Wednesday, September 8, 2010

9/8/2010 – Sky Garden Found!

9/8/2010 – Sky Garden Found!

After taking stock of our situation following the fight, we found the only one with any wounds of concern was Kain.  He had taken serious cuts and bites; everyone else was only bruised or nicked but otherwise okay.  Twink cared for everyone anyway, doting on Kain the most.

The ship did not escape unscathed though it was easy to repair.  Twink went on deck to clear her head after tending the wounded and caught the scent of something on the wind.  After some urging she gets Ariadne to agree to move the ship towards the scent of mint she has found.  First though, they need to figure out how to get free.  While the saliva worked well at first it quickly lost its potency and stopped.  Frustrated, she agreed to let the crew break open a barrel of wine and two of beer while she thought.  A careless from one of the crew quickly revealed the alcohol in it dissolved the webbing, which sadly was keeping them trapped.

After some trial and error, they used some of their stores to clear the webbing away and to use as a way to clear a path through the near invisible stuff that clogged the sky they were in.  The rain that came didn’t help anything.  Otso, tired of it, gives Sultrani a quick tutorial on how to drive the ship and then goes on deck to counter the rain with magic.  He is confused on how the rain is even hitting them, since any clouds with rain are too far below them to rain on them above them.  Regardless, he combats it with magic and then uses more spells to force the wine and beer out more efficiently while Sultrani drives.

This works well, even though it pains everyone to part with the alcohol.  Hours later, he motions for Sultrani to stop.  Moving forward, we can seen that he had sprayed the alcohol and dissolved the webbing and revealed a tree seemingly growing out of the clouds.  Seeing it begged explanation, especially after Twink, our resident herbalist noted that it was still alive and actually rooted in the cloud somehow.  

Vangtse flew and verified it, though he nearly walked as much as he flew.  Unable to contain herself, Twink jumps with the away crew to check out the tree.  Its intact, roots and all and the cloud is firm if spongy.  Twink scraps some of it away and pockets it (she later learns that the stuff is called Cloud Soil when she consults her books).  Meanwhile, Sultrani, concerned about her is going to join the away party when she is stopped by Otso.  He gives her a runed (Eldarin) rock that he says will allow him to pull her back to ship if she is closed enough.  He has more for the rest of the away team.

His timing could have been better, as in the searching, Twink and Vangste plummet through what they thought was solid cloud (hah!).  Twink drops like a rock below while Vangtse throws out his wings to slow his fall and then promptly tangles in more webbing.  Sultrani dives over the side after dunking an open barrel of beer over her head.  She slips through the webbing and quickly makes her way (falling through the air) to Twink and activates the stone.   They rubber band back to the ship deck but the return is not controlled (bad roll) and they slam into the deck.  Hard.  Hurt, Twink gets an earful while the rest free Vangtse.  Twink finds some of her healing medicine and feeds them both.  

They are out while the rest decide to continue on.  They fly, slowly through the area, noting with amazement more and more greenery; birds are seen as well as numerous insects.  When they come across true earth on the clouds it dosen’t seem a surprise but when they come across what seems to be an entire colossal garden with tall trees, hanging vines and even – who knows how – the hint of high hills or a mountain, they are agog.  When night comes they decide to drop anchor and rest.  Right before twilight, Otso had noticed wreckage from other skyships or airships.  He has no desire to fight through this at night.

Concerned about things, two people are set on watch at all times, fully armed.  Ariadne, later that night, drawn by some sixth sense, wakes up and goes on deck.  She finds that the two on watch are asleep and covered in large insects.  She grabs torches and shoos them away.  After waking the others, they pull the two inside to make sure they are alive and safe (they are) and then plugs up area the insects could get in.  The rest of the night is spent watching insects that carpet the ship and the night air.

Morning comes (thankfully!) and high above something huge flies over, casting a giant shadow across the ship and the greenery spread out before us.  We move the ship a little, to a better berth and then disembark as a group to check out the wrecks.  Stopping when we did was good since we found masses of rocks and more debris from ships.  It looks like the remnants of at least four ships, maybe more.

Vangtse overflew the area and report masses of birds, insects and a giant thriving forest.  It seemed like a forest floating in the clouds.  He also reported a pure pool of water fed by dozens of tiny streams.  We made our way to it, nearly losing Twink along the way as she harvested one plant after another.  Or at least she tried to until we dragged her away.  Reiner and Fin couldn’t resist a swim in the pool while Sultrani escorts Twink to gather more plants.  Kain broods and talks to the others.

While gathering, Twink is set upon by a wild cat of some sort.  She gets a lucky shot in with her knife, gutting it.  Sultrani finishes it.  Meanwhile, something akin to a giant land gator shoots out from the vegetation, narrowly missing the two of them.  Sultrani grabs Twink and runs towards the group.  Twink squeaks the whole way, raising cane.  Everyone comes running right as an albino Saurig drops from branches above the land gator and slams it into the ground.  Kain gets a good cut in before the Saurig snaps the crock’s neck by twisting its head around.

