Part 33: The Black Plague
A fight with a skeletal beast with a human head, barrel brought to the deck, and Arcandur’s book hummed and warmed beneath his fingers as he opened it to see an eye staring back at him
Mahin and Arcandur argue over how to best way to infiltrate the barrel, while Ezra continues to examine it and search for a safe way inside. Alena makes a fool of herself as she tries to penetrate the barrel with her sword, much to her dismay. Mahin decides to work the barrel and uses her dagger to try and enter it. Ezra asks Peggy for a hammer and chisel, Peggy does indeed have a metal pin and a hammer!
Ezra begins to try and hammer into the barrel with his dwarven dagger, chipping away at different places. Nothing really happens to start with, however slowly he finds a motion that creates small chips to eventually lead to a wedge away for an eye hole. The small hole is finally created, but due to the darkness in the barrel Ezra is unable to see inside. Using the reflection of his dagger he peers into the hole, seeing the other side of the barrel and unfortunately nothing else.
Ezra beckons Mahin to come over and try to see inside the barrel. Mahin peers inside, remaining at a distance to ensure that she doesn’t risk her beautiful face. To her eyes she sees bones, still and silent. Ezra and Mahin tip the barrel and rotate it to let the sunlight shine in through the hole. As they move it, the contents of the barrel begin to move. The eye hole grows as Mahin continues to chip away. The bones become clearer through the eye hole and the sunlight appears to be making no difference to the bones.
Ezra and Mahin leave that barrel and move back to Mahin’s original barrel to open a hole. They create a small opening and peer through to see bones. “There are bones in this one as well!” Mahin shouts. “We need to figure out who loaded this cargo, it is a great mystery!” Mahin seeks to throw them overboard, Ezra being overly cautious wanting to weigh them down to ensure they sink to the bottom of the ocean. Peggy offers to provide them with rope to weigh it down. But Mahin wants them gone and gone post-haste.
Ezra and Mahin push the barrel over the side of the ship. Another goes with it. Ezra’s fear begins to overtake him of the creatures coming back and seeking revenge. Mahin shouts him down and is relieved to be free of their deathly faces.
The adventure of the seas continues, nine more days on the open ocean. Mahin seeks to investigate the crew, wanting to learn more about who loaded the ships. Peggy offers to help her in these interviews, setting up a space in the crew quarters to discuss the issue of the barrels. One after another the crew comes forward and there is no further information available. Mahin tries to disseminate whether the crew is being truthful, but her years of experience on the other side of the table is hindering her ability to read the truth.
Mahin approaches Arcandur to gain his perspective on the situation. Arcandur expresses that his view is that there is something foul afoot that they are yet to understand. His raven lands on his shoulder and perches peering at Mahin. Secretly Arcandur casts to gain clarity on this situation, his eyes glowing lightly. Mahin tries to engage him again, but his distraction and terrifying eyes send her away.
Ezra and Mahin set off to examine the ship more thoroughly, each picking different areas to survey. They search for several hours and yet come to no further conclusions. Peggy finds them and asks them to attend the captain for dinner and conversation. They head towards to the captain’s quarters, Alena and Peggy appear to be having deep conversations excluding the remainder of the dinner party. Finally, the night ends and the captain bids them goodnight. Peggy and Alena seek the each other’s company and more private quarters for conversation. The party disperses and the night passes.
As the morning arrives, the sun shines in through the gaps in the planks and upon Mahin’s face. Mahin opens her eyes to see Alena returning to her bunk, silently and secretly. The rest of the party arises and leaves the room over the next hour, while Alena sleeps the morning away. Arcandur continues to cast to search for further information, with no result. Ezra seeks his god through an idol to find further information, leaving his body covered in Goosebumps and a feeling a dread as he draws the image of the rune to mind. The party is unable to find anything to help them in this mystery.
Ezra crosses the deck to Arcandur’s resting place. He consults about the symbol, hoping to converse and have a scholarly debate on how and what the rune means. Arcandur in his wizard way, dismisses the foolish talk of someone who is not trained as he is, not engaging in the conversation but expressing his sentiment on the matter. Arcandur’s knowledge is increasing of the crew and their current mood and tensions aboard, the feeling is of fear and discontent. His note taking takes haste as he makes detailed descriptions of each member of the crew.
