Skull and Shackles

The End?

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The party returned to the Nightmare for the necessary potions and scrolls to recover from the draining touch of the undead. When they got outside they saw that a war had begun. Bonefist’s followers were battling supporters of the Nightmare outside. The party was able to use the time to rest, recover and grab some quick supplies and snacks. The party then reentered the fortress. After a few rooms they opened a burial chamber with some water on the side. Mist began to fill the chamber after Zon entered.

The party prepared for battle and Harghast summoned a spiritual ally.

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Zon bumped into a wall as he tried to retreat and something in the fog took ineffective swings at the Ally. Three creatures attacked Zon and were close to killing him when Valignat acted. The dragon sniffed the air to check where the ninja was this time and blasted away a safe part of the fog. A slightly smoking undead was exposed. Dovahkiin recognized it as a draugr pirate captain.

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Gork leapt in and killed it. The fog rolled over him. Zon escaped from his attackers and Dovahkiin fireballed that area. Three of the draugrs were now visible. Valignat took a nearby alternate route into the chamber and the undead responded by attacking him together. Dovahkiin blasted one to ash as Valignat killed one that the Ally had wounded before weakening the survivor so it could die on ninja arrows and the Ally’s holy blade. Gork found a secret door for the party to explore. On the other side of the tunnel was the cannon golem.

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The cannon golem was a mighty war machine and a true monster to most people. Unfortunately for the 200,000 gp golem, Gork had an axe capable of piercing its damage reduction. It managed to hurt Gork and shrug off a disintegrate on the way out, but precise arrows from Zon finished it off after the barbarian’s pounce. Gork spotted additional secret doors on either side of a main door as the alarm sounded in response to the loud death of the golem. The party opened them one at a time. Behind those doors were crossbow-wielding elf snipers. They managed to dodge a fireball and wound the dragon and Gork, but still fell in the end. One of them was carrying a keyring that the party used to open the main door after Gork looked through the snipers arrow slits. On the other side was a hallway. The snipers had obviously been posted to watch for intruders in there and mow them down after trapping them in.

Gork was the first to step into the hallway. The door slammed shut and spinning blades lanced around the room. By sheer incredible luck they failed to hit Gork nearly as much as they should have before Zon managed to release him. Zon then used his ninja skills to creep in and disable all the remaining traps and locks in there. Suddenly an attack came from behind. Four pirate bombers attacked Gork, Harghast, and Dovahkiin with a barrage of bombs. Harghast charged and Zon got the first kill of the fight. One of the bombers backed off from a stab by Harghast and used a potion to breathe lightning at the party before another spit wasps. Gork was hit with a bomb before Val burned up the swarm with fire. A bomber was caught in the blast, but she was immune to flames. Harghast, Gork, and Zon then finished off the squad in a barrage of attacks.

The party then explored the area and found bedrooms, barracks and a false wall for the bombers to hide behind. There was also a hallway leading someplace else. In one of the bedrooms was a fishtank full of exotic fish. Valignat appraised their unimpressive monetary value as Zon invisibly ate a few.

The tunnel lead to a massive underground lake with an inhabited building on the other side. Zon spotted gargantuan bloody bones at the bottom of the lake. The party began flying across Dovahkiin and Zon were invisible and flying on their own power as Valignat carried Harghast and Gork. Unsurprisingly, the bones animated and lunged. They were the electric dragon skeleton Brinebones. The skeleton attempted to pin Valignat against the ceiling as Val dodged. Harghast and Zon then softened up the monster before Valignat finished it off. The skeleton fell back into the lake as the party approached the audibly alerted building. The party healed up and landed on the roof. Zon finally used a bomb he had taken from the Eel to blow a hole in the ceiling. By chance they had blown open a hole to the leader’s bedroom. He was Horrus Riptooth the wereshark, leader of a band of wereshark pirates.

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Zon spotted and arrowed him, a fireball was added by Dovahkiin, and the finisher was provided by Gork. Riptooth never stood a chance. Gork was then knocked to the ground by the door as four weresharks burst in. The sharks surrounded Gork and began tearing at him as he fought from the ground. Valignat began tearing a larger hole in the ceiling and leapt in. Harghast rode him in and killed a wereshark on arrival. The party began quickly slaying them as the last survivor fled down a nearby tunnel.

Dovahkiin boneshattered him and called for it to surrender. It refused and continued to try to limp away. Zon finished it. The party checked what was on the other side. There was a massive cove containing towers, a wharf with a tavern, and the Hurricane King’s palace and ship, the Filthy Lucre. The party flew in toward the tavern. Suddenly a stinking cloud nauseated Dovahkiin just before a Piscodaemon attacked. It grabbed Valignat and began dragging him with his riders to the bottom 75ft below as they fought. Fortunately Dovahkiin had taken to casting Waterbreathing on everyone every day. A second one grabbed Dovahkiin and began dragging him down as well. At the same time, a magic cannon on the nearby towers noticed Zon and blasted him with heat. Zon managed to stay in the air. At the bottom the daemon was killed and the dragon began swimming back up. Just before losing consciousness Dovahkiin created an impossible trench in the water that put the daemon right up next to the rising party members. The daemon was then swiftly killed. The party regrouped in the water trench and planned on how to take out the cannon.

The party began swimming through a normal part of the water to approach. There they met a megalodon. Dovahkiin promptly charmed it and spoke with it. The shark told the party the other three in its school was in the water around the Filthy Lucre so the group prepared a different plan. Harghast used stoneshape to open up the back of a tower by the trench. Inside was a torture chamber with four prisoners and two guards All of them looked evil to Harghast. One of the prisoners fell through the wall and was caught by Dovahkiin as the guards were killed. The party let them go (Zon being reluctant to give up potential kills) and moved through the tower. Moments later the prisoners began ringing an alarm bell to try to get back in their master’s good graces. The party decided to finally attack the tower.

Zon flew out and fired an arrow, wounding a gunner before ducking back into cover. The cannon fired on the top of the tower and rained molten metal down on the group. The dragon was knocked prone but uninjured. Gork leapt atop a nearby building and then used his rage to fly to the cannon. He then destroyed one of the gunners with Dovahkiin’s guidance. The party reached the tower but the other one escaped invisibly. The party then argued about what to do next. Eventually two guards tried to attack through a nearby trapdoor. They were both killed and the cannon placed over their trapdoor to prevent further attempts.

The party then decided to quickly sabotage the Filthy Lucre to prevent any potential escape by the King. Valignat lead the charge with Harghast and Gork. The Filthy Lucre unleashed a broadside of cannons as a musket-wielding sniper in an armored crow’s nest and a crossbow-wielding one also helped.

The team made it through to the deck.Zon tossed a smoke bomb to disable the musket sniper as Valignat began releasing terrifying shrieks. The ordinary crew began fleeing in horror. The cannon crews abandoned their posts to cower in the bilge as the men on deck leapt off to swim to shore. The megalodons had their fill of many of them. Only two sailors remained on deck, only to be shot by Zon when the strix had a chance.

As the crew fell apart, the snipers fired on the party. Dovahkiin landed on the deck while invisible. Gork leapt off the dragon, across the mast and reached the crossbow wielder’s crow’s nest. Gork began chopping it open and tearing away the steel with his teeth. Valignat and Zon waited under the trap door. When the sniper tried to escape Valignat let Zon have the kill. The party then turned their attention to the remaining sniper. Gork leapt just below the mast as Valignat burned away the smoke. Wisely, the gunslinger surrendered. She threw down her rifle and climbed slowly down the mast. Dovahkiin asked who he had the pleasure of meeting and she introduced herself as Omara Culverin. She was a representative of the tiny yet powerful nation of Alkenstar’s famous Gunworks. She had been negotiating arms deals with the Hurricane King. Suddenly a bomb was hurled at Dovahkiin from a door that immediately slammed shut again. The dragon landed to kill the assailant. Suddenly a giant dwarf rushed out and attempted to take the dragon down with his bare hands. It went about as well as could be expected.

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Dovahkiin tied up Omara when the doors to the captain’s cabin were thrown open. Out stepped Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist himself.

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He was accompanied by swirling tornado-force winds. Kerdak roared a challenge as he chugged an ale. Kerdak turned himself invisible with magic dust. Harghast immediately purged invisibility as Zon fired arrows. The winds harmlessly tossed the deadly projectiles aside. Valigant charged and the winds blasted him as he chomped down. He could not manage to get a full grip though as Gork leapt over and stood on a deck above the king. The winds similarly tore at him. Dovahkiin tried to end the battle with Finger of Death. Bonefist survived and retreated back inside. Harghast and Zon followed him in and began searching. Valignat followed them and saw an empty 10ft room the others had not yet explored.

Meanwhile, Kerdak appeared in the tiny stone bolthole he had for quick escapes. This would give him time to prepare for round two with those surprisingly deadly upstarts so long as they didn’t stumble across his teleport circle on the ship too quickly. Kerdak’s hand was just closing on the doorknob when he was suddenly slammed to the wall as the room filled with an extremely cramped dragon. The dragon’s jaws continued to snap open and shut in the hope of a kingly meal. Moments later Gork was thrown in as well. Back on the ship, Dovahkiin looked in that room and saw with his arcane eyes a teleport effect on the ground. He decided to touch the edge and was thrown in as well. Kerdak opened the door and everyone popped out into a slightly larger room. Valignat held the door out closed and continued to scratch around as Kerdak turned invisible again beneath him. Gork was unable to kill anyone at the moment so he decided to augment the swirling winds with true orc flatulence. Dovahkiin used Svingli’s Eye to locate Kerdak in the pile and fired a final Finger of Death. Kerdak resisted, but he finally died. Dovahkiin’s use of the Eye showed him that Kerdak’s hat was actually a crown that had the power to look like whatever the wearer wished.

Dovahkiin promptly decided to make it look like an afro wig on him for a moment before the group left through the portal again. Dovahkiin went first, then Gork, and then Valignat waited thirty seconds to avoid a repeat of the previous incident. Dovahkiin found himself inside an iron maiden.

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Dovahkiin teleported away as Gork was subjected to it as well. Gork was unable to swing his axe, so he clawed it open from the inside. Valignat destroyed what was left a moment later as he came through. The party regrouped, healed and decided to go to the tavern. The group landed outside the back door. Valignat saw the crew who had managed to escape the ship still pleading in vain to be let in the palace. Valignat advised them to leave. Harghast stepped inside wearing the crown and saw the inhabitants going about their business normally. Harghast bought everyone a round and told them to remain indoors before moving on.

The party then went back through the portal on the ship to infiltrate the palace. The party opened the door and behind it was a lavishly appointed bedroom containing Hyapatia the lamia, a half-woman half-snake creature. She was wielding a pair of scimitars and accompanied by a pair of aurumvoraxes, eight legged tiger creatures.

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Hyapatia was enraged to see Harghast weaing her husband’s hat. Harghast saved against a charm spell just before the aurumvoraxes pounced on him. Harghast summoned a spiritual ally to fight Hyapatia as she tried to dominate Gork. Gork shrugged it off narrowly. Zon and the Ally fought her as Valignat and Gork slew the tigers. After that Dovahkiin took her down with scorching rays. Harghast decided to switch back to his regular mask after that.

