The Isle of Dread

A Head Empty of Everything is also Empty of Worries

“Today’s winners are tomorrow’s blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope.”

Barnacles all over Cerwen’s face making him stupider. When asks little head questions, only gets silence for answers. Long, busy days and short thoughts making Cerwen happier overall.

Lazywizard swims the creek with his weasel and goes to warn the boss about assassins. The harbor is full of hungry monters, both animals and men. I wonder which it will be that eats him. Cerwen’s gonna detect magic any sharks he sees to try and spot magic rings of swimming they eat.

Worries are gone now and replaced by staring blankly at the clouds. A light drizzle formed and I began choking. Cerwen’s mouth had slowly begun to fill with water as he stared at the rain storm. Danger around every corner for brave adventurers.

Night of dangers is chilly. The great outer space blanket keeps Cerwen from thnking about it too much. Somewhere, there is a great octopus eating a world full of screaming stupids and this makes me laugh, even as we bash in a cart to save other screaming stupids.

Helping people or hurting them is really about the same to them. They never know the difference usually. I still help, though. Is make me feel better, and is one less ghost to see.

Daddy long legs army looks scary, but we beat them pretty fast and they scurry away. The leader stays to fight, though, and I’m thinking being a bad leader must get really lonely. We get ready to send him off to find new friends somewhere else, but feels bad, so we keep him around a little longer through Oldman’s magic healing rabbit.

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The Adventures of Vex
Part 1

On my way back to Zelkarune to welcome my parents back from their latest mission I was greeted by a surprise. Little did I know that this surprise looks like it is going to turn out to be something that you would read about in the pathfinder chronicles. Upon reaching the guild hall and saying hello to the familiar faces and friends I found my parents had already made it back from their mission. They were sitting down at a table relaxing and finishing up a meal, when they noticed me they flagged me over to join them. Something seemed strange but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, until I was at the table that is. My parents had the company of Rhadgar; Zasker’s right hand man, and who I believe was Lady Vanderboren. From what was explained to me is that the guild happened to owe Lady Vanderboren a favor and she was here to cash in on it. Only problem is most of the guild is either out on a mission or asking for price range that is a little out of the lady’s bracket for the moment. Now I’m not a member of the guild but since I’ve grown up in the guild we’re all basically family and they treat me like an honorary member. So if Rhadgar is asking for help then it must be a fairly important issue. After hearing a little bit about what has been going on and what the lady needs I can start to see why they would have thought of me. Basically her brother seems to have gone bad, killed her parents, stole her fortune, and is playing with strange or possibly ancient things. This sounds like my chance to break my unlucky exploring streak. I agree to help under the condition that I will not be forced to omit anything from my pathfinder reports or will be able to keep a couple things as proof.

The Lady has given me some paper to prove to her group that I was sent by her, says they will know what this combination means. Doesn’t look like any combination I’ve ever seen, but there are plenty of stranger things in this world. She gives me a brief description of the party, their names, and where they were headed last she had heard from them. Thankfully I remembered to write these down, plus I think I’ve heard a few murmurs of them through the city here and there. So starts my very long rowboat ride out to Kraken Cove, I never knew you could have that many mugs of ale on the wall at once.

I need to remind myself to thank my parents for all those hours of drills, not many could have spent sixteen hours rowing a boat out to Kraken Cove. So as I’m getting closer to the cove I notice a pirate ship has been beached, must not have been a good bunch of pirates. This old man peeks his head over the side and yells Ahoy. Pretty strange to see a pirate his age, so I return the greeting and yell Ahoy back. He warily asks me what I’m doing, so I tell him I’m rowing. I always thought elderly people were supposed to be wise, I was a bit puzzled on why he was unsure of what I was doing, most people know what rowing is. He seems a bit flustered now and asks me why I was here. I told him I was looking for a group of people that were supposed to be investigating Kraken Cove. Turns out he was with the group I was supposed to find, had to show him the paper Lady gave me before he believed me though. They must have made some enemies if he was that wary of strangers, best be mindful of my surroundings while traveling with this group.

Shortly after introductions a barrel on deck starts thumping from the inside with a person yelling to be let out. I walk over and open the barrel to find a human stuffed inside. He starts trying to climb out so I put the lid back down on the barrel to prevent him from escaping, surely you would only put an enemy in a barrel right? The old guy tells me it is okay and that was another member of the team, puzzled I help the man out of his recent resting place. Now this fella is extremely confused on why he woke up in a barrel, apparently he was dead so they stuffed him in there to prevent him from going crazy if he turned into a zombie thingy. Now I’m not sure how many of you picked up on these details, but from what I heard this sounds like a magical barrel. Dead guy goes into barrel, guy comes back out alive after time passes. Going to keep barrel of revival with me, I’m sure it’ll be useful for this group later. After more introductions we here quite a lot of screaming and fighting echoing out from the cave, they say it sounds like their friends are in trouble. Off to go save some more people, had to double back for the barrel since I almost forgot it.

