With the fall of Middlesborne adventurers have been contacted by the ladies of the Tisa Valley Knitting Circle and summoned to the Hartness Docks. Boarding the Damned Plum under Captain Traegar and her crew, adventure awaited our heroes upon the high sea in the shadow of Dragonbone Island. Who could know what fate awaited them …
A huge shout out to the referees, organisers, props makers, monster crew and players who made Leeds Valley Fest ’17 what it was. Thank you all, without you the fest would not have come to be!
I cannot name all those who attended, and can only give the story from my perspective, but let me tell you a tale of the high seas and of monsters most foul.
Boarding the decks of the Damned Plum Judith stowed her gear in her quarters and returned to the fresh air. Here she spoke with members of the company who urged a collation of the information they had found during their prior research. Sitting inside the Captain laid down her law and bid them choose their commander from those who stood to accept the Ship’s Articles. Defender Tungdil was chosen, but before Judith could stand to address the company dinner was served and food became the priority.
A great map lay on the table, similar to the rough sketch Ranger Godwin and a few Berwickshire adventurers had made during their quick scouting mission around the island a number of days before. Some alarming points were marked upon the cloth map and so Tungdil set to work. The ship’s boats, with permission of the Captain and her knowledge of tides and the weather, were sent out to scout the island with teams of 6, and Tungdil began to plot and scheme. The Dracoliche was going down!
Whilst the adventurers ventured ashore to investigate the vault and the library, to get a review of the threats they faced as the light fell, it soon became clear that their home was not exactly the safest place to be. Undead swarmed over the prow and up the docking steps, and the boat itself sprang a leak. Soon groups of four brave souls were taking the tiny bathysphere to a small cave that would grant them dry access to the ship’s hull for a limited time before the cove would fill with water and drown them – to solve the perplexing puzzle of the very nature of the ship itself.
Judith was sent out late in the night to scout a known position of a hostage camp whilst a second group scouted the docks. The island seemed to have a strange effect upon the people there – for all they could recall bits of their life before in Ithron they had no desire to leave (!). The docks themselves were full of small boats like the sort that had raided Middlesborne and a great galleon rested at ease within the jaws of the bone island – these would have to be wrecked to prevent an invasion!
With knowledge of a potion given to the locals to keep them ‘well’, the hunt was on to find the cure, free the people from the clutches of the ‘Master’ and generally wreck the Dracoliche’s plans. If only they could have known …
The next morning supplies came from Hartness and Judith swiftly armoured herself for the day ahead, trekking out with the Physicians to investigate the hospital in the hope of finding information and supplies. All they found were distressed people cowering under the lash of their draconic master and a woman trying to ease their suffering. As they spoke the creature turned up and the company jumped at the chance to put it down. Alas it lashed out at them with its magic and eventually got up from the floor. To buy the party time to flee back to the boat Judith brought its wrath upon her with a gesture during its monologue, leading to her being wracked with pain. Escaping its clutches the adventurers returned to the docks with more information but no cure.
The previous night they had been visited by the King of the Seas who, after asking for tribute, had spoken of his love who had died long before. A pirate lass, four pieces of her had been cast to the four winds and her soul had not found its way to his realm. Other members of the company had taken it upon themselves to seek out these parts, as well as rescue some blacksmiths, rob the Liche of his gold and set fire to the galleon at rest – but no one had warned the company about the King’s angered wife who visited the ship later that night and summoned all to the sides of the boat with her enchanting song. A Naiad, corrupted into a Siren, she had begun stealing away his people to expand her powers in the ocean. Through solving some puzzles, recovering a scroll of a prior journey through dangerous waters, and learning how to pilot the boat, the men were packed off onto other missions or put inside as a female group borrowed the ship and headed for the whirlpool. They met the Siren and it didn’t go well for them as the Siren did nothing to provoke the group until she tried to take over Mother Tylyra with one of her fish people. Tiffin attempted to cleanse the spirit at her source, but the whole ship was compelled to turn away and not return for a day for angering the sea-witch. Maybe defeating the Dracoliche will free her from the corrupting in her waters, or she will remain a possible danger out in those waters …
Mid-afternoon their relative peace was disturbed by the arrival of the Dracoliche who put the fear of the Gods into the party as he rampaged across the deck. Rattled the adventurers were forced to gather their courage, put up some sturdy resistance led by Sir Eurya and others, and cling to their goal – defeat the undead monster once and for all! And so Judith joined a group setting out to scout a part of the island none had ventured into to have a look at the source of a great necromantic aura. Landing in the cove all seemed well enough except for some vines that made those who got too close to fall asleep, and the arrival of the Dracoliche. Trying to scout around it almost made the party turn back, but they watched as the bony beast launched itself nonchalantly into the air – so on they went. They spotted a portal that seemed to be the source of the necromantic aura and Judith, Teddy and Rosalie ran interference as Jurgen, Rubii and Keyleigh went to investigate. Luckily for our heroes the mages came back to rescue them from the wraith and its draconic mate!
