For weeks the ship continues to say. It is difficult to keep track of time, it is always dark in the hold. You speculate that there are likely two or three decks above you. There is only one small hatch with a rope ladder that leads out of the hold. Given the size of the hatch, it seems likely that the ship was built for smuggling, and this hold was designed for hiding contraband. You have spent the last few weeks studying your surroundings. Looking for some means of escape. At sea, it is unlikely you will be able to escape, but coming up with a plan makes you feel better. Plotting is something to do, something you are good at and something that helps build your confidence, something you will need if you are ever going to escape. At all times there is at least one guard in the slave hold. Everyone is given a bowl of some watery gruel everyday. Most get a ladle poured through the bars of their cages, but you are held at spearpoint when your gag is removed so you can eat. Each time, you are warned not to speak, they speak Cathan with very thick northern accents, within their commands are northern profanities, probably meant to intimidate you. You doubt the guards would recognize spellcasting if they saw it, but if you attempt any verbal or somatic spellcasting, they would likely try to stab you on the spot. Rather than goading the guards, you feign paralyzing fear and subservience. Including yourself, there are 25 inmates. None seem to have the same restraints that you do. It is likely that none are able to cast spells, as you can. Few look strong enough to fight, few could be strong enough after weeks of confinement and malnutrition. It is unlikely the others would be useful in any escape attempt, beyond distracting the guards.
It seems like each day, the air become warmer. It is likely that you are sailing North. If that is true, escape may be possible. Slavery is illegal in Alainta, all you would need to do is get off the ship, disappear in a crowd, and find passage back to Cathay. It may even be possible to save some of the others, but that would have to be secondary to getting back home and warning your master. You are awoken one afternoon by fairly heated discussion above. The hatch to the hold is left open most days, otherwise the slaves might suffocate, and judging by how the voices carry, you estimate that the other hatches are open as well. You cannot make out what people are saying, but there is no doubt that it is an argument. The crew seems divided. You reason that the argument must be over navigation, given the sudden course changes you can belowdecks. The argument stops abruptly, replaced by screams and the sounds of a battle. It is difficult to glean any information from the shouting, but it sounds like the ship is under attack from a monster of some sort. The guards in the slave hold are even called up to defend the ship. For the first time in weeks, you are unguarded, and you will not waste the opportunity. You slip the manacles off your hands, and take out your gag. Using your magic for the first time in weeks feels invigorating, you use mage hand to retrieve the keyring from a far wall. You unlock your cage, toss the ring to a nearby slave and use your cage as a ladder to reach the closed hatch. The endeavor is not difficult, in their rush to battle stations the guards failed to secure any of the hatches. You make your way to the top deck. The top deck is blinding, but as the fresh air fills your lungs, you can feel the weeks of confinement start to melt away. You cast vanish, so that you can assess the situation without being recaptured. You see sailors frantically trying to repair rigging, a crossbar on the mainmast of the ship seems to have been broken off. Guards and sailors are running around, carrying weapons, crossbows, bolts and pikes. Despite the frantic activity, you don't see the cause. Until you turn toward the forecastle. Standing on the forecastle, sword in hand, is Daimyo Otomo. He appears to be flanked by samurai. At first you are stunned. How did he get here? He then turns to you, and beckons you to come and join him. You start to move toward the forecastle, when you realize, that you are still invisible. How can he see you? Doubt overwhelms you, and you close your eyes. On the surface, this seems to be the exact answer to all your prayers. In the back of your mind, you know that this cannot be true, it is too perfect. You open your eyes. Daimyo Otomo is gone, the samurai are gone. It must have been a trick of the light, or a hallucination brought on by malnutrition. You are having a great difficulty in seeing anything, you have been in the dark for weeks, and now the sun is bright in the sky.
Spellcraft: 0uRnhlQ31d20+8 The mirage effect does not seem magical, it might have just been a personal hallucination
On the forecastle, you do see what looks like a massive pile of seaweed. Tangled within are several sailors, it takes you a moment to realize, that most are dead. Only one continues to struggle with the seaweed, frantic and blue-lipped. You also see a squad of guards charge the pile with pikes. It is difficult for you to make sense of this absurdist tableau, but you do remember the very limited time on your invisibility spell. You recast it, and try to find somewhere to hide, to give your eyes and mind a chance to adjust.
Knowledge (Nature): 1d20+6 Looking at the pile of seaweed, You recognize it as a Sargassum Fiend. While you have never seen one personally, a number of sea shanties and cautionary songs for sailors describe them. They float in the oceans, lying in wait to ambush ships passing by. They release some kind of chemical that causes vivid and specific hallucinations. While prey is dazzled by the hallucination, the fiend grabs them, crushes them, and consumes them.