The party moved on to the next room. It was a lounge full of extremely valuable documents and maps. Dovahkiin regretted leaving this room to move on to the next. In that room stood Tsadok Goldtooth and two unarmed dwarf brawlers.

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Zon launched quick arrows as Gork screamed “I hate you!” and cut him down. Gork remembered Tsadok’s cheating in the mast race a lifetime ago. Valignat stood on the table and bit one of the dwarves as the others killed his partner. The dwarf made a heroic effort to turn the tables on the dragon and came within a hairsbreadth of tackling him. Valignat overpowered him and hurled him through a nearby door and down a hall. Harghast and Zon then came by and subdued him with arrows followed by admonishing rays. The dragon then hunted through the area and smelled out the King’s massive treasure trove. The rest of the cavern fell swiftly to the Nightmarish crew.

The party then returned triumphantly to the castle above. Tessa Fairwind asked the party who they nominated for Hurricane King. Harghast took out the crown and gave it to Dovahkiin, nominating the wizard. Valignat then voted for Dovahkiin as well. Dovahkiin was pleasantly surprised and gladly accepted. In as solemn a ceremony as pirates ever have, Dovahkiin was crowned king.

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Brinebones later knitted himself back together and began to serve his new master. Dovahkiin was very pleased with his new pet. News spread throughout the Shackles of their new ruler, and even perhaps the world. Harghast proposed marriage to Sandara. She accepted and was given the Filthy Lucre as her wedding gift. Harghast soon said farewell to the party and climbed aboard with Sandara and Bucky as they sailed away to travel the world.

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The party was having a feast at the castle to celebrate. The Pirate Council was in attendance, Gork was chowing down, Valignat attended in his natural form, Zon was even smiling a bit, and Dovahkiin was sitting on the throne. Suddenly a demonic assassin attacked Dovahkiin and seemed about to kill him. Suddenly the Chicken sprinted up to the throne. Halfway there it shed its avian disguise and revealed its true form.

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The orc druid turned into a dire bear and slaughtered the assassin. It then resumed its orc form and introduced itself to Dovahkiin. “I have long been watching you, my son.”

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The Chelish Invasion
Also sudden adoptions and political wrestling

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Phineas and Peppery were healed of their wounds. Phineas told of devils abducting him from his home and torturing him for information on the party. Phineas had never broken, so the devils and cultists had been extremely harsh with him. Peppery had been imprisoned and tortured simply because she had joked about Harrigan’s poor choices of officers after giving Plugg the Man’s Promise. Dovahkiin was becoming guilty about his dark choices in life and decided to redeem himself. Tracking down one of the most powerful clerics of Besmara, he paid slightly over twenty-six thousand gold pieces to resurrect that sahaugin child he had stabbed ages ago. The child was extremely grateful, but a home for it could not be decided yet due to the urgent situation.

The party went to go call the council for an emergency meeting. On the way they met Tessa Fairwind She greeted them and asked what was going on. the party explained, then she went to assemble the group’s allies.

The meeting started and all the Pirate Lords and Ladies arrived. Bonefist was extremely irritated by the meeting. Valignant showed the pirate council the evidence that Harrigan was in league with the Chelish and that an invasion was imminent. Bonefist asked where they had acquired this evidence. Valignant told him about how the party attacked Harrigan’s castle and killed him. Bonefist demanded to know why they did this without the council’s approval.

Valignat blamed Harrigan for attacking them first. Bonefist was not convinced. The dragon and the king traded arguments for a while. Ultimately Bonefist paid no mind to the evidence and implied that anybody who decides to listen to the party could be considered traitors. The Hurricane King stormed off and there was much debate amongst the pirates. Some supported the King’s ideas that everyone should just stay at their own ports and rely of the Eye to stop the enemy. Others supported the party.

The Master of the Gales promised to support the party since his island was the first target in the Chelish plans. Pierce was also in. He had won more ships in a game of Shut The Box. Of course, Tessa Fairwind was also going to help. Arronax also pledged his ships to aid the party fleet.

The party assembled their armada and sailed out to Drenchport. Once there, the party consulted clerics to cast divinations to try and determine what they should do about the Chelish armada. Several unhelpful answers were gained and one casting revealed that the Chelish would arrive that day. The party prepared and the massive Chelish fleet appeared on the storming horizon at dawn. The Master of the Gales’ fleet managed to sink a few but was sunk in turn. The Nightmare and it’s allies moved in on the Chelish. Riding along on the Nightmare were Pegsworthy, Tessa and an enraged Master of the Gales. Suddenly eight Magaav devils with bows appeared on the Nightmare.

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The party noticed right away that they were illusions and ignored the arrows pretending to land around the ship as they waited for the real attack. It soon arrived as the ship suddenly ground to a halt. A squad of real magaav devils attacked. They began by breathing sicking vapors at Dovahkiin. A more powerful commander appeared in the air above the wizard. Moments later it was brought down by Dovahkiin’s Finger of Death spell.

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As Gork and Valignat began killing devils, one grabbed the Master of the Gales and began flying off with him. Unfortunately for the devil, the Master of the Gales is a fifteenth level druid. The Master turned into an orca. The devil made a futile attempt to hang on as he dove down into the ocean before teleporting away to escape a mauling. Meanwhile in the Nightmare’s battle, four Magaav’s snatched Pegsworthy and began to fly away. Gork leapt onto the dragon’s back and they flew off in a chase. The Master jumped back on the Nightmare, turning human again as he did so, and shouted that the Nightmare needed to get moving. Dovahkiin wandered to the back of the ship saying that was impossible when his magic-scanning eyes found a magic token preventing the ship from moving. The devils nearly made it to their ship but were eventually run down and killed. Pegsworthy was saved. The Master broke the token and the fleet battle began.

The Shackles’ fleet was badly outnumbered by the intimidating forces of Cheliax. A brutal exchange of fire destroyed the squadrons of Arronax, Pierce, and Grok. A Chelish squadron was lost as well, and Pierce managed a heroic charge against the strongest Chelish group before going down. Pegsworthy’s new squadron joined in, but the battle was still going in Cheliax’s favor. However, the Shackes’ fleet brought down a squadron of warships carrying an important officer. This was a devastating blow to the enemy chain of command that caused half the enemy fleet to retreat. After that the tide turned. Although Sandara and Pegsworthy were sunk, Tessa managed to wipe out the remaining Chelish forces. The Nightmare moved in on the enemy flag ship, Abrogail’s Fury.

Aboard the enemy vessel was the Chelish admiral Druvalia Thrune and her Hellknight bodyguard accompanied by Chelish marines, a summoned leopard, and the leader of the Norgorberites from Harrigan’s fortress.

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Before the ships could fully close together another band of monsters appeared on the Nightmare. This time they were Drowning Devils.

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The devils emitted an aura that could paralyze heavy armor wearers. Unfortunately for them Harghast was still absent. A devil filled Dovahkiin’s lungs with water, but fortunately Dovahkiin had already cast waterbreathing on everyone. The devils tried to drag Dovahkiin into the water but they were all slain by tooth, axe, and magic. Valignat prepared to fly over and place a similar token on the enemy vessel so Dovahkiin could Cloudkill them all. Gork leapt on the dragon’s back and they flew into action.

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The dragon charged. A barrage of arrows and ballistae fire failed to stop him. A Charm Monster from the Norgoberite came closer, but still failed. Valignat planted the token on the bow as Gork leapt off his back. The powerful cult leader dropped in an instant. Dovahkiin sent the poisonous gas. The leopard died instantly and the rest of the crew moved toward away from the bow to avoid the spreading, deadly fumes. This caused them to clump together, an opportunity that Val quickly filled with a fiery blast. Gork leapt in and slew the Hellknight as well. Druvalia struggled to stop him with spells as the marines swarmed in and wounded Gork. Val attempted to help and hurt Druvalia but failed to snatch her up. Gork and a fireball wiped out the surviving Marines. Druvalia vanished with a potion. Gork leapt on Valignat as the two backed off to escape the spreading cloud. A door could be heard opening and closing in the background. Shortly thereafter, Druvalia dispelled the Cloudkill. Val and Gork began searching behind the four doors visible on the deck. The two closer to the bow revealed a pair of completely undecorated rooms. At the other two doors, Gork found another featureless and utterly uninteresting room as Valignat smelled the target in a richly appointed captain’s cabin. Valignat stalked in and called over Gork. As Dovahkiin inaudibly called for Druvalia to be spared, she sealed her fate with a spray of bolts and the dragon. Valignat promptly killed her in a brief frenzy of attacks.

Moments after she died a portal opened up like the one Harrigan’s soul was taken through. Devils emerged and dragged her away. Valignat gave a casual hello. They responded “We’ll see you later.” Unperturbed, Valignat reported what had happened and the looting began. At the same time, Harghast and Zon flew in. After leaving to save survivors at the end of the previous fleet battle Harghast and Zon had been caught up in whimsical and highly improbable adventures that eventually left them in Drenchport as devils attacked the town. Among the loot was a black scroll with a silver-inked contract written in Infernal. It explained that Druvalia had been able to get through the Eye with the help of the archdevil Geryon in exchange for either her soul or her great-uncle Elzaliah. Dovahkiin’s ring also revealed she was the niece of Abrogail Thrune II, Queen of Cheliax.

Tessa approached the party with their allies. The Nightmare’s crew were praised for defeating the Chelish invasion. Tessa declared that a vote of no confidence should be called on Bonefist and one of the party made Hurricane King instead. Valignat and Gork were disinterested but Dovahkiin and Harghast began clamoring for the role. As they debated, the sahaugin child emerged and tried to claim the title as well. Harghast was impressed with the child and offered to adopt him on the spot and name him Bucky. Bucky happily accepted and Valignat boomed that “As a Pirate Lord of the Shackles, I approve this.”

The new father and the wizard continued to debate who would be king. Eventually it was to be decided by a wrestling match since Dovahkiin and Harghast would be on equal footing in such a contest.

Dovahkiin and Harghast prepared for the match. Dovahkiin’s genius maneuvers were balanced against Harghast’s brute strength and skill. The winner would be the one who managed to pin the other for three rounds. The match began. After a few false starts Harghast grabbed Dovahkiin. The wily wizard reversed the grip and almost managed to bring the black knight down. Harghast managed to resist the pin and the two began repeatedly reversing the hold before Harghast got a few lucky moves and managed to pin Dovahkiin. There was some skepticism over the idea of King Harghast and the warpriest quickly began studying how to sail a ship better.

It was decided that the group would use Harrigan’s plan to invade the Hurricane King’s fortress through a secret passage in a nearby warehouse. Unfortunately for him, Bonefist had not looked at the plans when he had the chance. Tessa said that the party would need to overcome three challenges. They had to overcome Bonefist’s Cannon Golem, rob Bonefist’s vault, and finally defeat the King himself.

