DGA7.06: Kidnap the Archpriest, part six – to Alshon Landing

The characters for this session

Phoenix, level 7 barbarian and bosun for the voyage, with his sidekick Captain Piego;
Cat, level 7 warlock and his familiar Dis;
Seck, level 7 rogue;
Vir, level 7 ranger; and
Shaz to her friends, NPC passenger and trouble-magnet for the voyage to Alshon Landing

The Long Roaders are 90xp from level 8.

The loot from Dawndenn has allowed each Long Roader to top up their personal wealth pool by a d6.

The story to date

Their trusted mentor Jahia begs them to steal Archpriest Tomas from his stronghold in corrupt Odill, and bear him secretly to Davenport! Accordingly the Long Roaders devise a definitely-more-than-half-assed plan and carry him off, stowing him as breathing luggage in their barge the Slippery Eel! Now they are on the great Aldian river heading for Argerport by way of Alshon Landing. They seem to have shaken off the pursuing Black Endoguard… for now.

Reasonable precautions

We pick up our yarn with the Long Roaders fishing for the drowning Vir. Yes, you may well laugh, but less than two months after all swearing they would never be caught wearing armor sailing a river, both Seck and Vir decide to keep wearing theirs.

Vir survives the first drowning CON SV, Seck makes a good accurate rope-throw, and Phoenix and Vir manage STR: Athletics checks. Vir picks up a level of exhaustion. Seck and Vir decide not to wear armor.

Phoenix reminds them all of the warning about ‘bugs’ and outlines the dangers of them. Since Vir is asking, Phoenix and Piego outline Alshon Landing as well. Supplies will be needed, probably before then.

Archpriest Tomas’ survival is not forgotten, as Vir assures them all their captive is in fine fettle and Cat and Seck devise safe means of feeding and watering him.

XP: lvl8-88

The thing in the depths

The Aldian, by comparison with the heat-shimmer on the surrounding hills, is restful to the eyes and all keep a wary eye out. As a far-wanderer Vir understands the Aldian is bending south, so despite the shortening days, the increased heat is noticeable.

Cat notices a dot up ahead, probably a barge like their own.

Good active Perception check from Cat followed by a no-roll-needed from Phoenix, who has totem ability to see accurately up to a mile.

The Slippery Eeel is in a deep channel, heading towards the barge. Phoenix sees no movement of oar. And as the Eel draws closer, the opposite number’s sail can be seen to be just luffing.

“I suspect something… this could mean something’s in the water,” Cat pronounces, suspiciously.

Sure enough, there is!

Inits: Giant croc, Vir, Phoenix, (Shaz but just defensive) Cat, Seck

Phoenix survives a Reflex SV to evade the huge jaws, then the battle is on!

The battle is brief, the croc’s tail delivers a hammer-blow to the Slippery Eel’s hull but it withstands, Vir slams arrows into it twice, deeply, and when Phoenix leaps atop and smashes Mocair into it twice, the croc is badly hurt. As both Seck and Cat throw in more damage it is glad to depart, plunging deep out of sight! The ripples and echoes of Cat’s Shatter spell dissipate, and they are left masters of the scene.

The other barge proves to have fouled, one crewman lies dead aboard, the other bitten in half and hanging part-out. There’s nothing conclusive to identify the pair, but they appear to have been transporting preserved fish, which in turn means they were almost certainly bound for Alshon Landing.

The Long Roaders adopt the barrels, at least enough of them to properly screen the Archpriest. It makes for a much better guise. Piego is (momentarily) optimistic.

Complication: Rough eddies, everyone makes their DC10 successfully!

XP: lvl8-86

Loot: mere silvers

It’s a trap!

The quest for fresh food leads next, by dusk, to another village, on the same bank as the last friendly one. The dockside is open and quiet, but a stream or small river lying beyond the dock offers cover from view.

Quick CON SV, no consequence as such, this is just to give all of us a sense of how tired characters and NPCs are. Only Seck and Vir are chipper.

Both Cat and Shaz are keen to top up supplies and clean up, and Piego is happy to rest and help. Vir calls for a little before-landing time, and tends Tomas for enough minutes.

The away-team, Phoenix Cat and Shaz, hop off adroitly as the Slippery Eel slides gently by. Cat calls Dis up to scout.

The first thing Dis notices is that Shaz has some kind of creature out by her, too. Not from the Feywild. Then the next thing she notices is:

“It’s a trap!”

Having kept the nearby cottages looking quiet, the Jackal-kin realize their ambush has been spotted, and burst out! They have a weird, horned and scaled hound-like creature!

“More friends?” Cat asks Shaz, with a note of sacrasm in his voice.

Inits: Phoenix, Cat, Shaz, cultists

Phoenix races back towards the dock and drags rather than carries Shaz with him. Cat casts Banish – the hound disappears – and sprints after Phoenix.

