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.