Day 243 Noon The party dictated their orders to the sub-officers. Keep a watch to the east for returning cyclops war parties, set a watch in the east tower, get the Lehigh re-rigged and get underway in restoring the quay in the eastern harbor. The tasks were left in the hands of Sandra, Kroops, Hyrix and Tahpio – with Yacine and Glaive moving about communication and coordination duties between the various teams.
Day 244 6AM The party made out for the tree line, accompanied with six of the captured sailors from the Highwayman, in tow.
Day 244 7AM The party arrived at the standing stones…there was an uncomfortable pause as the party figured out how they were to subdue the six sailors – the moment was broken as Dwag laid into one of the sailors, appearing to have gone insane. However, the party followed suit and subdued the men – two had tried to break and run out of the ring, Mittens knocked one fellow out, but Dwag, striking a bit heavy-handed smote the man’s head open, like a melon.
Dwag quickly followed up, not allowing for conversation – and laid each man upon the stone table and bled each man, their blood running down the grooves into the bowl – the stone arch overhead began to hum and light up. Temujin voiced strong misgivings in this course the party was taking to secure Mitten’s and Damiano’s father, and to slay the hag. Mittens won over the moment, and Temujin rejoined the party as they stepped through the portal.
The party found themselves in a smaller stone circle, which was mostly ruins. The air is still, mostly quiet. In the distance they could hear sea gulls. The ground was rocky, and a foot trail led off into the thick fog. There are shadows of tree trunks, and small stands of trees beyond. While the ground here is solid, there is a strong scent of salt marsh – briny with a hint of rot. The party formed up and head down the trail.
Temujin decided to reconnoitre and flew up into the fog. A few moments later, the party heard strange outbursts from Temujin – uncharacteristic laughter. Nico prepared to send Dwag up after Temujin. They tied a rope to Dwag’s leg and cast fly upon him – and as he was about to go after Temujin, Temujin returned as if nothing was wrong. Temujin did report that he felt he had blacked out for a moment up there. They decided to walk together moving forward. Mittens reviewed the area around them and found that the fog overhead had a strong enchantment upon it. The very earth and air around them glittered with an aura of abjuration.
As the party continued, the heard a strange lowing about them. Large shadowy shapes wandered out of the fog. Large beasts, like cattle that walked on their hind legs, eyeless closed upon the party, perhaps curious of them. Temujin verbally warned them off. While they didn’t speak, they appeared to understand, and growled through their teeth aggressively. The party moved on, and the beasts, identified as destrachan, by Temujin, followed the party for some time before wandering off. Temujin recognized that besides attacking with claws and teeth, the destrachan could howl blasts of sonic waves to cause intense pain.
Day 244 9AM The party had proceeded on firm ground down into a shallow bog – the stench of the salt marsh around them was in their nostrils and hung off their clothes. Pushing through the mud, Dwag and Damiano led the way. The Captain moved through the trees when possible – until he was greeted by a small goat-like fellow, sitting up in the crook of a large hemlock. The fellow introduced himself as Billy Friend and welcomed Damiano to the Crossroads. He queried if the captain was itching for a fight, as there was already another tomcat here (indicating Lawrence D’Coco). Would they be moving in like those hideous bird women, or were they just tourists. Billy offered that this was the land of Papa. On a good day he was known as Papa Legba – on a bad day some called him Kalfu, or Carrefour. The Crossroads offer choice, but Kalfu only brings misfortune.
But Billy was pleased to answer the party’s questions and since they were civil there would be no need to get his bodyguards in a tizzy, indicating three mostly submerged marsh giants just ahead of the party. The party took their leave, cautiously skirting the giants and moved on into the deeper bog.