We run for a bit through the cave following the sounds to the rest of their party. I emerge first into a room with stalagmites everywhere, couple piles of what appears to be acid, and some adventures taking a nap, good thing I brought the barrel. There are two people still up trying to fend off one last thing, I think it used to be a pirate. The aasimar is looking like he is on his last leg and the poor gnome seems to be trying to cower behind a small beetle. Doesn’t look like there is much time so I drop the barrel, yell duck, and proceed to charge whatever this pirate is now. Sadly the gnome thought duck meant move into where I’m running and I kind of bowled him over. I feel terrible about it and will have to try yelling dodge next time instead. Also a good thing to note about these pirate creatures is that when they finally do die, THEY EXPLODE PAINFUL ACID EVERYWHERE. Going to need to look into some umbrellas to shield myself from said acid when I get back into town. After the party is safe I make sure to help the gnome back up and apologize profusely sending him tumbling. We end up hearing more pirate shouting down the hall, only this pirate sounds normal and not crazy like what I just caused to go splat. Turns out we end up rescuing the captain of the Scarlet pirates I think, will need to double check with the others. Turns out lady’s brother caused this event by trying to steal a giant black pearl, when the captain caught there was a scuffle. The orb fell, cracked, had some blood spilled on it, which in turn caused some black smoke to rise out of it. The captain being a quick thinker tossed if off into the water where it shattered and then everything went to shit shortly after. We find out that the captain told her right hand man to take revenge on the Vanderboren family, which means the lady is in danger and the guild generally frowns upon letting your employer die. Doesn’t look so good for their reputation and all. We make a hasty retreat back to a ship but not before dispatching one of Sir Vanderdouche’s whores who was left behind and transformed into something nasty. Can you believe she tried to bite me!?

We arrive into the city to find the festival has already started, which is going to make reaching the manor much slower than we hoped for. Our first issue was when one of our sneaky characters managed to stumble into a drunk festival participant, oh the irony. The party bullied the guy into leaving us alone has his half orc friend stepped in to help make sure his buddy didn’t get hurt. Thought I was going to have change my barrel into a magical barrel of confinement. We continue on and the next problem to impede our progress ends up being an overladen runaway booze cart. Now we could have just moved out of the way but it was headed straight for a tavern of people, which might have been disastrous. Not wanting to waste much time I set my barrel down, grab my earth breaker and proceed to nearly destroy the entire front of the cart. So much for only breaking a wheel but I suppose since the cart stopped it’ll suffice. Bet that vendor is going to be pissed when he finds his cart again though, better scram quickly before too many people see me. So if the cart wasn’t silly enough our next problem comes from some of the performers. Apparently the group has more enemies than they were aware of, because these performers on stilts decide to start throwing bombs into the crowd at us. Now if you haven’t ever seen mass hysteria before, let me tell you it sucks trying to fight when everyone around you is running every direction. Now I’m not the smartest person in the world but these guys decided it would be a good idea to be ten feet above us without carrying a reach weapon to hit somebody right next to them. Not to mention these stilts weren’t combat oriented and they decided it was good stand next to each other. Now I have to admit, sundering one guy’s stilts, pushing him into the other, watching them fall over, and then watching the first guy land in a pool of fire he created so he could explode into a giant ball of fire was glorious. This combat basically devolved into push them over, beat them up until they surrender, save for their leader. She must have got some sick pleasure out of beating up the old man because when I turned around he was curled up into the fetal position with his rabbit trying to bite her. As the group dispatches the other minions and closes around her she decides to try and retreat. Luckily she didn’t move too terribly far by me so I was able to catch up and get a swing off before she got too far away. It looked like I just barely managed to clip her and the force of my great sword caused her to go limp and fall down.

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Session 10
Wormfall Part 1

Continued exploring the caves. Encountered more Abyssal Pirates. Vex joined the party, arriving on a rowboat.

Discovered a non-Abyssal, foul-mouthed female pirate fighting Abyssal pirates. Discussion with her revealed that she was the leader of the Crimson Brotherhood, and that Vanthus had flooded the bay with whale oil and ignited it. He attempted to steal a black pearl. The pearl, when exposed to blood caused the Abyssal infection/portal/badness. Pearl cracked and fell to the bottom of Kraken Cove.

Foul Mouthed Pirate (Captain Harliss Javell) noted that she’d sent her right hand man to exact revenge on the Vanderborns for crossing them. Also appeared to be open to the prospect of purchasing stolen items from the party. She declined to join us.

On their way back to the ship, the party encountered an Abyss-touched woman (Brissa Santos): One of Vanthus’s lovers. She was quickly dispatched.

The party reached the ship without further incident.

Upon returning to Saserine, they discovered that the Wormfall Festival had started. The party was accosted by a drunk gnome (intimidated away by J’Zar), a runaway booze cart (smashed by Vex), and a troupe of stiltwalking assassins.

