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A27

Sailing under false flags Edit

After training for the better part of three months with Thorn and Tiadora. During a session with Toribio, Thorn glanced out the window toward the river dock, commenting to himself “Ahh Just in time. My ship has arrived” he left Toribio with Tiadora to finish his training.

The next morning Elise was summoned to the Cardnial’s study. After a brief and cold farewell she gathered her companions and left. Tiadora then summoned the members of the Nessian knot, informing them that Thorn wished to speak with them.

Thorn was waiting in his study, reclined in his usual chair. He informed the knot that their truing had come to an end and that he had a mission for them, asking them to guess what would come next. Amidst the sideways glances to each other and muttered responses Thorn spoke “Your mission is War.”

The Knot of Thorns

The next task of the knot, he explained would be to head to the savage north and aid the bugbear hordes of theSakaroth Fireaxe. They would be traveling by boat up the coast on the Frosthammer, laden with a cargo of implements of war. They were to deliver the cargo to the hordes of bugbears and then proceed to the watchwall and throw open the fortress gates for Sakkarot’s horde. They were also to deal with the captain of the Frosthammer, Captain Odenkirk, as he was proving to be less then loyal to the Cardinal’s purposes. When all was done they were to break a clay seal he then handed to them. The seal was of delicately carved clay adorned with the holy symbol of Asmodeus surrounded by a tangle of thorns.

With the task described they were hustled off to the dock where they meet with Odenkirk in front of the Frosthammer. The Frosthammer was a single massed viking longship with no hold, and a deck full of large crates After brief and gruff introductions the Nessian knot boarded the ship and prepared to depart.

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They’re voyage wasn’t the most luxurious as the only food aboard was hard tac and kegs of ale. About a week into the journey Loraan noticed a ship closing in on them flying the kings colors. Captain Odenkirk was less then pleased, as there was no way they could outrun them with the deck laden down with cargo, they would surely be boarded and arrested with one look at their cargo.

As they had a few minutes before they were to be boarded the knot gathered around the captain and began to search for a plan to deal with the situation. The Captain’s suggestion was to strike first and hard to kill off the most likely larger boarding force. Tristam suggested he bluff himself off to be Sir Balin, who’s armor he wore. Toribio began scouring the ship for casks of oil or anything flammable. Still searching for an idea other than fighting straight forward, ideas more absurd than the last continued to pour forth. Suggesting they pretend to appear as a ghost ship Tristam asked if either of the casters knew any illusion spells that could assist them, Loraan and James just shrugged. James blurted out that they should say all on the boat were infected with the plague, as this would likely cause the whole boat to be sunk they continued to search for a better plan. Toribio pulled out some paper and began to forge some documents about passage to the north to deliver supplies to the watchwall, only to realize they were already north of the watchwall and that there were no civilized folk anywhere near where they were heading.

Tristam again suggested he bluff himself off as Sir Balin, and that they were on a secret mission to the north to deal with the bugbear hordes. This time the idea seemed to stick, James disguised himself as a Mitran priest, Tristam disguised himself so he could pass for sir Balin and dictated to Toribio what to write on his documents. Telling everyone to not say a word they waited to be boarded.

The Patrol ship pulled up beside them and pulled close to board, shouting “In the name of the king, heave to and allow yourself to be boarded.”

The Captain of the patrol ship stepped aboard flanked by his guards, while they deck of the patrol ship bristled with archers. Tristam and Timeon stepped up to greet the boarders. The Captain began ”In the name of his majesty the king, state your purpose!”

Tristam in his best noble voice responded, “We are in the service of his majesty the king, on a mission of secrecy. I cannot speak of the details in the open. Let us move to the bow of my ship where we may speak in privacy.”

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The captain agreed, as a knight of the order of Alerion outranked him. As Tristam and the captain moved to the bow, therest of the Knot proceeded to slowly move themselves into more advantageous positions, in case of a fight.  At the bow Tristam let on little of the larger lie he had conceived, saying “We are on a mission to the north to deal with the hordes of bugbears threatening our lands.” Even as he spoke he was thinking up answers to any question the captain would pose.

The Captain merely responded, “ Good, something needs to be done about those savages.” Somewhat surprised that his lie was so easily received, Tristam then said, “Since this is a secret mission, we are not flying the colors of the crown. Secrecy is of the utmost importance as we don’t want to draw any undue attention. If you would be so kind as to leave us to our mission, your presence in dangers discovery of our mission.”

The captain accepting everything the false knight told him withdrew, pulling his guards back to his ship,and wished them fortune on their task.