The party traveled to Bonefist’s fortress, Fort Hazard, on the island of Lucrehold. At 11:55 at night, Shackles Standard Time, the party crept up to the fortress. Zon, Gork, and Dovahkiin turned invisible and Zon unlocked the door. Zon and Dovahkiin went down a hallway and silently saw a series of offices. On the wall of one was a set of red armbands. Dovahkiin couldn’t quite place what they were but he knew they were important. Everyone put one on. There were two doors at the end of the hall. In the door at the end of the hallway was a room full of ledgers. Behind the one going off to the left was the main warehouse chamber. It contained a massive and silent iron golem.

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Zon scouted ahead with Dovahkiin. They saw a line of kegs that concealed the secret door. On the other side of the warehouse was a set of doors with guards talking behind it. After the scouts reported back, a plan was made. Zon crept up and jammed the lock on both doors without anyone hearing him. One guard came close though. Next, the group began removing the padlock on the warehouse door so Valignat could fight better against the iron golem. There was some noise removing it and the guards began trying to get out of their room. Zon finished unlocking the door and Dovahkiin opened it. Valignat entered the warehouse and it was cool.

Strangely, the golem did not move or attack. Harghast tried talking to the golem. It did nothing. Harghast tried touching it and it still did nothing. He did get an exposition vision of the first Hurricane King building the secret tunnel originally. The door was bashed in and the guards rushed through. Since nobody wanted to kill their future subjects Dovahkiin began an impromptu intimidating speech. The guards immediately surrendered. The party then argued for a while over whether to tie them up or let them leave. Eventually it was decided to tie them up. The party looted the warehouse and moved on through the tunnel behind the kegs.

The party reached a dank chamber. A statue of Besmara stood in the corner. Dovahkiin identified it and then decided to ride the dragon. Moving on, an old chamber was found with a decrepit bed and a golden holy symbol of Besmara. Harghast decided to give it to Sandara as a gift later. The final chamber to be explored in this attempt was full of incorporeal undead. Harghast summoned a spirtual ally in the form of a greatsword wielding angel to help and charged his sword with anti-ghost magic. The ghostly creatures swarmed about and began inflicting extremely dangerous strength damage. Valignat began breathing and clawing, at one point catching invisible Zon by accident. The smouldering strix almost felt empathy for the many humans who had died to that weapon. Almost.

The undead paralyzed Harghast and hurt several party members before being slain. The party retreated to heal on the Nightmare before returning. To prevent the warehouse attack from alerting the King, the party covered it up to look like a simple robbery and took their prisoners with them.

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Revenge

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Dovahkiin attempted to break the charm on the scrags, and failed. The party left them for later and began a third attack on Harrigan’s castle. The party was preparing to go over the wall and saw Jakaw on lookout. Jakaw whistled an alarm as Gork ran for the castle’s back door. Dovahkiin climbed aboard Valignat as the dragon recognized Jakaw and congratulated him for his daring attack yesterday. The dragon then pounced and was blown back down by the wind.

Gork reached the door and heard rapidly approaching stomps just before four scrags rushed out and began chopping at him. Gork ran back to the party. The scrags chased him around the corner and were faced with a torrent of returning fire from the party. One scrag was truly slain and the others fled to the sea. Valignat flew atop the wall. Once there, Dovahkiin spotted a squad of guards approaching and launched a fireball. Valignat chomped Jakaw and hurled him off the nearby cliff. Jakaw stood and ran for the sea as well. Gork climbed up on the wall as Dovahkiin countered the guards arrows with an acid fog. The winds quickly dissipated the fog, but the party approached and the guards were swiftly overwhelmed.

The party healed and moved on through a door into the building. Inside was a warehouse full of supplies, crates, and plunder. There were stairs going up and down and a door on one side. After the dragon squeezed in, a derghodaemon attacked.

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Gork got into position for a pounce as Valigant and Dovahkiin made largely ineffective initial attempts to hurt it. The daemon summoned a gigantic number of biting insects and hurt the dragon badly. Despite the initial success of the daemon, the party rallied and slew it before retreating from the room until the swarms disappeared. The party healed again and headed back in. The party headed down some stairs in the warehouse and found themselves in a prison that stank of scags. Chained in a nearby cell was Peppery Taroon (One of the Wormwood’s officers) and Phineas N. Ferb. They had both been tortured horribly, and Phineas was catatonic. An exposition vision floated into the room, glanced around for the absent warpriest, and left.

Dovahkiin made a heroic effort to break the captives’ chains, but failed. Gork moved in, took the chains and snapped them both in his hands. The party took them back to the Nightmare and told the crew to make them comfortable. The crew said they had spotted cloaked figures moving back through the cave entrance. Arrows had been fired, but the figures had escaped. The party returned to the fortress to continue the assault.

Once back inside the fort, the party entered the temple next to the warehouse. Since Zon was gone, Gork broke down the door. In the first room the walls were lined with symbols of Norgorber and tattered national flags, 2/3rds of which were Chelish.There was also a door and stairs going up. Gork and Dovahkiin broke the next door down as Gork stepped through. The enemies inside got a surprise attack and confused Gork. In his confusion, he killed Dovahkiin. A Blade Barrier appeared around Gork as Valignat dragged Dovahkiin away. Jakaw was in the temple, and fired some arrows fruitlessly at Gork as Gork resisted a Hold Person spell. Gork also resisted an attempt to channel negative energy. The barbarian managed to regain control for a moment. Gork backed out of the room, dropped his axe, and quit raging. The dragon took the axe and cautiously waited for Gork to go back to his right mind.

When Gork recovered, the party took Dovahkiin back to the Nightmare. On arrival the Chicken hopped in wearing a cape. It brought Dovahkiin back but he had to use other methods to get back to full strength. The cleric temp the party had brought in cast Protection from Evil on the dragon, and Dovahkiin cast it on Gork. The party returned to the temple. The Blade Barrier was still blocking the door to the ground floor. The party explored the upstairs and found an empty barracks and an office with stairs leading higher. In the office were detailed plans for an attack on the party’s fortress.

The party returned downstairs. On the stairs, something cast Mass Suggestion at the group but Protection From Evil and Dovahkiin’s saves stopped it. Dovahkiin tossed a Cloudkill past the blade barrier and the real battle was kicked off. The toxic fumes of the spell quickly began to fill the temple and a pack of scrags were killed outright. Valignat went up on the roof and to the other side of the building to catch escaping victims. Gork dragged Dovahkiin back as even the party feared the deadly gas. The barrier was dismissed and Jakaw emerged with a woman leading two Norgorberite cultists.

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The tengu and the cult launched a flamestrike and a burst of arrows. Gork extended his axe and brought Jakaw bleeding to the ground. Valignat returned to the battle and breathed flames that killed Jakaw and wounded his allies. As the party prepared to continue the battle, Valignat smelled something familiar. Harrigan stepped out of the warehouse door and stabbed Dovahkiin to death. At the same time two eryines devils landed on the walls and wounded the dragon with their bows.

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Valignat wheeled on Harrigan but his defenses prevented the dragon from landing a blow. Gork rushed in and attacked Harrigan. Six arrows deflected off Valignat’s scales as the captain of the Wormwood attempted to scare the surviving party members with magic. That failed, as did the attempt by the Norgorberite woman to charm Valignat. The remaining lower-ranked cultists died from the poison. Gork continued to injure Harrigan as the “Red Dog’s” talons closed around Harrigan. He struggled in vain to escape before Gork horribly ended his life.

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The leader of the Norgorberites turned invisible and fled as the eryines swooped in. They deftly avoided a bite from Valignat and reached Harrigan’s corpse as the dragon savaged it. They drew his soul out and grinned. With a telepathic “Thank you” they vanished with the soul to Hell.

The dragon finally stopped slashing and released an earthshaking roar. The conflict had finally reached its conclusion.

Gork jumped on the saddle with Dovahkiin and the dragon took off after the woman. She flew over the walls but was slowed enough by the wind that Valigant had time to catch her scent. Gork had to drop Dovahkiin to use Sivigli’s Eye. He saw her a short distance away. Instead of slicing out with his axe, Gork tried to make her surrender. She lied that if he threw his axe away, she would. He put it away and she simply fled. Valignat lost the trail.

Gork took the ring of invisibility and began scouring the fortress for surviving enemies. The only ones he found were a pair of eryines who were quickly slain by the dragon and barbarian.Gork moved on and found rooms full of Harrigan’s personal trophies. There was also a treasure chamber that had insufficient gold to account for Harrigan’s supposed attacks on Chelish ships. The party looted everything and returned to Port Peril to raise Dovahkiin and heal Harrigan’s prisoners. On the way there, the party dumped the captured scrags back in the ocean.

When Dovahkiin returned, he detected that Harrigan’s seemingly normal glove was actually magic. Inside the Glove of Storing was a Bag of Holding. Inside the bag was proof Harrigan was the Chelish collaborator Fairwind was searching for. The information indicated a Chelish fleet was planning an imminent invasion of the Shackles. Harrigan had plans to lead a group of the Chelish through a forgotten secret passageway into the Hurricane King’s stronghold of Fort Hazard once Port Peril had fallen. The timetable indicated the party had just enough time to call an emergency meeting of the Pirate Council.

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There is always a bigger fish

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The party returned to their island to recover. They bypassed the sea serpent by using summoned creatures. Harghast and Zon were busy, so the group took Harghast’s highest level cleric to use the Cure Light Wounds wand for them and Valignat purchased fifty healing potions. The party also bought a pair of cows for the sea serpent.

The party then returned to Harrigan’s fortress and planned on how to infiltrate it. The group decided to try the tunnel again. When the sea serpent emerged for its cow, Dovahkiin charmed it and told it with his Feral Speech power to go kill the sea anemone. The sea serpent complied and began swimming to the tunnel entrance. Dovahkiin bolstered the sea serpent’s abilities with spells of Heroism, Displacement, Invisibility, and Mirror Image.

The serpent charged in and ambushed the anemone. The serpent bit down and began to wrap around its opponent. The anemone tried in vain to hit back before using a jet of water to blast away the serpent. The serpent quickly recovered and struggled to find purchase with its snapping jaws. The anemone struck repeatedly and was prevented from landing a single hit by the defenses Dovahkiin had set up.

Valignat enjoyed the epic giant monster show as Dovahkiin and Gork helped the serpent with arrows and lightning. Somehow, the anemone made its reflex save against the lightning bolt. However, the anemones surprising agility couldn’t save though. The serpent coiled around and finished the intense battle with a final devastating bite. The serpent detached and swam away from its brutal beating of a colossal monster to return to patrolling the island.

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The party finished cheering it on and entered the tunnel. The seas were much calmer inside and it wasn’t difficult to swim. Eventually the party found a large chamber. Inside was an unaware sea scorpion resting near a flickering beam of light from a small hole in the ceiling. Gork charged and hit it hard. Long barbs were meant to defend against a melee attack, but they broke on Gork’s thick skin. The scorpion tried to defend itself and was finished off by Valignat. Dovahkiin had turned invisible and heard strange faint chanting. Dovahkiin flew up and looked through the hole. He saw a pair of Norgorberite cultists in a temple of Norgorber. They had heard the scorpion battle and were preparing with spells.

Gork flew up with the power of rage and looked for his suddenly vanished opponents. They appeared around him and began poking the barbarian in an effort to bestow curses. It seemed that two more had joined the battle.