Edited by DM. Note that it is Wormfall, not Wyrmfall. Kyuss is the God of Worms, and he was dispatched a year ago.

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Session 9
Freaking Abyssal Dinosaurs

The party descended down to the beach, encountered Abyss-touched pirates. Pirates were dispatched, and the party began looting the shore and an intact vessel.

Grimmsdottir and J’Zar scouted ahead into the caves and were attacked by a Abyss-touched dinosaur. J’zar was immediately disabled and Grimm gave the group a crash course in Pathfinder’s running mechanics.

When the rest of the party engaged the dinosaur, Grimm returned to J’zar, followed by Cerwin. An Abyss-touched monkey-lemur-flying-squirrel-thing attacked them, and was killed.

At this point I left early, so I dunno what happened next.

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Inspiration, the Deathwatch Beetle

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – words I heard one afternoon while dreaming, drifting through the void on righteous sedatives.

My vision narrowed as the primordial beast bit through gleaming, polished steel. The world of shouting companions and the weight of my armor seemed to fade away, even as the jaws released me and I held my feet somehow.

I regret to admit that I haven’t been meditating like I should. Adventure beckons, and a life spent snuffing the candles of the hapless and working on pruning Livinia’s family tree allows me little time to suss out truths of morality in a world full of conflicting theologies and even less time to attempt to figure out where we even are within the limitless atlas of the planes. Directories that point out ones location are few when you get into worrying about absolute location.

As such, my epiphany came to me not during a session experimenting with Blue Haze in one of the speak-easies down by the docks, but during a different sort of disassociation: the throes of impending death.

All of the weight of my equipment and fatigue had gone away. I wasn’t in armor anymore at all, it turned out, nor on a beach. Somehow I was standing in a library, but not like the ones the nobles brag about back in Sasserine.

I stood in a library with no shelves and no chairs; no lamps or tables or inkwells. The ceiling must have been hundreds of feet above and the stone walls were damp and covered in a creeping moss and ivies and an entire flourishing ecosystem of toadstools and fungi. Shafts of light streamed in through an oculus in the ceiling, illuminating a towering hanging tapestry of shifting words and shapes, wafting gently in the updrafts and hanging all the way to the floor.

If fanatics can be said to pray in tongues, maybe they can write in tongues as well.

Somehow, I could understand them, and instead of reading words, I was reading ideas. The great bolt of cloth correlated the contents of my mind and showed me the connections that I couldn’t make on my own. I experienced epiphany and, as I prepared to exclaim my joy, I was wrested back to the beach of shouting companions and the curious thing whose mutations I envied which sought to undo me.

Only moments had passed in what had felt like hours staring into the tapestry. Vendrik’s spell had restored me to wakefulness and our sortie with the incredible mutant beast eventually came to a close. Elated and running on a river of blessed midnight, I cleared the collapsing bridge without ever setting foot and made sure of my friends’ safe return.

Our next decision, once out of harm’s way was to jump immediately back into it. As we stare into the worm-riddled mouths of more mutant sailors, I’m reminded that iron isn’t tempered by flame alone and wonder: Will we be quenched eventually or will we simply melt?

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Session 8
Adventuring is Hard; Let's Go Shopping!

The party slept and looted the remains of the Lotus Dragon base.

Untranslated note was revealed to be:
“Remember to pay the Skum.”

Recovered letters incriminating Vanthus in the murder of his parents, and indicating a sexual relationship between him and Rowan Kellani. Letters also included a plan to blow up pirate ships in Kraken Cove.

The taxidermist associated with the Lotus Dragons has fled town.

Recovered much loot from the Lotus Dragon base, Including:
- Artworks (stolen)
- Bags of coins/gems bearing the Vanderborn symbol
- 20 perfumes (One used on Grimm to remove severed head smell)
- 4 Exotic perfumes (One from another plane)
- Stuffed spiders (claimed by Grimm)
- Figures: alabaster succubus (claimed by Grimm), something boring, and a silver unicorn
- Rowen’s adventure novels and erotica (claimed by Grimm for taunting purposes)
- A shimmering lavender silk robe from another dimension (claimed by Grimm because C’MON. That’s AWESOME).

Coins were ‘returned’ to Lady Vanderborn. Turns out they weren’t hers. Party received 1000 GP each.

Other goods were sold, netting 800 each. Grimm’s claimed items reduced this to -400. Grimm loaned Cerwen 300 GP so he could get a +1 mace.

The artworks could not be unloaded at this time, since they were clearly stolen. They are worth ~5000 GP.

Party proceeded to go on a shopping trip.

Lady Vanderborn was presented with Vanthus’s letters to Rowen. She held up pretty well, all things considered.

An official Saserine function held in the party’s honor for taking steps to deal with Vanthus. Medals presented. J’zar was not present.

Party embarked upon trip to Kraken cove. Turns out the captain used to be a pirate. Neat!

Party disembarked in the morning, north of their target destination. Land was overrun by abyssal versions of local fauna. Party was attacked by mutated monkeys.