Unsettled by their new visitor, everyone stares at one another for a moment before the Saurig speaks.  Runes burned into his skin glow as he talks.  He explains he is out of time: throw forward across a gulf he has no idea how to measure.  We quickly find out he is from the time of the Kthoi, one of their drop troops genetically engineered to fight on other planets.  Not that all of that made sense to us.  He was just as confused as we were and grappled with what had happened.  He showed us a wound he was recovering from and said much of his memory was lost, including his name.  Not knowing what to call him, we gave him the name of “Timeswept”.

The journey back was filled with Twink’s incessant questions to him and his seemingly endless patience.  Or, perhaps amusement would be more exact.  He didn’t answer everything but he did at least address the question.

Closing upon the ship made us realize we could hear the sound of combat.  Redoubling are stride we came to the ship rapidly.  On the deck, a huge manticore was tearing into a golden field that Otso can called into being to keep from getting killed.  Or eaten.  Three more of the beasts were flying above and soon we were embroiled in a battle between us and the four of them.   If not for Timeswept we would have died.  Still, it was Sultrani and Kain that turned the tide.  Kain with some mad sword skills that defied mastery (and were utterly rooted in luck) and Sultrani by using her injured arm and finding hitting one of the manticores so hard it broke its back and cracked the deck all in one.

Three died and one survived to fly away – the one with runes trailing down its chest and across its shoulders.  In its trail it left a dying Kain and Ariadne and everyone but Timeswept , Sultrani, and Otos heavily wounded.  Timeswept poured water from a spring he had found on the island.  It rapidly forced healing, an act that knocked out nearly all the crew, though we gritted our teeth and managed to stay conscious through it.  It also brought on an intense hunger and got Twink feeding everyone.

Timeswept left with Sultrani to get more of the “healing” water.  Their journey was swift: they were among the fastest in the group.  It was not without accident.  They were set upon by the one that had escaped and obviously knew of the healing pool too as it was healed.  Their fight was short but intense.  It ended when the two of them killed it but not before the Manticore bit off one of Timeswept’s arms.

He manages to lead her to the pool and then dives in.  Sultrani gets the water and waits for him but he never surfaces.  She dives in but cannot find him.  Uncertain, she returns to the ship.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

9/1/2010 - To the Skies and Beyond

9 -1 – 2010
After the events of the previous day, the next couple of days seemed to fly by quite quickly.  Ariadne was a flurry of activity, gathering up crew and authorizing different people to come along.  Otso was particularly interesting.  He floated!  Well, actually kept a mass of clouds beneath his feet so he never touched the ground.  Something about a curse or some sort.  And all it would take is a single touch to the ground for the things after him to locate his position.  

It made us scratch our head but Ariadne swore he was the best and it was her ship after all.    He brought with him a bunch of plants, something that made Twink incredibly happy.  She snipped off a few leaves, which he scolded her for (but not really meaning it).  The plants were known as Oxygensus though most knew them by their nom de guerre of “oxygen leaves”.

Ariadne also employed Kain, bringing him on as a handyman and crewmember with the promise of a portion of profit and who knows what else.  Twink spent some time looking for more herbs to add to her collection and who knows what Sultrani did.  Spoke to Collin at least.  He had used an interesting martial move know as the “Wolf’s Fangs”.  He was closed mouthed about it but they had a friendly conversation, nonetheless.  She did convince him that the name he overhead when she cast it into the moon pool was Ariadne’s to give and not hers.  He looked skeptical but acquiesced after she pushed.

While the crew slowly showed up and everyone else was busy, Sultrani took some steps to keep pursuers (wonder who she thought was following…?) from tracking them down.  She spent freely to book passage on several caravans and carriage routes out of town as well as some billets on airships and skyships.  Quite a busy bee.  In fact, she was near the docks doing just that when a freak swell caught her by surprise and right into the drink.  Sucked in by a riptide, she was pulled out but managed to fight her way free of it.  She was a bit out then but started swimming back.  She was sucked in by another riptide but was pulled from it by another merman.  Thinking it Reiner she went along.

She was quite surprised to find out it wasn’t when they neared shore.  He noted his name was Fin and while not Reiner he was aware of the man.  Sultrani, for her own reasons, introduces the too.  After some conversation with Ariadne and Reiner, Fin joined us.  Their discussion was behind closed doors but in private she assured us he was trustworthy.