Post by Tessa Rothaldi on Jan 2, 2015 12:56:05 GMT -8
I look for a place to hide, first and foremost. Would I be able to use disguise in this situation to transform to look like one of the sailors or guards, so if the spell wears off I'll be able to blend in in the chaos? If I see a sword or knife I'd like to grab it too.
The deck has erupted into confusion. Some of the crew is still dazzled by the mirage, others are petrified with fear and those who are clear headed are focused on engaging the creature. It wouldnt be too difficult to find a dagger, cutlass or a longspear (boarding pike). When your Vanish wears off, or very soon after, you will have grabbed a weapon, and taken the form of a human sailor. Based on the stories and your own observations, joining the fight against the fiend would not likely be effective. If you joined in with a bardic song and did what you could to avoid the creatures reach, the crew might have a chance to subdue it. You are not sure what the crew would do with you after, or how long you could keep up your disguise.
I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. There are plenty of places to hide, around the gunwales or the mast of the ship. You can also go back below decks. Hiding from the crew would not be terribly difficult as those members of the crew who seem lucid are pretty focused on the seaweedian horror on deck.
With the initial shock wearing off, you can look more clearly at the creature. Near the center of its mass, you can see a clear scorch mark, like it was recently burned. More of the crew seem to be engaged with it, and it seems to be on the defensive. There is a sudden very deep rumble from the front of the ship, you feel it in your gut rather than hearing it with your ears. As the sound finishes, it slowly rolls over the side with a loud splash, taking several unmoving sailors with it as it did so. Several officers begin to shout orders, and sailors scramble about the ship, looking to repair the damage caused when the creature attacked. You decide that now would be a good time to find a better hiding place. As you creep toward the hatch leading below, you hear more screams from above. In the rigging several sailors are shouting and pointing. Presuming they are seeing a hallucination, you decide to use it as a distraction, and make a break for the hatch. As you do so, a massive object lashes across the deck of the ship, splintering the entire top deck from gunwale to gunwale. Had you not moved at that exact moment, you would are certain, you would have been pulverized. The object, looks to be a thick tangle of seaweed, much like the tendrils the Fiend had, only this tendril looked to be 6 or 7 feet thick. Peering over the opposite rail, exactly where the sailors were pointing with such panic, a mass of seaweed. You find it reminiscent of a crocodile, just sticking the top of its head out of the water while stalking prey. The tentacle slowly lifts from the shattered deck and with a deft flick, it snaps the mast from the ship and sends it flying into the water.
A few of the remaining members of the crew stand on the fore and aft castles. They fire crossbows or throw sticks and shards of decking. The rest of the crew scramble to launch the long boats, now life boats, on the opposite side of the ship. Those attempting to fight the creature soon lose heart, and abandon the effort. Again, the gargantuan fiend raises a tentacle, and slams the ship, nearly breaking it in half.
No coastline in sight. You do see, pretty far off, another ship. Its sails are like the ones your ship used to have, square northern style sails. You help them lower the boat into water, a task made easier by the fact that the ship is sinking. Knowing that the ship is sinking, you are fairly certain the lower holds are either filling with water, or are already full. You wonder, briefly, if there was time to get any of the other prisoners out. That though is dashed by a loud cracking sound, and a shower of splinters. The splinters are fairly large, and land with considerable force. The man next to you is hit by one, while it did not pierce his skin, his arm is clearly broken. You look back at the ship. The Fiend seems to have wrapped two of its tendrils around opposite sides of he ship, and is trying to break it in two. The cracking sound you heard was likely the outer hull of the ship, which now has a rift, from the top deck to below the waterline. You and the other sailors quickly grab oars and frantically try to paddle your small skiff away from the mothership. The crew doesn't seem to be headed for anything in particular, just away from the ship. Another crack, and more splinters cascade onto your small boat. You are not as lucky this time, as one of the splinters pierces your shoulder from behind. The pain is excruciating, as you look down and see a shard of wood protruding from your chest. You weakly, try to move your oar one more time before collapsing.
For the next few hours, the crew paddles the small boat away from the fiend, and the wreckage of the ship. You drift in an out of consciousness. Its difficult to tell how long you were lying there, or where the boat is headed. You try to speak to one of the crew, but before you can get the words out, you drift off again. When you open your eyes again, you see a creature perched on the stern of the boat. Its skin is a pale teal color. Water seems to drip from it. It has long spindly arms and legs. It has no hair on its head, but it does have a pair of small horns. It regards you with curiosity, and a smile that is deeply unsettling.