Kraken Cove has had a portal to the Abyss or something open up in the middle of it. This is not good.

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Monologue by Cerwen

Delivered in the unlit confines of Parrot Island to himself, staring into a broken mirror…

A sublime relief from the incessant sunshine in the emerald called Sasserine, we found ourselves in yet another dank basement. Pushing the limits of the ever-so-close water table, the walls leaked a constant saline, turning the nailheads protruding from the shoddy doorframes a ruddy brown. While the others were busy distributing coin off of the victims of another winfall, I found myself discreetly sampling the molds growing on undisturbed surfaces around the room. Each had it’s own flavor profile and wove it’s own history.

“Ever earnest is the decomposer”, the Dark Tapestry will tell you.

Their diversion complete, we perused the kennels and then the bunkhouse. After shaking down the hired kitchen staff, we discussed a variety of gruesome options for dealing with her as she watched on nonplussed. Kitchen staff is often made of sterner stuff, whether they work in a dungeon lair or an upscale bistro. Being able to work with such hostile assistants, all while brandishing knives, is bound to give one an unbreakable nerve.

In the end, we left her where she stood and J’zar opened a door which held something that looked like bad news printed on bad paper. It snarled, so I gave it some of my own medicine in the form of evaporated rum. After an hour or so of that, the thing wobbled so badly it nearly made me seasick to watch it. We sent that old friend of our company off with a proper drink down a diverging path, metaphorically speaking. He’ll be fine.

There are other worlds than these, afterall.

J’zar insisted on opening yet another door, having not learned anything from the last one. This time, a zombie waited for us.

These situations are always awkward for me. Sometimes I see howling demons while we eat dinner. Sometimes black oozes slink around the room while we interrogate prisoners. You learn to ignore them as long as no one else reacts. I waited patiently beside J’zar and only when he drew his weapons did I allow myself to become anxious.

Somewhere, there’s a devil waiting for me. He stands holding an invoice a mile long, compiling continually compounding interest for all of twenty-eight years. I may or may not have made a deal with him to acquire my beautiful face. Any admission of guilt, phonetic or telepathic, could be used against me in the courts of the dead.

Whenever the zombie turns out to be real, I can hear him typing somewhere in inside the walls as the invoice grows longer by yards. The passage of time is different there. It’s both impossibly fast and agonizingly slow, which makes determining accrued debt nearly impossible, but they love to see a victim turn on a spit so they always err on the side of liberal time dilation.

Instead of any of that nonsense, we simply went around the howling clod.

Behind him, we found another door which led to another surprise: a beautiful woman.
She even had a drake of purest darkness under her command. Between her self-assured demeanor, the dragon tattoos all over her and her ease of command over the creature of darkness, I felt my mouth go completely bone dry like it always does around pretty girls.

As the others argued with her over some paltry insult, I tried to introduce myself and only succeeded in wheezing slowly and benignly. I fumbled at my belt and tried to take a drink from my flask of rum to fix my parched throat, but by the time my liquor grimace had faded she had disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Wondering what could have been, I dealt with my perceived rejection like any adventurer would: I laid waste to something that was likely on an endangered species list somewhere.

Finally, we steeled ourselves to combat the last agent of undeath on our to do list.

We fared poorly, it turned out, and as I was stricken unconscious and the devil in the wall’s typing grew louder and spiraled into a whole symphony of keystrokes. He played his typewriter like a grand piano accompanied by an orchestra of quills scratching out signatures. Listening to the slavering wails of the would-be zombie collections agent, I came to the realization that the proverbial Death and Taxes need not be mutually exclusive.

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Session 7
Lotus Dragons Overrun

The party continued to the dungeons of the Lotus Dragon base. They decided to spend a great amount of time and effort going through the trash.

Proceeding deeper into the base, they encountered Bluefeather (a parrot), and an unnamed female kobold cook/slave that attack Grimsdottir. (Named Chortle))

The room preceding Lady Lotus’s section was a trap; guards disguised as training dummies attacked and were swiftly dispatched.

The next obstacle was the spider/scorpion. It was rendered drunk via aerosolized rum and killed.

The next obstacle was a bugbear zombie. Most of the party went around it. It killed Franc, the summoner’s honey-badger.

Past the zombie, the party encountered Rowyn (Lady Lotus), and Gut Tugger (the Lotus Dragon). After being offered a position in the Lotus Dragon organization, Grimsdottir spent all her action points on ineffectually attacking Rowyn.

Rowyn then proceeded to turn into a cloud and run like a bitch.

Gut Tugger was eventually killed. The party returned to dispatch the zombie, which succeeded in downing almost every member of the party while the witch attempted to ‘trip’ the zombie from 60 feet away.

Grimsdottir has retired to the former bedroom of Lady Lotus to sleep and recover from being almost killed. Again.