The patrol boat then turned about and sailed away disappearing on the horizon as the Frosthammer continued to sail north.

Terrors of the deep Edit

The Frosthammer continued its course to the north, stopping in the shallows at night. The captain refused to sail in the dark, saying it was too dangerous.

Nearly two weeks into the voyage the crew noticed dolphins swimming along side the ship. James asked Odenkirk about the appearance of the dolphins. Odenkirk said the appearance of dolphins was normally a sign of good fortune on most occasions, as long as they didn’t stay with the ship for too long.

That night, Loraan stood watch. Water elementals appeared from the dark on the deck of the ship as dolphins slammed into the sides of the ship. Loraan shouted to the crew, waking some as the water elementals began their attack. Standing up grasping for weapons Toribio, Tristam and Odenkirk, began swinging wildly, sending watery spurts from the elementals as they slashed. James still sleeping soundly was awakened by one of the elementals slamming his body into the deck. Starteled by the bashing he took as he awoke, James lashed out with negative energy charging his hands. The deck was quickly cleared of elementals but more appeared. And off to the side in the moonlight figures could be seen in the water and arrows rained down on the deck. 

Looking past the reappearing elementals Toribio produced his bow and began to fire at the dolphins and figures in the water. The Captain continued to clear the deck swing his giant axe wildly. Loraan paced around the deck mumbling to himself, glaring at the attackers and intermittently letting out bouts of insane laughter. No longer paying attention to the elementals Tristam pulling a short sword from his bedroll dashed to the edge of the ship, sprang off the rail and flew through the night air towards the shadowy figures in the water, slashing wildly at the waves as he hit the water with a crash. James continued to be battered by the elementals as they tried to bullrush him over the rail into the churning water as dolphins crashed into the sides of the ship splintering the wood.

The captains angry shouts broke the half dozen crew of sailors from their cowering, and they pulled short bows out as they advance to the rail of the ship, peppering the dolphins craning into the side of the wood with their arrows. The captain producing a steady supply of axes from somewhere, began hurling hatchets into the mass of figures in the water.

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Tristam, surrounded by dolphins and what he could now see as tritons, sprung clear from the water like a flying fish drilling into a triton with his sword as he crashed back into the water. No longer content with mumbling to himself and cackling madly amongst the fight around him, Loraan conjured up a cold essence, condensing the air into a ball of ice in his hand. He hurled it at the triton croaking out in its bubbly language, striking it in the chest as the ball of ice skipped of the water.

The remaining elementals continued to try sending anyone they could overboard, rarely even getting close to succeeding. Volleys of arrows and the occasional hurled axe sent all the dolphins belly up, giving Tristam some floating footholds to kick off from as he slashed throughout the water fighting the tritons. Toribio began playing at a sort of wack-a-mole darting, about the shadows on deck firing arrows from unsuspected angles.

James stumbling to the edge of the ship shouted at the tritons in a magically amplified compelling tone to hold still, causing one to bob up and down in the water like a buoy. 

The triton in the rear continued to summon forth water elementals, only to see them scattered to droplets on the deck. He then invoked a ward of protection causing all but those with the strongest wills to ignore him. Unable to bring themselves to attack the triton oracle, the archers fired volley after volley into the triton warriors and dolphins.

Eventually the oracle’s ward failed bringing a shot from Toribio, shattering his armor to pieces and piercing his heart. Before dying the oracle spoke, saying "The shining sun has seen the wickedness you hide in hearts. And thus it will be the son who brings your doom."

Tristam fetched whatever was still floating in the water and pulled it over to the side of the ship. Looking over the triton corpses little was found besides an amulet around the oracle’s neck, a pair of crossbows, a pair of tridents, and the remains of the oracle’s shattered armor. James made a play to keep the corpses for some dark purpose, but the captain refused to have the stink onboard and before any more discussion could be had, Tristam pitched the corpses over the side.

A Fishing Trip Edit

Days later captain Odenkirk stopped to refill the stores of fresh water near a coast full of seals. Saying it would take a while to refill the water stores, the captain suggested they hunt for seal pelts while they waited. Despite some questions of the captains motives, the knot went along with the hunting trip setting out in one skiff while the captain and some of his crew took another.

The first day of hunting, the villains returned with two seal pelts to the captain’s one. The second day they came back with the small boat overflowing in pelts, while the captain and his crew again had only a meager supply.

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The third day started out as the days before, until a large dorsal fin was spotted approaching the boat. With their attention focused on the fin coming their direction, they failed to see another approaching from the other side. 