Reporting their findings Judith watched as another group went out, led by Tungdil, to go and gather the vine as part of the Alchemists efforts to brew the potion. But when all seemed to be calm there was a sudden splashing in the water and the herbalist Pod could be seen swimming and crying out for help. The group preparing to go and scout another part of the island leapt into the boat, dragged the drowning man inside and got him aboard the main boat where he told them that the Defender of Tralda was killing them all. Back into the skiff they went, paddling like mad back to the little cove and the vines. And what did they find but a trail of bodies leading up the rise. As Seax worked his healing arts on the dying Judith climbed up the hill to find the Defender lying on the ground beside the battered carcass of a dragonkin warrior – his life spent. Another skiff arrived and after checking Tungdil over Isabella bid him be taken back to the boat. One skiff left, but as Siegfried and Judith began to prepare their skiff to leave Digger and Bruna succumbed to the effects of the island and lay down in the boat and died. With only two of them they could not pilot the craft and so Judith hollered for aid. The second boat came back and took in the scene before returning all to the main boat. The bodies were carried aboard and Judith and Seigfried joined the group who had gathered together to seek another piece of the Sea King’s Lady.
Battling it out with undead Seeker Uther was able to snatch the pirate’s hat from the death knight’s head and they all made the mad dash back to their boat pursued by undead fiends. The other group who had been sent out to investigate the alchemy lab, the last hope of finding complete notes on the cure, only to find it had been wrecked. A strange woman dressed in white with a bone crown greeted them, expecting wedding gifts. She was the Blood Queen, on her way to her wedding to the Dracoliche – which set all the alarm bells ringing for the adventurers when their comrades returned. Something sinister was clearly afoot.
They all dressed for supper, joining the Captain for a banquet, and Judith found herself invited to the top table and aided the entertainment with a brief song. Before dinner could begin she was approached by a man in Tirel heraldy who told her that he had been sent by her worried husband, and so Aidan was welcomed to the company of the Maid’s Own and told to keep out of trouble. The peace was sworn at dinner, but after recalling the dead, drinking to the living, portraits taken by twilight and pudding devoured, the Captain disolved the peace in a defiant gesture to the Liche.
With Tungdil gone command fell to Sir Eurya who found enough people willing to venture out into the gathering darkness to go back to the vault and off hunting a vampire to gather the missing ingredients of the potion. Judith set about preparing the morning supply run with Fortester Cyril, and helped Mother Tylyra complete the task of returning the King of the Sea’s lover to her watery grave by reading over the letter they would send by bottle. When the Sea King came to the funeral he also granted his counsel about the Liche and the way to defeat the monster, before he carried his beloved off into the deep. But a sudden realisation struck Judith as they were talking about the battle plan – “Blood and Bone to wed under Highsummer Moon” – which led to a mad scramble of people and boats out into the darkness to try and stop the wedding.
But they failed to do so, and over the course of the battle Sir Eurya slipped in the darkness and died far from his friends, who by luck found his body before the undead and were able to bring him back to the boat. With the loss of another leader things seemed for a time to be falling apart, but Cyril and Judith worked to pull the supplies together and to keep people calm whilst a storm kicked off around them.