A Map was found:
Islaran Estate (Harbormaster) : Red
Vanderborn: Gold
Garrisons: Blue and Gold
Kellani Estate: Blue
Various unknown others: variety of Blue, Gold, and/or Red

A Note was found:
- The Party’s names.
- “VANTHUS FIX THIS NOW

A List was found:
- Ships to be holed (as in sunk)

Another note was written in an unknown language.

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J'zar's Journal

Entry 1:

It seems like I found my ticket out of this cesspool of a city afterall.

I’ve fallen in with a ragtag group of ambitious individuals who are competing for a chance to explore some so-called isle of dread for a shot at some real treasure. That’s right, no more playing lookout, messenger boy, fence, or errand-runner for me. I haven’t even told the guild I’ll be leaving permanently- as far as they know, I’m shadowing the party for info. Little do they know that I have no intention of reporting back once I find some real fame and fortune away from this dump. The guild is storied, but they’ve been going downhill for years. I doubt they even have any real reach outside the city, much less to the towns and cities outside the kingdom. And from the looks of it, we won’t ever need to be returning here. I’ve been playing the loyal associate the last few days just in case, but if I never step foot here again I won’t shed a tear. I have to admit I’ll miss my mother, the only real family I have here, but she’s content to retire here. I’m sure she’s had enough adventure of her own to last a lifetime, and doesn’t seem bitter or cynical despite getting kicked out of the church of Sarenrae. And I can’t help but feel this nagging guilt about it whenever I see her, being the reason for that.

Oh well.

As far as the party itself, they could show some real promise. The viking girl knows her way around a sword. The big brawler does too, though he’s already gotten on my nerves prattling on about social inequality. Why should I have to give away all my hard-earned money to some grubby kids just because they can’t fend for themselves? I survived on my own by being quick, smart, and talking my way out of trouble. If you can’t cut the mustard, you deserve to be living in a gutter begging for coppers. Any one of them could find a job with the guild if they wanted, but some people just don’t want to find a better lot in life for themselves. Not my problem. I’ll toss them a few coppers or a loaf of bread to the particularly destitue ones, but ALL my profit? Not me. The Wizard seems like a nice guy. Very smart. The gnome, too, but I wouldn’t mistake him for a wimpy nerd. I’ve seen his beastie in action, and you’d have to be very brave or very stupid to pick a fight with that thing. The druid’s a smart fellah too, but he doesn’t talk much. He looks a little out of place in the big city. I’ve already had to save him from one scam so far- the oldest trick in the book. You always have to watch your pockets whenever you’re in town, whether you’re watching some rope climber, fire breather, or haggling with a vendor. If you get your purse cut, the city guard’s just going to laugh and tell you that you have to be more careful. The oracle, now- he’s a real head case. Goes off and has tea parties in the worst alleys and talks to himself constantly. Says he can see ghosts. I’m amazed he hasn’t caught a dagger in the back yet, but he might just be too crazy even for the Slashers to mess with… and I can’t say I blame them. I’d hate to be locked in a confine space with the guy, I feel like he’d wear a pot for a hat and start chewing off my fingers just for fun. Gives me the creeps, honestly- and I’m half demon, so what does that tell you?

At any rate, we’re going to jump into the competition first thing tomorrow. Looks like the competition is pretty tough- most of them are just boastful drunkards who will probably get stuck in a pit on the first puzzle, of course, but there are some real pros here, too. We’re going to have our work cut out for us. And we signed up the Viking chick before she had a chance to rally us all and give us a pep-talk, so I’m sure she’s not going to be in the best of moods once we start. Heh heh. Hey, if you round up a party and not expect us to take initiative every once in a while, then what’s the point? Sometimes people just need a bit of motivation to get rolling.

Also, she deserves it for bringing that bloody annoying spider along. I swear to the nine hells, if that thing tries to hump my leg one more time, I’m going to start poking its eyes out one by one.

Entry 2:

Well, the tournament could have gone better. It could have gone a hell of a lot worse, but it could have gone better, too. We were the last party to run through, which didn’t give us any sort of advantage- we couldn’t snag any info from the other groups who went in before us, the society made damn sure of that. So we entered in blind. None of us had any prior experience with one of these things before, though I’d heard bits and pieces of information about it from fellows in the guild who attempted it in the past. I was expecting it to be tricky, and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.

We actually breezed through most of it, all except the first and last rooms which we needed to ask for help on, and one of the middle puzzles, which we failed entirely. I knew I should have climbed up on those walls, but I just panicked and tried to play by the rules instead of outsmarting the puzzle. That’ll teach me. All in all we finished fourth place- just out of the money. Not that there was any money to be directly earned, mind you. We’re out five gold apiece with nothing to show for it.

At least that’s what I thought, at first. Turns out we snagged /somebody’s/ interest. We wandered around a little aimlessly after the tournament until one of our socially-inept spellcasters found out that someone slipped a note into his pocket. I think it was the druid. I really should watch him closer. It just as easily could have been his purse missing, or a knife in the kidneys. At any rate, the note told us to meet a certain someone at a certain location. All well and good- I simply assumed it was a scam until I saw the address: the Puddles.