Slowed by their heavy gear the Jackal-kin cannot gain, and the inexperienced crew heave on sweeps as their away team leaps – or is thrown – or splashes nearby – to the Slippery Eel. The cultists are left yapping and yowling in frustration as the Eel fades into the dusk.

“They must have a scrier,” Shaz concludes.

“Actually they did say that last night,” Phoenix admits.

“It’s the sort of thing you might have mentioned earlier,” Cat offers politely. Discussion turns to how closely Shaz’ pursuers are tracking her, and how.

In conclusion the Long Roaders are assuaged by Shaz’ confidence and offers of compensation, and the night bears away.

CON SV, seriously this time, everyone except Piego is OK.

Piego is still confident, the Slippery Eel could be as far as two days ahead of where he supposed they would be. But if they are that far ahead…

“Ready your weapons, we might be far enough down that the bugs are after us.”

Complication: The night offers treacherous waters but rocks ahead are managed.

XP: lvl8-83

The Old Smoke

Dawn offers Piego a landmark. “Remember a town this side of Selt Quag?”

“It’s my home town,” Phoenix supplies.

“We should make for that then. We must be a good day to half-day above Selt Quag. The bugs,” he supplements to those looking blank.

“The Teulon call this Fodel,” Phoenix explains. “It’s got a council that kicked me out, taverns… more taverns…” His recollection fades at this point. “Aside from pirates the Coaster folk are pretty peaceful.”

Fodel lies in a miniature bay that provides a quiet lagoon-like effect. Local fishermen chant as they offload the morning’s catch to the fishing docks. Further along general trade and commerce docks stand, and one of the warehouses, furthest downriver, is burnt-out. The architecture is a mix of old Teulon and more functional, flat-roofed buildings. The folk seem well-dressed and children are at play.

An ideal point to re-provision, buy travel clothes, let Piego sleep, and generally feel better. The Slippery Eel eases to the commercial area – large and small barges – and Cat pays a few coppers berth fee. The customs man seems to half-recognize Phoenix…

Away team: Phoenix wide-eyed, Piego sleepily, Cat with a shopping list from Vir, and Shaz keeping to the shadows.

Tomas team: Vir, Seck.

Just beyond the customs house, the carcass of a bullywug is tacked up to a gibbet, stinking and drawing flies. Apparently bounties are on offer at the council building, and the bounty is in gold!

The away team settle on an up-market Teulon-run tavern, and the tailor they recommend, Madame Venture. Teulon gold assuages the anti-Coaster bigotry and Piego gets a good Long Rest.

Welcome!

Meanwhile Vir and Seck wait patiently. They discuss seaworthiness – since from Argerport they must brave the coastal waters north to Davenport – and Vir points out that Piego is happy with the crew size, speed and seaworthiness of the Slippery Eel. Shaz checks in briefly then heads away again.

The teams swap out at about noon. Vir and Seck tote most of the shields lying about the Eel to the armorers that Phoenix has confirmed is still in the town. Vir makes a successful trade – shields for arrows rope and a tent, and a horseman’s water-bag. And pitch.

They ask about lighting pitch in a hurry. Some of the soldiery hanging about get quite intrigued, recollecting orc tactics, and the armorer refers them to a “halfling” in the workshop. The solid-built-one with the explosion marks around it, next to the burned-out warehouse.

With due caution the pair approach and pay a gold’s worth of smaller coin to the “halfling” who gets his light oil from his cousin up the Alshon. He blames bug raiders for the burned-out warehouse. The pitch can be put into the canister with the light oil, 1:1, then lit.

@matthewmercer – Thanks Matt

As the day wears on the docks they are moored at change their composition quite often. A large barge leaves, they pay no particular note of the crew, save that it needs a minimum of four. Shaz passes round a bottle of nice wine, then Piego rejoins, and they set sail into the late afternoon.

Notes on supplies: The Long Roaders have now two sets of travel clothes that are from a decent tailor, off-the-shelf but not disgraceful in a city.

XP: lvl8-81

Selt Quag

The barge that left ahead of the Slippery Eel beats as far to starboard as it can, as fast as it can.

“What side of the river is the bugs?” Seck wonders

“Port side. But we’ve little choice, as I said – the Eel isn’t capable of beating across the current back to Alshon Landing.”

Source: DG8, Red Blades Diplomacy – the Bullywugs remained armed

The bugs use Giant Crabs to force the Slippery Eel close in to their swampy home, then leap aboard! But forewarned is forearmed and thanks to Phoenix, Vir has been cued in, and in turn has used his Locate Animal to notice the first wave of crab attack. And turnabout is fair play, Phoenix leaps atop the crabs and hacks at them, disrupting bullywug timing.