Suddenly, the clouds in the sky gather around the ship. Arcandur looks up and around and quickly tries to stop the scrying from the sky. He casually stands up and walks up to Ezra, as the wind picks up and their footing becomes unstable. He whispers in his ear “We are being watched”. Ezra turns and uses his mind powers to penetrate Mahin’s mind and tells her the same. The attack on her mind causes her to start. She looks up and sees the seas shift, the gathering storms, and the winds that continue to pick up. Arcandur motions to Ezra to let Alena know what is happening.
Arcandur moves to the Captain at the helm. “That appears to be a waterspout”
Peggy replies “No waterspout I’ve ever seen”.
“Perhaps you should steer towards land” Arcandur advises.
The cloud comes down further the form shifts until a great face is looking upon them. A brown wind comes upon the ship in a rush, the ship crew and the party begin to cough and gasp as the wind and rain covers the ship. Just as suddenly, it stops. But the coughing remains, ringing loudly against the abrupt silence. Ezra moves the coughing victims beneath the ship. The raven takes flight to the crows’ nest, cawing and surveying the surrounds. The cloud is drifting away as the sun begins to break through the dense mass.
After a short period of time, the rain stops. The coughing continues, however the affected do seem to find some relief. Arcandur heads downstairs to investigate further the arcane nature of what is affecting the victims of the cough. He examines them and finds that mayhap they were poisoned or diseased, upon a second examination, a disease. He requests that they rest and recover from their cough and ailments. In his mind, he knows the oddity and enormity of this magical affliction that he has never seen before. Arcandur returns to the deck and warns the party of an impending attack. Mahin sighs “Again.” Ezra examines the victims and takes note of their symptoms: sore throat, painful to swallow, irritated nose and eyes.
The day continues, and the crew and the party return to their routines. Eating and working the ship, sailing through the afternoon and into the evening. Occasionally a cough is heard throughout the ship. The sun sets and the captain offers another dinner party. Peggy, Alena and Mahin join him, while Arcandur and Ezra decline the invitation to continue their own investigations. Ezra converses with the victims of the attack and offers them help and assistance if they need it, for which they are very grateful. The dinner party is a jaunt of fine food, fine wine, and fine women, the captain is in his element. Peggy and Alena act as two teenagers crushing upon one another, their behaviour brings a smile to Mahin’s face.
Deciding to engage the captain in conversation to allow Peggy and Alena time to interact and flirt. Bringing out her large tiger gem, telling him the tale of their adventures with the giant, the captain speaking of sea serpents, and the continued journey ahead of them. The captain in awe of her beauty can’t believe his luck at finding himself surrounded by these women, and then to be engaged in conversation with Mahin. The night draws to the close and they return to their quarters, except for the Alena who spends the night in Peggy’s quarters.
The next morning, the sun rises, and the cough appears to be lightening for the victims. The day passes with Mahin playing cards and betting the crew and gaining ten gold in the process. Her beauty is the greatest gift, for no one sees her brain. The night draws in and, other than Arcandur, attend the captain and the dinner meal. Gwen watches this all with confusion and distrust in her eyes of what she is seeing, who is this woman, surely not her cold and unfeeling sister. The party disperses to their sleeping quarters, with Alena choosing to spend the night with Peggy again.
As the moon creeps higher in the sky, the three in their quarters Mahin, Ezra, and Arcandur, and Peggy and Alena, sleep soundly as the bodies creep into their respective rooms. Silently they enter the rooms and with a shout Peggy awakens Alena to a sight she wishes she didn’t have to see. Bloody spittle pours from their mouths, blood from their eyes and nose, as they raise their clubs above Peggy and Alena’s head.