Oh, boy.

The Puddles is what you would call the ghetto of the bad part of the poor part of town. There’s no reason to go down there. Only murderers and the truly desperate ever go down there- the guild uses it sometimes to smuggle goods into the city, but even we don’t mess around down there for too long. There’s absolutely nothing of value whatsoever down there. So obviously, when I saw that someone wanted to meet us there, I suspected there was a chance that it could possibly be legitimate. There was also a possibility that we’d all end up as (yet more) corpses floating in the streets, but if you wanted to talk discreetly without risk of the neighbors listening in, the Puddles is where I’d do it.

On our way there we passed another party who seemed to be coming back from the same location. I tailed them to a nearby tavern where they looked like they were settling down for a drink for a good long while, so I high-tailed it back to the group to meet our contact. Seems a rich noblewoman from across the sea wants to hire our services.

Seems like I’m going to get out of this hellhole of a city sooner than I thought. Score!

We accepted the job and headed back to the tavern to see what the other party was up to. Seems like they got hired just the same as us. We played it dumb just in case there was a chance we’d be in competition with them, hopefully we don’t run into them on the ship over there. That would be a little awkward.

We set sail tomorrow, so we headed back to the docks and started preparing for the trip. Should be nice sailing weather. If not, I won’t have to worry about making any new journal entries.

I’ve attempted to sprinkle pepper powder in my boots to keep that damn spider off of me. No luck so far. I need to ask the druid how to assert my dominance and keep that spider terrified of me.

Entry 3:

Seems our new boss is a wealthy landowner in Sasserine. Never been here before (or anywhere outside of Absalom) but I’ve heard it can be a wild place. Right on the edge of a jungle, and they’ve been having numerous guild problems, to boot. It’s a shame, really. We (I say we, but I don’t consider myself a member of Absalom’s guild anymore. At least, not until I run into one of them.) used to do a lot of trade in exotic, dubously-legal animal and fur trade with them, but it’s slowed to a trickle while they fight. Guild wars are terrible for profit. I’m not looking forward to negotiating my way through the underbelly of Sasserine- maybe I’ll just play it straight when I get there. I’ll have to scope the place out once I finish with this log.

As I said before, Lady Vanderborn is wealthy. The problem is, she can’t access her wealth, because she’s locked out of mommy and daddy’s trust fund. (Really, doesn’t that make me just as wealthy? I’d be rich as a king if only I could access someone else’s magic vault.) It seems her parents were involved in an unfortunate explosion and were blown to pieces. Shortly thereafter, the city dockworkers (no doubt under the direction of one of the thieve’s guilds, or one of a thousand other dubious organizations who knows about the Vanderborn’s wealth) comandeered one of their ships and are doubtlessly searching for the key to her vault as we speak.

The plan is to return her ship if possible, but to retreive the key by any means necessary. should be easy as pie.

No luck with the spider. I complained to Grims about it and she just laughed and said he was a good boy. I said that thing’s liable to get swatted if it’s not careful. She was not amused.

Entry 4:

It wasn’t easy as pie.

Those goons were a lot more than I bargained for. Even though we took them by surprise, they still managed to thrash us pretty good. Sergei and Grim kept things together after me and Vendrilk were knocked out, and I suppose I have them to thank for not sleeping at the bottom of the bay right now. Apparently the goons stole the ship simply to smuggle some animals in, and weren’t looking for the key. At least that’s what we gathered, though I’m still not convinced. Grims found the ring and a slip of parchment with some clues on it stuck behind the bed in the captain’s cabin- why there? Why not just leave it safe and sound at home? The things nobles do to hide their wealth, I swear. If it were me, I’d invest half of it in exports, and divide the rest among…

I’m getting off track. In any case, we found what we were looking for along with quite a hefty purse of platinum, and Lady Vanderborn was dutifully pleased. If I had been conscious I would have probably taken my share of the money and run, but things worked out better this way. We’re on retainer to the tune of 100 gold a month! That’s right, I’m valuable. Eat your heart out, Absalom thieve’s guild!

The catch turned out to be that we would actually fetch the treasure from her vault. Why can’t these rich people just trust in a good old-fashioned lock, and not have a series of deadly traps lined up in front of their gold? That’s how people get hurt.

We dispached an iron snake guarding the foyer to the vault after opening the doors. I wouldn’t mind taking a peek around here on my own time, by the way. The sheer size of some of these vaults… no, I’m getting off track again. We killed the snake, and what was waiting for us in the next room? Why, a giant tumbler lock, of course. After banging our heads against the pillar for what seemed like hours, we finally solved the riddle on the piece of paper and found the correct combination to open the chest. It seems someone beat us to the punch- the piles of gold and jewels were all gone. All was not lost, however, as Lady Vanderborn found some IOU’s from other rich folk to get her by. She’ll be able to pay the rent, at least.

