 3rd of Newbloom and took on passengers at Athur’s Cove and Shenwic. Winter and Four-Finger Jeff were among them. On the 4th of Newbloom the ship sailed to Thorwic where Rispah and Thurgel Bardson got on board. The ship was bound for Iceport and each of the adventurers had boarded the vessel in the hopes of exploring the great uncharted north. However the ship had to make a few stops along the way, one of which was to the port city of Thild on the Isles of Mist.
An hour after the ship set sail a mighty westerly gale swept over the Veskaran sea. Within another hour ominous black clouds had blotted out the sky and the heavens began to unleash a torrent of tears upon the sea. Soon the ship was engulfed in a violent squall, tossed about in a raging grey blur. Try as he might the sea witch could not restrain the storm and the ship was crushed upon the rocks just in sight of shore.
Winter, Rispah, Thurgel and Four-Finger Jeff all managed to make it to a nearby sandbar and scale the cliffs to stand upon terra firma, but of the other ship’s passengers there was no trace. The storm still beat down upon them and so, finding a nearby road they traveled north to a small village surrounded by a palisade.
They learned from the gatekeeper that they had reached the village of Three Trees. He was hesitant to let the 4 enter the village and made each of them surrender their weapons before doing so. He pointed them in the direction of an Inn called The Mottled Duck where they might find food and shelter and dry their weary bones. The Inn was small and simple, but the fire in the hearth and the savory aromas emanating from the kitchen were a warm welcome to the soaked and battered crew. Thersa Filbert, the proprietor ushered them to sit by the hearth to dry themselves while she poured them a pint and a bowl of hearty stew.
It was only then that the four had leisure to converse with one another and determine what was to be done. Winter was closed lip about her past and her destination, but mentioned wishing to discover what fate had befallen the rest of the crew. Four-finger Jack mentioned wanting to discover what had become of the ship’s cargo. When asked about his name he demurred, but warned the party never to play cards with half-orcs you owe money to. Thurgel was curious to learn more about the Island they had landed upon, and its history, for he had heard many tales of the Isles of Mist. Rispah said little of anything. She seemed content to go along with whatever the group decided to do.
The group learned from Thersa that several villages nearby had reported having seen an ogre run off with livestock, and in a few cases, grown men. However rather than followup on this lead the party decided that in the morning they would head south along the road to the city of Thild and see if they could discover what had become of the rest of the ship’s crew, and its cargo. Since Four-fingered Jeff hadn’t any coin to pay for his lodging he was stuck with dish duty. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a bit of thieving he searched around and discovered a secret compartment in the kitchen containing a few silver serving instruments and silver cutlery. However he thought better of stealing something so obvious and instead pilfered a quarter of the proprietor’s salt (in my campaign setting salt is a rare commodity and worth its weight in gold).
In the morning the crew gathered their weapons and headed for Thild. The storm had subsided to heavy rain showers, but it was enough to obscure vision. The party did not encounter anyone along the journey and by lunchtime they had reached their destination. Thild was a bustling place with several different quarters. They were barraged by street vendors selling their wares along the northgate district, none of which seemed to have any knowledge of The Slick Eel or its crew.
They decided to hit up a local tavern to grab lunch and a beer and learn the local gossip. Most of the buildings in Northgate were waddle and daub huts and The Grey Pheasant was no exception. The place was smokey and crowded and smelled of piss and sour beer. Men played at cards while a couple of plump red-cheeked bar maids scurried about the tables, pitchers of ale and plates of meat in tow.
After ordering some food the party began to eavesdrop on conversations happening at adjacent tables. They picked up bits an pieces of fishermen’s tales, boasts of sexual exploits, and other mundane matters. They did overhear a couple items of interest. One was a tale of a burial ground located somewhere in the highlands. Apparently is was haunted by undead said to guard the riches of some of the ancient Taldic Mage Lords. The second was a rumor that strange lights had been spotted floating over Thwil Tower at night. The old sea witch that lived there was said to be conducting all manner of odd experiments, and by the gods nothing good ever comes of that sort of foolishness.
After a while the party became aware that someone had been watching them from across the room. In a dimly lit corner of the room sat a burly well armed bald man with a large paunch and a silver scar along his right eye. After a period the man got up and strode to their table. His expression was grim and he began to ask questions regarding where they had come from and what they were doing in the city. Winter took offense at his terse manner and asked what business that was of his. In response the man introduced himself as Kir Thames, captain of the militia in northgate. Apparently there had been a string of robberies occurring along the roads north and south of the city over the past month and it was his business to question unfamiliar faces. The party explained the events surrounding their recent arrival to the island and Thames appeared to visibly relax. The Slick Eel had been due to arrive in port the day before and with the storm many had worried that the ship might have become lost at sea or smashed to pieces. Thus far no other survivors had turned up.
The party logged this information away and turned the topic of the conversation to life on the Isles, hoping to glean a bit more information. Thames confirmed the stories that Thurgel had heard. The Mage Lords of yore did in fact build several cities on the isles, all of which now lay in ruins. Though the islands had been annexed by Veskar a century ago, the Gremfedel Hill Giants still lay claim to the highlands, and few save for sheep and goat herders dared to tread upon their domain. Thild was the only city on the Isles and much of the trade that happened with the mainland came by way of its ports. After inquiring about where to purchase a map of the Isles Thames directed them to The Sage Cartographer.
After their conversation with Thames, Thurgel struck up a tune on his lyre and within a few minutes had the whole room singing along. Four-fingered Jeff was once more relegated to kitchen detail, and the others headed to their rooms for the night. In the morning the crew walked to the merchant’s ward and located The Sage Cartographer. The proprietor of the shop was a short, frail man with a meticulously groomed goatee and thick spectacles. In response to the party’s request for a map of the isles the man mumbled something to himself, laughed and then motioned for them to follow him into the stacks room. He mumbled some more, shuffled about riffling through old parchments and finally said, “Ah, thirs…mumble…mumble…map…mumble….isles…mumble…mumble…10 silvers.” After some time trying to figure out just what the thin framed little man was saying the party managed to negotiate a price for the map, and went back to the inn to study it and plan their next course of action.
GM’s NOTE – we had a rather short and uneventful session. Between rolling up characters and doing the obligatory introductions we didn’t get very far into the actual “exploration” of the isles. But I’m happy with where things are at. My players seem genuinely interested to find out more about the Isles and have already begun planning a trip to Thwil Tower since Rispah is curious to learn more about these experiments. I’m looking forward to the next session.