Gork leaped and destroyed the newcomers, who were illusions. Dovahkiin carried Human Valignat up and the dragon transformed back. Gork leapt in the air and struck down a cultist. The survivor tried channeling negative energy just before being torn apart. Gork stepped towards a door as Valignat smelled enemies to the right and left.Dovahkiin turned into a dragon as Gork and Val began swinging randomly for the two enemies before they landed confusion spells on Val and Gork. Gork began his random actions by killing the cultist who cast the spell. Dovahkiin summoned a huge fire elemental to try and prevent Gork and Val from attacking each other after Val tried to bite him.

The fire elemental fought well against the surviving cultist until Val finished it off. Dovahkiin retreated since he was out of spells. Gork then attacked Val twice and nearly killed him. The dragon became confused and killed the elemental as well. Gork came close to killing Val but the confusion wore off. The party decided to retreat, but not before grabbing some valuables.

The group healed in the pit below the room. Someone came out into the upper room of the temple and searched for the party. Following the trail of blood, they shot a Flame Strike down the hole and wounded the party. The party retreated back to the ship and healed.

The party decided for the third attack that the tunnel would be too predicable.This time they would climb over the walls of the castle. Bringing along the old magic grappling hook, they went to go have fun storming the castle.

After scaling the thirty foot cliffs, the party approached. Gork threw the Steadfast Grapple as Val made a short flight to the top of the wall. Flying was difficult due to powerful winds. Dovahkiin couldn’t fly at all and even Valignat had serious trouble. The dragon blasted the nearest ballista crew and they surprisingly survived.

Dovahkiin made it to the top and began casting. Dovahkiin was still near empty for spells making it difficult for him to fight. Gork made it almost all the way up. One of Harrigan’s guards tried charging in as the others fired. Dovahkiin shoved a man off the wall to be injured thirty feet below. Gork made it over the wall just as four scrags showed up. Scrags are an aquatic version of trolls that only regenerate in the water.

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Gork took off the hook and Valignat breathed fire down on them. The scrags somehow failed to scale the wall and began making their way back inside the castle and up the stairs. Gork began circling the wall, leaping around and wiping out all the ballista crews despite their futile efforts to stop him with mere gigantic bolts.

Two more guards joined the battle against Valignat and Dovahkiin. Suddenly, a tengu named Jakaw Razorbeak snuck up out of nowhere and leapt on Valignat’s back. Valignat bit him as he arrived and Jakaw began cutting. Valignat roared flames back at him and Jakaw decided to retreat. Jakaw leapt away, the dragon’s jaws almost closing on his leg, before he leapt over to the ceiling of the Nogorberite temple and slid out of sight.

Valignat pursued furiously but the tengu had disappeared. Meanwhile, Dovahkiin battled the two smugglers with Scorching Rays. Dovahkiin was badly hurt in the battle, but only because he was low on spells. The dragon returned and killed a smuggler while wounding the other. Dovahkiin climbed onto Valignat’s saddle and began drinking healing potions as the scrags shoved and pushed their way into the battle. The scrags did well enough, but were gradually overwhelmed and taken down by the dragon. Dovahkiin used his last Scorching Ray. The wizard noted that the human guards seemed to be Chelish and could see a probable charm spell on the scrags. Only one troll survived to flee into the nearby ocean most likely to regenerate.

Gork bounded across the fragile roof of the scrag pen and struck down the crew of the last ballista. The party was tired and decided to rest on the Nightmare. Before leaving the castle, the party took loot and Valignat burned away the ballistae. The party also gathered the fallen trolls in order to regenerate them and hopefully gain new allies.

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Nightmare vs Wormwood
Nightmare vs Wormwood

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Harghast and Zon left to rescue survivors from the battle as the Nightmare sailed up alongside the damaged Wormwood. The ship’s weapons barraged each other and both sides lost three crew. The party saw a monkeyman pyromaniac named Powderpot and the cousin of Riaris Krine, Roaris. Captain Harrigan himself was nowhere to be seen.

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Gork was first into the fray, leaping out at Krine’s cousin and the monkey. Powderpot was killed in Gork’s first attack. A halfling woman named Patch Patchsalt jumped on the ballistae while invisible and tried to make the sneak attack of her life against Gork. It wounded him, but he uncannily dodged. A woman named Adelita appeared on the Wormwood and blasted Dovahkiin with a fireball, wounding him and killing twelve of the Nightmare’s crew.

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Valignat swooped down on the Wormwood in a blast of fire that instantly killed seventeen people, which was almost everyone on the rear half of the ship. The dragon then landed on the deck next to a single surviving crewman. The terrified sailor was swiftly devoured. Dovahkiin blasted the other side of the ship with a fireball, killing eight more of the Wormwood’s crew. Three officers rushed Gork. One tripped on the stairs and knocked himself out while the other two knocked a lower ranking pirate into the sea to engage Gork. Gork retaliated and slew all his opponents in a torrent of chomps and chops, including Krine’s cousin.

All that was left was Adelita and Patch at the back of the poop deck and two Wormwood crew remaining in the crow’s nest.

Dovahkiin’s dog flew out and breathed a line of acid at the two officers. Patch tried to make a last stand by stabbing at Meeko as Adelita fired away with chain lightning and scorching rays. Just before being killed by Gork, Adelita used a prismatic spray that killed Meeko and drove the dragon more insane. Patch made one last effort at glory by attacking the insane dragon for a small amount of damage. Valignat briefly gained enough focus to instantly reduce her to -97 hitpoints.

The Nightmare’s crew quickly went below decks as Valignat had an insanity-fueled rampage around the upper decks, leading to the horrible deaths of the people in the Wormwood crow’s nest. Eventually Valignat briefly gained enough clarity to return to the Nightmare and turn human in order to be tied up. The party was considering how to cure Val when the Chicken approached. It tapped him and cured the affliction. Valignat easily escaped the ropes by transforming back to his natural form and thanked the Chicken. Dovahkiin brought his dead dog and politely asked for the Chicken to fix his dog again. It complied. If chickens could smirk, it would have. With a wink, it walked away.

The Nightmare claimed the Wormwood. The party looted the oceanic battlefield and found that Captain Harrigan had been absent during the battle. The party decided to use the information gathered from Scag’s journal to go after Harrigan in his fortress. On the way, Dovahkiin magically constructed a set of masterwork mithril cooking tools for Kroop as an apology. Kroop forgave Dovahkiin but still kept him at arms length. Dovahkiin also permanently turned his eyes glowing blue with an Arcane Sight spell. The party stopped by their island and met a hurried arbiter inevitable. It quickly dropped off a package and left. The package contained a scroll that would summon Lakorian-Kriss once. The journal said that the approach to Harrigan’s base was guarded by a charmed sea serpent.

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It also said that the serpent was trained not to attack ships that rang a gong and fed it a large animal so the party bought and used a cow for this purpose.

Harrigan’s fort was located on a jungle island with ragged 30ft cliffs and a small beach with no pier. Stone stairs led the way to a castle with a drawbridge. On the Nightmare’s approach, the already rough sea was reinforced with a sudden near hurricane level storm.

The journal said Harrigan lived on the third floor, but that an attack from above would be foolhardy as it would allow Harrigan’s minions to reinforce him if necessary. The party followed the journal’s advice to go in through a secret escape tunnel and clear the fort from the bottom up. The tunnel was flooded at high tide and open at low. The party waited for nightfall and Dovahkiin cast Water Breathing on everyone.

The party spotted the tunnel entrance and approached. Suddenly, a hidden colossal sea anemone attacked.

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It immediately afflicted the whole trio of a dragon and two half-orcs with a debilitating poison before grabbing and swallowing Gork. Time seemed to slow as Dovahkiin had to make a decision. Valignat urged him to teleport back to the ship, which would save Dovahkiin, his dog and Valignat but leave Gork to die. On the other hand, it didn’t seem like anything they had could stop the monster before the poison left them all easy prey. Feeling deeply regretful, Dovahkiin began casting the spell. The anemones tentacles snaked in to strike Dovahkiin but little Meeko, without dragonform, fended off the monster enough to allow the spell to go off.

The others warped away to the Nightmare and Gork was left alone in the belly of the beast. Unable to use his axe, Gork began biting and clawing and tore the anemone open from the inside. Back on the Nightmare, Dovahkiin used the last of his strength to sound the Horn of the Triton. That summoned an advanced shark. It swooped in heroically and sacrificed itself to give Gork, slayer of many sharks, a much-needed opening to escape the anemone.

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Gork swam back to the ship and leaped aboard. He declared “You left me!” before collapsing. The Chicken came out and restored everyone to fighting condition. The chicken pooped on Dovahkiin’s hand and winked at him as he recovered. Lightning flashed around the castle as the party reconsidered their plans.

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The Battle of Dark Island

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Over the next few days the party searched for information on Scags Rotgram, dealt with buying and selling equipment, and raised Rosie from the dead. Valignat bought a pair of Deathwatch Eyes that would let him see, among other things, if creatures were undead or constructs. Ultimately, the party found an old sailor who said that Scags and his ship, the Devilish Duchess, had last been seen entering the place known as Dagon’s Jaws. The Nightmare headed out to Dagon’s Jaws. That morning Dovahkiin attempted to scry on Caulky and received nothing but static.

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The party began by having Valignat, Gork and Harghast scout the tiny outlying islands. There was nothing unusual beyond normal jungle life on those two islands. Dolphins and a manta ray were seen in the water. On the way to the farther set of islands, they saw smoke rising from the trees near the sea at A3 and giant wooden head carvings at A4. The party moved in on the smoke. Dovahkiin and Zon turned invisible and scouted out the smoke. They found a castaway camp and a woman watching the skies from hiding.

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Dovahkiin and a triggerhappy Zon argued quietly about what do until Dovahkiin decided to just introduce himself. He demanded that the woman state her name and business. She said she was Alise and turned the question back on Dovahkiin. When he said that the party was looking for Scags to get information against Harrigan, Alise declared that any enemy of Harrigan was a friend of hers. She asked Dovahkiin to reveal himself and he complied. Alise responded by bringing eight of other survivors out of hiding. She explained that they were castaways. At night, bestial ghouls called brykolakas would attack the survivors of the Devilish Duchess.

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Alise and her 8 companions were the only survivors. Among the ghouls victims was Scrags Rotgram. Alise still thought the information the party needed would be in his cabin in the shipwreck. The castaways were eager to leave and the party took them along on the Nightmare, transporting them over on dragonback.

Back on the Nightmare, Dovahkiin helped Kroop cook for the survivors. In the kitchen the Chicken approached Dovahkiin and sat on his shoulder. Dovahkiin walked away and tried to get a blood sample, but it disappeared. When it came back, Dovahkiin picked it up in an attempt to find out if it was male or female. It pooped on his face and vanished until later.

The party sailed 5 miles back on Alise’s insistence to avoid the ghouls when resting. That night, Harghast finally left Neutrality behind and became officially Lawful Good.

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Meanwhile, Dovahkiin teleported to Port Peril to buy a scroll of Share Memory for later use in proving his allegations against the Chicken.

