Day 242 10AM The party trekked off the beach up in the stand of trees that stood between the southern and eastern harbors. The growth was thick but passable. The party broke into a clearing, in the center of which, stood a ring of standing stones, covered with lichen. Mittens, Temujin and Dwag noted the legs of a pair of harpies lying across a stone dais. Dwag approached cautiously, searching the stone archway for traps. Moving into the ring, Damiano and Temujin closed the distance and covered Dwag’s back. Mittens scanned the area for magic – with further concentration he detected strong auras of conjuration, abjuration and evocation magic.
Dwag moving up to the dais, saw the corpses of two cycloptic harpies, their throats slit. Their bodies’ were dropped in their current positions after having been ritually slain – the blood had been intentionally poured into a runnel carved into the stone table top, which dropped down into a hole in the stone.
The soil around the dais and throughout the circle was scuffed and torn up, possibly from the talons of many harpies. The two harpies that were slain, their arms and feet were bound tightly.
After some careful investigation, Mittens, Temujin and Nico surmised that the conjuration magic was likely a gate to a demi-plane – perhaps Haetanga’s home? This style gate was known as a blood portal or a ritual gate. Father Pyrlig note the profound presence of evocation magic – a palpable aura of desecration stemmed from this stone ring.
The party were not ready to proceed through the gate, or to pay it’s cost. They wondered if all the harpies were gone from the island. The skies had surely been empty of any sightings the past few days. Nico summoned elementals that carried the party straight over and across the southern harbor to the spit of rocks the harpies called home.
After a quick reconnoitre the party noted the harpies caves were empty and vacated. The party decided that perhaps poor Ederleigh could pay the cost for their entry through the blood portal. They walked down to the Chelish Fort and when Dwag unlocked the iron vault door, they found that Ederleigh and his monkey companion, Dolo, had expired – their food supplies and water didn’t last them through their internment in the vault.
Day 242 2PM The party moved back to Sumitha. Nico investigated the stone circle further – and found that the magic was intact on this side, but where this teleportation circle connected back to, was likely damaged or out of attunement.
Temujin received a message, from a wizard named Ayla – she was contacting Temujin on behalf of Harlan Valance. Ayla relayed to Temujin that, ’Captain Bela Hawkeye of the galleon, Andoran, is coming to you in two days time, and she bringing a mage with her.’ Temujin thanked Ayla, and the party made way down to the eastern harbor – they arrived as the Splash and the Lehigh were dropping anchor, just after dusk.
Day 242 7PM The party discussed their options and the plans for making Sumitha their showcase for the Pirate Council Envoys. After a busy day of traipsing across Dread Cat Isle, they settled into their hammocks.
Day 243 3AM The party heard a shrill whistle off in the distance. They started rousing themselves from sleep, grabbed their weapons and headed up on deck. As they climbed the stairs to the main deck, Coto stuck her head below the hatch and yelled that there was a fire ship closing on the Lehigh. The party scrambled – word was sent to wake the captain. The party noted that the sloop, the Highwayman, that was spotted a few days ago, was now aflame and had rammed the Lehigh midship. The crew of the Highwayman were throwing themselves into the sea – however a burly man had leaped to the deck of the Lehigh and had engaged Knuckles. The warrior wielded a great sword and transformed into a hybrid man, shark! Besides taking great blows with his sword, he snapped and bit at Knuckles with his gaping maw.
Nico summoned elementals to race to the Lehigh and help suppress the fire. He noted that the ship’s sorcerers were using their own evocation magic to keep the fire at bay but their offensive spells were not designed to quell a raging inferno. Mittens and Pyrlig flew over to the Lehigh, Mittens lashing out at the were-shark with lightning bolts. Aboard the Splash, Temujin fired magic missiles into the were-shark, and as Damiano came up to the main deck, Nico transported him to the deck of the Lehigh.
Captain Damiano climbed up into the rigging, up into the flames and started cutting away the burning lines and sail. Knuckles was getting beaten by the were-sharks raging fury of sword and teeth – Nico summoned a brace of bralani that came to Knuckles’ side – some healed him while others charged into the fray against the were-shark.
Soon, the were-shark fell under the concerted attack and Knuckles, who fell upon the deck was restored by Father Pyrlig’s healing magic (All praise Gozreh!). The two ships were separated and the Lehigh staggered away while the Highwayman sank into the harbor.
Due to Father Pyrlig’s waves of healing, no crew were lost to the fire. The actions of the ship’s sorcerers and Nico’s elementals saved the Lehigh’s hull from any major fire damage – however the rigging and sails would need to be rerun – which would take a few days.
Mittens plucked one fleeing swimmer out of the harbor and brought him back to the deck of the Lehigh. Nico sent his bralani and elementals scouring the harbor for the remaining fleeing sailors. As Knuckles got back to his feet and realizing that Knuckles led the defense of the Lehigh – the party wondered where Hamish was. The captain’s bunk was empty – there were signs of a struggle and there was a gout of splashed blood upon the floor. A tuft of soil was found under the hammock – it had a musty scent, like the rich soil that was churned up at the stone ring.
The party was able to round up all surviving sailors, sixteen in all. And they were questioned. There were more of them, but ten sailors were killed off days ago, that is when the crew realized their captain, Kampala Kees was a monstrous were-shark. Down to a skeleton crew, they were in fear of their lives and did as they were told. They had all been hired out of Falchion Point by Captain Kees. One sailor spoke up and stated that the ship and sailors were bank rolled by a Nidalese man – well-dressed, greasy fellow, named Lon Ezeel. The party put the sailors under guard and took their rest.
Day 243 Noon Rested, the party planned to go after Haetanga at the stone ring. They eyed a few of their captive sailors as potential ‘keys’ to be used to open the ritual gate.
[end of session 90]