Day 244 Noon The party was dragging themselves through the mud, sometimes swimming, sometimes climbing through the trees or brush. The fog was heavy throughout the swamp and the party could make out large glowing orbs, like great fireflies or will o’ wisps. Dwag, in the lead, saw one glowing orb hovering over the open water, slowly moving towards him. He slowed and started to back pedal when he noticed a very large frog to his left. The frog uttered a menacing croak. The party started to form up as they regarded Dwag’s warning, when just behind them a huge three-eyed frog-like creature reared up on powerful hind legs. In place of arms, four huge tentacles thrashed and writhed. The froghemoth attacked Father Pyrlig, biting, slamming with it’s tentacles and grabbing Pyrlig with it’s tongue, pulling Pyrlig towards his toothy maw. The glow settled upon a lilly pad and ceased entirely – nothing could be seen.
The great frog lashed at Dwag with it’s own tongue, but missed. Temujin magically teleported Pyrlig from the beasts grip, to his side. The beast repeated it’s many attacks towards Mittens and soon he was being drawn in by the beast’s tongue. Damiano closed in to attack. Dwag quickly slew the great frog and slowly made his way through the swap towards the froghemoth. Temujin magically pulled Mittens to safety. The froghemoth fought back against Damiano and Dwag as they laid into it. Mittens launched a lightning bolt at the beast, only to realize that it did absolutely no damage to it – however the nature of the electricity slowed the froghemoth down noticeably. Temujin noted that the glow lit up off the lily pad – it didn’t look so much like an orb, but as a small glowing cherub – it flitted away from the party. Damiano and Dwag continued to push the attack with Father Pyrlig also hitting the beast with lightning – with the succession of their attacks and the froghemoth moving slow to counter attack, he was soon slain by the party. The party healed their wounds and slogged on through the swamp.
Day 244 6PM The party walked out of the bog, clearing the mud from their clothes and boots, prying the leaches off their skin and took stock of the area around them. Dusk was settling in quickly here. They could make out a stand of trees, evidence of feathers and a powerful stench indicated that the harpies had been roosting here. But the trees were currently empty and there was no sign of the harpies about.
Mittens and Nico discussed support for the battle ahead. Nico summoned Anduril and she arrived – but moments later the pervasive aura of abjuration banished her away. They surmised that this protective element may be beaten by stronger beings that Nico could summon, but it certainly would add a challenge for any summoned creatures in this strange demi-plane.
Moving on, they soon came up to a great stone plaza, 100’ x 100’ of an old ruined building. Fourteen harpies roosted among the ruins, sitting about 20’ up they peered down at the party as they approached. At the far side of the ruins the party could make out a great well, standing beside it was the hag, Haetanga, with Lawrence D’Coco at her side, his gaze rested at his feet. Glowing, hovering beside Haetanga was the cherub that Temujin and Dwag had seen in the swamp. Behind the hag was an four-sided arch, upon the arch sat a human skull, heavily decorated.
Haetanga greeted the party, "Welcome to this wonderful family reunion. Brothers reunited with father.” Damiano pushed that they were hear to take their father away. But Haetanga responded that she had little interest in the island – as she was there only as a guiding force for her little sister, Lodhotha, who had glommed onto the cyclops and the mage Bikendi to fashion her own heartstone. But Lawrence was hers – she had paid souls for him and placed his spirit in a body and with him, conceived a son of her own. If they wanted him they would need to trade her 100 souls! Mittens asked for clarification, “Son, …half-brother.” “Oh yes, come Khitomer, come meet your brothers.” A dark cloud ascended from the well, coalescing into a huge humanoid form. From within a suit and helm of black armor glowered the red cat-like eyes. No hands nor claws, Khitomer’s arms ended with huge blades. Khitomer regarded the party and then his brothers – there was no rekindling of lost familial bonds in his eyes, only malice.
Haetanga looked upon the party with a smile. Lawrence would not look up at his sons. Nearby the glowing cherub flitted with a curious look upon it’s face. Khitomer stood like a statue, his eyes moved from Mittens and then locked onto Damiano. Around the party, throughout the plaza the harpies anxiously twitched upon the columns and arches, gazing hatefully, and gleefully at the fun to be had.
Cue Mexican standoff music…
[end of session 91]