The targets on the island were the large wooden totem heads, the wreck of the Duchess, and a clearing in the middle of the island. The party chose to start with the wreck. On arrival the partyspotted six corpses bobbing in the water. Val saw that they were really ghouls and Dovahkiin blew all but one away in a single fireball. The last survivor was shot down moments later by Zon. Unbeknownst to anyone, that last one was Scags. Valignat flew out to loot with Harghast on his back. Harghast detected more evil in the direction of nearby dolphins. Moments later the dolphins turned into brykolakas and attacked.

The three monsters wounded Harghast and Valignat. The party retaliated and the monsters were all killed. They seemed to take an unusual amount of punishment before finally dropping. The party scanned the river for signs of the missing wreck and found only a bent, rusty Ring of improved swimming.

Next up was the clearing. In the clearing was a magic spring marked with the symbol of the Neutral death deity Pharasma. Dovahkiin and Val tried the water and it was a one use per day healing effect. The party then spent a while searching the whole area for some treasure, or perhaps a monster to fight. Harghast had an exposition vision of the ancient and forgotten culture who put the shrine there. Slightly surprised at the lack of adventure in the clearing, the party moved on to the head carvings.

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Strangely, the heads were in perfect condition and didn’t seem to have aged or eroded at all. They were called the Dusk Watchers. As Dovahkiin stepped forward a booming voice called out “Stay back outlanders, or be judged!” The party complied. Dovahkiin decided to use a spell he had been saving and turn his dog into a medium-sized black dragon.

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Meeko then hopped forward to be the first to attempt to pass whatever test of purity and spirit would be required. It then turned out that “judging” meant getting punched to death by a invisible magic robot from the plane of Law.

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Harghast revealed the robot with a Purge Invisibility spell right after it killed Meeko. It was an Inevitable, an extra-planar enforcer of Law. Valignat prepared to charge, but the party still wanted to negotiate. The dragon calmed down and assumed his diplomatic persona. After some discussion the party found out he was called Lakorian-Kriss and he had been bound to watch the Dusk Watchers for thousands of years. The party befriended him and Lakorian admitted he was sick of guarding the heads and could be freed by anointing them with water from the fountain up the hill. Harghast was eagerly hoping to have Lakorian join the crew and the party quickly freed him. The Dusk Watchers and the fountain crumbled to dust and Lakorian was incredibly grateful. He promised to reward the party sometime in the future and disappeared.

The party collected Meeko’s remains and carried them back to the ship to raise later. Dovahkiin entered his cabin with the body. Standing there was the Chicken. It walked forward and with a few pecks brought the dog back to life and fully restored. Dovahkiin was alarmed about the show of power and rushed to tell the largely skeptical party about it. The party scouted the lower of Dagon’s Jaws and saw an inlet in the coast. The party rested and the next day Dovahkiin convinced Gork by showing the memory to him. In the morning the party flew out to the inlet. At the back of the inlet was four dilapidated sailing ships shoved together and wrecks in the water.

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After exploring the area and seeing no threats the party began towing the ships out to make a squadron. The party was working to extract the ships when four brykolakas attacked. Two of the ghouls almost killed Gork with their disease inducing claws. The others came out of the water from under Valignat and failed to do much to him. Val charged Gork’s attackers and Harghast began stabbing at them with his War Lance. Zon and Dovahkiin opened fire with arrows and lightning. Soon the last ghoul fell, and the party won the day. The ships were towed out and brought back to Dark Island for repairs. Many pirates were impressed with the accomplishment and signed on to the new squadron. The ships were repaired and the ships of Fargo Vitterande and Barracuda added to the group. Dovahkiin’s wife Grok was made commodore of the new squadron and she named it Dovahkiin’s Heart.

Dovahkiin lured Kroop into his college on Dark Island and took him captive in an attempt to learn more about the Chicken.

Meanwhile, Harghast was contacted by Sefina the Nereid. She said that in the course of her patrolling the coast as promised, she had spotted strangers spying on the island and planning an attack. Kroop was returned to the Nightmare and told Harghast what Dovahkiin had done before taking up drinking again. The Warpriest called the party together. The group was extremely angry with Dovahkiin for attacking Kroop. The party sincerely tried to make it up to Kroop.

However, these events were overshadowed by the imminent arrival of Harrigan’s fleet.

The party quickly rallied together for the battle the next day.

The Wormwood appeared on the horizon and the fleets faced off. The Nightmare’s squadrons consisted of Madshank’s five warships, Pegsworthy’s three sailing ships, Pierce Jerrel’s six longships, Sandara’s five warships, and Grok’s six sailing ships. On the side of the Wormwood were the six warships of the Duskwyrm Squadron, seven sailing ships in the Zura’s Kiss, and five galleys in the Reef Spiders.

The battle opened as Madshanks and Grok ganged up on and destroyed the Reef Spiders. The Wormwood fleet responded in kind by sinking Pegsworthy’s underpowered group. Over the rest of the battle, Pierce, Madshanks, Sandara and the Duskwyrm Squadron were all forced to pull back. The battle came down to Zura’s Kiss vs Grok’s Dovahkiin’s Heart squadron. In a savage battle, all of Zura’s Kiss were destroyed and Commodore Grok emerged with a triumphant toothy grin and two functional ships left.

Steadily approaching through the destruction, the Nightmare prepared to board the Wormwood. Finally.

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Suddenly, Lovecraft
A very special Dovahkiin-centric episode

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The party decided to go to the Black Tower and recover Captain Tevenida Aiger’s sword, the Aiger’s Kiss for the fame it would bring.

Before sailing off, the party debated abducting Caulky Taroon. All except for Dovahkiin said they should leave her as an unwitting spy via scrying. After four days of sailing the tropical majesty known as the Shackles, the Nightmare arrived at the Isle of the Black Tower.

Dovahkiin was smelling the crisp sea air he had grown so fond of when the air began to smell of decaying trees and rotting fruit.

Zon scouted ahead in the fetid smothering heat. He saw the forest was full of horrible rotting trees and no animals besides frogs and insects. The tower itself was 400ft tall and only 30ft wide rising like a spike out of the oppressive jungle.

The party flew to the tower and Dovahkiin realized that it was supported by magic as much as it was by its architecture. Valignat burned away the plants atop the tower. Underneath was a substantial layer of dirt.

Harghast called upon his magic to cast stone shape on the tower. It opened a tiny hole that strangely closed on itself quickly. Valignat started digging like a dog in the dirt atop the tower. He found a trap door that was made of the same stone as the rest of the tower. Gork walked over and began pulling on it. Gork was having trouble with it so Dovahkiin asked for a try. Valignant just chuckled and told him to let the barbarian do it. With help from the dragon Gork was able to lift the door. Inside was an old flight of descending stairs. The party made their way down the stairs. Valignat squeezed down the narrow staircase after them. Dovahkiin cast invisibility on himself.

As Harghast walked down the steps he saw disturbing carvings on the wall. They were of sea monsters destroying towns, killing men, women, and children. Harghast’s blood was boiling at the sight of these demonic carvings. At the end of the stairs was a door. Harghast peered inside. He saw a black hand print on the wall, a statue of a mermaid holding a gemstone heart, runes, an uncarved serpentine gem, and a strange shield-like emblem suspended from chains.

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Harghast asked Dovahkiin to come and take a look. The wizard pushed past the others to get to the front. Dovahkiin recognized the handprint as the symbol of a Norgorberite sect that Captain Aiger had belonged to. The shield was the symbol of the horrible deity Dagon.
A new teacher, thanks to his wizard academy, Dovahkiin began to lecture. “Dagon is the Qlippoth lord of deep dwelling sea monsters and the like…” Dovahkiin walked over to the strange shield and admired it. “Oh, did I mention he likes deformity too? Very interesting he is one of the oldest..”

Dovahkiin noticed a trap on the shield. Zon was called over to disable it but he failed (by one) despite high skill. The shield shot out vile smelling water that hit invisible Dovahkiin.

All that was heard was a slimy flopping sound. Harghast cast Purge Invisibility and a four foot hagfish was revealed.

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The party guessed this was Dovahkiin so Valignat picked him up and carried him back to toss him in the Nightmare’s waterhold. The rest of the party began trying to destroy the shield but then it spat again. It narrowly missed Gork. Harghast and Gork returned to beating and slashing it. The shield spat again and this time struck Gork in the chest. It turned him into a starfish.

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Zon passed the returning dragon as the strix carried Gork to another waterhold aboard the Nightmare. Harghast was still up so he leapt in the air enraged by this tower’s evil and planted his sword in it but then the eye spat and turned him into an octopus.

Octoghast flopped around as Valignat returned. Harghast was embarrassed by the situation and begged Valignat to merely kill him and destroy the symbol. Fortunately Octopi can’t talk so Val grabbed the struggling cephalopod and gave him his own cistern barrel to stay in. Harghast tried to escape but only managed to ink the dragon.

Val returned and stayed out range of the trap and he began breathing fire. Zon also returned and opened fire. Finally, the shield was melted and shattered—never again to turn any adventurers into sea creatures.

Val took to the ship to go cure the party and Zon stayed on to guard at the tower with some non-human pirates to watch for claim jumpers. Zon was leaning on the edge of the tower like a gargoyle overlooking the island with Meeko at his side. Zon noticed a strange creature floating around in the trees. He grabbed his bow then took to wing startlingly fast. In the twelve seconds it took him to get to the bottom of the tower the creature had disappeared into the dense jungle undergrowth.

The guards would take turns watching in the towers first level and on top of it. The pirates became sick from the oppressive jungle as Zon tried his best to keep them in high spirits.
The party returned and were ready for another try.

Before heading down to the next level, Zon carefully picked up the uncarved gem and switched it with the heart shaped one.

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Then he decided that he wanted them both so he just took them. Dovahkiin recalled from his studies a stone similar to what the tower was made of. It was Abyssal stone that was grown rather than mined.

While Dovahkiin lectured them on the stone, Zon walked up to the door to the next level. Zon was able to pick the lock. Dovahkiin led this time for some reason. He saw two melted candle holders and peered around a corner.

There he saw a statue of a naked man with eels biting in and out of him. Someone saw that that it was blocking another staircase descending deeper into the evil tower.

Harghast entered the room with Dovahkiin and tried to move the statue. When he touched it, the statue let out a horrific scream of pain. Eels manifested in Harghast and Dovahkiin. Dovahkiin was not fooled by the illusion so he was just a bit sick from the image. Harghast was fooled so he started getting real bites opening all over his body.

The eels were only visible to those afflicted so Gork struggled to figure out what was happening. Dovahkiin tried to disintegrate the statue but it resisted due to being made of plot-onium. Dovahkiin tried examining it and found a pushable spot on its chest. He immediately pushed it. Somehow it didn’t kill him and it revealed a secret compartment.

Dovahkhiin realized that it was the size of the heart shaped stone Zon had taken. The wizard called over Zon. He didn’t come until Dovahkiin explained that he wanted the stone.

When Dovahkiin placed it in the statue the statue moved aside. Harghast was still being eaten but fortunately he had a whole stack of remove curses ready and removed the affliction. The group decided that it would be wisest to rest before heading any further.

The next day they gathered their party and ventured forth. There were more wicked fish decorations and a small room. Gork lead the way. Dovahkiin realized that the floor was unstable and warned everybody. Some yellow mold was spotted in the room and Dovahkiin flew to the front of the line for a closer look. When he did two nyogoth qippoths surprised him.