You don't look so good. Too far from home, I bet. Maybe its the monsters. You might be more comfortable if you find a better place for a nap.
Its difficult to tell if the creature is slow or mocking you. Before you can respond to it you hear shouts from the other crew. What the fuck is that thing?! I don't know, KILL IT! The crew stops rowing, and grabs the meager weapons they have. A few are able to attack the creature, who seems unphased by the attempts. He seems less afraid, and more offended by the attacks. His smile turns to a frown, and he takes in a deep breath, and releases it in a cloud of vapor across the small boat. The crewmen fall to deck, screaming in pain. Lying on the deck, none of the mist touched you, but near as you can tell, anything that was touched by the mist is currently dissolving, including the crewmen. See if I try and make friends with you people. hmph. The creature jumps into the water. With considerable effort, you struggle to your feet, and check on the crew. All of them are unconscious, or dead. More alarming is the fact that your lifeboat is taking on water. The planks of the hull look melted and warped, and certainly aren't watertight.
Your spell helps, but not enough. The boat is taking on water too fast. You call out to the strange creature. In response, you see what looks like a bubble slowly form near the ship. Slowly the bubble forms a head, and face. No, my feelings are hurt. You swim home. The small head disappears below the surface. Your boat continues to sink. Looking out across the water, you can see a few other boats. The ship you were on, is gone, swallowed by the waves and perhaps even the massive fiend that tore it apart. You do see another large ship sailing in your direction. You aren't sure how fast it is going, or how far away it is, but you are certain that it won't reach you before your boat sinks. You continue to try to cast Mending, hoping to slow the boat's descent. It becomes clear that the boat is doomed. You try to pilot the sinking boat toward the debris field of the fallen ship, hoping to something to buoy your boat, or perhaps just yourself. The boat does not last long, and you are forced to swim. With your shoulder still pierced by the wooden splinter, trying to swim is agony. In the debris field, you do find a few planks buoyant enough to support you. It won't be dry, it won't be fast and a moderate wave will probably wash you off of it, but right now your makeshift lifeboat is keeping you from having to swim.
You presume that the other ship is moving to investigate the wreckage of your ship, and possibly to rescue survivors. You think it will also be easier for them to find survivors if they are all in one place. You try to paddle your debris closer to the other lifeboats you saw. It is excruciating, the pain so intense you fall unconscious several times. It is difficult to even remain afloat, but you struggle as hard as your broken, starved body can manage. You pass out, again. This time when you awake, there is a voice beside you. Swimming next to you is a woman. Her skin looks translucent, and for a moment, you mistake her for that impish creature from before. Beyond the skin tone, this woman looks nothing like that imp, she wears clothes, and her features appear to be Northern Human. This looks pretty bad, but I can help. She reaches for the wooden spear in your shoulder, but stops, and reaches into her pack and hands you a small vial. This is going to hurt, but if you drink this after, the pain shouldn't be too bad, certainly not as bad trying to swim with this in your shoulder. She reaches for the stake, in a blinding flash of pain, she pulls it out. She guides your hands to your mouth, and you remember the vial. You drink the liquid inside. You feel a soothing warmth spread immediately through your whole body, the nightmarish pain in your shoulder is reduced to a faint dull throbbing. You look at the wound, afraid of how bad it has gotten, only to see a clean patch of skin. The shirt you were wearing has a large hole, and is stained with blood, but the wound is gone. My name is Ravna, from the Sunfire. She indicates the other ship. You are going to be fine, I am here to help you. Our captain is understandably antsy about remaining in this area, with that creature. We found two lifeboats, do you know of any other survivors?
I didn't realize until AFTER I wrote it, that Tessa knows Cure Light Wounds. That kind of changes the whole tenor of the passage. Rather than delete, and rewrite the whole post, I am declaring that Tessa does not know that spell, at this time. She will learn it before the start of the main game. Maybe this experience will show Tessa the value of the spell.
Also, I forgot that Tessa has Bardic Knowledge, and can make Knowledge checks untrained. So she can try to identify the creature that ruined her lifeboat.
Tessa doesn't know what that creature is. It is strange, and seems utterly incongruous to this environment. It looks like an adept swimmer, but generally speaking, humanoids don't live in open water. It seemed fine breathing air, but given how long it seemed to be underwater, it can also survive without air. That implies an amphibian, but there isn't any land around, that you know of.