Our next job is to find her scumbag brother Vanthus. He’s the one who cleaned out mommy and daddy’s vault, and while I first assumed she wanted to go after him for the treasure, she actually seems more concerned about him than the gold. I swear, family makes people do funny things, sometimes (myself included). So we’ve officially gone from treasure-hunters to bounty-hunters. Not a problem, I’m used to tracking people down who owe the guild money, this shouldn’t be too hard. He’s been missing for about a month, but anyone with that kind of cash can’t stay private for long. If he still has most of it he’ll have made quite a lot of “friends”, and if he’s spent it all, we should be able to follow the bill collectors right to his front door.

But the spider is staying at home. I’m putting my foot down on this.

Entry 5:

After a lot of knocking on doors, we tracked down an associate of his, a boat-shop owner by the name of Panchus. It seems Vanthus is not the sort who inspires loyalty, and he was happy to point us in the right direction to find him, though what he gave us was bare enough.

Our door-knocking garnered some attention of our own, however. Shortly after leaving the shop, a shifty-looking fellow by the name of Shefton started tailing us without even bothering to hide his tracks. After confronting him, he claims to have overheard our conversation and offered to lead us right to his lair. Of course it was suspicious, but we had all had enough of empty leads, so we agreed to follow him. None of us are afraid of a straight up-fight with a rich boy, so after paying him a few gold pieces, he rowed us out to Parrot island and showed us a hidden trap-door leading down into the ground. Secret entrance, indeed.

He hadn’t tried to stab us in the back, yet, so we told him to wait for us and that we would be right back. The bad news is, Shefton was working for Vanthus the whole time. The bad news for Shefton was, Vanthus double-crossed him, sliced him up as soon as the last of us jumped down the hole, chucked Shefton down the hole, and pulled up the ladder. The good news is that we got the money we paid Shefton back. The bad news is that a horde of zombies was waiting for us at the bottom.

After much trial and error, we dispached the undead and found a pile of treasure waiting for us at the end, along with the corpse of Penkus, one of Vanthus’s other associates whose name came up quite a few times during our investigations. The poor bastard had long enough to scrawl out a note in blood swearing revenge on Venkus for betraying him.

Not to self: if we ever find Vanthus, don’t let him sweet-talk you into starting a business partnership.

In the end we had to use one of the magic gems to summon an earth elemental to dig us out of that death trap, but it was certainly worth it. Our wealth and fame continues to grow. We technically found Vanthus, but now this is personal. We’re going to catch the bastard wherever he tries to hide.

Entry 6:

(Guest entry)

Entry 7:

Today was quite a busy day. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

We discovered the Lotus Dragons’ headquarters under dead dog alley. A little cliche, but not a foolish place to hide an up and coming smugglers’ hideout, with access to the bay and low presence of the cityguard here. Their front was the taxidermist’s shop, as expected, with a secret entrance leading right into the shop as well as several derelict houses nearby. We snuck down one of these trap doors, mindful of what happened the last time we did that.

I think we surprised the gator as much as it surprised us. At least, I think it was a gator. It could have been a crocodile, I always get the two confused, and we didn’t exactly have time to ask Vendrilk while it came at us. We managed to put it to sleep and I put it out of its misery with a quick stab. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t guarding a treasure chest, but then, that would have been a little too easy.

We encountered a few bandits while searching for Vanthus, and either killed them all or let them go. I think I talked a few of them into joining up with me when all this is over. New leader of the Lotus Dragons, perhaps? I think I could turn this place around into a properly profitable enterprise without all the murders and ship burning, given a few weeks of elbow grease. We’ll see how it goes.

Once we finally sniffed out Rowyn’s lair Vanthus was nowhere to be found, and she opted to running rather than sticking around for a real fight after offering us a job. Grim slapped her around a bit, but she didn’t seem terribly impressed, and slipped out by drinking a potion and floating out the pipes. A little unnerving, if you ask me, but it is what it is. I’m sure that isn’t the last we’ll see of her.

We did, however, score quite a bit of loot- a few liquid assets Rowyn had stashed away in her room. We unloaded all of it except the artwork, which will take a bit of time. With loot this nice, you have to wait for the right buyer to come along.

We also discovered Vanthus’s next move- ambushing a smuggler and burning his ship in a place called Kraken cove. This guy has no sense of honor among thieves. I’m amazed he’s still alive with these kind of dirty tactics, or that anyone trusts him enough to do business with him. It feels nice, however, finally being one step ahead of him. We’ll set out just as soon as this awards ceremony hogwash is all done with. I think I’ll try to sniff out a few contacts for this artwork while everyone else is wining and dining with Sasserine’s elite.

Entry 8:

Things are starting to get a little weird. For the first time in my life I feel shaken, unsettled, and I’m really not sure what to do about it.

We found a skipper to haul us down to Kraken Cove after a bit of haggling. Turns out that isn’t the place most respectable sailors wish to be seen. No, they’re fine with drinking swill and dandying one-eyed wenches who look like they spend the majority of their profits at the healers’. No, that’s just fine. But say the word Kraken cove, and I swear you’d turn fewer heads if you shouted that the city guard was performing a surprise inspection on every ship in the harbor.