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The nyogoths were twisting masses of intestines and jaws. One of them struck the yellow fungus and released the spores and then they smacked Dovahkiin down. The party was able to get him out with his last hitpoint before the monsters could finish him.

Gork got that old mad look in his left eye. He slashed the beasts and chomped his teeth into one spraying acidic blood into his face but killing the nyogoth. Gork yelled out “This blood tastes horrible!” The remaining qippoth summoned an Acid Fog on the party.

The dragon’s head emerged from the fog and blasted the other monster with fire. It was immune but the yellow mold burned away. Zon jumped through the fading flame and plunged his cutlass into the beast’s probable brain. A calm fell over the battlefield.

The party healed and pressed on. Dovakiin turn invisible this time and cast a spell that made him tougher. Gork started walking into the room. He saw a statue with glittering eyes then he heard creaking…nothing happened so he took another step. With a loud crack the floor collapsed and the half-orc fell through to the room below.

The dragon looked down the hole and called out “Are you alright!” “Yeah!” Gork replied. “Want help up?” said the dragon. Gork declared “I can handle it” and easily leapt back up.

They healed Gork of the trivial damage he had taken. Dovahkiin detected no magic on the statue. Zon realized that the glittering was gems. The party all went down the hole Gork had fallen through. There were three statues. Dovahkiin recognized them as the three sons of a legendary Mwangi priest who sacrificed his sons for Dagon’s favor and then destroyed a place called the Crystal Isle in his honor.

Zon also saw that the statues heads looked like they could turn. He turned one and when he did a door opened. Suddenly his lungs filled with salt water, so he drank a water breathing potion. Harghast then lifted the curse.

The party entered the next room with Hargast leading the way.

Harghast looked in and saw horrible depictions on the walls. They showed even more horrible things being done for Dagon. Again, this made Harghast’s blood boil. To make things worse, in the corner he saw a skeleton wearing black leather armor. There was writing on the wall next to it that said, “The Shrouded Queen yet lives below, bound by Blackfingers’ forbiddance and Aiger’s Kiss. Seek not entrance for naught but her rotting curse awaits ye-let the slumbering darkness lie!"

There was also a mural of the Crystal Isle on the wall and a large and sealed trapdoor in the floor. The heads of the statues snapped back and now Dovahkiin’s lungs filled up with salt water.

Unfortunately, Harghast was out of Remove Curse spells so Dovahkiin drank a water breathing potion. So he could keep casting spells Dovahkiin started talking in Aquan.

Zon went back with Dovahkiin. This time they tied the heads in place. When they finished Dovahkiin used the Ring of the Iron Skull to find out who the dead person was.

She was none other than Captain Aiger. She had fallen in battle in order to contain a horrific monster, the Shrouded Queen, beneath the trap door. Dovakhiin suggested that they bring back Aiger for the fleet. Nobody objected at the time.

Of course, when a dead person leaves a message in their final moments that you should not open a sealed door with a big monster inside you should do the exact opposite. And that’s exactly what the party decided. But first, they would rest.

That night the dragon tossed and turned and kept bumping into things. The next morning he realized that he had grown into a huge behemoth.

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The next day the party prepared all the buff spells they might need and planned the attack. Dovahkiin had learned how to summon stronger creatures and even slept that night. The party returned and opened the door. Dovahkiin used his ancient magics TO SUMMON TWO GIANT HOLY OCTOPI!

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He commanded his squishy minions to charge in. The plan was that they would serve as a distraction while the party attacked. The door was lifted and inside was indeed the mutated Shrouded Queen.

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The Shrouded Queen’s horrible appearance drove one octopus temporarily insane. Dovahkiin shot the evil queen with a spell that made her dumb as a pig. The Queen killed both octopi. Zon opened fire and Val shifted to human and back as he leapt through the small opening.

This all served as a good cover for Gork to jump in and chop the monster into meaty chunks.

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The Shrouded Queen was gone! Dovahkiin flew down and grabbed a horn. In one pull he ripped it from its socket and wretched over the horrid smell. He then grabbed the other horn, ripped it out in three tugs and wretched again. Gork also pulled out a bone and began cleaning it as a gift for Meeko later.

Harghast saw Aiger’s Kiss impaled in the ground.

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He grabbed it with both hands and pulled. Harghast failed to lift it so Dovakiin came over and asked for a try. They then engaged in a prolonged and silly contest until Dovahkiin eventually ‘won.’

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Dovahkiin put it on the ground and began studying it when Harghast suddenly snatched it away. Demonic whispers emitted from the hole in the ground where the sword had been.

However, it seemed that the portal that had once been there was now closed—or was it?

Gork offered the cleaned bone to Meeko. The dog didn’t want it on account of the dead qippoth and its strange smell but after Gork offered it a second time he decided to eat it to be nice.

The party headed back to the ship. When they left the tower they saw a second ship next to the Nightmare. The Nightmare was also flying the other ship’s flag. As the party rushed in, both ships turned their weapons on the dragon. A half-elf yelled out to the party. "Don’t come any closer! I am Captain Valerande “Barracuda” son of Captain Aiger!"

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As he was talking, Zon noticed Rosie’s corpse in the water. Aiger kept talking. “I have all your crew hostage, well, all except the small one. She wouldn’t surrender, how unfortunate.”

Gork said under his breath “Unfortunate for you.” Dovahkiin was very worried about his wife on the ship so he asked his friends not to do anything hasty. Aiger demanded that the party give him the Aiger’s Kiss as it was his family sword. In exchange, the remaining crew would not be harmed. The party offered to resurrect his mother in exchange for the sword, but Aiger demanded then that his mother be returned to life and that he get his sword back.

To buy time, Valignat lied that the party needed to go retrieve the weapon from the tower. Aiger bought it.

Once out of earshot, the group made a plan. Dovakhiin would leave Meeko at the tower and send a signal for the warpriest and dragon to attack after Dovahkiin, Zon, and Gork would turn invisible and teleport into the ship to free the hostages…hopefully.

Dovahkiin cast the spell. It worked and they went to the Nightmare’s hold where Aiger had stupidly left no guards. Dovahkiin used his skulls to locate the crew and scout the ship. The crew was in the bilge, the skeletons had been smashed (fortunately, they can be easily replaced) and the enemy crew was all on the upper decks of the two ships. The party was about to free the crew when they heard someone coming. An invisible Zon got in position. When the guard came he quickly sent three arrows into him from point blank range. One in the neck, one in the head, and one in his heart. He was dead before he even hit the ground.

The party then freed the prisoners. Dovahkiin gave Grok a kiss and told her how happy he was that she was alright.

The party ordered the crew to arm themselves. Dovahkiin then gave Harghast and Val the signal. Aiger saw the dragon and rider approaching and began dictating the exchange when Zon crept up behind him. Aiger died in an instant and Valignat killed most of his crew in a single blast of his fiery breath. Gork emerged from below decks and called out to the survivors “Surrender, you whelps, or I shall teach you the true meaning of pain!”

To Gork’s disappointment, the enemy complied. The party had retaken the Nightmare. Although most of the party opposed, Harghast still wanted to raise the Aigers.

The Black Tower had been defeated and the party went to raise Rosie and search for Captain Harrigan’s old first mate.

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Lord Arronax Endymion

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The party prepared for their first meeting of the pirate council. It was set to take place in a month’s time. Also of note was the fact that Harghast’s year of marriage to Agasta was drawing to a close. He had to choose whether to continue the arrangement or let it end so he could be with Sandara.

The party returned Sefina’s shawl and forgave her. Sefina was grateful for their mercy and promised to patrol the bay as thanks. Dovahkiin teleported to his adoptive parent’s home and brought them to live at the castle. The party also placed an order for more siege engines. The time of the council approached and the party appointed Paarthunax and Baines stewards of the island in their absence.

The Nightmare went to Port Peril and the party took their well-earned seats at the table. Abundant high quality food and drink were served and also considered a major reason for the pirates’ attendance. The Hurricane King sat upon an ostentatious throne and at the other end sat an empty seat for the use of Besmara, goddess of pirates should she ever decide to attend. The other pirate lords sat around the table. Had the party not done so well at the trials some or all of them would be sitting at the ‘kids’ table.’ Harghast asked about Sandara and found she had become captain of the Queen Bes’s Own and a squadron of supporting ships. Apparently she had done very well in the short time she was away.

The first issue of the day was raised. The Shackles extorts money from Sargava in return for liberating them from Cheliax. Normally they would have to wait, but some said the party should be given their full share right away. Fortunately, through Gork’s surprisingly effective intimidation and the party’s level of disrepute the measure passed.

Next, Cerise suggested a measure to take funds from the defense budget and redirect them to build giant statues of the Hurricane King in every port. This was a horribly impractical and wasteful idea, but opposing the King was an obviously dangerous political move. Initially only the party (who count as one vote) and The Master of the Gales opposed the measure. Through significant expenditure of political capital and various means of persuasion the party just managed to stop this terrible idea from passing, but most likely made an enemy of the King.

The third issue was Avimar trying to gain salvage rights to Olo. On Olo was the black tower and a rumored epic magical sword. The party stopped him.

The forth issue was raised by Hardluck Massey for the absent Captain Harrigan. He wanted someone named Scags Rotgram declared an outlaw for preying on unauthorized Sargavan ships. The party looked into the situation. Scags was Harrigan’s old first mate who had parted on poor terms and Harrigan most likely was simply trying to exact revenge. After discovering this the party successfully blocked the measure.

The last issue of the day was raised by Tessa. She was presenting the findings on Chelish spies the party had gathered for her. Arronax Endymion immediately rose from his chair and demanded that an investigation be held. Rumors abounded of Arronax being a collaborator with Cheliax. He had been a Chelish admiral before becoming a pirate and his town, Hell Harbor, resembled Cheliax in culture and was often called, although not to his face, Little Cheliax. The evidence the party had found also pointed to him. The King was against investigating so he could keep the money for himself and make self-aggrandizing statues. The party got the investigation approved. The King was furious (again), the food was running out, and the pirates were tired of politics so the dozens of remaining issues were dropped and the meeting was adjourned.

The party returned to the Nightmare. Aboard was a note from Tessa clutched in the beak of a silver messenger raven. It said:"My friends! It pains me to darken your accomplishments, but I feel I must. Despite your triumphs of late, there remain those who do not accept you as deserving of the prize you have been awarded. If you expect to keep your isle, you’ll need to fight for it. Even as I pen this warning, know that your old nemesis Barnabas Harrigan is bolstering his own fleet, funded through his recent spate of successes raiding the Chelish shipping lanes.

And he will come for you as soon as he is ready.

War is coming to the Shackles, whether Bonefist wants to admit it or not. We have a traitor, or perhaps traitors, in our midst, and when the Chelish navy sails south, it will divide us through our own greed and betrayal if we are not ready.