Inits: (Shaz but she just hides) Vir, Phoenix, Seck, Cat, bullywugs

Phoenix deals with the giant crabs over the starboard gunwale and the others deal with the bugs leaping aboard from portside. They kill three and the others become seriously discouraged!

The bullywugs however are using poison, and both Vir and Piego receive painful, swelling wounds.

Thanking their luck that all this occurs in enough evening light, the Long Roaders bear on, towards the Alshon Landing channel.

Inspiration all round

XP: lvl8-80

Sorry, wrong dock

Phoenix, with Piego dragging, has to do most of the final leg’s navigation.

He uses his Inspiration to cancel disadvantage, and makes an adequate check.

“We’re three days faster than I thought,” Piego updates them, “we’ve done well.”

“But we do need to heal up,” one of the Long Roaders says, expressing what’s on every mind.

Shaz offers to arrange healing, in Alshon Landing. Since they have to pause anyway, she seems confident that it can all be done at the same time that she makes her deal with her contact.

The Long Roaders have put a little thought into the barrels they have aboard, but have so far not followed through. As they land on the Aldian side of the sprawling city, they are immediately challenged by an aggressive official with two sturdy dwarf guards. Who are you to be dragging Colroff’s barrels? And say – that’s a man bound up!

Athletics checks for everyone that is not Phoenix

It’s another quick exit! No-one catches a crab, or falls out, and no other boats are damaged.

“Let’s make sure the priest is well covered, and jettison those barrels…”

Having done this, they finish rowing around the point, and swing hard up the Alshon, landing again along those docks.

XP: lvl8-78

A hasty but timely visit to her contact

Away team: Phoenix and Cat (disguised as a guard)

Tomas team: Seck, Vir (Piego is poisoned and resting)

The away team is accosted by dockside guards, and the conversation goes on to the point that Cat works out these are simply corrupt guards looking for a shakedown. He pays silver rather than gold.

Int: proficiency check for Cat using his basic citygoer skills, navigating across to where Shaz reaches familiar streets.

“I’ve got my bearings now,” Shaz assures them and leads them through increasingly narrow alleys to a handsome three-story trader’s. Exotic scents of sandalwood and incense strengthen as she pushes her way in. A muted gong suggests magic.

A rather gaunt, high-checked black man grins at her over the counter.

Basically, fantasy Lance Reddick

“Shaesica, you have reached us at last.”

“These are friends,” she nods, and “back room?”

“Uh… give us some minutes.”

Shaesica and Cat exchange a glance. She nods, and “we’ll be all right, we’ll just go through” she says and zips past him. Phoenix heaves the counter-clerk aside, who protests he’s just a civilian as the pair of Long Roaders follow Shaz.

The warehouse beyond is sawdusty, and full of woodshaving-packing, curios and exotic timber. The warehousemen look fairly normal, except that a high proportion have long, wieldy daggers, not just eating knives. Shaz pays them no mind but hastens upstairs to a mezzanine office floor, her “guards” close behind.

Meanwhile, Seck (who is not injured) and Vir (despite his injury) notice and study a lofty-circling bird of prey… possibly a seahawk…

Back at the warehouse it’s a bit of an anticlimax. Shaz’ fence sees no point in confrontation, the way things have gone, and pays over what appears to be a respectable amount of gold. Shaz in turn passes over 100 gold coin, less 20 for two lesser restorations.

“I can’t help notice that you didn’t mention any scrying or in fact anything,” Cat points out as they walk away.

“It’s a sad thieves guild that can’t fend off a little scrying,” Shaz laughs.

Her final stop before saying farewell is a halfling community where she has to spend a little time arranging the promised healing. It takes time, but at length a halfling druid wanders out to the Slippery Eel, casts a brace of Lesser Restoration, and with a shrug, walks off without further word.

Seck warns the others of the circling hawk. “Makes me wonder if that’s been the cultists all along,” he posits.

XP: lvl8-76

A smuggler’s choice of channel

Piego turns to the Long Roaders and asks:

“The question is now, whether you want to rest over, or push on to Argerport.”

The day has been long and hot for the Tomas team, but they are very willing to get shut of Alshon Landing. And Cat is of the same mind.

“So far we’ve stayed ahead of the chase, but it’s not a guarantee.”

“In that case, and with that overhead, we should think about something with cover. Phoenix, you know some of the smuggler channels?”

Phoenix shrugs – his time in the Alshon Marine will help. But he’s no expert. The Slippery Eel makes way and pays off into the Alshon channel and back into the Aldian, and the Coasters navigate as best they can for a cautious route.

The channel they choose is narrow, treed with overhanging willows, or thick with high mangrove where it’s too wet for trees.

“I’m both feeling safer and feeling more in danger,” Seck judges, as the session ends.

XP: lvl8-75

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