That’s not why I’ve been feeling unsettled.

He dropped us off about an hour’s hike away from our landing point, and even that took some bribing and promise of even more of our hard-earned gold. About halfway into the hike we were assaulted by a pack of monkeys. Not just any monkeys- some kind of plague-infested mutant monkeys with two elbows and extra heads. Ugliest monkeys you ever saw. I may be a city boy, but even I know monkeys aren’t supposed to look like that. Buggers fought us tooth and nail, too- they were just too ugly and stupid to know when to give up.

This is also not why I’ve been feeling a little uneasy.

Half of our party scaled the cliff down to the beach, and the other half braved a rickety wooden walkway down to the shore- which was exploded a few seconds later by a ship crashing into it. Only Franc fell into the drink, and he looks happier there than he does on land anymore, so he was fine. Unfortunately when we landed, we were confronted by a horde of pirates who looked worse off than the monkeys. Sharp biting teeth, tentacles everywhere, extra limbs- these guys had it all. We managed to drop a number of them, with more reinforcements sounding like they were going to come from the cave set into the cliff. Fortunately for us, a ship beached right next to us, and we were able to hop aboard to take stock of everything. Grimm and I decided to check out the caves and see what was waiting for us inside- hopefully just Vanthus and a few of his lackeys.

No such luck.

Halfway inside the cave we were ambushed by a mutant dinosaur. That’s right, a freaking dinosaur with tendrils and extra limbs and all sorts of other attributes I’d rather not get into in detail. The damn beast got the jump on me and bit me in half.

Still not what’s been bothering me.

I saw Grimm running out the cave right before everything turned black, hightailing it to the ship to warn the rest of the party.

This is where things started to get weird.

I was rather enjoying being dead. Nothing hurt anymore, everything was nice and black and peaceful… when all of a sudden, I heard this… disembodied voice. Gave me the willies. It sounded like it was asking for help, and the black began to recede to a misty gray. I could have sworn I was just beginning to see an outline materialize in the fog, but the silhouette turned into Grim, bringing me back into the damned material plane and a splitting headache, not to mention the dinosaur bite-marks. I sure hope they leave a scar that the ladies will go crazy over. It seems the rest of the group managed the dinosaur, and intelligent adventurers that we are, decided to continue checking out the rest of the caves. We found a few hellhounds chained to a wall, as well as a number of plagued animals stuffed into cages. I can only guess this was the Lotus Dragon’s smuggling outpost where they kept their wares before transportation, but… I really doubt anyone’s going to be buying jaguars or peacocks with mutant limbs and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Honestly, I feel pretty bad for them.

Deeper in the cave we ran into a trophy room, and more mutant pirates. We managed to off them before running into a pirate who actually /wasn’t/ mutated- not exactly the friendly type, but a damn good fighter. It seems she was the pirate that Vanthus was here to meet, and he’s the one who set this whole plague in motion when he swiped some magical artifact from her and dropped it into the bay. So not only is he a homicidal maniac, but he’s now a /mutant/ homicidal maniac. Joy. I sure hope Lady Vanderboern doesn’t see him like this, for her own sake. Not only that, but this pirate lass sent her second in command to take out the Vanderboern family, thinking that Vanthus was acting on their behalf. Sheesh.

We’re returning with the ship captain we hired back to Sasserine with all haste. Hopefully we can stop the assassination before anything happens to Lady Vanderboern. Not only will we be out a paycheck, but I’ve started to grow rather fond of the boss. After that, we can continue hunting Vanthus. He shouldn’t be too hard to track down in his current state.

That damn voice still haunts my nightmares, though. I wish it was just a dream, but I’ve got a very dreadful feeling about it.

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Session 6
Lotus Dragon Break In

The party killed the crocodile.

Clearing out the underground complex resulted in the death of approximately 6 additional thugs, and revealed it to be a ring shaped series of tunnels leading to four different abandoned houses and the well.

Upon exiting the complex, the party encountered three additional thugs. After disabling the third and chasing down the third, the party interrogated them for information. When the thugs complied, the party left them alive, possibly to recruit them later after the party had assumed control of the Lotus Dragon organization.

The thugs revealed information about secret entrances to the underground complex.

After deciding to push further while still possessing the element of surprise, the party encountered Kersh and approximately 6 thugs. A worg, Cruncher, was also encountered.

After killing Kersh, the worg, and approximately four thugs, the remaining thugs surrendered. Interrogation revealed that 6-12 additional hostiles remained, and that Lady Lotus, the head of the Lotus Dragons, has a small pet dragon.

The thugs were left alive in order that they may be recruited later, and may spread word throughout the complex that the party has been captured. Kersh’s severed head has been acquired for intimidation purposes by Grimsdottir.

The party is preparing to advance to the holding cells and has currently depleted almost all of its renewable magical resources.

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