I intend to survive this war—and to do so, I need all the help I can get. I hope to see you survive as well, but to do that, you must gather a fleet. In time, I will join my resources to yours, but for the immediate future I must retain a low profile—I fear I have drawn too much attention to my plans already. Hire mercenaries if you must, but seek out friends and allies if you can—they will serve better than those bought with coin. Bolstering your infamy can only help as well—some of the topics that came up in the council meeting seemed to me good places to start. Looting the Black Tower and recovering the sword Aiger’s Kiss from within would certainly increase your fame, and if you can track down Scags Rotgram… well, an old mate of Harrigan’s could be an invaluable ally, especially if he knows something about Harrigan’s weaknesses!

Until I contact you again, keep the silver raven figurine as proof of my word. Sell it off if you wish…after that party you threw at your fortress, I suspect you might need the spare coin to help pay for the fleet you’ll soon need!"

The party had two options for raising a fleet, mercenaries or trusted allies. Mercenaries would be very expensive and not very loyal. Among allies, there were Pierce Jerrel and his six longships, Sandara and her 5 warships and Pegsworthy with his 5 sailing ships.

Harghast’s marriage expired and he had to make the decision. With the parties support, he ended the political marriage with Agasta and they parted amicably. Among Agasta’s forces, Sergeant McCleagh seemed quietly overjoyed.

The party decided first to meet with Sandara and ask her about joining forces. Sandara and the party set up a meeting in Hell Harbor. The Nightmare sailed over and the meeting was held in an inn. After greetings and congratulations on her impressively rapid progress Sandara asked why the party had wanted to visit her. Before anyone could speak Dovahkiin bluntly stated “Because Harghast likes you.”

Sandara was amused and revealed she always had similar feelings for Harghast. After that event of immense emotional importance was out of the way Sandara asked if that was really the only reason the party had traveled out to meet her. The party then got down to business and it was agreed that she would join the fleet. And also Rosie Cusswell was there.

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A messenger entered the bar and approached the party. He introduced himself as the first mate of Arronax Endymion and said that Arronax wanted to meet with them on his ship. The party went to the meeting and Arronax said that he was the victim of slander. He said he was not a spy and that a local bardic troupe was deliberately spreading lies about him. He asked the party to “deal” with them discretely and with minimal collateral damage. The party agreed.

The first move was to send Dovahkiin and Gork to watch the show and scout out the theater. The show was a violent and disturbing one. It was tales of devils and the mortals who fell to their depredations. Arronax was implicitly among the foolish mortals. A crazed barbarian named Gorebeard tore apart the real summoned devils on stage.

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After the play, the party waited until 3am and then Zon snuck up to investigate. Zon crept up to the lock and picked it when a guard showed up. The guard demanded that Zon leave and Zon failed at intimidating him before leaving. Zon soon returned with Meeko in his pack. The dog smelled something invisible atop the roof. After much internal debate with a conscience that sounded like Valignat for some reason Zon fired at the invisible thing of unknown origin and intent. An innocent half-orc toddler rolled off the building with an arrow embedded in its forehead. Zon realized it was an illusion just as the guard showed up again. The guard sounded the alarm as Zon turned invisible and fled. The party returned soon and Zon saw no guards. Rather than go through the door it was decided that Dovahkiin should teleport the party in. Zon would have to find his own way and Valignat turned human to lower his mass for transport. With the plan in place, Dovahkiin teleported the party into the main theater.

They appeared in the middle of the buffed, prepared, and gathering enemy. There was Isawyn the opera singer from the play, Gorebeard, a merciless eryines, a babau assassin demon, two hell hounds, and a lowly goblin-like dretch. As the battle raged, Harghast heard a voice in his head saying “Arronax Endymion send his regards! Die fool!”

Various malevolent spells were thrown at the party but a set of great saving throws prevented potential disaster. A barbed devil joined the fray as the dragon transformed and immediately chomped the dretch. Dovahkiin Boneshattered the bard for some damage and Harghast healed while yelling “It’s a trap!” Outside Zon was trying to get in, but the door relocked itself.

Gork cut down the eryines and then engaged Gorebeard for an epic battle of the barbarians. Unfortunately, Gorebeard was quickly outmatched due to his terrible unarmed build and shortly thereafter blasted by Valignat and finished by Harghast.

A hidden foe shot Dovahkiin with a ring of the ram and knocked him down. The hell hounds tore into the fallen wizard. Valignat wounded the barbed devil and then Harghast killed it with a mighty divine blow from his holy sword. Zon finally flew in and was knocked to the ground. Isawyn whipped out her guitar and unleashed a tirade of heavy metal at Dovahkiin for damage before being shot dead by Zon as Valignat dismembered the hell hounds.

Dovahkiin rose and fired Disintegrate at the babau. It was shredded to near ashes before Gork smashed it soundly. A calm fell for a brief second and then a translucent tiefling appeared. It was Lady Nightshade, the third member of this wicked band.

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She cried “Lord Arronax Endymion curses you, may you die at his hand!” and then she disappeared. The party looted the building and found evidence that proved the bards were professional slanderers working for Cheliax to destroy Arronax’s reputation—or were they? Harghast remained unconvinced. Zon also figured out that the ‘guard’ outside was actually another illusion.

Arronax wanted the party to return to his mansion when the matter was settled. The party rested and then went to the meeting. Valignat wasn’t allowed inside the house in his natural form for some reason so he shifted to human. As is his job, Valignat did the talking. Harghast was still extremely suspicious of Arronax and so Valignat attempted to keep the proof by lying about it and informing Arronax the bards were dead. Arronax wasn’t satisfied. Valignat then admitted that the group had found “Something that might help” and presented Arronax with the proof. Confused, Arronax said “This looks like evidence. What are you doing? What is this?” The situation seemed about to collapse but then Valignat covered by quizzically asking “That’s evidence?” Somehow that worked.

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Arronax was relieved and promised his fleet would aid the party. The party went back to the ship. Lady Nightshade had fled into the planes, but the party chased her down over two weeks and finally captured her. Paarthunax read her mind for an interrogation. Paarthunax made a lion roar telepathically at lies and when she claimed she wasn’t a slanderer the contemplative said “She’s a terrible liar”. Valignat leaned in and said “Lord Arronax Eddymion sends his regards” and killed her. There was a brief commotion as Dovahkiin and Gork tried to stop the dragon and Harghast tripped the barbarian. But, when a large dragon sets his mind to something there’s not much anyone can do about it. A spray of gore left Dovahkiin and Gork stippled and frustrated.

The party discovered that Nightshade had been hired through an intermediary and recovered the Bard’s corpse to have Harghast speak with dead and learn who the contact was. He had to get past some evasive answers, but eventually learned that the contact was Caulky Taroon, the old cabin girl of Captain Harrigan. The bard’s corpse was stored so the spell could be cast again later as evidence against Harrigan. Fortunately, Dovahkiin still had a lock of Caulky’s hair and could scry on her at will. The first attempt was poorly timed and resulted in useless footage of Caulky sleeping. The next casting revealed her in the Captain’s cabin of the Wormwood. Harrigan was declaring that soon he would be at the Nightmare’s island.

The party then decided on their next move—the island of the black tower.

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Best party ever

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The Nightmare sailed out to intercept the Jester’s Grin, the slaver ship/trader vessel carrying the shipment of incredible rum Pierce had told Gork about. After a while of tracking the Nightmare was swiftly closing on the Grin. Dovahkiin sent out a fireball and blew up many sailors as Val carried Gork and Harghast out. Zon also flew in. Sailors tried in vain to bring down the dragon before he breathed fire and Zon fired arrows.

Gork leapt into the mix of fire, ice, and arrows and firmly planted his axe in a sailors head. After that Zon was paralyzed and fell into the ocean. Dovahkiin noticed that the captain was an illusion. Zon was shot by a catapult while unable to move before being saved by Gork. Valignant clawed at the captain and also realized it was fake. Hargast tried to find the real captain with his helmet but failed. Dovahkiiin also tried from the ship with Svingli’s Eye but failed as well.

Disappointed, Hargast cast Purge Invisibility from dragonback and revealed Fargo Vitterande, the wererat rogue wizard captain.

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Fargo fumbled a jump and soon had a dragon attacking him and a rider dressed in horrifying armor plunging a lance into him. Fargo managed to escape and fire some spells at the dragon before running into the ship where he took the form of a dire rat. Val and Hargast tried to go in after him but the door was locked. At that moment Val and Hargast heard a splash from the back of the ship. When they got there the captain was hanging from the back of the ship. Gork roared out at the crew of the Jester’s Grin to stop firing or he will rip their faces from their heads. Regardless, they kept loading the ballistas. Fargo fled up the side of the ship. Hargast cast a spell that sped up the dragon but Fargo escaped off the front of the ship. Fortunately Gork heard him and directed the dragon and Hargast to Fargo. Hargast and Valignant attacked the captain but missed him.

The party chased Fargo, but couldn’t see him for a long moment. Valignat went to the other side of the ship, where Harghast finally stunned the harried and wounded wererat. The spells Fargo had cast at the dragon had drained the magic item Val used for self control, and so Fargo was torn apart. Dovahkiin was able to use the remnants of the body to learn about Fargo with the Ring of the Iron Skull.

Once the party was back at the island they began getting the castle into shape by setting up defenses. They finished the dock, hired bards, and built a chapel and college for Hargast and Dovahkiin’s followers. Dovahkiin also made a painting and sculpture of Grok.

Meanwhile, Valignat took over the caves in the nearby Harpy Mountain and formed a lair of his own. Zon decided to live with Valignant in the humanless mountain. The party invited all the Free Captains including Captain Harrigan. The only pirates to decline were the Hurricane King and Arronax Endymion. They also invited Sefina the nereid. She said she would consider it.

The party plane shifted and bought food from heaven to serve at the feast. The party unanimously (except for Dovahkiin) said Gork should get to choose the name of the island. He decided to call it the Dark Island. Dovahkiin refused to call it that.

Soon three Free Captains arrived to judge the party. They were Mase Darimar the sea elf, Cerise Bloodmourne the human, and Avimar “Lobo” Sorrinash the secret werewolf.

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The Judges inspected the fort. Avimar asked about the defenses and told them to destroy a boat being towed behind a ship with the siege equipment. The party succeeded at destroying the boat, but failed to do it well enough and so failed the test. Next the party took the judges to the mess hall. The judges asked for rum and the party presented them with the fancy rum taken from the Jester’s Grin. The judges were impressed and Cerise asked the party about their adventurers so they brought out Paarthunax. The floating brain told a good story, but didn’t manage to impress Cerise. She then challenged the party to try to disarm her in a duel. The duel began and Gork immediately succeeded. Greataxe isn’t an official fencing style, but it is apparently effective. Cerise then gave the party a mystical sword cane.

The party still needed to impress Mase. They succeeded by introducing him to Sefina which Mase took as proof the party could get along with aquatic fey. As a result he gave them a powerful magic item known as a Horn of Triton.

Finally it was the day of the feast and all the pirates were arriving, including Captain Barnabas Harrigan. After catching up with old friends the feast began. Before the first course the party served the heavenly meal along with the strange fruit they found on the island. The pirates were impressed by this. The smells were driving Meeko insane with hunger. While the feast was going on Grok whispered to Dovahkiin that Audessa looked like something was wrong. Dovahkiin walked up to Audessa and she led him into the kitchen, where a swarm of rats was running about. Gork walked in and chopped the rats to pieces. Meeko could smell the rats so he walked up to the door to the kitchen. Harghast was guarding it to keep anyone from seeing the rats so Meeko had to be persuasive.