The ship, alas, had suffered greatly over the last few days – a great gaping hole in one side and parts missing from the figurehead; and Seeker Uther and Pirran and others continued their work in unravelling it’s mystery. From observations Janus had suggested that the ship was in fact a broken automata, and so things were handled with caution, but over the course of the day bits had been found that could be used to fix it, and a group had managed to solve the puzzles that brought them to the ‘programming’ of the ship itself. Pressed for time as the chamber began to fill with water, and concerned that the scribe would have to physicially be the name being written, Uther scribed his name on the slate and temporarily made himself as the ship’s Captain. Alas, the Captain found out and raised a maelstorm of fury at the Rolborian. With her crew calling for nasty things to be done to him Father Sebastian tried to explain what had happened and Uther explained to the company what he had done. His punishment was to be decided, but the Captain refused to bow to the calls for cruelty – but there was little Judith could do to see Justice done fairly; but Pirran Lanistly dashed back to the cave alone to correct the Seeker’s ‘mistake’ to at least restore the Captain to her position.
As dawn broke the adventurers finished their preparations for the day. Through the efforts of Jeremiah Cotton and Mr Pobbin Toadhunter the curative for the island’s malady was brewed, and Pirran and Janus set about fixing the ship back to fighting readiness. The company were split in two, joined by fresh adventurers from the mainland, and set upon two tasks – one to stop the Blood Queen, one to stop the Dracoliche armed with Mother Tylyra and Isabelle with a scroll from the King of the Sea. The ship made its way into port and docked within the jaws of the bone dragons, and they fought their way ashore.
Fighting through the cultists the first group made their way along the spine road near to the portal that had been discovered the day before, fighting through undead and monsters to get to their goal. Bringing with them a number of skulls that had been recovered over the weekend, Judith had recalled that some spirits of the dead had asked for aid and spoken of a portal that they were forced to keep open. Hopefully these skulls would help them stop the Blood Queen, but standing before the portals had the mages scratching their heads in puzzlement. They were able to grab the remaining skulls from some vampires that had come through from the realm of the Queen, and fought off the waves of undead that crashed upon them, whilst the mages began to puzzle through the strange symbols marked on the stones. But soon the Blood Queen came upon them, looking for those ‘promised’ to her. Seax and Sir Bakewell came over all strange, bloody beading from their eyes and nose as their wills were bent by the Vampire, and their friends and comrades did what they could to stop them from going to the Vampire. When Bakewell declared the Blood Queen as his Queen the Feudals bristled angrily and stripped him of his tabard, and Judith tried to prove herself worthy to Sidhe in the hope that he might bless her with the ability to freeze the Vampire in place and defeat her. But, alas, as Judith tried to figure out how to stop the Vampire without giving over another body to her, Bastian the mage walked through the portal and offered himself willingly to the creature. She left and the mages were able to close and lock the portal behind her, though not before Bastian had returned and told the adventurers that all hope was lost to them! The Queen might be locked away and still at large within her realm, but at least for now she will not be prowling the island or the Tisa Valley and from that Judith feels able to take some comfort in the aftermath of their battle.
The other group pressed onwards from the dock towards the great doors to the citadel beyond the vault and the library, fighting off more cultists that milled around the docks. Solving the puzzle to open the door they were mobbed by waves of undead and one of the draconic warriors, before they worked to open another portal into the Dracoliche’s domain. Using the claws of the three Clutchlings that they were able to grab during the battle, Isabella and Pod puzzled over the tablet and gemstones as their comrades fought back against the undead, but with this portal opened more undead came through. Almost overwhelmed the party tried to turn back and it was only through the strength and armoured skill of a few that they were not undone. Picking up their wounded they turned to face another wave of undead and the Dracoliche chose to grace the scene. He stomped through the adventurers, blasting some with his firey breath, clawing and batting others away before chasing Rik across the field in his dragonleather armour. Mother Tylyra had prepared herself for this moment, and after they had beaten the dragon to the floor and stripped him of his power, she called upon Kharach’s Wrath and smote the Dracoliche where he lay.
With the monster defeated the adventurers celebrated their victory, shared out the loot, gave the Captain her share as promised, and toasted the fallen.
And so ended their venture to the Dragonbone Isle, beset as they were with monsters and undead and terrible dangers – most of the company were able to return home with another tale to be told by firelight. Hip hip huzzah!