The week pulled to a close with the crew going on board.  They were an interesting and tough looking bunch, reconciled to potentially not coming back for years.  Just like we were.  That conversation with Araidne after she laid out that she had acquired a ship had hit us like a stone.  Everyone talked, even Sultrani! At least for a little bit.  Regardless, the sense of adventure and fun in flying across Khaora seemed to much to turn down.  Anyway, the crew were as follows:

Ariadne:  Captain
Navigator:  Otso
First Mate:  Hignphaxis
·         Geof
·         Marjorie
·         Antel
·         Shayn Duomo
·         Sable
·         Kurtag
·         Mina
·         Draj
·         Endil
·         Cade
·         Vangtse (hawkman)
·         Ryx
·         Kain

Twink was our medic and cook.  Sultarni was, well, herself.  We had one other passenger who didn’t muster that came on board with Fin.  She was something special, I guess, and there at Kolera’s insistence.
Twink left food outside her door, as she didn’t seem to come out at all.  Maybe late perhaps. 
Leaving Khurahaen was a grand adventure that quickly grew boring.  Time slipped away as the drill of sailing the skies took over and we fell into a rhythm.  The first push was to gain altitude to clear the Prismatic Mountains, which meant pointing the ship skyward at a steep angle and rising.  Otso took it easy on us, taking his time guiding us upward.

In fact, it was rather boring for a while.  At least, until we actually got up into the upper layers of the atmosphere.  Even the mountain tops looked rather small below us through the clouds.  It was dark and cloudy when the watch saw them first.  Multicolored lights, dancing and moving in patterns with the clouds as a backdrop.  One did not concern them.  It was when it grew to three and then seven and then more when they (Ryx) set off the alarm.

Ariadne orders the weapons locker to open and everyone arms up.  Fighting them seemed impossible as they moved and zoomed across the ship.   After some rather dramatic  failures, Sultrani landed a blow on one that destroyed it.  I think.  She grew very agitated after failing to defend or attack them and landed upon one of them with a horizontally spinning kick then thrust her hand inside its core and ripped out its lights.  Her hand went dead; numb at the least, maybe more.  That seemed to animate them even more.   It was Otso who struck them with lightning forcing them away.  It charred the ship in the process and Ariadne orders an immediate payment of 1 GP in hazard pay!

The next day saw some sore heads from celebration of surviving the first conflict.  It was quiet during the morning as we passed over the mountains but a little more hectic as we got into some rougher weather that forced us up a little higher.  Everyone was on oxygen leaves then and during the afternoon count we realized that Kain was missing!

A search of the ship revealed nothing but Vangtse in scouting the area finds trails of Kain’s hair near a strange creature.  It looked, for the lack of a better term, like a slowing turning mirror floating through the sky.  Fearing it had devoured Kain we sailed over to it and it ignored us, making no attempt to move away or attack.

Unknownst to us, Kain had been snapped up by the creature, which was a bizarre thing that consisted of little more than a giant stomache attached to an open aperture.  It lived on bugs and small things mostly with an occasional larger prey (high Kain!) once and a while.

Kain was not still why we struggle to figure out what to do.  He quickly realized he was getting weaker (it drained the life out anything inside) and scrambled his way through the debris of insect husks and bodies to try to find a way out.  He had no luck but did stumble a spirit of another victim.  She had been swept off a skyship as well and died as he would if nothing changed.  Her spirit was trapped within and wanted only escape.  She told Kain she had a powerful voice and knew that the right vibrations would force it to regurgitate its stomach if they hit the right vibration.

She (Tentari) had been doing that before she died and has nothing but time to figure out what was needed since.  If he would let her possess him, she could sing them free.  Kain quibbles but given a lack of any choices, agrees.  She possesses him without a hitch and moves to a point indecipherable to him but where she says they must stand.  She opens her mouth tossing  when it happens:

Back on the ship, no one could figure out what to do.  After a lot trial and error, they find it can take things in but nothing seems to come back out.  Lacking options, we decided to empty the bilges and septic tank into it.  Poor Kain was starting to sing when he was deluged with water and shit!  He survives the shitfall and still manages to sing and nearly contemporaneously it belches him and a lot of the shit, water and insect corpses.
It floods our ship and sends it canting to one side and we nearly lost two.  Luck was with us (even though nearly all the food was spoiled and the ship stank for days).

Tentari, freed pulls from Kain and begins to fade.  As a last gift she burns some of her passing essence into the ship, building it into a song that brings a gentle rain.  It doesn’t last, at least the rain, but the song lingered, always there with the ship like a haunting air.

We thanked the gods the next couple of days were quiet as we left Arduin behind us and travelled high across the plains of Falohyr.  It ended, sadly, when late one night as we were heading towards some horrible place called The Withering Lands we caught sight of a large serpentine form wriggling through the air.  Figuring it a dragon we dodged it and went higher to hide.

We were lucky and dodged it.  Some time passed without problems until we slammed into something we couldn’t see.  It rocked the shop and our tempers.  We rushed out to find out what was going on.
A quick recon showed it was some kind of translucent webbing that didn’t show up against the cloud background.  Where webbing exists, spiders always follow and we quickly found ourselves fighting translucent spiders.  They fell quickly to our blades without much effort.  Getting out of the webbing took longer and was interrupted by what I can only call a hail of jellyfish, or so it seemed.  That complicated things but once we had swept them off deck, we used the webbing to replace some damage (it worked really well) and their saliva to burn away the webs otherwise.