AFO5.03: Carnage descends upon Atressos

The Fated Four for this session

Angron, orc bear totem barbarian;
Tyche, elf rogue/thief;
Zephrus, human cleric/fate

Ably supported by Fuzzy the familiar and Aelia the warlock

THE STORY SO FAR

Princess Alexandra has been taken by Psysseria’s agents! Can the heroes learn of her whereabouts? Can they restore hope to her city, Illos?

Guided by a foretelling from that artifact from a lost age, the Eye, the heroes takes ship from Ithea and follow Neres’ tail south-west. Amid a rising storm they cleave through a swarm of sea-ogres. But the storm’s power grows…

Castaway!

Tyche recovers consciousness, spits out sand, and half-remembers crawling out of killing surges onto this shore. It is night. Not far away, a cliff or wall rises, sheer at first sight. Opposite, the sea sucks and hisses: the storm is over. Elsewhere, a litter of washed-up gear, including her own bow and quiver, tangled amidst the flotation skins Angron commanded be jammed under the boat’s thwarts.

Angron would have received Inspiration for his flotation-skin idea, but he still has his. The others have spent theirs.

Angron too finds himself waking, half-buried, back to the barnacled timbers of some large vessel, part-buried in the sand. His gear is tangled amongst flotation skins around him. He stands, hearing splashing and gasping not far away.

Aelia is struggling to haul Zephrus in through the surf, and Fuzzy is there too, trying to keep his master’s nose above the waves. The orc races along the tideline and in, grabbing Zephrus by the breastplate and towing him up like a small boat to grate upon the sand.

Aelia’s roll of 15, reduced by her puny STR, is enough to get Zephrus (who fails his CON SV) up to where Angron can help both.

Tyche has now worked out that they are on the east shore of what must be the island they sought. She makes herself known, mentions some wreckage scattered north, and heads back to the wall. It is pitted by erosion and lichen. She clambers up its notched surface.

They must have a ship, and we want it

Quite some time goes by. Zephrus is revived, and decides to cast Light on his sword. After all, it is pitch black. Although the heavens are completely occluded, they sense there are yet hours until dawn.

Although Angron grumbles at the risk, the light does help a great deal in understanding the wreck. It bears the three dolphins of Illos, and deep in the sand lie the remains of its crew. Its nose is either sheered off or completely buried. But aboard, some of its stores are intact.

Tyche returns:

“I climbed up onto a broad platform, the lowest of what seems to be a huge step pyramid. Off left there’s a temple with its roof intact, and ahead is a processional of some type, up to steps to the next level, but guarded. I could hear voices beyond.”

“Meanwhile we found stuff, climb up and have a search.”

Loot: The wreck contains spears, javelins, amphorae of water, sacks of grain, and a small chest that holds four of six clay Arkadian Fire bombs.

Zephrus creates a Ritual to purify the supplies. Now they all have drinking water and can meal the grain into flat-cakes. They make a simple but welcome meal in what remains of the wreck’s galley, and lose any after-effects of exposure to the elements.

Angron’s eye now has a predatory gleam as he suggests:

“If you heard people at work, they will have a ship. And we will need to seize it off them to return with the princess.”

Helm is alive!

Inspired by Tyche’s mention of more flotsam north, they head that way. It is the remains of their own craft, and sheltering in it, Helm.

“Hooray! Ye be livin’ then! I warrned them city folks they oughta make a sea-trial but no, off ta sea with green timbers…”

They send him south to dine off the water and flour, and consider the north-east corner. It seems overgrown.

“Those are poisonous-spined plants, I nearly pricked myself up above,” Tyche points out helpfully.

“Well it looks like we’re back into the ocean, I’m not climbing to get round.”

A great circuit to find the enemy ship

We must presume Angron was aware that princess Alexandra’s kidnapers are the ones that the heroes seek. Whatever the case be, after making a 270 degree circuit anticlockwise of the vast base of the step-pyramid, they crouch in cover behind some more poison-spined plants as Tyche sneaks forward to investigate a work-gang, laboring on repairs to a ship under lamp and torchlight.

Tyche makes an adequate DC13 on Stealth thanks to Angron’s Inspiration!

Crouched behind a further stand of thorn, and hard by the south face of the step-pyramid, Tyche counts four soldiers supervising, two tents where some more are probably sleeping, and two vague silhouettes of guards, over a busy dozen slaves. The ship is of unfamiliar line but seems to still need work, as it has been driven high up the sand and possibly jammed between boulders. The far guards are stationed on the first flight of steps.

I charge, you kill!

Once she reports back the heroes fall under Angron’s spell. The ex-gladiator states grimly:

“At some stage we will have to take that ship off them and it may as well be now. I shall get as close as I can without alerting them, then charge. If you can all support me – silently – that will be all I need.”

“If you can wait a while, I can pray up a Ritual to cast Silence,” Zephrus promises.

So it is that about a quarter-hour later, Angron creeps to within a fast dash, while well behind him, the other ready themselves. The big orc has a Silence cast on his massive greataxe. It is only his size that alerts the nearest soldier: as Angron peers round the thorn clump he is behind, the soldier cries an alarm!

Aelia hurries to a range where her Ray of Enfeeblement can wreak its withering effect, while the others ply their bows. Angron’s ax flashes in the torchlight, blood and brains spray across the sands and tents! The slaves huddle away, despite other soldiers’ attempts to make them fight.

One soldier runs up the steep flight of steps to the next level. A well-aimed arrow from Zephrus injures him: but he runs on!

All the others die, despite some of them wearing good bronze armor.

The oldest slave appears to be a spokesperson. “My name is Rasoul,” he explains to Tyche in broken Arkadian, “we have been repairing the Psysserian ship, damaged in the storm. Their leaders are up above.”

Zephrus and Aelia search the ship while Angron hides behind a pillar that allows even someone of his size concealment from those descending.

“Hah, Tyche, we have something for your skills,” Zephrus calls to Tyche. “It’s a chest…”

Tyche clambers up [joke!] and examines not one but three chests. She avoids a poisonous snake and (after a fumble) manages to persuade a lock open.

Loot (approx resale value in gold coin)

gold vessels for food/drink (80);
various Psysserian gold coin (636);
carven sandalwood chest (35);
bronze gorgon-theme mirror (125);
navigation instruments (25);
sea chart that seems accurate (25);
ruby-set, lotus-motif gold signet ring ideal for infiltrating House Gaiana of Illyria (75)

Aside from that there is also a vial of valuable perfume, but Aelia calls dibs on this, as she has suffered (not extremely loudly, but vocally) the ravages of sea salt on her exquisite body all this time.

And finally there is a letter from House Gaiana to “Soraya” styled a Priestess of the Psysserian Queen, begging that any relic of lost Scyllaea be shared with Gaiana as originally promised. This is direct evidence that Psysseria is behind the kidnapping, if any proof were needed.




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