· Blood filled coughing victim 1: On Ezra -smashes with a club to do (1 damage) arm
· Blood filled coughing victim 2: On Mahin – smashes with a club to do (2 damage) leg
· Blood filled coughing victim 3: On Arcandur – smashes with a club to do (5 damage) ribs
· Arcandur: delays his action
· Ezra: stammers out a lullaby to the victims, however none fall asleep (14 damage)
· Blood filled coughing victim 4: On Alena – smashes with a club to do (4 damage) arm, second hit smashes with a club to do (4 damage) arm
· Blood filled coughing victim 1: On Ezra – missing, on Mahin – smashes with club to do (8 damage) leg
· Mahin: grabs at her rapier to slice the nearest assailant across the chest (6 damage)
· Raven: tries to attack the bloodied victim and misses
· Alena: reaches for her swords and slices at the club wielding victim of the cough slicing his body (14 damage)
· Arcandur: seeks to understand them but realises that they are unable to be helped and reaches to touch them with shocking touch (8 damage)
· Ezra: uses his dagger to plunge into the body closet to him with an added hex (9 damage, 6 hex damage)
--THE COUGHING CREATURES GROW IN SIZE AND DISGUSTINGNESS AND SICKENING SOUNDS FILL THE SHIP--
· Blood filled coughing victim 4: On Alena – smashes with a club to do (7 necrotic damage) arm
· Blood filled coughing victim 3: On Arcandur – smashes with a club to do (6 necrotic damage) ribs (MAX HIT POINTS REDUCED – 6)
· Blood filled coughing victim 2: On Mahin – smashes with a club to do (3 necrotic damage) leg (MAX HIT POINTS REDUCED – 3)
· Mahin: acrobatically flips out of the hammock and lashes out with her leg to try and kick the coughing victim but in her haste, she misses, and with that she dashes out of the room with a barrel roll worthy of an acrobat
· Raven: pecks at the coughing victim’s face (1 damage)
· Alena: protecting Peggy with her life she swings her sword skewering the victim and slicing off his head (23 damage) DEAD
· Arcandur: delays his action
· Ezra: strikes at the victim (9 damage, 1 hex damage), and strikes again (7 damage) the dagger is buried to the hilt and the ruby begins to glow as Ezra gains 16 hit points as his eyes glow and he begins to bleed from the mouth, nose and eyes
· Blood filled coughing victim 1: On Ezra - misses
· Blood filled coughing victim 3: On Arcandur – smashes with a club to do (3 necrotic damage) ribs (MAX HIT POINTS REDUCED – 3)
· Blood filled coughing victim 2: On Mahin – tries to follow her out of the room giving Arcandur an attack of opportunity
· ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY – Arcandur tries to grab him in a shocking grasp and missing
· Blood filled coughing victim 2: On Mahin – smashes with a club to do (9 necrotic damage) face (MAX HIT POINTS REDUCED – 9)
· Mahin: swinging wildly with pain missing her victim completely and disengages from combat
· Raven: Misses
· Alena: runs to the deck to protect her friends
· Arcandur: reaches for the closest victim for a shocking grasp (8 damage) grabbing his face and seeing the life drain from his eyes, he seeks to exit from the room and takes an attack of opportunity DEAD
· ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY – Blood filled victim 1 slices at Arcandur (6 necrotic damage)
· ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY – Blood filled victim 2 missing
· Ezra: Slicing at the victim (7 damage, 5 hex damage)
· Blood filled coughing victim 1: On Ezra - misses
· Blood filled coughing victim 2: On Alena – smashes with a club to do (7 necrotic damage) face (MAX HIT POINTS REDUCED – 7)
· Mahin: using her bow she aims at the victim with such vengeance as to remove his arm (36 damage)
· Raven: racing to follow Arcandur he misses
· Alena: turns to attack the victim attack Mahin and drives her neck into the victim (14 damage) DEAD, she then races in and attacks the other victim slashing him twice (18 damage)
· Blood filled coughing victim 1: On Alena - smashes with a club to do (5 necrotic damage)
· Mahin: rushes into the room and misses her shot connecting with the wall
· Raven: glides into the room and pecks at the face (1 damage)
· Alena: flips her sword over and like treating it like a knife for stabbing she slams her sword into the skull of the final victim and leaves the room (6 damage) DEAD
Mahin asks Ezra about his eyes, and whether he was still with them or against them. Peggy reaches the deck and screams about the cursed voyages. Alena tries to comfort her but it’s the captain that finally brings her under control. The crew turn to the party, wanting answers and demanding an explanation for the deaths of the crew members. Mahin tries to persuade them that all is well, and not to panic and manages to allay their fears for now and delays their thoughts of mutiny.
With that they place the bodies in a pile and offer to chip in with the chores and ship work until they reach shore. The captain’s concern is evident in his words and movements, fraught with danger this journey has been. Ezra hides his face with magic and sleeps the night away to recover from the draining of the magic that was used tonight. The party recovers slowly in the night, resting if they can and dealing with their wounds and many injuries.
The sun rises, and time passes on the journey. Peggy removes herself from Alena’s company after the incident, scared of her now she has seen who she really is. Gwen doesn’t acknowledge what she has seen between Alena and Peggy, holding her tongue and her heart away from her sister. Alena sits alone on the deck, drinking rum and questioning her existence.
Finally, the city of Imystrhal appears before them on the horizon……