We are unsure of the wisest path to take, it is hard to say what will catch us up to them more quickly, ride over land, or tempt the windy fates at sea.
The patch of blue they are arguing over on the map looks kind of like a slug. We are at the tip of the antenna, we think the boat went south, down toward the bottom of the slug. Traveling by water may be the best course as we do not know the destination of those we follow, we’d be most likely to see where they go ashore if we are on the water ourselves.
Of course we’ll have to rid ourselves of the horses again, it is sad that this is the purpose we seem to be putting all our battle earned coin toward, buying horses then selling them off for less than what we paid.
We take to the tavern for the evening, hoping to find a willing fisherman to lend us their boat and maybe sail it for us as well. Visitors the likes of us are apparently not seen here often, we are the subject of much conversation and even more hard looks. They are not unfriendly, just cautious.
We manage to order up some food and drink, though Coy complains that he did not get what he asked for. I am pleased with my tankard of ale, I need little else.
We strike a bargain with a local fisherman and his crew, he sets a price of 2000 gold to put his boat and crew at our service for the next month or two. We offer an exchange that works in both our favor, we pay 1000 up front, and one of their family members takes our horses to sell for whatever they can get as the second half of their fee, they stand to make out quite well in this bargain, it saves us some of our coin, while taking away the problem of how to rid ourselves of the beasts without losing as much on the deal. It is a win win, and I think Hamanu would be proud.
The next day the weather starts to take a turn for the worse, we see rolling clouds on the horizon to the northwest. Afir shouts for anyone that cannot be of help, to get out of their way and suffer the storm below. We are tossed about in the hold, which is leaking cold salty water. I hear shouts from above, and frantic calling from the men. A cheer goes up followed by thumps on the hull of the ship. We hear more shouts and cheers, we later learn that Coy dove over the side to rescue a sailor that had been swept overboard by the storm. We are suddenly much more welcome and accepted.
We see a boat off in the distance, it does not appear to be the boat we are looking for. We decide to put into shore for the evening, even though it is only afternoon, we do not want to attempt to move past them while daylight may give us away, we will sneak past while it is still dark.
Keth coerces a conjured assistant to improve the wind and speed our way. The captain looks a tad nonplussed, but does not question or improved fortunes. Afir snuffs the lights and shoos us below decks, imploring us to be as quiet as we can while we make our way past the port. Coy remains above to scout the port with our spyglass as we silently pass by under cover of darkness.
We make excellent progress throughout the following days, we definitely gain ground, or water with the arcane aid conjured by Keth. There is now a pronounced current in the water, aiding our forward progress. Coy spies a dragon off in the distance over the water toward the southeast. Afir thinks it may be about two days away, we are pretty sure they do not yet know we follow.
Big Moon is high, the small moon is just off New
Coy and I notice the dragon turn toward our little boat, start heading in our direction, then just disappear. This does not bode well.
We prepare ourselves as best we can given that we are on a boat. The thing appears above the prow of the boat and lets loose a blast of electricity that arcs through a line of us, starting with me and ending with Dom, Dom, Cilka and Alaric are all down. While I pray over the Rod, Keth raises his hands in a gathering motion, everything that is not tied down on the deck of the ship rises up and swirls together in swirling clump of wood chunks, loose barrels and small metal tools, with a pushing motion, Keth throws the vortex of implements into the dragon which lets out a angry roar, but seems otherwise unaffected.
I hear Keth shout out, “Callie, to me!” as he charges half the length of the ship, pulling the spell stone from his cloak, and a beam of green energy shoots out, hitting the dragon. The dragon staggers in the air, it’s wings become tattered and it screams out in anguish.
Coy is all big now, and has been given flight, he speeds toward the laboring beast, but is unable to land a blow. The beast has had enough of us, and turns to flee. Coy shoots some arrows after it, but is unable to hit it. I fear whatever it answers too now knows we are here and are at least a little formidable.
As we sail thru the swampy shoals Dom and Coy both spot the boat we are chasing up ahead at the beach. As we rush in the boat is brought to shuddering halt as a number of plant like monsters rise up around us. As I ready my weapon I am grabbed in its slimy claw. I try to break free but I slip in its grasp. Cilka mean while dispatches one with her flames. The creatures continue to grab at crew members and I get dragged down under the water, pulling my dagger and slashing away as if my life depended on it, which in fact, it does.