A minor error I noticed on Tessa's Character sheet. Bardic Knowledge lets you add half your level to knowledge skill checks, so Tessa should have another +1 to all her knowledges.1d20+3
Post by Tessa Rothaldi on Jan 11, 2015 21:51:56 GMT -8
Other than the lifeboats, I can't imagine that anyone survived. There were a great many people who were killed when we were attacked. I study her, trying to determine what she is and whether I can trust her.
You study her vaguely human face. It is difficult to make out her features, with the almost translucent skin. At this time, it seems impossible to make any definite determination as to what this woman is. Her eyes have none of the mirth or mischief the other creature had. Judging by the tone of her voice, she seems genuinely concerned for you, and other survivors. As well as concerned, she seems to be in quite a hurry.
Ravna offers you her hand. I can swim both of us back to ship, just hold on tight. Given the choice between staying in the (possibly Sargassum infested) debris field, or trusting a stranger. You very warily take Ravna's hand. He skin feels more solid than it looks, but still very slick, like a frog or fish. As the two of you slide off your makeshift raft, you clutch to Ravna's shoulders as tight as you can. A moment later, you are speeding through the water at an amazing speed. Far faster than one of the lifeboats could move. You have considerable difficulty in keeping hold, but Ravna seems to do her best to keep the both of you together. You can feel the wind caress the fur on your face and arms, it is a feeling you haven't had in weeks. Despite the horrors of the day, you feel hopeful. Whether it is the taste of freedom, your healed wounds or the symbolism of the sun setting over such destruction, you don't know.
As you both approach the ship, Ravna suddenly slows down and you are brought to a less than graceful stop. You tread water and try to check on Ravna, fearing she may be injured. Ravna's head pops out of the water, and she shakes her hair from her face, revealing an entirely human face. You are noticeably puzzled by the transformation. Ravna turns to with a reassuring look. That lasted a bit longer than I thought it would. Tried a new mutagenic compound before I left. Didn't know if the change was permanent. Good thing for me that it wasn't, even though it means we are gonna have to swim the rest of the way. The seas are fairly calm, so swiming the remaining distance is not terribly difficult for the both of you. When you arrive, a rope ladder is dropped down for you both to climb up. On the deck, Ravna address two men who seem to be in charge of this ship. One is clearly human, the other looks very strange to you. Humans, even Northern humans like Ravna, are common enough. The other man is older, he is dressed differently than the other northerners, and most peculiar are is his fair skin and dark piercing eyes. Only when you see his pointed ears can you place what he is, an elf. You have never seen an elf before, as there are unknown in the south, and only heard stories and legends of them from out of their wooden realm on the northern continent.
It looks like the only other survivors were crewmen from your ship, five of them. They are all huddled over a flaming brazier on the deck. It doesn't look like any of the inmates or guards from the lower decks made it.
Sense Motive: 26ayS5WU1d20+6 You get the sense from the other survivors, that they are avoiding eye contact with you. They are trying hard to not draw attention to you, and seem relieved by the argument between the captain and the elf, because nobody is looking at them, or you.
Outwardly, this ship shows no signs of being a slave ship, however, yours was the same way. Slavery is illegal in the north, so it would only be prudent for northern slavers to conceal the purpose of their ships. The captain and the elf continue to argue. You make no conscious effort to eavesdrop, you years of training as a spy have taught you otherwise. The Captain seems adamant that they return to port, while Surallel (the elf) is equally adamant that the ship remain in order to finish their mission. You cannot fully deduce what that mission is, but you do know that Surallel hired this ship to bring him and Ravna out here for some sort of research. The Sargassum Fiends were not expected, and the captain does not want to risk his ship if they encounter more of them. Ravna tries to mediate the argument. After she leaves your side, you take the opportunity to slip away. Changing your face, you move to the decks below, hoping to discover the ship's purpose. Below, you find what you expect. A Galley, workshop, bunks, and some cargo holds. You aren't as thorough as you would like, so if their slave pens are better hidden than one you came in they may still be hidden. In one cabin, you do find an odd collection of glassware and chemicals. It looks similar to the set-up Daimyo Otomo's court alchemist had. It is not as elaborate, but you surmise that there is a great deal more magical power in these chemicals and potions. You continue your search and find several more lived in cabins. Likely belonging to the captain, his first mate, Surralel or Ravna. You hurry back to the top deck, changing your face back to your natural appearance, hoping to prevent anyone from noticing you were gone. It seems to have worked, as all eyes are still on the argument, which seems to be winding down. You know enough of martitime tradition to know that the captain's word is law, and Surallel was fighting a losing battle. Given his demeanor, it is likely he knew that as well but felt desperate enough to argue his point anyway.