The furry shark-seal monster sprang from the water emitting an ear shattering roar. Startled by the bunyip’s roar Tristam sprung from the boat, swimming as fast as he could away from the creatures. Toribio and Loraan fired a flurry of arrows at the creatures. One of the bunyips broke swam off after Tristam while the other continued to harass the small boat.

Biting into his side as he swam the bunyip went into a frenzy after Tristam’s blood hit the water, only to be swayed from its pursuit by the barrage of arrows coming into the water. With pinpoint accuracy and more than likely a good deal of luck Toribio riddled both bunyips with arrows as they retreated.

Hauling the bunyips aboard and pulling Tristam back into the boat, they headed back. This time the captain had more pelts though an equal number of carcasses. Finished with the slight delay of the sealing, the Frosthammer continued on its course to the north.

About a week later a series of small seal hide canoes was spotted along the coast. Deciding they were likely local inhabitants and of little threat they pulled up along side. Exchanging greetings, the local tribesmen offered to trade ivory for weapons or metal. Seeing little use for them, Tristam offered the tridents they had looted from the triton attack along with the mangled remains of the mithral cobras from the lessons. Interested and excited by the magnificent metal the tribesmen uncover a section of narwal horn they had kept in reserve for special trade. Tristam made a gift of his fine noble clothing to the chief and the trade went along marvelously. The chief invited the knot to come to their homeland for a festival in about a months time and offered tales a an ice giants lair. Intrigued by his tales, the knot accepted the invitation and said they would return after their current business was concluded. With that the Frosthammer continued its course.

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The next night, as they were anchored in the shallows, Loraan again stood match as a eerie cold came over the area. The chill was enough to wake the crew, who worried about what it meant lit torches to see in the black misty night. The experience with the tritons clearly still on their mind.

As they stood frost gathered on everything on deck making it icy and brittle. Peering out at the black night with only their torches for light, a sharp cackle was head overhead bring all eyes to the top of the mast. There an icy figure stooped wings splayed as it balanced itself on the tip of the mast. 

Then up the side of the ship a number of ice elementals rose, levitating in the air. Toribio let an arrow fly up at the mephit, bouncing off its frozen skin. Tristam and Odenkirk began swinging at the elementals on deck, James let out a tainting burst of negative energy rattling the elementals. The mephit let out a rush of freezing air in a cone over the deck freezing everyone on deck to the bone.

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Toribio jumped to the rigging pulling his way up the mast towards the mephit atop it. Loraan let curses fly upon everything within sight and the mephit took to the air letting out another blast of cold. Frustrated his prey escaped, Toribio lept flipping backwards from the mast, his axe following a crescent through the air splitting an elemental as it carried through to the wood of the deck, bisecting the creature into tinkling shards.

As the mephit flew through the air away from the icy devastation on the deck, Loraan loosed an arrow that shattered its icy wing, sending it careening into the ocean.

Breaking whatever ice still dared move the Frosthammer’s passengers swept the deck clean and started off early, ready to be done with this voyage.

Bugbears and bucaneers Edit

Coming to the head of the river inland to Lake Tarik, captain Odenkirk enlisted the help of the knot to break way through the frozen over river. With the experience they had gained helping the crew on the journey, though slow going, progress was steadily made and the Frosthammer reached Lake Tarik.

Once they were inland it wasn’t long before they were at the drop off point for their cargo. They came up to a tiny ramshackle dock floating out in front of a horde of thousands of bugbears. Interspesed in the crowd there were a few polar bears here and there along with a smattering of giants. A hill of in the distance proved to be a hill giant itself. Even goblins were seen running between the legs of the bigger beasts.. Captain Odenkirk was pretty nervous about landing here, but with some reassuring from Tristam they docked. 

As they pulled up to the dock, four bugbears jumped aboard. Tristam stepped forward to intimidate them but fell flat on his face in the attempt, literally. Regaining what composure he had left his attempt did little more than make the bugbears laugh. James took this moment to try to stall the bugbears, attempting to converse with them. He managed to keep them talking long enough for the commotion in the crowd to burst forth, presenting a tall bugbear wielding a flaming axe.

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He hopped aboard pushing the other bugbears back. Nervous glances were exchanged by the knot and the Frosthammer’s crew as the large bugbear demanded to know who had sent them here.

James responded that they were here on behalf of Andrastus Thorn. After this Sakkarot Fireaxe was pleased, responding, “Then you are my guests!” Tristam and Toribio cracked open the crates on deck showing Fireaxe their cargo. Fireaxe turned to the crowd onshore shouting, “These humans and elves are my guests! I ill deal with anyone who harms them. They are our allies!." Peering into the crates, he pulled out an axe and tossed it to one of the bugbears nearby. The warrior had been dressed in tattered hides and only held a crude club. Fireaxe then shouted, “They bring us Steel!”