Suddenly the slimy monster lets me loose as it sinks into the dark water, one of my faithful companions must have landed a blow of some sort. I struggle in the water, my feet touch the bottom, the water is relatively shallow here, but anything over my height poses a real threat to my life with the weight of my armor dragging me down.
I manage to get my fingers latched onto the side of the boat, I try to haul myself over, but my strength fails me, one more attempt and I am up and back onto the deck. It looks like there are only two of the seaweed creatures left, I am heartened, they have done well without me, though I fear for the wellbeing of the fishermen who are unused to this kind of action. I stagger to my feet and haul my rusty ass over to the last monster still up, hoping to at least be a distraction and pull some of the blows, I am water logged, but relatively unharmed, much to my dismay.
Hey! My prayers are answered! I am locked back in the tender embrace of the last remaining seaweed creature, it starts to drag me down, but then shudders and goes eerily still. I push myself away, gasping for air at the surface. With one false start, I drag myself up and over the edge, everyone is now accounted for, the all but one fishermen that were pulled overboard have been brought back on board and are being healed. We’ll have to make it as good as we can for the lost fisherman’s family upon our return.
We were subject to an illusion, the boat we were following was never ashore at the beach, it was a trap to lure us into where the seaweed monsters could make their attack.
We are close, but not close enough, we have to continue to make as good time as we have been making to have any hope of catching them, and our conjured windy assistance leaves us after dusk tonight. We lay plans as the boats continue to vie for more distance, each pushing as hard as they can. We debate the merits of teleporting onto their decks and doing whatever we can to disable their vessel, though the dragon is still in the mix and our spells will be depleted. No options are optimal, but we must do whatever we can to free the threshold from their evil hands.
We ultimately decide that no plan gets us on board with any prayer of freeing the threshold. Everything we come up with equals us dead and them able to recover and follow through with their dark ritual. The frustration of having them in our sights, and being unable to deal them any real damage is a sickness inside our bellies, a futile rage burns within us.
Partway through the night, their pace picks up and their boat angles toward a sandy spit along the far shore. As we approach the moored boat, most appear to have gone ashore, the dragon circles overhead and lands to have its rider climb aboard. The reptile still looks a bit the worse for wear, which is heartening. They are scrambling to get the stone off the ship and organize its passage to wherever they are trying to bring it.
We arrange to be dropped ashore and for the captain to check the beach daily for our return to retrieve us if we prevail. He agrees to check daily for the remainder of the time on his contract, one month.
We put ashore and debark a little ways from the beach where the stone is being unloaded, doing our best to keep the innocent fishers safe from discovery and harm. We plan to sneak toward the enemy, and asses, hoping to find a worthy place for an ambush.
The dragon follows our ship as it pulls away from shore, but loses interest when it sees that we are no longer aboard. It starts sweeping the coast, looking for where we came to land. We have come to shore a little removed from the other boat’s landing site, hoping to lure the dragon out so we can kill it unhindered, dividing their forces.
We form up behind some rocky outcroppings, hoping to avoid the reptiles lightning strikes. We have been bolstered against this attack, but that only goes so far. True to its nature, the first flash of lightning crackles through our ranks, Coy is hard pressed though the rest of us have shaken off this first attack, the protections serving us well.
I hurry to catch up to Dom and Alaric that have hurried out to engage the winged snake. I circle round, hoping to provide some distraction so Dom can wreak the havoc only he can wield so well. The thing lashes out with claws, fangs and tail. Dom takes the brunt of it all, being the closest in, he falls. I begin my dance.
I take two quick steps in toward the reptile, slashing my burning blade against its scaly side, then spin away, avoiding the snapping jaws that dart around at me. Unfortunately my blade only glances across its armor, but I have positioned myself well, Coy is directly opposite me on the other side of the beast, we should be able to distract the thing for each other. We are also aided by the Hound Arcon sent by our lady to aid us. Alaric’s prayers to the Goddess have been answered to the best of her ability, her resources are slim and we are very far from her place of power.
Keth’s voice rises in crescendo and an elven maiden appears, spinning into a whirlwind of destruction, buffeting the monster’s tender eyes and nostrils.
Even when I have the time to actually swing the blasted beast right in front of me, I am only able to land one solid blow, the rest glance of the wyrm’s scaly armor. I did cut deep with the slash that hit between its scales, the beast screeches and whips its tail and wing into me buffeting, but not knocking me senseless. To my left I see the divine Hound Arcon crumple under the slashing claws.
To my right the swirling vortex of elven maiden casts another vortex of wind and sand, while Keth lets loose another volley of magic missiles bringing the beast down.