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As soon as Hargast opened the door a rat ran out. The warpriest loudly stomped it, drawing attention to himself. He covered by yelling out a toast.

“To the Hurricane King! Long may he live!”

The rat disappeared in a magical pop from nowhere and the chicken gave Harghast a “well played” look.

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Meeko ran into the kitchen to see a buffet of rat guts and brains. He then smelled something strange. He briefly tried to identify the scent but suddenly another rat ran through the kitchen and the serving girls screamed. Valignant asked Harghast what was going on. Harghast told him it was nothing to worry about. Meeko couldn’t stop the rat. It got through the door and was stomped by Dovahkiin and Harghast.

Tessa could see that something was very amiss during the banquet. She agreed to keep quiet, but refused to eat any of the food before Harghast told her that he could purify the food. Dovahkiin went and got Zon who also joined in on holding the line against many more rats and girlish screams. Meanwhile, Valignant, in human form was talking to Harrigan. This annoyed Old Harry who refused to eat any of the food.

Zon looked in the kitchen cellar to find 300 rats that swarmed around him. Zon called in Gork who swung his mighty axe. Zon was almost killed, but the rats were dead. After the rats were dispersed Dovahkiin figured out that the weird smell in the kitchen was an alchemical lure for rats. Meeko took all of the 300+ rats and buried them. Harghast purified all the food to get rid of rat contamination. This turned out to be a very good idea. Zon got healed at the chapel. Lobo started harassing Audessa. The party was able to get him to stop without starting a fight. This was a politically sound move, but perhaps a missed opportunity for a memorable werewolf fight scene.

After the feast, one of the cooks told the party that Sefina told them to drug Lobo’s drink. The party then went to question Sefina. Zon decided to stay behind to guard the guests. Something big seemed at play because when they got to Sefina she sent a signal flare into the air. When they saw her all except the dragon were so fascinated they couldn’t move. The Dragon slapped Hargast into his senses and the warpriest then did the same to Gork. Valignant demanded an explanation from Sefina. She said she was sorry for what the ‘tiny man’ made her do. He had taken her shaw and was blackmailing her into doing what he said as some of her life essence was contained in the shawl and if it were destroyed she would probably die.

Sefina summoned a water elemental and Val woke Dovahkiin who teleported himself and Gork back to the castle. Harghast refused to leave the dragon by himself and declined the easy escape. Val and Harghast escaped as the dragon rocketed back to the fort at top speed. Back at the fort, Dovahkiin and Gork told the guards to look for a tiny stinky man. Dovahkiin asked Zon to help and Meeko also sniffed around. Besmara must have favored Meeko for he was able to smell a very faint smell from the tower they went in.

When they got in they found an invisible alchemy lab which Dovahkiin blew up. The present party members were luckily only slightly burned. Meeko found some footprints leading to a small crack in the wall when suddenly Dovahkiin remembered the shaw and frantically looked for its remnants in the lab’s ashes. Fortunately it was not there and had not been destroyed in the hasty explosion.

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There was an explosion from the bay. The party, sans the still absent dragon and Oread, ran to see what was happening. Zon put Meeko in his backpack figuring they might need him for more tracking. The ship known as the Blood Moon had a big hole in it and was sinking. Zon saw another bomb on the ship. He disarmed it and Meeko began barking happily. Out of nowhere two bombs were thrown at them. Meeko was at deaths door once again and Zon was badly wounded. Zon ripped a piece out of the bomb. Meeko was bleeding out and the healer was still minutes away. Fortunately that dog is seemingly indestructible and stopped bleeding on its own. Zon also guessed where the invisible enemy hobbit bomber was and wounded him with arrows. Then the strix flew away, got healed by Dovahkiins healing potions and returned the dog.

They went to Harghast’s chapel where Meeko and Zon were fully healed. The absent party members finally arrived and were hurriedly filled in on the situation. The party decided to go back to the harbor to track the saboteur. Right before they left Meeko walked up to Zon and jumped at his backpack. Pleased by this, Zon picked up Meeko and put him in the pack.

When they got to the harbor, Valignant drank a water breathing potion so he could track the halfing bomber’s scent through the water. He tracked the halfing to a bunch of rocks blocking a tunnel. The tunnel connected to the spot where the party found the alchemy lab. The halfing had gotten through it by drinking a potion that turn him into a fluid which allowed him to pass through the rocks. Gork waited at the exit as the rest of party caught up to the halfling. It was the mercenary known as The Eel.

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The party unleashed a salvo of attacks and the eel went back through the rocks and got a barbarian to the face. He then tried to run away. Unfortunately for him, Dovahkiin had summoned a shadow demon. It caught up to him and The Eel heard its telepathic laughter as he tried in vain to escape. It then used its telekinesis to carry/drag his corpse to the party. And so the Dark Island truly earned its name.

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The party recovered the shawl from The Eel and returned it to Sefina. Stories of the great feast spread throughout the land and the group all got seats on the pirate council. It really seemed like a Great Success.

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Conquest

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Along with the other new arrivals, a supply ship called magically by Dovahkiin arrived at the island. On it were the very first students of Dovahkiin’s new wizard school and numerous people who wanted to serve under Harghast. Notable among Dovahkiin’s students was Paarthunax the Contemplative, a floating psychic brain.

The party started on repairing the Chelish fort and hired the stranded women to help with the festival. Sandara approached the party and told them that a vision from Besmara had told her it was time to leave and captain her own ship. The party sent her off amicably and she left with Agasta.

Two screams and a splash were heard off the stern of a nearby ship. The party spotted a strix archer on the crow’s nest. The strix flew over and bowed to the party, saying he had a message from Zan. Zan was busy with his own pro-strix efforts nowadays but had sent his ninja brother Zon to aid the party. The party demanded to know why Zon had murdered two of their crew and he said they were enemy spies. The party accepted this explanation and welcomed Zon to the party.

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Gork shared the news Pierce had given him. A ship called the Jester’s Grin was leaving Port Peril with a cargo of valuable alcoholic drinks that would come in handy at the party’s rapidly approaching festival. The Nightmare may soon actually commit some piracy after so long as detectives and contest winners.

The party headed out to destroy the harpies. Harghast rode on the dragon and the dragon carried Gork in his claws at first before the party bought a quick release strap for him to ride with later. Zon and Dovahkiin flew on their own power. As they approached the harpy lair, two of the creatures appeared before them.

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The party charged against the harpies’ hypnotic song and good smiting morning stars. Four more harpies and the last surviving gargoyle from the flock the party destroyed joined in. The party and the harpies clashed in the sky. After the harpies fell the gargoyle had only a moment to rethink its decisions before being annihilated by the collective charge of Val, Gork, and Harghast.

The harpies were gone, so the party returned to the Nightmare and asked Baines what he thought they should go after next in order to clear the island of threats.

He listed a tower, a lady in the lake, and odd thrashing in the mangroves. The party decided to go after the tower next. On the way they flew over a giant broken corral containing two triceratops.

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The party marked them on the to-do list and stopped by the cyclops statues at the bridge to take proper ownership of their gemstone eyes.

The party arrived at the tower. It was of cyclops make and had a quartz crystal atop it. Zon scouted ahead and saw movement inside the arrow slits. The party flew to the top of the tower where Harghast had the excellent idea to set up an ambush. The team got into position and Dovahkiin called out for help in cyclops. The four cyclops guards weren’t fooled but came running up to kill the intruders. Three were instantly killed. The last one standing ran at Gork and was dropped before it could swing. The last of the cyclops had fallen.

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The party went back to the ship to rest. Dovahkiin teleported back to Port Peril for a scroll of charm monster and learned the spell after teleporting back. On the ship, he saw Meeko talking with Kroop’s Chicken. Meeko told his master that the chicken had asked if Dovahkiin was doing alright. Dovahkiin told the chicken he was just fine and then danced around over the “proof” that the chicken was sentient. The rest of the party thought he might have been teleporting too much lately and had gone a bit doololly.

The party visited the mangroves and thrashing was found to be a giant anaconda. It couldn’t battle a flying party and was swiftly killed—snake boots for all.

The party next went to visit a clearing in the forest because Valignat wanted to. There they saw 70ft palm trees. One tree looked strange so Zon shot at it. This would normally be a wise and correct decision but unfortunately this was a good treant.

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Dovahkiin and Harghast recognized it for what it was as and yelled at Zon to stop. More of the creatures that resemble ents but due to trademarks held by the Tolkien estate, are not, emerged furiously from the trees. The party began hurriedly talking the treants down as the treants knocked Zon out of the air with a boulder, slammed him, and grappled him. Harghast healed the wounded tree and Val took over speaking to them.

The apparent leader asked what the party was doing and Valignat told them that they were rebuilding the fort on the other side of the island and wanted to see what was in this clearing. The leader said that the last people on the island had cleared forest and asked if the party was going to try that as well and if they were using wood in their fort. Valignat assured them they would not. Lastly, the treant demanded an oath that the party not cut the treant trees and stay out of their forest. Valignat concealed his contempt for oaths as he swore and the treant believed him.

The treants released Zon unharmed and returned to their place. Two of them turned back into palm trees and the party flew away, making a mental note to put up a “Do Not Enter” sign at that forest (M on the map).

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The party swept around the beach from there. They heard singing at the cove and swooped down to investigate. They saw a beautiful nereid bathing by the pool. Valignat hovered in the air above her as Dovahkiin followed and Zon hung back cautiously. Valignat roared a friendly greeting. The fey walked over and asked what the party was doing on the island.

Valignat gave a truthful explanation similar to the one he gave the treants. She repeatedly asked about stories of heroics the party had done. When asked who she was she introduced herself as Sefina. Eventually the party befriended her enough that she agreed to help with repairing the docks, especially with the promise of Dovahkiin’s contemplative telling her stories as she worked. The spectacle of the floating telepathic brain telling tales as a water spirit helped build and skeletons crewed the ship would certainly be a story to be remembered among the Nightmare’s mundane crew. She also warned the party of a creature in some water she liked to swim in nearby that was keeping her out.

The party moved on down the beach. Valignat spotted Kroop’s chicken following them along the beach and landed to go pick it up to return later. For now they would just carry it with them. Harghast was curious about Dovahkiin’s suspicions and detected alignment on the bird. It was flickering between grey and good. The party moved on to the place the naiad had warned them about. Zon and Gork saw a drowning child of their race in the water and were compelled to go rescue it. When Zon reached it a Sargassum Fiend attacked.

Gork and Harghast rode in for a brutal collective charge and Dovahkiin finished it off with a fireball. The rest of the day at the beach was uneventful, just unearthing sunken treasure and wiping out an army of crabs.

The next day the party moved out to the triceratops. Dovahkiin charmed them both and the party repaired the corral with fallen wood so as not to break the deal with the treants. After Dovahkiin charmed the triceratops he realized the chicken had followed him out. It touched heads calmy with the dinosaurs. Hmm…

The island now belonged to the Nightmare.

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