With this the crowd let out a beastial cheer, with clubs being thrown into the air as they rushed to bring the crates ashore and arm themselves with the new arms.

A huge feast was thrown that evening to commemorate the delivery of weapons. Bugbears and other monstrous beasts fought each other for entertainment and a huge dire boar was brought in. The horde gorged itself on meat and ale late into the night.

Late in the evening Fireaxe brought the knot together to sit with him. He asked them why as humans, would they turn against their own kind. When his army fell upon Talingarde, every human would be put to the sword or axe. What made them able to betray their own kind so?

Responding Tristam pulled back his sleeve showing the mark branded on his arm. The other members of the knot followed suit. He then said that his kind had already betrayed him and this mark meant that he was forsaken. His own kind wanted him dead, so he would do whatever was necessary to stay alive. Conversation strayed to the topic of Cardinal Thorn, with Fireaxe letting on that he had known Thorn for a long time and that he had not always been the same man as he was now.

With the celebrations over, Captain Odenkirk was eager to leave. The knot aboard, the Frosthammer set sail for the opposite shore of the lake. Seeing their first objective complete, the knot now began to look for a way to dispose of captain Odenkirk and his crew. Toribio climbed to the top of the mast to keep an eye out for the shore. 

Once they were close, Tristam approached the captain and suggested they share a drink to commemorate a task complete, turning the one drink into a contest. The majority of the crew gathered around to enjoy and watch the contest, as did James and Loraan placing themselves in advantageous positions.

A dozen or so rounds of drinks later the shore was in sight. Both contestants were getting woozy by this point. Toribio balanced himself on the yardarm and took a shot at the crewman at the bow, signaling the start of the attack.

On cue Loraan let a cone of fire jet from his hands encompassing the frost hammer’s captain crew and Tristam, while Jameskar let a burst of negative energy wash over all those around him. Half of the crew slumped over on the deck before they even knew they were being attacked. Another jet of fire from Loraan dropped the rest and lit the rigging alight. Toribio let loose another arrow at the helmsman dropping him and sending the wheel spinning and the ship heading for the rocks.

Tristam then drew his sword challenging captain Odenkirk to a fight. Odenkirk accepted this invitation and already in a berserker rage swung a powerful blow and connected with Tristam as he struck the captain. Toribio fired down at the captain grazing him. Odenkirk ducked a blow from Tristam and lunged for the wheel, slashing at Tristam with one arm while he used the other to pull the ship off of its collision course.

Loraan muttering under his breath, put a hex on Odenkirk causing him to slump unconsciously on the wheel, again sending the ship towards the rocks. Tristam swung and connected, rousing the captain with a spray of his blood. Odenkirk responded in kind slashing his greataxe deep through Tristam, nearly bisecting him yet still he didn’t lower his guard.

Eager to finish it Toribio drew his axe and sprung from the mast. Cartwheeling through the air he landed axe first on the captains head. The elf then tried to right the ship but lacking the captain’s strength and prowess at the helm, fail to bring it clear of the rocks in time.

A crackling sound filled the air and the ship jolted to one side as the reef tore into the hull. Throwing the captain’s body from the wheel Toribio spun the wheel bringing the ship away from the rocks, as Loraan magically infused the listing Tristam with a dose of demon’s blood. 

Toribio set the ship for a beach as water poured in from the bottom and fire burned its way up the rigging. After coming to his senses Tristam came to James aid bailing out the sinking craft, throwing buckets of water overboard and up toward the burning sails.

The ship beached itself atop the edge of the shore staying upright and remarkably in nearly one piece. Tristam tossed the anchor over the side making sure the ship wouldn’t be pulled back into the lake. Seeing they were all still alive and the crew was not, the knot set to work searching the dead and the ship for anything useful. Toribio found a key an Odenkirk’s mangled corpse which he pocketed quickly, while James discovered a weathered sea chest.

Opening it they found a bunch of salty smelling clothing and rags. Searching through them they found a silver mermaid statuette, a handful of scattered gold pieces and a medium sized lockbox. Tristam raised Odenkirk’s axe overhead to smash open the lockbox, until Toribio placed his hand on his shoulder, saying, “Why don’t we try this?” as he produced the key from the captain’s corpse.

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Inside the lockbox they found six thousand neatly stacked gold coins. Odenkirk didn’t seem the type to be so neat, this had to be the payment from Thorn that they were tasked with retrieving.

Making sure the ship was secure where it was the Nessian knot ventured away from the wreck.